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Monday, April 10, 2017

What I'm Following This Week -- Week of April 10, 2017

Good morning, campers! I've been doing this kind of informally on Mondays lately, and figured I'd formalize it a bit. Here's what I'm keeping an eye on this week:

  • Syria: Not so much the bombing, but the media's awful response to it:

Thanks, media, for teaching DT that if he bombs a country that never attacked us & tells Russia b4 Congress you'll call him 'presidential.'

I'm not a Jeremy Scahill fan, but what he says here could apply to several members of the elite press:




 Well, it turns out Andrea Mitchell, the veteran White House correspondent and host of “The Andrea Mitchell Report” on MSNBC, has some words for them too. In a new interview for The Global Politico, our weekly podcast on world affairs in the Trump era, Mitchell says that after covering every president since Jimmy Carter, Donald Trump is by far the most hostile to the press—and to the truth—she’s ever seen, with a White House staff using the briefing room as a daily disinformation machine and a president and secretary of state outright undermining the ability of reporters to do their job.
“It is totally sui generis. I’ve never seen anything like this,” Mitchell says. “I have never seen anything like this where people just flat-out lie. You know, black is white and white is black, and they mislead you. It's really disconcerting to see the podium in the White House briefing room being used to mislead or misdirect or obfuscate.”

Well, here's something big. I've been imagining where we might go from here when the establishment press (and it doesn't get much more establishment than Andrea Mitchell, no matter what sort of whippersnapper Politico tries to make her out to be in the article) goes once it starts to admit that it can't trust a word coming out of the administration's mouth. Sadly, it probably just holds this understanding until the next time Trump really bombs something or walks up to the podium without forgetting to wear pants and "becomes President" again.

  • Infighting among White House staff: Karl Rove may just be stirring the shit to get attention here, but it does seem not all is placid at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave./Mar-a-Lago/whatever other Trump property we're paying for today:
Rove said these leaks are one of the three reasons he believes there is “acrimony” between three competing factions in the White House, which he said include the allies and supporters of senior adviser Jared Kushner, chief strategist Stephen Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus.
The second sign that top White House aides are not getting along, according to Rove, is the president expressing concern and asking others what they think of his staff.
Pass the popcorn.

President Donald Trump has scrapped the tax plan he campaigned on and is going back to the drawing board in a search for Republican consensus behind legislation to overhaul the U.S. tax system.
The administration's first attempt to write legislation is in its early stages and the White House has kept much of it under wraps. But it has already sprouted the consideration of a series of unorthodox proposals including a drastic cut to the payroll tax, aimed at appealing to Democrats.
Some view the search for new options as a result of Trump's refusal to set clear parameters for his plan and his exceedingly challenging endgame: reducing tax rates enough to spur faster growth without blowing up the budget deficit.
Administration officials say it's now unlikely that a tax overhaul will meet the August deadline set by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. But the ambitious pace to figure out a plan reflects Trump's haste to move quickly past a bruising failure to broker a compromise within his own party on how to replace the health insurance law enacted under President Barack Obama.

I wouldn't hold my breath on this one. If it can't be done with a short bill or order and the stroke of a pen, it's unlikely the Republicans will figure it out at this point.

  • Russia: We can't forget this, because that's exactly what Trump wants to happen.
Spain gets in on the international intrigue:
A Russian computer programmer has been arrested in Barcelona, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Madrid said on Sunday. 
*Raises eyebrow*.

Researchers said last month they were detecting another round of mass bleaching [of the Great Barrier Reef] this year after a severe event in 2016, and their fears were confirmed after aerial surveys of the entire 2,300-kilometre long bio-diverse reef.
Last year, the northern areas of the World Heritage-listed area were hardest hit, with the middle-third now experiencing the worst effects.
"Bleached corals are not necessarily dead corals, but in the severe central region we anticipate high levels of coral loss," said James Kerry, a marine biologist at James Cook University who led the aerial surveys.
"It takes at least a decade for a full recovery of even the fastest growing corals, so mass bleaching events 12 months apart offer zero prospect of recovery for reefs that were damaged in 2016." 
So we're probably fucked. 

Have a day, people.