Weekly Newsletter

Vol. 14 – Day 103 P.E.

(All the) President’s (Men) Day

This President’s Day comes just a few days after Trump officially crossed the fascist line by declaring American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights as enemies of the state.

So rather than spend a few hours obsessed on whatever our current President will be babbling about today, I’m going to spend some time on this holiday with Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford and watch All The President’s Men to remind myself that Trump is undermining the press because the press can take down a president.

You’re welcome to do that too, but not before reading this week’s edition of The TrumpShaker!

The TrumpShaker Top Three
February 20, 2017 – Presidents Day – Day 103 P.E. (Post Election)

You’re Fired! Can You Resign When Convenient?

For someone who became President because millions saw him as a decisive leader for firing La Toya Jackson, it took Trump a long time to get around to asking National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to resign. But he finally did; Flynn’s gone, and in the words of Janine Melnitz, “We got one!

Flynn, who led “lock her up” chants at the Republican National Convention, had made contact with Russia before Trump took office to discuss the sanctions that the United States had just placed on Russia for interfering with our election. He then lied about the discussion to VP Mike Pence, who later defended Pence on national television. Flynn’s lying and light treason led to his resignation likely only because The Washington Post broke the story. At the White House, it seems everyone except Mike “picked last again for dodgeball” Pence knew what was going on.

Acting Attorney General (before Trump fired her for telling the truth both about Flynn and his Muslim Ban) Sally Yates had informed Trump weeks ago that Flynn might be compromised by Russia.
Trump did nothing, including not telling Pence that he was about to look like a fool for defending Flynn on TV. Trump did nothing because both he and Reince Priebus have publicly maintained that Flynn did nothing wrong undermining U.S. government sanctions against Russia. The real problem according to Trump is not what Pence did, but the leaks that led Americans to find out about it.

The official reason that Trump said Flynn had to go was because he lied to Pence. However, Trump probably knew that had happened for weeks. What Flynn was likely most guilty of in Trump’s eyes was getting caught.

This may be just the tip of the ice cube in the vodka. Following Flynn’s resignation, The New York Timesran a story that Trump’s presidential campaign aides had repeated contact with the Russians during the year before the election.

However, for the moment, Trump can rest easy as Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell both refuse to pursue investigating Trump’s Russian ties further. Good ol’ House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is taking action on our most pressing national issues though by seeking criminal charges against the person who set up Hillary Clinton’s email server and actively pursuing the leakers in the Trump Administration.

The FBI has three investigations open on Trump and Russia. That was before yesterday’s New YorkTimes bombshell that three of Trump’s associates – Trump’s personal attorney, an opposition party Ukrainian lawmaker, and a Russian-born business associate of Trump’s with Mafia ties who did time in prison for stabbing a man in the face with a margarita glass stem (remember the name Felix Sater) – have been somehow negotiating a “peace plan” between Ukraine and Russia.
More Information
The EconomistThe axing of Michael Flynn reveals deep problems in Donald Trump’s government
The New YorkerMichael Flynn, General Chaos

Full Court Press
After calling exclusively on conservative press outlets during any sort of Q&A for the first three weeks of his presidency, Trump decided to throw caution and sanity to the wind in a wide-ranging 90-minute press conference last Thursday.See More Information below for a real through the looking glass experience, but below are a few choice quotes from the mind and mouth of King Donald“The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.”
Okay, let’s unpack this tautology for a moment (yes, I had to look up tautology – about 60% sure I’m using it correctly). Trump is upset about the leaks in his Administration that the press is using to write stories. The leaks are a problem because information is getting out that he doesn’t want out, which forces him to do things he doesn’t like, e.g., asking Mike Flynn to resign. However, Trump then says the press reports that are based on the leaks are fake news. If the leaks are real (Trump says that there are), then the news describing that leaked information must be real. If the news were fake (as Trump also says), then either the leaks would be providing fake information or would be non-existent and Trump would have nothing to be upset about. Both of his statements cannot be true.
“We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country. You know what uranium is, right? This thing called nuclear weapons, and other things. Like, lots of things are done with uranium, including some bad things. Nobody talks about that.”
The are three troubling things are in this quote. The first is that Trump has an understanding of nuclear weapons at the level of a fourth grader who didn’t do the reading. I think someone just told him to go watch Back to the Future and that the plutonium in that movie is basically the same as uranium. The second is that the whole Clinton Russia uranium thing is a widely discredited “four Pinocchio” lie. The third is that he’s still talking about Hillary!“Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism – the least racist person.”
This from the man who also said “Nobody has more respect for women than I do.” He is really the best person ever. I guess in Trump’s golf foursome of Steve Bannon, Vladmir Putin, Mike Flynn, and himself, he’s the least anti-Semitic person.

