Why Trump’s first 100 days in office have been an abject failure

The fact that Donald Trump’s approval rating has been hovering somewhere around the mid to high 30 percent range since he took office should not surprise anyone.

Of the American electorate, it’s safe to say about one-third are die-hard Trump supporters. The ones who flooded his rallies. The ones who you saw quoted on television saying that we need to ban Muslims and build a wall at the expense of the Mexicans.

That last 20 percent or so of voters who supported him enough to get him over the hump and into the White House were clearly moderate Republicans who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton.

And if you flash back to Nov. 8, it’s hard to blame them. The propaganda machine about Hillary Clinton’s potential conflicts of interest and corruption was in full swing, boosted – as we know now – by state-backed Russian hackers.

Just days before the election, FBI Director James Comey announced that his agency was reopening their investigation against Hillary Clinton, in what will infamously become known as “The Comey Letter.” What he did not say was that his agency was also investigating Donald Trump.

seth-meyers-trump-100-days

So of the steadfast conservatives who would never vote for a Democratic candidate, it stands to reason why those dark clouds hovering over Hillary Clinton would sway them to vote for Donald Trump, even with all the controversies of his own.

Is that a legitimate excuse to vote for a narcissistic, mentally unstable xenophobe for the most powerful position in the world? No. But that’s why it happened and that’s how we got here.

Saturday marks Trump’s 100th day in office, a milestone that Trump has publicly criticized but also privately obsessed over.

Any one that has spent any time studying how government works – especially one like ours, with its extensive checks and balances – understands that a president can only be effective through diplomacy and compromise by working with both sides.

If you pedal a set of campaign promises that were never too popular to begin with, and then proceed to double down on them while ignoring one half of Congress, then any half-wit who took one undergraduate course in political science understands that’s the opposite way to run a country.

Donald Trump ran a business as a one man show. It was his way or the highway. That doesn’t work for government. And voters have no one to blame but themselves for not foreseeing this.

At this juncture, it’s apparent that Trump is more concerned with pleasing his base than governing.

Which leads us back to that dismal approval rating. Trump will shrug it off as “fake news,” but the educated Republican voter who relied on Trump to live up to his campaign promises is likely to be disappointed at this point.

And unless Trump suddenly learns the fine art of diplomacy, that’s not likely to change.

Yes, there’s still a lot of time left in his presidency *shudders*. But if his first 100 days are any indication for how he will approach healthcare, tax reform, foreign policy, national security and other important issues that affect the day-to-day lives of Americans, then those swing voters are probably going to be experiencing some serious regret. And soon.

But while it’s been a bad 100 days for our president, it’s been a good 100 days for a lot of other people: the grassroots activist. The protester. The men and women who suddenly found their political voice amid this tumultuous regime.

Trump will one day be gone.

But those voices will linger.

No, I am not above discussing the Unicorn Frappuccino

If you can say nothing else about the Starbucks, it’s that the corporation sure knows how to market itself.

Whether it’s an attempt to single-handedly solve racism, or to avoid political incorrectness during the holiday season, it seems as if once a year the company makes huge waves with one of its marketing decisions.

This time? The now famous Unicorn Frappuccino.

For those people who can sometimes be late to the social media meme brigade — and especially those who don’t frequent Starbucks – than the fleeting craze of the Unicorn Frappuccino likely came and went without creating the slightest disturbance in your life.

The drink was only available for five days, beginning last Wednesday. So If you wanted to run out and grab one after reading this, you’re tough out of luck.

The vibrantly colorful drink was unique for its sweet and sour taste, as well as its look — like cotton candy on steroids.

Unicorn frap

But what Starbucks keenly understood was that this drink would not just dazzle its consumers within the short time period it took them to drink it, but that they would inevitably document their colorful purchase on Instagram.

Because people love to take a breather during their hectic day, order a coffee with their name written on it, and aesthetically frame it within a photograph on their Instagram page. The Starbucks coffee photo, usually coupled with an open book, kindle or laptop, has become the trademark image of tranquility among young professionals.

