Sunday, April 30, 2017

Day 101: Deal with a devil

Ugh. This first one has me furious.
  • Birds of a feather flock together. And so Trump has invited the President of the Philippines to visit. For those out of the loop, this is the guy who's been encouraging extrajudicial killings in his own country. America is truly forfeiting its stance on human rights abuses with this President. Of course Trump and this guy get along so well, they freaking egg each other on the whole time.
  • A deal has apparently been struck to keep the government lights on through September. I'm not entirely sure what the details of the bargain are, but I'll take this as a positive thing, particularly so given that Trump's wall was not funded.
  • Trump continues trying to undermine Obamacare. Apparently the federal government supplies a slush fund to states to help cover hospital charges for the uninsured poor. Obama argued that this was stupid, and we would do much better to expand medicaid to cover those people who would then get better healthcare and wouldn't end up in the hospital with expensive conditions. Trump argues the opposite - that poor people don't deserve health insurance, and should just stiff the hospital when they get sick. This is so stupid.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Day 100: 100 days worse off

Today marks 100 days with Trump in charge. The White House Correspondent's dinner is currently happening, which Trump is not attending (a break in over 30 years of tradition). Instead, he's had another of his campaign-style rallies to make him feel good, where he primarily railed against the media.

In 100 days analyses:
Essentially, the guy has accomplished nothing other than to take advantage of situations that the House and Senate leaders have set up for him (eg, Supreme Court nomination). This is a failed administration.

Otherwise, there were climate change rallies across the country, with tens of thousands marching against the administration's policies. It was even a nice day for it. Of course, the night before this march, the EPA website was scrubbed of all offending climate data.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Day 99: Another week down

Go get yourself a drink. You've earned it.

Day 98: A whole lot of not much

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Day 97: Tax Plans

Today's coverage was dominated by the administrations tax "plan". It was not so much a "plan" as a wish-list of tax cuts. To avoid linking to lots of articles:
  • Here's an overview of the "plan". It primarily consists of huge gifts to most businesses, and hefty tax cuts for the very rich. Lower income people would benefit slightly from an increased standard deduction. This is an incredibly anti-progressive shift in taxation (progressive being the opposite of regressive for tax codes).
  • There is no proposal to close tax loopholes whatsoever, but does do away with a number of taxes that only impact the wealthy, including the alternative minimum.
  • The entire thing will blow a huge hole in the federal budget, as no new revenue streams are proposed.
  • When anybody tells you that tax cuts will pay for themselves in increased activity in the entire economy, they're lying through their teeth (case in point: Administration). The rule of thumb is that a third of a tax cut is recouped in increased activity.
So, in summary: gift to the rich, hole in federal budget. This thing looks terrible.

In other news:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Day 96: A String of Defeats

Well, Trump did not have a good day.
A couple of Executive actions:
  • This one slipped by me a few days ago, primarily because it only says "Make me a report". It ostensibly aims to identify complicated parts of the tax code with an eye to simplifying them.
  • This one, signed today, has a little more meat to it. It creates a task force to look at improving conditions in rural America. Or, more precisely, to "identify legislative, regulatory, and policy changes to promote in rural America agriculture, economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security, and quality of life". Some are pointing out that the administration is really only paying lip service to rural America, given their proposal to decimate the USDA budget.

Otherwise, we're expecting a much-anticipated tax reform proposal tomorrow. I expect it to be utter garbage. How about you?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Day 95: T minus 5

As Trump's ego looks to be seriously bruised by not accomplishing anything in his first 100 days as President, we have the following from our administration:
Seems like not much. Apparently the budget showdown and a healthcare bill are dominating behind-the-scenes work. I look forward to some more concrete announcements.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Day 94: French election

The big news today was from the French election, where Macron and Marine Le Pen will face off in a runoff election. Essentially everybody not with Le Pen has galvanized around Macron, and with good reason - Le Pen is France's equivalent of Trump.

In more local news:
  • Trump had a statement for Earth Day. It was incredibly hypocritical, as one might expect.
  • There is a looming threat of a government shutdown. Trump is making things worse by demanding that funding for his fucking wall be put into the budget. Pure childishness for the purpose of stroking his own ego, made even more grotesque by his promises that America wouldn't pay for it at all. How about those billions be put somewhere useful, like the NIH or the EPA?
  • Trump has been pushing for tax reform. Unfortunately, he has no idea what that even means, beyond "Cut taxes!". The chances of him closing any of the myriad of loopholes for the real estate sector are negative, but we've been promised something big on Wednesday. I expect it to be awful, like every other proposal he's had.
  • Amazingly, Trump thinks that he's getting a vote on a health care bill this week. Given that nobody has even seen the text of this aforementioned bill, chances of this are essentially nil. Rumours have that pre-existing conditions coverage is on the chopping block, so this thing is going to be completely garbage.
  • Do you ever listen to Trump speak and think "What the hell is he talking about? This is utter garbage!" Then you're not alone! Even for an interview under optimum conditions, professionals at the Associated Press couldn't even transcribe his mutterings.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Day 93: March for Science

Not a whole lot of news today. Some talk regarding tax reform and the upcoming budget showdown, but not much in the way of concrete actions. Here's what I found.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Day 92: Another week gone

Here's the scoop today:
See you all at the science march tomorrow!

