Week Nineteen | Index

At the end of week nineteen, it’s hard to know where to begin. So much has happened during the past couple weeks that it’s as if years have passed. But grab a stiff drink, and let’s get into it.

Recently, President Trump:

  • Pulls the US out of the Paris Climate Change Pact, a voluntary non-binding agreement, saying that he’s open to re-negotiating. Global leaders put the kibosh on this: there’s no way the US could get a better deal than a non-binding agreement. Trump says he’s sworn to represent the best interests of Pittsburgh, not Paris. Pittsburgh mayor denies this and says his city will adhere to the pact’s terms. Trump’s move is widely interpreted as a middle-finger to the global community, not to mention the earth.
  • Announces details of his proposed budget, which contains at $2 trillion math error and projects vastly unrealistic growth. Its foolishness and cruelty is remarkable: it would affect every part of government,  while heavily or entirely cutting Medicaid, food stamps, State Department programs, refugee assistance, the arts and humanities, the CDC (!), the FDA, environmental protection, and a ton of other essential, strategic services and programs.
  • Embarks upon and concludes his first international tour, in which he:
    • Visits Saudi Arabia and eats steak, dances awkwardly with men and swords, ignores Steve Bannon’s nervousness, and sells over $110 billion in US arms to the Saudis. (As Samantha Bee said, “Sorry, Yemen!”)
    • Visits Israel and says in a meeting that he “just got back from the Middle East;” signs in the Holocaust museum guestbook “SO AMAZING + WILL NEVER FORGET;” and announces in a press briefing with Netanyahu that he definitely didn’t mention that Israel was the source of the highly sensitive intelligence he shared with the Russians, to the jaw-drop of Netanyahu and the global press corps.
    • Visits Belgium to eat chocolates, complain about the E.U., and insult NATO allies.
    • Visits the Vatican, without Sean Spicer (who is Catholic), and chats with the Pope, who clearly hates every minute. Family photos with the Pope go viral, with the hashtags #dresswhatyouwanttobecome #widow captioning Melania’s new Godfather-inspired fashion line.
    • Shoves the Prime Minister of Montenegro so that he can be at the front of a group photo; is snubbed by France’s new president Macron in favor of Merkel.
    • Attends the G7, offends his colleagues, and erodes American soft power.
    • Is repeatedly and hilariously spurned by Melania in public.
  • Mostly ignores the increasing scrutiny of his campaign’s involvement with Russia. After claiming that it’s a witch-hunt, and that he’s the most victimized politician in history, he goes abroad, only to find that when he returns home, the kettle’s still boiling over. And James Comey’s set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee next week–if Trump doesn’t block his appearance.

Elsewhere,

  • A bomb in Kabul, Afghanistan kills at least 90 people and injures over 400 on a busy shopping street near the presidential palace and Indian and German embassies. It is one of the largest blasts in the history of this conflict. A Pakistani group linked to the Taliban is suspected. When asked who suffers in such attacks, Layma Tabibi, an Afghan-American working in Kabul, replies: “Afghans. It’s always Afghans. It’s always Afghans that are harmed and get killed, rather than who the attacker wants to target.”
  • A suicide bomber in Manchester, UK kills 22 people and injures scores more at an Ariana Grande pop concert. British leaders briefly stop campaigning for their forthcoming election, and Britons overwhelm the survivors and victims’ families with their support.
  • In Portland, Oregon (Weekly Index’s hometown), a white supremacist verbally abuses two teenage girls on a light-rail train for being black and Muslim respectively, and then stabs three men who intervene. Two of these heroes die–Rick John Best, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche–and the third, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, is seriously injured. In the police car, the killer says that he hopes all of his victims died. President Trump eventually issues a perfunctory “this is unacceptable” from his official Twitter account.