Now take that vintage photo and transform that drink from a plain white cup into a tie-dyed creamy slop? Well, that’s the type of stuff that Instagram filters were made for. Starbucks knew: if you Unicorn, photos will come.

The masses saw unicorns. Starbucks saw dollar signs and endless publicity on an app that appeals directly to their target demographic.

And that they did. In a single week, the drink generated more than 180,000 hits on Instagram.

We were all used as marketing tools. And we willingly obliged.

But the popularity of the 410-calorie grande-sized drink may cause other coffeehouses to rethink their strategies. Combine a colorful drink with a mythical creature and you might very well strike gold.

The Loch Ness Latte? The Mermaid Macchiato? The Elfspresso?

For the record, I did not try the drink, as I didn’t even set foot in a Starbucks over that five-day span. But part of me sort of regrets it. I’m genuinely curious what it would have tasted like. Although by doing so, I would have immediately felt guilty.

Because while it was certainly a fun week for coffee drinkers, it was the equivalent of fraternity pledge week for baristas, who found themselves making hundreds of the complicated and messy drink per day, resulting in them leaving their coffeehouses each night looking like a Care Bear threw up on them.

I’m actually going to go ahead and trademark the Elfspresso® right now because that is totally something Starbucks would do.

Oops, United Airlines did it again

Since the election, we’ve learned that if anyone besides Donald Trump or a member of his administration becomes the focus of national outrage, it means they screwed up really badly.

I’m talking an epic screw-up.

It was just two weeks ago when United Airlines accomplished this dubious honor by denying two young girls entry to a flight because they were wearing leggings.

Not long after, United Airlines was off the hook when Pepsi stole the spotlight with their shockingly tone deaf commercial that trivialized the racial and political unrest that fuels public protests.

But United Airlines apparently missed the notoriety spotlight, and would not be denied.

And they’re back, baby! All it took was the roughing up of a Chinese doctor and dragging his semi-conscious, bloody body off an airplane.

You all have heard about this in some capacity, as it’s made headline news over the last two days.

The video looks terrible. What we see is a law enforcement official savagely pulling the limp human body of a man who paid to be on the flight, and had already been boarded and had been seated – all because the airline overbooked the flight and needed to clear seats for flight attendants who were scheduled to work on a different flight.

If you think this should result a shitstorm of backlash and fury towards United Airlines, then you’d be exactly right.

But there is a lot to digest here.

UA passenger

For one, the incident has brought to the spotlight the practice of airline overbooking. This is unfortunately a fairly common practice, as we forget that airlines don’t just exist for our own traveling purposes, but to actually make money. In anticipation of flight no-shows, airlines will frequently overbook flights to maximize the odds of every seat being filled.

But when overbookings occur, it should seem like common sense for the airline officials to remove passengers before they board, right? If I’m sitting at an airline gate for two hours, and then proceed to board the plane and stow away my luggage, then you’re damned right that I’m going to be pissed off too if I’m suddenly asked to get off.

After the man initially refused to leave, witnesses say that he somehow ran back onto the plane after he was forcibly removed the first time. Then the chaos that we all saw on video ensued. And it’s not a pretty sight.

The resulting public fury was inevitable.

The American public greatly empathized with this situation because we’ve all had our own airport misadventures. We’ve all experienced a time when we wanted to wish nothing but fire and brimstone on a specific airline.

However, when your flight is delayed, we are mostly powerless. Sure, you can curse out an airline on Twitter, and while that feels very invigorating in the moment, it ultimately accomplishes nothing.

But this was our moment. Now, we all get to take out our combined rage on an airline, over an incident that was created by their own mistakes, overlaid by an overbooking practice that we all despise.

Not even another Pepsi screw-up is going to get United Airlines out of this one.

And it’s not just America that’s pissed. This has apparently ignited an international incident, reaching front page news in China, and fueling the belief of many in that country that the western hemisphere behaves in a discriminatory manner towards Chinese people.

But after the public fury failed to dissipate, United Airlines finally took full responsibility for the episode, with CEO Oscar Munoz publicly apologizing and ordering a complete investigation of the procedural mistakes that led to this incident. The officer seen dragging the passenger was also suspended.

