Listen, I love Saturday Night Live. I might be in the minority who even loves the current cast, and direction of the show, but I do. I think it’s still, for the most part, a strong show. But they’ve really gotta give politics a rest for a little bit in their cold opens. Now I get it, this might seem like the pot calling the kettle black, seeing as I’m primarily a political cartoonist, but the difference of course is that people don’t watch SNL with the expectation of a political bent. Or at least, they didn’t. SNL was supposed to be a break from the mundane and frustrating. SNL was never the voice anger for the people. In fact, they used to make fun of the people that were, and they poked fun at everyone. They weren’t solely a liberal bullhorn aiming at the lowest hanging fruit (well Weekend Update is kind of that, but that’s the forum for that kind of thing on the show, and they do it better). As it stands, I could care less if I ever see Alec Baldwin pop on that wig ever again. I mean, I’ll give him props, his impression is largely spot on, but the bits haven’t had anything new or interesting to say since the start of the Russia Investigation. What’s worse is that Donald Trump is taking to Twitter to call your bit unfunny, and it’s a jarring day when I don’t think he’s wrong. And if people agree with him that your cold opening that makes fun of him isn’t funny, there is a remote chance that they might decide he’s also right about taking it to the courts. Listen, I don’t expect anyone from SNL to listen to some unknown cartoonist from the boonies, but if on the off chance an SNL writer happens to look upon this, let me just implore you, please, even if just for one week….give it a rest.
Watching Trump lie is an interesting thing. Because he’s not good at it. Especially when it comes to things that where he has to come at it from multiple angles. If you want a good example of it, look no further than his most recent interview with Fox News (or as S.E. Cupp called in on a CNN, his “infomercial”). Watching him explain why he’s not responsible for the commission of crimes gets almost uncomfortable as he can’t seem to find an avenue to lie that doesn’t force him to almost immediately backtrack and try to move forward. He starts off by trying to claim that he’s not involved with the tabloid that paid off Karen McDougal, but if he was, he didn’t know or didn’t authorize it. But then even if that isn’t the case, what happened wasn’t a campaign finance violation. But if it was a campaign finance violation, than it was Michael Cohen’s fault, not his. But even if it is his fault, why is it a big deal, because Obama did it. But if you don’t believe ANY of that (which you obviously shouldn’t, because literally not a word of it is true), then it’s all fine anyway because all (read: very few) campaign finance lawyers agree that he didn’t do anything wrong. It remarkable to watch in the moment, him caveating each lie with another, trying to hedge his bets, but the problem then becomes that each subsequent lie weakens the previous one, making the whole shebang a weird incoherent mess. At a certain point, Trump might just want to invoke his right to remain silent…
I think I spend an unhealthy amount of time trying to understand Donald Trump and his logic. Because I feel like he has to operate on some kind of notion for how the world works. So I watch his speeches, and see how he reacts to events over Twitter and let me tell you…I’m no closer to figuring it out then I was 2 years ago. Take for instance his reactions to what should for him be bad news. You see, on days where not much happens in the news, Trump will go on these long rants about how unfair the investigation is, how it’s a witch hunt. How everyone but him is a liar, and how he’s absolutely innocent of everything. Then, on days like last Friday, where these big leaps in the investigation get revealed, instead of again playing the defensive, he’ll insist that Mueller has somehow vindicated him. Let me assure everyone, Mueller’s investigation has lead to the Department of Justice to say, on the record, that it presumes Donald Trump engaged in criminal behavior. That’s official. And that’s about a million miles away from “vindication”. I would almost call it gaslighting if it wasn’t so backwards and obvious. Even if you like Trump, and think everyone but Trump is a liar, you would have to find it impossible to suggest he was absolved of ANYTHING. I dunno. If it turns out that Trump is just trying to actually drive us all crazy, then maybe he’s more clever than I give him credit for.
