Monday, February 27, 2017

TRUMP WATCH #18: My Listening Tour


Please accept my apologies for the long silence since my last TRUMP WATCH post; I have been on a “listening tour” of sorts. Perhaps, not the sort of listening tour you might have expected me to take; i.e. listening to Trump supporters in an attempt to understand how they can possibly continue to support him after a month of ineptitude, pettiness, outrageously unpresidential tweets, un-American actions, and a failure to even begin to deliver substantively on his promises to address the needs of unemployed and underemployed workers.

No, my listening tour (which included reading assorted op-ed pieces and letters to the editors) was primarily about seeking to understand what my friends, family, and fellow progressives and/or liberals were feeling and doing about the current political situation. Here, in brief, are some of my impressions of various sub-groups in my coastal, liberal, mostly white bubble:
  • Overall, the millennials (born roughly 1982-2002) to whom I listened were optimistic and were engaged in intersectional resistance efforts to address long-standing problems in American society (and the world), many of which Trump’s election starkly revealed.  
  • In contrast, most of the baby boomers (born roughly 1946-1964) to whom I listened tended to focus on Trump, himself, and were highly pessimistic, while nevertheless engaging in a wide range of traditional liberal protest activities: the post-inaugural Women’s Marches and immigrant vigils, signing online petitions, calling and writing to elected officials, and donating to long-standing organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.
  • For literally everyone* to whom I listened, news (real and fake), opinions, and feelings about Trump (from the trivial to the profound) were dominating their lives, especially their emotions.
My primary takeaway (and concern) from the generalized observations above is that the emotions of too many baby boomers are so negative and so extreme that they are allowing these feelings to poison their own daily lives, not to mention preventing them from thinking rationally or acting constructively to change what is (and has long been) wrong in our society.

At the risk of stating the obvious, Donald Trump did not inject into our society the forces of racism, xenophobia, misogyny, proto-fascism, or anti-semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-press, anti-freedom of speech, white supremacist tendencies. His election merely brought these destructive attitudes and behaviors clearly into the open, where they can no longer be ignored by those of us whose lives may not have been directly affected by them.

All of which leads me to consider whether we older folks might be happier and more effective if we could be inspired by some members of the youngest politically aware generation and instead of sinking into depression and despair or burning out with indignation and fury, that we focus our resistance efforts and emotional energy on a few of the issues that have long posed a threat to the actual ideals of this country and the well-being of all who live here.

Thus, over the next two weeks (before traveling to China, Vietnam, and Cambodia for a month), I will focus my posts on a number of the following issues, all of which I firmly believe have the potential to gain the support (in some fashion) of a sizable majority of Americans and even some Republican elected officials:
  • Immigration reform
  • Affordable health care as a right of every American 
  • Employment opportunities throughout the country
  • The challenges of climate change
  • Human and civil rights for all, especially those who have been and continue to be victims of institutional discrimination and/or extra-legal actions
  • Federal, state, and local government investment in infrastructure
  • Effective public education from pre-school through college and beyond
  • Tax reform
  • Nuclear arms control
  • A strong but fair global economy
  • World peace and an end to both terrorism and arms trafficking to non-state actors
  • The four essential human freedoms (according to President Franklin D. Roosevelt): freedom of speech and expression (including the Press), freedom to worship God in one’s own way, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

 *For the record, I encountered too few Gen-Xers (born roughly 1965-1980) to draw any real conclusions about them, except to wonder if perhaps they were so involved with their careers and families that they didn’t have much time for “politics.”