Day 91: Pacific Islands

Nothing ground-shaking today, but that zombie bill I warned you about yesterday is apparently shambling about in the house.
  • The GOP reportedly has a new health care bill. Everything about it sounds disgusting.
  • Trump, who is notoriously behind on nominations for just about everything, has nominated somebody to be secretary for the army. Only problem is that he's nominated a lunatic who believes that opposing transgender equality is God's plan for him. The temerity of those with privilege to justify the repression of marginalized people in the name of religion is disgusting in this country.
  • More details of Russian involvement in the election, highlighting specific Russian goals and programs to undermine the democratic process. I wish somebody would find some evidence linking Trump to Russia once and for all and be done with it.
  • You know how Trump promised to have a bunch of things done in his first 90 or 100 days? We're starting to see reporting of his promises falling through. Here's the first: cyber security. Not only has he blown his promise, he hasn't even started working on this one.
  • Sessions, meanwhile, is annoyed that a "judge on a Pacific island" can overturn Trump's executive order. That island being a bona fide state, complete with all of the rights and responsibilities that entails. Feeling a little bit racist today, Sessions?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Day 90: T minus 10 days

A slower news day today. Something about Fox News deciding that 21 years of sexual harassment was a good time to stop dominated local headlines, while the administration stayed largely out of the way.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Day 89: Special Election #2

The big news tonight is that Jon Ossof captured 48.3% of the vote in Georgia's 6th district special election today. Unfortunately, not quite enough to win the district outright, so a runoff election will be held in June. Fingers crossed.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Day 88: Egg rolls, anybody?

So, the White house held it's annual Easter Egg Roll today. Trump was ostensibly hosting, but I believe that to be far too generous a word. About the best I'll give him is that he was "present" for part of it.
  • As part of a regulatory rollback executive order back in January, Trump requested industry point out what regulations were stifling them. Well, the results are in. No prizes for guessing who the prime target is. The list of rollback requests is disgusting. Many of these will lead to harming people by putting profits first.
  • Trump isn't the only one wanting to roll back regulations: Jeff Sessions is on that gravy train too, writing an Op Ed today to push his dystopia where police can once again be "tough on crime", aka, undertake the mass incarceration of minorities.
The rest of the news today was dominated by North Korea once again.
The ante seems to be ratcheting up every day. I'm worried that North Korea is going to call the USA's bluff, and then who knows how Trump will respond.

Day 87: Easter

I wish we could stop talking about Trump. I guess North Korea has given us a break by jumping into the news recently? For all the wrong reasons, though...

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Day 86: North Korea Fizzles

A reasonably quiet Saturday. The fireworks out of North Korea fizzled out.

Day 85: Simmering Tension

Despite grave concerns, nothing has blown up in North Korea yet. China appears to be the voice of moderation. It almost seemed like a quiet news day...
Also, for something completely different, this is amazing!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Day 84: A game of chicken

Tensions with North Korea are worse than I've ever seen them. North Korea is apparently preparing to have a nuclear weapon test, and the US has threatened to launch a preemptive strike if it looks like this will happen. Reports estimate that the nuclear weapon test is scheduled for Saturday morning, if not sooner. The rhetoric has become quite inflamed, and I hope that the weekend remains uneventful.

In other news:
  • Trump had a very flippety-floppety day yesterday, including reversing positions on the Import-Export Bank, and the chairwoman of the federal reserve (beyond what I reported yesterday).
  • Trump has threatened to sabotage Obamacare by stopping cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurance companies. These are essentially subsidies to insurance companies to help keep insurance premiums down. I read an estimate that stopping the payments would force premiums to increase by 20-25%. So, Trump is basically threatening to hold people's health insurance hostage.
  • The head of the CIA has claimed that Wikileaks is a hostile intelligence agency, abetted by Russia. Of course, 6 months ago, he was praising them for releasing hacked emails from the DNC...
  • Trump signed the bill to allow states to restrict funding to Planned Parenthood. This is really bad news for people who rely on Planned Parenthood, and not just for abortion services, but for the entire gamut of services that PP offers.
  • A damning report from the Guardian about intelligence regarding collusion between Trump's inner circle and Russia stretching back to 2015, with evidence gathered by at least 5 other countries. The article quotes: “They now have specific concrete and corroborative evidence of collusion.” Well, share it already, so we can have a do-over of the election, thanks!
  • And finally, the US has dropped their largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan. There has been a lot of dick-comparing from the administration regarding this ordnance. As a scientist, the fact that such a bomb even exists sickens me, as scientists were responsible for building it in the first place. Note that the blast radius of this particular bomb is about a mile, making it an incredibly indiscriminate killer.
This last item in particular highlights that we should be spending money on education and aid, rather than bombs that just recruit more terrorists.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Day 83: You say flip, I say flop!

