We’re back with another horrifying week of news! We’re a day late, thanks to the nightmarish Super Bowl, but another segment of BBz is coming in hot. We’ve been getting some really great constructive feedback and recognize that some back-and-forth dialogue could take this idea up a notch, so we’ll try to incorporate some of that from next week on, if our schedules permit. Here’s another week in Trump’s America, where cheaters always win and nothing is fair.
Trump calls with foreign leaders:
- AU: Yikes, I definitely wasn’t expecting such hostility out of this one. However, at this point Turnbull has made it sound like the Trump will honor the prior agreement, so maybe all hope is not lost (yet). I honestly hadn’t read too deep into the refugee deal prior to this week, but I find it interesting that Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees contained a specific exemption for pre-existing international agreements such as this one between the U.S. and Australia. And the fact that this entire thing stems from Australia’s Trump-esque immigration policies? Ugh, let’s just hope this is a speed bump and we can keep the Five Eyes partnership intact.
- MEX: Earlier reports made it sound like the call with Mexico was nothing short of a dumpster fire. Now, even CNN characterized it as a “constructive” discussion with Nieto and Trump finding common ground on NAFTA, among other issues. Still, I seriously can’t believe that the transcript contains the quote: “You have some pretty tough hombres in Mexico that you may need help with. We are willing to help with that big-league, but they have [to] be knocked out and you have not done a good job knocking them out.” I guess that’s slightly better than invading Mexico? We still need to figure out this wall thing though; if the $2 Corona night at my favorite neighborhood spot jumps to $2.40, there’s gonna be hell to pay.
- RUS: I’m okay with the general idea of normalizing relations with Russia. As Trump says, getting along with them is better than not getting along with them. And from the sound of it, the call between Trump and Putin this week was a baby step in that direction, and rightly so. Trump didn’t pick up the phone and agree to drop sanctions and cede Eastern Europe to Russia; by most accounts, the call focused on finding common ground in the war on terror. Finding common ground may be easy, but formulating a mutually beneficial strategy may be easier said than done. Although the linked article comes off as slightly alarmist, I think it does a good job of highlighting a number of areas in which the U.S. and Russia will be incompatible in the fight against ISIS.
M: Eek, this doesn’t bode well. Trump’s call with Putin went fabulous, while his calls with Mexican and Australian heads of state were sloppy disasters. Mexico and Australia are two of our closest allies and Trump has successfully alienated them in his first month of the presidency. I’m not as worked up about the Mexico call because apparently the Mexican government was able to write off Trump’s weird threat to send in U.S. troops as a joke. I think his informal tone and penchant for throwing around the term “bad hombres” is the least of their worries at the moment. But the Australia call was pretty disgraceful. Trump yelled at Prime Minister Turnbull and hung up on him like an angsty teenager, because it was “a long day” and “fatigue was setting in.” JESUS CHRIST, dude, you’re the president. You don’t get to ruin U.S. foreign policy because you tend to get cranky when you don’t get your full eight hours. We agreed to take half of their refugees and we should follow through on that deal – it’s the least we can do for a country that has fought with us in every single conflict since World War II.
H: It’s nothing short of tragic that several innocent civilians and a U.S. Navy SEAL were killed this past week in the botched raid on an Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) compound in Yemen. With that said, “America cannot punish its elected officials for allowing its military, diplomatic corps, and intelligence services to take risks necessary to pursue its interests.” These time-sensitive special operations missions are often conducted on short notice, with minimal intelligence, and carry a great degree of risk. Still, the potential reward of these missions is great. AQAP continues to plot against the U.S. (remember the cargo plane bomb plot?) and has carried out vicious attacks in Europe such as the Charlie Hebdo massacre. This raid appears to have taken out a few mid-level “bad dudes”, and some “vital intelligence” was collected, which will hopefully help in coordinating follow-up strikes with the ultimate goal of dismantling the terror network. Unfortunately, we’re at war, and horrible situations like this happen. We’re going to have to learn from our mistakes and make adjustments moving forward. Sometimes, though, the shit just hits the fan.
