Week Five – Readings

To keep the Weekly Index on a calendar that aligns with Trump’s inaugural date and takes advantage of weekend down-time (such as it is these days), we’re aiming to get this out on Fridays now (yes, this is Saturday. Sorry). This way you can unwind into the weekend with a batch of great reads and a review of the horrific and not-so-horrific events of the past week (or, in this case, almost two weeks). And gosh, a lot has happened in the past twelve days. Ugh.

Some solid reads for the weekend:

  • bell hooks on feminism in the age of Trump: “I think that we have to restore feminism as a political movement. The challenge to patriarchy is political, and not a lifestyle or identity. It’s as if we have to return to very basic education for critical consciousness, around what visionary feminist politics really is about.”



Week Five – Index

To keep the Weekly Index on a calendar that aligns with Trump’s inaugural date and takes advantage of weekend down-time (such as it is these days), we’re aiming to get this out on Fridays now (yes, this is a Saturday morning. Life intervened). This way you can unwind into the weekend with a batch of great reads and a review of the horrific and not-so-horrific events of the past week (or, in this case, almost two weeks). And gosh, a lot has happened in the past twelve days. Ugh.

A partial summary:

  • Stephen Miller becomes, at least briefly, public enemy number one: “The media and the whole world will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”
  • National security advisory Michael Flynn resigns over his unauthorized conversations about removing Russian sanctions; Trump’s second choice retired vice admiral and Navy SEAL Robert S. Harward declines the offer; H.R. McMaster takes the role.
  • Andrew Puzder withdraws from Labor Secretary nomination, partly because of his employment of undocumented workers and partly because of a video aired on “Oprah” in which his ex-wife accuses him of domestic abuse; Trump nominates Alexander Acosta to replace him.
  • ICE raids continue. February 16th is declared “A Day Without Immigrants,” and thousands stay home from work to demonstrate the essential role of immigrants in our society.
  • Defense Secretary Mattis expresses “very little doubt” at Russian meddling.
  • Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt has his confirmation hearing pushed forward in haste before thousands of his emails, which turn out to show a very cosy and deregulatory relationship with fossil fuels, are released. EPA workers try to block Pruitt’s appointment; he is confirmed.
  • House Ways and Means Committee votes against requesting Trump’s tax return from IRS.
  • Betsy DeVos rails against university professors at the Conservative Political Action Conference, saying to college students, “The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think. They say that if you voted for Donald Trump, you’re a threat to the university community. But the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree.” She reportedly has asked Jerry Falwell Jr, president of Liberty University, to convene a task force addressing the deregulation of higher education.
  • Bill HR 610 introduced to the House of Representatives: Extracts: “This bill repeals the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and limits the authority of the Department of Education (ED) such that ED is authorized only to award block grants to qualified states. / The bill establishes an education voucher program, through which each state shall distribute block grant funds among local educational agencies […]. / The bill repeals a specified rule that established certain nutrition standards for the national school lunch and breakfast programs.”
  • A group of Latino legislators were excluded by Republican colleagues from a meeting with acting director of ICE Thomas Homan.
  • Presidential advisor and white nationalist Steve Bannon spoke to CPAC in chilling terms, vowing “the deconstruction of the administrative state.”
  • DHS secretary issues sweeping new guidelines for deporting illegal immigrants.

President Trump:

