The Doughnut and an Economy for Everyone

Today on Mother’s Day I’m remembering a mother and friend I’ll call Adeline. She could brighten my day with a funny greeting card. She loved animals and usually had a little dog, a cat, and a large collection of mechanical stuffed animals. She lived alone in a run-down house with floors sagging under the weight of her kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Her generous heart was as big as her stories were long. She would go on and on about the doings of someone I didn’t know. After all, she had little to give but her stories and time. Adeline worked hard at low-paid jobs most of her life, mainly waitressing. She held a minimum-wage job at a nursing home her last years, before dying of breast cancer.

childhood bunny

Today I’m also thinking about the mothers and their children who are going hungry in increased numbers since the pandemic stripped them of their meager paychecks. The Brookings Institute reported that in April about 20% of American children age 12 and younger experienced food insecurity, a rate three times higher than during the Great Recession. Alarming! And yet, as the New York Times reminds us, although Republican legislators agreed to spend trillions of dollars on other distressed economic sectors, they “have balked at a long-term expansion of food stamps,” a proven program for reducing hunger. Meanwhile, we see images of cars lined for miles to access food at food banks.

These families live, as Adeline had, in the economy’s doughnut hole, a widening hole now with unemployment in April over 20 million. Many powerful people who could ease their hunger and health concerns care little about them, care little about the low-paid workers who help to keep this country running – domestic, retail, agriculture, health, and service workers. Forgotten, uncared for, struggling just to get by. After the pandemic, their condition will persist unless we learn how to create and maintain an economy that works for everyone.


Now is an excellent time to reconsider our economic values. Kate Raworth, a senior researcher at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, has an intriguing plan. She calls it Doughnut Economics. She calls for us to change from growth to sustainability as our economic model, to abandon the economic goal of endless growth through consumerism and take as our goal a healthy, happy population and a healthy planet by mending and fostering the Earth’s life-support systems like climate, water, forests, biodiversity, and soil. (For an quick explanation of Raworth’s doughnut, watch this 1 ½ minute animated video.)


To help us plan for a better future, Raworth asks us to think of the sustainable economy as a green doughnut. The doughnut itself is where our needs are taken care of, where everyone has food security, health care, housing, education, job opportunities, and overall quality of life. I now enjoy these things. Chances are you do too. But too many in our country and worldwide are missing some or all of these essentials for a good life; they are in the doughnut hole and not, like us, part of the doughnut itself. Beyond the doughnut are the needs of the planet and all life on it – climate, air, water, vegetation, wildlife, resources, and so on. The goal is to bring everyone into the green doughnut and to mitigate the damage to the life-supporting realm beyond the doughnut.

Our current measure of economic health (GDP), Raworth says, is like the trajectory of an airplane that flies higher and higher without ever landing. How is such an economy viable in the long run? What happens when our airplane hits an unanticipated storm? Well, our airplane is currently in a storm unlike one we’ve ever experienced. We’ll get through it, somehow. But we need to land the plane and ground it in favor of an economy that works for all of us, from the poorest to the richest citizen.

For social and economic policies to be just, wrote American philosopher John Rawls in Justice is Fairness, they must “be to the greatest benefit of the least-advantaged members of society” or, at the very least, to do them no harm. Likewise, Jesus said during the Sermon on the Mount, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

Note: I learned about Raworth’s economic model during TED Radio Hour’s episode called “What We Value” (5/1/20, beginning at minute 14:45). She goes into greater detail in her TED2018 talk. I recommend both to you.


Photo Credits: My childhood bunny and friends; Kate Raworth cropped photo by Stephan Rohl , Creative Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0; Doughnut Economics infograph – Own work, Wikipedia Creative Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0. 

Bad Poem: “Wild Hair”

An Isolation Journal writing prompt appears in my email inbox every morning. I mostly lurk, while thousands of others internationally engage in this covid project. In other words, I don’t keep a journal but do enjoy reading Sulieka Jaouad’s introductions and her guest contributors’ stories and prompts.