This was the beginning of a very angry response to a deferential question from an Orthodox Jewish newspaper that supported Trump. The reporter wanted to know what Trump was doing about theincrease in threats to the Jewish community since he took office. Trump did not answer that question. When asked the day prior a similar question about the rise in anti-Semitism, he began on a tangent about how big his electoral college win was.

An African-American reporter, April Ryan, asked Trump if he was going to reach out to the Congressional Black Caucus about his inner-city agenda. 
Trump: “I tell you what: Do you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting?”
Ryan: “No, no, no. I’m just a reporter.”
Trump: “Are they friends of yours? Set up the meeting.”

Trump assumed since they’re Black and she’s Black, they must be friends. Didn’t take long for Trump to lose that least racist person I know title.

“This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.”
Trump then continued, “It’s automatic, it’s systematic, it’s hydromatic.”

More Information
Rolling Stone18 WTF moments from Trump’s unhinged press conference
The Washington PostDonald Trump’s combative, grievance-filled news conference, annotated

ICE ICE Detainee
Last week’s edition of The TrumpShaker highlighted the increase in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids. According to reports, 680 people have been detained in these raids. The raids are particularly scary due to the eagerness of ICE to deport quickly even those who have been in the country for a long time as well as its interest in picking up collateral detainees, i.e., ICE searches for one specific person and then picks up anyone with him or her that doesn’t have proof of citizenship.Among those picked up and detained by ICE this week were:

In related news, Canada now has a refugee problem . . . from the US. There has been an increase of people from countries named in Trump’s travel ban caught crossing illegally into Canada from the U.S. and claiming to be refugees. No word on whether Trump is now considering two walls.

The Wayback Machine

In case you were wondering if it always feels like the world is falling apart when a new President starts . . . it does.  Just look at the scandalous headlines we had to deal with eight years ago:
Quick TrumpShakes
Buy Stock in Brita – The Senate, in a  52-46 vote, confirmed staunch EPA opponent former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to you guessed it, lead the EPA.The vote was held before Pruitt complied with a federal judge order requiring Pruitt to release thousands of emails between him and the fossil fuel industry. Pruitt is tight with the fossil fuel industry like black on a lung. For example as OK AG, he let Devon Energy write a letter to the EPA and put it on his letterhead. No one knows what these emails will show, but expect some distasteful information about a distasteful person to come out soon. When Mitch McConnell was asked why he did not delay the vote, he answered with a very Seinfeldian, “Because I choose not to.”Among Pruitt’s first statements in his new role was to tweet “I’m dedicated to working with stakeholders – industry, farmers, ranchers, business owners – on traditional values of environmental stewardship.” There seems to be a lot of us missing among the stakeholders, and I’m pretty sure traditional U.S. environmental stewardship is to try to make sure most of the acid rain falls on Canada. In his first interview since becoming head of the EPA, Pruitt said he’ll withdraw from both the Clean Power Plan and a rule giving EPA power over water with a “significant nexus” to a “navigable waterway”. In good news, we’re now only about 4 – 6 years from an Erin Brockovich sequel.But Her Emails . . . – When North Korea tested a new ballistic missile last weekend, Trump was naturally where he spends every weekend on our dime, the Mar-a-Lago. So Trump and his advisors decided to discuss the North Korea situation right in the middle of the dining room, with guests, wait staff, and foreign spies that paid the $200k membership fee to be able to sit inside the US Situation Room. They also used their internet connected cell phones as lights to view the docs (meaning if anyone hacked into their phones, they could read along as well). We know about all this because other diners posted pics of the meeting on social media.

