Sunday, May 28, 2017

Week 74: "The World Burns" (May 28, 2017)

Dear Readers,

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

Trump Abroad

Our president has concluded his first foreign trip this week. After his time in the Middle East earlier, he met with NATO in Brussels. In both locations, he called on other nations to try to support themselves so the U.S. could stop giving so much in defense spending and other aid, which seemed a little out of place and demanding. He affirmed our alliance with Saudi Arabia, while scolding Iran. He had an awkward handshake with Emmanuel Macron, and rode in a golf cart as the G7 leaders walked down the street. He also met with the Pope, and nothing awful happened, which is much better than I would have expected. Yes, through it all, Trump appeared unprofessional, unprepared, and certainly unique. But there’s no denying that Trump is an American, and it’s clear he wants what he thinks is best for our country (even if it means a push toward isolationism.) And yes, he doesn’t get along with many world leaders. But there were no illusions that he would, since he comes from such a different style and background. No, this trip could have been much worse for our country, and thankfully it wasn’t. Domestically, on the other hand...

More Fun With James Comey

You thought we were done with this guy now that he got fired? How wrong you are. Yes, Comey weaseled his way back into the news by doing something else dumb eight months ago. It seems when he began investigating Hillary Clinton’s email server - yes, the event that possibly shifted the course of the election - he was doing it because of evidence he knew was fake. Yes, Russia created some faked emails from then-DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, which Comey found out were fake, and presented to Congress anyway. Which brings us to the question of: What the hell was this guy’s motive? Why would a nonpartisan official who serves a defined term want to play with fire by bringing his name into the headlines. The whole story is incredibly bizarre, and this probably won’t be the last we hear from this guy.

Kushner in Trouble

This week, Jared Kushner went from a supposed innocent voice of reason to the focus of FBI investigation. It has been reported that he requested a secret communication with Russia during the transition, and the FBI are interested in his meetings with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. However, Kushner appeared interested in keeping these discussions secret from Trump’s team, and that is very bizarre. Kushner has always been an interesting figure, and it doesn’t seem totally off that he’d want to renew ties with Russia, but this all is very suspicious and looks strange.

Middle-Schoolers Fear Ryan

Now, for some lighthearted fun: We awoke today to reports that half of an eighth-grade class in New Jersey refused to be photographed with Speaker Paul Ryan. In fact, some students were surprised so many agreed to be photographed with the politician. Ryan’s healthcare bill is clearly not earning him any fans, and he even is scaring away children. The Republican party has such a great image these days...

Quist Falls to VIolent Gianforte

Alas, it was not to be. Everyone’s favorite gunslinging cowboy-turned Democratic congressional candidate, Rob Quist, was defeated 50-44 in the Montana at-large special election. This was still a great swing for a district that also happens to occupy an entire state, considering Trump won the state by 20 points, but Gianforte was harmed last-minute by a surprise event - he body-slammed a reporter. A problem was that many voters voted by mail, before the event happened, and many people regretted their decision. This was a winnable special election, although the one next month in Georgia is much more important. Farewell, Rob Quist. You tried your hardest,

And How’s Britain Doing?

Oh right, the U.K. vote in their election in some ten days. While polls have tightened slightly in recent days, it still seems likely Theresa May’s Conservatives will win with a huge majority with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labor likely to lose seats. However, anything can happen in the last week and the momentum seems to be in Labor’s favor.

Delegate Fight in St. Vincent the Grenadines

The real important international news this week occurred at a UN conference in St, Vincent. Apparently, delegate Mohammed Ali El Khamlichi, a Moroccan working at the embassy in St. Lucia, attempted to break up a heated argument between Soufiane Mimouni, an Algerian diplomat, and the Moroccan ambassador. Mimouni then got angry and punched El Khamlichi in the face, sending him to the hospital. This reverberated overseas, with Morocco demanding the Algerian government apologize for their minister’s actions.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to reply or comment.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Week 73: "The Single Greatest Witch Hunt"

Dear Readers,

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


Well, what a surprise we have. It turns out that when our president met with Russian agents behind closed doors in front of only Russian press, he accidentally gave out some valuable classified information! Who would’ve ever expected that, right? While technically the president can de-classify information at any time, he still shouldn’t be giving information about intelligence against ISIS away to a questionable foreign power, especially when...

Special Counsel

... That same foreign power probably meddled in our elections and a special counsel was appointed this week to help clear up that situation. Bob Mueller, former head of the FBI, was placed in charge, and clearly means business. Trump responded by calling it “The single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” The Internet as a whole promptly laughed at him, and he retracted his statement as per usual. Though he insists there has been no collusion, he continues to be very, very defensive about the whole thing, and it makes one wonder.

Saudi Arabia

This week, Trump went on his first trip abroad, to Saudi Arabia. He made a speech against Islamic extremism, in front of the Wahhabism-sponsoring Saudi government. He participated in a sword dance, both making a fool of himself and supporting a sexist tradition. Rex Tillerson did his part too, denouncing human rights conditions in Iran in a country that’s not known for its human rights, and not inviting US press to his press conference.