To take a break from a serious post I’m working on, I thought it’d be fun to try today’s prompt. The prompt, briefly put, goes like this: “Write a bad poem,” whatever a bad poem means to you – sappy, singsongy, inscrutable, or whatever. Why not try to write your own bad poem? Meanwhile, here’s my bad isolation poem. It can be sung to the chorus of The Troggs’ 1966 hit “Wild Thing.”

Wild Hair

Wild hair,
You make the people stare,
You make me crazy,
Wild hair.

Wild hair,
It just isn’t fair,
You are an awful scare

Wild hair,
I had no recourse,
My salon is closed,

Wild hair,
I grabbed the scissors,
And I cut you,

Wild hair
Is now a worse scare,
When they see me,
On Zoom.


Photo: We call her Coco. She comes from one of the Caribbean islands where our son and his wife honeymooned. They gave it to us as a gift for helping them with trip expenses – a bit odd, but lovable. The main difference between my hair and Coco’s are my ever-growing long, stringy, graying bangs. 


Tree Hugger <3 Nature Conservancy

I live in the wooded part of a small city in a mostly rural county in far northeast Home summerWisconsin. Our city borders Lake Michigan’s Green Bay, which I can see from my loft windows. Today the bay is sparkling blue. Our daffodils are blooming and the tops of the tall trees – mostly white pine, red pine, maple, and oak – are waving in the cool breeze. It’s spring in the northwoods, at last. And I’m happy here in my refuge from the chaos of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

I’m a tree hugger, a nature lover. So I relish the natural beauty that surrounds our home. My husband and I take long walks and greet, from a safe distance, neighbors raking leaves or preparing flower beds and vegetable gardens or simply basking in the sun. Some are out biking, jogging, or walking, often with their dogs and children. Everyone says “Hi” now. Strangers in occasional passing cars smile and wave. We’re all hungry for more social contact but know that it’s best for everyone to stay apart for now. 

As I write, lots of other people are working to help us with food and health issues, garbage and power, news reporting and law enforcement, and other essentials. Although its offices are closed, the Nature Conservancy also continues its important work outdoors. It’s my favorite environmental nonprofit. I’ve been a member (but never a volunteer, alas) for many years.

Peninsula Park GCNature Conservancy’s priorities sync with my environmental concerns and values: protecting land and water, tackling climate change, providing food and water sustainability, and building healthy cities. Worldwide it helps to protect over 125 million acres of land, thousands of miles of rivers, and countless wildlife. In Wisconsin, it protects over 236,000 acres of forests, wetlands, rivers, lakes, prairies, bluffs, dunes, and more.

In my general area, Nature Conservancy manages 5 preserves and, overall, helps to protect almost 8,000 acres of Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula. The peninsula juts into the big waters of Lake Michigan to form the bay of Green Bay. From where I sit, I can see the silhouette of the peninsula’s bluffs 15 or so miles across the water. A fast motorboat can reach it in about 30 minutes. But being boatless, my husband and I travel by car, taking close to 2 hours. We like to make the trip twice a year, always for an overnight or two, sometimes camping in Peninsula Park atop a bluff overlooking the bay.

Of course, many other environmental nonprofits are engaged in vital work. Along with Nature Conservancy, Charity Navigator gives top ratings to the Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Institute, and Greenpeace. I encourage you to learn more about the work of these groups and to discover Nature Conservancy’s projects near you.

Stay well. Protect others. Protect our environment.

Photos: Our home; a view of Green Bay and Peninsula State Park Golf Course in
Door County where my husband and I enjoy playing. 

Suleika Jaouad Inspired Me

It’s day one of Create 31. As I mentioned in my previous post, each day during May, a few friends and I will attempt to devote at least 15 minutes to an individual creative project. In my case, it’s primarily working on posts for this blog. I’m not a fast writer; I often get bogged down in background research – that is, I often become more involved in a subject than needed for a post. As such, I’m not holding myself to an impossible (for me) standard of posting anew everyday. But I do have a concrete goal: to publish at least 12 posts this month.