M: So, this was a pretty tragic mess, but I’m going to do my best to be diplomatic here. The U.S. lost a Navy SEAL, a $75 million aircraft, and several civilian lives including an 8 year-old girl last week in a failed raid in Yemen. It’s tough to throw around blame in this situation for a few reasons: a.) President Obama and his cabinet planned a considerable portion of this raid before Trump’s inauguration b.) The Joint Chiefs and Department of Defense signed off on this decision and c.) Sometimes, you get hit with some straight-up bad luck. This could have been recklessness on behalf of Trump, and the fact that he seemed to approve this decision over a casual-ass dinner with fucking Kushner and Bannon doesn’t sit well with me, but I don’t think any of us can conclusively say it was his fault. I WILL HOWEVER SAY CONCLUSIVELY THAT IF HILLARY CLINTON OVERSAW THIS WE WOULD ALL BE WATCHING 84 CONSECUTIVE HOURS OF CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED AND WHY SHE’S A CORRUPT MURDERER RIGHT NOW.
Black History Month:
H: You know that feeling where a meme perfectly encapsulates how absurd something was and does a better job than any words you can say?
M: The following is an excerpt from Donald Trump’s Black History Month remarks:
“The folks at the table in almost all cases have been great friends and supporters. Darrell – I met Darrell when he was defending me on television. And the people that were on the other side of the argument didn’t have a chance, right? And Paris has done an amazing job in a very hostile CNN community. He’s all by himself. You’ll have seven people, and Paris. And I’ll take Paris over the seven. But I don’t watch CNN, so I don’t get to see you as much as I used to. I don’t like watching fake news. But Fox has treated me very nice. Wherever Fox is, thank you.”
How anyone could think this man is fit for the office of the presidency is completely and totally beyond me. Read the full remarks for yourself here.
O’Reilly quote (“U.S. isn’t so innocent”)
H: At first I honestly thought Trump misunderstood the question (based on his Iraq War tangent), but after Bill O’Reilly attempted to clarify it looks like Trump is really sticking to his guns on Russia. I guess if you’re trying to mend fences with Putin, you don’t really gain anything by agreeing with the assertion that he poisons his critics. Whatever, at least the GOP establishment has come out and openly criticized Trump’s non-condemnation. And as usual, Mike Pence had to step in after the fact and clean up the mess. Also, how great is it that the Kremlin is demanding an apology from Fox News!? Apparently ol’ Bill is going to respond on the air tonight, so I’ll probably have to take a break from The Bachelor to tune into the Factor.
M: I am so unbelievably tired of hearing this fuckhead praise a brutal dictator who murders his political enemies. Is this what “America first” feels like?
H: Terrorism targeting Muslims is no different from terrorism perpetrated by Muslims. Terrorism is terrorism, and I hope they throw the fucking book at this guy. Also, the jumpy “right-wing” media really dropped the ball on their coverage. And Spicer decided to run with the false narrative because of course he did.
M: Tragic, yet unsurprising in the current climate of hate crime increases all over the world. This attack on a Canadian mosque was inspired by white supremacy, and our president has failed to make a public statement on it. Probably wouldn’t have looked great for him after he just banned refugees from entering the country in an executive order crafted by Steve Bannon, an open islamophobe. It is also shameful how quickly outlets like Fox and Breitbart jumped on the false rumor of a gunman shouting “allahu akbar,” and then went silent on the issue when they found out the shooter was actually a white supremacist.
Bannon on the National Security Council:
H: I’ll admit I haven’t been the biggest fan of Saturday Night Live’s political segments lately, but I freaking love the “grim reaper” Bannon character they went with. Anyway, the NSC, by design, is supposed to be a (mostly) non-partisan, open forum for vigorous debate on the country’s most pressing national security issues. You don’t exclude the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Director of National Intelligence from the principals committee, then turn around and include the dude who launched Breitbart. Bannon has no place on the principals committee, and probably shouldn’t even be in the room. Admiral Mike Mullen put it best in his recent op-ed: “Putting aside for a moment Mr. Bannon’s troubling public positions, which are worrisome enough, institutionalizing his attendance threatens to politicize national security decision making.” And that’s what really scares me.
M: He has absolutely no business being on the National Security Council and should be removed immediately.
Refusal to comply with federal judge’s order/judge insult:
H: As far as the refusal to comply, goes, it seems like there was shaky implementation in which “customs officers refused to change their procedures until their superiors conveyed instructions from agency lawyers reviewing the court decisions.” I’m not convinced that CBP officers went rogue or that Trump is gonna be some wild executive with no regard for the judiciary. As far as the ongoing case, this commentary by FOX’s resident airport bar troublemaker Gregg Jarrett is a whole lot of legalese on why Trump’s probably gonna come out on top in court, along with a nice closing paragraph on why it wasn’t wise to insult “so-called” Judge Robart.