In other news,

  • The Congressional Budget Office confirms that the GOP’s American Health Care Act would deprive 23 million Americans of health insurance.
  • HUD Secretary Ben Carson says that poverty is “a state of mind.”
  • Montana’s Republic candidate to fill now-Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s House seat attacks Guardian reporter Ben Porter and is later charged with assault. The next day he wins the election. (To be fair to Montanans, most votes were already in when this incident occurred. But still.)
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that, after disastrous meetings with Trump, Europeans must seek to take care of themselves and strengthen their internal relationships as they can no longer rely on traditional allies.
  • The “secret” international Bilderberg group is convening a rare meeting in a not-so-secret Marriott in Virginia to discuss Trump’s progress.
  • The new series of Twin Peaks launches after 25 years, delighting fans of Lynch, gothic forests, Kyle McLachlan, surrealism, and coffee (or covfefe).
  • Two nooses have been found within four days placed in the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C.
  • To the relief of all, former FBI director Robert Mueller is named Special Counsel for the Justice Department’s Russia investigation.
  • Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and consigliere, is now under investigation. And Michael Flynn’s business records have been subpoenaed.

So there you go. And for the weekend, a little apocalyptic cheese to see you out:

 

Weeks Fourteen & Fifteen | Readings

Given the quantity of 100-day summaries still floating around, here’s a shorter list of reads for this week.

  • This exceptional long-form piece by Evan Osnos in The New Yorker about how Trump could be forced out of office.
  • A few pieces about Trump’s 100 day milestone: his 100 day anxiety, from The Atlantic.  |  The Guardian‘s 100 day tracker. Metres of wall built? 0.  |  David Remnick in The New Yorker“with his nativist and purely transactional view of politics, he threatens to be democracy’s most reckless caretaker.”  |  The Simpsons troll Trump’s first 100 days.  |  The Onion jumps on the bandwagon.  |  Oh, and if you want the White House version, um, it’s, well, creative.
  • Along similar lines, from the NYT, side-by-side headlines from Bush’s, Obama’s, and Trump’s first 100 days in office. A useful confirmation that no, previous administrations have not been this chaotic and crazed.
  • On May 8th, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates gave pretty heroic testimony to the Senate Russia investigation. Some highlights here, and a couple of short clips here and here (screw you, Ted Cruz). Turns out a lot of people knew Michael Flynn knew he was a security risk, including President Trump.
  • Useful tips for preserving mental sanity in an age of insanity. Worth the time.
  • A lovely piece by Jason Stanley in the NYT about the dangerous slippery slope of linking immigration to criminality.
  • A Salon interview by Chauncey Devega of Timothy Snyder, in which he opines on the likely endpoint of a Trump administration: a military coup.
  • Jared Kushner. Quite a problematic and likely corrupt piece of work. (Cf. his family’s recent pitches in Shanghai.)
  • In a short summary of economist Peter Temin’s work, The Atlantic shows that the odds of escaping poverty are against nearly everyone suffering from it.By Corinne Segal for PBS, a brief and fascinating history of knitting and activism.
  • This less-than-a-minute-long video nicely highlights why immigrants are essential to the American economy. Share it with those less well-informed than you.
  • Help preserve internet neutrality (again). It’s easy, and important. For more info and for the rallying cry, check out John Oliver’s video below. To “Express” your views, click here for the direct link to the FCC comment form: tell FCC director Ajit Pai that you support internet neutrality.
  • Want to hold your legislators accountable? Go to their town halls–more info here.
  • So much to read about Trumpcare’s devastating potential, and ways to stop it. For example, Andy Slavitt, Acting Administrator of Medicaid, Medicare, and the ACA under Obama, has offered to go to congressional districts and help you hold your congressional representative accountable for his or her vote on AHCA. More here. Whatever route you take, hold your reps accountable, and remind your senators that this decision could be their last.