Today I reveal my inspiration for Create 31. Earlier this week I listened to TED Radio Hour’s April 24 podcast called “Meditations on Loneliness.” The last segment (beginning at minute 38:14) features Suleika Jaouad, who talks about her long-term hospital isolation during her battle with leukemia, which included a bone-marrow transplant. She was in her early 20s, just out of college, when her life was interrupted for years of medical treatment. She was a “bubble girl” unable to leave her room, attended only by hospital staff in protective gear.

To help her through this harrowing experience, Jaouad recruited family and friends to join her in doing an individual creative act each day for about 15 minutes (or more) over 100 days. Her mother, for example, painted one tile a day, and her dad chronicled his childhood memories. She returned to journal writing, aspects of which appeared in a New York Times column called “Life, Interrupted.”


Fast forward to April 2020: Jaouad, cancer-free at age 31, took refuge from Covid-19 in her parents’ attic, where she started a new project called “The Isolation Journals.” Tens of thousands of people from over 100 nations signed up to receive daily email prompts for journaling during the month of April. They wrote about their isolation experiences and feelings, along with other topics, like this prompt: “write a letter to your younger self.”

Create 31 combines aspects of both of Jaouad’s projects: to engage in a creative act each day and to limit the project to one month, the 31 days of May. After that, who knows? It’s worth noting that as our small local group launches Day 1, Jaouad’s enormous international group begins Day 31. Yes, she and her team have decided to keep the “Isolation Journals” going, this time for 100 more days, the timeframe of her first project.

If you’re interested in joining the “Isolation Journals” group and receiving daily prompts, you can subscribe at To learn more about Jaouad, visit her website at To learn more about Create 31, leave a comment on my blog, and I’ll get back to you. I also anticipate posting about some our Create 31’s experiences from time to time.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Protect others.

Photo: Sunset on Anna Maria Island, FL, Feb. 2017. This photo, one I took, suggests to me the peace a person can find in creative solitude. 

Everyone is Creative!

Tomorrow begins Create 31, for which a small group of friends will join together to engage individually in a creative project of their choice during thirty-one days of May. During a Zoom meeting yesterday, we talked about possible projects. The question arose, “What counts as a creative project?” And we concluded that creative acts are much more than just creating something artistic like a poem, painting, or song.

But this morning I began to wonder: What is creativity, anyway? Scanning websites, I found that most people agree that creativity includes using the imagination to form and enact new ideas. It also involves being receptive to new ideas and experiences and thinking divergently, especially by mentally exploring a number of possible solutions, often quickly (since that’s how the brain works). But it need not be a forehead-slapping “aha!” Rather, creativity is often involved in common household decisions + actions.

Workarounds, for example. I suspect that most of us frequently employ them, like finding a substitute in our pantry for a recipe ingredient we don’t have, figuring out how to mend bad feelings with a friend after having “words,” or deciding how to find room in our small garden plot for those heirloom tomato sets we bought on impulse. Everyone is creative! Cool, huh?

Cleaning, too. A possible creative project mentioned yesterday involved increasing storage space by getting rid of stuff. In fact, since Covid-19 keeps us mostly at home, some of us have embarked on long-ignored tasks like going through those boxes of old photos, children’s art, other mementos, and things in general we’ve been loath to part with for sentimental reasons, objects in our attics, closets, and garages that hold memories, stories, and feelings. The act of deciding what to give away and who to give it to, as well as what to keep and what to trash often takes creative thinking.


But, of course, being creative does require having a “product” of some sort that can (at least theoretically) be known by others. The product can be a meal, mended feelings, tomatoes grown in decorative pots, or a less cluttered house and mind (and perhaps making people happy with the cool things you gave away).

Now, none of the above is meant to pooh-pooh what most people think of as creative acts. If you’re so inclined, involve yourself in visual, musical, fabric, dance, photography, and/or writing projects. Or whatever is your passion. Or maybe you want to try something new, to explore, to take risks, to jump out of your self-imposed box. Jazz great Duke Ellington once said, “When it sounds good, it is good.” And I say, in the context of this project: When it feels creative to you, it is creative. In other words, if you think it’s creative, then it is creative.

