Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Day 12: A Supreme Court Nominee

Trump needed his ego stroked today, so he called for a dog-and-pony show during primetime TV in order to announce his pick for the supreme court: Neil Gorusch.
In other news:
Unfortunately, this is what qualifies as a "quiet day".

I also found a brief overview of every executive order so far, in case you want to catch up.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Day 11: You're Fired!

The immigration order continues to dominate the news cycle today. Behind the scenes, some darker things are lurking though.

On the immigration order:
Other news:
The following excellent quote is from Shakesville.
"It's not just the ban or the wall or the threat of martial law in diverse cities. It's that he is justifying them with assertions of danger. The tactic is designed to: 1. Other. 2. Erode empathy for the Other. 3. Create fear of the Other. 4. Engender hatred of the Other. The ban is AWFUL on its own. But it is only the foundation for a strategy of division that will lead to things worse than we have conjured. And it's critical to view all of these things as part of that complex strategy."

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Day 10: The World Is On Fire

Does the administration care about climate change? No. Does it care about ruining people's lives? Yes.

(Image from Huffington Post.)

In the news today:

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Day 9: Chaos and a small victory

Big new today on the executive order yesterday regarding immigration restrictions. If you want just one overview story of this news item, the Washington Post has a good overview of the day's events.

This whole executive order is absolutely disgusting, and is creating chaos for no good reason. I work at MIT, and MIT students are being affected by this. The international office is sending emails to international students marked URGENT. This is completely chaotic, and affects businesses, universities, and many other entities in the US. This is incredibly unfair, especially to people who have legally obtained their documents (often at great personal cost). The whole thing is terrible. A number of people I talked to today wanted to burn their US passports. The anger is really palpable.

This stuff overshadowed basically all other news today. A few things I found:

Friday, January 27, 2017

Day 8: It's not getting better

There are so many rumors and vague proposals going around in the media. Today I've tried to boil things down to "What changed?" and major events.

First up: Two new executive orders. The first is a doozy.
  • Limiting refugees and banning people from Muslim countries. This is disgusting in so many ways. For a country as rich as America, to shirk international responsibilities like this is awful. Furthermore, targeting Muslim countries is downright awful. In addition, many have noticed that countries with Trump businesses in them didn't get hit. I read the following somewhere, and it resonated strongly with me: "... officially sanctioned religious persecution dressed up to look like an effort to make the United States safer". I have an Iranian physicist friend who lives in the USA. If she leaves at this stage to visit home, she will have great troubles getting back in. This is an awful bind to be in. (Full text) (Important response: the entire thing is illegal. I await the lawsuits.)
  • Building up the military. For a country that already spends more on military than the next 7 or so combined, this is over the top. Fiscal responsibilities be damned, I guess?
And some other things that happened:
The BBC gave an overview of the week in Trumpland, in case you want to relive it (I don't).

I also found a resource where somebody is classifying events as they happen under various causes for concern. If you're not scared by spreadsheets, you should take a look at it: Autocracy USA

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Day 7: The Quiet Before the Storm

So it's lunchtime on day 7, and it's been an eerily quiet day for news. I've only really found one story worth highlighting so far.
Picking up for the rest of the day (still a very quiet day, news-wise)...
The only real story from today was the administration's first international relations blunder, in a dispute with Mexico over Trump's "wall" (aka ego). After some diplomacy via twitter, Mexico cancelled a scheduled meeting, and the administration decided to retaliate by proposing a 20% import tariff on Mexican goods. This of course led to an outcry and some backpedalling. The NY Times has a good overview of the events. Note the gaslighting (get used to this word, it's going to come up a lot!) that the administration is continuously up to: Trump said “Unless Mexico is going to treat us fairly and with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless, we have to go a different route.”

What would a 20% tariff do? It would increase the price of Mexican goods for American consumers. So, who would pay for that wall? Americans. To quote Wikipedia: "Typical analyses find that tariffs tend to benefit domestic producers and government at the expense of consumers, and that the net welfare effects of a tariff on the importing country are negative."

