The God-King seems shocked that foreign leaders won’t obey him, plus his administration’s draft order to allow LGBT- and sex-based discrimination…. (More)

“I stand up for Australia in every forum, public or private”

So declared Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in a news conference earlier today, and it seems the God-King was furious that Prime Minister Turnbull refused to kiss his ring:

It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new commander in chief – a conversation with the leader of Australia, one of America’s staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week.

Instead, President Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refu­gee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it.

At one point, Trump informed Turnbull that he had spoken with four other world leaders that day – including Russian President Vladi­mir Putin – and that “this was the worst call by far.”

Well boo-hoo.

The dispute centered on offshore detention centers that Australia opened from 2010 to 2014 to house refugees seeking asylum. Conditions at the centers were so bad that the United Nations intervened and President Obama agreed to accept about half of the refugees, if they passed security screening.

And if President Obama thought it was a good idea, then the God-King must object:

“This is the worst deal ever,” Trump fumed as Turnbull attempted to confirm that the United States would honor its pledge to take in 1,250 refugees from an Australian detention center.

Trump, who one day earlier had signed an executive order temporarily barring the admission of refugees, complained that he was “going to get killed” politically and accused Australia of seeking to export the “next Boston bombers.”

Trump returned to the topic late Wednesday night, writing in a message on Twitter: “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”

Prime Minister Turnbull tried to move the planned one-hour discussion on to other issues, but the God-King abruptly hung up after 20 minutes. Yes, he’s that rude … to our allies.

“Bad hombres down there”

So you can imagine that his conversation with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto did not go well:

President Donald Trump warned in a phone call with his Mexican counterpart that he was ready to send U.S. troops to stop “bad hombres down there” unless the Mexican military does more to control them, according to an excerpt of a transcript of the conversation obtained by The Associated Press.

A Mexican journalist based in D.C. was even more blunt:

During a phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Friday, US President Donald Trump disparaged Mexico and threatened to use military force against the drug trade, according to Dolia Estevez, a journalist based in Washington, D.C.

In an interview with the Mexican news outlet Aristegui Noticias, Estevez, who cited sources on both sides of the call, said, “It was a very offensive conversation where Trump humiliated Peña Nieto.”
Estevez said she “obtained confidential information” corroborating the content of the discussion.

“I don’t need the Mexicans. I don’t need Mexico,” Trump reportedly told the Mexican president. “We are going to build the wall and you all are going to pay for it, like it or not.”

Trump hinted that the US would force Mexico to fund the wall with a 10% tax on Mexican exports “and of 35% on those exports that hurt Mexico the most,” Estevez wrote in Proyecto Puente.

The Washington Post reported that the God-King routinely boasts about his mythical ‘huge’ victory and inaugural crowds in calls with foreign leaders:

Even in conversations marred by hostile exchanges, Trump manages to work in references to his election accomplishments. U.S. officials said that he used his calls with Turnbull and Peña Nieto to mention his election win or the size of the crowd at his inauguration.

One official said that it may be Trump’s way of “speaking about the mandate he has and why he has the backing for decisions he makes.” But Trump is also notoriously thin-skinned and has used platforms including social-media accounts, meetings with lawmakers and even a speech at CIA headquarters to depict his victory as an achievement of historic proportions, rather than a narrow outcome in which his opponent, Hillary Clinton, won the popular vote.

Apparently he thinks other world leaders only get U.S. news from his Twitter feed. At the very least, he seems to think every world leader – except of course Vladimir Putin – should bow down to him.

“This blunderbuss order”

Meanwhile, The Nation received a draft copy of a four-page executive order that would legalize discrimination against LGBTs and most women:

The four-page draft order, a copy of which is currently circulating among federal staff and advocacy organizations, construes religious organizations so broadly that it covers “any organization, including closely held for-profit corporations,” and protects “religious freedom” in every walk of life: “when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments.”

The draft order seeks to create wholesale exemptions for people and organizations who claim religious or moral objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion, and trans identity, and it seeks to curtail women’s access to contraception and abortion through the Affordable Care Act. The White House did not respond to requests for comment, but when asked Monday about whether a religious freedom executive order was in the works, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters, “I’m not getting ahead of the executive orders that we may or may not issue. There is a lot of executive orders, a lot of things that the president has talked about and will continue to fulfill, but we have nothing on that front now.”

