Weekly Newsletter

Vol. 38: Mushroom Cloud . . . And . . . Scene

August 13, 2017 – Day 277 Post Election

The TrumpShaker Top Three
August 13, 2017 – National Prosecco Day – Day 277 P.E
Mushroom Cloud . . . And . . . Scene

I take one week off and when I come back we’re on the brink of Global Thermonuclear War. Sorry about that. My bad.

On Tuesday, President (and apparent Upright Citizens Brigade alumnus) Trump “improvised” a nuclear threat. Trump said if North Korea continued to rattle its sabers, “they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” And thus began our Cuban Missile Crisis by Dummies.

Predictably, White House officials tried to downplay and spin Trump’s remarks. Even more predictably, Trump then contradicted his team,saying he meant every word of it and then some, “If anything, maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough.”

Certainly, Trump will receive advice from our diplomatic experts how to resolve this potential nuclear crisis. Oh wait, we don’t have any of those because the former CEO of Exxon is our Secretary of State and Trump has not nominated a:

  • South Korean Ambassador
  • Undersecretary for public diplomacy
  • Undersecretary for arms control and international security affairs
  • Assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs
  • Assistant secretary for arms control, verification, and compliance
  • Assistant secretary for international security and nonproliferation affairs

Well then, at least he will get spiritual counseling on avoiding a war that would kill millions. Nope. Trump’s evangelical adviser, Pastor Robert Jeffress, said, “God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-un.” Seriously, I wish I was making this up.

Unless Chief of Staff John Kelly can get Trump to play hundreds of games of tic-tac-toe, the best bet to avoid military engagement may be Trump’s own short attention span. On Friday, another shiny target had already caught his eye. In response to the humanitarian and political crisis in Venezuela, Trump said that a “military option” is possible.

As The Tяump Turns
We got some real action this week on As The Tяump Turns as our spy drama suddenly turned into a crime drama!

The Washington Post reported that the FBI raided the home of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on the morning of July 26. The FBI had a warrant, which means they had probable cause.  Rumor has it that the FBI was in search of information related to Manafort’s super sketchy and super Russian-entangled finances.

The public didn’t find out about this raid until now, but it’s pretty certain that Trump knew about it when it happened. Note that just two hours after the raid, Trump tweeted that Sessions should have replaced the acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. The same morning, Trump also announced his out of nowhere ban on transgender Americans serving in the military – perhaps in hopes of changing the narrative in case the news of the Manafort raid got out.

Also this week, I just don’t know what it is about him, but Vladimir Putin has once again proven to be the only person to never incur Trump’s wrath. After initially not responding for days after Putin expelled 755 people from the American embassy and consulate staff in retaliation for increased U.S. sanctions, Trump thanked Putin because “we’re trying to cut down on payroll. And as far as I’m concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll. There’s no real reason for them to go back. So, I greatly appreciate the fact that they’ve been able to cut our payroll for the United States. We’ll save a lot of money.”

This was a surprising response given his prior actions when confronted by a foe removing something that is under Trump leadership. When Nordstrom’s discontinued stocking Ivanka’s clothing line, Trump immediately tweeted, “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”

The White House later claimed that Trump was being sarcastic. Even if that’s the case, I don’t believe sarcasm is the traditional language of diplomacy. For those keeping track at home: Russia influenced our election. Congress slapped sanctions on them. Trump admonished Congress for doing so. Putin retaliated. Trump thanked him. I’m beginning to think there’s something fishy going on here.

Block the Vote
Republicans are once again being true to their roots as constitutional originalists – they are trying to get the U.S. back to a time when only white men could vote.

In the home state of the Vice President and leader of Trump’s Voter Fraud Commission, Indiana’s Republican-led legislature passed a law that forces Lake County (and ONLY Lake County) to close precincts with less than 600 active voters. In related news, Hillary won Lake County by 20%.

Also in the land of the Cutters, Republicans cut early voting in the state’s largest Democratic county, Marion, while expanding it in Republican Hamilton County. IndySTAR reports that not coincidentally Hamilton County saw a 63% increase in absentee voting (used at early voting stations), while Marion’s numbers declined by 26%.

At the Federal level, the Department of Justice, now under the direction of Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III reversed its position under the Obama administration on Ohio’s voter purges. The DOJ now argues that it is legal for Ohio to purge voters from the roles who have not voted in a six-year period and have not responded to a piece of mail asking them to confirm their registration.

Kakistocracy – kakə̇ˈstäkrəsē
Government by the Worst People

This week’s examples of our kakistocracy in action:

Choose the Form of the Destructor – I’ve criticized Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and Trump nominee for USDA “chief scientist” Sam Clovis for his non-science background and climate change denial. However, this week, even worse details on his terribleness came out. He has called former Attorney General Eric Holder a “racist Black” and current DNC Chairman Tom Perez a “racist Latino.” Also, his climate change beliefs go beyond denial and instead revolve around a belief that climate advocates changed the term from global warming to climate change because it better reflects some bizarre socialist desire of progressives to “create the ideal climate in all regions of the earth.”

National Conspiracy Council – National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster fired Rich Higgins from the National Security Council staff after a memo came to light in which Higgins makes the argument that Trump is the target of a conspiracy by cultural Marxists, led by the media, academics, global bankers, and Democratic and Republican leadership. You should read it. It’s insane. The fun part is that Trump allegedly “gushed over it” and is furious that Higgins was fired.