My initial look at creativity suggests in simplified form something like this: Need/passion > divergent thinking + imagination > action > “product” = creativity. Everyone is creative! Sometimes, though, I need a little push to get to the last part of this process, to put into action a creative project I’m passionate about – like returning, after a long hiatus, to this blog. Maybe you need a little push too, which is what Create 31 is all about.

Basic Guidelines for Create 31
1. Choose a creative project (or more than one).
2. Let the group know what it is.
3. Attempt to work on it for a minimum of 15 minutes each day throughout May.
4. Give yourself grace if you miss a day or two now and then.
5. Use this group for support, encouragement, and sharing your experiences and progress.
6. I’ll check in with the group frequently and hope you will too.
7. As May 31 approaches, we’ll decide how to wrap-up Create 31 and whether any of us want to continue with our projects or start new ones – and whether we even want a timeframe.
8. Thoughout, know that you are creative!

Photo: A part of one of my bookshelves, with candle curls on top that I accumulated over time. I consider it a wax sculpture. And it continues to grow. 

The Brightness of Compassion

It was a late winter day, dreary. I couldn’t take it anymore, the meanness and stupidity, the incompetence and corruption revealed daily in the news, in Twitter storms, out of the mouths of two old men talking tabloid in the supermarket check-out line. Back home I looked for something to brighten my day – and found it in a Rio de Janeiro favela.


What I saw was the stunning photo above, a panoramic view of 34 brightly striped houses in Rio’s Santa Marta favela, the result of a project called Praça Cantão” (2010). I wanted to know more, so I dug in.

It all began in 2005 when Dutch artists Dre Urhahn and Jeroen Koolhaas, who call themselves Haas&Hahn, came to Rio to make an MTV documentary on hip-hop music in the favelas. Non-favela Brazilians avoided the areas, viewing them (often rightly) as dangerous and lawless; tourists were warned not to enter one.

Haas&Hahn, however, witnessed the depth of creativity and optimism that ran through the favela and were dismayed by outsiders’ unfavorable opinions. So an idea came to them: What if the favelados painted their own neighborhoods in ways that portrayed them in a positive light? Could it change the negative stereotypes held by outsiders – and, in the process, change the conditions of the favelados themselves? (See “8 Years of Haas&Hahn,” 2013 video.)

Mural in VIla Cruzeiro

Their first two projects were in the Vila Cruzeiro neighborhood: “Boy with Kite” (2007) and “Rio Cruzeiro (2008-09, above). For both they partnered with local youths, who were trained and paid. Given the success of these two projects, they decided to go bigger and bolder, creating Santa Marta’s “Praça Cantão.”

The Santa Marta project continues to draw international attention. Recently CNN and Australia’s Herald Sun placed it among the world’s most colorful places. Academics in a variety of disciplines – including sociology, anthropology, and architecture – have utilized aspects of Haas&Hahn projects in their urban studies research. And Haas&Hahn have received requests from other places in the Americas, as well as abroad, to bring the power of color to distressed neighborhoods.  

Philly Painting Haas&amp; Hahn

In 2012, for example, they brought their art to one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States, North Philadelphia (photo above). There, as reported on NPR’s TED Radio Hour, local store and building owners and a team of about a dozen youths worked together for two years to paint 50 storefronts, transforming “their own neighborhood – the whole street – in a giant patchwork of color.”

On their Favela Painting Foundation website, Haas&Hahn explain why they create artworks with community involvement in “places where people are being socially excluded”:

“By collaborating with locals, art is used as a weapon to combat prejudice, create sustainability solutions and attract positive attention. By ensuring that each step of the creative process is open, collaborative, and community driven, Favela Painting can effectively contribute to the education and empowerment of the community, particularly local youth, installing a sense of pride and community ownership.”

Favela Painting Academy, founded in 2016

In other words, the transformations that distressed neighborhoods experience aren’t just  aesthetic; they’re also personal, social, and economic. Haas&Hahn claim that the “projects bring hope, positivity, beauty, job opportunities and stability” (The Telegraph). 