When my daughter, Mira (a Gen-Xer), read the above note, she was quick to provide me with an impressive listing of Gen-x friends of hers who have chosen to do work and may even be well into careers that address many of the important progressive issues of our age. With her permission, I have appended her account (minus names) to this post:
My husband and I have nightly discussions about all this with each other and more or less regular discussions with our Gen-Xer friends, many of whom are engaged in publishing insightful political investigations and analysis, working with immigrant communities on producing media from their own perspectives, representing immigrants detained at airports under the Trump deportation order and children in deportation proceedings, moving across the country to organize with the Bernie campaign for a year, teaching 20th Century US history from a radical perspective to first generation college students at a Cal Poly, fighting in the courts to maintain abortion rights nationally, working to strengthen and diversify the Democratic Party, investigating and reporting on the international web of corruption in the mining industry that is draining Congo of its natural resources with no benefit to its citizens, fighting housing discrimination which seems to never end, educating poor kids of color in Bushwick, empowering girls of color by teaching them to surf, doing union organizing with home health aides, making radical collaborative and political art in the form of rap, doing national labor research and organizing, working in local government to provide immigrants with rights and defense that the federal government won't, defending poor people of color from the overreach of the state (my many Gen-X former colleagues at Legal Aid), filing lawsuits from Montgomery to Jennings to SF and winning injunctions to end for-profit probation contracts and other practices that trap the poor in endless cycles of jail and unemployment, writing letters and calling and marching to maintain educational and social benefits for children with disabilities, not to mention our friends and acquaintances who may work in the corporate sector but who are horrified by what is going on and remain informed and engaged, and all of whom in hundreds of ways, whether professionally or in their "spare" time, are working to promote equality and democracy and to counter oppression and authoritarianism.  I guess what I'm saying is there must be politically disengaged Gen-Xers out there, but I sure don't know any of them.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

TRUMP WATCH: #17: This is the right-wing, conservative agenda that we must oppose rather than be distracted by Trump's antics!



In my previous TRUMP WATCH (#16), I wrote: 
“I suggest that as citizens and voters, we ignore the chatter about whether, when, and how Trump may leave office and instead engage in knowledgeable and effective resistance to the right-wing Republican agenda that has already begun to work its way through congress and numerous state governments.”

Well, just this morning I was greeted by a front page New York Times story that exactly describes an important piece of that agenda: “Popular Domestic Programs Face Ax Under First Trump Budget.” (See below.)
The article makes clear that elimination of the programs slated for defunding or significant cuts under the budget being prepared for Trump by his budget director, conservative budget hawk and former congressman, Mick Mulvaney, would do virtually nothing to reduce the size of the government’s budget or the deficit.
The article describes how many of these programs--- the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities--- have long been targets of conservative organizations like the Heritage Foundation and conservative congresspersons, beginning with then-House Majority Leader Newt Gingrich’s 1994 efforts and, carried on since 2010 by the many Tea Party Republicans elected to Congress.
What the article fails to make clear, in my opinion, is why such programs have drawn the ire of conservatives whose claims that they are a misuse of American taxpayer’s money are palpably and transparently false.
I would suggest that we need look no further for a reason for this antipathy than the fact that most of these programs are perceived as threats to the American oligarchy of white billionaires and politicians who control the lives of poor, less educated, Americans. For example, CPB promotes knowledge and understanding of a wide range of issues that the oligarchy would prefer people not understand; Legal Aid provides legal counsel to those who cannot afford it, and thus may enable them to sue over-zealous policing; AmeriCorps is focused on empowering poor and minority communities; the National Endowment supports artists who might deign to criticize the establishment.
I urge you all to do everything you can to save these programs (and others) instead of wasting your time and emotional energy on Donald Trump. He is his own worst enemy and will bring himself down.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, AmeriCorps and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities could be eliminated.
NYTIMES.COM

Friday, February 17, 2017

TRUMP WATCH #16: What happens to the right-wing conservative political agenda if Trump implodes?