M: From what I understand, federal agents are now complying with the order, which is great but I’m not going to fucking congratulate anyone for acknowledging that democracy and laws still exist. For a while it seemed they were going to flat-out ignore them, but it seems the executive is going to just take it up the proper legal channels now. As for Trump labelling Robart a “so-called judge,” honestly, what is there left to say? I’m exhausted.
H: I think that Gorsuch is a great pick. He’s a solidly conservative judge with some libertarian tendencies (on at least a few issues such as the “Chevron deference” and the 4th Amendment). He’s also relatively silent on the issue of abortion, which is better than a vocal social conservative in my book, but his opinions on euthanasia hint at pro-life views. Additionally, he was unanimously confirmed for his circuit seat, which backs a couple of Senate Dems into the corner (looking at you, Schumer). I know that my counterpart Marisa will have plenty to say on this, as she’s a legit Supreme Court nerd!
M: Look, if Scalia’s cold heart had given out on him last week instead of a full year ago, and Trump had responded with the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, I would have been pleasantly surprised that Trump chose an educated, serious-minded adult, and not, say, Carrot Top. I truly would have believed Democrats should easily confirm him with little fanfare. I don’t agree with him on shit, but he is perfectly qualified and would serve the bench honorably. But this was not Trump’s seat to fill. It was stolen from President Obama, who was even courteous enough to nominate a center-left, consensus candidate. So Senate Dems, make some fucking noise and teach Mitch McConnell’s stupid turtle-lookin’ ass what obstructionism really looks like. Sucks that Gorsuch will suffer the effects of a pissing match, but who’s looking out for Merrick Garland’s feelings?
H: Campaign rhetoric aside, I’m optimistic that Trump and his team are going to take a smart, measured, yet tough approach on Iran. The latest ballistic missile test in defiance of UN resolution 2231 (which calls for Iran to cease basically all activity relating to ballistic missiles) warranted a swift response. That resolution went into effect after the implementation of the JCPOA, which doesn’t address these kinds of tests. So anyway, I think that some targeted sanctions against individuals and entities with ties to the Revolutionary Guard is fair game when Tehran is giving a big middle finger to the U.S. and the rest of the world by shooting off missiles left and right.
M: I was all for the deal Obama worked out, but if they’re gonna keep testing missiles in our faces, I won’t get worked up about issuing new sanctions. I just hope that the Trump administration doesn’t get too excited and go too far. Some of Flynn’s rhetoric has been troubling, and I don’t trust anyone’s judgment in Trump’s inner circle of advisors.
H: Chalk this one up as a victory for Milo Yiannopoulos. I honestly don’t know too much about him, other than that he’s a controversial alt-right blogger/author. However, I do know that he has spent the past year or two criticizing the Left for shutting down opposing viewpoints, and then he has his point proven time after time as his campus speeches are cancelled, shut down, or otherwise disrupted. Yes, I know that most (if not all) of the violence was the result of the 150 or so black-clad anarchist/ANTIFA types, but come on. Even the peaceful protestors were celebrating when he was denied the right to speak. The lack of opposing viewpoints and open dialogue on college campuses these days is really disturbing to me. Let him speak, and fight it out during the Q&A session.
M: I fully recognize colleges can be liberal echo-chambers, and I’m all for colleges and universities bringing speakers to campus with varying points of view, but I can’t for the life of me understand why college groups keep insisting on speakers like Richard Spencer and Milo Yiannopoulos. There’s a clear difference between the very reasonable concerns about the lack of conservative voices on college campuses and the push to create platforms for these hateful trolls. I’m not sure why The Berkeley College Republicans would want to bring someone onto their campus who so clearly doesn’t represent the way traditional American conservatives wish to be perceived. This guy is not going around to colleges making speeches about how he thinks regulations are stifling businesses or how welfare programs are ineffective, he’s purposely trying to incite people with hate speech. That said, I think the best way to deal with this dude is to totally ignore him – he clearly thrives on some delusion of being a “provocateur” with articles like “Here’s Why There Ought to Be a Cap on Women Studying Science and Maths” and “Trannies are Gay.” He is not worthy of anyone’s time or attention.
Now we would like to issue a rare bipartisan statement on Erin Andrews’ Super Bowl choker:
H: Marisa and I were texting during the Super Bowl and decided that this issue transcends politics. Thanks for bringing the choker mainstream, Erin! I’m waiting for Fox News to follow suit.
M: She is perfect and everything she does is also perfect.