1. The American Health Care Act (AHCA) rolled out by Republicans this week has run into a buzzsaw of opposition -- from Republicans in Congress. Democrats were already opposed, sight unseen. On top of that, the AARP, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, as well as numerous patient advocacy and health industry groups are rejecting it. I haven't heard anyone, except GOP leaders and committee members who put this together, who speak favorably about it. And we haven't even had an analysis yet by the Congressional Budget Office to show how many will lose coverage and how much it will cost. It is a disaster, as predicted.
2. The International Women's Day was yesterday, and President Trump chose to send out a message about it on twitter, instead of the usual dignified presidential proclamation. Here's what he sent:
"I have tremendous respect for women and the many roles they serve that are vital to the fabric of our society and our economy. On International Women's Day, join me in honoring the critical role of women here in America and around the world."
Nothing wrong with that, except that . . . well, he's Donald Trump, with all of his misogynistic baggage. So he got hundreds of angry responses, with references to his many failures to actually show respect for women. They ranged from his anti-abortion executive order and defunding Planned Parenthood, to his "grab 'em by the p---y" comment, to the mostly male makeup of his cabinet, to the threat to separate mothers and children in the immigration crackdown, to the fact that he began this presidential statement on this day honoring women with "I," as in "I have tremendous . . . ."
3. The new Muslim Travel Ban issued as a new executive order this week is responsive to most of the issues that were criticized by the court in the first ban, according to Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson who won the case. However, other opponents to the ban think there is still a court case against the new ban, now based on the evidence suggesting it is really a Muslim ban in disguise. They can base their argument on (1) statements by Trump and Guiliani about intent to impose a Muslim ban and (2) the lack of evidence that there is any need for the ban from these specific countries, which are alike only in that they have Muslim-majority populations. The state of Hawaii has already filed a court challenge, claiming that it is unconstitutional on those grounds.
The argument about a lack of need for the ban is especially stark since those draft reports from Homeland Security analysts got leaked, showing that young men living in the US who commit terrorist acts become radicalized after they have been living here for several years. They do not come in as radicals, so the ban would not have any basis for denying them. The solution to that problem is not a ban, but community approach to working with young immigrant men so that they do not turn to radical recruiters for a meaningful life. It's their experience living as immigrants in the U.S. that is the problem to be addressed. All the anti-Muslim talk and things like the ban will only make that worse. [I'll expand on this in a later post.]
4. The Trump-Russia connection continues to evolve, with new leaks dribbling out. The New Yorker article, featured by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, explores Trump's business dealings with oligarchs in Azerbaijan, some of whom are connected to bribery, corruption, and money laundering. It is against the law for American investors to have business dealings with foreign businesses that engage in such practices. One such American is currently serving time in federal prison for not much more than is alleged that Trump and his company have done.
5. AG Jeff Sessions is still in hot water (1) with the Judiciary Committee because his "clartification" letter to explain why he didn't mention his two meetings with the Russian ambassador was unsatisfactory; and (2) with Trump, who didn't want him to recuse himself from overseeing any Justice Department investigation of Russia, wiretapping, meetings with the Trump team, etc. There's just too much smoke not to have a fire underneath -- too many Trump team people (at least 8) who have met with Russians, along with Trump's own, singularly positive attitude toward Putin/Russia -- moreso than with even our close allies. He's insulted or fought with everyone but Putin.
6. In England, there is an online betting site that is giving 2 to 1 odds that Trump will not last out the year as president. The article didn't say, but I wonder if they're also taking bets on whether Melania will ever move to the White House. She's made a few appearances for social occasions, but there seems to be nothing there between her and her husband. And reports are that she's not taken any steps to set up a First Lady office, which is customary and usually includes a whole staff of aides, planners, etc.
That's enough for now of White House woes. It's only Wednesday.