Weekly Newsletter

Vol. 11 – Day 79 P.E.

A week into Trump’s presidency and a month into 2017 and right now, the only people feeling pretty good are George W. Bush and the year 2016. Their reigns as the worst president and the worst year in memory look to be short.

Shake It Off
So we’re a week into Trump’s presidency and a month into 2017 and right now, the only people feeling pretty good are George W. Bush and the year 2016. Their reigns as the worst president and the worst year in memory look to be short.

You now have a reason to feel good too, an early edition of The TrumpShaker! Yes, I’m here to ruin your weekend rather than the start of your week for a change. One reason for the early publication is that I will be thankfully somewhere without wifi for the next five days. This is good since digesting Trump news 24/7 has started to affect me, I’m looking and sounding kind of like Gollum.

The second reason is that in less than a week of Trump sitting in the now gold draped Oval Office, so many literally insane things have happened, that I could fill a month’s worth of newsletters. Things that would have been major issues in any other administration that I’m not even touching this week include:

  • Trump’s “winter White House” the Mar-a-Lago doubled its initiation fee to $200k and Trump Hotels announced a major U.S. expansion plan.
  • Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) new form of locomotion is crawling like a worm since he lost his spine again – backing down from voting no on Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State
  • Speaking of Rex, senior leadership in the State Department all resigned or more likely were fired en masse on Thursday (does any word besides “fired” ever come before “en masse”?). Since none of the political appointee positions in State have been filled and all of Obama’s ambassadors were dismissed by Trump, there is almost no one working in the State Department.
  • Trump said torture “absolutely works” and there has been a leaked White House executive order on bringing back CIA overseas “black site” prisons.
  • Trump’s team is drafting an executive order to reduce U.S. funding of the United Nations dramatically, cut U.S. spending on international organizations by at least 40%, and repeal some multilateral treaties.

And breathe

  • Trump threatened to withhold funds from sanctuary cities and all of those cities, except Miami – which gave in, are pushing back.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit downgraded the U.S. from a full democracy to a flawed democracy.
  • On the same day a pipeline in Saskatchewan leaked 200,000 liters of oil in an aboriginal community, Trump signed orders making it easier for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines to be built. Oh and Trump owned stock in the company building the pipeline through at least mid-2016. Who knows if he owns any now?
  • Trump’s nominee for White House Budget Director, multimillionaire Rep Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), didn’t pay payroll taxes on his nanny from 2000-2004. His defense was that she didn’t cook and didn’t sleep over, so was really just a babysitter. Glad we cleared up that you only have to pay tax on sleep over workers. Not paying taxes for domestic workers has derailed cabinet nominees in the past, but that was before it was okay to have an Order of Friendship from Putin and be Secretary of State.

So now that we have that minor stuff out of the way, let’s get shakin’!

The TrumpShaker Top Four
January 27, 2017 – National Big Wig Day – Day 79 P.E. (Post Election)
You Do Have to Live Like a Refugee
Despite living in New York his whole life, Trump is apparently unfamiliar with that whole give me your huddled masses thing. His immigrant grandfather who made the first Drumpf Trump family money by running a brothel, probably noted it though.
A leaked draft of an executive order shows that Trump is unhappy just making life miserable for the most vulnerable populations in the United States and is going to go after refugees as well. The order would stop all refugees from entering the U.S. for the next 120 days. It would permanently blocks any refugees from Syria. It also would cut in half the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. this year to 50k, and suspends entry of all visitors (not just refugees) from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 30 days. Just in case banning people from Muslim countries didn’t make his feelings clear enough, the order would add in a kicker that gives priority to religious refugees . . . as long as their religion is a minority in their country of origin. In other words, Christians in Muslim nations would get special treatment from the U.S.
When Iraqi refugees raised their arms and asked how the U.S. could destabilize their country and then deny them entry, Trump replied with the time tested technique of grabbing those raised arms and saying, “Why are you hitting yourself? Why are you hitting yourself?”
To put all of this into action, Trump wants 5,000 more border patrol agents and 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. In related news, Trump also has put in a place a ban on all federal hiring. How will Trump wrestle those opposing orders from himself? Well, I’m putting money on thousands of new people kicking in doors and no seasonal staff this summer in Yellowstone.
Who are these refugees that we – yes, you and I are on the hook for this – are closing our doors to? Somali poet Warsan Shire will tell you.
Hello Darkness, My Old Friend
It’s the sound of enforced silence from the Trump Administration. The man who believes in communicating directly to the people, also believes he is the only person who should communicate to the people. This week:

