Sunday, October 8, 2017

Week 82: "Beautiful, Soft Towels. Very Good Towels" (October 8, 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

Las Vegas

I don’t want to say too much about this, because what there is to say has already been repeated many times. The facts are as such: A 64-year-old retiree with no prior criminal history shot at a crowd of festival goers, killing 58 and injuring hundreds more. He was able to fire more bullets by using bump stocks, a legal device capable of making semi automatic rifles become basically automatic. The NRA has opposed efforts to ban these devices, as well as any gun control efforts.
My thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims, but if this won’t start a serious dialogue about gun control measures, what will?

Puerto Rico

Now, for some more lighthearted news, Donald Trump’s handling of Hurricane Maria. Trump finally visited the devastated island of Puerto Rico and... threw rolls of paper towels into the crowd, like a T-shirt cannon at a basketball game. He then somehow tried to justify it by, of course, bragging about the crowd’s reaction as well as describing “these beautiful, soft towels. Very good towels. And I came in and there was a crowd of a lot of people. And they were screaming and they were loving everything. I was having fun, they were having fun.” Nothing more fun than hurricane relief efforts! Fun!

Adult Daycare

Following the announcement of his retirement, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) has begun releasing insults of Donald Trump (since he’s got nothing to lose), and it’s a beautiful thing to behold. The chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee tweeted this morning: “It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

Similarly, during a feud between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Trump, it has been revealed that Tillerson referred to Trump as a “moron” in a Pentagon meeting. The reason Trump and Tillerson were feuding is because Tillerson has been negotiating with North Korea, which Trump thinks is a bad idea. Indeed, he referred to this time (with North Korea... we think) as “the calm before the storm.” Repeatedly asked what said storm referred to, he only said “you’ll find out”. Because who knows any more?

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

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Week 81: "Killing Us With The Bureaucracy" (October 1, 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

Health Care Failures

And yet again, the GOP replacement to ObamaCare goes down in flames, being pulled from the floor without so much as a vote this week. Graham-Cassidy was scrapped after many Republican senators announced their attention to not vote for it, and afterwards Sen. Lindsey Graham freely admitted he had no idea what he was doing. In addition, this week Congress failed to reauthorize the CHIP program, which provides health insurance to 9 million children and has existed for 20 years. It is primarily federally funded, though the states do also provide some, and if they don’t reauthorize it soon, funding might be gone as soon as March.

Alabama

Not that it was much of a surprise, but homophobic far-right judge Roy Moore handily won the Republican primary for the open Senate seat in Alabama. Senate Republicans spent $9 million to support Luther Strange in this race, and the president even endorsed him.
Some referred to the election as a referendum on Trump’s influence, since the candidate Trump endorsed lost. This is ridiculous. Were it not for Trump, Roy Moore could not have gained enough support to win. Moore belongs to Trump’s brand of outspoken, “tell it like it is”, vaguely racist Republicanism. And Trump’s obviously reluctant endorsement of Strange doesn’t change that. No, this was a referendum on widely hated Mitch McConnell, who proudly supported Strange and will pay for it.

Golfing While PR Burns

As Hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm, wrecked Puerto Rico, President Trump sat at Mar-A-Lago. He has yet to visit the island (though he will this week), and at first cared much more about criticizing Colin Kaepernick than helping the millions of Americans without power in Puerto Rico. He has since at least nominally tried to help them, but made a big deal of insulting San Juan’s mayor, after she said “If anyone out there is listening to us, we are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy.” Trump, among many other things, said that the island's leaders "want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort." Yes, the victims of the hurricane need to help each other when none of them have power or water, as opposed to the man that governs them, you know, doing what a government should do and initiating disaster response? Sickening.

Catalonia

Catalonia, a region of Spain with a linguistic minority that makes up 20% of the Spanish economy, held a vote on independence today. The Spanish government declared the referendum unconstitutional beforehand, but they proceeded with the vote anyway. The Spanish government sent police, who injured nearly a thousand protesters, and even raided some polling statements. The votes we have show 90% voting to secede, and the actions of the Spanish government certainly will cause support for independence to increase further. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called the vote illegal. Whether or not you agree with the Catalonian cause, the Spanish government has no justification for their actions today.

Thanks for reading! Please let me know what you think.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Week 80: "And I Think It's Going To Be A Long, Long Time" (September 24, 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

And I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time

While addressing the United Nations this week, our president referred to the leader of North Korea as a “rocket man on a suicide mission.” Days later, he threatened war with North Korea over Twitter. Yes, you read that right. Other than noting that Kim Jong Un’s response was, naturally, to call him a "mentally deranged US dotard" and say that Trump was the one on a suicide mission, I’m not sure what else to say about this. We inch closer to nuclear war over Twitter, and the news cycle has moved on before the end of the week.

Repealing ObamaCare, Yet Again

Despite insisting they wouldn’t, Senate Republicans are trying to repeal ObamaCare yet again. See, after the end of the month, a repeal of ObamaCare will require 60 votes rather than a majority. So Republicans Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham drafted one final bill. Already, Rand Paul and John McCain are definite “no”s, with Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz likely to join them. With only 52 Republicans in the Senate, it appears very unlikely that this bill will pass, and yet another attempt to end the ACA will end in embarrassing failure.

But His Emails! Lock Him Up!

You couldn’t make it up if you tried: Jared Kushner has been conducting official state business on a private email account he created after the election (Hillary Clinton-style). Not that administration officials being hilariously hypocritical is anything new. It’s worth mentioning that within this statement it says that Kushner usually used his personal email after someone mistakenly sent something to it and he replied, but still. It’s the optics here that matter.

President Yells At Football Players

At a campaign rally for Luther Strange in Alabama (more on that in a second) in which he stated many nonsensical things, Trump called for any player who kneels during the national anthem a “son of a [expletive]” who should be fired. This escalated over Twitter, where he continued to call for the suspension of players, among other things. As a response, many players, coaches, and even owners knelt or locked arms during the anthem. The entire Pittsburgh Steelers team, save one player, stayed in the locker room.
Trump also said the safety rules the NFL has created to help stop concussions are “ruining the game,” which feels like something a Roman emperor would say about gladiators.
In addition, Stephen Curry of the NBA champion Warriors announced he would not attend the White House (as is customary for champions.) To respond, Trump rescinded his invitation to the rest of the team and got in a Twitter fight with LeBron.

Elections Rundown: Alabama, New Zealand, and Germany

The primary for the Republican side in the Alabama Senate special election is on Tuesday. Incumbent (since February, when he was tapped to replace Jeff Sessions) Luther Strange, a crazy right-winger, is being challenged by Judge Roy Moore. Moore has called for homosexuality to be made illegal, has been endorsed by Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage, and has made countless crazy statements. The GOP are panicked by Moore’s rise in support, and it’s unclear what will happen on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, the current National government, led by Bill English, won the most seats again, albeit with large gains by opposition Labour. It’s likely that the Nationals will have to join in a coalition with far-right NZ First, and it’s unclear how stable that will be.

Results in the German election today have yet to fully come in, but we know there is a large vote gain from far-right AfD. The CDU/CSU, Angela Merkel’s current leading right wing party, should be able to easily form another majority, but we have to see what happens.

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

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.