Weekly Review — February 7, 2017, 4:22 pm

Weekly Review

The White House puts Iran “on notice,” Trump threatens to send U.S. troops into Mexico, and Punxsutawney Phil predicts six more weeks of winter

WeeklyReviewAvatar-Sherrill-WPPresident Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, an appellate-court justice from Colorado, to the U.S. Supreme Court. “The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer,” Gorsuch wrote in his college yearbook, quoting former secretary of state Henry Kissinger.[1][2][3] Trump dismissed the acting U.S. attorney general for refusing to defend his ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and referred to a conservative district-court judge’s ruling that his ban be suspended as “ridiculous.”[4][5] In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte, whose “war on drugs” has killed more than 6,000 Filipinos since July, said he would consider accepting refugees affected by Trump’s ban “in the name of humanity.”[6][7] Trump traveled to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where he attended a gala to benefit the Red Cross, which has been working to help the Syrian refugees whom he banned from entering the United States.[8][9] A group of Harley-Davidson executives rode their motorcycles to the White House to meet with Trump, the CEO of Uber resigned from Trump’s business council after more than 200,000 people deleted the company’s app because Uber failed to support taxi drivers protesting Trump’s immigration ban, and Republican congressman Dave Brat of Virginia complained about his constituents’ response to the Trump Administration’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “The women,” said Brat, “are in my grill.”[10][11][12]

Trump’s national-security adviser said that the nation of Iran was “on notice” after it tested a ballistic missile, and Iran responded by noting that “only seven minutes is needed for the Iranian missile to hit Tel Aviv.”[13][14][15][16] Trump hung up on Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and warned Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto that he might send U.S. troops across the border to deal with “bad hombres.” [17][18] At the National Prayer Breakfast, Trump, who was introduced by the producer of the TV show Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?, gave a speech asking the audience to pray for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s television ratings.[19] Trump correctly predicted that the New England Patriots, whose owner he refers to as a “friend,” would defeat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI; Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter; and the Canadian groundhog Winnipeg Willow died.[20][21][22]

The White House reportedly considered issuing an order that would prevent a U.S. antiterrorism program from investigating white-supremacist groups, a leaked FBI report concluded that “white supremacist extremists” have infiltrated U.S. law-enforcement agencies, and a Philadelphia police officer with a tattoo closely resembling the Nazi party’s eagle symbol emblazoned with the word “Fatherland” was cleared by his department of any wrongdoing.[23][24][25] Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to Trump, claimed that former U.S. president Barack Obama banned Iraqi refugees for six months in 2011, which he did not, and then claimed that two Iraqi refugees came to the United States and masterminded a “massacre” in Kentucky, which never happened. “It didn’t get covered,” said Conway.[26] White House press secretary Sean Spicer referred to a Saudi frigate attacked by Houthi rebels as “our Navy vessel,” the Ticonderoga-class cruiser U.S.S. Antietam ran aground and leaked 1,100 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean, and the Department of Defense posted online an instructional bomb-making video it claimed was acquired in a U.S. raid in Yemen that killed as many as 30 civilians, then removed the video after realizing it had been publicly available for the past ten years.[27][28][29][30] It was reported that White House aides often work in the dark because they cannot figure out how the light switches operate.[31] In the Arizona desert, a two-mile-long crack in the earth grew.[32]

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Donald Trump’s presidency signals a profound but inchoate realignment of American politics. On the one hand, his administration may represent the consolidation of minority control by a Republican-dominated Senate under the leadership of a president who came to office after losing the popular vote by almost 3 million ballots. Such an imbalance of power could lead to a second civil war—indeed, the nation’s first and only great fraternal conflagration was sparked off in part for precisely this reason. On the other hand, Trump’s reign may be merely an interregnum, in which the old white power structure of the Republican Party is dying and a new oppositional coalition struggles to be born.

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Over the past three years, the city of South Tucson, Arizona, a largely Latino enclave nestled inside metropolitan Tucson, came close to abolishing its fire and police departments. It did sell off the library and cut back fire-truck crews from four to three people—whereupon two thirds of the fire department quit—and slashed the police force to just sixteen employees. “We’re a small city, just one square mile, surrounded by a larger city,” the finance director, Lourdes Aguirre, explained to me. “We have small-town dollars and big-city problems.”

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When I saw Ted Cruz speak, in early August, it was at Underwood’s Cafeteria in Brownwood. He was on a weeklong swing through rural central Texas, hitting small towns and military bases that ensured him friendly, if not always entirely enthusiastic, crowds. In Brownwood, some in the audience of two hundred were still nibbling on peach cobbler as Cruz began with an anecdote about his win in a charity basketball game against ABC’s late-night host Jimmy Kimmel. They rewarded him with smug chuckles when he pointed out that “Hollywood celebrities” would be hurting over the defeat “for the next fifty years.” His pitch for votes was still an off-the-rack Tea Party platform, complete with warnings about the menace of creeping progressivism, delivered at a slightly mechanical pace but with lots of punch. The woman next to me remarked, “This is the fire in the gut! Like he had the first time!” referring to Cruz’s successful long-shot run in the 2011 Texas Republican Senate primary. And it’s true—the speech was exactly like one Cruz would have delivered in 2011, right down to one specific detail: he never mentioned Donald Trump by name.

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H

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I’d never used that adjective about a client. Not until this one. My seventeenth. He’d requested an evening time and came Tuesdays at six-thirty. For months he didn’t tell me what he did.

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