  • Trump put a gag order on several federal departments (including the EPA, USDA, and Department of Energy’s renewables team) prohibiting them from engaging in social media, blogs, or other forms of public communication. A rebellion has grown from the Badlands National Park ignored the order (naturally, it’s the Badlands) by tweeting facts on climate change (that were quickly taken down by the powers that be). This act of defiance sparked a rebellion of department staff in multiple agencies who are now posting from their own Twitter accounts like @AltNatParkSer and @AltNASA to continue without censorship.
  • The Trump Administration declared that the EPA may not issue reports before they are reviewed by a political appointee.
  • Steve Bannon, Trump’s Chief Strategist, said the “Media should keep its mouth shut . . . The media here is the opposition.”
  • Trump reinstated the “gag rule” on overseas recipients of U.S. aid. This means that to receive U.S. aid, an organization cannot “perform or actively promote abortion as a family planning method.” Every Republican administration since Reagan has put this rule in place (and it’s been repealed by all Democrat administrations). Trump, though, as he is want to do, made it even worse. He offers no exemptions for HIV/AIDS programs (as George W. did) and extends it to all U.S. government aid rather than limiting it to specific sources as prior administrations have.
Conspiracy Theorist in Chief
Despite being, you know, President of the United States, Trump cannot get over that he lost the popular vote. He repeated his claim about 3 million illegal voters giving Hillary the popular vote win a closed-door meeting with Congressional leaders. So he isn’t just saying this as part of his carnival barker routine for the rubes, he actually believes it!

A primary reason for his strong belief in voter fraud apparently is something along the lines of Bernhard Langer’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with the girl who saw illegal voters in Florida. To bring you up to speed, Bernhard Langer is a golfer, who Trump said is a friend (Langer’s daughter said he’s not friends with Donald). Langer told a story about a friend in Florida whose friend saw people voting who looked like they shouldn’t be voting – i.e. he saw Latinos in Florida voting.  That’s it. That’s Trump’s evidence.

When questioned on Trump’s claims at a press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer shrugged,  “He believes, what he believes.” He said it like he was in the limo coming home empty handed after the Rose Ceremony, rather than discussing accusations by the President of a massive conspiracy.

Trump also believes that he didn’t benefit from these illegal voters. “They all voted for Hillary. They didn’t vote for me. I don’t believe I got one.” According to Trump, the Democrats engaged in a tremendously complex criminal operation to get 3 million illegal votes and put them all in states like NY and CA.

Trump will soon issue another executive order to investigate the non-existent illegal votes. This snipe hunt will have real world consequences. The top three Republicans in Congress have refused to challenge Trump’s accusations of illegal voters. This investigation will provide cover for a national version of what the GOP has been doing in states from Wisconsin to North Carolina, passing laws to make it more difficult to vote.

The only new voting requirement I will support is a literary test in which people have to read this new Trump interview with ABC News anchor David Muir and say that they would still buy a used car from Trump. This is a must read.

How Can You Have Any Pudding, If You Don’t Eat Your Meat?
Trump has declared again that he is going to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, but how ever will he pay for it? Here are our leading contenders:

  • Budget hawk Paul Ryan, using the always failed strategy of giving the spoiled kid a new toy to shut him up, said Congress would give him $14 billion for the wall. As a reminder, the GOP wouldn’t give funds for Superstorm Sandy relief without offsetting cuts and withheld funds for Zika and lead in Flint, MI while claiming poverty. Jonathan Weisman, Deputy Washington Editor for The New York Times, puts the amount in perspective, “Obama’s final request for the entire EPA was $8.2 billion and Congress said it was unaffordable.”
  • Trump still holds strongly to his make-believe plan of having Mexico pay for it. He told ABC News, “I’m just telling you there will be a payment [from Mexico]. It will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form.” I shall from this point forward pay all my personal debts in some sort of complicated form. Mexican President Peña Nieto reminded Trump that Mexico will not be paying for a wall and he cancelled his meeting for next week with Trump.
  • Since Mexico didn’t just show up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with a giant Ed McMahon check, the Trump Administration floated yesterday the idea of a 20% tariff on Mexican goods. Besides likely breaking numerous treaties, undermining the global rules on trade, and sparking a trade war with our third largest partner, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) described the problem with this approach best, “Simply put, any policy proposal which drives up costs of Corona, tequila, or margaritas is a big-time bad idea. Mucho Sad.”

