Sunday, September 10, 2017

Week 79: "Deportation of Actual Committed Americans" (September 10, 2017)

Dear Readers,

It has been an eventful week. For all past newsletters (and more), make sure to go to the blog at http://www.electreport.blogspot.com

If you would like to donate to help with relief for Hurricane Irma, donate to the Red Cross here or to UNICEF here

DACA

This week, President Trump told Congress they had six months to overturn (or legalize) the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (generally known as DACA), started by President Obama in 2012 to protect children of illegal immigrants from deportation. To be eligible for DACA, one must have come to the US as a child, have lived here for 5 years, and either have a job, be getting an education, or be a veteran. Anyone with a criminal record is excluded.
The implications of this being that President Trump is going to take innocent people who have lived in America for most of their lives and contribute to the economy and send them back to a place they have little familiarity with, just because of their parents’ decision to come here illegally. Many, many people spoke out against Trump’s decision, and as a response he offered Congress the option of legalizing the program. The fate of the program is very uncertain, which is worrying many program members. It has also been estimated ending DACA will cost almost $200 billion.

Budget

Trump also astonished Republicans by agreeing with Democratic congressional leaders to increase the debt limit and allow governmental operations to continue until December. Trump told the press "We had a very good meeting; we essentially came to a deal. I think the deal will be very good," and Minority Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer announced what exactly the deal was. These were added to the Hurricane Harvey aid bill passed by the House, and was passed by both houses on Friday. It was an interesting move, and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Trump is willing to work with whoever is willing to negotiate, and will not be beholden to congressional Republicans.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to reply or comment.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Week 78: "Arizona Madness" (August 27, 2017)

Dear Readers,

It has been an eventful week. For all past newsletters (and more), make sure to go to the blog at http://www.electreport.blogspot.com

Afghanistan

This week opened with a speech Trump gave regarding Afghanistan policy. The speech was awkward and, while he stayed calm and on-script for once, it was boring. But the content was the important part: Trump announced he will continue efforts in Afghanistan, including an increase in troops. He has announced very few specifics of his plan but would like to win the war and stabilize Afghanistan... somehow. This has displeased some of his supporters and represents a difference from his rhetoric against foreign entanglements during the campaign.

Personnel Changes, Yet Again

-Trump assistant Sebastian Gorka, who has been linked to Nazi groups in Hungary, resigned from his post and returned to Breitbart

-Eight of the 28 members of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, which deals with cybersecurity, resigned this week.

Arizona Madness

Trump headed to Phoenix, Arizona this week to make a speech. Said speech was unhinged, rambling, and over an hour. I’m not going to choose the “highlights” but I will note the CNN article listing the 57 “most outrageous” quotes, which should give you a sense of how the speech went. He yet again defended his remarks on Charlottesville, insulted members of his own party, and bragged about his crowd size.
His attention then turned to Joe Arpaio, former sheriff of Maricopa County, containing Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale, and other near suburbs. If you need a refresher on Sheriff Joe, here’s a nice long article about all the terrible things he did. He was finally ousted from office after 24 years and six elections, losing re-election by 13 points while Trump won the county by 3. Trump decided now would be a good time to pardon Sheriff Joe from his conviction for criminal contempt of court after he failed to stop racial profiling in accordance with the court order of Melendres v. Arpaio and rule 5 on the list of “how to be a decent human being.”

Harvey

And Trump did all this as Hurricane Harvey headed toward Texas, where five are now reported dead, dozens are injured, and the downtown of Houston is severely flooded. Trump has already tweeted several dozen times on the matter and has yet to offer any advice for those affected. I’ll keep it brief, as I’m not a meteorologist and don’t want to delve into this area too much, but it should be noted that both of Texas’ Senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, voted against relief funding for Hurricane Sandy.


