I’m torn. Should I be more appalled that the leader of the free world is ordering the tear-gassing of little children on our southern border, or that he is siding with a Saudi prince, known for beheading political opponents, who swears he did not order the beheading and dismemberment of a politically critical journalist. His own CIA is confident that Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) did in fact orchestrate the killing.

Or maybe tear-gassing a few tiny tots and murdering a writer who wasn’t even a citizen of the United States, though a long-time resident, pale in comparison to separating thousands of children from their migrant parents, before the courts rightfully put a halt to this particularly cruel edict from Donald Trump. (Over 400 children have still not been reunited with their families, thanks to an inept and ill-prepared Department of Homeland Security.)

Now, this is really appalling: a come-lately-from-reality-TV Constitutional “scholar” (he really does know more about the way a democracy works than veteran Congressional leaders) has threatened to override the 14th Amendment to the Constitution with an executive order, by denying citizenship to people (especially wee little ones) born in the United States.

And, lo and behold, Mr. T. has declared open warfare on the third and equal branch of government, the judiciary. That is a war the president will not win. (His sister, federal judge Maryann Trump Barry, must be a little appalled at her brother’s attacks on her fellow judges.)

And there is this: our unruly-elected publicity hound is continuing to label journalists and the news media as “enemies of the people” because the truth of his behavior in office does not paint a pretty picture of this narcissistic “study in orange.” That is appalling because it is, again, another blatant attack on the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

I could write a book about the appalling behavior of the President of the United States. Wait. Bob Woodward already has: It’s titled Fear. Woodward’s book chronicles the infighting among administration officials and some of the ugly names the President has called people, among other abuses and embarrassments of his office. (He called Jeff Sessions a “dumb Southerner” even as he praised the Charlottesville white supremacists as “very fine people” and regrets apologizing for calling them that.) Oh, that the truths in the book would have made the President mend his appalling ways.

But the current resident of the White House continues making ill-advised decisions and statements. It is against the law to close the border to asylum seekers. (He closed the border between Mexico and the United States while returning from his Thanksgiving golf outing in Florida.) A president could face impeachment if he ordered the justice department to prosecute political opponents, which is why White House Counsel McGahn stopped Trump from going after Hillary Clinton and James Comey, when he tried to get the department of justice to open investigations of them last spring. Regarding the “witch hunt” that Trump accuses Special Counsel Robert Mueller of conducting, so far this long-time public servant has indicted or gotten plea agreements from 35 “witches,” amounting to 191 criminal charges. Many of these indicted enjoyed a once-close and personal relationship to the president. “Birds of a feather flock together?” (Trump’s longtime “fixer” Michael Cohen has now decided that he won’t take a bullet for the prez.) He cannot help himself from serving up daily platters of rotten bird feed (tweet, tweet) to his base that are almost always disposed of by earnest newsroom fact checkers as “fake news.”

Now, Trump’s definition of “fake news” is anything that does not portray him as one who “has a high level of intelligence,” or one who has been the “best president in the history of the country,” or one who had “the biggest inauguration crowd of any President.” Reporting facts are not fake news but the responsibility of a free press.

The democratic health of our country requires the fourth estate to continue to report the egregious behavior of Donald J. Trump. Indeed, until the citizenry can go to the polls in 2020 to vote him out (or until a new, honorable Congress decides impeachment is in order), the media are the only defense against an out of control, deranged autocrat, because the Republican Congress has decided to ignore the responsibilities invested in them to defend us against the undemocratic, dangerous, appalling conduct of the president. (Sadly, Paul Ryan will slink out of Washington in the dead of night with a tarnished legacy of his service to his country.)

I won’t be writing a book chronicling Trump’s daily tweets insulting anyone who doesn’t believe he walks on water, but there is certainly enough “fake news’” coming from the insomniac’s iPhone to provide material for a book. Maybe Bob Woodward is working on a sequel. I have a suggestion for its title: “Appalling.”

Sandra Humphrey is a resident of Tomah.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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