Monday, December 4, 2017

Week 87: "Doom" (December 3, 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

Flynn Pleads Guilty

Last Friday, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, under investigation from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, plead guilty to lying to the FBI. An official White House statement noted that the plea only implicated Flynn, and nobody else. But, nevertheless, an official plea is an important thing for Mueller to have and shows the effectiveness of the Russia probe thus far.
“He told the judge he has not been coerced to plead guilty or been promised a specific sentence. Flynn faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, according to federal sentencing guidelines, though the judge Friday morning stressed he could impose a harsher or lighter sentence.” (CNN)
This charge is perhaps even bigger of a deal than the previous indictment of Paul Manafort, since Flynn was actively a member of both the transition team and Trump’s White House and had a role with Trump much more recently and more directly.

Senate Passes Tax Cuts

By a vote of 51-49, the Senate approved the Republican tax overhaul plan this week. All Democrats and retiring Republican Bob Corker voted nay, and all other Republicans voted yes. Corker’s statement was mainly focused on the bill’s adding to the deficit: “I am not able to vote for legislation that could deepen the debt burden on future generations.”
I don’t need to write here about why the tax cuts are terrible - I’m sure you can find many more economically-minded people who have written things much better than what I would write. But this vote gets the bill dangerously close to passing and harming the American economy. This bill may be the first big “success” for Trump’s Congress, and while it has still been incredibly difficult for them to do that, it is still a very scary thought that the Republicans’ slim Senate majority is still enough to impose their agenda on the country.

Travel Ban Confirmed by SCOTUS

Donald Trump’s third travel ban, which restricts entry to the country by people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela, was upheld by the Supreme Court. The order had been previously partially blocked by lower courts, and further challenges are still making their way through the legal system, but for now it stands as law.

Trump Retweets Hate Group

President Trump came under fire for re-tweeting anti-Muslim hysteria from the “Britain First” twitter account, representing the ultra right-wing party of the same name. A horrible thing to do regardless, but one of the videos was literally fake, depicting a “Muslim migrant” who was not Muslim and had lived his entire life in the Netherlands. He was criticized by Prime Minister Theresa May (who he then tweeted against, to the wrong Twitter account), and American politicians from both parties. Britain First, however, were very proud to be exposed to a wide audience and thanked Trump.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Week 86: "Harare" (November 19, 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

Senator Franken Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Democratic Senator Al Franken from Minnesota, a former comedian, was accused of sexual misconduct during rehearsal for a skit in 2006. I won’t go into the details, but obviously Franken made many mistakes and did some bad things, and deserves to be reprimanded. The emergence of this story at the same time as the allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore has allowed some to draw an equivalency between the two men. However, this is wrong - Moore’s accusations show repeated inappropriate behavior against underage girls, while Franken’s acts, while terrible, were an isolated incident and shouldn’t be compared to Moore.

Tax Ploys

With the House Republicans’ tax reform bill already passed, there isn’t much time left for the Senate to pass their version. It is unclear whether Republicans have enough votes to pass it, with multiple senators indicating they might vote no. And today President Trump tweeted out against retiring Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona, saying “He’ll be a NO on tax cuts because his political career anyway is ‘toast.’” Now who knows what Trump actually knows, but if Trump is indicating a Senator may vote no, that is potentially important.

Zimbabwe
...Speaking of authoritarian leaders in political disarray, there was a coup against 93-year-old Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980. There had been competition between Mugabe’s wife, Grace, and his Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, over who will succeed him. Grace Mugabe has been accused of many bizarre things, such as punching a photographer in the face multiple times, and attacking a South African model with an extension cord. Mnangagwa, known as “the crocodile,” was fired earlier this month. In support of Mnangagwa, the army stepped in and staged a coup, and today, Mugabe’s own party removed him as leader. He has not yet resigned, though it is assumed he will resign or be forced out.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Week 85: "Election Day" (November 12, 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

Election Day!

The polls showed a close race for Virginia Governor between Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie. But the vote on Tuesday was anything but close. Northam won by 9 points and the Democrats almost retook the heavily gerrymandered House of Delegates, which will presumably end either 51-49 for the Republicans or an even 50-50, pending results in certain very close seats. So what? The Democrats already held the Virginia governor’s seat, and failing to take back the state house in a seat Democrats have won in the presidential election for the past three cycles doesn’t sound  impressive, but it is.
First off, being the most high-profile election on Election Day 2017, both sides invested a lot of money in it. Secondly, the polling showed a much, much closer race. And lastly, the margin was much wider than what one would expect from a fairly competitive state like Virginia. This is a very good sign for Democrats on the first Election Day of Donald Trump’s presidency. In addition, prior to the election the House of Delegates was 66-34 for the Republicans, and taking back 15 or 16 seats is an incredibly impressive thing and bodes very well for lower-level elections.
In addition, Democrats picked up the New Jersey Governor’s seat when Phil Murphy defeated Republican Kim Guadagno. However, incumbent Chris Christie’s approval rating was under 20%, so this result was much more expected.

