Freaked-Out Americans Need a Trump Warning System

Clockwise from left: Nero, Vladimir Lenin, Kim Jong Un, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. Chelsea Hassler

In this, the second Week of Trump, it is becoming increasingly clear that we need a much better system of quickly analyzing and broadcasting the implications of current events emanating from the general vicinity of the White House. Why should busy, hardworking Americans be made to freak out every day and lose sleep while anxiously updating Twitter or watching 24-hour cable news?

Television producers and online editors can resolve this looming public health hazard by immediately classifying all further White House news by degree and attaching a corresponding logo to every hyperlink and TV news update. I suggest, in ascending order of national emergency, using the heads of Ronald Reagan, Vladimir Lenin, Nero and Kim Jong Un.

Related: How Donald Trump just reinvigorated ISIS and Al-Qaeda

These icons will serve the same function as the little cloud, sun, snow and umbrella weather logos, informing the public instantly—nonverbally, cerebral-cortically—about the political weather. At a glance, they will know if they should turn up the TV for further updates, check the batteries in the go-bag or tune out the noise altogether and go about business as usual.

Ronald Reagan. Chelsea Hassler

The Reagan head icon will indicate that Trump's latest act or order is still within the bounds of traditional conservative statesmanship. While many Americans found Reagan's macho nuclear strategy and free-market ideology repugnant, when they see his head, they will know that President Donald Trump is merely toying with the idea of violence and starting World War III to gain tactical advantage in the global order, without actually initiating it. Relax!

Since his presidency began, White House activities that would have earned a Reagan include ditching the press to pay respectful, private tribute to the serviceman killed in carrying out Trump's first military order. The president earned another Reagan for when he and National Security Adviser Mike Flynn put Iran "on notice"—even though it may have sounded scary. Telling Mexico's president that he might send in the U.S. military to deal with "bad hombres" is another Reagan tactic, although the Gipper would have delivered that one with more charm.

Lenin. Chelsea Hassler

The Lenin head logo is for Level Two events, indicating that Trump is on a state-breaking, civil-society-shocking rip, like with his incomprehensible "travel ban." A Lenin head will inform the public that the Trump White House has committed an act that is most likely political theater but, in the long run, could possibly lead to a more violent and destabilized world.

The world was mystified when Trump issued the travel ban order before even having discussions with attorneys or the agencies involved in carrying it out. We wondered: What did it mean that he was wreaking havoc in airports in the United States and around the world, provoking demonstrations around the country and upending an unknown number of actual human lives? Was the end at hand?

That the ban included only countries the U.S. has already destabilized—and left people from fanatical Islamist factories like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan free to roam across our borders—should have been all the evidence needed to understand that the order had nothing to do with actual security and was only political theater to feed Trump's xenophobic base and scare Muslims who live in the U.S.

The Lenin head could have telegraphed that without delay.

Trump' appointment of Steve Bannon to the National Security Council is also a Lenin-level event. The white-nationalist adviser is on record calling himself a tactical, albeit not ideological, Leninist who wants to smash the state. Some jittery commentators have compared Bannon's promotion and Trump's maintenance of his own private security team as signs of a coup d'état.

Of course, Trump was lawfully elected, and most people in Washington believe Bannon's activities so far veer between strategy—"shock doctrine" plots—and ineptitude.

The Lenin logo will alert us whenever he is yanking our chain.

"Bannon is smart, no doubt, but that does not mean that he has good judgment," says foreign affairs veteran Eliot Cohen. "What they have done is mobilize more people against them [e.g., major companies like Amazon, Google, etc.], angered key officials [Cabinet secretaries] and looked not merely cruel but incompetent—quite apart from the damage they are doing to our reputation around the world. Bannon may have intended some of this, but not all of it. These people are, I believe, setting themselves up to fail. But it will take a while to feel the effects, and they can do a lot of damage along the way."

Nero. Chelsea Hassler

The Nero head is for a different type of news altogether: behavior and events that bring into question the commander in chief's mental stability. The president launched his first day in office under a double Nero sign, stomping into the CIA—whose motto is "The truth will set you free"—and telling a whopping lie about the crowd size at his inauguration. He then sent his press secretary out to try to sell the same lie to the media. Any illusions the world had about Trump shedding his insecurity and narcissism and becoming suddenly presidential were shattered that day.

Hanging up on the Australian prime minister after haranguing him about refugees was also a Nero-level episode, as was his insistence on ordering a study to prove his baseless contention that Hillary Clinton's huge popular vote victory was entirely due to illegal voting.

With the Nero in place, it would have been redundant for Washington Post political reporter Chris Cilia to add to his carpal tunnel syndrome by typing this (italics mine): "There are people at senior levels within the administration who have major concerns about Trump and his fitness for office. In the long tradition of whistleblowers, they are using selective leaks to make sure that people know what is really going on inside the White House."

Kim Jong Un. Chelsea Hassler

The number of Nero heads affixed to any piece of news will alert Americans whether to laugh or to be on the lookout for possible fallout and an upgrade to the final logo, to be applied only in extremis—the Kim Jong Un. This logo is the visual equivalent of the old Emergency Broadcast System, indicating that viewers and readers would be wise to duct-tape the windows pronto and turn on shortwave radios for further instructions.

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