Language in the draft document specifically protects the tax-exempt status of any organization that “believes, speaks, or acts (or declines to act) in accordance with the belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage, male and female and their equivalents refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics at or before birth, and that human life begins at conception and merits protection at all stages of life.”

Note the phrase “earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others,” in the context of that last paragraph. This order would let employers discriminate against LGBTs – and against women who have an abortion or publicly support a woman’s right to choose, or use a birth control method that the boss doesn’t like – based solely on the employer’s claimed ‘belief’ about marriage, gender identity, and/or biology … regardless of, you know, actual science about sexual orientation, gender identity, or human reproduction.

“We already know what to do because we do it every day, and we do it all over the world”

On the plus side, Reuters Editor-in-Chief Steve Adler explained how his organization will cover the God-King:

The first 12 days of the Trump presidency (yes, that’s all it’s been!) have been memorable for all – and especially challenging for us in the news business. It’s not every day that a U.S. president calls journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth” or that his chief strategist dubs the media “the opposition party.” It’s hardly surprising that the air is thick with questions and theories about how to cover the new Administration.

So what is the Reuters answer? To oppose the administration? To appease it? To boycott its briefings? To use our platform to rally support for the media? All these ideas are out there, and they may be right for some news operations, but they don’t make sense for Reuters. We already know what to do because we do it every day, and we do it all over the world.

To state the obvious, Reuters is a global news organization that reports independently and fairly in more than 100 countries, including many in which the media is unwelcome and frequently under attack. I am perpetually proud of our work in places such as Turkey, the Philippines, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Thailand, China, Zimbabwe, and Russia, nations in which we sometimes encounter some combination of censorship, legal prosecution, visa denials, and even physical threats to our journalists. We respond to all of these by doing our best to protect our journalists, by recommitting ourselves to reporting fairly and honestly, by doggedly gathering hard-to-get information – and by remaining impartial. We write very rarely about ourselves and our troubles and very often about the issues that will make a difference in the businesses and lives of our readers and viewers.

Needless to say, wingnuts were furious that Reuters put the God-King in the same class with authoritarian governments:

He raised President Donald Trump’s earlier comments that journalists are “among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” and White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon’s declaration that the media is the “opposition party” to the administration.

Adler said Reuters’ central mission would not change amid these circumstances because it already knows how to report in countries in “which the media is unwelcome and frequently under attack.” He highlighted the news organization’s “work in Turkey, the Philippines, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Thailand, China, Zimbabwe, and Russia,” all of which are authoritarian regimes.

The reader comments at that link pretty much prove Reuters’ point, by the way. Yet for all the wingnut whining, what specific journalistic practices did Adler recommend? Turns out they’re hardly radical:


— Cover what matters in people’s lives and provide them the facts they need to make better decisions.
— Become ever-more resourceful: If one door to information closes, open another one.
— Give up on hand-outs and worry less about official access. They were never all that valuable anyway. Our coverage of Iran has been outstanding, and we have virtually no official access. What we have are sources.
— Get out into the country and learn more about how people live, what they think, what helps and hurts them, and how the government and its actions appear to them, not to us.
— Keep the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles close at hand, remembering that “the integrity, independence and freedom from bias of Reuters shall at all times be fully preserved.”


— Never be intimidated, but:
— Don’t pick unnecessary fights or make the story about us. We may care about the inside baseball but the public generally doesn’t and might not be on our side even if it did.
— Don’t vent publicly about what might be understandable day-to-day frustration. In countless other countries, we keep our own counsel so we can do our reporting without being suspected of personal animus. We need to do that in the U.S., too.
— Don’t take too dark a view of the reporting environment: It’s an opportunity for us to practice the skills we’ve learned in much tougher places around the world and to lead by example – and therefore to provide the freshest, most useful, and most illuminating information and insight of any news organization anywhere.

It’s solid journalistic advice that every media outlet should practice. I realize wingnuts think the God-King is entitled to a media who merely amplify his Twitter feed and float ‘official’ leaks-as-trial-balloons, but Reuters won’t do that … and that’s one reason we’re proud to have them in our News Links.


Photo Credit: David Becker (Getty Images)


Good day and good nuts