January, 2017

How Social Media Quickly Generated Mass Protests

New York Times: “In a matter of hours on Saturday, thousands rushed to the nation’s airports, beckoned by tweets. The flash protests in response to Mr. Trump’s immigration ban, which continued to grow in many cities on Sunday, were as organized as they were instantaneous. Dispatched online, the protesters knew where to go, and they knew what to do once they arrived: to command the story by making a scene.”

“Mr. Trump feeds off media attention. Throughout the campaign, the bigger a spectacle he created, the larger he loomed in the public consciousness. What has been remarkable during the last two weekends is how thoroughly Mr. Trump’s own media personage was blotted out by scenes of protesters.”

Sessions Plays a Big Role for Trump

Washington Post: “The directives bore Trump’s name, but another man’s fingerprints were also on nearly all of them: Jeff Sessions.”

“The early days of the Trump presidency has rushed a nationalist agenda long on the fringes of American life into action — and Sessions, the quiet Alabaman who long cultivated these ideas as a Senate back-bencher, has become a singular power in this new Washington.”

“Sessions’ nomination as Trump’s attorney general is scheduled to be considered Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, yet his influence in the administration extends far beyond the Justice Department. From immigration and health care to national security and trade, Sessions is the intellectual godfather of the president’s policies. Sessions’ reach extends throughout the White House, with his aides and allies accelerating the president’s most dramatic moves, including the ban on refugees and migrants from seven mostly Muslim nations that has triggered fear around the globe.”

Trump Signs Order Limiting New Regulations

President Donald Trump “signed an executive order requiring that for every new federal regulation implemented, two must be rescinded,” Politico reports.

Said Trump: “This will be the biggest such act that our country has ever seen. There will be regulation, there will be control, but it will be a normalized control where you can open your business and expand your business very easily. And that’s what our country has been all about.”

Diplomats Consider Dissent Over Immigration Ban

“Dozens of foreign service officers and other career diplomats stationed around the world are so concerned about President Donald Trump’s new executive order restricting Syrian refugees and other immigrants from entering the United States that they are contemplating taking the rare step of sending a formal objection to senior State Department officials in Washington,” ABC News reports.

“In recent days, drafts of a dissent memo have been circulating among diplomats and associates abroad expressing concern that the new restrictions — which Trump said would help ‘keep America safe’ — are un-American and will actually paralyze efforts to stop terrorist attacks in the U.S.”

Lawfare: “Consider this a major bureaucratic uprising on the part of career foreign service officers against the President on his executive order on refugees.”

Officials Worry Terrorism Defenses Are Being Weakened

“Though cast as measures meant to make the country safe, the Trump administration’s moves during its first week in office are more likely to weaken the counterterrorism defenses the United States has erected over the past 16 years, several current and former U.S. officials said,” the Washington Post reports.

“Through inflammatory rhetoric and hastily drawn executive orders, the administration has alienated allies, including Iraq, provided propaganda fodder to terrorist networks that frequently portray U.S. involvement in the Middle East as a religious crusade, and endangered critical cooperation from often-hidden U.S. partners — whether the leader of a mosque in an American suburb or the head of a Middle East intelligence service.”

Meanwhile, another Washington Post piece notes that Trump and his aides “keep justifying the entry ban by citing attacks it couldn’t have prevented.”

Either Way Trump Will Be Roasted

No one is sure if the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner will go on as planned this year, but Samantha Bee is organizing a counter-event that will take place in Washington on April 29, the same night as the more famous dinner, the New York Times reports.

“This alternative gala, which is being called ‘Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner’ and is expected to be announced officially on Monday, will be at the Willard Hotel. Ms. Bee said that it was not an attempt to comment on or compete with that other, better-known banquet, but a night to include jokes about Mr. Trump that she and like-minded comedians want to make.”

Trump Seems to be Tightening the Circle Around Him

New Yorker: “In the first week of the Trump Presidency, influence has run through a very select group of advisers—maybe as many as half a dozen, maybe as few as two. The President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Bannon have consolidated their influence.”

“The President’s isolation runs deeper than that. As the confusion around the immigration ban made clear, the vast government he oversees has little input on his actions… His campaign made clear that he was not interested in the findings of scientists, social scientists, or the American government. Trump’s transition has alienated him from the American public.”

For members: The Man Behind Trump’s Gold Curtains

Trump’s Competency Now Being Questioned

First Read: “Of course, competency — or a lack thereof — has been a stumbling block for past presidents, on matters big or small. Think Hurricane Katrina for George W. Bush or the Healthcare.Gov website for Barack Obama. But what’s extraordinary about all the chaos resulting from Trump’s travel ban is that it 1) came less than two weeks on the job, 2) came from an executive order, and 3) was on a campaign promise. So this wasn’t a response to a natural disaster, or a computer glitch caused by a contractor. It was an early priority for the administration — and they didn’t have their act together. Also, note that much of the criticism coming from Republicans is on the competency angle.”

GOP Redistricting Maps Coming Under Fire

“Recent court decisions in three states are putting carefully carved Republican-drawn state legislative districts at risk — and could even threaten the entire process of partisan map drawing,” the Washington Post reports.

“On Friday, a federal court ordered Wisconsin legislatures to redraw their state House legislative districts after finding in November that the districts were unconstitutionally partisan. The order will essentially require lawmakers to redraw state Senate maps as well.”

“The November decision was the first time this decade that a court has thrown out legislative maps because they favored voters of one party over another. Subsequently, this will be the first time in a decade that lawmakers will have to redraw maps specifically to make them more fair for both parties.”

Kelly Never Consulted on Immigration Action

“As President Trump signed a sweeping executive order on Friday, shutting the borders to refugees and others from seven largely Muslim countries, the secretary of homeland security was on a White House conference call getting his first full briefing on the global shift in policy,” the New York Times reports.

“Gen. John F. Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, had dialed in from a Coast Guard plane as he headed back to Washington from Miami. Along with other top officials, he needed guidance from the White House, which had not asked his department for a legal review of the order. Halfway into the briefing, someone on the call looked up at a television in his office. ‘The president is signing the executive order that we’re discussing,’ the official said, stunned.”