Sunday, December 17, 2017

Week 88: "Doug Jones" (December 17, 2017)

Dear Readers,

It has been an eventful week. For all past newsletters (and more), make sure to go to the blog at

Net Neutrality Repealed

In a highly publicized decision, the FCC voted this week to repeal net neutrality, the practice that ensures internet service providers do not give preferential treatment to certain websites. The vote, opposed by some 83% of American voters, is already being challenged by some state Attorneys General. Ajit Pai, FCC chairman and owner of a really big mug, has furiously defended their decision before and after the vote, saying it will increase competition and end with better service, but he has received a lot of criticism from a lot of people for this. We will see how the legal battle progresses.

Alabama Elects A Democrat

On Tuesday, Alabama, one of the most conservative states in the nation, voted by a margin of 49.9% to 48.4% to elect Democrat lawyer Doug Jones over controversial Republican judge and accused child molester Roy Moore. Jones inspired incredible Democratic turnout for an off-year election as Republicans generally failed to turn out for Moore, leading to a slim margin. Democratic turnout in Jefferson County, home of Birmingham, was 163% of what it was in 2014, the last off-year election in the state, whereas Republican turnout decreased in all but one county from 2014.
It is important to not give credit to any one factor in explaining this result - it was a combination of Moore’s unpopularity, his scandals, and Doug Jones’s strong campaigning. It is also, however, important to note each of these things. This election can be seen as a very strong argument against the past Democratic strategy in the Deep South, which was to run centrist or right-wing Democrats, who lost big because they didn’t attract Republicans or inspire Democrats to turn out. Jones was a genuine liberal, which seems to have gotten Democrats to turn out strongly for him.
Jones will enter office in January, and decrease the Republican Senate majority from 52-48 to 51-49, which could prove crucial on key votes in the future. It also means Democrats only need to win 2 elections in 2018 to gain a majority, which is a lot more realistic than winning 3, given the map. This election is a stunning victory for Democrats, for moral decency, and for the people of Alabama.

Thanks for reading, feel free to let me know what you think!

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

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

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.

...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

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


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


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.