US politics

A Rule Fit for a King

President Donald Trump, who hates being constrained by pesky things like laws, the separation of powers, or the Constitution, seems poised to invoke a national emergency to get his taxpayer-funded wall built along the southern border.   To save face after triggering a government shutdown over this issue, it is believed that Trump would use this move to seize land along the border and reallocate funds designated for real emergencies to deal with this made-up crisis.

A Border Wall as Architecture

President Donald Trump will probably never build one foot of his wall. Still, today there are 650 miles of border wall already dividing the US and Mexico. It’s almost one-third of the entire border. It divides cities, families, private property, and even impacts wildlife and habitats.We journey to the border in this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, as Jeff Schechtman is joined by Ronald Rael, associate professor in the department of architecture at UC Berkeley.

Trump and GOP Lawmakers: Going Along to Get Along

Speaking truth to power is important — but it matters little if the words aren’t backed up by action. And there may not be a more apparent truth than the moral bankruptcy of the country’s most powerful person, President Donald Trump.

The Rich Are Loving the Economy — It’s a Different Story for Regular Americans

Here are three indisputable facts: US GDP is up, the stock market is higher than ever, and unemployment is low. President Donald Trump is quick to remind us of these facts, while largely taking credit:

Let’s Give Trump the Military Parade He Deserves

Just about everybody thinks that President Donald Trump’s idea to hold a military parade in Washington, DC, is monumentally dumb. It’s actually hard to put into words how stupid an idea it is. Still, we were heartbroken when Trump canceled the event last month with a nebulous reference to another parade and a vague promise of maybe trying again next year. If our reaction sounds contradictory, please bear with us and we’ll explain.

District Court Rules Against North Carolina Gerrymandering

With the 2018 midterm elections right around the corner, a North Carolina district court ruled Monday that the state’s current congressional district lines are the result of an unconstitutional gerrymander. While the implications of the court’s decision remain unclear, the result could be as drastic as a redrawing of North Carolina election districts before the November ballot.

Mueller Investigation Shows the Rich Deserve Much More Scrutiny

While the twin breaking news of Paul Manafort’s guilty verdict and Michael Cohen’s guilty plea made for great television, neither outcome was particularly shocking. When you are palling around with dubious international political figures or when your job description is “fixer” for a shady real estate mogul, then chances are you have done some things that weren’t entirely on the up and up.

The Backstory to ‘Better Call Michael Cohen’ You May Have Missed

By now, the world knows that Donald Trump’s longtime in-house lawyer, virtual bodyguard, and confidant has to tax evasion, bank fraud, and breaking campaign finance laws. He’s got a lot of reasons to make a deal, and that puts his former boss in a particularly dicey situation.

We Got Hit by a Russian Spambot Attack — Here’s What They Targeted

WhoWhatWhy was recently hit by a major spambot attack that we have traced back to a network operating from Russia. The fact that they went after us is not particularly surprising &; that comes with the territory of covering politics in the US these days.

More Marijuana Legalization Coming — Could Trump Be On Board?

With less than 100 days to the midterm elections, Democrats are hoping to capture the House of Representatives in a much touted . But there’s another wave that has quietly been making headway — a green one.

Washington State Judge Rules Against Kids in Climate Change Lawsuit

As wildfire smoke clouded the skies of Seattle, a Washington judge ruled Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit against the State of Washington filed by a group of young climate change activists — who range in age from 8 to 18.

What Will Happen If Abortion Legislation Is Turned Back to the States?

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s resignation from the Supreme Court in June has suddenly intensified concerns for pro-choice advocates. With President Donald Trump’s second SCOTUS appointment, and his , many fear a return to pre-Roe v. Wade days.

Trump’s Ex-Attorney Michael Cohen Now a Russiagate Whistleblower?

Michael Cohen, once President Donald Trump&;s right-hand man, may have just dealt his boss the biggest crisis of his presidency. Trump, Cohen claimed, about the infamous Trump Tower meeting in which Russians offered his son Donald Trump Jr.

What Trump Was Hinting at in Cohen Tweet

Michael Cohen, once President Donald Trump&;s right-hand man, may have just dealt his boss the biggest crisis of his presidency. Trump, Cohen claimed, about the infamous Trump Tower meeting in which Russians offered his son Donald Trump Jr.

Let’s Get the Facts Straight About Mueller and His Investigation

A lot has, rightfully, been made this week of President Donald Trump’s bizarre behavior when it comes to Russia and its apparent campaign to tilt the 2016 presidential race in his favor. While it wasn’t exactly surprising that the US president once again appeared to do his Russian counterpart’s bidding, the reason why this keeps happening continues to puzzle people.