The damage, however, is done. There are calls to boycott the airlines. An online petition titled #ChineseLivesMatter calls for a federal investigation into the matter, the Internet memes are out in full force.

So, United Airlines, you’re not getting off the hook this time. I don’t care what the Trump administration says or does, this time you —

Wait, what’s that? White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer evoked an ill-advised and insensitive comparison to Adolf Hitler when discussing Syria?

United Airlines, you can pretty much get away with anything for the next four years.

It’s so much easier to be mad at Kendall Jenner than Donald Trump

Being angry at Donald Trump is like being mad at a tornado.

It’s an indestructible force, unleashing mayhem on whatever sits in its path. Any territory it passes through is left in significantly worse condition than when it first got there.

But there’s nothing you can do anymore to stop it. It’s too powerful.

Coincidentally, tornadoes are ravaging the Southeast as we speak. I blame Trump.

But my point isn’t that we shouldn’t react to Trump anymore, but rather, it’s just frustrating how powerless we are against his wrath.

As much as we harness all our hatred towards him, as much as our friends all join together to mock him, and as disastrously low his approval ratings sink, he is still president. It’s maddening.

So it’s a lot easier to conserve at least a portion of your hatred towards a much easier target – like, for instance, Kendall Jenner!

For the most part, Kendall Jenner has been the least antagonized among the Kardashian clan. She doesn’t really do much to garner attention, but just by virtue of her familial ties, she began her public life in an uphill battle to earn approval. And if you’re a Kardashian or a Jenner, it’s one strike and you’re out.

Kendall Jenner

Well, Kendall didn’t even strike out. She got walloped in the head by a 99-mile-per-hour fastball.

As many of you heard, the Internet was livid yesterday over a new Pepsi ad starring Jenner that exploited public protesting to advertise its product.

It’s nothing new for companies to capitalize on social issues for their own personal gain. But this one clearly struck a chord with the general public, especially in light of today’s divisive politic atmosphere and racial tension.

Protests have become ubiquitous since Donald Trump took office. They’re so commonplace that when we hear about a new one, it kind of goes in one ear and out the other.

But we forget that before Trump, protests stemmed out of desperation from those who found no other ways to have their voices heard, from the disenfranchised to the discriminated.

These public displays were much more consequential, and significantly more violent. People have died in protests. They’ve been beaten. They’ve been arrested.

It feels like a long time ago, but places like Baltimore and Ferguson are still emotionally scarred from the conflicts that took place in their cities between civilians and police, particularly young black Americans who feel like they’ve never been given a fair chance in life.

So for Pepsi to trivialize the issue by suggesting that all can be solved with a sugary carbonated beverage was bound to piss a lot of people off.

And of course, Kendall Jenner, who probably signed a million-dollar contract to be in the commercial before she even knew what it involved, somehow got caught up in the mess.

As always, when something controversial happens, the Internet responds tremendously. This was no exception.

And on Wednesday, their voices were heard. Pepsi has pulled the commercial, explaining that they failed in their goal of “trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding.”

So, we successful protested the protest commercial.

Yay?

O Brother, Where Art Thou Civil Liberties?

Some of President Obama’s most well-known accomplishments are also his most controversial. At least depending on who you ask.

To Democrats, the Affordable Care Act is a historic leap forward towards universal health care, and a saving grace for the sick and the poor.

To Republicans, the Affordable Care Act is the American version of the Final Solution.

Then there’s the Iran nuclear deal. From one perspective, the years-long negotiations represent an unprecedented diplomatic effort to curb a global threat while avoiding violent confrontation.

Donald Trump called it “the worst deal ever negotiated.”

This is the case with every president there’s ever been. At the time, people on both sides of the ideological aisle view everything through completely different lenses, and thus have varying opinions. Even Abraham Lincoln was heavily derided during his presidency.

It’s also why it takes decades to determine a president’s legacy. Because that is when we will have the appropriate data available to analyze the tangible consequences and ramifications that resulted from their actions.