Thanks for reading, sorry this week’s was so short.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Week 72: "Among the Bushes" (May 14, 2017)

Dear Readers,

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

Among the Bushes

First, some lighthearted fun at the expense of everyone’s favorite White House press correspondent, Sean Spicer. Spicer, early this week, was entrusted with the lovely job of telling the world that FBI Director James Comey had been fired (more on that later), and afterwards, meets with his team in the bushes outside the White House. Sorry, what’s that? Oh, my bad, Sean. Apparently, Sean wasn’t “in” the bushes. He was hiding “among” the bushes. Well, that changes everything. How much more dignified can one get than being among the bushes! Boggles the mind.

Next Casualty: James Comey

"He wasn't doing a good job. Very simply. He was not doing a good job." Donald Trump submitted the dismissal of Comey as FBI Director this week, calling Comey a “showboat”. And he has a point there. Comey clearly did care about his own image more than the image or goings on of his agency. However, it’s a wee bit suspicious that Comey was fired just after he started investigating Trump’s ties with Russia and Russian hacks of the 2016 election. He’s not the first to be dismissed after beginning this sort of investigation, either - remember Sally Yates? Or Preet Bharara? While each of those may have had some legitimate reason to be fired, it doesn’t look good for Trump and it totally makes it appear like he has something to hide.

Another Casualty: John Thompson

“Who is John Thompson?” You ask. He’s the coach of the Georgetown men’s basketball team, don’t you know? But we’re here to talk about another John Thompson. Thompson was the director of the Census Bureau, and he suddenly resigned this week. We don’t really know why, but the reasons could stretch from something harmless to nefarious politicizing of the Census. You might think, “How can the Census be exploited for political gain?” Well, Census data is used to apportion House seats (and decide electoral vote totals), and to help draw congressional districts. And while it’s hard to manage actual intense political gains from sending out forms, it’s still best to avoid any possibilities of that. While I don’t want to buy into conspiracy theories of this type, and indeed it’s likely he resigned for a personal reason and no politicking was intended, we really have no idea why Thompson resigned and any possibilities are fair game.

Smiling Trump Greets Russians...

To add another level of “totally-not-suspicious” to this week, Trump invited Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak (a key figure in the investigation of Russian meddling with the election) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the Oval Office. No American press was allowed in - but Russian state press was, strangely enough. Trump took photos with them with a grin on his face, and those aren’t the only sketchy parts. A reporter asked Lavrov afterwards how the firing of Comey affected the meeting. His response was sarcastic: “Was he fired? You are kidding. You are kidding.” This all made for a very disturbing scene, considering everything about the Russian-American relationship in this day. Again, nothing about this scene expressly indicates that there is something weird going on, but Trump isn’t doing anything to assure us otherwise, and the optics are awful and make us assume the worst, and we can’t be blamed for it, either.

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

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Week 71: "En Marche!" (May 7, 2017)

Dear Readers,

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

En Marche!

Today was the second round of the French election. With polls showing centrist Emmanuel Macron ahead of right-wing National Front leader Marine Le Pen by over 20 points, there was little doubt about what would happen. It took all of ten minutes for Le Pen to concede, and she wound up winning just two of France’s 102 departments and losing by 32 percent. In the choice between boring centrists and anti-immigrant reactionaries, France easily made the choice America, Britain, and the Philippines couldn’t, and one Austria, the Netherlands, and Peru only barely made. Indeed, it’s a sweeping victory for globalization and the establishment, one we haven’t seen in many month, and should be very hopeful for the future of the EU and immigration rights in Europe.
While some have noted the high abstention rate and the fact that Le Pen’s share of the vote was double her father’s in the 2002 runoff as reasons she actually succeeded, a two-to-one election result in a country as large as France is still very rare, and should be recognized as very impressive. Le Pen underperformed the polls in both rounds, and Macron survived a Russian email hack a day before the election.

Another Health Care Bill

Paul Ryan and his House cronies worked hard to quickly pass a new healthcare bill that nobody read. The bill passed by all of 4 votes, with many Republicans in close seats voting against it, and was insulted by pretty much every Republican Senator. Many Republicans who voted for the bill are already feeling pressure about their votes, and none of them are trying to defend it. The bill was passed before the Budget Office could analyze it, and was a very clearly political ploy to erase Obama’s legacy.

Meet Rob Quist

The Montana house seat special election is a couple weeks ago, and as I learn more and more about Democratic candidate Rob Quist, I become more and more impressed. Quist is a country songwriter born in Cut Bank, Montana, with little affiliation to the Democratic party and a very anti-Washington outlook. He’s attacked his opponent (Greg Gianforte) on being a billionaire from New Jersey, with great lines like:
“Here's what my opponent had to say about the health care vote: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. But we all know he's a YES, b/c he's for billionaires & not us.” and “We need an independent voice in Congress who will fight for affordable health care—not a bill that's really just a tax cut for millionaires.” (These are from his wonderful Twitter.) He’s also run some great ads that showcase his unique outlook.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to reply or comment!