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Daily Reads: The White House Sells the War? And, Trump’s Sanctuary Cities Policy Struck Down

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

The White House Sells the War?

A picture released by North Korea's official news agency shows a North Korean military demonstration. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

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Field trip –> All 100 senators will head to the White House today to be briefed on North Korea. “While administration officials routinely travel to Capitol Hill to address members of Congress on foreign policy matters, it is unusual for the entire Senate to go to the White House,” writes Patricia Zengerle for Reuters.

Is this part of the effort to sell a war? Paleofuture blogger Matt Novak worries that the president is all too ready to rush toward conflict, knowing that cable news tends to approve of such moves. Indeed, he writes, American media have been painting a war with North Korea as inevitable. “The stars are aligning this week for a slick sales job, just as we saw in 2003 before the invasion of Iraq,” writes Novak. “And that should scare the hell out of anyone who believes that the US and its allies have very little to gain and a lot to lose by starting a war (nuclear or otherwise) on the Korean peninsula.”

Meanwhile, the opposition party is largely missing in action on questions of foreign policy, Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel laments in a Washington Post op-ed. She notes that some of the top Senate opponents of foreign confrontation right now are libertarian-minded Republicans. “Democrats are in the midst of a furious struggle over what they stand for and who is included in their coalition, yet on foreign policy questions, their silence is deafening. When President Trump decided to drop 59 cruise missiles on Syria in response to purported use of chemical weapons, there was more debate about the attack among Republicans than among Democrats.”

There are exceptions, however. At The Intercept, Alex Emmons notes that Sen. Tim Kaine and Rep. Adam Schiff sent a “sternly worded” letter to the White House yesterday pushing back against its Syria attack — which it only notified Congress of two days after it had happened. “The legal justification for an attack on the Syrian government is not an afterthought, but rather a first order consideration, and something that is vital for the American people to understand at the outset,” the two Democrats write.

Another anti-immigrant measure blocked –> “In the latest rebuke of President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, a federal court judge on Tuesday ruled the administration’s threat to withhold funds from so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ — which offer modest safer harbor for immigrants and undocumented residents in the face of federal detention and deportation requests — is unconstitutional,” Jon Queally writes for Common Dreams. As with the administration’s anti-Muslim travel bans, Trump’s own statements about the law — and those of Attorney General Jeff Sessions — helped convinced the judge that the policy was illegal.

Not a vote of confidence –> Republicans, are, once again, trying to cobble together a health care plan. Last night, members of Congress introduced an amendment to their plan that “would allow states to waive out of Obamacare’s ban on pre-existing conditions,” Sarah Kliff writes for Vox. “This means that insurers could once again, under certain circumstances, charge sick people higher premiums than healthy people.”

“Republican legislators liked this policy well enough to offer it in a new amendment,” Kliff writes. “They do not, however, seem to like it enough to have it apply to themselves and their staff.” Members of Congress made sure to include in the amendment a provision that ensured they would continue to not have to worry about pre-existing conditions.

Big drop in corporate tax rates –> This morning Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin announced the centerpiece to the tax plan to be introduced later today. The president’s proposal will include cutting corporate tax rates to 15 percent from 39.6 percent and ending taxation of corporate profits earned overseas. Mnuchin did not say how the administration would pay for the tax cuts. This, notes CNN’s Phil Mattingly, could be a fatal flaw when it comes to the Senate’s rules on adding to the deficit.

Taking aim at national monuments –> Donald Trump will sign an executive order this morning ordering his agencies to review over 100,000 acres in land that presidents have designated as national monuments over the last 20 years. “If he actually follows through on his threat to reverse any monuments created by Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, he’d be the first commander-in-chief to revoke a monument designated by a predecessor,” Rebecca Leber writes for Mother Jones. “He’d also be stretching the legal authority of his office beyond what Congress ever granted.” National monuments have become a hot topic in recent years when Obama used the Antiquities Act to protect land from oil and gas drilling.

Coming to you from a high-crime area –> The New Inquiry magazine has put together a crime map of the US — with a twist. This one shows white collar crime, and (perhaps unsurprisingly) reveals that our staff’s Manhattan office is in a neighborhood that’s a hotbed of criminality.

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



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