“Fight for Your Lives Before It’s Someone Else’s Job”
“This is a movement. This is a movement relying on the persistence and the passion of its people… There will be no faltering, no pauses in our cause. Every moment will be dedicated to those pieces of legislation. Every march. Every meeting. Every moment… We are not here for breadcrumbs, we are here for real change. We are here to LEAD… They know what is coming. They know that if there is no assault weapons ban then we will VOTE THEM OUT… If they continue to ignore us, to only pretend to listen, then we will take action where it counts… Today we march, we fight, we roar. We prepare our signs, we raise them high. We know what we want, we know how to get it. And we are not waiting any longer.”
- Parkland student Delaney Tarr, at the March For Our Lives
In a day of inspiring speeches, all of them by youth, Emma González’s silence, as she let unspool the amount of time that it took the shooter to murder her friends and compatriots, was what brought home the devastation she and her schoolmates experienced. It brought home their fear and their sorrow. But as Emma stood there and stood, tears trickling down her cheek, she also showed us something else: her resolve.
If this time is truly different, if this time change will really come, it is because of this. It is because in addition to the fear and the sorrow and the anger there is determination. ENOUGH. This devastation must end and we will not wait for someone else to do the job. We will reach out to everyone and we will not stop until we are safe. This is #JustTheBeginning.
The students are showing us the way, but not just so that we may follow. They’re showing us what to do with our fear and our sorrow and our anger because, sadly, in this moment guns are not our only danger. The students are showing us how to lead.
The Best of Times, the Worst of Times
The March For Our Lives was a stunning event, rightfully capturing the imagination of the country and sending Republicans everywhere into hiding. It’s wonderful to have this movement, so bravely and wisely led, bursting forth now. There’s every reason to hope that it will contribute enormously to the Blue Wave we need to create this November. For, yes, we must VOTE THEM OUT. Because our lives are at stake.
Trump, reportedly feeling as though he finally has the hang of the job, is entering the second stage of tyranny: the purge. In his first year he was relatively constrained, held back by advisors, by failed legislation and by the courts, if not by Congress. Now he has shifted, quickly firing those who threaten his complete authority or who would hold him back. He is consolidating power.
This week Trump fired National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, widely regarded as one of the few “adults in the room” and will replace him with John Bolton, a hawk with views so extreme he couldn’t even win Republican support during the Bush administration and had to be given a recess appointment to be the Ambassador to the United Nations, an institution he despises.
This follows Trump’s move last week to nominate Mike Pompeo to lead the State Department and Gina Haspel to take over at the CIA. None of them will restrain Trump’s tendencies (for he has no reasoned positions), but will rather act as accelerants. Trump is laying the groundwork for conflagration – for war, the tyrant’s next move: “so the people will be in need of a leader”. Korea and Iran are likely targets. The danger in either case really can’t be overstated.
Thrown into the mix is the likelihood that Trump will also work to have Mueller fired, either directly or indirectly. The investigation is getting closer and closer to Trump and his legal team is falling apart. It is also clear that Trump is guilty. The number of coincidences necessary for this not to be true reasonably rules out any other conclusion.
So we must be thinking and planning for actions – on our part and from our representatives – to respond to grave and immediate danger. Yes, we will continue to work towards essential victory in November. But the election is a long ten months away. There may well be an emergency in the meantime.
Cambridge Analytica Revealed / Facebook Reviled
In any normal week, the above would have been plenty of news. But until we get Trump out, there won’t be any more normal weeks. So there was also a series of blockbuster revelations of misdeeds by Cambridge Analytica, the British data firm that claimed to have propelled Trump to victory using 50 million+ stolen user profiles from Facebook.
In an extensive exposé from the Guardian and a sting operation from Britain’s Channel 4 TV News, the picture emerged of Cambridge Analytica buying massive amounts of data that was supposed to be collected only for academic research and then using it to micro-target voters, leading to it’s claim to have made Trump President*. The sting also caught them bragging about entrapping politicians and conducting campaigns that left no trace of their involvement. And, of course, there were Russian connections. By midweek, Alexander Nix, Cambridge Analytica’s CEO, had been placed on leave. Britain had raided their offices. There will surely be more.