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Day 6: I cannot believe the things I am writing here

So much to unpack today. Slate has a good overview of the day, including deconstructions of the heinous language used by the administration. I'll try to keep these brief...
There were two executive actions from today, insofar as I can tell. Most articles lump them together, so I've linked the raw texts below.
  • Build that wall. Ugh. Also calls for 5,000 additional border patrolmen, and construction of new detention facilities (because the ones that we presently have won't deal with the onslaught, apparently?)
  • Declare war on sanctuary cities. These are cities who do not actively seek out a person's immigration status, helping to shield them from deportation. I actively support cities standing up to Trump over this! (The order also calls for another 10,000 immigration officers to be hired, so that illegal immigrants can be ferreted out or something heinous like that.)
Remember that Obama was already the deporter-in-Chief. This sounds like it's going to get ugly.

There's also plenty of coverage discussing a proposed ban on muslims, suspension of refugee programs, shuttering visa programs for certain countries, and other horrific things. I guess we'll find out exact details tomorrow.

Some state news:
A lot of the crap that's happened or been proposed in the past couple of days would typically be enough to get a country that implemented it sanctioned by the US. I honestly hope that other countries are contemplating sanctions against the US for some of this vile shit.

Are you ready to laugh? Senior Trump administration figures using private email server. The double standards are mind-boggling.

I've added links to a couple of other blogs/sites trying to perform the same purpose as I am here. You can find those links over to the right. I thank these sites wholeheartedly for their work, as they are finding a lot of stuff that doesn't hit my daily reading list.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Day 5: This administration is the worst

So, a bunch of shit from today...

Monday, January 23, 2017

Day 4: Resistance is mandatory

So much shit going on today. Where to start? Three executive orders seem to be the important pieces.
  • Withdraw from TPP. The largest trade agreement in the world, and the US is dumping it. China must be soooo happy - they're going to pick up the pieces that the US just dropped. Yes, the TPP wasn't necessarily the best agreement, but really, this is giving a huge gift to China. Some noise about wanting to renegotiate NAFTA. Doing so would likely hurt specific US companies that rely on it, without much benefit.
  • Reinstate the Global Gag Rule on abortions. This one is vile. Trump doesn't care one way or the other, but Pence sure as hell does. "We know that when family planning services and contraceptives are easily accessible, there are fewer unplanned pregnancies, maternal deaths, and abortions." Sounds like a terrific reason to NOT do this.
  • Instituted a federal hiring freeze. Which always ends up costing more because contractors are expensive. Oh, federal wages got frozen too.
  • Met with Republicans to insist that he only lost the popular vote because 3-5 million illegals voted. There is no evidence for this, and the only people promoting the theory are writing on conspiracy theory websites. He has even been rebuked by his own party over this! The guy is a sore, sore narcissistic loser. The only real reason to push this completely debunked theory is to shore up support for voter suppression laws. Keep an eye on this!
Last week, Republicans revived an obscure old rule to allow budget measures to terminate individual federal programs, rather than just changing the budget of an agency. Combined with the federal hiring freeze and cabinet members deadset on destroying their portfolio, this is terrible news for the public service. Oh, did I mention Gingrich wants to fire federal employees who voted for Clinton?

Day 3: A Quiet Sunday

Only two real headlines today:
  • Administration doubles down on lies, calling them "alternative facts". Thank you Kelly Anne Conway. You've just proven that we can't trust a word out of the administration.
  • Call to Israeli PM. This is the one that worries me more. The administration is playing with fire on the international stage, and has no idea what it's doing. In particular, I wholly expect the unconditional support of Israeli settlement building to set back the prospect of peace in the Middle East by years.
 Beyond that, I also came across this gem of a bill that has been introduced in congress. The summary of the bill says it all: "To end membership of the United States in the United Nations". This would be a monumental abdication of America's international world, and would cause irreparable harm to its international standing. I fully expect this to die in committee. However, the fact that despite the sheer stupidity of this bill was even introduced to begin with can likely be attributed to the brazen isolationism promoted by Trump, and I expect other less extreme isolationist bills to actually find purchase.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Day 2: Woman's March

So, today was a much better day than yesterday. The Woman's Marches around the world were staggeringly more popular than the inauguration, and definitely made me feel better about this place. My favorite sign: "IKEA has more qualified cabinets!"

