BTL Newsletter #1 - 5/27/19 - We've Started a Newsletter!

There's no new podcast this week, but…we’ve started a newsletter!

Our goal is to make you sound smart to your friends (and more importantly, for us to sound smart to you). From now on, whenever we don't get the chance to record a podcast, we'll be providing a news summary right here in your inbox! That way, everybody's smarts get their moment in the sun.  

Click HERE to get the next newsletter, as well as voting guides and other (but not an annoying number of) updates, sent straight to your inbox.

Here's what happened this week:

Trump Walks Out of Meeting With Democrats After 3 Minutes, As Talk of Impeachment Grows (People Magazine)

Your eyes are not deceiving you, this is a People Magazine article. It’s hard to understand how we wound up in a place where our nation’s leading source of celebrity and human interest news (sorry In Touch) has an extensive article on the president’s antics during something as boring as an infrastructure meeting, but it’s probably because they are (a) juvenile enough that they fall under the banner of “celebrity news” and (b) worrying enough that People Magazine is actually considering where they stand on impeachment. 

Of course when Trump got out to the Rose Garden to make a statement to the press about the results of the meeting he had only attended for three minutes, he had a sign at the ready stating,  “No Collusion, No Obstruction” and statistics about the Mueller investigation (for photo see article above). Sarah Sanders claims that’s just because he’s always prepared to talk about how much he didn’t collude. In this alternative fact, truth-adjacent, Bowling Green Massacre of a world, you are, of course, welcome to draw your own conclusions.

How ‘Infrastructure Week’ Became a Long-Running Joke (New York Times)

Speaking of infrastructure meetings and the people who attend them…well, let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter who is involved in a White House infrastructure meeting and what they came to talk about because the topic of “infrastructure” could just as aptly be referred to as the topic of: “diversion featuring bizarre defensive announcement about Trump’s lack of culpability in some legal matter that is in no way related to infrastructure.” Let's take a walk down memory lane:

  • Infrastructure Week #1 -  Way back in 2017 we discussed infrastructure not to talk about bridges, roads, or waterways, but to distract from former FBI director James Comey’s congressional testimony, then complain about it.  

  • Infrastructure Week #2 - This gem held in August of ‘17 was a much needed chance for Trump to defend his comments about “good people” being on both sides of the Charlottesville white nationalist crazytown riot. 

  • Infrastructure Week #3 - This February ‘18 bonanza was held to distract us from White House aide Rob Porter’s domestic abuse and Michael Cohen’s payment to Stormy Daniels.

Infrastructure weeks 5, 6, 7, 800, 3000, and 40182 were in the same mold, conveniently occurring just as firings, exciting tabloid stories involving sex and violence, and White House aides insulting the president were taking place. And then there was this last week…

The Times, for their part, notes that this might be the end of this long-revered, two year-old White House tradition: “Infrastructure Week was born out of chaos. Now it looks as if it might die that way, too. On Wednesday, the person with knowledge of the original planning said the entire effort had ‘gone horribly wrong, spinning out of control.’”

Trump Directed Ex-White House Counsel to Defy Subpoena Related to Mueller Report(Time)

The most exciting part of this article is when Don McGahn’s attorney says that he “again finds himself facing contradictory instructions from two co-equal branches of government.” Meaning he knows Congress is a co-equal branch of government. Meaning there’s a chance that McGahn and, by extension, THE WHITE HOUSE, have heard of some basic stuff in the Constitution. Win?

Side Note: How many attorneys will have to be hired to protect Trump’s attorneys from their own legal work? 

Trump Expected to Pick Ken Cuccinelli for Immigration Policy Role (New York Times)

Summary: Trump has decided to antagonize us further by hiring an immigration hardliner to be a “czar” i.e. do a made-up job that has yet to be defined and has no clear precedent. Having no identifiable responsibilities will, by design, ensure that there are no limitations on this position’s power since...well...whether or not he actually has any power in the first place will remain open to debate and we’ll probably argue about that while he secretly does shady shit. 

“He,” by the way, is probably Ken Cuccinelli, the former Virginia AG and failed gubernatorial candidate who was an active Ted Cruz supporter in 2016 and has gone on the record in favor of policy like denying citizenship to the American-born children of undocumented immigrants and allowing people to fire non English-speakers at will. (The White House was apparently also considering disgraced former Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach, who gave the White House a hilarious list of 10 requirements he need met in order to take the job.) 

Federal judge blocks Mississippi abortion law (CNN)

Mississippi, a state ranking 50th in healthcare and 46th in education, was handed a crushing defeat as it continued its ongoing fight to “respect life”.  In a decision that can only be called painfully obvious to all thinking people, a federal judge declared that the fetal heartbeat law. “threatens immediate harm to women's rights, especially considering most women do not seek abortions services until after six weeks.”  He went on to say, “By banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, the law prevents a woman's free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy.” Ha! Clearly this judge didn’t understand that Mississippi passed this bill for the sole reason of preventing all personal dignity and autonomy.  

Lone Republican blocks disaster aid package on House floor (Politico)

Congressman Chip Roy, a man we’ll never be able to trust based on him having the name Chip Roy, held up $19 BILLION of disaster aid to the entire country...all by himself!  The Senate had already passed the bill with Trump’s blessing (what a world!?) and all the house had to do was pass it with unanimous consent after everyone had left town for the holiday. Not on Chip Roy’s watch! Ol’ Chippy decided to object on the house floor because of THE DEBT.  You know, the debt, that pesky thing that Republicans care about only when it means denying services to people, but not when it means giving zillions of dollars in tax breaks to their wealthy pals. 

Chip is a first term congressman from Texas, and guess what? We could very easily make it his last!  He won by less than 3% in 2018 in a district that Trump only won by a few points in 2016 (with 52% of the vote). 

North Korea calls Bolton a ‘defective human product’ (Politico)

As if the world needed further proof that North Korea really understands both comedy and how to use, they really came hard this week for National Security Advisor John Bolton. After initially going with the low hanging fruit, calling him “warmonger” (duh!), they upped their game and went on to the genius moniker “defective human product.”  (That’s way better than every nickname Trump has given anyone.) 

Inspired by North Korea, we at BTL had our own brainstorm of alternate John Bolton nicknames. Below is our non-definitive list:

  • Defective non-human product 

  • Defective human waste product

  • Trash ‘Stache (™)

  • Dimwitted Dirt Squirrel (™)

  • Moronic Mouth Brow (™)

  • Simple-minded snopt mop (™)

  • Lip sweater loser (™)

Doctored videos shared to make Pelosi sound drunk viewed millions of times on social media (CNN)

Amidst fear among the US intelligence community that sophisticated video manipulation may be part of future of future misinformation campaigns, Donald Trump released a video of Nancy Pelosi that should calm everyone’s fears about how far that technology has come.  

In a video that can only be called “crude”, Trump and his allies pushed out footage of Pelosi slowed down to 75% of its normal speed (which made it alarmingly slow considering Pelosi herself already speaks well under 75% of normal human speed).  In peak Pelosi, she refrained from commenting by saying, “We're not going to comment on this sexist trash." 

The video has now been removed from Youtube, but never fear! In their infinite quest to ruin America and Earth, Facebook has got you covered! They’ve down ranked the video so it will show up in less feeds, but it’s still there for you to share with all your family and friends!