Hey guys-- a little bit of business before we get to the list.
First of all, thank you so much to Rachel, Sandy, and Jeffrey for becoming patrons through Patreon! If you would like to join them and pledge $1 (or more, if you like!) per list update, please visit https://www.patreon.com/suzaneraslan now.
I took a step back this week from updating as much as I have been, for good reason-- this had become an actual part time job for me, something I was spending more time doing than I could reasonably justify with a full time job that takes waaaay more than 40 hours / week. Until I hit my goal of 36 more patrons, I'm going to be spending a lot less time updating this.
If it's important to you to see it happen more often and to be as in depth as it has been, please either pledge your patronage or encourage your friends to do so. I'm still going to keep doing it, it just may be once or twice a week until I've gotten to 45 patrons.
To incentivize you guys to take the jump and make the pledge, if I get 10 more patrons between now (Saturday night) and Monday at 12:00 PM (that's noon, not midnight), I'll read the entirety of DT's proposed budget and give you a complete, succinct breakdown of the whole thing. A lot has been said about cuts for the arts and humanities, the EPA, and Meals on Wheels, but there's probably a lot of stuff lurking in it that isn't getting the attention it deserves... and I'd love to be able to afford to put the time toward breaking it down. If you want that budget breakdown by Monday night, make your pledge at Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/suzaneraslan
Finally, I'm doing something a little different with formatting for this, because I'm incorporating so many days into this entry, so I'm going to scrap the individual dates and go for an overall discussion of each subject or event. Let me know what you think of this format in the comments or send me a note-- it may be a little easier to digest.
Now, to the list:
While DT's proposed budget would cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by 25%, reducing the number of employees by 3,000 workers (so much for "creating jobs"), the administration is apparently considering even deeper cuts to the EPA according to a source inside the White House.
In addition to gutting the EPA's staff and budget, DT will most likely sign an executive order next week removing the requirement to weigh climate change as a factor in environmental reviews for proposed projects, under the guise of canceling "job killing restrictions" on domestic energy projects and put coal miners back to work. That said, President Barack Obama imposed a coal leasing moratorium in January 2016, but no company has applied for a federal coal mining lease since October 2012.
On Wednesday, DT met with Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan at a Chrysler Fiat plant, along with Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. While posing for a photograph, DT uh, invited(?) the governor over to pose with him by saying, "Come on governor, even though you didn't endorse me." Secretary Chao tried to break the tension saying, "He's not forgotten," and DT made sure to keep it threatening by replying, "I never forget." DT and Chao were there to discuss rolling back President Barack Obama's car emissions and fuel efficiency regulations.
Also on Wednesday, court documents filed with the US District Court in Wyoming regarding a suit against the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management indicate that DT plans to roll back limitations on fracking on public lands.
Saturday, the finance officers of G20 dropped any words around climate change from the joint statement of the 80 member countries due to pressure from Saudi Arabia and, of course, the US, with "no mention of a commitment to fund action on climate change." Good job, America, we've not only screwed ourselves environmentally, but we've undermined an international partnership to take on catastrophic damage to the environment world wide.
With Mike Flynn out of the administration, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has become the newest media darling for being both entirely incompetent and a secretive liar.
On Tuesday, news broke that Tillerson had used the name Wayne Tracker to send emails to investors related to climate change while at Exxon, apparently posing as a different person. This seems to be something of a trend at Exxon Mobil, as 34 different email addresses were identified as belonging to executives or assistants that represented the senders as another person. The reason this matters? The New York Attorney General's office is conducting a probe into whether or not the company misled investors about the impact of oil on climate change, and conveniently didn't turn emails over to the AG's office because they were, you know, not Tillerson's but Tracker's.
Tillerson was in East Asia this week, first in Japan and South Korea where, according to the Seoul media, he was too tired to attend dinner with South Korean officials, but the State Department issued a statement that he hadn't actually been invited to dinner.
On Friday, in Seoul, he said that the US was scrapping negotiations with North Korea to try to halt their nuclear weapons program, saying that, instead, China should team up with the US for possible military strikes on the country if they continue their long range ballistics missile testing.
At a meeting with President Xi Jinping on Saturday, the Chinese President asked Tillerson to approach the situation with a cool head, though the Secretary of State is expected to threaten China with sanctions if they continue to do business with North Korea.
DT, in his usual internet bullying style, took to Twitter on Friday while Tillerson was in China to say:
Of course, it's amazing that we know any of this, and of course we have to rely on the press of other countries for things like whether or not Tillerson was tired because he's "not a big media access person."
Disgraced retired General and disgraced retired National Security Advisor Mike Flynn
Speaking of Mike Flynn, more information continues to arise about Flynn's operations for foreign governments. Representative Bill Pascrell of New Jersey has written to DT asking "asking whether former national security adviser Michael Flynn received a waiver that would allow him to lobby on behalf of a foreign government." Flynn's lobbying for Turkey included investigating Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish religious leader living in self-imposed exile in rural Pennsylvania whom the Turkish President accuses of being the leader of a Turkish "deep state" and has repeatedly pressured the US to extradite back to his home country.
But lobbying by proxy for the Turkish government was, apparently, the lease of Flynn's work as a foreign agent. New broke on Thursday that Flynn had accepted money from multiple Russian firms, including Russia's top cybersecurity firm while he still had top-secret-level clearance as National Security Advisor. HOW IS HE NOT IN JAIL WAITING TO FACE CHARGES OF TREASON?
More Crooks, Liars, and Literal Nazis in the White House
Sean Spicer told reporters on Monday that the reason that DT hasn't donated his salary to charity is because he's waiting for the American people to tell him where to donate it. Oh.
Turns out Neil Gorsuch was basically hand picked by some shady billionaire. Not sure that this has any kind of importance, yet, but is anyone involved in this whole administration not bought and sold?
Sebastian Gorka, the completely unqualified counter-terrorism advisor to DT, was outed as a member of a far-right, anti-semitic, Nazi affiliated Hungarian political party, members of which are "presumed to be inadmissable" to the US under the Immigration and Nationality Act. When asked if he is a member of the Vitézi Rend, Gorsuch has declined to answer. In response, Senators Dick Durbin, Ben Cardin, and Richard Blumenthal have asked the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to investigate Gorka's immigration papers. Gorka had the audacity to wear a Vitézi Rand medal to the inauguration.
Texans started receiving notifications that they could either willingly sell their land to the US government or have it seized (but compensated-- at a rate of apparently $2,900 for 1.2 acres) through eminent domain for use in building a wall along the southern border of the US.
But who is going to pay for that land...? Well, it doesn't look like it's going to be Mexico, which comes as no surprise to anyone at all. In DT's proposed federal budget released on Thursday, it turns out the White House is asking Congress for $2.6B (two billion, six hundred million dollars) for the first stages of the wall.
Of course, he doesn't actually have any idea what the wall is going to be like-- the US Customs and Border Protection sent out two requests for proposals on Friday for designs for the wall.
That is if he can actually get money for it. Senate Democrats have suggested that they may use the republican tactic of shutting down the government to block the funding of this ludicrous waste of taxpayer money.
Immigration and the Travel Ban
ICE agents are arresting immigrants at courthouses who have come to testify or make statements in court cases in California, Arizona, Texas, and Colorado.
Federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland blocked Muslim Ban 2.0 this week based on the public record of statements by DT and his advisors describing it as a Muslim ban. I guess their inability to keep their mouths shut may work in our favor.
Canada's Girl Guides (the equivalent of the Girl Scouts) have canceled all trips to the US in light of the Muslim ban. Travel professionals are referring to the reduction in tourists to the US as the "Trump Slump."
DT Lies This Week
The White House continued to claim that President Barack Obama had wiretapped DT during the campaign, this time causing a diplomatic incident after Sean Spicer accused UK intelligence of assisting in the surveillance... after Fox News suggested that they had. The White House Press Secretary accused an allied foreign government of colluding with the previous president to spy on DT because a propaganda network suggested that they did. Rather than show any remorse for this reckless and idiotic accusation, DT passed the buck at a press conference on Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying, "We said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. You shouldn't be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox." He then suggested that he and Chancellor Merkel had something in common because they may have both been wiretapped by President Obama. Chancellor Merkel looked visibly uncomfortable at DT's ludicrous claim. Spicer and National Security Advisor General McMaster apologized to the British Prime Minster's National Security Advisor.
At the Veterans Affairs listening session on Friday, DT claimed that he would be having a big VA policy meeting at Mar-a-Lago this weekend. When he mentioned it, asking VA Secretary David Shulkin, “So are you going to be at that meeting?” Shulkin said "No." Later in the day, the White House said the meeting had been canceled. So... DT's just claiming that he's working so we stop getting mad at him for spending millions of dollars for him to go on vacation every week, now?