So while we can certainly laud the manner and conduct in which Obama handled himself during his eight years in his office, and how well he represented our country on a global stage, any firm declarations of Obama’s presidential legacy from a legislative perspective are highly premature.

That all being said, if there’s one thing Obama tried to do that we can assess right now, it was his attempt to protect the civil liberties of all Americans.

Sessions

Ensuring civil liberties has a been more than a century-old quest for America. It was almost exactly 100 years after Lincoln freed the slaves when the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson was forced to pass the Civil Rights and Act and the Voting Rights Act to guarantee that black people enjoyed the same privileges as white people under the law.

100 years.

Progress in America has always been met with instant resistance. The slaves are freed? OK, here are the Jim Crow laws. Blacks can vote? OK, but here’s a poll tax.

Even this very decade, the Supreme Court nullified parts of the Voting Rights Act, lifting a clause that prevented southern states with a history of racial discrimination from passing restrictive voter laws. Shortly after, these states began passing strict voter ID laws, which disproportionately affects black voters.

Under Obama, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division spent significant time devoted towards investigating police departments in cities that faced severe racial unrest, like in Chicago, Baltimore and Ferguson, and determined that they employed a culture of systematic discrimination.

Following these studies, the department worked with the cities on plans for reform.

And now, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions – who has a long history of disregarding civil rights – the Justice Department has asked for a review of federal agreements with these law enforcement agencies, signaling that it may seek to reverse many, if not all, of the decrees made by Obama’s justice department.

This is as clear of a signal that we have seen that this administration is indifferent towards protecting our nation’s most vulnerable and historically disenfranchised citizens.

The political news since Trump took office has been a mess. There’s so much noise coming from all directions, and it’s easy – and understandable – to remain willfully ignorant and just ignore all that’s happening. And I honestly don’t blame anyone for that. Life is complicated already without outside interference.

But this is the reality of what is actually happening. Real people are being impacted, and the strides we’ve made as nation for more than a century are being roadblocked.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Guys, the woolly mammoth might come back

For people whose everyday lives exist outside of the scientific world, there comes a time every now and then when you hear a piece of news that makes you suddenly realize how fast science is happening.

We rarely hear about the scientific progress that leads to a major breakthrough. Instead, we’re sitting at our desk in the morning sipping our 9 a.m. coffee, and an alert comes up on our phone that we have invented a time machine.

My first response after reading about most scientific discoveries is: “Wait, seriously? I didn’t even know we were trying to do that.”

Like cloning sheep. Or self-driving cars. One day they’re the stuff of science-fiction movies, and next thing you know, it’s happening in real life. What happened to the in between?

It’s easy to forget that millions of scientists are working around on the clock, every day, to advance science. As we speak, there’s some frustrated chemist in a laboratory, on day #894 of some ambitious experiment.

These people don’t get much credit unless they solve something big, but they’re the ones who will increase our knowledge of the world.

How else would we have discovered, for example, that there might be seven new planets within our own galaxy?

Well, last week I heard about something else that helped me appreciate the amazing capabilities of contemporary science. Apparently, we’re trying to resurrect the woolly mammoth.

That’s right. Before long, 20th Century Fox will have to market the animated movie “Ice Age” as a nonfiction film.

Film Review Ice Age 4

I mean, just the fact that this is possible is mind-blowing. Although, it occurs to me that before I get excited about the possibility of one day seeing a woolly mammoth in person, that I’m ridiculously far behind in the numbers of existing animals that I have seen with my own eyes, in their natural habitat.

In fact, other than the common domesticated pets like cats and gerbils, suburban-roaming  raccoons, possums and squirrels, and the obvious birds and insects, what animals have most people who aren’t zoologists seen up close?

I’ve never seen a rhino. Or a giraffe. Or a tiger or a lion. Or even a freaking elephant, let alone a woolly mammoth. As far as my personal experiences are concerned, 95% of animals might as well be extinct. The only evidence I have that they’re real is what I see on my TV or my computer.

So hearing that we may bring back one species helps me appreciate how many existing animals I still need to see.