Week Eight | Index

As usual, it’s been a busy week (*rubs bleary eyes*). So without further ado, President Trump:

  • Calls new immigration ban (which his office released) a “watered down version of the first one.”
  • Describes Hawaii judge whose court order halted the second ban because it biases against Muslims, as politically-motivated. “This is, in the opinion of many, an unprecedented judicial overreach.”
  • Promises to continue pursuing the ban; vows vengeance against the courts.
  • Endorses Republican healthcare act, and, in an interview with Tucker Carlson, nonchalantly acknowledges that, despite campaign pledges, it will lead to significant coverage cuts.
  • Works with conservative House Republicans to make the healthcare bill more to their liking–conceding changes that work against broader health coverage and in favor of states’ rights and federal cost-cutting.
  • Meets with German chancellor Angela Merkel, who remains decidedly unimpressed.
  • Claims that Britain’s GCHQ wiretapped Trump Tower. Britain remains unimpressed. Trump remains unapologetic.
  • The NSA describes the claim as “arrant nonsense.” Fox News says there’s no evidence of the claim.
  • Orders 46 US attorneys appointed by President Obama to resign immediately.
  • Releases “skinny” (proto-) budget that, if enacted, would:
    • Cut EPA funding by 31%, State Department funding by 29%, Agriculture and Labor Departments funding by 21%, Health and Human Services by 18%, Commerce by 16%; Education by 14%, HUD by 13%, the Interior by 12%, Energy by 6%, Justice by 4%, and NASA by 1%, to name a few.
    • Cut all funding for the following agencies: African Development Foundation; Appalachian Regional Commission; Chemical Safety Board; Corporation for National and Community Service; Corporation for Public Broadcasting; Delta Regional Authority; Denali Commission; Institute of Museum and Library Services; Inter-American Foundation; U.S. Trade and Development Agency; Legal Services Corporation; National Endowment for the Arts; National Endowment for the Humanities; Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation; Northern Border Regional Commission; Overseas Private Investment Corporation; U.S. Institute of Peace; U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness; Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
    • Increase Homeland Security funding by 7% and Defense Department funding by 9%.

In other news,

  • The American Care Act (Republican healthcare) continues to pass through House committees despite widespread criticism on both sides of the political spectrum; House Republicans intend to push swiftly for a vote.
  • The House Intelligence Committee says there’s no evidence that Obama wiretapped Trump. The White House refuses to back down…or produce evidence.
  • The Senate Intelligence Committee says there’s no evidence that Obama wiretapped Trump. The White House refuses to back down…or produce evidence.
  • Kellyanne Conway memorably claims that your microwave could be spying on you. Late night tv hosts rejoice.
  • The Central Budget Office finds that the Republican healthcare bill will remove coverage from twenty-four million people in the coming years. Many of those that will be affected voted for Trump.
  • Two pages of Trump’s 2005 tax return are revealed, with much showmanship from Rachel Maddow, and disclose that he paid taxes at roughly a 25% rate for that year, and claimed $103m in losses.
  • National outcry as news sinks in that Trump’s budget would cut all federal funding for the arts and humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (PBS and NPR), Meals-on-Wheels, 49 National Heritage Areas, 50 programs (and 3,200 jobs) within the EPA, and more; and would decrease funds for NOAA, climate change research, health research, small business incentives, the National Institutes of Health, low-income student aid, the Office of Science, teacher training grants, affordable housing, community development, UN peacekeeping, the World Bank, and others.
  • Gen. Michael Flynn retrospectively registers as an agent of a foreign government for paid work that he was performing on behalf of Turkey both during the campaign and transition, and while he was National Security Advisor.
  • Public silence about the REINS Act, which will undermine future government regulation efforts, continues. It is currently in the Senate, having passed the House.
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson heads to China for first visit. Tense, but promising.
  • Robert Stone, a former Trump campaign adviser, admitted to having private conversations with a hacker (named Guccifer 2.0) who helped leak DNC info last year. “[The conversation] was so perfunctory, brief and banal I had forgotten it,” Stone says. These conversations happened after the DNC leak, says Stone.

Elsewhere,

  • A man dies while charging his iPhone in the bath.
  • A BBC commentator is interrupted in a Skype interview first by one child, then by a second, then by his wife collecting the two children. A meme is born.
  • Nationalist hairball Geert Wilders flounders in Dutch election.