Supporting their claim, research at the Yale School of Medicine and other places indicates that public art “can lead to increased levels of community engagement and social cohesion,” serve “as a powerful catalyst for improved mental and physical health,” and improve “perceptions of both the pedestrian environment and neighborhood safety” (Center for Active Design) – especially when artists are teamed with  neighborhood residents. Mural Arts Philadelphia’s  Porch Light Program is a prime example.

Santa Catarina Palopó newpaper

Another glowing example of community improvement through community-created public art is the ongoing project in Santa Catarina Palopó, Guatemala, on the shores of  Lake Atitlán (example above). The goal is ambitious: to paint 960 buildings in the vibrant colors and designs of women’s traditional blouses. Over 35 buildings have been completed so far. And, according to Architectural Digest, the project “has already sparked development, job opportunities, pride, and empowerment in its 5,000 locals, plus increased cultural tourism awareness.”

Haas&Hahn’s Rio favela paintings inspired this project. In fact, they led an initial workshop in Santa Catarina, after which locals took over. Crucial to this entire project, say the promoters, is community involvement. For instance, community leaders approved the final color palette and design templates, and families of each home get to choose how their house will look from these options.


Other places where Haas&Hahn projects have brightened distressed communities include Miami’s Wynwood district (2014), Caribbean island Curaçao (2014, 2016), Port-au-Prince, Haiti (2015, above); and an Amsterdam prison converted into a hub for refugees (2016).

I don’t know what Haas&Hahn have lined up for 2018, but I did discover on Dre Urhahn’s Instagram page that this past December they finished another favela painting project in Rio. He wrote:

So hard to say goodbye to our second home, rua Santa Helena in Vila Cruzeiro. An amazing place, the coolest people and the best crew ever working on the latest #favelapainting project, colored walls, tiles, mosaic, turning the street into a place of magic. Hope to be back soon!!! Valeu 


Photo Credits in order of presentation: “Praça Cantão” in Santa Marta favela; “Rio Cruzeiro” in Vila Cruzeiro favela; Philly Painting in North Philadelphia; Favela Painting Academy members at work on the island of Curaçao; Santa Catarina Palopó buildings with traditional Guatemalan designs; Haitian Painting in Port-au-Prince; Dre Urhahn and Jeroen Koolhaas in Rio’s Santa Marta.

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Life is composed of a series of moments. If you’re like me, many of those are happy. Of course, what makes me happy may not do it for you. Even so, there are basic happiness components that we humans have in common, like good health, the means to acquire things we need, and good relationships. 1 Robin

Sometimes, however, we get confused about what makes us happy and can even confuse simple pleasures like acquiring a new toy with an overall sense of well-being, of meaning and contentment. One way to see the bigger picture is to create a list of recent happy moments, a list that reveals your unique happiness patterns.

 One of my patterns combines family/friends, natural environment, and physical activity. For example, on March 20th, this year’s official start of spring, my husband and I took a long, brisk walk outdoors, even though the ground was still frozen. We chatted along the way and pointed out signs that spring had arrived – a couple of robins, spots of green grass, Canadian geese flying home, and open water on the bay.

 It was a good day to embrace the happiness that the renewal of life brings because, as I later learned, March 20th was also the UN’s International Day of Happiness and the day its Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) published the fifth World Happiness Report. This report and its implications for American happiness is what I want to tell you about.


 In it the SDSN ranks 155 countries’ level of national happiness based on the life evaluations of a large sample of people in each country. The purpose of the report is to encourage governments, organizations, and civil society in general to “use happiness indicators to inform their policy-making decisions,” that is, to consider happiness as “the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy” (“Overview”). 

It’s about time, indeed, that policy-makers took the goal of achieving personal, social, and national happiness seriously. After all, that’s what people want – to be happy, regardless of their nationality, political leanings, religious beliefs, or socioeconomic status. We want it for ourselves and our family and friends. And we should want it for everyone, if for no other reason that that happiness is contagious. It’s much easier to be happy when surrounded by happy people.

4_95233082_gettyimages-84745752 Norway

This year’s happiest people are in Norway, which narrowly edged out Denmark (last year’s winner), with Iceland, Switzerland, and Finland close behind. Other countries in the top ten are the Netherlands, our neighbor Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden. Following these are Israel, Costa Rica, and Austria. (For a quick look at the full list of countries, from 1 to 155, see Wikipedia).

