Hey guys! Last week was (relatively) slow, so we waited it out for some better stories. Also, we wanted to engage each other a bit more and incorporate some back-and-forth debate, so it took a bit longer to hammer everything out. Here’s our take on the news of last two weeks!
Nordstrom pulling Ivanka’s line
M: It appears to me that a private business is responding to free market forces and President Snowflake’s panties are all in a bunch over it.
H: You know me, I’m a free-market libertarian. No issue here. God, Trump’s making it tough for us to find issues we wholly disagree on…
M: I’m trying to pick my battles and in the grand scheme of things, this is a small issue. But I do wish the President would understand the effect that he can have on a publicly-traded company when he uses his post to attack them.
Prime Minister Abe visit/Mar-a-Lago
M: Substantively, I think it was good that Trump rolled back his critical rhetoric on Japan and showed some deference to Abe, a close ally. Aside from that awkie-pants handshake, things seem to have gone well between the two of them. However, I remain troubled by Trump’s use of Mar-a-Lago as “the Winter White House.” His staff made a full campaign out of Hillary Clinton’s alleged disregard for information security, and yet he’s screaming about North Korea’s missile testing at dinner in front of civilians. The president can and will have to deal with sensitive issues when he’s away from the White House, but it needs to be done in a secure location, not a public dining room among the tacky fucking people who pay for memberships at Mar-a-Lago!
H: I’m with you in that I’m pretty happy with the visit overall, and that the Mar-a-Lago dining room wasn’t the right place for a diplomatic discussion. However, I’m gonna take Spicer at his word (yeah, I know) that no classified information was discussed in the open, and that the SCIF at Mar-a-Lago was utilized. Still, the optics of this whole thing quickly became a mess, and this piece from WIRED Magazine highlights some of the issues with the smartphones at the table. Still, these North Korean missile tests have become so routine at this point that I’m pretty sure everyone just says “god damn it, again?” and shrugging their shoulders after leaving the SCIF.
M: I just can’t get over the irony of their obsession with data security immediately evaporating as soon as Trump takes office. Also, are you at all concerned with the possibility of Mar-a-Lago members being able to essentially pay the Trump family for access to US and foreign leaders? Or even just the appearance of that happening?
Also, *love* your use of the term SCIF, you little coastal elite! – I purposely avoided it to remain relatable to the layman.
H: I’m definitely concerned with that scenario, and I’m hoping that this incident, while relatively minor, triggered some sort of “oh shit” moment where we’ll see Mar-a-Lago members kept more than arms-length away from Trump and any important guests he’s hosting moving forward. But only time will tell.
And hey, I figured maybe someone would google the term or at least click the WIRED link and figure out how much effort has already gone into the data security at Mar-a-Lago!
M: I’m happy to see that they’re starting to get everything in place with respect to data security, and will write it off as a problem of the learning curve. Again, just pretty ironic after this campaign. I have little faith in Mar-a-Lago members being kept away from official government business, though, as three of them were just tapped for ambassadorships.
M: A simple Google search would have done some good here. Pudzer is a complete scumbag whose disdain for women can only be matched by his disdain for the American worker. I don’t know a ton about Trump’s new nominee, but on the surface, he seems much more qualified and I appreciate that he’s non-white. Pat on the back for not totally fucking it up on your second try, Donnie.
H: At face value I loved the idea of having a fast-food CEO in the Trump administration, alongside the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment. Now we just need to bring someone from Mountain Dew onboard and get Kid Rock his Michigan Senate seat. Okay, but seriously, Pudzer wasn’t the guy. Like Marisa said, I googled him when his name was floated and knew he wasn’t gonna make the cut. Alex Acosta seems qualified, and doesn’t seem to have any glaring skeletons in the closet. And yeah, maybe one of Trump’s aides let him know that he was going to have the first Cabinet without a Hispanic member since 1988.
Flynn resignation/Russia communication
M: LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP!
It was a very good moment for America when Michael Flynn resigned his post. He is a dangerous man who had no business in a National Security Advisor role and I’m glad he’s being exposed now for what he is. This cannot be the end of this, though. I have little faith but I hope that Congress investigates Flynn and every member of Trump’s campaign team who had contacts with Russia throughout the last year. It’s the least they can do.
