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Net Neutrality Repealed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.

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

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.

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

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

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.


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, 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

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

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


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.


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


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.”


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.