Monday, January 30, 2017

Week 58: Weak (January 29, 2017)

Dear Readers,

It’s been a week and stuff’s already going crazy. Reminder that newsletters and more are always available at

Executive Orders Galore

“I don't think he even tries anymore. I think he just signs executive actions," -Donald Trump (on Barack Obama), December 2015

Trump’s been getting busy since inauguration day with executive orders. An anti-ObamaCare order, a protection against illegal immigration, and a dumb order literally placing in law the old saying “repeal two regulations for each new one.” But the most important and controversial order was the Executive Order "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States," making good his campaign promise for a Muslim ban. The text of the order bans entrants of the country from Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan. It’s still unclear whether this affects green card holders, but the fact that it might is still terrifying.
Naturally, this order prompted tons of protest and a lawsuit from the ACLU. It’s estimated nearly 400 travellers have been affected already. In addition to being anti-immigrant and generally awful, the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack were from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Lebanon - all nations conspicuously left off the bill, and all nations in which Mr. Trump has business interests. It’s a little fishy...
Indeed, many Americans (and some Brits, Canadians, and Belgians) showed up at airports in 33 different states to protest Trump’s executive order. The largest was at Kennedy Airport in New York, but there were organized protests from Bangor to San Diego, and everywhere in between. It will surely not be the last protest, and Trump clearly knows we’re watching his every move.

Trump Swaps out Attorney Generals

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, unwilling to act in favor of the administration’s new executive order, has been fired and replaced with Virginia AG Dana Boente. The White House went on a tirade against Yates in which they said "Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration." Now, Boente is a registered Democrat, and this does follow a letter by Yates saying “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities, nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful,” but it still shows what frightening power Trump has.


Steve Bannon (as Chief Strategist) has been placed on the US National Security Council as of yesterday. Moved off of the council are the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence. This is a disturbing turn that replaces important roles with an inexperienced anti-Semite who has too much power over the president as it is.
Also in the Cabinet, the senior State Department officials’ period of transition has come to a premature end. Let me explain: Generally, state department officials will stay on for a short amount of transition time so somebody is left to ease the new secretary in. However, Trump waved these administrators away before Tillerson has been confirmed and before they’ve even picked a deputy!

Also noted:
-Trump’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement went out of its way to not mention Jews or the Jewish faith.
-Trump has continued to say he’ll launch investigations on illegal voting

Thanks for reading! Feel free to reply and comment.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Week 57: Alternative Facts (January 22, 2017)

Dear Readers,

Donald Trump has now sworn in as president. Reminder that newsletters and more are always available at

Trump’s Inauguration

This friday, Donald John Trump was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States. His inaugural concert featured such legendary musicians as 3 Doors Down and Toby Keith. An estimated 10,000 people attended, while 400,000 attended Obama’s. Trump’s inaugural address, the shortest since Carter’s in 1977, described the “American carnage” under President Obama and copied a line from a speech by Batman villain Bane. The crowd of about 200,000 people was lower than the average of 692,000 and much lower than Obama’s total of 1.8 million. However, Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer denounced this as a lie, somehow, at a press conference, during which they made no mentions of...
...The millions of people protesting at women’s marches around the country, as the biggest protest in United State history. While Trump later tweeted about it (and contradicted himself), it’s clear where the new administration’s sights are focused - proving they’re the best, not actually addressing the needs of the American people.
Another thing Donald thought it was influential enough to tweet about was the amount of people watching the inauguration on TV - 31 million, he said, better than Obama 2012! News flash, Mr. President - nobody cares about a second inauguration. Less people watched this than watched any president's inauguration in many, many years: more people watched Jimmy Carter in 1977!

Trump’s Cabinet Confirmations

The first two members of Trump’s cabinet were confirmed this friday. General James Mattis was confirmed 98-1 for Sec. of Defense (the lone dissenter was Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and John Kelly (for Homeland Security) was confirmed 88-11, with all eleven dissenters being Democrats. Dates haven’t been set for the rest of the cabinet, but the only ones who I could see possibly being rejected are Tillerson and Mnuchin, so it doesn’t really matter.

Alternative Facts

Remember when I talked about Sean Spicer denouncing the facts about the crowd size? Well, Kellyanne Conway (Trump’s campaign manager/Counselor to the President) had an airtight defense for that:

“You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that,”

Now, enough has been written about this that I don’t need to go into depth, but in English we have a word that means “alternative fact.” It’s called “lie.” The term itself recalls images of 1984, or Stalinist Russia. And the ramifications are very large - if the government has the authority to define facts, then that paves the way for a totalitarian state.

No, Donald, Don’t Take the Oil

While addressing the CIA this week, President Trump repeated a bizarre claim that the US should have stolen Iraqi oil during the Iraq War (which he was opposed to, remember?). Even more troubling, he stated that “OK, maybe we’ll have another chance.” It’s likely for the Iraqi government to see this as a declaration of war, which is bad for obvious reasons. In addition, this entire claim violates international law and makes no sense. He says that if we had taken the oil, ISIS would never have been created, which is obviously false - for starters, ISIS has existed in some form or another since 1999, before the Iraq War.