This last Tuesday was one of those days where if you were paying attention to the news, you might be mistaken in your assumption that we now live in a bad 90s sitcom. Stupid events of note, Donald Trump and the Democratic heads of Congress got into a shouting match in the oval office and made fun of each other. The snark was so real and palpable that I couldn’t help but cringe. Meanwhile, down the street, The CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai was forced to explain that they didn’t make iPhones, and had to explain that, unfortunately, when Googling the word “idiot”, the fact that pictures of the current POTUS pop up wasn’t the result of a liberal bias, but a viable search conclusion. By the by, both events were punctuated by lots of people laughing at inopportune moments, meaning the news literally had a laugh track today. So I take that back. Maybe we are living in a bad 90s sitcom…
So I have a theory. I mean, it’s really an extrapolation of lots of different people’s theories. But it goes like this: I think Trump has been trying like crazy to get rid of John Kelly almost since he hired him to be the chief-of-staff of the West Wing. I think Trump hired the man because he was a hardline conservative and a 4-Star General. Trump thought he was hiring on an old school badass, and Trump thought that it was what he wanted and needed at the time. And then, very quickly, Trump realized that it was in fact exactly what he needed, but NOT AT ALL what he wanted. You see, rumor around the watercooler is that Trump likes a yes man. In fact, when Trump and staff say that “Loyalty” is Trump’s most valued trait, I think what he really means is “submissive”. He wants people around him who will nod yes, and tell him how great his ideas are. More points to you if you can both agree with his ideas and actually help him accomplish them. But John Kelly is no one’s yes man. While Trump and Kelly might fall on the same side of the ideological divide, John Kelly, according to the folks in the know doesn’t suffer the kind of foolishness that Trump pulls, and apparently, he was never afraid to say so to Trump’s face. But the problem for Trump is that, unlike his TV personality would have you suggest, he’s not very good at firing people. You ever notice that when Trump wants to get rid of someone, the story accompanying it is how John Kelly would be the one to ask for a resignation? So when it came to getting rid of that Frosty old general, Trump didn’t have anyone to turn to in pulling that Trigger, and I’m guessing the only reason we’re seeing Kelly finally leave the picture is because he knows full well that sticking around may not be great for him in the long run. I dunno. Just a theory. But one I’d put money on.
Did it surprise anyone to find out that Trump’s resorts hired undocumented immigrants? The man is a notorious corner cutter who doesn’t like to pay people a fair wage. Of course he was going to have undocumented workers! But the beauty of the situation, of course, blossoms out far past just errant employment. Indeed, the best part of the story was some of the stories of the women who have come forward to blow the whistle on it. Because you know people on Trump’s side would want to make the case that he was unaware and appalled, but that becomes harder to validate when you find out how close he literally was to the situation. One of them recounted cleaning his room and doing his laundry, including (the poor woman) having to iron his boxer shorts. The woman who told this story spoke no English and performed tasks directly for Trump. More so, she also claimed the management helped to obtain fraudulent documents to help avoid detection. So the big take away is that illegal immigrants are the blight of the nation, unless they’re ironing Donald Trump’s boxer shorts.
Do you remember when “only the best and brightest” were going to be working at Donald Trump’s side as President? I know a lot of us kind of took that as a bad joke at first, but now a days, it’s like an ironic catchphrase we use as the executive branch implodes on itself. And now with John Kelly very publicly departing as Trump comes under more and more scrutiny, it seems like Trump is having a hard time even presenting the image of having a wealth of qualified candidates chomping at the bit to fill the seat. What’s worse, his number one pick, and indeed the guy who was offered the job, Nick Ayers (currently Mike Pence’s chief-of-staff) basically said “thanks but no thanks!” and is himself getting ready to depart the White House as the walls come tumbling down. Whoever Trump ends up choosing, they’re going to have to live under the stigma of knowing full well they weren’t his first choice. And I imagine that alone might keep a few people from taking the job. Whoever ends up in that position will likely have to deal with mounting legal threats and reputational woes that transcend their time in the White House, so I really have to wonder who is desperate enough to actually say yes.
A few things I need to get out of the way. CNN isn’t fake news. But for that matter, Fox News isn’t either. Don’t get me wrong. Fox News is heavily slanted, and some of it’s “journalists” (Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Laura Ingraham, etc.) manipulate facts and data to support unrealistic conclusions, but it’s not “fake” news. Both networks have actual journalists, and (usually) report on the important stories of the day. But both networks have their slant. Fox News’ is arguably steeper, going extremely conservative, while CNN can boast a bit more balance, and is better about retracting false or misleading stories. But they both DO report the actual news (mostly). So how are they capable of covering the exact same story and drawing the exact opposite conclusion? It’s ludicrous and can be totally infuriating. I like to think that I’m a moderate that leans left. It’s an admittedly pretty dramatic lean, but I don’t think my political views don’t stray too far away from the center. And as such I want to find as many perspectives on the news as I can find. But when I hear CNN and Fox News explain to me the exact same story with drastically different outcomes, I realize why it’s so easy for Trump to lie about the media and get away with it.
Remember when Trump railed on people for invoking the 5th Amendment right against self incrimination when it had to do with Hillary Clinton? It was a maneuver that only criminals and mob members did? Why invoke it if you have nothing to hide? Right Donald? So of course he sticks to his guns when that pendulum of self preservation swings back his way!
Of course not!
When Roger Stone plead the 5th in regards to the investigation into Trump’s potential collusion with a hostile foreign power, you can bet your but that not only was he in favor of the 5th Amendment, but he went on Twitter to declare the man a national hero!