Attached is a video and transcript of Trump’s wild and disturbing 77-minute new conference yesterday (2/15/17).  
I recommend that you watch just enough to get a sense of how he behaved during this event. I strongly suspect that, like me and many others (citizens, reporters, commentators, politicians), you will come away with the strong impression that this is a man who is imploding emotionally, someone who isn’t likely to make it through his first term as President, possibly not even his first year. To me he looked physically and emotionally “at the end of his rope.”
Today, on NPR’s On Point, Stephen Henderson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Detroit Free Press Editorial Page Editor described “the paranoia, the belligerence, the lack of focus” that he observed in Trump’s behavior at the news conference, which he characterized as “the signs of somebody who is deeply troubled,” suggesting that “there needs to be a serious inquiry into how stable a personality are we dealing with here.”
Indeed, during the past few weeks, there have been increasing debates in the press and the mental health community about Trump’s mental fitness to be President and what mental health professionals should or should not say about his possible mental health issues.
Meanwhile others have described the potential constitutional removal of Trump for a wide variety of reasons, from his being unfit to serve to impeachment for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” including treason for his possible dealings with Russia.
However, I’d like to suggest that, as citizens and voters, we ignore the chatter about whether, when, and how Trump may leave office and instead engage in knowledgeable and effective resistance to the right-wing Republican agenda that has already begun to work its way through congress and numerous state governments.
Indeed, it seems to me that a President Pence--- working closely with his former conservative gubernatorial colleagues, his former tea-party House colleagues led by conservative ideologue House Leader Paul Ryan, and the Republican-controlled Senate, expertly managed by the opportunistic Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell---- would be far more effective than the dysfunctional President Trump in pushing through tea-party inspired, arch-conservative policies and laws.
So, let’s be careful of what we wish for, and in the meantime focus on what issues are most important to each of us and what we can realistically do about them NOW.
Over the next week (or so) I plan to publish discussions of some of the major issues being pushed by the right-wing Republican majorities in the national and state governments. First up (I hope) will be an analysis of the complex issues surrounding immigration and refugees.

President Trump announced a new nominee for labor secretary and answered questions from reporters at the White House on Thursday.
NYTIMES.COM

Thursday, February 16, 2017

TRUMP WATCH #15: His own worst enemy

I am working on an important TRUMP WATCH piece on Immigration, which I am realizing is more complicated than I thought. In the meantime, let me just post this just-published NY Times account of Trump’s bizarre and pathetic “news conference.” He is his own worst enemy.
In a raw news conference on Thursday, President Trump dismissed reports about contacts between his advisers and Russia and said his administration was not the…
NYTIMES.COM

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

TRUMP WATCH #14: How to Survive in a World of All Trump all the Time



For the past 3-weeks or so, it seems that every morning when I open my digital edition of the NYTimes or when I receive notifications from the Washington Post all I see are stories about Trump or about some issue related to him. And when I browse Facebook, much of what I see are posts from FB-friends about him. And when I open emails from my non-FB-using friends, I often find that they’ve sent me links to articles about him and/or are writing about their despair regarding a wide range of his behaviors and pronouncements.

None of this is surprising; it is a big part of what Trump is seeking, what he wants, what he needs: ATTENTION. He can use even the attention that is negative, turning it around, ju-jitsu-like, to attack those he views as his enemies--- the media, judges, protesters, and celebrities & politicians who criticize him--- and to curry favor with his fawning base who just love the way he’s going after immigrants and refugees and Muslims and Mexicans and other “bad hombres.”

However, the real danger of “all Trump all the Time” is the toll it takes on those who are most concerned about the right-wing agenda of Trump and his media and political allies. Every outrageous utterance, every bald-faced lie, every bellicose threat, every constitutionally questionable executive order, every mindless attack on Obama and his legacy, in short everything Trump and his right-wing enablers say or do is a punch to the gut. 

It is infuriating and exhausting, but worse, it is distracting and debilitating--preventing us from having a clear focus on the issues that matter most to us and robbing us of the time and energy we could otherwise apply in actively resisting the right-wing Trump/Bannon agenda.

So, let me urge you to do 3 things for yourself in this Trumpian “brave new world”: 

1. Choose the issues that matter most to you and follow them diligently; i.e., gather and check the facts being presented, try to understand what these facts mean for our country, the world, and people who live anywhere and everywhere; determine what you can do to address the challenges posed by Trump and his right-wing allies and DO IT.

2. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Let the tabloids, radio talk shows, all-news TV stations, bloggers and tweeters of the right and left, and SNL carry on about Trump’s tweets, Kellyanne’s gaffes, Sean Spicer’s pathetic defenses of the latest Trumpism, world leaders being entertained at Mar-a-Lago, the cost of Eric Trump’s security while he’s on business trips, or even the cost of security surrounding Trump Tower in NYC. None of these topics deserves the attention you might give it or the anger you might feel about it.