Donald Trump Will Not Release Tax Returns Ever

Well, of course. Kellyanne Conway has stated that Trump will never release his tax returns - not even an excuse about being under audit (even though that still would fall below Richard Nixon’s ethical standards), just a straight up denial. What does Donald have to hide? Clearly something. For now, we should assume the worst and use that to slander him because that’s exactly what Paul Ryan would be doing to Hillary Clinton right now in an alternate universe, anyway.

This Week In World News

Canada: PM Justin Trudeau is in a huge conflict of interest scandal over a vacation he went on to the island of the Aga Khan, a major Canadian donor and billionaire. It’s not the first time this has happened to a world leader, as Bahamian Prime Minister Earl Deveaux was forced to resign over a similar scandal. On the one hand, Trudeau has a more important job than Deveaux did. On the other hand, the Aga Khan is a family friend of the Trudeaus. It’s unclear how this story will go over.

Thanks for reading! Remain vigilant and keep your eye on the administration, and don’t forget to reply and comment!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Week 56: Really Bad Television! (January 15, 2017)

Dear Readers,

The Trump inauguration is only five days away, and politics is just as important as ever. A reminder that all newsletters (and more) are available at

Trump Cabinet Confirmation Hearings

This week, work began on the confirmation hearings for the president-elect’s cabinet picks.

Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions: Surprisingly, the Sessions hearing wasn’t all bad. Sessions does have a questionable record on civil rights, and that remains a huge issue, but in his hearing Session vowed to oppose a Muslim registry. He even vowed to respect Roe v. Wade, it being federal law. However, his positions on women’s rights, voting rights, and, most importantly, sentencing and prisons, remain deeply worrying. Another worrying thing is an exchange he had with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Whitehouse asked him whether “a secular person has just as good a claim to understanding the truth as a person who is religious.” Session said that he was “not sure”. This is strange and, frankly, not a good attitude for an important cabinet member to have.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:  Tillerson faced lots of heat on his potential conflicts of interest. The person grilling him over this was, surprisingly, Marco Rubio (R-FL). Tillerson also tentatively opposes a Muslim registry, believes in gender equality, and thinks climate change is real. However, he lied about his lobbying against sanctions, doesn’t care about addressing climate change any time soon, and clearly doesn’t think poorly of Putin.

Secretary of HUD Ben Carson: Doctor Carson is being quoted as saying "It will not be my intention to do anything to benefit any American.” However, this is an intentionally fabricated quote. Instead, Carson actually said "It will not be my intention to do anything to benefit any American, particularly. It's for all Americans, everything that we do." It’s a terrible thing for journalists to misquote him just to make fun of him, and anybody who hates fake news should not let people get away with this. However, Carson is still a strange human being who made it a major part of his campaign last year to prove that he did, indeed, try to stab someone, even though the claim is disputed.

Another Week in the Life of Donald Trump

First, Trump held a strange press conference in which he repeatedly lied, revealed his main priorities for being president are building a wall and repealing ObamaCare. This was Trump’s first press conference since late July, and it did little to clear very much up. Also, this:

“Trump falsely claimed that there are “96 million really wanting a job and they can’t get [one].” There are roughly 96 million people not in the labor force, but that includes retirees, students and others who don’t want jobs. Only 5.5 million of them want work.”

Then, Donald Trump announced Rudy Giuliani for a big role in cybersecurity - presumably, he’s only filling the position until Barron Trump gets older: “I have a son—he’s 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers. It’s unbelievable.”

He also decided to wish everyone a happy Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend by viciously attacking civil rights icon and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner John Lewis (D-GA), by calling him “all talk, no action.” Yes, John Lewis, who was nearly killed at the march on Selma, helped organize the March on Washington, and has served in Congress for 30 years, is definitely “no action.”

And to top it all off, he continued his vicious tirade against a great American enemy - Saturday Night Live! “.@NBCNews is bad but Saturday Night Live is the worst of NBC. Not funny, cast is terrible, always a complete hit job. Really bad television!”
Donald certainly has his priorities straight! He’ll attack John Lewis and Alex Baldwin, but not Vladimir Putin!

Obama’s Farewell Speech

This Tuesday, President Obama gave his farewell speech. An uplifting speech that brings back memories of his 2008 campaign and the optimism of his earlier years in office, it was a great moment. Obama has under a week left in office, and it will be sad to see him go. He also later gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to VP Joe Biden.