Some other things:
-A Liberian refugee was elected mayor of Helena, Montana
-The first Democratic mayor since 2005 in Manchester, New Hampshire was elected
-Bill de Blasio was re-elected mayor of New York
-A bunch more truly awesome people were elected across the country
-In a special election, the Democrats retook the Washington State House

Alabama

The upcoming special election for Senate in Alabama, pitting ultraconservative Republican judge Roy Moore against Democrat Doug Jones, already much closer than most elections in Alabama, became much more complicated this week. It became known that Moore dated and made sexual advances on teenagers when he was in his thirties. While the stories haven’t been confirmed, and he hasn’t exactly proclaimed guilt (that’s sort of unclear though), they have had a damning effect with many high-profile Republicans calling on him to drop out and polls showing the race as essentially even. Moore has no plans to drop out, and no official alternatives, such as a write-in campaign for Luther Strange, who lost the Republican primary, have been shown yet. That said, this race will become very very interesting and I’m sure I will have much more to say about it in the coming weeks.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to let me know what you think.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Week 84: A Special Report on the Indictment of Paul Manafort (October 29, 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

Indictment

Beginning on Friday, there were rumors that special counsel Robert Mueller would indict someone with ties to President Trump because of connections to Russia. Today, it was revealed that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was charged with money laundering, Rick Gates, a former campaign adviser, was charged alongside him. This wasn’t exactly surprising - Manafort has been subject to FBI raids and other investigation recently. But the more damning charge came when former Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. There is also perhaps potential for more upcoming charges, though that is obviously just speculation. These charges on their own are not that meaningful, other than showing that Mueller has real evidence and actually means business.
What does our president have to say about this?
-“All of this "Russia" talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!”
-“Report out that Obama Campaign paid $972,000 to Fusion GPS. The firm also got $12,400,000 (really?) from DNC. Nobody knows who OK'd!”
-“Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren't Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus???? ....Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”

JFK Assassination Documents to be Released

Relatively minor detail, but the FBI has announced they will release all files pertaining to the Kennedy assassination. They will be released in the coming weeks, after initially being delayed by the White House.

Thanks for reading! Sorry this one was short, I suppose it was more of a “special report” concerning the indictment.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Week 83: "Wacky" (October 22, 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

Budget
This week, the Senate passed the 2018 budget. It passed 51-49, with every Republican save Rand Paul voting in favor. The budget is supposedly a prerequisite to the tax cuts Republicans are currently trying to pass, and McConnell and Trump say they are pleased with this news. I’ve gone over the budget in the past, but it cuts a lot of government programs to allow for tax cuts on the rich, all the while being presented as a “Taxpayers First” budget. The obvious hypocrisy should be evident.
Prior to this, the Senate passed an amendment referring to the voting process on the budget as “utter nonsense.” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer referred to it as “one of the worst budgets Congress has ever passed.” And they still got 51 votes.

Frederica Wilson
The argument began when Rep. Frederica Wilson from Florida told reporters she overheard a conversation between President Trump and the widow of an officer who died in Niger. In this conversation, she said, Trump told the widow that the officer “knew what he was getting in to.” Rather than apologizing, the president denied it and called Wilson “wacky.” The insults kept growing, and John Kelly joined in too, insulting her for listening to the conversation: "I would have thought that was sacred." She responded to this by calling Kelly a “puppet.”

A Wonderful Week in Professional Tweets from Our President

“Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!”

“Republicans are going for the big Budget approval today, first step toward massive tax cuts. I think we have the votes, but who knows?”

@foxandfriends "Russia sent millions to Clinton Foundation"

“The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!”

Trump’s Bartiromo Interview

Trump recently had an interview with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo. Calling it “barely coherent” is probably too generous. Here’s an example:

BARTIROMO:  Yes.  You soured on the health care bipartisan plan a bit -- right -- from Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray?

TRUMP:  Well I’ve -- I have looked at it very, very strongly.  And pretty much, we can do almost what they’re getting.  I -- I think he is a tremendous person.  I don’t know Senator Murray.  I hear very, very good things.

I know that Lamar Alexander’s a fine man and he is really in there to do good for the people.  We can do pretty much what we have to do without, you know, the Secretary has tremendous leeway in the -- under the Obama plans.  One of the things that they did, because they were so messed up, they had no choice but to give the Secretary leeway because they knew he’d have to be -- he or she would have to be changing all the time.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to reply or comment to let me know what you think.