Week Seven | Readings

  • A couple of reminders that America’s internal turmoil is nothing compared to what’s happening elsewhere: Melissa Gronlund, in Artforum, reports on the international “Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage” conference in Abu Dhabi, with special emphasis on Syrian heritage sites  |  Britain’s Channel Four news airs short video showcasing the chaos and devastation of Aleppo families inside a barebones, resource-poor, beseiged hospital.
  • Finally, yet another SNL video that nails it:

 

Week Seven | Index

Yet another whirlwind week, filled with new legislation, Tweeted conspiracies, and a ballsy statement by a House Republican about how men shouldn’t have to pay for prenatal care.

To jump right in, Trump:

  • Accuses, via four early-morning Tweets, President Obama ordered Trump towers to be wire-tapped during the election. “This is McCarthyism… This is Nixon/Watergate… A NEW LOW.” Following these astounding and unproven accusations, Trump returns to a favorite topic: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s performance on Celebrity Apprentice. White House does not retract his accusations.
  • Issues a new travel ban, this time on six Muslim-majority countries (Iraq was removed from the list, as were greencard holders, dual citizens, and current visa holders). The ban holds for 90 days, with a moratorium on all refugees for 120 days. Some hail this as a partial victory, as the president conceded on several key points. But it is legally more airtight than the previous version (for example, it removes the exemption for Christians), and stands a somewhat better chance of being upheld in the courts. Its mandate will begin on March 16th unless it is blocked in the courts like its predecessor.
  • Speculates that a wave of recent bomb threats against Jewish community centers and synagogues could, in fact, be a conspiracy against him to make his supporters “look bad.”
  • Celebrates February’s job numbers–235,000 new jobs added–and unemployment rate of 4.7% as evidence of his own, rather than his predecessor’s, impact.
  • Golfs, tweets, and lays comparatively low.

In other news,

  • The GOP is quietly and intently working to undermine government regulation in the long-term:
    • The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2017 (REINS Act) passed the house in January and would make 1) it mandatory for new regulations to rescind enough existing rules so that any costs they incur would be covered by the savings from the rescinded rules; 2) “major rules” only go into effect if Congress adopts an additional statute approving it; and 3) every agency would have to send for reapproval 10% of its regulations per year, which means every regulation would need reapproval every ten years.
    • The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 (RAA), the more serious and complex of the two bills, which passed the House on January 11th, adds so many preliminary procedural requirements that new regulations would become virtually impossible.
  • Obama spokesperson denies wiretapping of Trump. Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says that the intelligence agencies he supervised did not wiretap Trump, nor did the FBI obtain a court order through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to monitor Trump’s phones. NSC member Ben Rhodes tweets at Trump, “No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.” FBI Director James Comey, in a shocking rebuke to a current president, asks the Justice Department to publicly reject Trump’s accusations of wire-tapping. The Justice Department refuses to do so, setting the stage for possible governmental crisis. Many assume that the wire-tapping allegations are merely a distraction from the wider Russian investigations.
  • VP Mike Pence, one of the foremost critics of Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server, confirms that he did gubernatorial business using an AOL account, which had been hacked.
  • Domestic and global outrage erupts over Trump’s new travel ban. The UN condemns it, refugee organizations are appalled at its ban on humanitarian immigration; Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (a dual Somali-US citizen) says that it overlooks the huge contributions that Somali-Americans and other immigrants are making to American society. Several court cases against it have already been filed.
  • House GOP releases its answer to the Affordable Care Act, which trades healthcare subsidies for tax credits to individuals; which caps funding for Medicaid; which includes tax cuts for the wealthy and incentives for insurance industry leaders paid over $500,000; which pauses funding for Planned Parenthood; which scraps the ACA’s individual mandate (which most regard as the lynchpin to a functioning healthcare plan); and which retains coverage for under-26s on their parents’ plans and renders denial of coverage to those with pre-existing conditions still illegal. It will likely decrease the number of insured people by millions.
  • Press Secretary Sean Spicer salutes the healthcare bill in a press conference by pointing to a large stack of paper (the ACA) and a smaller stack of paper (the GOP plan), and saying repeatedly, “This [large stack] is government; this [small stack] is not.” Says Trevor Noah of Spicer, “he parodies himself.”
  • Objections to the GOP healthcare plan erupt on both sides, with progressives calling it a tax cut for the rich and blow to the poor, elderly, and infirm (some bitterly resuscitate the “death panel” analogy invoked by Republicans against the A.C.A.), and with the House Freedom Caucus (hardcore conservatives) saying that it still features too much government investment and regulation. The AARP, the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the Children’s Hospital Association issue statements against the bill.
  • The healthcare plan passes through two House committees–Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce–with few revisions or concessions to Democratic fears: votes are predictably down party lines. The Budget Office has not yet weighed in on its costs.
  • Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Ut) says that the plan will be affordable to lower-income Americans as long as they choose between purchasing healthcare and a new iPhone. So there’s that.
  • Bomb threats against Jewish community centers and synagogues continue. The entire Senate sends the White House a letter demanding “swift action.”
  • Director of the EPA Scott Pruitt announces that he doesn’t “believe” in anthropogenic climate change and that there’s no scientific consensus around it. Hoardes of scientists, including many in the EPA, suggest otherwise.
  • The White House proposes severe cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the lead climate change research agency. The cut is needed in order to redirect the funds towards “rebuilding the military,” says WH.
  • The Justice Department responds “no comment” to a question about whether Trump is being investigated.
  • The Supreme Court declines to hear whether Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy at a high school in Virginia, could use the boy’s room–a disappointment to transgender advocates.
  • During 27 hours of debate on the ACA replacement bill in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Republican Rep. John Shimkus (Ill.) objects to men having to pay for plans that include prenatal care. Women, women’s health advocates, and thinking people get outraged.
  • Ben Carson gives speech to HUD, in which he refers to slaves as immigrants seeking the American dream; he also invokes Martin Luther King Jr. “That’s what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.” Yes, he really said that.