Then comes the United States, placing 14th. The U.S. has yet to break into the top ten; in fact, its rank has steadily decreased since taking 11th place in 2012, the report’s first year. What’s going on? Why are people in the top 10 happier on average than those in the U.S.? What can we the people of the U.S. do to increase national happiness? What are our happiness strengths, and how can we use those to boost our weaknesses?  

TDC visit capitol1o begin to answer such questions, we should become familiar with the six socioeconomic factors that the SDSN uses to measure national happiness, and then see how the U.S. stacks up. 

The factors are national wealth as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP); life expectancy, which includes healthcare; social support, especially in times of trouble; generosity as measured by donations; freedom to make life choices; and governmental and corporate corruption. 

I plan to look more closely at several of these factors in future posts, beginning with U.S. national wealth and income inequality. As Rachel Maddow likes to say, “Watch this space.”

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Photo credits: Robin photo by Charlene Ryan in the “American Robin”; World Happiness Report image; Getty image in BBC News story; and a photo of U.S. capitol taken from my iPhone.


Political News In Brief: Mar 16-20

Where’s the truth? Where’s the compassion? Today, reflecting on the two-month anniversary of Trump’s inauguration as the 45th President of the U.S., I find these primary human values missing – and it’s deeply disturbing. Here are just a few examples, gathered from recent Washington Post stories.


This morning (Mar 20) in his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, FBI Director James Comey clearly stated that the FBI has found no evidence to support Trump’s repeated assertion that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the presidential campaign. Comey, also speaking on behalf of the Justice Department, said, “I have no information that supports those tweets.” (“FBI Director,” WP)


For the past two weeks, Trump and his allies have doubled-down on the Obama-wiretapped-Trump claim, recently citing their source as a Fox News host who, without any evidence, said that when Obama couldn’t get the U.S. intelligence agencies to wiretap Trump Tower, he had the British secret service do it. “Ridiculous,” the British responded – and during the hearing today, National Security Agency head Michael Rogers agreed.

Moreover, Comey made it clear that no president could request such surveillance from the NSA or any other intelligence agency – that’s not how it’s done.

Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence agencies will continue their investigation into Russian interference – through hacking and dissemination of fake news – in our recent presidential campaign.


As Jake Tapper said to Bill Maher last Friday (Mar 17), Trump has a penchant for “peddling evidence-free conspiracy theories.” In fact, The Washington Post Fact-Checker tracked 247 false or misleading claims made by Trump during his first 56 days in office, on March 1st and 12th. (“Jake Tapper,” WP).


On Thursday (Mar 16), Trump released his proposed 2018 budget. Eliminating federal funding for Meals on Wheels is one of the of many uncompassionate cuts in the proposal. That afternoon during a news conference, his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, defended the proposal. Regarding the Meals program, which provides food aid to over 2.4 million needy seniors, Mulvaney claimed that it is “just not showing any results.”


But this simply isn’t true. A 2013 review of research “found that home-delivered meal programs for seniors ‘significantly improve diet quality, increase nutrient intakes, and reduce food insecurity and nutritional risk among participants. Other beneficial outcomes include increased socialization opportunities, improvement in dietary adherence, and higher quality of life.’”

Meals on Wheels is highly cost effective. For example, it helps “seniors stay at home and out of costly nursing facilities. If you’re interested in keeping a lid on health-care costs, the importance of this finding can’t be overstated.” And it’s been found that “those receiving daily meals also experienced fewer falls and hospitalizations.” (“Meals on Wheels,” WP).

The 2018 federal budget process is just getting started. Surely members of congress will listen to their constituents and to their hearts and keep Meals on Wheels.

Photo credit: Image for The Washington Post “Can He Do That?,” a podcast series; Meals on Wheels photo by Leah Nash for The New York Times.

Political News in Brief Will Resume in March

My husband and I are flying to Florida in the morning to meet up with family for a beach vacation. I’ll return to the news in March. Meanwhile, here are links to good overviews of the week’s two biggest stories: the firing of Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn; and Trump’s first solo press conference as president.

