- Trump met with NATO leaders today. He was somewhat ostracized for taking the opportunity to condemn the military spending of other NATO nations (despite having no idea how NATO works), and refusing to unequivocally state that the US would live up to its obligations. There was a photo op, and he was filmed shoving his way to the front of the crowd of world leaders. Foreign policy experts highlight the disaster of his speech, and point out how the US and EU no longer have a common stance on Russia. (Note: Article 5 is the guts of NATO, which calls all members to arms in the case of an attack. It has only been invoked once - after 9/11 - and Trump is refusing to uphold the US commitment to it.)
- A Federal appeals court upheld the hold on Trump's Muslim ban, and the Department of Justice has vowed Supreme Court action. The judgement was very pointed in its criticism of the administration. The opening paragraph of the judgement is a thing of beauty: The executive order "in text speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination".
- Confirmation that Kushner is now a focus of the FBI investigation. I eagerly await the final straw in this investigation.
- Remember Manafort? Apparently he was helping out with the Trump transition team months after resigning from the campaign. This guy never ceases being shady.
- Apparently Reince Priebus is worried about what could come out in Comey's memos. This strongly suggests that he was involved in borderline illegal activities too, probably something along the lines of attempting to pressure Comey in some way regarding the FBI investigation. More obstruction of justice. This whole administration needs to go.
- In a truly mindblowing exchange, Betsy deVos couldn't name a single situation in which she thought students should be protected from discrimination. This is your education secretary.
- Sessions is in hot water again for not disclosing meetings with foreign officials to the DoJ for his security clearance.
- Senate Republicans are looking to change the rules again. After using a technique to block Obama appointments, they're hoping to invalidate the technique so that Democrats can't use it. Disgusting.
Friday, May 26, 2017
Hoo boy. Strap your seatbelts in, because this top one is a doozy.
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Apologies for the no-show yesterday! We're back today though, with a double-dose of Trumpian fuckery!
- The administration put forth a complete budget. Here's an overview of how it would impact various parts of government. Cliff notes version: Trillions saved in cuts to the poor! Back to budget surplus in 10 years! (Note: Assumes unrealistic economic growth!) Huge tax cuts for the rich! "Being compassionate means being compassionate to people who pay taxes!" I am without words.
- Apparently the administration is incompetent, double-counting $2 trillion in income in the budget. They then doubled down and saying it was done on purpose.
- The budget has been touted for including paid maternity leave. The only problem is that as written, their scheme doesn't work.
- If you don't read anything else about the budget, read this.
- That Russian scandal keeps on appearing, with leaks that Russians were overheard by intelligence agencies discussing how to influence Manafort and Flynn.
- The Republican Healthcare proposal has been scored by the CBO, and it's a doozy. 23 million more uninsured within a decade, $119 billion in savings (due to cutting taxes on the rich), and huge increases in premiums to anybody who is not young and healthy.
- Former CIA Chief Brennan spoke with the House Intelligence Committee, and gave some more details on what they observed Russia getting up to. The testimony lends great credence to the necessity of proper investigations into Russian collusion with the Trump administration. (Another very readable article)
- Trump met with the Pope. The Pope did not look happy. Otherwise, I haven't seen anything significant regarding this story.
- Trump is lawyering up with outside counsel to respond to the Russian allegations. Of course, in doing so, he has created a new conflict of interest...
- The Washington Post got their hands on a transcript of Trump's call with Philippine President Duterte from April. Back then, we were outraged that an invitation to visit was extended to the autocrat. The transcript is even worse - praising extrajudicial killings, disclosing the secret locations of nuclear submarines, and more. The Pentagon is apparently incensed.
- Ben Carson, who you might remember is heading up the Housing and Urban Development portfolio, just called poverty a "state of mind". Give me a fucking break. This guy is completely unfit for his position.
- And just to assure you that the world is safe under Poptart Trump, a US warship has been sent to undertake a "freedom of navigation operation" in the vicinity of China's highly-contested islands in the South China Sea. China is unlikely to be happy.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Trump's visit to the Middle East isn't going as badly as expected. Again, however, he has only been set the lowest of bars to pass.
- Here's a good overview of the weirder aspects of Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia.
