The Week in Politics – February 23rd

Keeping Up With Politics Can Be Tough

Since Trump’s inauguration, it has been more difficult than usual to keep up with politics. Usually, before I even wake up, Trump has done something crazy. As the judge in the SNL People’s Court said, “You’re doing too much! I want one day without a CNN alert that scares the hell of me!”

We’re Here to Help

So we decided that a weekly column summarizing what happened during the week was in order. We’ll follow all the stories and then bring the week’s events to you in condensed form. So without further ado, here it is:

Transgender Students’ Bathroom Rights Will No Longer Be Protected

In a move that could embolden many schools to restrict the rights of transgender students, the Trump administration has withdrawn a piece of federal guidance requiring trans students to have unfettered access to bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity. (Guardian) Protests immediately erupted across the country.

DHS Releases New Rules for Immigration Crackdown

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Tuesday released details on how it will prosecute undocumented immigrants and criminal immigrants under President Trump. Under the rules, federal officers will no longer consider any category of “removable alien” as exempt from removal, except for those protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program started under President Obama. (The Hill)

Freedom of the Press?

Last Thursday, Trump gave a press conference that lasted more than an hour. The conference was lauded by some as complete insanity, but Trump’s supporters felt it was brilliant. One thing both sides agree on, he attacked the press repeatedly during the conference with quotes like:

The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk to find out what’s going on, because the press honestly is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.

Terror in Sweden

During Trump’s first campaign rally for 2020, which was held  on Saturday in Florida,Trump said:

You look at what’s happening. We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?

Yet, nothing particularly nefarious happened in Sweden on Friday — or Saturday, for that matter — and Swedes were left baffled. (NY Times)

Cabinet of Chaos

The supposed purpose of Trump’s press conference was to announce his new Labor Secretary pick. It was easy to miss the announcement among Trump’s rantings and ravings, but the new pick is R. Alexander Acosta.

In Mr. Acosta, Mr. Trump has chosen a nominee with deep experience in labor relations, law and education. The pick answers concerns about the lack of diversity in the Trump administration, in that Mr. Acosta would be the first Hispanic in the president’s cabinet. And his chances of being confirmed appear relatively high, since Mr. Acosta, currently the dean of Florida International University’s law school, has made it through the Senate process three times for different roles. (NY Times)

Scott Pruitt Confirmed As Head of the EPA

The Senate voted to confirm Scott Pruitt as the head of the EPA. Democrats held the Senate floor all night in an effort to stall Pruitt’s confirmation in hopes of seeing 6,000 pages of e-mails that a judge ordered to be released. Pruitt also gave his speech as the head of the EPA, during which he never once mentioned climate change.

New Security Adviser

On Monday, Trump, named Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser, replacing the ousted Michael Flynn. McMaster has a lot of battlefield leadership experience, but little political experience.

Chaffetz Can’t Stop Chasing Hillary Clinton

While Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, seems rather nonplussed about Trump’s various conflicts of interests and possible ties to the Kremlin, he continues his dogged crusade to convict somebody, somewhere about something because Hillary Clinton used a private mail server while she was Secretary of State.

F.B.I. Probes Russian Interference

Meanwhile, the F.B.I. is conducting at least three probes into Russian hacking interference in the U.S. elections. I would find this to be more reassuring if the F.B.I. director, James Comey, had not interfered in the election himself.

They Tried to Convince the Rest of the World

Mike Pence went to Munich, Germany to try to soothe relations with European leaders. Meanwhile, James Mattis was dispatched to Baghdad, Iraq, and on his way out, reassured reporters,

All of us in America have generally paid for our gas and oil all along, and I’m sure that we will continue to do so in the future. We’re not in Iraq to seize anyone’s oil.

New Travel Ban – The Same, But Different

A new version of the Trump’s administration’s travel ban was not released this week, as predicted, but there were still plenty of drafts, leaks, and speculation. The new ban will still target the same seven countries. Green card and dual citizens will be exempt from the ban. The ban no longer will direct authorities to single out and reject Syrian refugees when processing new visa applications.

This is a brief summary of what happened this week. For everyone’s sanity and due to space constraints, I had to leave out many things that would have warranted mentioning under normal presidents. Some people were fired and some were hired, Betsy deVos criticized some teachers and the teachers weren’t having it, and Milo Yiannopoulos was found to have made some unusual comments in regards to sex between younger boys and older men, which did not go over well with conservatives and now he is out some speaking engagements, a book deal, and his writing gig at Breitbart (and I played the world’s smallest violin for him). I hope you all have a good week! Stay safe, stay sane, and stay strong!

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