In other news,

  • Wikileaks posts thousands of documents purportedly outline the CIA’s hacking techniques.
  • Uber continues to employ defense lawyers and spokespeople at record rates.
  • Middlebury College Professor Alison Stanger is attacked by student mob for hosting a conversation with ultra-conservative writer Charles Murray. Widespread condemnation of student response as illiberal and anti-intellectual.
  • Arkansas schedules a spate of executions because its lethal-injection drugs are about to expire.
  • In Kent, Washington, a Sikh man is shot in driveway of house and told to “go back to his own country.” He is an American citizen.
  • Eric Trump declares his father’s brand to be at its zenith.
  • Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin writes to Congress to inform it that the United States will reach its legal borrowing limit this coming Thursday. This could get real ugly, real fast.
  • After giving a speech against Trump’s immigration bans, DACA Dreamer Daniela Vargas is detained as she leaves a civil rights rally in Mississippi.
  • Across the nation, ICE raids continue, with a story emerging of terrified children spending the night at their school in Longview, Washington because an ICE van was waiting outside. Schools and other institutions across the nation distribute thousands of instructional cards detailing your rights if ICE is at your door.

Finally, in honor of International Women’s Day, one more reminder of presidential priorities. Please address your letters of continued outrage to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

 

Any errors or omissions? Get in touch: weeklyindex [at] gmail.

Week Six | Readings

  • The continuing need for, and impact and tactics of, resistance: “The Reichstag Warning,” Timothy Snyder’s NYRB piece shows how the politics of fear can upend democracy, in Nazi Germany, and here and now  |  Tips and analysis in “What Calling Congress Achieves,” The New Yorker  |  Calls from Mohsin Hamid in The Guardian to reclaim the narrative from right-wing nationalist movements across the world by refocusing our political outlook: we must look forward with hope, not back with nostalgia.
  • The Southern Poverty Law Center’s annual Intelligence Report documents the continued rise of hate groups and crimes across the US. See what’s near you.
  • To ease you into the weekend, a jolly piece about Morris dancing. If you’re into wearing white and jingle bells, and if you don’t mind people backing slowly away from you as you come near, they’re recruiting! Go on, then.
  • Finally, in the appalling era of Betsy DeVos, we should probably revisit charter schools. Here’s one place to start: the irrepressible John Oliver.

 

 

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.