Sunday, April 30, 2017

Week 70: "Crimes" (April 30, 2017)

Dear Readers,

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

100 Days: An Evaluation

Much as it annoys me as an arbitrary milestone, I suppose it’s my duty as a political columnist to evaluate Donald Trump’s first 100 days in the White House. So, what has our President done? Instead of just looking at his accomplishments, let’s compare them to this "plan for the first 100 days" (from October) from his website.
Among other things, Donald promised to:
★ Propose a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress. Nope!
★ A hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce the federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health). He did, but has since reversed it.
★ A five-year ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service. No such thing
★ A lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government. Not only has this not happened, numerous Trump administration officials have been busted for being paid by foreign governments.
★ I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Yes
★ I will direct the Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator. Depends on what day you ask him.

★ Begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution. Gorsuch is on the court.

★ Begin removing the more than two million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back. Yes.

★ Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered “extreme vetting.” He wasn’t successful, but he sure as hell tried.

So this doesn’t look so bad, until we realize that there is a second page. On that second page he lists about a dozen “Acts” he would try to get Congress to pass. The Healthcare one is the only one he’s even come close to proposing, and we all saw how well that went. All of Trump’s actions have been through statements and executive orders, even though his party controls all three branches of government.  Trump has been terrible at dealing with Congress, even though he theoretically has an advantage in that department.

Trump Is Scarily Friendly Toward Rodrigo Duterte

Yesterday, President Trump had a “very friendly conversation” with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. That should be a good thing, right? Wrong. Duterte, in case you had forgotten, authorizes extrajudicial killing, and has led the Philippines as a near-dictatorship. This quote from Adam Blickstein, a writer for the Huffington Post among other things, sums it up: “The Hague is considering charging Duterte with crimes against humanity. And Trump just invited him to the White House.”

Flynn the Criminal

"I see no data to support the notion that Gen. Flynn complied with the law. As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else. And it appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate. And there are repercussions for the violation of law.” No, this attack on Michael Flynn did not come from a Democrat. It came from House Oversight Committee chair Jason Chaffetz. Even hyper-partisan Utahn Republican Chaffetz knows that Flynn unquestionably did wrong, and Flynn has barely tried to defend himself. The second victim among the Trump administration (remember Andy Puzder?) has dug himself in a great hole, and will certainly never return or recover.

Ros-Lehtinen Will Not Try for Re-Election

Moderate Floridian Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has announced that she will not seek re-election in 2018. Ros-Lehtinen, a pro-gay rights, relatively anti-Trump moderate, has been re-elected many times in a district that voted for Clinton by 20 points and Obama by 7. The South Miami seat will now be near the top of the Democrats’ target list for 2018, and this is a move I’m sure Thomas Perez is thrilled about, since every seat will certainly count.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to reply or comment.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Week 69: "Snap Election!" (April 23, 2017)

Dear Readers,

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

Macron and Le Pen

So when we left off last week, the French election seemed to be very close, with Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen holding onto a slight lead. They made good on that lead today, with Macron getting 24% and Le Pen 21%, beating Fillon and Melenchon, who each got between 19 and 20%. (Though Melenchon wound up falling back into fourth place.) Macron is up in the runoff polls by some 20%, and it would take a drastic shift for Le Pen to make this even relatively close, but we’ve seen it happen before.

Ossoff and Georgia

The GA-6 congressional special election’s first round was this week as well. He reached 48%, which didn’t prevent a runoff, but should put him in a strong position for said runoff (which will be in June).  It’s better than what most expected, although an outright win would’ve definitely helped. Republicans now get to regroup and focus on one candidate, but Ossoff can now  focus his attacks  on Karen Handel, who has some suspicious business connections and has lost multiple important races in Georgia. The race is pretty much a tossup, at this point.

May Calls Snap Election

Facing the news of a 20-point lead in the polls, Theresa May’s Conservative Party got really excited and motioned for a new general election to be held on June 8, a move Labour (the minority party) were forced to support. The election should be easily won by the Conservatives, unless Jeremy Corbyn’s Labor do a very good job campaigning or a major geopolitical event happens. UKIP have tanked in the polls since the announcement, and should not be a factor in this election. It’s early yet, we’ll learn more about this race as it approaches.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Enemy of Many Democrats, To Resign

Jason Chaffetz, high-profile Republican representative from Utah, famous for leading a charge against Hillary Clinton’s email server, has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2018, and may not complete his term. He’s well known for being a hypocrite and an opportunist, and had been seen as likely to run for Senate or Governor. While he could theoretically still run for higher office after this, this potential resignation looks bad for him if he is to do that, and he had better have a convincing explanation.

Trump Gets Flustered over “100 Day” Mark

The hundredth day of Donald Trump’s presidency is approaching, and Trump is well aware of that fact. He’s repeatedly called out the media for unfairly representing his accomplishments so far, while having had a very unsuccessful ninety-plus days, having the healthcare bill fail, and with his cabinet still not fully confirmed. His approval rating is much lower than any other president’s has been at this point, and even William Henry Harrison had gotten some stuff done before dying on day 31. Media dishonesty or not, it hasn’t been a very strong hundred days - and Trump had said he’d get a lot done by now.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to reply, comment, or whatever.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Week 68: "Erdogan, MOABs, and the Rise of Jean-Luc Melenchon" (April 16, 2017)

Dear Readers,

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

Also be sure to check out my article here: Can Polls Be Trusted?