1351 Days until Election Day – Governing is hard, so Trump went back to throwing himself a party. He kicked off his 2020 reelection campaign (seriously, it was billed a campaign event) in front of 9,000 true believers in Melbourne, FL, who came to hear the non-sequiturs of a disturbed man. The big news out of the event was  that Trump added another non-existent tragedy to Kellyanne Conway’s Bowling Green Massacre and Sean Spicer’s Atlanta terrorist incident – something undefined but tragic in Sweden on Friday night. Nothing close to a tragedy happened in Sweden the night before.. Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, spoke for the world when he tweeted, “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking?” Turns out that Trump was referencing a segment on Fox News from the night before that was debunked. I sure hope Trump never wakes up in the middle of the night and turns on War Games.

The Year of the Bribe – You may recall that last week, I was surprised by Trump’s change of heart (or whatever he uses to push his bright orange blood around his body) with China. Trump had talked tough about recognizing Taiwan and doing away with the official U.S. three decade policy of “One China”, but last week on a call with China’s President Xi Jinping, said “Forget that whole Taiwan thing, we’re good.” Shame on me for thinking he had actually thought about the issue. Turns out he may have been just lining his own pocket. Right after that call, Trump was awarded a trademark for his name in China. After a 10-year battle, miraculously China made a decision in Trump’s favor. As a reminder, it’s not normal for our President to be rewarded financially by foreign governments for U.S. policy decisions.

Nanananana Can’t Hear You – To counter hundreds of people speaking out at town halls against taking away health care, polluting water, and becoming a satellite republic of a new USSR, over 200 Republican representatives have decided not to hold town halls.

California on the Enemies List – The Trump Administration fired its first salvo in the brewing battle between it and California. CalTrain, a diesel powered commuter train that runs between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, was all set to break ground on March 1 on a project 15 years in the making, to electrify the train. All that was needed was a pro forma signature from new Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for an approved $674 million grant. She declined to sign at the request of California’s Republican delegation (which are only 14 of the state’s 53 representatives). The project is now in serious jeopardy and the alleged “infrastructure and jobs” President has abandoned a shovel ready project that would have created upwards of 9600 jobs.

Featured Article of the Week

Sunday marked the 75th Anniversary of FDR’s order to intern Japanese citizens. Incredibly, something similar happening no longer feels impossible. Here is a photo essay in The Atlantic on what happened after Executive Order 9066.

Featured Article Runner-Up
A loyal reader forward this great article on Kellyanne Conway and the Problems with Donald Trump’s Playbook.

Action Center

Person Worthy of Your Attention

Jon Ossoff for Congress

The confirmation of Representative Tom Price to enrich himself further by making more personal investments in medical companies lead Health and Human Services created a vacant Congress seat in Georgia’s Sixth District. Trump won this district by only 1 percentage point. The special election is Tuesday, April 18. Nationally, people are turning this into a referendum on Trump and rallying around Democrat Jon Ossoff. I don’t know much about Ossoff, but he says all the right things on his website and Kristen Bell just tweeted out her support. If Veronica Mars did her investigative work, that’s good enough for me. Let’s hand Trump and the GOP an early loss – make a donation to Jon’s campaign.

Check Out the Resistance Calendar
Filmmaker Michael Moore just launched a new website, Resistance Calendar, to notify you of all resistance activities going on across the country.

Tell the LPGA to Dump Trump
Attention golfers, the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open is at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey.  Let the LPGA know that they are shanking it by associating a premier women’s sporting event with the Trump brand.

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