Weekly Newsletter

Vol. 18 – 130 P.E.

A Pitiful Pint to End a Pitiless Week

A Pitiful Pint at the End of a Pitiless Week
This week, the Trump Administration managed to upset long-time allies Britain, Germany, South Korea, and Ireland. Yes, even Ireland. This administration is so incompetent, they fumbled St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday in which we accept a green McDonald’s milkshake as essential to its celebration.

The White House’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations included Vice President Pence wishing everyone at a breakfast with Prime Minister Enda Kenny, “Top o’ the morning.” As I understand it, this is just one step above asking the Irish delegation where they buried their gold and then telling them that you hope their breakfast is “magically delicious.” At another reception, Trump cited an Irish proverb that does not exist. Not to be outdone, at a St. Patrick’s Day luncheon, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan made an odd remark connecting Ireland to golf (which was invented in Scotland) and royalty (not something greatly loved on the Emerald Isle). Finally, Ryan topped all of these other mistakes off by toasting everyone with something that shook our (former) Irish friends to the core: a pint of Guinness with no head. Irish twitter exploded with #pintgate, calling Ryan’s pour, a “despicable pint”, a “pitiful pint”, and something “you find in the smoking area at the end of the night, its owner stumbled home long ago.”

Sadly for us, Ryan’s pint was the just the pitiful capper on a pitiless week that included a projection of 24 million uninsured under RepubliCare and a proposed federal budget that cuts any assistance for . . . umm . . . anyone who needs assistance.

Read about those developments and more in this week’s properly poured edition of The TrumpShaker.

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March 19, 2017 – National Poultry Day – Day 130 P.E. (Post Election)
The “Let Them Eat Their Meals Without Wheels” Budget
This week, Trump released his proposed “skinny budget” for these United States of America. It’s called the skinny budget since it’s a prelude to the full budget proposal. It’s also an apt name because it starves much of our government.

Since you come to The TrumpShaker for brevity, let me quickly summarize the proposed budget’s contents. Basically, Trump seems to think we form a society solely for collective defense. Anything that the government does to support its citizens, further human development, or protect the citizens’ collective resources would either be cut or eliminated. Agencies in the business of killing people or keeping tabs on them (Defense and Homeland Security), would get a big boost. I can only imagine this is part of Trump’s long game to make the U.S. so undesirable that no one will want to immigrate here.

The Los Angeles Times provides a good overview of what’s in and out of the skinny budget. To give you a taste though (which I imagine tastes like Soylent Green), here are some of the areas on the chopping block: after-school programs, clean power programs, aid for the poor for home energy, grants used for Meals on Wheels, climate change research, science and medical research, FEMA, the United Nations, the World Bank, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Oh, he would also foreclose on Oscar the Grouch’s garbage can by cutting all funding for the Center for Public Broadcasting.

All of these cuts do not get us any closer to the Tea Party’s dream of a balanced budget, since it redirects the savings from gutting civil society to the military and immigration enforcement.

Why then take food and heat from the poor and arts and humanities from us all? Good question, let’s check with Trump’s Budget Director Jolly Ol’ St. Mick Mulvaney:

Mulvaney on eliminating after-school programs:
“They’re supposed to help kids who don’t get fed at home get fed so they do better in school,” he said. “Guess what? There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually doing that.”

Mulvaney on eliminating funding for climate change:
“We’re not spending money on [climate change] anymore; we consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.”

Mulvaney on eliminating funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
“When you start looking at places that we reduce spending, one of the questions we asked was, can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs? The answer was no. We can ask them to pay for defense, and we will, but we can’t ask them to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”

I’m sure the single mom in Detroit would be thankful that she can show her child film of our newest war rather than an episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. I imagine the West Virginian coal miner is also relived his tax dollars are adding 1,000 new immigration officers rather than going to the Appalachian Regional Commission, which Trump proposed to eliminate even though it provides workforce development and infrastructure funding in the coal miner’s town.

More Information
Charles Pierce in Esquire draws “a straight line from Reaganomics to Trump’s Budget

Freedom’s Just Another Word
In last week’s newsletter, I went deep (okay, ankle deep) into the details on RepubliCare and Paul Ryan’s dream to free us all (except himself and his Congressional colleagues) from the tyranny of government provided or subsidized health care. We were all just awaiting the official estimate from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to see just how many people Paul Ryan would emancipate. Well, move over Lincoln, the GOP is the party of Ryan now as the CBO predicts that RepubliCare would increase the number of uninsured by 14 million in 2018 and 24 million by 2026.

For those lucky enough to still have insurance, the CBO projects rate increases in the individual market of 15 to 20% higher than the rates currently predicted under the Affordable Care Act.
 
The CBO does project a savings of $367 billion by 2026. However, these savings would come primarily from cutting Medicaid. I’m sorry, did I just put “However,” at the beginning of the sentence and a period at the end? Let me rewrite it from Paul Ryan’s perspective: “These savings would come primarily from cutting Medicaid!”
 
You see, a primary reason we’ve got this horrific bill is that while other college kids were talking about the football game or Kierkegaard or 80s bands, Paul Ryan was hanging out at the Alpha Beta house saying how sweet it would be if poor people didn’t have health care. “We’ve been dreaming of [capping Medicaid funding] since you and I were drinking out of a keg,” chortled Ryan this week to National Review editor Rich Lowry.