3. If it makes you feel better to occasionally read or hear about any of the more idiotic and ridiculous aspects of Trump world, especially in comedic forms---- SNL, Dunesbury, New Yorker Cartoons, Stephen Colbert, etc--- go for it. The better you feel, the more effective you’ll be in carrying out suggestions 1 and 2 above.

Mea culpa. I feel that in some of my past Trump Watches, I have been guilty of indiscriminate listing of articles that span Trump world from the ridiculous to the profound. Going forward (at least for awhile), I will try to focus on one issue at a time, to help you with suggestion #1 above.

My contribution for today is to recommend that you read an interview with Gary Kasparov, former World Champion Chess Master and Russian dissident, currently living in exile with his family in New York.  I think it may help you survive in a world of “All Trump All the Time.”
A conversation with chess champion Garry Kasparov.
VOX.COM

Monday, February 13, 2017

TRUMP WATCH #13: What did we miss over the weekend?


Because, TRUMP WATCH was “down for repairs” over the weekend, I thought I’d just list what happened that you might have missed. Even if this is redundant for some of you who are following the political news closely, please know that repeating fact-based news early and often is the best antidote for “The Big Lie” ( about which Hitler’s propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels famously stated (in translation):
"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
 Let’s start with this morning’s breaking story: the first of many resignations/firings that I think we can expect--- that of Trump’s national security advisor, former-General Michael Flynn. The article below provides a good summary of what happened leading to to Flynn’s resignation late last night (2/12).

Mr. Flynn, who served in the job for less than a month, said he had given “incomplete information” about a telephone call he had with the Russian ambassador weeks before President Trump’s inauguration.
NYTIMES.COM

Working backwards are NYT articles about other matters of interest regarding Trump-world about which I have not commented, but concern matters we should all keep our eye on:

Plenty of reporters had questions about the embattled national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, but President Trump did not call on them.
By MARK LANDLER (2/14/17)

A terrorism suspect could present a legal and policy experiment for Mr. Trump, who has promised to resume sending suspects to the military prison.
By ADAM GOLDMAN, MATT APUZZO and ERIC SCHMITT (2/14/17)

Mr. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker, will help overhaul the tax code, reshape financial regulations and renegotiate trade deals.
By ALAN RAPPEPORT (2/14/17)

Gateway Pundit gained notice for its support of the Trump campaign and for posting false stories about voter fraud and Hillary Clinton’s health.
By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM (2/13/17)

As trial and appeals courts consider how to proceed, the Justice Department said it would continue to defend President Trump’s targeted travel ban.
By ADAM LIPTAK (2/13/17)

President Trump and his aides coordinated their response to North Korea’s nuclear missile test at his Florida club without retiring to a secure location.
By MICHAEL D. SHEAR and MAGGIE HABERMAN (2/13/17)

The president’s criticism of Mark Cuban was only one in a long list of inconsequential matters that have preoccupied him since taking office.
By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS  (2/13/17)

Police chiefs and prosecutors fear reliance on punitive tactics will erode trust and cause more problems than they solve.
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS and RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr.  (2/13/17)

Even when the president provokes them, congressional Republicans are choosing accommodation over confrontation, “as long as we’re able to get things done.”
By JONATHAN MARTIN and MATT FLEGENHEIMER  (2/12/17)

A proxy race between party chairman candidates identified with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders has drawn other contenders and a heated debate about the best way forward.
By JONATHAN MARTIN (2/12/17)

A much greater percentage of the refugees arriving since the president’s ban was blocked are from the affected countries, but the increase in people is not so large.
By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS  (2/11/17)

Does opposition now contradict silence in the past? The parties warring over Judge Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination are framing the answer to their advantage.
By CARL HULSE  (2/11/17)

Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, has a long connection to Israel. When he meets with the country’s prime minister on Wednesday, it will be a gathering influenced by old encounters and shared experiences.
By JODI KANTOR (2/11/17)

President Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan toured Trump courses in Florida, drawing attention to properties from which he has not divested himself.
By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS (2/11/17)

The president’s team has struck out twice in court so far. Now it is deciding its next step.
By ADAM LIPTAK (2/10/17)

An elaborate work-and-play visit is intended to showcase the president’s warm rapport with the leader of a central player in Asia.
 By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS and PETER BAKER (2/10/17)