H: I was no fan of Flynn to begin with, and I’m glad he’s gone. Also, I wish that Vice Admiral Harward would have accepted the job offer, but I totally understand why he opted out. With that said, I’m hesitant to freak out about this whole thing as of now. Flynn’s December phone call to the Russian Ambassador was reportedly a routine transition phone call, and it sounds like he was open-minded and non-committal on the issue of sanctions (which, surprise, haven’t been lifted!). I’m not discounting the widely-alleged ties between members of Trump’s team and Russia, but Flynn was fired simply for misrepresenting the call to VP Pence. As Charles Krauthammer put it, this seems to be a cover-up without a crime.
Also, I do get the sense that there’s some malicious leaking going on, and that we’ll probably see it continue for the near-term future.
M: I’m not quite “freaking out” yet, but I definitely think something is fishy on a macro level here. First of all, I’m bothered by the fact that Flynn was only fired when the media started to make a story out of his Russia call, not when Trump actually found out about the call or his alleged lie to Pence. It seems like they were content to keep him on until he became a liability for their public image. Also, if this were an isolated incident, I wouldn’t get too excited, but Trump simply cannot shake this Russia connection – it appears to run pretty deep. There’s no evidence of collusion yet, but I’m very concerned that there were repeated contacts while Russia was actively working to interfere in our election. It could be nothing, or it could be everything – we need a real, bipartisan investigation to find out.
H: I agree with you that something’s not right here, and I think that a bipartisan investigation to find out is the best way to get to the bottom of it. There’s no doubt that Russia interfered in the election, but at this point there is no concrete evidence of collusion, so as far as I’m concerned, Trump is innocent until proven guilty. I’m not going to get into wild speculation as some people have (remember the golden shower fiasco?).
Also, as I type this, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster has been selected to take over as National Security Adviser. Aside from his amazing name, he seems to be extremely qualified. This is a huge relief.
M: Innocent until proven guilty, and I’m not interested in wild speculation either, but an investigation is absolutely essential. I’m disheartened that so many Republican members of Congress seem to be avoiding it at all costs, considering how ferociously they jump on any inkling of wrongdoing on the other side of the aisle. I’m also cool with McMaster – a much more qualified choice.
Trumps 2/16 press conference
M: What a time. I mean, there’s so much going on here… Trump insulted the media and the federal courts, but that just feels normal now. He dodged the Russia questions, calling them “fake news,” and asserted he doesn’t have any holdings in Russia (then show us your tax returns, brah). Then he topped it all off with a lil’ bit of casual racism. Honestly, nothing new, but this one felt *extra* batshit for some reason. Maybe it was his repeated screaming of “I don’t have to tell you that!” or this whopper of a quote: “You know what uranium is, right? It’s a thing called nuclear weapons and other things.” Poetry.
H: Maybe I’m just desensitized to this “new normal” but I was laughing my ass off at a good chunk of it. The exchange with April Ryan made me cringe, but with that aside, I think we saw a man who’s just tired of the media’s shit, and is going to continue to fight back. By no means do I agree with everything Trump said, or even a majority of it, but I liked watching him spar with some reporters. Plus, even Jim Acosta laughed when he downgraded CNN from “fake news” to “VERY fake news.”
M: I find it hard to find humor in this shit anymore. There was plenty to laugh about when he was Candidate Trump, but the election is over and this is real life now. I’d appreciate a modicum of seriousness from the leader of the free world. The media is not the enemy; they are doing their job and it would be nice if he would too. I don’t see how the media is getting attacked for calling Trump out on blatant lies – no other major political figure has ever acted like this and the media is responding accordingly. Even Shep Smith and Chris Wallace of Fox News went off.
H: You’re right, no other major political figure has acted like this; and that’s why he got elected. The people who put him in office didn’t want the status quo, and they definitely don’t trust the media. That’s why none of this surprises me. Believe me, I’d appreciate some seriousness as well, but I don’t think we’re going to see it anytime soon. Obviously the media isn’t the enemy, and I expect them to call him out on the blatant lies, but I certainly don’t think the coverage is 100% fair, and that’s why trust in the media is has fallen so far.
M: Media coverage is never 100% fair and I’m sure Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would agree. But it’s one thing to say “I think this particular source is a little biased,” and quite another to label all negative coverage completely fake. Trust in the media has sunk to a new low in part BECAUSE of Trump and the way he has characterized it. They’re really just trying to do their jobs, and a big part of their job is exposing lies from elected officials. Trump stands at the podium and says provable lies right into their faces; they are absolutely duty-bound to call that out. Fostering distrust in our essential institutions is dangerous, and like Senator McCain said, “that’s how dictators get started.”
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