Ryan is planning to bring RepubliCare up for a vote this Thursday, on the 7th anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act. Call your representative!

Secretary of State (see what  did there?)
Rex Tillerson has been almost in hiding since he took office. No one from the media has really been able to talk with him. MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell was thrown out of a State Department meeting as she desperately tried to get Tillerson to answer a question.
 
This week, Tillerson traveled to Asia on his first big diplomatic mission without, as is customary and important in a democracy, the media. The official reason was to save money. However, that reason officially does not make sense since the media pay their own way on these trips. Another reason is that, Tillerson said he’s “not a big media press access person.” That’s a great quality in a public servant.
 
At the last minute, Tillerson invited one reporter on his trip – an inexperienced reporter for the conservative Independent Journal Review. The reporter was not a pool reporter, i.e., there to represent all media and share her notes, but rather just granted special access.
 
Turns out that his trip is newsworthy. While in South Korea, our chief diplomat with no diplomatic experience declared that the time of “strategic patience” with North Korea has ended, that the U.S. ruled out negotiating with North Korea, and that the Trump administration may decide to take preemptive action. In related news, North Korea is said to be close to having the capability to launch a missile that can reach the United States. Sleep well.
 
What did Tillerson do next after threatening a mentally unstable and incompetent dictator with unchecked nuclear capabilities on behalf of our mentally unstable and incompetent president with unchecked nuclear capabilities? He took a nap. South Korean media reports that big tough Tillerson was jet lagged so could not join his hosts for dinner.
 
Tillerson has since denied he was tired and said that he was not even invited for dinner. All that denial served to do was to insult his South Korean hosts. The lessons? Maybe we should rely on our career diplomats for international diplomacy. Also, it’s helpful to bring the U.S. media along so there’s someone else to report on what is happening besides the host country’s media.

Nighty night, Sleepretary of State.

Reading is Fundamental
President Obama and President Trump give their somewhat contrasting thoughts on reading.Pictures from @arappeport.
Quick TrumpShakes
Mo Money, No Problems – Trump and his fellow kleptocrats are continuing to exploit their positions to make money from foreign governments, which happens to be in violation of the Constitution. However, no one in the GOP appears particularly concerned about it. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner isnegotiating to sell a stake in his Fifth Avenue skyscraper for $400 million to a Chinese holding company, Anbang Insurance, that is so tight with China’s Communist Party that President Obama wouldn’t stay in the New York Waldorf Astoria that Anbang owned during his presidency. On the other hand, President Trump just sold a $15.8 million condo to a businesswoman who sells access to Chinese power brokers.

Children of the Corn – Steve King (R-IA), in either support of Geert Wilders – the anti-immigrant Dutch politician – or of Voldemort – the anti-muggle evil wizard, wrote “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” His racist nationalist remarks were widely applauded by American white nationalist groups and met with complete silence by Trump and most of the Republican party. In case there was any question if King actually meant what he wrote, the next day King said, “I meant exactly what I said.”

Sorry, Not Sorry – Refusing to back down from his completely made up accusation that President Obama tapped his phone, Trump now dragged the UK into his fantasy world and accused UK intelligence of spying on him for Obama. British intelligence said this was “arrant nonsense”, which I imagine must be the worst kind of nonsense since I have no idea what arrant means. Caught in a real transatlantic row, the White House did something unprecedented and apologized to Britain for making crazy stuff up. Well, they almost did. Trump kept his perfect nonapology streak intact. Shortly after White House aides apologized, Trump said he actually didn’t say anything, he was just repeating what a Fox News commentator had said, so Fox News should apologize. Add the UK to the list of countries we’ve alienated since January 20.

PhD in Usury –  Finally, the most vulnerable in our society, debt collectors, will get some relief. The Trump administration told student loan debt collectors to ignore an Obama administration memoprohibiting the charging of high fees on past-due loans, even after the borrower entered into the government’s loan rehabilitation program.

Mad Men
An artist by the name of “Saint Hoax” is taking misogynistic ads from the 50s and 60s and replacing the headlines with quotes from our President.
Featured Article of the Week

Featured Article Runner-Up
Foreign Policy reflects on how with Steve King and Donald Trump white nationalism is front and center in the GOP.

Take Your Daughter to Bilateral National Security Discussions Day
President Trump decided to sit his daughter, who has no official position in the White House, next to arguably the leading politician in the Western world. I don’t think there would be enough fainting couches on the Eastern seabord if President Hillary Clinton had sat Chelsea next German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

This was but the smallest insult to our ally. Trump also ignored a request to shake her handchastised Germany on NATO based on his faulty assumption about how it workssaid that Germany has done very well in its trade deals with the U.S. – when Germany has no bilateral trade deals with U.S., and tried to bring Chancellor Merkel into his bizarre Obama wiretap accusations.

Action Center

GOP Wants to Okay the Shooting of Alaskan Hibernating Bears

The Congressional Republicans apparently have some sort of villain mad libs that they are using to draft legislation. Currently on the docket is a bill that would allow, in Alaska, the shooting of wolves and their pups in their dens as well as shooting hibernating bears; the bill would also permit using airplanes to scout, land, and shoot grizzlies.

This has already passed the House!  Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) urges you to contact your senator immediately to express your concern about SJ 18.

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