- Trump visited the "Western Wall" today. I wonder why no US President has ever visited it before? Perhaps because they were working hard not to strain Israeli-Palestinian relations?
- There was also this little issue where he just insulted everybody in the room...
- Meanwhile, his Commerce Secretary said that he hadn't seen any protestors in Saudi Arabia, so obviously everybody loves Trump. Evidently, he was ignorant of the fact that being arrested for protesting in Saudi Arabia leads to a death sentence, one of the many human rights violations that the Trump administration is conveniently ignoring.
- Flynn is pleading the fifth in response to congressional subpoenas. I can understand not wanting to incriminate yourself, but damn you look incredibly shady in doing so.
- Trump made some wildly inappropriate requests to his intelligence chiefs to push back against the Russia probe. This is beyond his request to Comey. Wow.
- Taking another notch on the authoritarian totem pole, Trump asked Comey to throw reporters in jail. This administration will stop at nothing.
- The Office of Government Ethics has lambasted the Trump administration over their refusal to supply copies of ethics waivers. Despite having promised to drain the swamp and reduce the influence of lobbyists, the Trump team is taking them on at an unprecedented rate with confidential ethics waivers. Shady as hell.
- The Dodd-Frank banking regulations have essentially been gutted in all but name. This article suggests that we're basically back to where we were before the 2008 crisis, except that now the banks are even bigger.
Sunday, May 21, 2017
So, Turnip is off in Israel now, and has apparently been giving some public speeches. The global consensus seems to be "could've been worse", but the bar was already set way, way, way down. I haven't found any analyses that I like yet (it is Sunday after all), so go back outside and enjoy the nice weather. Back tomorrow with news!
Trump is presently in Saudi Arabia. A "$110 billion deal" was apparently signed, but details are scant. Apparently they're putting on a warm welcome for Trump and his entourage. I haven't seen any other news worth reading, so go out and enjoy the warm weather!
Saturday, May 20, 2017
So, Trump is off to Saudi Arabia. What are the chances he'll stay on script? I give it about a 0% chance.
- The whole scandalous mess with the administration is kind of overwhelming. More information continues to come out in dribs and drabs. I recommend Shakesville's analysis.
- One drib is that Trump's explanation to the Russians about firing Comey was that he was a "nut job", and that firing him relieved pressure on the administration. That sounds like pandering, projection and wishful thinking.
- And today's drab is that the FBI's investigation includes a current senior figure in the administration (rumored to be Kushner). Both the drib and drab were published moments apart, just after Air Force One took off for the Middle East.
- Pence continues to be a fucking liar. Here's the proof. (Perhaps I'm too harsh. He might also just be grossly incompetent. But apparently that gets you elected as President nowadays...)
- The CDC has nearly 700 vacancies because of Trump's hiring freeze. Great. Just great.
- Because Trump and Republican can't get their facts/acts/stories straight, insurers around the nation are planning premium hikes for Obamacare marketplaces. Just what we need.
- Nonprofit organizations who provide lawyers for deportation cases are under attack from Session's Department of Justice, who have provided them with a cease and desist letter. This is shockingly perverse, and just what I'd expect from Sessions.
Friday, May 19, 2017
Things continued to get worse for the administration today.
- Reuters reports that the Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed discussions with high-ranking Russians. One or two would be careless. This is a damned pattern. Also contained in this article is the following damning sentence: "Conversations between Flynn and Kislyak accelerated after the Nov. 8 vote as the two discussed establishing a back channel for communication between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that could bypass the U.S. national security bureaucracy".
- Flynn was actively acting as a Turkish agent while in the Trump administration. Well what did you expect, Trump?
- Republicans continue to have their head in the sand over whether or not Trump is acting dangerously, and blocked a Democrat bill to form an independent investigation into this whole mess. A courageous lot, they are not.
- Trump still thinks Flynn is innocent, and once he's exonerated, wants him back in the administration. Oh my. I have no words.
- Pence continues to be a fucking liar.
- Trump has initiated discussions on NAFTA, triggering a clause in the agreement. To this I say: good luck Canada and Mexico.
- The FCC has begun the process of dismantling net neutrality. Fuck.