Note: The first episode shown during the First Quarter 2017 was a rerun of #335 on December 19, 2016.
Episode #752: Wait, What?
First Broadcast: 12/26/16
On December 19, 2016, the members of the Electoral College voted, and despite a record number of faithless electors, they still managed to officially elect Donald Trump to be the 45th President of the United States. Of course, a record amount of electors objecting to Trump, along with an almost 3 million vote deficit in the popular vote didn't stop Trump from lying about achieving a "landslide victory," nor are they preventing half of Republicans from holding the false belief that Trump won the popular vote. Is all this support from Republicans encouraging Trump to not disentangle himself from a host of conflicts of interest that would violate the Emoluments clause of the Constitution, requiring him to be impeached the moment he takes office? Good luck getting a Republican House to their job on that one. I know a lot can still happen between now and January 20, but at this point I don't want to guess what that could be.
Episode #753: Scroll Down, You Bastard
First Broadcast: 1/2/17
The year 2016 is finally over, and probably not a moment too soon, not the least because of the seemingly inordinate amount of deaths of remarkable people over the past 12 months, right up to the minutes before we started recording this episode. Will 2017 be any kind of improvement? Will there be a better chance for peace between Israel and Palestine? Will more people resist Trump when he assumes the Presidency? Will even more institutions close in New York City? I'm almost too scared to find out, but you know what they say about the future...
Episode #754: Good God, I Need An Excedrin
First Broadcast: 1/16/17
On January 11, President-Elect Donald Trump held his first press conference in six months, and essentially told the world that, despite all pretenses to the contrary, there would essentially be no ethical separation between himself and his business, no release of his tax returns, no answers to questions from CNN, no avoiding inherent violations of the Constitution, and no end to using his signature catch phrase, which inadvertantly showed that he had no intention of relenquishing any control of his vast entanglement of financial schemes. This all seems to be continuing proof that time travel has not yet been invented, because no one has come back here from the future to stop any of this from happening. Oh, and Trump continues to fuel speculation that he's completely under the thumb of Vladimir Putin and who-knows-how-many other Russian interests, so we got that going for us. Maybe I should buy stock in Excedrin now, before I start ordering it by the case...
Episode #755: Ask Your Doctor
First Broadcast: 1/23/17
Everything in that picture purporting to show Donald Trump writing his Inaugural address is apparently a lie, including the statement that Trump was actually writing it (he didn't). If that was the worst thing about Trump's incoming administration, I'd breathe a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, that seems to be the tip of the iceberg. A more pressing problem is Trump's collection of miserably unqualified cabinet nominees, each of whom seems to be deliberately chosen to have the worst experience possible in their appointed departments. Is Trump doing this on purpose to make everyone running the Executive branch look stupider than he does? Is he going out of his way to make the federal government as ineffective as possible? Does he really think he's doing a good job? Have we already moved on to the next controversy by the time this episode airs? (Yes. Yes, we have.)
Episode #756: Bag Full of Bats
First Broadcast: 1/30/17
As New York Magazine put it in the URL of one of their articles: "Trump Aides Can't Stop Blabbing About How He's a Madman." Multiple people from the Trump administration have provided details to various media outlets that only seem to confirm the hypothesis I made back in Episode #737, which is that Trump's brain appears to be permanently underdeveloped in a pre-adolescent state. Witness:
From the Associated Press:
Donald Trump holds the most powerful office in the world. But he's dogged by insecurity over his loss of the popular vote in the election and a persistent frustration that the legitimacy of his presidency is being challenged by Democrats and the media, aides and associates say. ... Those around Trump are trying to get the cable news consumer-in-chief to be near a television less often, according to one person who has spoken with him.
From New York Magazine:
The White House is already jittery with fright at the unpredictability of a childlike figure who has been handed terrifying powers, like the famous Twilight Zone episode about a 6-year-old-boy with magical abilities. ... Trump’s inability to read anything of length has unfortunately freed him up for hours of channel surfing. But his addiction to television reinforces other character weaknesses: his wild mood swings and irritability. “One person who frequently talks to Trump said aides have to push back privately against his worst impulses in the White House, like the news conference idea, and have to control information that may infuriate him,” reports Josh Dawsey. “He gets bored and likes to watch TV, this person said, so it is important to minimize that.”
Also from New York Magazine:
The president is a 70-year-old child whose TV time must be closely monitored — because any news story that upsets his ego will trigger a temper tantrum followed by irrational demands that his indulgent, overwhelmed guardians will be helpless to refuse.
Or so Donald Trump’s aides keep confiding to the nearest available reporter.
On Sunday, one of the president’s confidantes told Politico that his staffers have to “control information that may infuriate him,” a task made difficult by the fact that the leader of the free world “gets bored and likes to watch TV.”