Trump can't have had a good day today, performing at least two 180-degree policy turns. I swear, this guy is phenomenal - he can hold multiple contradictory thoughts in his head at the same time, and spout both of them as policy on the same day.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Day 82: Kansas Special Election

The war of words over Syria and North Korea continued apace today. None of it was comforting.
In other news:

Day 81: A New Justice

We had a strangely quiet Monday today. Here's what I found.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Day 80: Palm Sunday

Today was Palm Sunday. This Christian celebration was rocked by two bomb blasts in Coptic churches in Egypt. US officials have been on top of the international news for a change, strongly condemning the attacks.

Otherwise, news from the administration continues to swirl around Syria.
Tillerson has his first diplomatic visit to Russia coming up this week, which I think will set the stage for the next four years. I wonder if he's going to take a press corps with him this time?

Day 79: Unconvinced

News continues to be dominated by Trump's actions in Syria. While this is appropriate, it is also (predictably) removing discussion from things like Russian collusion with the Trump administration.

As usual, the recent military action has been taken under the premise of "humanitarian" goals. This is absolutely bullshit. Military action is always taken for political goals. If the US really cared about humanitarian goals, they would invest in the clean-up after their military action. The effect of such lack of support in such situations has been recently highlighted in countries like Libya and Iraq, where the countries have essentially devolved into anarchy following the removal of their respective dictators.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Day 78: Aftermath

I've had today to reflect on the missile strike on Syria. There are plenty of articles discussing it. Here's my thoughts (and a few other people's too):
  • Trump has just demonstrated how willing he is to act emotionally and impulsively, discard all previous policies, and start a war. He is a loose cannon in an incredibly dangerous position of power. I cannot stress this enough: he cannot be trusted with that power.
  • What was the purpose of blowing up an airfield with 59 cruise missiles? This accomplished nothing, other than wasting a significant amount of money (and we almost certainly wasted more money than we blew up). This has done nothing to hamper Syria's capabilities. This is a presidential temper tantrum with no purpose.
  • What the fuck does Trump think is going to happen next? That the world will fall in line due to his "display of might"? This has no benefit other than turning the spotlight from Assad to Trump (and that's NOT a benefit).
  • Do not think for a second that Trump cares about the "Syrian children". This is from the man who has been strongly pushing to bar entry to the US to all Syrian refugees.
The diplomatic fallout is starting, with Russia claiming that the US action was an "illegitimate act", and legal scholars are proposing that the US violated the UN charter. Of course, the US is promising "more". Regardless, back at home, basically everybody agrees that if the President wants to wage war, that requires authorization from congress.

In other news:

Friday, April 7, 2017

Day 77: Making war with Syria

After a devastating chemical attack on Tuesday, Syria is dominating the news today, and events have unfolded quickly. In mostly chronological order:
So, this is basically an act that Syria will construe as an act of war, and may well be the beginning of a proxy war against Russia, who have been backing Assad's regime in Syria. We are once again seeing that the President's role as Commander in Chief is quite significant in foreign affairs. Except that this time, we have a fucking moron in charge, and his team is woefully unprepared to advise him. I have zero faith in our administration's ability to not escalate this and draw the US into yet another war.

I am seriously worried that we'll wake up tomorrow and discover that the world is literally falling apart. Add Syria to escalations in North Korea... About the only thing I'm certain of is that Trump is going to make a mess of it, and lead to a huge and expensive loss of lives, with no objectives, and little to show for it in a few year's time.

I also worry that this is all an expensive attempt to divert from the continuing Russian investigations.

In other news:

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Day 76: Missiles from North Korea

Today was a good day! I only found enough articles to fill seven bullet points! Of course, there's concentrated horseshit in all of these bullet points. Fair warning.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Day 75: Chemical Attack

Still no good news, folks. If I find it, you'll see it here, I promise!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Day 74: I smell a scandal!

Well, today felt like it was just one long list of scandal-worthy material. Warning: reading all of the following will give you a serious case of depression.

Day 73: Gearing up for a Showdown

Another quiet weekend. This week, however, we're gearing up for a showdown at the Senate over the confirmation of Gorsuch. Will the filibuster work? Will the Senate go nuclear?

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Day 72: Is Spring here?

Not a whole lot happened today.