Thanks for reading! As always, feel free to reply or comment.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Week 77: "Charlottesville" (August 20, 2017)

Dear Readers,

My apologies for disappearing for two months without notice! It had become increasingly difficult for me to write a paragraph about current events without descending into a string of expletives. I am finally calmer, and so here is the next edition! For all past newsletters, make sure to go to the blog at http://www.electreport.blogspot.com

Charlottesville

On Saturday, August 12th, in Charlottesville, Virginia, a far-right “Unite the Right” rally consisting of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other awful and radical groups was held to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. I’m sure you’ve heard about the events of the rally thousands of time by now, so I’ll summarize. Counterprotesters gathered, and 2o-year-old Ohioan James Alex Fields Jr., a self-proclaimed white nationalist, drove his car into a group of counterprotesters. More than 30 people were injured, and one person, Heather Heyer, was killed.
In response, President Trump “[condemned] in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, many sides” a statement that neo-Nazi publication The Daily Stormer considered a victory. Their live-blog said “Trump comments were good... [He] implied that there was hate on both sides, so he implied the antifa are haters. There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all. He said he loves us all. ... God bless him.” Similarly, Richard Spencer, president of a white supremacist think tank, happily tweeted that Trump denounced antifa (a militant, fringe, far-left group present among the counterprotesters).
Two days later, Trump finally spoke out against racism and racist groups, declaring “those who cause violence in [racism’s] name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” That lasted all of a few hours, because the next day, at a press conference to present infrastructure plans, Trump said “You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.” He also equated Robert E. Lee to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and said their statues would come down next because they were slave-owners. In case you think for a second that this wasn’t bad, David Duke instantly tweeted out praise for Trump’scomments: “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa.”

After all this, there was a lot of fall-out. First, four CEOs resigned from the American Manufacturing Council. The Manufacturing Council was then disbanded, as well as the President's Strategic and Policy Forum, another collection of CEOs, which also saw several resignations. The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities also all resigned, sending the president a letter where the first letter of every paragraph spelled out “Resist.” Now, these councils don’t have very much power, but the image of three councils disbanding because of one event does not inspire confidence in the administration.
In addition, Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, faced criticism from fellow Jews and his classmates at Yale for failing to denounce the president. In response, Mnuchin denounced neo-Nazis but insisted “the president in no way, shape or form believes that neo-Nazi and other hate groups who endorse violence are equivalent to groups that demonstrate in peaceful and lawful ways.” Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, also Jewish, stood on the stage on Tuesday as Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides,” and yet neither have resigned or even criticized the president.

Scary Steve Steps Down

Speaking of hate groups, Trump’s longtime advisor Steve Bannon -- known before his role with Trump for being the executive chair of Breitbart -- stepped down this week. He instantly returned to Breitbart and was praised by the president, who tweeted“fake news needs the competition.” Following this news, a cheer broke out on the floor of the stock exchange. Bannon had given a strange interview a couple of days earlier, calling out some of Trump’s cabinet officials, criticizing Trump’s actions regarding North Korea, and dismissing the far right as “losers.” Read it here, I highly recommend it. Bannon claims that he had resigned two weeks earlier, which would mean that this interview was not the reason for his stepping down, but it’s not entirely clear. Since returning to Breitbart, Bannon has said he’s “going to war” for the Trump agenda, and the site published an article today going after national security adviser H.R. McMaster as weak on terrorism. Bannon’s influence will still be felt, whether he has an official title or not, and only time will tell what may happen.

Thanks for reading! As always, feel free to reply or comment.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Week 76: "Hung Parliament" (June 11, 2017)

Dear Readers,

It has been an eventful week. For all past newsletters (and more), make sure to go to the blog at http://www.electreport.blogspot.com