In pledging to honor the “One China” policy, the president may have averted confrontation with Beijing, but some said he also sullied his reputation there.
By JANE PERLEZ (2/10/17)

President Trump blames Democratic intransigence for confirmation delays. But vetting choices made by his staff after the election are also to blame.
By STEVE EDER, MATTHEW GOLDSTEIN and ALEXANDRA STEVENSON (2/10/17)

President Trump dismissed the wishes of his secretary of state and blocked Elliott Abrams, a veteran conservative, from being nominated to be Rex Tillerson’s deputy.
By MAGGIE HABERMAN, JONATHAN WEISMAN and ERIC LICHTBLAU (2/10/17)

The Senate approved Mr. Price to be secretary of health and human services, where he will lead President Trump’s efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
By ROBERT PEAR and THOMAS KAPLAN (2/10/17)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

TRUMP WATCH #12 Staying out of politics is PRIVILEGE in Action

Today, instead of focusing on Trump, per se, I want to share with you an important statement sent to me by a friend on Facebook; I think it speaks for itself.

"I want my friends to understand that "staying out of politics" or being "sick of politics" is PRIVILEGE in action.

Your privilege allows you to live a non-political existence. Your wealth, your race, your abilities, your religion, or your gender allows you to live a life in which you likely will not be a target of bigotry, attacks, deportation, or genocide. You don't want to get political, you don't want to fight because your life and safety are not at stake.

It is hard and exhausting to bring up issues of oppression (aka "get political"). The fighting is tiring. I get it. Self-care is essential. But if you find politics annoying and you just want everyone to be nice, please know that people are literally fighting for their lives and safety. You might not see it, but that's what privilege does.

I also want to say to my friends who are new to this, my friends who have recently become more vocal, my friends who've seen the damage POTUS has done so far, my friends who went to The Women's March -- I am proud of you for getting involved. Don't stop there. Keep having these discussions, keep talking about politics, stay active.
And when you read the critiques of The March from other progressive women who didn't feel represented, don't get defensive or discouraged.

Activism needs critique. We need to ask ourselves where we were as Flint's water has been poisoned, or where we were when Philando Castile was killed, or John Crawford or Eric Garner. If the women who showed up at the march showed up when people of color were murdered, it would stop.


Intersectionality means showing up even when the issues don't affect us directly. Stay awake and stay active. We need you so much right now.


- Kristen Tea



Note to Morning Pete readers: 
Over the weekend (Feb 9-12) I was unable to send out TRUMP WATCH via Gmail as I had been doing, probably because one of Gmail’s security algorithms determined that I was sending out group emails every day and so might be a spammer (or worse). So, I spent yesterday learning how to use Mail Chimp, which is the way I've been sending out TRUMP WATCH to non-Facebook users. Then, last night (Feb 12), exhausted and out of time, I did a small test mailing with the above TRUMP WATCH #12: Staying out of politics is PRIVILEGE in Action. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

TRUMP WATCH #11 Savor his setbacks, but don't become complacent (again)

It has been 3 weeks now since Trump took office and already his mis-management style has caused the Trump-Bannon administration to suffer a series of self-inflicted setbacks. Let us savor these, as doing so may provide us with some needed emotional relief.
However, let us also continue to be vigilant and use these Trump defeats to inspire us to increase the pressure on our other elected officials (of both parties) to do their job, which is to provide the checks and balances that the Founders built into the Constitution and into state constitutions to protect America from demagogues and tyrants like Trump and Bannon, and their enablers and underlings like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Kellyanne Conway, General Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Reince Priebus, Betsy DeVos, Tom Price, Ben Carson, Steven Miller, Sean Spicer, Rex Tillerson, Andrew Puzder, Rick Perry, Steve Mnuchin, Mike Pompeo, Scott Pruitt, et al.
A partial list of mis-steps and setbacks from the first 3 weeks of the Trump-Bannon regency (oops, I meant “administration”):
A partial list of mis-steps and setbacks from the first 3 weeks of the Trump-Bannon regency (oops, I meant “administration”):
  • Despite the Republican-controlled Senate’s best efforts to fast-track confirmation of Trump appointments to key positions, the Washington Post reports that, as of Feb 10, only 9 out of 694 of such appointments have been confirmed. Indeed, the Trump administration is so ill-prepared that 659 of these appointments have not even been submitted, including ambassadors to nearly every country! 
  • Add to this fact that last week Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of the Army, billionaire investor Vincent Viola, withdrew from his appointment because, according to him, “the challenges of separating from the organizations that he has built over the last thirty-five years have proven insurmountable.” (Could these challenges be any greater than those Trump would face were he to recognize the palpable---though apparently technically not illegal conflicts of interest he has with his far-flung Trump Organization?)
  • And then only yesterday, Trump, himself, refused to accept the choice that his own Secretary of State (Rex Tillerson) made to have the veteran diplomat Eliott Abrams be his Deputy Secretary, thus "leaving Tillerson as the lone ­Senate-confirmed person chosen by Trump who is on the job at the State Department. Tillerson’s chief of staff and several other advisers around the new top diplomat were campaign aides or political advisers selected by the White House."
  • Of course the highlight of Trump’s ill-considered nominations was the Senate hearings on Jeff Sessions nomination to be Attorney General, the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. At the end of a week of stinging criticisms of Sessions’ appointment--- by myriad organizations, citizens, commentators, and Democratic senators--- Senator Elizabeth Warren was reading into the Congressional Record (before an almost empty Senate chamber) a letter written by Coretta Scott King in 1986 opposing the appointment of Sessions to a federal judgeship. Suddenly and unexpectedly she was interrupted by Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell who prevented her from continuing by invoking an arcane Senate rule, forbidding one Senate member from impugning another on the Senate floor. A number of Warren’s colleagues, including Bernie Sanders, furiously came to her defense by taking up the letter and themselves reading it on the floor, challenging McConnell to try to silence them as well. Sherrod Brown, Senator from Ohio, added to his reading of the letter, “It's a sad day for our democracy ... when the words of Coretta Scott King are not allowed on the floor of the U.S. Senate.” 

    Several days later, McConnell, seeking to justify his actions, now-famously stated, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” giving rise to a nationwide outcry of support for Warren embodied in countless iterations of : “Nevertheless, she persisted” on T-shirts, signs, and social media pages, extolling women throughout American history who have persisted against misogynist attempts to silence them.
  • And let's not forget that a White House official confirmed on Friday that national security adviser Michael Flynn spoke privately with Vice President Pence in an apparent attempt to contain the fallout from the disclosure that prior to Trump's inauguration, Flynn (a private citizen at the time) had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with that country’s ambassador and then allowed Pence and other White House officials to publicly deny that he had done so. Stay tuned, as this could easily result in the first of many forced exits by a Trump appointee. (Does Trump remember how to say “You’re fired?”)
  • Apparently Trump isn’t quite ready to fire his advisor Kellyanne Conway, even after her Bowling Green Massacre gaffe, followed by her apparently committing a pretty serious ethics violation. Last week in an interview on CNN, after Trump, himself, fulminated on Twitter against Nordstrom for dropping the fashion line of his daughter and advisor, Ivanka, Conway urged viewers to buy Ivanka’s “stuff.” Despite presidential spokesman, Sean Spicer’s statement that Conway would be receiving ethics counseling, Trump again took to Twitter to defend Conway’s behavior. 
  • While Kellyanne may be safe for awhile (especially if her husband, George Conway, is tapped by Trump to be Solicitor General after conservative lawyer Chuck Cooper removed himself from consideration for that post, it looks as though Sean Spicer might be close to being fired. Apparently, Trump hasn’t been a fan of his from the get-go and he is now in Trump’s doghouse for reporting that Kellyanne was “in counseling” over her ethics blunder. Even more seriously for the Donald is the humiliating (to him) spectacle of his spokesman, Spicer, being the butt of so many jokes and especially that he was played by a woman (Meliissa McCarthy) on SNL.

Finally, on a much more substantive note, let us celebrate the Appeals Court rejection of the Trump-Bannon Muslim Travel Ban by reading about 6 Highlights of the ruling, which is one of the finest examples in recent times of the Judicial Branch of the government exercising its constitutional duty to provide the necessary checks and balances when another branch (in this case the Executive branch) appears to have exceeded its constitutional authority in a variety of ways.

At the same time, let us be vigilant and keep our elected representatives vigilant as to the next efforts of the Trump-Bannon administration to ban Muslims, refugees, and other immigrants from entering the country under the guise of Homeland Security. While there have been mixed signals from the White House on this matter, I think it most likely that their lawyers are even now hard at work crafting a new executive order on this matter that they hope will avoid judicial rejection by not being so clearly unconstitutional. Despite Trump’s bellicose nature, I think his close advisors and handlers will dissuade him from appealing the current executive order to the Supreme Court where it would almost certainly fail to be overturned, possibly by an embarrassing lopsided majority.  

A three-judge panel unanimously upheld the decision to temporarily block President Trump’s travel ban. We’ve annotated the ruling.
NYTIMES.COM

Friday, February 10, 2017

TRUMP WATCH #10 Protecting the Accomplishments of the Obama Administration and Resisting the Excesses of the Trump Administration


It is no secret that Mitch McConnell (he who famously announced that “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”) is now hell-bent on undoing as much of the Obama legacy as the Republicans possibly can. Already, in the past week, the Senate has voted (by narrow majorities) to overturn an important environmental protection rule (The Stream Protection Rule) and an SEC rule requiring "Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers".
At the same time, under McConnell’s leadership, the Republican-controlled Senate is using a variety of maneuvers like Cloture (to cut off filibustering and indeed even reasonable debate ) to fast-track one after another of Trump’s cabinet and other top appointments of billionaires and people (nearly all white males) with records that clearly demonstrate an antipathy to the missions of the very departments they are to lead.
While there is little likelihood that any of Trump’s cabinet etc. nominees will blocked, as Robert Reich has argued in his Feb 8, 2017 Resistance Report video, the hearings will have served to alert these nominees and voters across the spectrum that members of Congress and the American people will have their eye on these controversial appointees and hold them accountable for carrying out the proper missions of their respective departments.
According to Sarah Binder, professor of political science at George Washington University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, writing in the NY Times (see below), there is a much greater likelihood that Senate Democrats (and Independents) will be able to block and or force Republican compromise on some of their efforts to dismantle the rules (e.g., SEC rules passed under Dodd-Frank), regulations (e.g., EPA environmental protection and climate change), and laws (e.g., Affordable Care Act) passed during the 8-years of Obama’s administration.
So, if you live in a state with one or more Democratic Senators, you might want to call or write a letter or postcard to those senators and urge them to employ the tactics described in Ms. Binder’s article to block or force compromise on at least the most important votes before the Senate.

Here’s how to drag your feet, stick together and drive wedges between the Republicans and President Trump.
NYTIMES.COM

Thursday, February 9, 2017

TRUMP WATCH #9: “How to Get Out of the Cycle of Outrage In a Trump World.”

This morning I read Ariana Huffington’s perceptive and inspiring piece below. I strongly recommend it, as I think you will recognize her description of what we all are feeling and that you will find her list of resources for actions you can take to be enormously helpful.
I would just like to add to Ms. Huffington’s enlightening suggestions, a thought that has been percolating in my mind ever since the 
election: I am determined that whatever actions I might take over the next several years with respect to social justice, whether it be to write emails or sign petitions or attend marches or call the offices of elected representatives, I am determined to do so armed with knowledge and understanding about the issue and those involved. For me, this means:
Knowledge: I will try not to take at face value any news article, social media post, or utterance by friend or foe without checking more than one source (and when in doubt, consulting Snopes.com).
Understanding: I will think and read about issues and talk with others with as wide a range of views as possible to try to uncover the underlying factors and reasons for what is happening. In doing so, I will endeavor to put myself in the shoes of others, be they Donald Trump, himself, or Pope Francis, be they tea party Republicans or frustrated young anarchists. My intention is to try to understand why they feel, think, and act as they do. This empathy with others should not be confused with sympathy; I am not talking about agreement or forgiveness, only about understanding.
If we live in a perpetual state of outrage, Trump wins.
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