The broader implications of Trump’s “tap” tweet

President Trump’s most recent claim accuses his predecessor of tapping his phones at Trump Tower weeks before the 2016 election. By itself, that’s a bad enough charge to levy at one’s political opponent without sufficient evidence. But it’s worth looking at Mr. Trump’s motivations more closely.

A recent Breitbart piece is generally accepted as the origin of the president’s tweet, which adheres to Mr. Trump’s trend of consuming a significant portion of his news from alternative sources. The president’s motivations are, per usual, shrouded in a muddled fog of rushed secrecy. It has been postured by some that this accusation is a deflection to distract from the scrutiny the Trump administration has received for possible ties to Russia. Trump’s camp insists the tap actually happened, though they have failed to compile any compelling evidence. Though, if Trump Tower was indeed tapped, it could have been for reasons that are well within the legal realm. At this point, Trump is either trying to beat the feds to the punch and cast doubt on the tap’s legality, there was no tap and he believed a phony tabloid, or he willingly lobbed a serious accusation at Mr. Obama with the intention to rile his base into a frenzy, renewing a vitriolic response to his adversaries while potentially hiding the aforementioned Russian ties in the process. The truth will not likely be kind to the recent White House tenant.

But it’s the second possibility that is the most nefarious. If President Trump truly believes this crock, it’s likely that his chief strategist, Steve Bannon (a man whose beliefs could have seriously adverse implications on policy), has at least a little sway over him. At best Trump is intentionally citing the kind of fringe outlets that deny the Sandy Hook shooting ever took place. At worst, he’s fallen prey to the manipulative work of conspiracy theorists.

Occam’s razor suggests that it’s more likely that the president is trying to divert attention from something else or a legal tap was warranted. But that doesn’t make the other possibilities any less unsettling.

-JG

Come on, you guys – it’s pretty easy to afford a number of federal programs on the chopping block

The first few weeks of the Trump administration have been interesting, if nothing else. Largely unburdened of Congressional oversight, the president has signed into action 12 executive orders as of Monday morning. Several more to come will likely take aim at defunding or altogether excising government programs deemed expendable by Mr. Trump and his advisers.

There is nothing wrong with exploring the options of managing the country’s expenses more efficiently, and the president is well within his means to trim some fat from the budgetary cow. It is, however, unfortunate that he’s choosing to dispose of the tenderloin.

Just as I began reading further into the programs that the new administration will likely target, I received a push notification from Youtube. One of my favorite channels was one step ahead of me.

It’s actually kind of astounding to put into visual perspective just how insignificant these costs are when compared to the sheer monolith that is the federal budget. The National Endowment for the Arts requires each American taxpayer to part with 46 cents each year. Many similar programs go a long way on tight budgets, providing invaluable services that keep us safe and enhance or, in some cases, make entirely possible the education of millions of Americans.

Mr. Trump wishing to cut back on government spending would be fine, were it not for the unfortunate, glaring prospect of unnecessary spending in multiple instances. If he truly wished to regain a more firm grip on the nation’s finances, he wouldn’t be targeting inexpensive and beneficial programs – a move which isn’t only impractical; it’s practically vindictive.

If average Americans have a firm enough grasp of these concepts, I find it within reason to ask that the government and those who lead it do, as well. Yet it appears that this administration has no such grasp or – and this is the more likely option – it does not find the cost of enacting its vision too great.

-JG