That same day, some Trump aides provided the New York Times with a portrait of the president as a moody adolescent.
One person who frequently talks to Trump said aides have to push back privately against his worst impulses in the White House, like the news conference idea, and have to control information that may infuriate him. He gets bored and likes to watch TV, this person said, so it is important to minimize that.
This person said that a number of people close to him don't like saying no — but that it has to be done.
"You can't do it in front of everyone," this person said. "He's never going to admit he's wrong in front of everyone. You have to pull him aside and tell him why he's wrong, and then you can get him to go along with you. These people don't know how to get him to do what they need him to do."
And from The New York Times:
President Trump’s first weekend in office unfolded much the way things often did during his campaign: with angry Twitter messages, a familiar obsession with slights and a series of meandering and at times untrue statements, all eventually giving way to attempts at damage control.
To the extent that there was a plan to take advantage of the first days of his administration, when a president is usually at his maximum leverage, Mr. Trump threw it aside with a decision to lash out about crowd sizes at his swearing in and to rewrite the history of his dealings with intelligence agencies.
So, what does it mean when what could be the most powerful office on Earth is occupied by a potentially brain damaged, compulsively lying, sociopathic, textbook narcissist with access to nuclear weapons? I guess we have no choice but to find out...
Episode #757: Grifters From The Neck Down
First Broadcast: 2/13/17
As the Washington Post put it:
An attorney for first lady Melania Trump argued in a lawsuit filed Monday that an article falsely alleging that she once worked for an escort service hurt her chance to establish “multimillion dollar business relationships” during the years in which she would be “one of the most photographed women in the world.”
This isn't surprising when you consider that Donald Trump himself still hasn't fully divested himself from all of his businesses yet. As CBS News said:
At least 15 golf courses are a part of Mr. Trump’s worldwide business empire. And as president, he is still in a position to make money off it, including a new one opening this month in Dubai. ... Trump owns at least four corporations with the word “Dubai” in their names, and to date, none of their management documents has been updated – at least one still lists him as president, according to the Delaware secretary of state. ... The federal government now run by Mr. Trump also owns the Trump Washington D.C. hotel. The lease specifically says that an elected official cannot be a party to the contract. So new documents filed by the Trump Organization with the government of Washington D.C. state that “all beneficial ownership... previously held by Donald J. Trump personally, now is held... by The Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust.” ... the president’s ownership of these properties leaves an open avenue for anyone who wants to influence him by buying six-figure golf memberships, or choosing Trump hotels to host lavish events.
That's only the tip of an extremely large iceberg. Did I mention his sons had a Secret Service detail that cost $100,000 accompany them on their trip to Uruguay to promote Trump properties? Or how his new Education Secretary essentially bought her way to her confirmation? Or how his Labor Secretary nominee, "CEO of CKE Restaurants Inc., which owns such chains as Hardee's and Carl's Jr.," claims he'll recuse himself "from government decisions in which he has a financial interest," which sounds ridiculous since the restaurant industry employs over 14 million people in the United States (over 400,000 of whom work for McDonald's alone)? The grifts are happening almost too fast to count. I can't even predict what we might talk about next week...
Episode #758: Making Odds
Episode #759: Weird Cadence
First Broadcast: 2/20/17
Great minds agree: this new Presidency feels like it's making time stand still--and not in a good way. Donald Trump asked Michael Flynn to resign from his position as National Security Advisor, after Flynn allegedly contacted the Russian government before Trump took office, although Trump says he still stands by Flynn, somehow. It turns out many people on Team Trump have had contacts with Russia, but are also tripping over themselves to explain what they mean. In fact, according to one account, so many of our allies are convinced that Russia has basically infiltrated the White House that even our own intelligence agencies are holding back on giving some information to Trump to prevent it from being passed on to Moscow. Trump keeps calling this stuff "fake news" and "conspiracy theories" but people who apparently have inside connections say
First Broadcast: 3/6/17
On the heels of Donald Trump's not-State-of-the-Union address, which way too many people fawned over just because he didn't shit himself on camera, and which also contained an openly xenophobic proposal to single out immigrants above all other people who commit crimes in this country, the singling out of a military widow (whose husband was killed in the botched raid in Yemen that was so breezily authorized by Trump) stood out as either the most "Presidential" moment (according to pundits) or most exploitative moment (according to veterans) of the night. I think the veterans were right. Why was I reminded of Jay Ward's attempt to visit the White House? How is tourism to the U.S. being affected by the White House's various travel bans and negative attitudes towards immigrants? How fast was all this overshadowed by the news that Jeff Sessions lied to Congress during his confirmation hearings for Attorney General? And how fast has that now been overshadowed by something else? I think that last sentence can just stay there for the next four years...
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Episode #759: Weird Cadence