Weekly News Roundup & Moscow Mule

Gurl…. At the beginning of this week, I thought it was going to be relatively easy compared to last week. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. I was mistaken. This week, the list is categorized by branches of government, to remind you they exist.

The Executive Branch

Trump’s first phone call with Vladimir Putin went well – Trump says that the “New Start” treaty limiting nuclear proliferation between Russia and the United States, an underpinning of the peaceful end of the Cold War, was a “bad deal”.

In response to a USA Today piece comparing Steve Bannon to ISIS, Fox News published a helpful chart comparing Bannon and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In case you were wondering, Steve hasn’t beheaded a journalist, used chemical weapons on Kurds, employed child soldiers, executed christians, or declared a Caliphate. Yet.

A series of arrests in Russia, including of KGB/FSB officers, appears to support the theory of Russian interference in the US elections made public after a report from a former British intelligence officer.

Donald Trump said this week that he thinks Barack Obama likes him. Coupled with Melania’s facial expressions and the company he keeps, this emphasizes the fact that he’s a terrible judge of character.

Sean Spicer has said that the Judge who blocked Trump’s travel ban “went rogue.” While issuing a nationwide injunction is unusual, so is issuing a Muslim ban without consulting any relevant federal agencies or departments. The White House needs to learn how to check itself before it comes for other people.

Following Kellyanne Conway’s example, Sean Spicer invented a terrorist attack in Atlanta, saying “What do we say to the family that loses somebody over a terroristic (sic), to whether it’s Atlanta or San Bernardino or the Boston bomber?” The best part? He did this three times, two days in a row. We assume he meant Orlando, but, then again, who knows?

It’s ok, because Sean Spicer doesn’t have much time left in the White House – insiders are leaking that he’s already being set up as a fall guy. Because he’s obviously single-handedly responsible for all of the Trump administration’s woes…

Speaking of who is calling the shots, Donald Trump says it’s him! If you’ve ever heard anyone shouting about how they’re calling the shots, you know that if he feels the need to say it, it’s not true.

Trump’s conflicts of interest continue to widen as the Pentagon says it is now looking to rent space in Trump Tower so it can have the immediate access it needs to have to the President at all times. You know what would give them that access? Him living somewhere that’s designed for it. Like maybe The White House. What are the odds you think Trump is going to give them fair market rent? Any takers for 0%?

It turns out that Trump’s proclivity for nepotism does in fact edge out his professed commitment to free enterprise.  In yet another scathing tweet on Wednesday, our President lashed out at Nordstrom for discontinuing Ivanka’s clothing line.  In any other circumstances, Nordstrom’s decision would have seemed fairly routine: sales performance did not meet corporate expectations.  However, in the age of our new Royal- lol oops  I mean First Family, it seems daring to suggest anything other than a success for Trump or those close to him is unacceptable.  The issue was so important to him that he sent the tweet while he should have been in an intelligence briefing.

In what is perhaps an astounding coincidence, Nordstrom stock started to rise at 10:52AM Wednesday following the 10:51AM tweet.  Stock prices closed Wednesday after an increase of 4.85%.  Even the fickle machines of Wall Street have a sense of humor.

Melania Trump, absentee first lady, is claiming in a lawsuit against the Daily Mail that insinuating she was a prostitute ”cost her “the chance of a lifetime” to make millions. Ridicule in the press obviously hasn’t stopped her husband or her stepchildren from lining their own pockets; one fails to see how one bad report in the press is holding her back from doing anything, especially since she has the most ridiculous nude pictures literally everywhere. Also, for the record, being the first lady is not traditionally viewed as an entitlement to make money. Can you imagine Michelle Obama or Laura Bush claiming that? Good Grief.

Trump’s pick for the Labor Department admitted to hiring an undocumented maid. The double irony here being that, as Labor Secretary, his job would be to enforce laws that prevent people from doing just that, but also that Trump has a history of doing the same thing.

A reporter from Newsweek is suing the government to find out how it vetted Trump’s cabinet appointments for their required security clearances. Traditionally, being convicted of a crime, say domestic violence (Steve Bannon), or having extensive ties to foreign businesses (Trump’s three children, Rex Tillerson) complicate or prevent one from attaining clearance. It’s almost as bad as sharing classified information on a private email server. Oh wait, no, they’re doing that, too.