The 2017 UK General Election

After months of excitement (ah, those Brits with their two-month elections. So civilized...), the citizens of the UK finally headed to the polls. A once confident Theresa May had seen her lead in the polls slip from 20 points to just 4. In the end, May’s Conservatives won the popular vote by only 2.4% and failed to secure a majority of seats. They won 317, requiring 326 for a majority. However, the very conservative Democratic Unionists in Northern Ireland won 10 seats, enough to secure the Conservative government a very tenuous majority. May will remain Prime Minister for now, though many people on both sides of the aisle have called for her to step down.
So, faced with this failure, you may ask why the Conservatives bothered to call an election. Well, for starters, they were up 20 points in the polls at the time. “But still,” you say, “why risk loss?” Well, the Conservatives held 330 seats, just barely above a majority, and wanted to gain seats so they could pass more ambitious legislation. They couldn’t have predicted the massive swings to Corbyn and Labour during the campaign, but the decision has come back to bite them.
The other parties’ results deserve some attention. The Scottish National Party, who won nearly every seat in Scotland in 2015, lost 21 seats, mostly to the Conservatives but also some to Labour and the Lib Dems. The Lib Dems gained a few seats, but also lost some seats they hold now. UKIP fell from 12% in 2015 to just 2% on Thursday. In Northern Ireland, only two parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein, won seats, for the first time in recent memory (often the Ulster Unionists and SDLP will also win seats). And, of course, Labour gained 30 seats and won more raw votes than any Labour campaign since Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide with 12.87 million.

Comey Under Investigation

As Britain voted, former FBI director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. In this testimony, Comey revealed he had given memos about his conversations with Trump to Robert Mueller, the special counsel over the Russia hearings. He also was questioned bizarrely by John McCain, who claimed he stayed up late watching a baseball game. Comey was also quoted as saying “Lordy, I hope there are tapes [of his conversations with Trump]”. He accused Donald Trump of lying, confirmed that Michael Flynn was under FBI investigation, and in general achieved a balance of actually giving valuable information and getting his name in the headlines (because Comey likes being in the news). And the effects are potentially disastrous for Trump, with Comey calling him a liar and opposing many things Trump has claimed.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to reply or comment.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Week 75: "More Important Things to Do" (June 4, 2017)

Dear Readers,

It has been an eventful week. For all past newsletters (and more), make sure to go to the blog at http://www.electreport.blogspot.com

Pittsburgh, not Paris

Our President announced this week that America would be withdrawing from the Paris climate accord. He called the deal “draconian” and justified it, somehow, by saying he “was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” Sorry, Mr. Trump, climate change is gonna have the same effect on the people of Pittsburgh as it will on the people of Paris. Elon Musk decided to leave the government panels on business he was previously on, and Thom Yorke called Trump a “f***ing clown.” Foreign leaders denounced his decisions, and Al Gore called his decision “indefensible” and a “threat to humanity.” Truly people from all walks of life are calling him out on this one, and this one may have some actual consequences. But sure, it’s obviously just the elite French with their silly science who care about this, and real Americans are indifferent. You keep telling yourself that, Donald.

The Twitter President Has No Decency

In response to the terror attacks in London, Trump had the opportunity to be professional and offer his prayers for the victims, as most world leaders might. Instead, he retweeted Drudge Report’s coverage on the attack, then defended his travel ban, then offered his support for the victims and the country of England. As if it weren’t bad enough already, he took to Twitter at 4 AM this morning to offer these kind, presidential words.

“We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don't get smart it will only get worse”

“At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’"

“Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That's because they used knives and a truck!”

Yes, a terrible attack in the center of a major city and all our president can do is try to prove political points on gun control and... political correctness? Oh, and he makes fun of a Muslim man. A Muslim man who, rightly, said his remarks were taken out of context (that quote was from a remark about increased police presence, not the attack itself) and said he had "more important things to do than respond to Mr Trump."

England Votes in 4 Days

On Thursday, the UK will hold their general election. Campaigning was suspended today following yesterday’s attack, but polls are tightening a lot in recent days. Prime Minister May has used the attacks as an excuse to push for greater government surveillance and “security.” While it is still likely the Conservatives will win, the polls are becoming less and less clear. We shall see what happens, but it hold importance for the world.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to reply or comment.