Afghanistan: 17 Years of Incompetence, Corruption, and Waste

The US has spent billions and billions of dollars in Afghanistan, and has little to show for it. Between 2001 and 2017, the US government largely failed in its massive, ambitious, and expensive effort to stabilize dangerous areas in Afghanistan. Under immense pressure to succeed in that mission, US government agencies spent far too much money, far too quickly, in a country woefully unprepared to absorb it.

Has the Right-Wing Spin Machine Met Its Match?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the perfect figurehead for the progressive movement in the US. At 28, she represents a new generation of Americans. As a Hispanic woman, she represents minorities. As a Democratic Socialist, she represents different solutions to the growing inequality in the US.

The Lack of Accountability in US Politics Is Beyond Shameful

One of the biggest problems in the US — yet the one that is talked about the least — is that there is a complete lack of accountability for politicians who are screwing up the country. The issue isn’t necessarily criminal accountability — although it would be nice to see people go to jail for things like leading the country into war under false pretenses, authorizing torture, lining their own pockets, destroying the environment, or deregulating the financial sector to the point of allowing a few greedy individuals to bring the world economy to its knees.

Justice Kennedy’s Departure a Grim Prospect for Election Reform

Justice Anthony Kennedy&;s retirement from the Supreme Court may very well dampen the prospects for the court taking on partisan redistricting. Even worse, a Supreme Court dominated by conservatives could open the floodgates for partisan gerrymanders and voter suppression efforts.

Child Separation Crisis Background: Who Caused the Misery South of the Border?

In our interconnected world, nothing happens in a vacuum — certainly not in the backyard of the United States. So while the eyes of the world are on the Trump administration’s inhumane policies regarding migrants and their children, it is worth taking a step back to figure out why so many people from Central American countries are risking their lives to seek refuge and a better future in the US.

Ohio Voter Purge a Solution in Search of a Problem

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark case More Voter Suppression v. Fair Democracy. OK, we made up the name. Actually, the case was called Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, but the underlying issue was whether anti-democracy forces in the US would be handed yet another tool to suppress votes. Want to guess who won?

Dems Are Once Again Poised to Fumble Away a Must Win Election

I cover US politics for a living and, with less than five months to go before the crucial midterm election that will determine whether American voters will impose some checks on President Donald Trump, I couldn’t tell you what the Democrats’ platform is&; or their plan for winning this November.

Don’t Throw Away Your Vote: Ranked-Choice Elections Gather Momentum

To the delight of those frustrated by first-past-the-post contests, an alternative voting system is promising to take voters’ actual preferences seriously — and it’s catching on. Cities across the country are warming to the benefits ranked choice brings, and New York City could soon join their ranks, boosting the profile and potential of this alternative approach to elections.

Michael Cohen’s Still-Missing Ukraine Background Info

The BBC has that Michael Cohen, perhaps Donald Trump’s closest lieutenant for many years, took money for introducing the Ukrainian leader to the US president.

Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Israel: What the Hell Was Going On at Trump Tower?

In recent days the so-called Russiagate affair seems to have splintered into a million different pieces. It&;s no longer just the Russians who were romancing Donald Trump and those around him with promises of helping him get elected. Now we can add the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Saudis, Qataris, and Israelis. Each party was apparently taking a number for their turn to place an order at the All-You-Can-Eat Trump Deli.

Will Maine Voters Make High Earners Pay for Universal Home Care?

The sky-high costs of in-home care for the elderly and disabled have been a major problem for many US families. Voters in Maine will vote this fall on an ambitious Universal Home Care initiative that would make the wealthy help pay for such care. If successful, it could become a model for other states.

Public Pays a High Price for Extreme Gerrymandering

Election integrity advocates have hailed a string of decisions this year that overturned gerrymandered state maps — most of them drawn up following a Republican wave in 2010. What no one is talking about is the agenda these illegally constituted majorities have enacted while in power. The unconstitutional maps may have been overturned — but these laws remain.   

CIA Whistleblower Dishes on Torture as Haspel Faces Intel Committee

On the day President Donald Trump’s nominee to run the CIA, Gina Haspel, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee &; and was questioned about her role in the US torture program &; it bears remembering that nobody associated with the agency was ever held to account for this war crime.

Calling a Liar a Liar: It’s Time to Tell the Truth About Trump’s Fact-Phobia

Here is something that doesn’t get said enough: Donald Trump, the president of the United States of America, seemingly can’t stop lying. It’s not that people don’t know. Everybody knows. Still, the media usually skirts around the subject that Trump is a huge liar.