Flynn episode ‘darkens the cloud’ of Russia that hangs over Trump administration” (Washington Post)

President Trump Seems Determined to Continue the Permanent Campaign” (NPR)

Stay informed :-).

Political News in Brief: February 6-12

NOTE: If you receive my posts by email, remember to go directly to my website by clicking “Political News In Brief” at the top of the message – for easier reading and for an aesthetically more pleasing experience.

People surrounding the new president are making almost as much news as Trump himself. This week I put a spotlight on a newsmaker whom Saturday Night Live (SNL) just wickedly lampooned. After that, I encapsulate several other news stories. Preview: In the future, I will spotlight other lampooned newsmakers.



Conway served as Trump’s campaign manager and now serves as Counselor to the President. In a bizarre SNL sketch last night (Feb 11), one that brings to mind the movie Fatal Attraction, Kate Mckinnon portrayed Conway as the sexy, murderous, spurned lover of Jake Tapper (Beck Bennett). Tapper is the CNN talk-show host who refused to have her on his Feb 5 Sunday show, State of the Nation, because of her loose connection to the truth.

Last Tuesday (Feb 7), however, Tapper conducted an extensive interview with Conway on his weekday show, The Lead, that, according to, “only confirmed her credibility issues.” She ducked questions and continued to promote Trump administration misinformation. For example, when Tapper confronted her on Trump’s repeated claim that the murder rate is “at its highest level in 47 years,” which is provably false (in fact, the rate is among the lowest ever), Conway responded by complaining about her treatment in the media.


Then Thursday (Feb 9), Conway seriously misstepped in a way that even Republican legislatures couldn’t ignore. She was on Fox & Friends defending Trump’s tweet that blasted the Nordstrom department store chain for dropping his daughter Ivanka’s fashion line. Conway told viewers, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff…. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.” Oops! That appears to be illegal!

“Federal ethics rules state that an employee of the government’s executive branch cannot use public office for personal gain or to endorse products or services on behalf of friends or relatives,” explained the New York Times. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chair of the House Oversight Committee, and Elijah Cummings, the committee’s ranking Democrat, have jointly sent a letter to the Office of Governmental Ethics requesting an inquiry into the matter. Meanwhile, the White House says Conway has been “counseled,” whatever that means.


Week’s Most Immediately Far-Reaching Story:  Federal appeals court rules 3 to 0 against Trump on travel ban – The judges wrote, “The Government has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the Order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States. Rather than present evidence to explain the need for the Executive Order, the Government has taken the position that we must not review its decision at all.” The Trump administration promises to fight the ruling; however, for now there is no travel ban on people legally entering the U.S. from anywhere. (WP)

In Close Votes, the Senate Confirms Three Highly Controversial Trump Cabinet Picks: First there was the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, a billionaire who donates thousands to Republicans and who has no experience in (nor, it seems, previous love for) public education (NYT). Then Jeff Sessions was confirmed as Attorney General, a former senator considered by many as no friend of civil rights or voting rights (NYT). Finally, there was Tom Price as secretary of Health and Human Services, a former legislature who opposes the Affordable Care Act and wants to overhaul Medicare, possibly making it a voucher program (The Hill).


Deportation of Immigrants Stepped Up: She Showed Up Yearly to Meet Immigration Agents. Now They’ve Deported HerGuadalupe García de Rayos, 35, yearly checked in at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office (ICE), a requirement for being caught using a fake Social Security number so she could get a job at a water park to support her family. When she checked in on Wednesday (Feb 8), she was arrested and deported to Mexico. Ms. Rayos has lived in the U.S. since she was 14 and has a family – a husband and two children now in their teens. Her deportation, which led to protests, is the public face of the ICE “surge” that took place this week. (NYT)

That’s enough for now 🙂.

Photo Credits: McKinnon & Bennett portraying Conway and Tapper on SNL Feb 11, Daily Beast screengrabJake Tapper & Kellyanne Conway during a Feb 7 interview, CNN;  Guadalupe García de Rayos and her children, Yahoo news.

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