This Weak in Politics, Vol. LXX
April 6, 2017
Welcome to the 4,317th week of 2017. The big news this week, at least as of this hour, is that the “nuclear option” seems back on the table. Unfortunately, we are not talking about the Supreme Court, but rather, North Korea. For those of you that are not as well versed in world affairs as we are, North Korea is the one directly above South Korea.
In an effort to show just who is in charge of Asian geo-politics, the Supreme Leader engaged in some dangerous and bellicose saber-rattling. It remains to be seen if Kim Jong-Un will respond in-kind. The saber-rattling was over the news that North Korea has again launched a missile test in defiance of U.N. resolutions. This is the 6th time in the past quarter century that North Korea has launched a vicious attack on the Sea of Japan.
The Trump administration’s response to this, and a previous missile test in February has been very terse. Trump tweeted in February “It will not happen!” (Italics are ours, to add emphasis. But this also raises a question — if it is just one character italicized, is it still called “italics” or is it just “italic?’ If you are a grammar wiz, or @oliviamunn, please contact us here to let us know.)
The administration also had Rex “Tryantoscareus Rex” Tillerson issue a “statement” that read: “North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.” Ironically, that non-comment is the biggest and most newsworthy comment Tillerson has made since going into the Cabinet Protection Program.
On the subject of the Cabinet, this week saw a bit of a shake-up as Steve Bannon was removed from the National Security Council’s “Principals Committee.” There is no telling what this will mean in terms of the operational side of the committee and what his absence will mean — as his departure leaves the committee without a single racist-website publisher. The administration is asserting that this is not a shake-up and that the administration is not in disarray or struggling to find its footing. Critics (defined here as literate people and several members of Congress as well) will note that the record betrays that assertion. To wit (yeah, we used the phrase “to wit.” Deal with it asshat, we are a sophisticated and professional publication.) Bannon’s role was to make sure that Mike Flynn, who resigned in disgrace for lying about his conversations with Russians (but not for failing to report income from Russian entities, as we didn’t know he lied about that until after he had already resigned due to lying about the former) didn’t go rogue. Bannon’s removal was likely the work of HR Haldem…McMaster, who replaced the disgraced Flynn. McMaster was not the President’s first choice to replace Flynn. His first choice rejected the post, calling it a “shit sandwich.”
Bannon was replaced on the Security Council by a man most famous for being a failed contestant on Dancing with the Stars and for forgetting things. See? No disarray. You can practically smell these guys making America Great Again!
It is times like these — when world affairs become crises — that you might feel concerned that we have a Secretary of State who can’t speak, a National Security Council that can’t stay free of Russian operatives and racists, a Secretary of Education who can’t think, and a Secretary of Energy/NSC member who can’t remember things, as representatives of an administration that can’t govern. Our national Movantik Moment, if you will.
If indeed you have these fears and reservations, let us remind you…this is America. And we are a democracy. That means that something special happens every 4 years, reliably and like clockwork — Bill O’Reilly settles a sexual harassment suit. Okay so two things happen…that, and we have an election. If President Trump is not of your liking, you can always comfort yourself with the hope that in November 2020, the Russians will pick a better president.
Speaking of Trump and Russians, the president continues to assert that efforts to investigate Russian connections to his campaign are simply a witch-hunt.
The White House continues to insist the media are trying to make a mountain of Russian dressing. The president himself is essentially saying “people are saying there were these inappropriate conversations with, and connections to, Russia just because my campaign manager, several of my donors, my national security advisor, my political confidante, my son-in-law, my foreign policy experts, my attorney general and my-self met with Russian officials and lied about it.” He then blamed his favorite adversarial foil. No, not Arnold Schwarzenegger. No, not Rosie O’Donnell. This time he took aim at President Obama and his staff, specifically former national security advisor Susan “Donna” “Condoleezza” “Jerry” “Jim” “Minute” Rice.
Trump says that “revelations” that Rice “unmasked” Trump campaign officials and associates — we wont say who, but they rhyme with Meneral Fike Glynn, Maul Panafort and Stoger Rone — was a politically motivated and illegal act. This accusation by Trump, while not what we in the news business call “true,” may serve to shift attention away from whatever shitstorm the president caused last night or will cause tonight. And to make sure that people understand the magnitude of the charges he is leveling, Trump said of the Rice story, “I think it’s going to be the biggest story. It’s such an important story for our country and the world. It is one of the big stories of our time.”
The beauty for Trump is that Americans don’t really know history. Just ask President Benjamin Franklin, or Supreme Court Justice Frank Lloyd Wright.
Now that we have broached the subject of the Supreme Court, The United States Senate is set to confirm Judge Merrick Garland as the newest Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. (Editor’s note: This should have read Neal Gorsuch, not Merrick Garland. This was due to a typographical Mitch McConnell. We regret the leader.)
Again, for those of you who may not be as well versed in current affairs as we are, Neal Gorsuch has become a lightning-rod because of the nature of his nomination. The reality is that he truly does deserve an up or down vote, if for no other reason than his resume is impressive and warrants it: Gorsuch graduated summa cum laude as valedictorian from Harvard College and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. After serving as a law clerk to Judge Henry J. Friendly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. of the Supreme Court of the United States, he practiced corporate litigation at Arnold & Porter and worked as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice, where he played a leading role in the investigation and prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombers.
Clearly, the political games should stop, and Judge Gorsuch should get the up or down vote he deserves.
Editor’s Note: Due to an error/our immaturity, we incorrectly used the biography of Judge Merrick Garland in the above paragraph. We again regret the Senate Majority Leader.
In other news, President Trump is coming through with one of his campaign promises — donating his salary as President to a needy charity. In this case, the needy charity is the National Park Service, to whom Trump donated $78,333, shortly after proposing cutting its budget by $1.5 billion. Still, the donation does fulfill a promise — though we are told that initially Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at a briefing that the president had put air-quotes around the word “donate,” but we are told by sources (Devin Nunes) that April Ryan was having none of that.
But seriously, a check for $78k? This is the presidential equivalent of Bill Cosby/O’Reilly putting a 20 bill on the dresser before walking out.
And in closing, we will return to our new feature “Three Things You’ve Probably Never Seen,” because there’s no tradition like a brand new one. (And please note the title of this segment is contained in the written equivalent of air-quotes, so we don’t really have to do this. But here it is anyway…
“Three Things You‘ve Probably Never Seen”
- Rex Tillerson actually answering a question from a reporter.
- Life imitating Sharknado.
- In honor of the newest member of the National Security Council, we can’t think of a third. Oops.
Note: This edition did not mention the atrocious attack on civilians in Syria with chemical weapons, as the images have been too horrific to relive. President Trump says the attacks have changed his views on Syria and Bashar Al Assad. With all due respect, that is roughly the equivalent of saying in 1944 “I’m beginning to dislike this Hitler fella.”
Further — the people of Syria have been suffering calamity and horrors so detestable that it is difficult to fathom. If only there were a way that people in war torn places could be shepherded to safe harbors, you know, as…refugees.
So please give to charities like Médecins sans Frontieres. And feel free to tell @KatyTurNBC (or @oliviamunn) that we used the French name.
And that’s the way the weak spent the week in a world in which both the Supreme Leader AND Kim Jong Un have significant sway.
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