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Daily Reads: Congress, Media are Mostly Happy With Syria Attack; Warren and McCain Offer 21st Century Dodd-Frank

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Congress, Media are Mostly Happy With Syria Attack

Smoke billows following a reported air strike on a rebel-held area in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, on April 8, 2017. (Photo by Mohamad Abazeed/AFP/Getty Images)

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…and we’re back.

Last week was an eventful one: We have a new Supreme Court Justice, and we may be drifting toward a new war.

About the attack –> The president does not seem to have previously been moved when civilians were killed by the Assad government, which has dropped bombs on and brutally tortured its own people continually for the past several years. But he was, apparently, moved by pictures of some of the young casualties of the regime’s most recent gas attack (who were among the same population of young Syrians he doesn’t want in the US). Thus, an about face on US foreign policy was born.

Late last week, US forces delivered their first attack against the Assad government, a missile strike on the military base that was the source of the gas attack — but not before warning Assad’s Russian allies, who in turn may have warned the Assad regime to get its people out. At the G7 summit, which convenes today and includes the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom, Rex Tillerson will look for allies to help the US in a potential fight against Assad, the BBC reports.

Congress largely praised the attack, with some Democrats tepidly pointing out that the war remains illegal — Andrew Prokop pulls together examples for Vox. America violated the UN charter with a unilateral strike, breaking international law, Charlie Savage explains for The New York Times. Furthermore, Congress holds the power to make war, not the president, Hina Shamsi writes for the ACLU’s blog.

Despite this, the media also largely praised the attack — Jared Holt has a roundup of examples at Media Matter for America. “In every type of government, nothing unites people behind the leader more quickly, reflexively or reliably than war,” writes Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept. “Donald Trump now sees how true that is, as the same establishment leaders in US politics and media who have spent months denouncing him as a mentally unstable and inept authoritarian and unprecedented threat to democracy are standing and applauding him as he launches bombs at Syrian government targets.” But hey, television ratings were up during the strikes.

Brace yourself, Congress –> Despite a call by Nancy Pelosi that Congress stick around and authorize Trump’s use of force in Syria, Republicans leaders adjourned the House and Senate for a scheduled two-week recess. Many members are now at home in their districts — where they’re likely to get an earful from angry constituents, Dierdre Fulton writes for Common Dreams. Organizers are urging voters to hold their lawmakers accountable “on everything from the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to the ongoing national health care debacle to the country’s latest ‘reckless act of war.’ ”

Back to the drawing board –> Tax reform was supposedly the next item on the Republican agenda following a repeal of and replacement for Obamacare that ultimately didn’t materialize. Now it looks like tax reform is on hold too. The AP reports that Trump is scrapping the tax plan he campaigned on. “Administration officials say it’s now unlikely that a tax overhaul will meet the August deadline set by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin,” Josh Boak and Stephen Ohlemacher report.

The new Glass-Steagall? –> Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has reintroduced a bill to put in place a “21st Century Glass-Steagall,” which would reduce the risks that banks take with customers’ money — and, reformers say, help prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis. The bill is bipartisan: John McCain is on board. It has been introduced before, but interestingly, Trump’s top economic advisor, Gary Cohn, might also be on board this time. The original Glass-Steagall dates from 1933.

With a banjo on his knee –> Democrats have raised millions to win a Georgia special election and replace a House seat vacated by Tom Price, Donald Trump’s health care head. But the party is paying little attention to another special election in Montana to fill the seat vacated by Department of the Interior head Ryan Zinke. Perhaps they should: Rob Quist, a respected bluegrass musician running as a Democrat is building a populist insurgency, Alexander Kaufman and Ryan Grim report for The Huffington Post.

Greens take to the courts –> The Guardian’s Joanna Walters looks at some of the latest suits against the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back bans on drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic, and to loosen smog regulations. Meanwhile, a coalition of cities, states and environmental groups are suing to keep Obama’s Clean Power Plan moving forward even as Donald Trump attempts to roll it back, John Cushman writes for InsideClimate News.

Back at it –> Nebraskans are continuing the fight against the Keystone Pipeline “on all fronts.” The battle between local landowners, tribes and activists has gone on for years, and will decide the fate of the pipeline, Kate Aronoff writes for In These Times.

On Bannon’s removal from NSC –> Donald Trump’s top strategist, Steve Bannon, was booted from the National Security Council last week — a move politicians of both parties applauded. But it might not mean much, Allegra Kirkland writes for Talking Points Memo. “This is just a bureaucratic version of Trump’s speech before Congress where he stands up and does something semi-normal and everyone heralds it as the return to normalcy. We should wise up by now,” one former Obama official tells Kirkland.

Regardless, Bannon seems annoyed about it. He threatened to quit, but didn’t at the urging of Rebekah Mercer, daughter of right-wing billionaire and Breitbart investor Robert Mercer. (More on them here.) And he’s walking around calling his apparent rival, Jared Kushner, a “cuck,” a “globalist” and a “Democrat,” which says something about the high level of order within the White House as it wades into war.

Daily Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Kristin Miller.



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