How HUD Screws the Poor and Helps Hannity

When the Senate considered the nomination of Ben Carson as secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered a passionate statement in favor of letting somebody with zero relevant experience serve in President Donald Trump’s cabinet.

Impeachment: Careful What You Wish For

“David’s Bookshelf” is a new feature for WhoWhatWhy readers. David Wineberg, popular for his insightful and entertaining reviews online, will present new works of non-fiction and offer his thoughts and commentary on these books, whose topics we believe will be of interest to many of our readers. The views expressed in these reviews reflect those of the author and not necessarily those of WhoWhatWhy.

Mulvaney Tries to Make Consumer Watchdog Disappear: Will His Magic Act Work?

Forget the Environmental Protection Agency where Administrator Scott Pruitt is doing all he can to roll back Obama-era environmental regulations, and the Department of the Interior, where Secretary Ryan Zinke is freeing up millions of acres of for mining and oil drilling.

Farewell to a Hypocrite

De’Quanda Jackson stands for many of the things conservatives don’t like about the way the US operates these days. She began getting government checks from the time she was 16 and used the money to go to college. Taking advantage of her personal connections, Jackson then scored a government job. After working on and off in different positions there — interspersed with brief stints in the private sector — she finally got a cushy job in Washington and kept drawing a government paycheck for the next 20 years.

Musings of a Mass Shooting Survivor

A version of this article was previously published December 2017.We had been watching a puppet skit about an angry kid who shoots his entire family at dinner. It was hilarious, and we were still laughing when the dean stepped onto the stage and announced that a gunman was on campus and that at least one person was dead.

Privatizing Veterans Affairs: A Risky Gamble?

Depending on its successes and failures, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is used by both parties as an example that “their” way is right. When things are going well, Democrats point to it as a successful healthcare program run by the government. When things are going poorly, Republicans claim the VA shows Washington bureaucrats mismanaging taxpayer money. Still, unless embroiled in scandal, the VA is generally not one of those government programs that are in the spotlight of US politics.

Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen’s Unexplored Russia Connections

With the FBI raid on Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s office, everyone is scrambling for explanations. But as WhoWhatWhy reported last year, Michael Cohen’s background has long demanded close scrutiny. He came out of nowhere, backed by Russia-connected figures, and bought his way into Donald Trump’s heart. Here&;s the full story as it appeared on September 18, 2017.

Group With Ties to Trump Opioid Chief Scores Big

The Trump administration has awarded $24 million in grants to a small New England nonprofit group with ties to President Donald Trump&;s opioid czar — Elinore F. McCance-Katz — a WhoWhatWhy review of government documents reveals.

Fighting Abortion Texas Style

As Texas governor, Rick Perry (R) helped put in place some of the country’s most restrictive abortion laws. Though he is now ensconced in the Trump administration, heading up the Department of Energy, his brand of anti-abortion fervor has infected Republicans in dozens of states, in Congress, and the White House.

Will Republicans Counter Millennial Protests with New Voter Suppression Laws?

The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, have become the leaders of a national movement. Their goal is to force conservative legislators across the country to change gun laws. But the students may “succeed” in ways they won’t like.

Trump, Kushner, Russia — and the Blackstone Mystery

Like many powerful executives, Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of the giant private equity investment firm, Blackstone Group, has a history of dealing with international leaders that have controversial records.

Why the March for Our Lives Might Be a March for the Ages

We all know the story. On Valentine’s Day, an expelled 19-year-old returned to his old school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, and, armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, three teachers and 14 students.

Role of Judges in Hiding Trump Activities Helped Pave Way for Eventual Victory

New revelations show that Donald Trump’s path to the presidency might have been much more difficult — if a panel of judges had acted differently in 2011.Documents released by a federal appeals court in Manhattan on Friday, March 9, but thus far not reported, demonstrate that a panel of judges in 2011 blocked the release of extremely damaging information about then real estate mogul Donald Trump to the late Village Voice reporter Wayne Barrett, who was then working for the Daily Beast.Those documents, if they had been released at the time, would have shown that Trump was accep

The Puzzling Putin-Trump Relationship

When Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month revealed a new, supposedly unstoppable nuclear capability, he that simulated warheads raining down on the US — specifically the area of Florida where President Donald Trump’s beloved Mar-a-Lago resort is located.

Canadian Lumber Tariffs Highlight Downsides of Trade Wars

Following President Donald Trump’s announcement of tariffs on aluminum and steel, experts warn that the measures could backfire and hurt US consumers. They point to last year’s tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber as an example of a move that could have unintended consequences. On March 5, Trump , “We have large trade deficits with Mexico and Canada.