Republicans Move to Dismantle Affordable Care Act

There isn’t much to report on this, but the Republicans in congress have begun to take the steps necessary to dismantle ObamaCare. I’ll write more about this if and when they complete the process.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Week 55: 'Ethics' (January 8, 2017)

Dear Readers,

The Trump inauguration is a couple of weeks away, and politics is just as important as ever. A reminder that all newsletters (and more) are available at

Upcoming Dates
Inauguration Day of our 44th* President: 12 days from today

* Why 44th? Isn’t Trump the 45th president? Well, I find it ridiculous that we count Grover Cleveland twice just because he lost and got elected again four years later. He doesn’t get to be two separate people. If we’re measuring individual terms, then Trump is number 58, which makes just as little sense. But we’re not (except in Cleveland’s case apparently), so it’s 44 or 58. Your choice.

Swearing In Of Congress and Most Governors

Our new congress is present in Washington. And guess what, hijinks have ensued. On January 2nd, at the very end of their term, the good people of the House GOP voted to severely cut down the Office of Congressional Ethics. What could go wrong? Well, surprisingly, president-elect Trump released a tweet against the House GOP’s actions, and they agreed to do away with the plan. The plan, even before Trump’s tweet, was notably opposed by Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy, members of the Republican House Leadership. Trump’s decision is an odd one, but I see it as a message to the House that he’ll be checking their work and keeping them on their toes.

In the North Carolina governor’s seat, albeit with slightly less power, Roy Cooper (a Democrat) has already signed a large increase to Medicaid that will give healthcare to hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians and possibly oppose President Trump’s future rulings. Of course, the Republicans in the legislature are fighting it already (even though most of those helped by the bill are Republican voters).

Boris Johnson?

Recently spotted in New York is Boris Johnson, who is reportedly talking with Trump’s team about foreign policy. Johnson is the British Secretary for Foreign Affairs, so this does make some sense, especially coming hours after Trump tweeted that he looks forward to meeting Theresa May, but considering that Johnson is also known for his xenophobic demagoguery, it is amusing to see them both as great leaders of foreign policy.

Trump Supporters Don’t Care About Russia Hacks
The New York times recently published a collection of interviews with Trump supporters in Indiana and Louisiana. The findings are that these Trump supporters don’t find the big deal in the Russian election hacks. And while, yes, it may not have made a discernable difference, the idea that any foreign power can creep into our free elections and do whatever they want should give anyone a slight amount of fear. These reports indicate more than anything that some Trump supporters will believe Trump and fake media more than the news and facts. So to any Democrat who thinks we can hold Joe Donnelly’s Indiana Senate seat in the midterm elections, I’d want to be careful.

Thanks for reading! Sorry that this one was short - things are about to get interesting, though. Feel free to comment!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Week 54: 2017! (January 2, 2017)

Dear Readers,

Happy New Year! A reminder that all newsletters (and more) are available at

Another Week In Trump Tweets

Monday, December 26, 2016

It started off innocently enough, with three statements against Obama “President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that but I say NO WAY! - jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etc.”

“President Obama campaigned hard (and personally) in the very important swing states, and lost.The voters wanted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

“Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks.Thought it was going to be a smooth transition - NOT!”

Then this troubling statement: “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) - I always knew he was very smart!”

And another two passive-aggressive “sore winner” statements: “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don't know what to do. Love!”

“I thought and felt I would win big, easily over the fabled 270 (306). When they cancelled fireworks, they knew, and so did I.”

From a disgusting pro-Russia approach to a continual taunting of Democrats and President Obama, these tweets have a bit of everything. And they’re a full display of everything worrying about our president-elect.

Gerard Baker’s Interesting Approach to Covering Things Now

Wall Street Journal editor Gerard Baker has taken a strange approach to his coverage. When asked about Donald Trump’s false statements he remarked, “I’d be careful about using the word ‘lie.’ ‘Lie’ implies much more than just saying something that’s false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead.” Now, that’d be one thing coming from Kellyanne Conway. But coming from a journalist whose job is to inform the people, this is strange. Now, we know the WSJ is a somewhat conservative publication, but a following answer truly proves that: “This is happening all the time now, people are looking at what Donald Trump’s saying and saying, ‘This is false, it’s a false claim.’ I think people are saying, ‘You know what, Hillary Clinton said a lot things that were false.’ I don’t remember the press being quite so concerned about saying she lied in headlines and stories like that.”

Semi-Bold Political Predictions for 2017:

American politics:
-At least one Trump cabinet official, as well at least one non-cabinet official, will not be confirmed by the Senate
-On January 1, 2018, Donald Trump’s approval rating will be around 37%
-”Calexit” will reach 25% support in polls
-Democrats will hold the Virginia gubernatorial election, and pick up the seat in New Jersey
-Preliminary Democratic primary polling will continue to show Sanders and Warren with leads, but as it becomes clearer neither will run, newer candidates will gain momentum

International politics:
-Maxime Bernier will pull off an upset to win the Conservative Party of Canada leadership race
-Francois Fillon will defeat Marine Le Pen in the French presidential runoff 55-45
-Angela Merkel’s CDU will lead parliament in Germany yet again, albeit with a minority government.
-Jonas Gahr Støre’s Liberals (and coalition) will take a majority in Norway
-There will not be another Scottish independence referendum

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment.