How did we get here? Habituation. Every paragraph in this column would have been laughably unbelievable 18 months ago. Putin interfering in the U.S. election? President Trump? A pro-Russian administration? But when this slowly unfolded, day by day, and inch by inch, we gradually became de-sensitized to the change that Trump has brought to America: campaigning on lies, turning America’s foreign policy on its head, and making the United States a subordinate ally to Russia.
My biggest problem in these ACA debates? I don't know how to explain to you why you should care about other people.
— Lauren Morrill (@LaurenEMorrill) January 13, 2017
Maybe healthcare reform isnt complicated. Maybe it’s legislation with just one sentence: one that lowers Medicare’s eligibility age to zero
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) January 16, 2017
In a German interview, Trump calls NATO obsolete and dismisses the EU. This is an opinion Putin shares. Last week, in his confirmation hearing, General Mattis called NATO “the most successful military alliance, probably in modern history, maybe ever.”
In his first interview with mainland European media, Trump told the tabloid Bild that while he had “great respect” for the chancellor, calling her “magnificent” and a “fantastic chief”, she had made an “utterly catastrophic mistake by letting all these illegals into the country”, according to a translation from the German version of his interview.
From the same interview, definitely the sort of thing that reassures you your next president can be entrusted with state secrets:
“I have just looked at something … Oh, I should not show you it at all, because it’s secret – but I have just taken a look at Afghanistan. If you look at the Taliban there, they’re just getting bigger and bigger and bigger every year. And you ask yourself ‘what’s going on there?’”
In a UK interview, Trump says, “We should be ready to trust Putin.”
Trump was planning to visit the African American History Museum today (MLK Day), but changed his mind. This might have something to do with the fact that he blasted Rep. John Lewis on Twitter as “All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!” after Lewis said in an interview Friday that he didn’t see Trump as a legitimate president. No word on whether Trump was aware that Lewis marched with Dr. King, introduced the legislation that created the museum, and is featured in its exhibits.
As of this writing, 38 Democratic Congressmen have declined to attend Trump’s inauguration, many of them citing support for Lewis.
Trump promised “insurance for everybody” in an interview published Saturday, but his aides later walked back that language.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and other Republicans have been talking lately about providing “universal access” to health insurance, instead of universal insurance coverage.
While James Comey won’t say whether the FBI is investigating the Trump dossier, Israeli intelligence officials say everyone in the Western world is looking into the allegations. Also, there are more documents:
“There have been various reports about Trump’s ties to Russia,” the officer said in reference to other unpublished reports. “The dossier is one of them, but there are others, they make other allegations. Some are more specific, and some are less. You can trust me that many intelligence agencies are trying to evaluate the extent to which Trump might have ties, or a weakness of some type, to Russia.”
As the NY Times summarizes: “The Germans are angry. The Chinese are downright furious. Leaders of NATO are nervous, while their counterparts at the European Union are alarmed.”
The Trump campaign has hired Ted Cruz’s former data-analysis firm, Cambridge Analytica—and in doing so, it has connected itself with a British property tycoon, Vincent Tchenguiz, and through him with the Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, a business associate of Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who resigned last week. It would be hard to find a better example of why the ownership of the companies that collect data on the American electorate matters.
Among Trump’s vast array of conflicts of interest: the planes he owns will be inspected by the FAA he oversees.
“There’s a lot of fear right now among employees at the FAA,” said the former manager, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid offending the new president. This person predicted that FAA inspectors would be reluctant to find anything wrong with Trump’s aircraft, wary that doing so could be “a career-buster.”
Trump doesn’t plan to start work immediately on Friday:
Trump, inaugurated on Friday at noon, tells the Times of London he's going to take the rest of that day and the weekend off. pic.twitter.com/Qae6rW1IMS
— Angus Johnston (@studentactivism) January 16, 2017
Transition Team & Cabinet Appointees
Andy Puzder, Hardee’s CEO and Labor Secretary nominee, does not have a great track record with the Labor Department.
Puzder has made his career on the backs of low-paid fast food workers like Cromer, and he has spent the last 16 years overseeing a fast food chain notorious for violating basic wage and hour laws. A review of federal and state court documents and Labor Department inspections paint a picture of a corporate culture that values profit over worker welfare.
People employed by Puzder have sued for discrimination, filed class action lawsuits over the denial of overtime pay, and alleged that they were fired for protesting the chain’s low wages.
Puzder, on California’s minimum wage: “How do you pay somebody $15 an hour to scoop ice cream?”
After a long weekend of criticism, Puzder is reconsidering working for Trump.
Monica Crowley, whose plagiarism came to light last week, no longer has a job with the Trump administration.
Rep. Tom Price, HHS nominee, appears to have created a breathtakingly perfect circle of corruption: investing in a company, then introducing legislation benefiting that company, and then taking campaign donations from the same company via a PAC.
‘Bikers for Trump’ to Form ‘Wall of Meat’ If Inauguration Protests Get Out of Hand. Gosh, combined with Trump’s private security force and the fact that the head of the DC National Guard will resign during the ceremony, I foresee no potential problems whatsoever!
The oil-friendly legislature argues that its constituents are frustrated over the protests, which led federal authorities to halt construction of the $3.8-billion Dakota Access Pipeline as thousands of protesters braved cold weather and violence for months.
Texas HB 948 would not only ban abortions at any stage, but would make abortion a felony–thus stripping voting rights from any woman having an abortion.
What You Can Do
Call your representatives. Make a checklist of the things you want to talk about before you pick up the phone. Here’s the confirmation hearing schedule for this week:
Tues: Zinke hearing for Interior
Wed: Pruitt hearing for EPA
Thurs: Perry hearing for Energy
— Rebecca Leber (@rebleber) January 17, 2017
That's an Interior sec who wants to sell off public lands, an EPA admin who sued the EPA, and an Energy sec who wants to close the agency.
— Jesse Berney (@jesseberney) January 17, 2017
Even if you hate talking on the phone… please call. None of this is acceptable.