  • Gives truly unhinged and deeply unsettling 1’18” long press conference, to the consternation of anyone watching. The leaks are real but what they leak is fake, he contends. Uranium is nuclear weapons and other bad stuff. Crooked Hillary. Millions of illegal voters lost him the popular vote. He’s the least anti-semitic, least racist person ever. Reset button. Administration is running like a well-oiled machine… News anchors and commentators are briefly stunned into silence by the spectacle.
  • Meets with Netanyahu, with their joint press conference occurring before their meeting in an unusual break with precedent and common sense. Later, Trump declares that the two-state solution–long-held American diplomatic policy–may be unnecessary.
  • Promises to make good on the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act: the new plan will allegedly debut in March.
  • Promises to remove regulations across the government, advancing the concept that whenever a new regulation is made, two must be removed (a rule originally coined by his administration to apply to new entries to the Endangered Species List).
  • Directs the USDA to remove information about puppy mills and other animal cruelty topics from their website.
  • Orders the Departments of Education and Justice to withdraw important guidance that requires schools to treat transgender boys and girls like other boys and girls; states and districts will now have the rights to determine whether trans students may use the bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their gender identity. Protests erupt. The case of Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old challenging his school district’s decision to bar him from using the boys’ restroom because he is a trans student, is about to be heard before the Supreme Court. Betsy DeVos describes trans protections as “a very huge overreach.” Doubleplusungood.
  • Maligns the press corps and the FBI at CPAC.
  • Holds campaign-style rallies in Florida and elsewhere. A Florida pastor who attended a rally in Florida said that at the rally, “demonic activity was palpable.”
  • Claims that Sweden has recently been the victim of immigrant-caused terrorism. Sweden says, huh? Images flood twittersphere of what really happened in Sweden on Friday night: drunken moose, a crooner’s mic failure, a speeding ticket. #prayforSweden becomes hashtag.
  • Orders that the NY Times, BBC, CNN, and other mainstream news outlets be excluded from the most recent White House press briefing, catalyzing widespread protest and leading to the boycott of the conference by the Associated Press and other “invited” outlets.

In other news:

  • Water protectors at the Dakota Access Pipeline were forced to leave their camp near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation by police and National Guardsmen; over forty people were arrested without violence, including a number of veterans, and part of the emptied camp was torched. Few news outlets reported much on this.
  • In Charleston, a rare bipartisan bright spot: Democrats and Republican Mark Sanford seem to be in agreement on Trump.
  • Messianic former UK Prime Minister gives a stirring anti-Brexit speech, urging the British public to change their mind and “rise up.”
  • At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), pranksters convince attendees to hold up “pro-Trump” flags that are actually Russian flags.
  • Congress goes on recess, and town halls across the nation—whether official or unofficial—erupt in protest against immigration reform, the reduction of trans protections, threats to public schools and their healthcare, and countless other issues.
  • 24 US Senators, including two Republicans, send a letter to Trump in support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
  • Senator John McCain gives blunt but rallying speech at the 2017 Munich Security Conference about the rising tide of authoritarianism and the urgent need to protect the fundamental values and virtues of Western civilization.
  • Antisemitic attacks are on the rise, joining a rise in anti-Muslim attacks. Jewish cemeteries are vandalized in various cities; in St. Louis, local Muslim groups raise over $20,000 to help with the costs of restoration.
  • Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev appoints his wife as first vice president. Melania waits in the wings.

Week Four – Readings


Week Four – Index

This week, President Trump:

  • continues attacking the “so political,” “so-called” judiciary in response to court hearings on his immigration ban, prompting fears that he will not abide by court rulings and will instead trigger a Constitutional crisis (fears exacerbated by tweets like: “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!”). Trump’s Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch calls Trump’s comments “disheartening” and “demoralizing.”
  • furiously vows to appeal the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ unanimous decision to uphold the block on Trump’s immigration ban, tweeting “SEE YOU IN COURT!” to which nation replies, “DUH.”
  • moves to end the Fiduciary Rule and Dodd Frank regulations.
  • meets with Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe for epic weekend of sycophancy, mutual incomprehension, and golf.
  • meets with Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau and to exchange stilted platitudes.
  • issues uncharacteristically restrained response to North Korean mid-range missile test.
  • after hearing a complaint from a Texas sheriff, ask for the name of and threatens to “destroy [a Texas state senator’s] career” because he proposed a state bill forbidding the practice unless the suspect was actually convicted of a crime. In response, Pennsylvania state senator Daylin Leach tweets, “Hey! I oppose civil asset forfeiture too. Why don’t you come after me you fascist, loofa-faced shit-gibbon!!”
  • announces three new executive orders against gangs and criminal violence, despite low national crime rate; the third announces a task force “to prevent crimes and crimes of violence against our law enforcement officers.” With AG Jeff Sessions standing behind him during this announcement, the orders could open the door to increased racial profiling (the wrong kind of commemoration of #blackhistorymonth).