Quick TrumpShakes
I Don’t Want My Trump TV – “Trump TV” launched on Trump’s Campaign Facebook page this week. On the broadcast, ex-CNN commentator Kayleigh McEnany reads what she deems the “real news.” It is much closer to real state propaganda. Despite her being a Harvard Law grad, not sure that I trust McEnany’s opinion on what is real – in November 2012 she tweeted: “FUN FACT: @dominos is wayyyy better than any NYC pizza.”

I Don’t Want My Trump TV – Local News Edition – Sinclair Media is the nation’s largest TV broadcaster and is best known for making a deal with Jared Kushner to provide Trump with positive coverage during the presidential campaign and for requiring its stations to run conservative editorial pieces during local news broadcasts. If Sinclair Media closes on its proposed purchase of Tribune Media, it will own stations in 72% of U.S. markets. This dominance of our airwaves has been made possible by Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai citing a loophole to allow Sinclair to exceed the nationwide audience cap of 39%.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall – Looking for assurance that he remains the fairest in the land, Trump has White House staffers deliver to him a folder full of positive tweets, news chyrons, and “sometimes just pictures of Trump on TV looking powerful” twice a day.

Getting Rid of Our Hired, Our Financially Secure, Our Families Already Breathing Free – Set loose by Trump, ICE has been aggressively seeking to deport those that were once considered very low priority.  This week’s examples of our government ripping apart families come from Connecticut and Oakland. In Connecticut, a father with no criminal record, with an American wife and two U.S. citizen children, and who has been in the same job for 12 years is set to be deported because he failed to show up for a hearing in 2004. He missed the hearing because government officials had his name and address wrong, so he didn’t even know about it. In Oakland, ICE is forcing an oncology nurse and her truck driver husband to leave with their 12-year-old U.S. citizen son after being in the United States for 23 years. They are leaving behind their three daughters, ages 23, 21, and 16. The parents own a home, pay their taxes, are active in the community, and tried since their arrival to get legal status. Their eldest two daughters attended UC Santa Cruz. The tearing apart of these families is a loss for their children, their community, and America.

OBGopYN – Looking through the speculum at the GOP’s latest attack on women’s health:

  • Representative Buddy Carter (R-GA) said he would help direct federal funds to Georgia to help address the extensive backlog of rape test kits . . . unless the rape kit was in a sanctuary city, in which case he would block those funds.
  • Rather than addressing the fact that Texas has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world, the Texas House instead passed a bill that would ban private insurance plans from covering abortion. The bill’s sponsor Republican Representative John Smithee claimed he had moral and economic objections to abortion coverage. The economic objection is that since he’s not a woman, he wouldn’t use it (apparently forgetting how a woman gets pregnant). When asked by Democratic Representative Gene Wu why he didn’t go after other procedures like hysterectomies and breast exams, Smithee said he didn’t know “medically” whether he could have a hysterectomy or not.

The Trump Name Carries Quite a Premium – A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found that the uncertainty caused by Trump throwing a fit about whether he’ll provide promised federal subsidies to insurance companies has led insurance companies to significantly raise their premiums for 2018.

Climate Change is Here, Have Fear, Get Used to It – A draft report from 13 federal agencies finds thatwe are already experiencing the effects of climate change. The scientific community (and all sane people) is waiting to see if the Trump administration acts on this report or, more likely, tries to bury it.

Friendly Fire – Trump took a break from his vacation to tell fellow Senate Majority Leader and former Tootsie Pop commercial star Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to get back to work. He later followed up this tweet by saying he was “very disappointed in Mitch” and that if McConnell didn’t deliver on taxes, health care, and infrastructure, Trump wouldn’t rule out asking him to step aside.

On Friday night, hundreds of white supremacists marched through Charlottesville and the University of Virginia campus carrying tiki torches and shouting “One people, one nation, end immigration” and “Blood and soil.” In the picture above they are surrounding a small group of students with a “UVA Students Against White Supremacy” sign and chanting, “White Lives Matter.” On Saturday, supremacists and armed militias took over Charlottesville and a in an act of terrorism, a supremacist ran over protesters, killing 1 and injuring 19. Rather than lash out and reject the supremacists as he the Pope, Gold Star parents, and Kristen Stewart, Trump condemned “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.” When one side is white supremacists and the other side are those protesting them, there are not many sides. Of course, as  this clip from Ava DuVernay’s documentary “13th” shows, this sort of signaling of approval to supremacists is nothing new for Trump.
Featured Articles of the Week

If you’re looking to kill time in your bomb shelter, read “How to Deal With North Korea: There are no good options. But some are worse than others.

This week is the third anniversary of the shooting death by police of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In remembrance of the protests that followed, I’m dusting off this truly amazing piece of writing by Rembert Browne. Published on August 15, 2014, Browne writes his first-hand account of “The Front Lines of Ferguson”.

Action Center
Maplight.Org is “a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that reveals the influence of money in politics, informs and empowers voters, and advances reforms that promote a more responsive democracy.” They do excellent work to show how money corrupts our political system. This week, Maplight released a story on how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will have its 2018 meeting at the Trump National Doral in Miami.
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