The only sure things seem to be that a wall will be built and somehow, maybe in a complicated form, you and I are paying for it.

The Madness of King Donald
Introducing, what will unfortunately be a frequently occurring section, a spotlight on something that no one but an mentally ill narcissist would do.

From The Washington Post:
On the morning after Donald Trump’s inauguration, acting National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds received an extraordinary summons: The new president wanted to talk to him.

In a Saturday phone call, Trump personally ordered Reynolds to produce additional photographs of the previous day’s crowds on the Mall, according to three individuals who have knowledge of the conversation. 

Quick TrumpShakes
Mr. Emanuel, I Do Not Approve of Your Methods – In response to a Bill O’Reilly story on the murder rate in Chicago (seriously, Trump tweeted minutes after watching it), Trump said if Chicago didn’t lower its murder rate he’d send “in the feds.”  This is an off the cuff tweet from the President threatening to send troops into a U.S. city. Think about how Republicans would have reacted if Obama had said he was going to send the feds into Nashville. Chicago has had a large increase in murders, although not unprecedented or totally unique, and it is truly troubling. However, if Trump really wanted to do something, the Administration could stop the flow of easy to get guns from the VP’s home state, Indiana, that are used in a large percentage of Chicago crimes.
Presidents’ Day 45th President Day! – Don Jong-il Trump declared his inauguration day as the “National Day of Patriotic Devotion.”
GOP: Let’s Just Start with the Second Amendment – With Trump tackling the freedom of the press as well as speech, GOP state legislatures are doing their best to get rid of that pesky freedom of assembly. Eight states are considering limitations on protests. The lowlights are in Minnesota where protestors would be required to pay for police time for their protest (which are often against the police) and in North Dakota where it would now be legal to accidently run over a protestor with your car. Which I get, I mean who among us, right?
But Her Emails – Somehow our election became a national referendum on the use of a private email server . . . and then we forgot about it. Trump is still using his unsecured Android phone to tweet andsenior members of his staff are using emails on the Republican National Committee server. The same RNC server that led to 22 million missing emails during the W. administration. Oh, but it’s okay, according to Public Policy Polling, 42% of Trump voters think he should be allowed to have a private email server(just 39% say no).
Heck of a Job, Trumpie – While Trump couldn’t ignore slights against the size of his inauguration, he could ignore pleas from Mississippi and Georgia for FEMA help from tornados. It took him nearly a week to declare a major disaster.
Nothing to See Here, Move Along – The Trump Administration cancelled all Obamacare ads five days before the sign-up deadline. These ads were paid for. Even if the GOP repealed Obamacare today, everyone would still get insurance for 2017. All Trump is accomplishing is lowering the number of people with needed medical insurance this year.
Featured Article of the Week

Kevin Baker summarizes best some of the feelings I have had since election day in The America We Lost When Trump Won.

Featured Article Runner-Ups
This is not an article, but if Dan Rather is posting on Facebook, I’m reading it.
If you aren’t having enough waking nightmares, read Peter Baker’s Trump’s Impulses Now Carry the Force of the Presidency.
Also, not really an article, but if you’re exhausted by all the doom and gloom, take a break with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog at the Inauguration.

Action Center
Organizations Worthy of Your Attention

Stand Up Republic and SwingLeft 

You may have noticed that The TrumpShaker leans just a bit to the leftHowever, this week, I’m excited to feature organizations from both ends of the political spectrum!

The first is Stand Up Republic. Founded by former Presidential candidate Evan McMullin and former Romney and Bush staffer Mindy Flinn, Stand Up Republic has been pushing back very strongly against Trump’s authoritarianism. Their “priorities will be to uphold the Constitution and defend the democratic norms and institutions upon which the protection of our basic rights depend.” I may disagree with many of their policy ideas, but I welcome their work to stop Trump and I look forward to the day when we can once again have a healthy policy debate in this country.  

The second organization is SwingLeft. Like an organization I have noted previously, Sister District Project, SwingLeft helps you, “find your closest Swing District and join its team to learn about actionable opportunities to support progressives—and defeat Republicans—in that district, no matter where you live.”
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