Keeping Up With Politics Can Be Tough, So We’re Here to Help
Since Trump’s inauguration, it has been more difficult than usual to keep up with politics. 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, the week in politics:
Did Trump Collude with Russia?
It is looking more and more likely that Trump did indeed collude with Russia with regard to the 2016 election and that somewhere, sometime, the evidence will be so irrefutable, that Trump will be forced to resign or will be impeached (assuming all of congress isn’t also colluding with the Russians or Trump). This week’s big find was that the Trump team allowed the Republicans to choose his Presidential platform, except for in regards to Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine. Trump’s team insisted that one part of the platform being toned down, but then they denied it. It has no come out that yes, the team did intervene on that one issue and according to a campaign officer, the order to do so came directly from Trump, himself. In addition, it appears that Jeff Sessions actually met with the Russian Ambassador three times, not two. And it ends up that Mike Flynn worked as a “foreign agent” for the Turkish government as recently as November, 2016. So, what happens if the FBI can prove that Trump colluded with the Russian government to undermine the 2016 election? According to the National Review, the story is a non-story and though the Russian government did “mess with our election”, Trump did not collude with them. The National Review article is an important reminder that we must always step out of our bubble and check in with the other side if we are to understand the other side’s thinking and perhaps prevent confirmation bias.
Sean Spicer: Large stacks of paper are “government.” Small stacks of paper are “not” https://t.co/zqjUEIYGs5
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) March 8, 2017
ACA Replacement Plan
Republicans revealed their plan to replace the ACA (Obamacare). There has been a lot of public outcry to the new health care plan, but Republicans don’t seem to care much about the opinions of the American people and rammed it through the House Ways and Means Committee at 4:30 AM yesterday.
The biggest losers under the change would be older Americans with low incomes who live in high-cost areas. Those are the people who benefited most from Obamacare.
For some people, the new tax credit system will be more generous. The winners are likely to be younger, earn higher incomes and live in areas where the cost of health insurance is low. (NY Times)
Representative Dr. Roger Marshall (R-KS), father of the dabbing teen that posed with Paul Ryan, angered many when he said:
Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us.’ There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves. (Daily Kos)
Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) angered even more people when he defended the plan by saying:
— CNN (@CNN) March 7, 2017
Interestingly, it ends up that Chaffetz doesn’t actually pay his own phone bill. Also, interestingly, Chaffetz has a new opponent for his seat in Congress. Dr. Kathryn Allen has announced that she wishes to oppose Chaffetz in 2018. After Chaffetz’s iPhone comment, American’s donated over $200,000 to Allen’s campaign in just two days!
Meanwhile, Trump’s defense of the ACA repeal bill made things as clear as mud:
This will be a plan where you can choose your doctor, and this will be a plan where you can choose your plan. And you know what the plan is. This is the plan. It’s a complicated process, but actually it’s very simple, it’s called good health care.
Wikileaks Leaked Again
In what appears to be the largest leak of C.I.A documents in history, WikiLeaks released on Tuesday thousands of pages describing sophisticated software tools and techniques used by the agency to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions. (New York Times)
I’d like to bring attention to the timing of this leak. Just when the Russian investigation pressure on Trump and his cronies was getting such that Trump and others in his social circle start acting out, Wikileaks releases a treasure trove of documents. Coincidence? I think not. I personally suspect that Wikileaks was trying to divert attention from the Russian investigation.
The Environment is F@#$*!
Trump’s administration has been tweaking EPA documents, but this week was a dozy. The Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, a group of scientists and academics who spend their free time tracking changes to about 25,000 federal government webpages, noticed that the EPA’s Office of Science and Technology Policy no longer lists “science” in the paragraph describing what it does. Additionally, Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, said:
I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.
Muslim Ban 2.0
Trump signed a new executive order, banning travelers from six Muslim majority countries. Iraq was dropped from the list of affected countries and Syrian refugees will no longer face an indefinite ban, but the 120-day suspension of the refugee program was still included. The White House attempted to clean up the ban such that it will hold up in the court system. Massachusetts, Oregon, New York and Washington state declared Thursday that they will follow Hawaii in challenging President Trump’s revised travel order, saying the latest executive directive still amounts to an unconstitutional ban on Muslims.
Friday Night Tantrum
After Jeff Sessions recused himself from all investigations into the Russian involvement in the 2016 election, Trump had a temper tantrum and ranted and raved at staff. Speculation has it that Trump’s anger is really the result of being cornered by the Russian investigation.
Et tu, Obama?
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Clearly, Mar-a-Lago was not able to do it’s usual job of soothing the savage beast, as Saturday started off bright and early with Trump tweeting that President Obama had tapped his wires in Trump Tower before the election. There has been no proof presented to support this claim and many writers have suggested that this was actually an attempt by Trump to distract Americans from the Jeff Sessions fiasco.
Mess on Aisle 45, James Comey!
After Trump’s Twitter storm Saturday morning, James Comey got involved by have FBI officials ask Department of Justice officials to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones. The DOJ did not comply and nobody knows why. Also, nobody knows why Comey didn’t just make such an announcement himself.
With everything else that has been going on, it would be easy to overlook Asia right now, but there is some scary stuff going on in Asia these days. Stuff that could easily lead to war between the U.S. and Korea or China or both.
North Korea launched four ballistic missiles toward Japan and boasted they were a dry run for attacking American troops there; the US began the deployment of a controversial anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea despite furious pushback from a very unhappy China; and North Korea temporarily banned all Malaysian citizens from leaving the country in a dramatic escalation of a diplomatic spat with one of its few allies in the world.(Vox)
Ben Carson, Say What?
Trump’s behavior was so audacious this week, we really didn’t have time to pay much attention to his cabinet members. But then Ben Carson incredible:
There were other immigrants who came in the bottom of slave ships, who worked even longer, even harder, for less, but they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land. (Ben Carson)
Did he just compare slaves to immigrants? Why yes, he did. Then it came out that President Obama also compared slaves to immigrants. Both Carson and Obama are black, so I honestly don’t know what to think about this. It seems to me that the phrase “immigrants” trivializes the many atrocities that were committed against Africans who were violently removed from their homeland, ripped away from their families, transported in horrific conditions, and forced into slavery.
And of course the Republicans are still trying to gerrymander, Trump still has his many conflicts of interest, Kellyanne Conway will not be getting punished for her breach of ethics, the Statue of Liberty went dark, Trump is going to build that damn wall, no matter what it costs, all 100 Senators implored Donald Trump to speak out against anti-semitism (he did not), and Rex Tillerson is gutting the State Department.
As always, there were many other stories that were important, but I can only fit so much in one column. I hope you all have a good week! Stay safe, stay sane, and stay strong!