(AP/Evan Vucci)

Donald Trump sliding into our DMs: An AMBER alert, but for the country’s soul

The president taking over FEMA wireless emergency alerts is a disaster in the making


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Erin Keane
September 19, 2018 4:38PM (UTC)

“Executive time” was set to take on a whole new sinister dimension this week, as FEMA had announced a test of its wireless emergency alert (WEA) system allowing the president to send text messages about developing disasters directly to the American people — no opt-outs! — was to be scheduled for Thursday.  The system test has since been pushed back to October 3, either because the federal agency is dealing with the “ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence,” as it announced, or because there’s no disaster plan in place for the volcanoes of vomit the American people have threatened to unleash if Donald Trump is allowed to slide into their DMs any time the spirit moves him.

"I think it is an outstanding tool in the toolbox," Nick Crossley, president of the International Association of Emergency Managers in the U.S., told NBC. "It is a great way to get notification to anybody who has a cellphone."

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Nick — can I call you Nick? — I hope it doesn't dampen your enthusiasm for emergency management, for which we are all very grateful, but I don't think you've thought through what could happen here.

I'll make a deal with you, Nick. You spend a year as the sole participant in this pilot project and get back to us after the seventeenth "LOCK HER UP!" sends you shooting straight up in bed at 3 a.m.

It’s one thing for the president to barf his grievances all over Twitter like a violently drunk Georgetown Prep alum, and quite another for all of our phones to do the missing-child WOOP WOOP every time he thinks Sean Hannity maybe went soft on that segment about Elizabeth Warren's new Colin Kaepernick tattoo. (Yes, we know he'd be breaking the law.) Holding proof in our hands that Trump has the tools to send out a FEMA alert moves us one step closer to actually comprehending the real possibility that Gary Cohn forgot to steal the nuclear launch codes off the president’s desk before he resigned back in March.

READ MORE: Watching Lehman Brothers collapse from the inside: A 2008 recruit on the bank’s final days

Now none of us are sleeping, Nick. Awesome, what an outstanding tool!

This entire plan forecasts dire consequences for what's left of our nation's mental health. It seems incomprehensible that actual people who might at some point have actually been in danger of receiving actual text messages from Donald Trump could actually be excited about this, but here we are.

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You can always opt out of reading the president's unhinged Twitter rants and watching his weird campaign rodeos, but you can't opt out of this without foregoing cell phone messaging all together. Are we really ready to test what Donald Trump considers an emergency? Is he going to text the entire country about "the nasty state of affairs" in the residence when his second cheeseburger arrives without a side of mayochup?

And if there truly is an emergency, are we prepared to receive the warning in a form all but guaranteed to be read like the lawn mower boy meme?

If FEMA really needs it spelled out for them, here is what worries us more than the possibility of missing a flash flood warning in Ypsilanti, Nick:

Definitely the sext

Let’s just get the toad in the room out of the way first. There is a not inconsequential chance that at some point the President of the United States will fumble the contacts on his Jitterbug and we the taxpayers will receive a photo of it intended for a Twitter bot called @OhYeahDeeperState instead. Think fast, Nick: Would you rather be standing in the pathway of an F5 tornado without warning or see the Yeti lurking in the haunted forest on your lock screen?

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Heckuva job, Brockie!

FEMA chief Brock Long is currently under a Department of Homeland Security inspector general investigation for going all Scott Pruitt with some U.S.-owned Suburbans, using the government vehicles for his personal travel between Washington and his North Carolina home. His case has been referred to U.S. attorneys for possible prosecution, and if you're thinking there's no way the president could mistake the FEMA alert system for a direct line to the FEMA chief in his current state of paranoia regarding prosecutors, investigators, and literally anyone he's ever met — you're not new, Nick, you can see where this is going.

A THREAD . . . . 

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What is the most feared typographical mark in the United States at the moment? Trump's supersized ellipses that indicates he is nowhere near finished with this thought after one tweet so stay tuned for the next one, it's gonna be amazing, everyone's saying it's just stupendous. He can go from Fake News Media to We need to Renegotiate our BAD Trade Deals with China to Comey-cucking and end up back at "We love our Mexican friends who will be building this wall with us to keep their thugs and rapists at home where they belong!" without losing steam. He can go all day, and meanwhile your kid is trying to get picked up from school with a fever, your Lyft driver's circling the block, you're missing the call that clears up those test results, and worst of all, Nick, nobody can call in the Wellbutrin refill that we all so desperately need.

"It's a winning, strong issue for me"

This couldn't have waited until after football season? Once Trump tastes blood while live-texting us his thoughts every time the national anthem plays before an NFL game, he'll move on to focus grouping any number of opportunistic bigotries that pop into his head. So help me, Nick, if even one of my Headspace sessions is interrupted by "BERT AND ERNIE AREN'T THE GAYS THAT'S SICK I'M NOT SAYING JUSTIN TRUDEAU IS I DON'T KNOW THOUGH MAYBE SOMEONE SHOULD ASK I'M JUST SAYING PEOPLE HAVE SAID IT TO ME" I'm not going to make it to 2020.

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The alert to end all alerts

When Trump's cage match foreign diplomacy finally launches global thermonuclear war, we'll hear it directly from him, one last insult to ultimate injury. In the meanwhile, we simply have to wait for the tantrum to end all tantrums to blow up, literally, in our faces. So what the hell — dance like nobody's watching, live like "NO COLLUSION" is going to be the last thing we see on our phones before we're all obliterated and this human exercise earns its final failing grade. This is the way the world ends, Nick: not with a bang, but a "U up?"

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Erin Keane

Erin Keane is Salon's executive editor of culture.

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