January, 2017: Trump, E.O.’s, Lost Icons, Oscars, and another Super Bowl

The Patriots are back in the Super Bowl. La La Land has tied the record for most Oscar Nominations. But of course, as Massasoit students ease back into the spring semester, Donald Trump and the new administration are still dominating the headlines.

So, as we kick off the new semester, let’s get caught up on the major events that occurred over break, which just so happen to feature the same main character as before we left.

The new administration is having a rocky start, seemingly from the get-go. Starting on January 20th’s inauguration, the battle that the Trump administration wages the most, is with the press.

Though attendees, aerial photography, and crowd scientists confirmed that the crowd size for the inauguration was “pretty average,” the Trump camp played fast and loose with the facts. A defiant Press Secretary Sean Spicer touted the crowd size at a press conference the following Saturday.

“This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration,” Spicer said. “Both in person and around the globe.” A claim that has widely been debunked. Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway went on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd, issuing a response to the challenges to Spicer’s claims.

“Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck.” Conway said on Meet the Press. “What — You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that.”

The use of the Orwellian term “alternative facts” rose many eyebrows and will likely be around in headlines and hashtags for some time to come.

The real story regarding crowd size didn’t have to do with the Inauguration, but the day after.

Hundreds of thousands of people were in Washington D.C. on Saturday, January 21st for the Women’s March on Washington, to protest Trump’s election and proposed policies. They were joined by hundreds of thousands more across nearly every U.S. state and many cities around the world.

Officials estimate that up to 175,000 people attended the Boston rally, including MA senator Elizabeth Warren, and Boston Mayor Mary Walsh. Many crowds were so unexpectedly large that formal marches could not commence. Surely the Trump administration noticed the demonstrations, but continued moving on with its agenda to “make America great again.”

That agenda, started with confirmation process for Trump’s cabinet, which is in full swing. Confirmations of the heads of the C.I.A, Defense Department, Homeland Security, and U.N. Ambassador have already been sewn up. Others, including especially, Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, have not had such an easy time.

“It’s clear that Betsy DeVos is not qualified for the job” Democratic senator Al Franken of MN said in a tweet. “I will not be supporting her nomination.” This coming after several exchanges with lawmakers in which DeVos seemed to have difficulty with fundamental questions about the Department of Education.

Also potentially damaging was DeVos’ refusal to rule out guns in school because of her perceived need to “protect from potential grizzlies.” Several other controversial picks are expected to go through however, including inexperienced Ben Carson, and former ExxonMobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson. Tillerson likely going through after a strong challenge from Florida Senator and unapologetic hawk on Russia, Marco Rubio.

“Given the uncertainty that exists both at home and abroad,” said Rubio, “it would be against our national interests to have this confirmation unnecessarily delayed or embroiled in controversy.” Rubio’s vote could have held things up, but now Trump’s choice for Secretary of State is expected to go through regardless of strong opposition from, among others, Chuck Schumer(D-NY) and Bernie Sanders(I-VT.)

A full report on the progress of Trump’s cabinet can be found here, via the New York Times.

The new President promised to make heads spin during the campaign. That is not the only promise he is making good on.

Through a series of executive orders, President Trump has moved quickly to undo some of the major policies of the outgoing administration. One of those executive orders being one of the most outlandish proposals he made. That being, the “wall” along the Mexican-American border.

A scheduled meeting between Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, was canceled after the order was signed. Trump said in a tweet that it would be “better to cancel,” the meeting if Mexico was unwilling to pay for the wall. The President of Mexico obliged.

“I will not attend the work meeting planned for next Tuesday,” Pena Nieto said on Twitter. “Mexico reiterates its willingness to work with the United States to reach accords that favor both nations.” Former Mexican President Vincente Fox was more explicit on NBC’s the Today Show.

Fox said that the cancellation of the meeting, “has brought back very strong Mexican spirit.” The former President also said that Mexico was “ready for the trade war,” and that the Mexican people were “ready, of course, for not paying that wall.”

There was also sad news, outside of politics.

The entertainment world is in full awards-season mode, in which Hollywood always takes a moment to remember those in the business who have passed. In the past few weeks, the entertainment world has lost two actors who will be added to that list.

The iconic Mary Tyler Moore passed away at 80. Moore’s most famous roles as TV wife in The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Mary Richards of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, helped illustrate and celebrate the changing societal role of the “modern woman.”

Also passing was Oscar Nominated Sir John Hurt. He was being treated for pancreatic cancer, and has starred in a slew of memorable roles in films such as The Proposition, The Elephant Man, Dead Man, as well as Alien, and the Harry potter films.

Speaking of Oscars, in lighter news the nominations have been released for the 2017 Academy Awards.

The Hollywood musical La La Land received a record-tying 14 nominations. The 89th annual awards follow last year’s #oscarssowhite controversy in which there was no representation of actors of color.

This year, Denzel Washington is nominated alongside costar Viola Davis, a favorite, for best actor nods in the Washington-directed Fences. Also featured are the Golden Globe winner for best drama, Moonlight, and biographical drama Hidden Figures.

Tom Hanks, Annette Benning, and Amy Adams were “snubbed,” but screen legend Meryl Streep was nominated for Best Actress, for her performance in Florence Foster Jenkins. Streep, always an Oscar favorite, gave a moving speech at the Golden Globes in which she denounced the rhetoric of then President-Elect Donald Trump.

You can view a complete list of the Academy Award Nominations, here.

In the Sports world, what’s on everybody’s mind, locally, is the New England Patriots.

Belichick, Brady and co. will go for their 5th Super Bowl ring, as they square off against the surging Atlanta Falcons, with their MVP candidate QB Matt Ryan. After a few tense moments against the Houston Texans, the Patriots punished the Pittsburgh Steelers, on their way to the championship.

As of Sunday, Vegas had the hometown team as a small favorite over the NFC Champion Falcons. The game will be broadcast live from Houston, February 5th, kickoff at 6:30pm.

Even with the Patriots in the Super Bowl and awards season upon us, it seems impossible to escape from the daily onslaught of controversy and abnormalities coming out of the budding Trump administration.

Just yesterday Donald Trump’s proposed “temporary” ban on refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries took effect. Not only did the order strand more than a dozen people already traveling, its surprise nature created several problems throughout the world.

JFK International Airport drew hundreds of demonstrators, as did many international airports across the nation. A lawsuit filed by the ACLU, led to a federal judge granting a stay on deportation for many seeking to enter the country.

Ever since January 20th, Donald Trump has been hard at work implementing many of the proposals his critics wrote off as bluffs and campaign rhetoric. Opposition to the new administration’s proposals have seen signs of promise and minor victories. As the Donald Trump opens an array of war-fronts on the media, Mexico, and facts, those in opposition look to slow down the head-spinning and focus, not on crowd size, but the issues that are bringing them out on the streets.

Students at MCC and around the country are busy settling into the school routine, and the coming weeks offer plenty in the way of entertainment and distractions. Americans may be overwhelmed with politics of late, and wish to turn away. However, it is important to notice, that the newly sworn-in Trump administration has hit the ground running, and deserves attention, especially in the era of “alternative facts.”

Leave a Reply