Weekly Newsletter

Vol. 29: Oceans Rise, Empires Fall

June 4, 2017 – Day 204 P.E. – National Cognac Day

The TrumpShaker Top Three
June 4, 2017 – National Cognac Day – Day 207 P.E (Post Election).
Oceans Rise, Empires Fall

After a careful, thoughtful analysis of how much it bothered him that French President Macron bested him at a handshake, Trump decided to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Many consider this agreement our (i.e. humanity’s) last best shot at avoiding the harshest effects of climate change. I’m sorry, accusing Trump of threatening human existence just to get back at Macron is unfair. He came to his decision after much research, such as consulting with renowned climatologist Fox News personality, Kimberly Guilfoyle on what he should do regarding Paris.
Trump made the announcement of the U.S. leaving the Paris agreement in the Rose Garden, which may have still smelled of stale beer from the AHCA after party. That was the last time Trump and Republicans got to celebrate making changes to U.S. policy that might result in early deaths for millions. Trump one-upped himself for this announcement by having a military jazz band play “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess before he took the stage. On the plus side, I think that moment was the closest we’ve ever had to a real-life version of a super-villain musical number. Speaking of which, I just realized how much Trump looks like Ursula the sea-witch from The Little Mermaid.   
One hundred ninety-five countries have signed the Paris accord; only Syria and Nicaragua declined. Nicaragua would not sign it because the Paris accord didn’t do enough, which is a very fair critique. Syria didn’t sign it because its government thinks it is okay to kill its own citizens with chemical weapons. So that’s the company we’re keeping these days.
Trump’s speech was riddled with falsehoods, including his usual go-to that he can renegotiate it to get the U.S. a better deal. Immediately after his announcement, the leaders of France, Germany, and Italy stated the agreement cannot be renegotiated.

In this darkness, there are some lights of hope. In the absence of leadership from Washington D.C.,states, cities, universities, and companies have taken up the call to meet the U.S. requirements under the Paris accord. Also, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged $15 million to the United Nations to cover the U.S. financial obligations under the accord.
Technically, the U.S. cannot pull out of the agreement until November 2020, making the Paris accord a central issue of the next presidential campaign as long as the GOP remains unique in the world among major political parties in their rejection of climate change. In case you thought impeachment might change things, here is VP Mike Pence’s statement: “For some reason, this issue of climate change has emerged as a paramount issue for the left – in this country and around the world.” Yes, Mike, for some reason . . .

You can learn more about the effects of climate change at NASA.gov. The Sierra Club has 10 things you can do to resist Trump’s Paris withdrawal.

As The Tяump Turns
This week on As The Tяump Turns was more of a bridge episode, as they say in the TV biz, leading up to the big sweeps event of former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony this upcoming Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee. However, many ingredients were still added to the borscht soup this week, including:

  • Yahoo! News reported that it took an intense behind the scenes battle between career state department staffers and the Trump administration to stop Trump from easing sanctions against Russia almost immediately after his inauguration. The Obama administration put these sanctions in place for invading Ukraine and attacking our election.
  • Trump’s not done trying to do his Russian friends a solid though. The Washington Postreported that the Trump administration is looking to return Russian compounds in Maryland and New York that President Obama shuttered in December since they were “used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes.” Master negotiator Trump giving the Russians something valuable in exchange for nothing (allegedly) doesn’t look fishy at all.
  • The lyrics of Jared Kushner’s and Vnesheconombank’s president’s versions of Somewhere Out There don’t match up. Kushner and Russia both have different explanations of why Kushner met with Russian bank Vnesheconombank president, Sergey Gorkov, in December. Gorkov, a graduate of the school that produces Russian spies, was appointed to his position personally by Putin. The bank (which has been under U.S. sanctions since 2014) says that the meeting was about business, the White House said it was just some more go-getter diplomatic work by Kushner. Whatever the reason, The Washington Post used flight records to determine that immediately after the meeting, Gorkov flew to Japan to meet personally with Putin. A lot of questions remain, although the biggest is do they not have any branding specialists in Russia?  Vnesheconombank? Were they trying to come up with the most evil sounding bank possible?
  • In a previous week on As The Tяump Turns, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III omitted in his Senate testimony that he had met twice with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. After being caught, Sessions amended his testimony and recused himself from the Department of Justice’s Russian investigation (except to momentarily unrecuse himself, using the Dwight Schrute shun/unshun technique, to fire the person leading the Russian investigation). This week, CNN reported that the FBI is investigating whether Sessions met with Kislyak a previously unreported third time. I feel bad for Kislyak, he’s so unmemorable.
  • Speaking of violating a recusal, the fool on the Hill, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) recused himself from the Russian investigation in April. Today, he is stillinsisting on signing-off on any subpoenas for the investigation and is still viewing intelligence related to the investigation. What did he recuse himself from, exactly? Maybe he just from the sign-up sheet to bring snack for the committee meeting?
  • Sean Spicer announced the White House will stop taking questions about Trump and Russia. That’ll do it, Sean. Problem solved!
Pass the Covfefe on the Left Hand Side
In the middle of the night this week, our surely sane and sharp president tweeted, “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.” He likely meant to type “coverage”, followed by some inane comment, but fell asleep while he was typing on the toilet. The Internet proceeded to mock Trump incessantly, even more than usual.