In other news,

  • Democratic senators hold the floor over night in resistance to Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos, whose family has contributed c. $200m to the Republican party and who is a proponent of school vouchers and religious education. She is confirmed on Tuesday in an historically close vote: VP Pence is called in as tie-breaker. Says Senator Al Franken after the vote, “Last night, I urged my Republican colleagues to oppose her nomination, because if we cannot set party loyalty aside long enough to perform the essential duty of vetting the President’s nominees, then I don’t know what we are even doing here. Betsy DeVos has demonstrated that she is fundamentally unqualified to lead the Education Department, and it’s a shame that Republicans voted to confirm one of their major donors instead of looking out for our children.”
  • Representative Thomas Massie (R-Ken) introduces House bill to “terminate” the Department of Education in December 2018.
  • Andrew Puzder, Trump pick for Labor Secretary, admits to hiring undocumented domestic worker; he may not even receive enough Republican votes to be confirmed.
  • The White House releases a list of 78 international terrorist incidents they claim the media underreported. In fact, the events on the list were thoroughly reported by national and international media. Noticeably underrepresented or absent from the list: terrorist incidents directed against Muslims (the majority of international incidents) and right-wing domestic terrorist incidents (such as Dylann Roof’s attack on the Emanuel AME church in Charleston).
  • Like Conway’s Bowling Green Massacre last week, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer references in three different news broadcasts a recent non-existent terrorist attack in Atlanta–“just think of the victim’s families!”–as justification for the immigration ban. He later claims that by citing Atlanta, he “clearly meant Orlando.”
  • In confirmation proceedings for Attorney General nominee Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, the Senate votes to censure Senator Elizabeth Warren for reading aloud Coretta Scott King’s statement protesting Sessions’ selection in 1986 for a Federal judgeship. Then, King’s testimony helped ensure Sessions was not confirmed. Now, during Black History Month, the Senate silences Warren for invoking King’s stance. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says of Warren: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
  • #shepersisted, and #letLizspeak explode as hashtags of resistance.
  • Orrin Hatch declares Sessions to be a gentleman, and finds criticism of him “offensive… Think of his wife!”
  • Nordstrom drops Ivanka Trump brand products, citing poor sales. Their stock goes up 4.1% and celebrities compete to purchase their products fastest. #grabyourwallet campaign gains more economic traction.
  • Trump tweets that Ivanka was treated “so unfairly… Terrible!” by Nordstrom, and mentions his criticism (and her brand) several more times, thus blatantly highlighting his conflicts of interest.
  • Press secretary Sean Spicer and Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway both repeat the President’s criticisms of Nordstrom and sales pitch for Ivanka’s brand; Conway said in a live Fox News interview, “I’ll give her a free commercial right here. Go buy it today.” Conway’s remarks were so outrageous that even chair of the House Oversight Committee Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) denounced her and co-penned a letter with Democratic counterpart Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) asking the Office of Government Ethics to review Conway’s violation.
  • Melissa McCarthy plays White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer in a second Saturday Night Live sketch, while rumors swirl that Trump is furious that one of his team could be lampooned by a woman. Rosie O’Donnell volunteers to play Steve Bannon, and the internet briefly breaks with pleasure at the suggestion.
  • National security advisor Michael J. Flynn may have discussed lifting sanctions with Russia before he had the official power to do so; he may also have misled VP Pence about the subject of the conversation. Both are grave protocol breaches, and his position hangs in limbo at present.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents conduct sweeps across the nation, arresting over 600 people and catalyzing further fears among immigrant and refugee communities.
  • A federal judge denies a request from the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes to halt the construction of the final link in the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • This list sure as hell isn’t exhaustive. If you’ve got an addition, email weeklyindex at gmail.


Week Three – Readings

Week Three – Index

[NB. This non-exhaustive list covers 16 days. Subsequent posts will only cover 7, and will hopefully be a whole lot shorter.]