Looking At Our President’s Twitter

To start, let’s head over to @realDonaldTrump. Oh, how nice, he wished everyone a happy Easter. Then, just 40 minutes later (still 6 in the morning), he went on yet another conspiratorial tirade:

“I did what was an almost an impossible thing to do for a Republican-easily won the Electoral College! Now Tax Returns are brought up again?”

“Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies yesterday. The election is over!”

I’m not gonna write much about this, but just a reminder that whenever anyone claims he’s “pivoting” towards sanity, they’re wrong, and he’ll always be this way.

Another Bomb

As if targeting Assad wasn’t enough, Donald Trump decided to drop a 21,000 pound bomb on ISIS this week. However, rather than attacking an ISIS central location, he dropped it on a group in Afghanistan. While this Afghan base has done a lot of damage to civilians, it’s still a different kind of a message to drop a very, very large bomb on a far-off base, that tells us little about Trump’s policy regarding ISIS other than that he is willing to spend a lot of resources and money to fight them.

Democrats Come Close in Deep Red Kansas Seat; Prepare for Georgia Race

This week, a special election for CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s House seat in Southern Kansas was held. Pompeo won his seat by over 30 points, and Trump won the district by a similar margin. However, the Democratic candidate came within seven points, and was leading for a good chunk of the night. This swing was massive and incredibly meaningful, showing Democrats can mobilize voters against Trump. This is incredibly relevant as Jon Ossoff tries to win a special election in suburban Atlanta. He’s polling around 45% in a huge field, and needs 50% to stop a runoff from happening, though it's likely he’d win a potential runoff.

Erdogan Scores Major Victory

A referendum on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s proposed constitutional reforms has come out with a slight vote in favor. “Yes” earned 51.4%, although the campaign against have called for a recount already. These reforms give Erdogan a lot more power, at the expense of the other branches of government. We know Erdogan is power-hungry, and polls were showing a much larger potential victory for “Yes”, but it’s still an important and worrying development.

Melenchon Gains; Race Tightens in France

Meanwhile in France, the two leaders of the race, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, face a threat from 65-year-old Eurosceptic leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon. The polls have tightened considerably recently, with Melenchon within 2% of the other two candidates in some examples. Melenchon has likely passed Francois Fillon to move into third place, and we’ll see if he can make the jump into the top two (which would place him in the runoff) by next Sunday. In a potential runoff, Macron would beat Le Pen, as would Melenchon, and a race between Macron and Melenchon could go either way.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to reply or comment.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Week 67: "Bannon vs. Kushner"

Dear Readers,

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

Military Action

This week, our president took the first military action of his term in office. He decided, on a whim, that he was incredibly outraged by Bashar al-Assad’s latest actions and bombed a Syrian air base. There’s much debate to be had as to whether this was a sound move and whether the president was justified in his actions, but that doesn’t really matter when we consider the reality behind the situation. Yes, Assad is a horrible leader who deserves to be challenged. But Trump has been generally undisturbed by this, instead casting the Syrian people as villains by not letting them into our country. Now he suddenly gets very angry at Assad and before pursuing any other diplomatic actions uses force. This is never allowable, especially considering just how messy the situation in Syria is right now. Regardless of whether it was the right thing to do, it was done with such haste and such ineffectiveness (the base was in operation just days later) that it’s hard to justify.

Good Riddance

Steve Bannon was finally kicked off the National Security Council this week, representing an unexpected shift in Trump’s attitudes toward Bannon. This is a seen as a ploy by Jared Kushner, who has emerged as a rival to Bannon recently. Bannon’s replacement on the Council was none other than intellectual heavyweight Rick Perry (he even has glasses!) which is disturbing, since I thought we were done with him when he was, you know, indicted. But I suppose Dancing with the Stars can fix everything. Either way, Bannon has less power now and that’s a good thing, though it is telling that events in Syria happened right after Bannon was kicked off, so we’ll see what effect it actually has.

Gorsuch Confirmed

It took a “nuclear option”, but Neil Gorsuch is all ready to swear in as a Supreme Court justice. When the Democrats (stupidly) filibustered the confirmation of Gorsuch, Republicans changed Senate rules so that a simple majority is required to override a filibuster for a Supreme Court confirmation (this rule already existed for other confirmations). I don’t believe this is a good or bad change, but it is definitely what Democrats deserved for delaying the confirmation process with a political ploy (since it was losing fight no matter what), especially since Gorsuch is an immensely qualified justice. Either way, we have a ninth justice again, which is a positive development regardless of your politics.

“Work It Out”

As I mentioned earlier, Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner have gotten in a huge feud recently. Trump has refused to take a side, but demanded they work it out and stop publicly feuding. Both men are very close to Trump’s ear, and have been throughout, and while Bannon is more wicked and dystopian, he’s also much more intelligent. So opponents of the president will likely be rooting hard for Kushner (or for the feud to continue and the ship to sink completely) while supporters may be torn or inclined to prefer Bannon. It’s a meaningful feud, either way, since we know Trump listens a lot to those close to him.


The French election is just two weeks away, and some serious debates are starting. At the second national debate, an unlikely star emerged - Philippe Poutou. A mechanic running on a far-left ticket, he insulted every major candidate on the stage and positioned himself as an outsider, and it paid off. He “jumped” from 0.5% to as much as 3%, and, more importantly, got some serious news coverage. Meanwhile, Francois Fillon, once seen as a favorite to reach the runoff, is now in serious danger of slipping to fourth place following numerous scandals. Leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon has surged recently and has a chance of overtaking Fillon, although it will now almost definitely be Macron and Le Pen in the second round.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to reply or comment or whatever you kids do nowadays.