TOWOIT #251

October 10, 2017… Day 264

I like that days are elapsing between posts. It’s as if some part of my brain is sleeping through this administration, though that isn’t true.

The Trump-related news has just descended into nonsense. I mean, even by Trumpian standards. Ivana (not Ivanka) and Melania are arguing over who is the legitimate first lady. Trump is calling Republican Senator Bob Corker “little Bob Corker” and Corker is referring to the White House as “an adult daycare.” Trump challenged his own Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson to an IQ test duel after Tillerson was quoted as calling Trump “a fucking moron.” The VP is flying to Indiana to sit at an NFL game for a few minutes and then stalk out when some of the players kneeled during the anthem–a planned stunt that Trump immediately took credit for via Twitter, undercutting any hope Mike Pence had of seeming sincere. Trump keeps calling Kim Jong Un “Little Rocket Man.” We’re all gonna die.

The FBI has listed “black identity extremists” as a group to watch. I don’t even know what to say about this and about Mike Pence walking out of a football game as a pre-planned stunt, or about white nationalists showing back up in Charlottesville, or about Jemele Hill getting suspended from ESPN for speaking openly about racism.

I don’t know what to say about Harvey Weinstein and the carnival of sexism and misogyny we’re enjoying in this country. What a typical, typical, creepy ass.

I do know that murmurings of trouble in the Seattle Black Lives Matter group(s) has percolated to the top of social media again. There is a male-dominated group that is shutting out a female-led group. The women say the men highjacked the local movement and who knows what they do with the funds they raise. The men are posting about a new march. They have a very shouty, guilting way of appealing to Seattle people to go to the march and give money — their online tone is a strange combination of bossy and disorganized. I am fine with activists being amateurs but knowing that they and the women have run afoul of each other, and knowing from having attended several BLM marches here that something was going on… well, I don’t know. I don’t want to reward sexist assholes. If this last election cycle taught me anything at all, it’s that black women are the ones who have their heads on straight if anyone does in this country.

A friend emailed from Canada saying that news of the Trump administration is really getting to her, and she was so glad not to be living in the U.S. She then apologized for being “insensitive” but I didn’t think she needed to apologize. I’m so glad she’s in Canada. I’m glad there’s a Canada. I need other places to be faring better than we are.

Here’s some good news: The Republican of Governor of Alaska declared yesterday Indigenous People’s Day (NOT Columbus Day).

Here are the questions reporters asked Sarah Sanders at the press briefing today, in which she suggested that maybe the press should try getting a sense of humor:

  • Sarah, over the weekend, the President said that he wished his Secretary of State was a little tougher. And now today he is suggesting that Secretary Tillerson has a lower IQ than he does. So my question is: Why would the President want somebody who he thinks is neither tough nor particularly smart, as a Secretary of State?
  • But he said he would like him to be tougher.
  • Thanks, Sarah. Over the weekend, Senator Bob Corker called the White House an “adult daycare center,” said the President could lead the country into World War III, and said that “He concerns me. He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.” What can you tell us a little about the internal reaction to such a senior Republican making comments like that? And is there concern that other top Republicans could make similar comments like that?
  • Sarah, two question for you, if I could. First of all, going into the weekend, the President sent his principles for the DREAMers legislation up to Capitol Hill. Included in it was a provision for building the wall. The President had earlier said that he would do the wall at a later time; do the DREAMers first, put some security measures, and then do the wall later. Did he change the goalposts?
  • Is he insistent that the wall be part of any DACA legislation?
  • And question two: Speaking of goal posts —
  • That was a question, a follow-up, and question two.
  • I was horrible at math. (Laughter)
  • NFL Commissioner Goodell sent a letter to owners and chief executives of all of the NFL teams saying, “Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem. It’s an important moment of our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us.” He’s having a meeting next week to discuss all of this. Given the position of the league, as articulated there by Commissioner Goodell, what’s the White House reaction to what it looks like the NFL is going to do going forward?
  • I had two, but I promise they’re really just two. (Laughter.) The first is, I wanted to ask about something the President said earlier in the Oval about tax reform. He suggested that there be adjustments to strengthen the tax framework. And obviously we know that lawmakers need to fill it out. But by saying adjustment, it suggests some sort of change. So I’m wondering if there are going to be changes to that framework, and if so, if it might be things like modifying the state or local deductions, or changing the past-through for business interest rates that we’ve heard, kind of, floating out there?
  • Thank you, Sarah. Two of the President’s allies have suggested that Senator Corker resign. Does the President think that Senator Corker should resign?
  • And a follow-up on the Senator Corker question. The President also said this weekend that Senator Corker was largely responsible for the Iran Deal, which the President has hinted that he wanted to renegotiate. That was a deal that was negotiated by Barack Obama’s administration. Why does the President think that that was largely Bob Corker’s fault?
  • Thanks, Sarah. Over the last few months, the President has criticized a number of senior Republicans, sometimes in very personal terms: Senator Murkowski, Senator Flake, Leader McConnell, most recently Senator Bob Corker. What do you say to critics who say that the President is alienating himself from Republicans that he will need to move his legislation forward?
  • One more, Sarah, on the Iran nuclear deal.
  • You talked last week about the fact that you planned to roll out a comprehensive plan on Iran, and we also know the President’s feelings on decertification. What I’m not clear on is how you see the connection. How does decertifying the Iran nuclear deal lead to an opportunity to negotiate on all of these other issues that you have with Iran, like exporting terrorism and cybercrime, et cetera?
  • Sarah, in a tweet this morning, the President referred to “Liddle” — l-i-d-d-l-e — Bob Corker again. I’m wondering, if the White House continues to work or continues to plan to work with Senator Corker’s team to amend the law that gives oversight to the Iran accord that you’ve already said you don’t like, are you working with him to change that law? Are you still willing to?
  • But specifically on Iran you are?
  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just issued a statement condemning the purported behavior of one of her prominent Hollywood donors, Harvey Weinstein. The President also said he wasn’t surprised by the news, and said that he had known Harvey Weinstein for some time. My question is, does the President have a reaction to Clinton’s statement? And secondly, does he have his own reaction? Or how much did he know about Harvey Weinstein’s behavior? And what’s his response to today?
  • And what about his response — he said that he had known Weinstein for a long time.
  • Thanks, Sarah. I know he’s going to announce it later this week, but has the President reached a decision on whether to recertify Iran or not?
  • Would he like to see Congress do away with the 90-day recurring certification?
  • What does the President intend to do with his executive order on healthcare reform? And secondly, the President, when he was rescinding DACA, said that one of the reasons he was doing that was because it was inappropriate for the Obama administration to do with executive order what couldn’t get done with legislation. Why the difference when it comes to healthcare?
  • Sarah, what exactly is this EO going to do? What is he going to try to do or try to improve? We’ve gotten some generalities from the President but not a lot of specifics about what he can do with executive orders and why it might be effective when it comes to lowering costs. Again, the promises were pretty high, we heard — you know, we’re going to cover people and lower costs.
  • Thank you, Sarah. Two questions. The President said that Senator Corker asked to be Secretary of State when they met privately before he took office. That is almost historically unknown that someone would actually ask for a Cabinet position in a meeting with the President, at least in the 21st and 20th centuries. Does he stand by that statement completely, that the Senator asked to be named to the position of Secretary of State?
  • The other question I had was, last Sunday before the tragic events in Las Vegas, Catalonia had its vote. The President had said the week before, when he was with Prime Minister Rajoy, he supported a unified Spain. Today, the President of the State of Catalonia said he would not declare independence, but would seek independence from Spain through negotiations at this time. What’s the administration’s position on that?
  • So you welcome talks with Catalonia and Spain?
  • Thank you, Sarah. I have a couple of questions for you. Do you stand by your statement that Bob Corker rolled out the red carpet for the Iran Deal?
  • Bob Corker originally opposed the Iran Deal, and even led a bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill to have it reviewed by Congress, despite former President Obama not wanting that review to take place. How can you say that he rolled out the red carpet for the deal then?
  • And I have one quick follow-up, Sarah, on taxes. The President repeated this claim in the Oval Office today, saying we’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. Why does the President keep saying this? It’s not true, overall.
  • But that’s not what the President said.
  • Sarah, so that’s accurate, but the President keeps repeating this claim that we’re the highest-taxed nation in the world.
  • But that’s not what he said. He said we’re the highest-taxed nation in the world.
  • Sarah, in a Forbes interview, the President talked about economic development rules. Does he see that as a way to basically get tax reform through? Are they going to work hand-in-glove?
  • Sarah, the Chamber of Commerce said today that the White House is putting poison pills in the NAFTA negotiations to make them unpalatable. Does the President want these talks to continue, or does he want these harsher measures that the United States is proposing to end the talks?
  • What will he say to Prime Minister Trudeau about that tomorrow?
  • Sarah, how do you think these ongoing fights with the Republicans on Capitol Hill help the President’s agenda, tax reform, first and foremost?
  • I think the Senate is working today, though. But how specifically does belittling the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee help with tax reform? Because the President may need his vote on that.
  • I just wanted to tie up a loose end from one of the President’s tweets this morning. He said that the NFL is getting massive tax breaks. He called on Congress to change tax law. What specific changes was he calling for? The NFL claims it no longer seeks a tax-exempt status.
  • Is it appropriate for the Vice President of the United States to spend taxpayer money to go to a football game where he’s going to walk out if players take a knee, knowing that he would be taking that action?

    to be continued…

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