Women's March - Philadelphia. One year after Donald Trump was inaugurated President. What an exhausting decade it's been!
Currently, the government has been shut down over legislative disagreements. With the House, Senate and Presidency all being in the hands of one party, the Republican Party, that's a rather odd state of affairs. The essential problem is that the GOP wants to get legislative changes that are not available through the legislative tactic they used to get their tax bill through. They need more than a bare majority of votes in the Senate to get changes to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) or to revive CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) due to the filibuster still being in effect, meaning any bills to pass in the Senate requires 60 votes. That's nine more votes than Republicans can deliver unless they can peel off some Democrats.
The situation right now reminds me of the younger George Bush and his dealings with Iran after the fall of Baghdad in 2003. Iran wanted a dialogue but Bush felt he was on a roll and ignored them. The strategic moment passed and it took until President Obama's diplomatic efforts to get relations to be as good as they might have been in 2003. Trump appears to be repeating Bush's error of overconfidence. In the negotiations over whether to keep the government open, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer went so far as to offer funding for a border wall and Trump turned even that down.
The march this year appeared to me to be about 80% the size of last years. That worked out well as we had more room to move around. We were pretty squeezed last year.
Very important thing to keep in mind concerning the shutdown. The world is watching. Foreigners are seeing an administration that can't stick to any sort of agreement, that doesn't appear to even know what it wants, that doesn't really understand or care about the details of what the other party wants and that is far more interested in playing to their extremist base voters than in actually making any sort of deal.
In a tweet that Democrats termed a "ransom note," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put out kind of a "Sophie's Choice" demand. He suggested Democrats could either get CHIP, which serves 8,900,000 recipients or DACA, that serves 690,000 "Dreamers." Both groups, of course, are youthful, suggesting Republicans have no problem sacrificing young people for political goals.
Not to be outdone, the “Donald J. Trump for President" organization ran a highly inflammatory ad suggesting that all undocumented immigrants were bloodthirsty killers. A few Republicans were asked about the ad and they danced around the question or pretended they hadn't seen the ad yet.
Good to hear that although the President wants to blow up the filibuster, Majority Leader McConnell wants to keep it.
Of course, if the President could show that he was making a serious and honest effort to get to a deal, that would certainly help matters for him. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer though, says that “They have not called me. They say they’re not negotiating."
According to Gallup, the President's approval rating has not been above 40% since June of last year. His rating has gone as low as 33%, but has generally stayed within the higher range of 37% or 38%. Polls were also taken on the shutdown. ABC News reported that President Trump and Republicans shared a 48% share of the blame with Democrats only getting 28%. CNNs report was similar with 47% to 31%. Quinnipiac said 53% to 34%. A very bad poll for the Republican Party in general: "Eighty percent of voters who picked Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016 stated they would 'definitely' pick a Democrat over a Republican for a congressional seat, while only two-thirds of Trump voters said they would select a Republican." CNN took a poll comparing DACA to building a wall. The DACA question compared deporting everybody versus finding a way to make people living in the US unlawfully become US citizens. Making them US citizens won by 82% to 14%. The wall got 35% in favor to 62% opposed.
Video of song performed during march.
Ran across a meme from the Veterans for Peace that said the US was the one refusing peace in the North Korean situation. Looked it up and the most recent citation was from last September. Amazingly enough, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley was asked about the North Korean proposal of a "Freeze for a Freeze." We'd cancel military exercises where we pretend to invade the North in return for North Korea standing down its nuclear program. Haley's response was "When a rogue regime has a nuclear weapon and an [intercontinental ballistic missile] pointed at you, you do not take steps to lower your guard." I did a double-take at that last assertion. "Lower [our] guard"?!?!?! That seems a pretty overwrought, hysterical, overheated way of regarding the question. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House was looking at "aggressive measures, both diplomatically [and] economically. As we've said, all options are on the table." If canceling provocative military exercises are out of the question, it's difficult to imagine what options are ON the table! Yeah, sorry, but I'm afraid I have ZERO faith in the competence of the Trump Administration to conduct any sort of reasonable foreign policy!