Kellyanne Conway potentially committed a felony by endorsing Ivanka Trump’s clothing line that Nordstrom dropped this week while on TV. And this one isn’t an “oh, maybe she did, maybe she didn’t, it’s a complicated law” one, this is a “there is a law specifically designed to stop people from doing exactly what she did” kind of a thing.

Trump is actually making 3am phone calls. While we support his key advisors for guidance on major decisions on whatever schedule it is that he keeps, this one raises concern, because he asked Michael Flynn, his national security advisor, about whether or not a strong dollar was good for the US economy. You would think that, as the great businessman he claims to be, he would already know that. Most high schoolers do.

The Legislative Branch

Republican lawmakers in the senate introduced a bill targeted at reducing legal immigration. While the US immigration system is in desperate need of reform, reducing the annual green card issuance from one million to 600,000 is not the answer. Typical Republican response, though – instead of addressing the underlying concern and proposing a real solution, let’s just slash it by half and see what happens!

Another Republican lawmaker introduced a bill to eliminate the Department of Education. While I don’t want Betsy DeVos in charge of education, either, eliminating the department is certainly not the answer. The US has some of the worst schools in the developed world. See the above commentary.

Senators did do something useful this week, introducing a bill requiring Trump to notify congress of intention to lift sanctions on Russia tied to the invasion of Crimea. Little Marco finally grew a backbone.

Mitch McConnell silenced Elizabeth Warren on the Senate Floor for reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King opposing the nomination of Jeff Sessions in the 80s. Since the letter was already on the record, it looks as though the only motive was to get her to shut up. Some say it’s a ploy to hand her a microphone because Republicans know they can beat her in 2020. If they think an unelectable candidate without popular support can’t get elected president, their memory is shorter than I thought.

Despite the attempts of Senator Warren and other Democrats to prevent it, Jeff Sessions was confirmed Wednesday as the United States Attorney General.  With a voting record that would make your racist uncle blush, his categorical opposition to civil rights has been a cause of concern to many.

Senator McConnell, in an effort to appear consistent in his disconnection from the American people if nothing else, told an interviewer in his Capitol office that he sees a “high level of satisfaction” with the new Trump administration.  He also reassures that the “country doesn’t need saving” as a reminder that if you are hoping for someone to reign in the new White House, it will not be the Senate.

Betsy DeVos was finally confirmed as the Secretary of Education after a tumultuous debate over her qualifications.  Namely, the Republicans struggled to demonstrate that she had any at all.  DeVos is a wealthy benefactor of the Republican party and a long-time supporter of private schools.  During her senate hearings, DeVos failed to prove she had any but the most cursory understanding of basic education metrics.  Vice President Pence was called in for an unprecedented tie-breaking vote for a cabinet confirmation.  The vote for confirmation was split almost exactly down the middle with the exception of two Republican defectors, showing once again that party unity is more important to the Republicans than ethical decision-making.

The Judicial Branch

Neil Gorsuch, nominee to the Supreme Court, called Trump’s attacks on federal judges this week “disheartening” and “demoralizing.” Good for him. However, these comments were leaked from a “closed-door” meeting with Senator Blumenthal (D-CT). Apparently the White House isn’t the only building leaking like a sieve these days.

The Supreme Court has accepted a case on partisan gerrymandering, which has the potential to redraw congressional district maps nation-wide. The case comes out of Florida, however North Carolina and Wisconsin have also been ordered to redraw congressional districts due to unconstitutional rigging of elections by drawing inherently uncompetitive districts.

A federal appeals court unanimously voted to uphold the original stay on Trump’s travel ban, pointing to the administration’s complete lack of evidence for the necessity of the ban and lack of precedent for its claim that the ban was unreviewable by the judiciary. This made President Trump ALL CAPS ANGRY, a sure sign that something has finally gone right.

Drink of the Week: Moscow Mule

Get it? Because Moscow. You’ll need:

  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 4-6 oz. ginger beer
  • Ice cubes
  • A Russian with blackmail on you

Squeeze lime juice into a collins glass, then drop in the rinds. Add ice into the glass, pour in vodka, and then fill with ginger beer. If you fill with ginger ale, the FSB knows where you live, and will not be amused.




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