The New Yorker

Incompetence (Paging Mr. Trump)

#PutiTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Carter Page in Moscow, Russia, 12 July 2016.  (Photo: Reuters)

There are days when the primary argument against the idea we really are witnessing this debacle is, really, it just seems impossible that anyone could possibly be so bad at this. It seems even more impossible that the Trump administration should be inflicting so many wounds against itself. To wit, the lede from Reuters seems, by comparison, nearly harmless:

President Donald Trump sought to insert himself into congressional investigations on Russia on Wednesday, urging lawmakers to hear from one of his former advisers, Carter Page, to counter testimony by directors of the FBI and CIA.

Well, okay, we are discussing Carter Page, which is never quite as harmless as it ought to seem.

For instance, the lede and some detail from Roll Call:

President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused Democrats of resisting testimony from Carter Page, his former campaign adviser, because he “blows away” allegations they have made.

In two tweets, the president went on to say that this alleged change of heart by Democratic members comes because they have concluded Page “blows away their … case against him.”

Trump, referring to the FBI director he fired and the Obama administration’s last CIA director, wrote that his former adviser “wants to clear his name by showing “the false or misleading testimony by James Comey, John Brennan…”

A’ight, so, are we ready for the tricky part? Is there always a tricky part? Never mind.

(more…)

Probably Not Helpful (#trumpstyle)

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): "I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!" [via Twitter, 25 February 2017]

Frankly, this just won’t help. Meanwhile, The Hill reports on deteriorating relations between White House and press:

Bloomberg L.P., which hosts a high-profile after-party for the dinner, had pulled the plug on the event. Vanity Fair, which usually partners with Bloomberg in throwing the party, announced earlier this month that it would not participate.

The New Yorker, the magazine that hosts a kickoff party before the dinner, cancelled its event earlier this month, while CNN and MSNBC are also reportedly deliberating whether they will pull out of the annual dinner.

Trump’s announcement comes a day after his administration’s latest clash with the media.

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A Note on Cartoons and Communication

Detail of cartoon by McGettigan, 5 April 2015.

Sometimes you can just see that a relationship is in trouble. From the outset.

To the one, I owe a certain apology. Or maybe I should blame McGettigan. See, acknowledging a particular stick-figure comic strip, I tried explaining to my daughter how to go about drawing cartoon figures differently. The thing with setting hard outlines and then detailing is … er … well, right, we should probably pass that one off to a design specialist to explain. But I learned to draw stillframe cartoons by tracing Wasserman and Trudeau, and the first thing I learned in doing so was to save certain outlines and borders for last.

Nor can I say how anyone else actually does it, but the whole point was to get past a certain drawing style.

Just like we all strive to get past stick figures.

So, yeah, there’s Randall Munroe. And now there’s McGettigan; with New Yorker styling to his panels and a sense of humor verging toward Kliban. And now I have to figure out some other way to explain basic cartooning to my daughter.

Then again, as tasks go, that’s one to hope for any day.

To the other, right. Relationships. Look, it’s one of those things we experience in daily life; now and again it comes up that we might witness others experiencing some sort of interpersonal crisis, and when you hear one say, “How was I supposed to know …?” the first instinct is to wonder how long one waited to ask.

What? In truth, you’d be surprised how many people need that lesson.

At least he didn’t slip peanuts into her chocolate chip cookies, you know?

(“But … but … how was I supposed to know secretly feeding you peanuts would kill you?”)

(No, really, the jokes only go downhill from there.)

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McGettigan, Merp. “New Heights (#75)”. The Story Enthusiast. 5 April 2015.

What Republicans Call Personal Accountability

"US Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham speaks during a US Senate Armed Services Committee on global challenges and US national security strategy on Capitol Hill in Washington." (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty)

Why is it that in the Party of Personal Accountability, it’s always someone else’s fault? Or, in this case, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is exploring a potential presidential bid, trying to explain his take on the politics of climate change:

You know, when it comes to climate change being real, people of my party are all over the board. There was several resolutions ....

.... I did the trifecta. I said that it’s real, that man has contributed to it in a substantial way. But the problem is Al Gore’s turned this thing into religion. You know, climate change is not a religious problem for me, it’s an economic, it is an environmental problem.

So I think the Republican Party has to do some soul-searching. Before we can be bipartisan, we’ve got to figure out where we are as a party. What is the environmental platform of the Republican Party? I don’t know, either.

So I’d like to come up with one. I’d like to have a debate within the party. Can you say that climate change is a scientifically sound phenomenon? But can you reject the idea you have to destroy the economy to solve the problem, is sort of where I’ll be taking this debate.

You know how it goes. Sure, Republicans threw in with the wrong people, and determinedly promoted false assertions of fact, engaged in character assassination, and generally threw a temper tantrum. But, you know, it’s all Al Gore’s fault.

Because, you know, no Republican is ever responsible for his or her own actions; suggesting that members of the Party of Personal Accountability should, in fact, be held accountable for their words and actions is unfair and prejudiced and why do you hate America so much?

No, really, just blame Al Gore. Had he said nothing, Republicans would not have been tempted to disagree, and thus never would have made such fools of themselves. Indeed, this is the heart of Republican “personal accountability”, to blame everyone else.

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Davidson, Amy. “A Conversation with Lindsey Graham”. Council on Foreign Relations. 23 March 2015.

Something About Satire, Something About Etiquette

Andy Borowitz, of The New Yorker.

Is it sad I wish this was real?

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khameni.  (Photo: Alireza Sotakbar/AFP/Getty)Stating that “their continuing hostilities are a threat to world peace,” Iran has offered to mediate talks between congressional Republicans and President Obama.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, made the offer one day after Iran received what he called a “worrisome letter” from Republican leaders, which suggested to him that “the relationship between Republicans and Obama has deteriorated dangerously.”

“Tensions between these two historic enemies have been high in recent years, but we believe they are now at a boiling point,” Khamenei said. “As a result, Iran feels it must offer itself as a peacemaker.”

He said that his nation was the “logical choice” to jumpstart negotiations between Obama and the Republicans because “it has become clear that both sides currently talk more to Iran than to each other.”

(Borowitz)

I mean, come on, that would be … yeah.

Oh, hey, an etiquette question: If you happen to witness a Facebook discussion in which at least one of the participants seems to think it’s real, and nobody else is making the point, what is your obligation to speak up or not?

Never mind.

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Image notes: Top―Andy Borowitz, of The New Yorker. Right―Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in undated photo. (Alireza Sotakbar/AFP/Getty)

Borwitz, Andy. “Iran Offers to Mediate Talks Between Republicans and Obama”. The New Yorker. 10 March 2015.