Two very troubling things were exposed by Trump’s mild stroke covfefe. First, this tweet was left up for hours. No one was either able or willing to correct an error in a statement by the President of the United States. Second, the White House could not admit that Trump made a typo. When asked about the covfefe in the room, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, “I think the president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.”  The one silver lining is that we may now know what Trump’s “Rosebud” will be.

Quick TrumpShakes
Heavenly Tasting Ignorance – Tired of feeling guilty about the 2780 calories in your Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake? Trump has the solution! It’s his same solution to all of life’s problems: ignorance. Trump’s Food and Drug Administration has delayed the rule requiring the posting of calories on menus. In true Trump fashion, he managed to once again foul up the implementation of his terrible idea. The FDA made this proclamation just four days before it was to go in effect, much too late for restaurants to stop printing up their new menus.

Why Didn’t We Think of That? – Trump tweeted out this week, “I suggest we add more dollars to Healthcare and make it the best anywhere.” In related news, Trump’s budget cuts nearly $900 billion from health care.

Cuba Cerrada – In his pursuit to become the bizarro Obama and do everything the opposite, Trump isconsidering refreezing our relationship with Cuba that Obama had thawed.

Ivanka’s Factory Conditions? Ancient Chinese Secret – At Ivanka’s shoe factory in Chicago, which provides an honest day’s wage for honest work – oh wait, sorry – I meant, in China where people work 60 hours a week for $62, three activists investigating working conditions have gone missing. One was detained and the other two are nowhere to be found.

Honesty Has Come and Gone – Director of the Office of Management and Budget and author of Trump’s recent budget with a 2 trillion-dollar math error, Mick Mulvaney criticized the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), saying its time “has probably come and gone.” He cited the terrible score of the Republican health care plan as proof of the CBO’s partisan nature. Here is where I note that the head of the CBO is a Republican appointee put there by the current Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

For a Bigly Time, Call . . .  – Trump has been desperately trying to get the digits of world leaders. He has been reportedly giving out his number to leaders and asking them to call him directly on his cell phone. Traditionally, presidents use secure land lines for diplomatic calls because they are, you guessed it, secure. A cell phone is an open line, which is very susceptible to eavesdropping. I would normally be very concerned about this, but since he blurts out classified information in public, I’m not sure it matters.

Textmergency – The House voted overwhelmingly this week to require a 15-year mandatory jail sentence to anyone found guilty of texting explicit images to minors or encouraging minors to text explicit images. Great, right? I mean no one except Milo Yiannopoulos would support pedophilia. Well, the language in this bill is so broad that it would ensnare two teenagers sending explicit photos of themselves to each other. Regardless of whether you think that’s a good idea, a judge being required to send 13-year-old Juliet to jail for 15 years for sending a naughty pic to Romeo does no one any good. The sponsor of the bill, Mike Johnson (R-LA), refused to tighten the language in the bill to avoid prosecuting teens in a consensual relationship. In the end, only 55 representatives had the courage to vote against the “Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017.” Hopefully, there are a few more brave people in the Senate who are willing to subject themselves to a negative ad rather than destroy the lives of some teenagers over a text.

Seasoned Bureaucrats – Who said that Trump administration’s lack of experience in government would slow them down? With their latest gambit, they’ve risen to DMV level bureaucrats. Congressional democrats have been puzzled why none of their requests to federal agencies had received a response. Shockingly, it was not incompetence, but pure Trumpartisanship (yep, trying to coin a new phrase – don’t think it will catch on, but it’s worth a lot of points in Scrabble). The Trump administration announced their policy to not answer requests from all representatives but “to accommodate requests of chairmen, regardless of their political party.” It turns out, coincidentally, that Republicans are chairmen of every committee, so the federal government no longer needs to honor requests for information from Democratic representatives. Denying government information to government officials is not standard operating procedure.

Documented Cruelty – This week’s featured story on how harsh America has become is that of Oscar Milan. Oscar, an undocumented immigrant, was detained by ICE as he was leaving to pick up his two-week-old son, who had just emerged from a successful surgery. Oscar is now being held prior to deportation. When he’s deported, he’ll leave behind the infant and another son, both of whom are American citizens. This is likely the direct result of Trump rescinding guidelines instructing ICE officers to consider the situation of undocumented immigrants. Every undocumented immigrant is now a target. We are a nation of laws, but leaving two children without a father does not benefit our society.

Let Them Eat Nothing – On NPR, Representative Adrian Smith (R-NE) was not able to give a straight answer to the question, “Is every American entitled to eat?” Instead Smith chose to dodge the apparently controversial issue of allowing Americans to starve and talk instead about how nutrition is important.

Filling the Swamp – After initially pushing back on the request to make ethics waivers public, the Trump administration announced that it had issued 17 ethics waivers in just 4 months. The Obama administration issued 17 ethics waivers as well . . . over 8 years. Most troubling is a possible retroactive waiver for Steve Bannon to communicate with the editors of his white nationalist-philic website, Breitbart. To put this plainly, Trump is allowing his chief strategist to run a media empire that peddles hate while working in the White House and being paid by you and me.

Featured Articles of the Week

Foreign Policy looks at how the GOP went “From the party of Lincoln to the party of the body slam“.

The Washington Post’s conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin writes, “With his London tweets, Trump embarrasses himself – and America – once again“.

Action Center
Founded in 1981 by Norman Lear (Producer of All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Good Times, and more) and Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, People For The American Way fights “right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values under attack, including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.” Check them out!
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