It sure was a week, wasn’t it? I don’t really read The New Republic that much, but Alex Shephard’s weekly Trump summaries are a gold mind, and I highly recommend them. They tend to be my main source for these weekly articles. Plus, he’s a lot funnier than I am. As Shephard notes, Trump was riding high after last Friday’s confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. It could have been that moment pundits have been waiting for–when Trump finally started to get what he wanted from Congress.
Just a couple links of interest that have been thrown my way. Enjoy! * [Cyber security and internet freedom statistics by country. Which are most and least safe?](https://www.comparitech.com/blog/information-security/cyber-security-statistics/) -- Some great stats on Internet freedom and crime from around the world. * [AlcoholAwareness](http://alcoholawareness.org/) -- I must note that I don't endorse _bans_ on alcohol. What I do favor are better resources for those suffering with alcohol addiction, and broader awareness of the dangers of excessive drinking.
Trump keeps changing his mind, going back on campaign promises, sometimes after trying to implement them. What gives? During Presidential campaigns, candidates talk a lot about what they’re going to do. They identify problems, then describe how they’d solve those problems. These solutions get labeled as campaign promises, though they aren’t always declared as such by the candidates themselves. Still, it’s a time-honored tradition in American politics: you tell the people what you plan to do, and then once you’re in office, we get to evaluate how well those promises have been kept.
The title of this post is not figurative. What’s going on? It emerged today that, this past Tuesday evening, an MC-130 aircraft dropped a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb over the Achin district in Afghanistan. This bomb is the largest conventional (non-nuclear) bomb in the US arsenal (known as the “mother of all bombs”) and had, up until now, never been used in the field. The target? A network of ISIS tunnels beneath the surface, as well as personnel on the ground.
The problem with being action-oriented is that your actions have to be effective for people to support them. What’s going on? According to CNBC, Trumptakes hits in his approval rating every time he acts on one of his campaign promises. More than half the country disagrees with his actions on particular issues, and his focus on implementing divisive policies continues to hurt him. Ironically, there are issues such as infrastructure investment where he could score easy wins, but he doesn’t, probably because his fellow Republicans in Congress won’t sign on to large spending packages.
It’s not just Syria we have to worry about. What’s going on? Trump tweeted today that “North Korea is looking for trouble,” and “If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.” Bizarre patriotic buzzing notwithstanding, the possible outcomes of Trump’s moves against North Korea are more bad than good. If China assists the US, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) may make concessions in exchange for humanitarian aid.
This is what I get for going on vacation. A lot has happened since my last post–a lot more than one would expect in, oh, a mere ten days. Let’s see: * In Syria, Assad's regime (probably) gassed a bunch of civilians. * This provoked a bombing of a Syrian airstrip by the US. The airstrip is apparently still operational, so "mission accomplished," as the kids say. * Trump got to do a victory lap, looking "Presidential," with the media playing along and acting as if he'd finally become someone you could take seriously as an international leader.
Remember Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign in disgrace? He’s back in the headlines with what looks like a desperate attempt at obtaining immunity from prosecution. What’s going on? Flynn was Trump’s National Security Advisor for a few weeks, until it came to light that he’d had possibly unlawful communications with the Russian ambassador before Trump took office. Over the past 24 hours, it became public that Flynn was seeking immunity in exchange for what he knows about the Trump administration’s connections to Russia.
Beating Trump is a lot easier when he’s busy fighting fellow Republicans. What’s going on? Republicans have had a hard time uniting ever since the Tea Party insurgency swept into Congress in 2010. The only thing they could agree on was stopping Obama and the Democratic Party from accomplishing anything–a strategy on which they were at least partly successful. But they’ve had problems working together for years. Under House Speaker John Boehner, it was impossible to get a budget passed with full GOP support.
You could be forgiven for being confused about what’s going on with the Russia investigation. Hopefully I can help clear it up. This piece from the Washington Post gives a rundown but doesn’t offer a lot of context. The latest development is that it has now emerged that the Trump administration kept former acting Attorney General Sally Yates from testifying before the House Intelligence Committee as part of their investigation into links between the Trump administration and Russian officials.