Facebook, meanwhile, lost $50B in market capitalization as this news of their incredibly lax data protection came to light. Mark Zuckerberg disappeared for days, finally surfacing with weak pledges to do better. Users were left by week’s end looking for a better and more trustworthy replacement. Whether they’ll find one, whether Facebook will make any serious effort to change or will be forced to by regulation, or whether Facebook will hunker down until this storm blows over – time will tell.
In Other News
- Having announced steel and aluminum tariffs a couple of weeks ago, by Friday Trump had removed most of them as trading partners pleaded for exemptions. But by the end of the week he had also placed $60B of tariffs on assorted products from China. While it’s widely agreed that China imposes onerous conditions on many US businesses for the right to trade there and that it steals large amounts of intellectual property, it’s not at all a given that this move won’t dramatically backfire. The markets reacted, with the Dow dropping 5.7% for the week.
- The women continued to close in on Trump. He’s under attack on three fronts. Porn star Stormy Daniels (the stage name of Stephanie Clifford) refused to be silenced after being threatened with $20M in damages. Her interview on Sixty Minutes airs Sunday night. Former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s suit alleges that the National Enquirer colluded (there’s that word again) with Trump fixer Michael Cohen to purchase and then kill her story. And a New York judge ruled that former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos’s defamation suit can go forward. If it survives appeals by Trump’s lawyers, this could land Trump in discovery, which means that he could be compelled to testify.
- The omnibus bill passed Congress, funding the government, but not before Trump threatened to veto it and then sulkingly rescinded his empty bluster.
- The White House let it be known that it was trying to hire star lawyer Theodore Olson to beef up Trump’s team of attorneys dealing with the Russian investigation. Then Olson turned them down. Trump attorney John Dowd quit as reports surfaced that Trump would hire Fox commentator and conspiracy-theorist lawyer Joseph di Genova. By the end of the week, that had fallen through, too, due to conflicts. And Trump was tweeting that lawyers really did want to work with him. Really.
- It was reported midweek that the White House had required employees to sign Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) that would stay in effect forever. This is illegal, for a few reasons. First, employees serve the government, not Trump. Second, lawyers may not coerce employees into signing illegal documents. Finally, signing an NDA, essentially a pledge loyalty to Trump, is providing something of value to him in exchange for employment – in other words, a bribe. This also is illegal. Exactly what you would expect from the most lawless and corrupt administration in American history.
- It was reported that the NYC building regulator was investigating allegations that Jared Kushner’s property firm “routinely filed false paperwork claiming it had zero rent-regulated tenants in its buildings across the city.” This “made it easier for the Kushner Cos. to harass the low-paying, rent-regulated tenants so they would leave, freeing up apartments for higher-paying tenants.” So. much. corruption.
- Hacker Guccifer 2.0, who took credit for providing the leaked DNC emails to Wikileaks and who had been in touch with Trump advisor Roger Stone, was discovered to be an officer of Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU).
- Pennsylvania Republicans are trying to impeach the state Supreme Court justices responsible for ruling their partisan gerrymandering illegal. Because if you’re breaking the law, the solution is to attack the judges. It’s not just Trump who believes he’s above the law.
- Courts also ordered Wisconsin governor Scott Walker to hold special elections that he had refused to hold, worried that Republicans would lose. The response of the Wisconsin legislature was to move to change the law. Because there always has to be some way to disenfranchise voters if you’re a minority party trying desperately to hold onto power.
I’m sure there was even more. But, really, isn’t that enough?
So: afraid? Sad? Angry? All are appropriate. But now, take a breath, join us and learn from Emma. It’s time for unstoppable resolve.
This week, help us hold the line with Take Action. And help us take back the House – and the Senate! – with Act to Win. We can do this. We must do this. We will do this. Before it’s someone else’s job.
– Tom Benthin
A reminder: a key resource for tracking all the abnormal events from the past week of the Trump presidency is Amy Siskind’s Weekly List: theweeklylist.org .
Before the disaster of the 2016 election we could follow the events that affected our lives by checking the news or seeing occasional posts on Facebook. Since then, with Trump’s erratic, aggressive and autocratic behavior and the Republicans’ unceasing attacks on our government and their efforts to transfer ever more money from working Americans to the rich, it has become much more difficult – and more important – to find our way through the weekly onslaught of news. To get ourselves grounded in the facts and to prepare for the week of action ahead, we provide this weekly summary of critical events to help us cut through the distractions and stay focused and informed as we fight to preserve our democracy.