But that doesn’t make this woolly mammoth news any less cool. Apparently, though the science is becoming more and more possible, scientists are grappling with the question of whether they should devote resources to resurrecting extinct species, or towards saving ones that are on the verge of being eradicated.

Basically, we’re playing God. Which always ends up well in every science-fiction story.

So I’m making it a personal goal of mine to see an elephant sometime in my lifetime. And then I’ll begin to open up to the possibility of one day seeing a woolly mammoth. Or I’ll just watch Ice Age again. I never tire of hearing Ray Romano’s voice.

One animal we will all get to see tonight is a bulldog, as the Gonzaga Bulldogs take on the North Carolina Tar Heels in the NCAA championship. Yes that was a terrible segue, and yes, I am equally as unsure what the hell a Tar Heel is.

Since my bracket has long been busted and I have no financial interest in this game, I am officially going to endorse Gonzaga to win. Go Zags. (They won’t win now).

Lastly, today was a beautiful day if you love baseball. The season got underway on Sunday, and my cherished Mets continued their historic opening day dominance with a 6-0 win over the Atlanta Braves. Hopefully the beginning of what will be a very successful season.

At the very least, I truly pray that I will see a Mets’ World Series before I see a woolly mammoth.

#LeggingsGate shows that America is slowly coming back to normal

It’s been a long time since meaningless, inane news items became the target of American outrage.

Like the color of a dress.

Or Ryan Lochte doing stupid Ryan Lochte things.

I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I miss those days.

The ascendancy of Donald Trump has been so quick and so fierce that it’s completely consumed our collective attention. Every single day, he does something that makes us throw up our arms sand say, “You kidding me? This motherfu*%er did what?!”

But recently, we have witnessed some limitations to his power. With federal courts proving as a watchdog to Trump’s authority, and a rebellious Republican Party showing that it will not make things easy for his administration to get legislation passed, a lot of angry Americans have finally begun taking a step back from the ledge.

And by ledge, I specifically mean the border between the U.S. and Canada.

As a result, the door has been left open for us to return to 2015 and early 2016 form, where even the slightest, insignificant “controversy” has the ability to roil the entire American population.

And United Airlines delivered.

As many of you have heard, two teenage girls were rejected by gate agents from entering an airplane in Denver, Colorado because their leggings did not meet the airline’s dress code requirements.

United Airlines leggings

After it was tweeted by a nearby passenger, immediate outrage ensued. Suddenly, United Airlines dictating how women should dress became the national narrative. It was an incorrigible thought, especially when you consider how badly unkempt and disheveled the majority of people are when they enter an airplane.

Everyone basically looks like an extra on The Walking Dead.

Celebrities chimed in. Model Chrissy Tegan said she plans to fly on her next flight topless. Countless young men then wondered what flight that would be so they could book it too.

Before long, calls to protest United Airlines surfaced on social media.

Finally, mired in intense backlash, United Airlines issued an explanation – the girls were not regular passengers, but were “pass riders,” meaning their tickets were given to them by employees or their friends at a heavily discounted rate, and thus are held to a much more stringent dress code.

But for many, that explanation was not good enough. Even if this type of dress code restriction is not uncommon for guests of employees who are receiving free travel.

As we speak, United Airlines is still defending itself from the criticism.

You can call this what you want. To some, it’s a continuance of a larger social issue. To others, it’s inspired some angst, but not worth harping on. Many others have probably already forgotten about it.

Regardless of what you think, I see this as a healthy sign for our nation. Hear me out.

Because if we’re mad at United Airlines over this, it means we’re not mad at Donald Trump. And if we’re not mad at Donald Trump, it’s because he’s not – or he’s been prevented from – doing something stupid!

And maybe, just maybe, this is the beginning of the end of Donald Trump’s autocratic, world-harming decision making. Perhaps we can finally return to a time when the hot news item of the day would be all we cared about, until the next thing happens. Heck, let’s bring back #FML! I’d welcome it at this point!

Wait, what did you say?

Trump just undid years of climate change progress with the stroke of a pen, all but guranteeing the fact that our planet will be uninhabitable in the not-so-distant future?

United Airlines, you’re off the hook.