Saturday, February 11, 2017

Stars and Stripes in Distress: week 3

Day 16 (Saturday, February 4, 2017): Donald J. Trump went to Florida for the weekend while his aids continued to try to get their travel ban reinstated, but the news of the day probably came from Saturday Night Live, who cast Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer in an incredibly hilarious send-up of the administration's press briefings. This administration has certainly made SNL relevant (and funny) again. 

After midnight, early Sunday morning, a federal judge denied the request to reinstate the travel ban. Trump, of course, took to twitter to criticize the judge. Par for the course.

Day 17 (Sunday, February 5, 2017): Trump goes on Fox News' O'Reilly Factor for a pre-Super Bowl interview.  He inexplicably makes a statement suggesting he considers America and Russia to have moral equivalence in how we function as countries. This after Bill O'Reilly says, "Putin's a killer." Trump replies, "What do you think? Our country's so innocent?" Leaving aside the mysterious deaths of political opponents and journalists, which may not be able to be tied back to Putin himself, the Russian military is currently engaged in conflicts with neighboring countries for no reason and is adding Syria's Assad in killing his own people. Add to that the fact that Russia is an unapologetic autocracy with corruption from top to bottom and just decriminalized some forms of domestic violence and you have a country with such moral degradation that it's hard to imagine any American president considering us equivalent to them. Shameful.

Day 18 (Monday, February 6, 2017): During his morning toilet twittering, Donald Trump claims "all negative polls are fake news" - do you have to have any more evidence of this man's ego? That's just such an absurd claim, I'm not going to comment further. 

More troublingly, later in the day, while visiting Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, Trump claimed the media was intentionally not covering terrorist attacks. The White House later released a laundry list of 78 terrorist attacks by Islamic radicals (with the words attack/attacker misspelled a cumulative 22 times as attak/attaker), claiming these were not reported by the American media and as for the media "they have their reasons" for not reporting these attacks. Many of the attacks had extensive media coverage worldwide and of the 78, fact checking organizations were able to find national mainstream media reporting on 76 of them. The two that were not reported by US media were non-fatal (one had zero injuries) and both occurred in Africa. This continued assault on the media is just wrong on so many levels. Reporters put their lives on the lines in conflict zones around the world to get these stories and Trump has the gall to claim they're being covered up.

Day 19 (Tuesday, February 7, 2017):  Betsy DeVos, a billionaire GOP donor, was confirmed for Secretary of Education by the Senate. A 50:50 tie was broken by VP Mike Pence, ensuring the installation of the least qualified cabinet appointee in modern American history. Betsy DeVos, now in charge of our public school education system, never attended public school, did not send any of her children to public school, and has been a strong advocate for "school vouchers" and "charter schools", which are dog-whistles for segregation and allowing failing urban schools in poor communities to continue failing while well-to-do suburban children use state dollars to go where they like. Only 2 GOP senators, both considered moderate (and both female), voted against DeVos.

News came out that Melania Trump was suing the UK's Daily Mail for libel over a story that suggested she may have been an escort at one time. She claimed that this story put at risk her opportunities to make substantial profits in her role as first lady. This just goes to show, once again, that the Trump family is first and  foremost interested in personal gain. Shockingly un-First Lady-like. She also settled a claim against a blogger ... yes a blogger ... for an apology and a "substantial sum", which for a blogger is probably around $38. 

News also came out on Tuesday that Trump's Labor Secretary nominee, Andrew Pudzer, employed an illegal immigrant for a number of years. Back during the Clinton and Bush years, this was cause for disqualification. In the Trump administration, that should be a "go to jail" offense. Which means we can fully expect Pudzer to be confirmed by this GOP Senate that really can't be bothered with going against the president at these early stages.

Late Tuesday night, during confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell silenced Senator Elizabeth Warren for reading a letter from Coretta Scott King, wife of MLK, on the floor of the Senate, because Mrs. King used harsh language about Mr. Sessions history of racism. The Senate has a quaint rule that is quite civil in that Senators cannot impugn the character of other Senators. However, Elizabeth Warren was reading the letter from a civil rights hero, not sharing her own opinion. This backfired on the GOP leadership as "She persisted" became an instant battlecry for the feminist movement and Elizabeth Warren's private reading of the letter in the Senate hallway was watched millions of times on YouTube by mid-day Wednesday.

Day 20 (Wednesday, February 8, 2017): Sticking with the self-enrichment theme of the Trump family, Donald tweeted angrily at Nordstrom's for dropping his daughter, Ivanka's, line of luxury goods. Once again, just as he's done with other private firm, Trump has criticized a private firm for making a business decision. Nordstrom later cited dropping sales figures and revealed that Ivanka Trump has been aware of the decision for some time. This time it appears not to have damaged the brand like it did when he tweeted about Boeing. Nordstrom's stocks were up at the end of trading Wednesday. There doesn't seem to be much understanding among the Trump family that Donald's bullying and bile is not going to make most people want to buy their stuff. By all accounts Ivanka is a lovely human being, but her father is not winning her many fans these days. 

Day 21 (Thursday, February 9, 2017): Congratulations, we've made it to 3 weeks without a nuclear winter. In fact, Thursday may have been the first time we saw signs that the courts may keep Donald Trump in check as the 9th district court in Seattle, Washington, made the injunction against the travel ban permanent. This will, of course, be appealed to the Supreme Court, but in the meantime the Trump administration is now being encouraged by other Republicans to go back to the drawing board and devise an immigration policy that will comply with constitutional rigor. Trump and his supporters, of course, went apoplectic at judicial independence. 

In other news, White House spokesperson Kellyanne Conway may have violated ethics rules by going on TV and telling Americans to go buy Ivanka's products. Not only are the Trumps interested primarily in self enrichment, they have people working for them that don't understand the basic rules of governance. 

Day 22 (Friday, February 10, 2017): News reports revealed that Michael Flynn may have violated federal laws by communicating with Russian authorities the day before the Obama administration instituted sanctions against Russia for tampering with the US election.This investigation could lead to what we have all been wondering: what exactly did Russia and the Trump campaign communicate to one another during the election. 

Sorry for not linking to everything quite so thoroughly this time, but it's overwhelming just trying to keep up with all the nonsense that happens each week. Still working on my presentation.

Thanks for reading.

Until next time, I remain, a concerned citizen.

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