In his first sixteen days, President Trump has:

  • doggedly exaggerated the size of inaugural crowds, most notably at the CIA in front of memorial to slain officers;
  • claimed that, despite an absence of any evidence, between 3 and 5 million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election, thus costing him the popular vote;
  • signed an executive order reinstating the “Mexico City Policy” which bans funds to international NGOs that provide or discuss abortion services;
  • instituted a federal hiring freeze;
  • taken fewer security briefings than previous presidents;
  • signed an order withdrawing the US from the Trans Pacific Partnership (which had not yet been approved by Congress regardless);
  • ordered that construction on the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines recommence;
  • claimed that waterboarding works;
  • nominated Mick Mulvaney as budget director; Mulvaney has advocated for Medicare and Social Security cuts, as well as partial privatization of Medicare;
  • signed an executive order to begin construction on a wall between the US and Mexico, and got into a war of words with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto about who would pay for it, leading to the cancellation of Peña Nieto’s imminent visit; former Mexican president Vicente Fox has instigated his own Twitter war with Trump–“America, remember who’s going to pay for that #fuckingwall: it’s you!”;
  • ordered the cessation of funding to sanctuary cities, which would mostly impact Homeland Security and the Justice Department funds;
  • suggested the wall would be paid by a 20% import tax on Mexican goods, thus effectively transferring the cost of the wall to Americans;
  • hosted UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who forced him to reaffirm his support for NATO and whose hand-holding revealed to the world that he may have a fear of going down stairs;
  • signed an executive order banning all travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, thus throwing airports into chaos, catalyzing widespread protests, possibly violating the Geneva Convention, presumably violating various immigration statutes, violating many people’s rights as permanent residents, pissing off various world leaders as well as other Republicans, and catalyzing a phone call from German Chancellor Angela Merkel in which she apparently explained the Geneva Convention to the President;
  • reshuffled the National Security Council, demoting the director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and elevating white supremacist Steve Bannon to permanent membership;
  • had a friendly call with Russian President Vladimir Putin;
  • alienated Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, one of America’s staunchest allies;
  • ordered his administration to create a comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS (magic!);
  • ordered a raid in Yemen which killed several civilians and a Navy SEAL;
  • fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for stating that her office will not defend Trump’s travel ban;
  • authorized a likely purge of several senior members at the State Department;
  • as America’s night-club bouncer, ordered that for every regulation the executive branch proposes, two others must be repealed;
  • in a suspenseful prime-time broadcast á la reality t.v., nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch, reputed to be more conservative than Scalia, to the Supreme Court;
  • placed Iran “on notice,” leading to new sanctions being issued;
  • discussed Celebrity Apprentice’s low ratings and the performance of host Arnold Schwarzenegger at the National Prayer Breakfast;
  • signed deregulatory executive orders to halt implementation of the Fiduciary Rule, which orders investment advisors to work in their clients’ best interest, and to “review” Dodd-Frank financial regulations;
  • made a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day that did not mention Jewish people;
  • gives remarks a Black History Month event that show little knowledge of black history, that mostly refer to himself, and that suggest he thinks that Frederick Douglass may still be alive;
  • tweeted against the justice system and particularly the “so-called” judge in Seattle who halted his immigration ban, opening the doors to further Constitutional crisis;
  • bought tasteful gold curtains for the Oval Office.

Other notable incidents:

  • Trump advisor and surrogate Kellyanne Conway has said that Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s fabricated numbers of inaugural crowd size (“the most watched inauguration ever”) were merely “alternative facts,” rather than lies;
  • the March for Life attracted a thousands to the mall to hear speakers that included VP Pence;
  • the House of Representatives laid the groundwork for a sell-off of 640 million acres of federal public lands;
  • Steve Bannon told the press to “shut up and listen” and called them the “opposition”;
  • Dr. Ben Carson awaits a floor vote for his nomination as Secretary to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, despite his lack of experience with HUD issues–Trump appears to equate “urban” with “black people” and Dr. Carson is black;
  • would-be head of the EPA Scott Pruitt, who has been sued many times by the agency he now stands to lead, was confirmed by Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and awaits floor vote;
  • Department of Health and Human Services nominee Representative Tom Price, who has sought to convert Medicare into a voucher program, was approved by the Senate Finance Committee and awaits a floor vote;
  • Secretary of Energy nominee Rick Perry, former Governor of Texas and presidential candidate who forgot that he wanted to abolish the Department of Energy (“Ooops.”), approved by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and awaits floor vote;
  • former oil exec and partner to Russian investments Rex Tillerson confirmed as Secretary of State;
  • Department of Labor nominee Andrew Puzder disclosed that he employed an undocumented immigrant as a maid and failed to pay taxes for her;
  • Senator Jeff Sessions, whose career has been pockmarked by discrimination and racism, approved by Senate Judiciary Committee to Attorney General and awaits floor vote;
  • border officials were slow to respond to the federal judge’s order halting the deportation of visa holders, thus triggering fear of a constitutional crisis;
  • various agencies, including the EPA, the Department of the Interior, the USDA, and the Department of Transportation received gag orders shortly after the inauguration, although it is not without precedent;
  • the WhiteHouse.gov temporarily deleted the judiciary from its list of branches of government;
  • Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah introduces the Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act (HR 622), which would remove the Bureau of Land Management’s and US Forest Service’s law enforcement capacity;
  • Kellyanne Conway said she “ripped [the press] a new one”;
  • in response to a dissent letter signed by over 1000 State Department diplomats and employees, Press Secretary Spicer said that “they should either get with the program or they can go”;
  • a white supremacist killed six and wounded nineteen at a mosque in Quebec;
  • a second mosque in Texas was burned down, leading a nearby Jewish synagogue to offer refuge to the mosque’s community;
  • Oleg Erovinkin, a reported source for an MI6 dossier that suggested Trump would receive 19% of Russian oil company Rosneft if sanctions were lifted against Russian, was found assassinated;
  • Kellyanne Conway cited the Bowling Green Massacre–an entirely fabricated terrorist incident–as proof the immigration ban is necessary, thus leading to endless trolling.

Finally, in good news:

  • the Women’s March drew over four million people worldwide, across every continent;
  • the VA was granted an exemption from the federal hiring freeze;
  • greencard holders, many dual citizens, and Iraqis who worked with the US military were granted exemptions from Trump’s immigration halt;
  • a coalition of ethicists and Constitutional scholars filed a lawsuit claiming Trump’s violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution;
  • 16 state attorneys general issued joint statement protesting immigration ban: “As the chief legal officers for over 130 million Americans and foreign residents of our states, we condemn President Trump’s unconstitutional, un-American and unlawful Executive Order.”
  • lawyers and translators descended en masse to airports to assist refugees and immigrants facing illegal detention;
  • the ACLU racked up $24.1 million in online donations in one weekend as a result of Trump’s Muslim ban (more than six times its annual online fundraising average);
  • a federal judge issued a stay on deporting valid visa holders;
  • President Obama has said that the Muslim ban places “American values…at stake”;
  • the White House abandoned a plan to cancel ACA enrollment advertising;
  • a federal judge in Seattle halts Trumps executive order immediately, saying that he has a duty to ensure orders are based on “fact, not fiction”;
  • immigrants and refugees begin travel again;
  • Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham have been outspoken against the immigration ban;
  • an open letter from the presidents of 48 prominent universities reject Trump’s immigration ban;
  • after rumors and protests, public resources on climate change remain intact on the EPA and DOE websites;
  • Republicans have backed down from a plan to gut the Congressional Ethics Office;
  • Representative Jason Chaffetz withdraws a plan to sell 3.3million acres of public land;  plan to sell off public lands has been delayed;
  • boycotts have led to Nordstrom and many other retailers dropping Trump brand products, to advertisers dropping their contracts with Breitbart News, and to Uber’s CEO dropping off of a Trump advisory council and pledging $3m to assist Uber’s drivers with immigration-related legal defense;
  • water protectors’ protests against DAPL continue;
  • two Republican senators have come out against Betsy DeVos, who moves ever closer to nomination, as possible Secretary of Education;
  • and so, so much more.


Week Two

1. Establishing some baseline facts.

2. Now, months, or years in, here is what we may face.

3. Bannon on the Security Council: the basic problem.

4. And this is where we start looking back to Weimar Germany, and looking forward to an era in which rules and protocols are constantly being tested for weaknesses and undermined by executive overreach.

5. Self-care in the resistance, essential for those of us who are already drinking too much and sleeping too little.

6. “A Clarifying Moment in American History”: an essential read–the kind of piece to which one should periodically return.

7. And watch this. This Oscar-nominated short film shows who we are turning away. https://nyti.ms/2cWw9Uk