Here's a comparison of the crowds in DC at the inauguration and at the women's march. (Spoiler: There is no comparison. Today was better!)

So what did our executive branch get up to today? (Overview article)
  • Trump met with the CIA. Gave them a pretty speech, and didn't talk about the fact that he's been talking crap about them for weeks.
  • Trump's spokesman came out and berated the media for "underreporting numbers at the inauguration". The whole press conference was an amazing bunch of lies. "Unmitigated propaganda" was one journalist's take on it. Wow. It seems like the woman's march really got to the administration! Another quote: "This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period … These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm for the inauguration are shameful and wrong." Uh... Obama's inauguration beat yours by about tenfold. Lies are also shameful and wrong.
I talked with somebody today about the way in which the Trump administration routinely dismisses the truthfulness of the media. The continued manner in which they dismiss the media as lies and false news is a concerted propaganda effort to stop people from paying attention to the part of society that is trying to promote the truth. The more that people stop respecting the 4th estate, the more the propaganda machine of the administration can function. This is truly disconcerting, and I hope the media really strongly fight back.

There are so many good photos and videos of marches today! It's inspiring! Keep it up, folks!

In other news, I've decided I need to knit some hats.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Day 1: Inauguration

So, today was inauguration. Actually, it was yesterday. But I'm starting this blog a day late, so I have to catch up!

The inauguration speech was terrible, painting a very dark picture of the state of the country. Of course, only strongman Trump can fix things. You know you've screwed up when you have to plagiarise Bane from The Dark Knight Riases...

Despite promises to do 100's of things on day 1, insofar as I can tell, only 6 things really happened. (Overview article)
  • ACA began being dismantled in a very nebulous executive order. I haven't found the full text of the order, but it sounds very vague, and is likely to lead to turmoil in the individual insurance market this year. As much as the ACA wasn't perfect, it's lunacy to dismantle it without a better replacement. Make no mistake: people are going to die as a result of this. Update: here is the full text, courtesy of CNN.
  • Signed a waiver to allow a military person to serve as the head of the Pentagon. There's a good reason why military people aren't allowed to serve on a cabinet. What's the point of having these regulations if you can just waive them anyway? At least this one required congress to pass the waiver.
  • Suspended reduced rates on FHA mortgages. This new rule, which cut FHA mortgage rates by 0.25%, was suspended. As I understand it, FHA mortgages are there for the people in this country who are struggling the most. I've read estimates that this rate cut would save people on average somewhere between $500-$1000 per annum. Because the people at the bottom really didn't need that extra boost to their discretionary income, did they? This rate boost completely undercuts the idea that cutting taxes on the rich is a way to boost the economy (because they make jobs for everybody else and inject money into the society! *cough*), because this would have directly injected money into the society.
  • Interfered with the judiciary. A big case in Texas on voting rights suppression was delayed so that instead of moving forwards with Obama appointed lawyers in a hearing this coming week, the new attorney general Sessions can tell everybody that it's much ado about nothing. I thought this sort of thing wasn't supposed to happen.
  • Proclamation for a national day of patriotism. Ugh. Can you hear my eyes rolling? We don't need more thinly disguised white nationalism. Also, this is pretty typical of a dictatorship. Perhaps Trump is already missing his campaign rallies?
  • Updated the white house website. No more policies on climate change and LBTQ issues, to name a couple of pages that were cut. There are numerous reports of a purge of government data too, because we can't have pesky facts that undercut our politics!
Whitehouse.gov now says "President Donald J. Trump" at the top. When I saw that, I wanted to scream.

We start!

So, this is going to be a long four years. I'm going to need to gripe. And this is going to give me an outlet. Good luck, America.