Let the Games Begin.

Early this morning, the 2018 Winter Olympics kicked off in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with bright spectacle amid freezing temperatures. Hoping to thaw some icy tensions was the unified Korean team–both North Koreans and South Koreans marching under one flag of peace. Not everyone was sold on the unified imagery, as the U.S. passed even more restrictive sanctions on North Korea just days before, right as North Korea held a military parade, intended to coincide with the Olympics.

But being cautious about North Korea’s intentions does not mean that war is the unavoidable answer. War is the last thing that anyone should want with North Korea; instead, the Trump administration should be using its diplomatic tools, especially with South Korea, to ensure that North Korea does not strike us or our allies. And Vice President Mike Pence’s awkward actions at the Games does not bode well for this administration ability to handle the North Korean threat with confidence.

Speaking of Pence, he has been more than simply awkward at this year’s Olympic Games. U.S. figure skater Adam Rippon has been criticizing the vice president for his homophobic views and ideologies, and the criticism bothered Pence so much that he attempted to set a meeting with Rippon. When Rippon refused, Pence took to Twitter, writing to Rippon, “I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold.” It’s unclear if the two will ever meet in person, but Rippon’s criticisms highlight the pain many in the LGBTQ community feel at seeing their country represented by someone who has advanced homophobic policies for decades.

ACTION OF THE DAY

#InfrastructureScam. On Monday, it is expected that Trump will officially unveil his infrastructure plan, which we already know to be a scam, along with his budget, to shift money to Wall Street and undermine important government programs, such as the Highway Trust Fund. If you’re in Washington D.C., join us to protest the scam at the Trump Hotel on Monday at 4:30pm. Not in town? Check out local events at ResistanceNearMe.org.

WHAT’S TRENDING

Deficit Hypocrisy. Last night, the federal government shut down for a few hours, as members of Congress struggled to reach a budget on which a majority could agree. Senator Rand Paul was at the center of the shutdown, as he refused to vote for a budget that would increase the deficit. Paul said on the floor, “I can’t in all good honesty, in all good faith, just look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits.” But Paul may want to look at his own voting record before he takes to the floor to shame others. In December, Paul voted for the congressional majority’s tax bill, which will lead to a $1.5 trillion increase in the deficit, along with all of his Republican colleagues. It’s clear when Paul and many of his colleagues are willing to spend money–when it benefits the rich, but not when it helps the working and middle class.

Public Benefits or Your Family’s Future? Documents drafted by the Department of Homeland Security and obtained by Reuters and Vox indicate that the Trump administration is looking to go nuclear in its attack on family immigration–this time, by radically reinterpreting a obscure 1882 provision in immigration law. Under the new interpretation, which will be open to public comments when released, immigrants applying for green cards to join family members would have to prove they are not going to receive Medicaid, the Premium Tax Credit, Head Start and many other types of broadly defined “public benefits.” In addition to making it harder for family based immigrants to obtain green cards, the rule “would effectively punish immigrant families [currently here] for accessing social services like Head Start, nutrition assistance for infants, or even the Children’s Health Insurance Program.” Immigrants with disabilities who are unable to obtain unsubsidized health insurance will be among the hardest hit by the reinterpretation.

UNDER THE RADAR

Shame. Four bills meant to protect LGBTQ Virginians were killed on a party-line vote in the Virginia House General Laws subcommittee yesterday, even though some of the bills had already passed the more moderate Virginia Senate. Opponents of the bills claim that they would have interfered with religious liberty, but, as we’ve seen at a federal level, claiming so-called “religious liberty” is often cover for allowing discrimination against LGBTQ individuals to continue. Now, thanks to the Virginia House, Virginians may continue to face discrimination, and their government will do nothing to stop it. Furthermore, people of faith in Virginia have long been calling for protections for LGBTQ Virginians just like those voted down yesterday.