See what else is happening in the world of politics, outside of Trump’s Twitter account. Plus, are we living in House of Cards or something?
Another week has gone by, so welcome to the Trump-Free Friday Politics Roundup. Let’s break down some of the biggest stories of the week, shall we?
US Bombs Afghanistan
Specifically, the United States Army bombed a tunnel complex near the Afghan-Pakistan border. This move was intended to hit an ISIS encampment there. The strike, which took place in the western Nangarhar province, demolished three underground tunnels which the terrorist group had been using to attacked government forces. It also destroyed weapons stockpiles and killed 36 ISIS fighters. According to U.S. and Afghan forces, no civilians were harmed.
This wasn’t just any old bomb, however. The United States military used the “Massive Ordnance Air Blast”, also known as the MOAB or, informally, the “Mother of All Bombs.”
The MOAB is one of the largest, most destructive bombs in the U.S. arsenal, short of nuclear weapons. It weighs around 22,000 pounds, is 30 feet long, and 40 inches in diameter. Transport planes must be specially modified to carry and drop it.
Though some have questioned the necessity of using such a large bomb, Army officials have defended their use of the MOAB. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K,” said General John W. Nicholson, Commander of the U.S. Forces Afghanistan.
This Whole “Fearless Girl” Statue Business Is Kind Of A Mess
A lot of people love the “Fearless Girl” statue, recently installed in front of the longstanding Wall Street bull statue. It makes for a good image – a little girl bravely standing up to a charging bull. The problem is, it is all too good of an image.
So, what’s the controversy? The artist of the “Charging Bull” statue, Arturo Di Modica, says that the Fearless Girl statue is a copyright violation that has to go.
Di Modica’s statue appeared in New York in 1987, after an overnight financial crash. At first, the city planned to removed the 7,000 pound statue, which was installed without permits. However, residents argued in its favor, and so the statue remained.
In its original context, Charging Bull was meant to criticize the mindless, frantic nature of the financial markets – hence, its home near Wall Street. However, Di Modica’s attorneys argue that the Fearless Girl statue completely changes the meaning of his original piece. The new set-up now places the Bull as a representative of male-dominated Wall Street. “She’s there attacking the bull,” said Di Modica.
The Fearless Girl statue was installed by State Street Global Advisors, a financial firm in Boston. It is, essentially, an advertising gimmick. State Street Global’s website says that the statue is meant to urge greater diversity on corporate boards – though its 28-person leadership team has only five women.
To be fair, such awareness from a large corporation is a step in the right direction. And maybe Di Modica is being too sensitive. Maybe it is possible to find art in the midst of opportunistic capitalism. Certainly, many people visiting the statue in New York have found great meaning in it. What’s discouraging, however, is how so many people seem to have fallen for what is, essentially, an advertising gimmick.
Sean Spicer Is A Mess, Too
Man, Sean, what are you doing? It’s not as if we expect the White House Press Secretary to be perfect, exactly. I mean, you’re out there every day, covering a lot of topics, talking to a lot of people. It’s an intense, high-pressure sort of job.
Still, it’s upsetting to see Sean Spicer to screw up so badly when it comes to political turns of phrase and outright facts. Especially when it concerns the Holocaust.
After the missile strike in Syria, Spicer defended the action. The strike was ostensibly in response to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons in Syria, which have killed dozens of people in the idlib Province.
“We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II,” Spicer said. “You know, you had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”
Spicer apparently forgot the six million people who died in the Holocaust, an extermination program run by Nazi Germany. Many of the Holocaust victims were killed by chemical weapons, including Zyklon-B gas used at Auschwitz.
Spicer has since offered an apology. The Anti-Defamation League has even offered sensitivity training to Spicer. However, many are still calling for his resignation.
Steve Bannon Is Maybe, Probably In Hot Water
Some days, it really feels as if we’re living in a cut-rate knockoff of House of Cards. What other explanation is there for the kind of interpersonal drama that is blatantly infecting our government?
Current White House gossip centers on the President’s Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon. The former media executive and head of alt-right news outlet Breitbart rose to political prominence during the 2016 election. However, it now seems as if his star is dimming fast.
In an interview with Michael Goodwin, a columnist for the New York Post, the President undermined Bannon’s role in the government. “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late,” he said. “Steve is a good guy, but I told them to straighten it out or I will.”
To The Wall Street Journal, he described Bannon as “a guy who works for me,” possibly in reaction to claims that Bannon is the true mastermind of the White House.
This follows a rocky week for Bannon. Previously, he was removed from the National Security Council. Many now speculate that the advisor, notorious for his brash political moves, has hit a wall. Numerous members of the administration, including advisor Jared Kusher and his wife, Ivanka Trump, are now said to have aligned themselves against Bannon.
Pompeo Says WikiLeaks Is A “Hostile Intelligence Service”
In his first public remarks as Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo spoke out strongly against WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. “Assange is a narcissist who has created nothing of value…. He is a fraud – a coward hiding behind a screen.”
As for WikiLeaks, Pompeo said, “WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service.” Previously, both Pompeo and the President were vocal advocates for WikiLeaks.
The international nonprofit, which publishes classified documents, has been at the center of numerous controversies over the years. Most recently, U.S. intelligence officials determined that Russian agents had used WikiLeaks to release data gathered on the Democratic National Committee. Assange sequestered himself in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after requesting diplomatic asylum in 2012.
Finally, A Palate Cleanser
Listen, if you want to escape the world entirely after all of this, I don’t blame you. If that’s the case, may I recommend doll houses? They’re tiny worlds that don’t have to be ruled by dangerously selfish demagogues, for one.
As adults, most of us have probably discarded our childhood playthings. Yet, dollhouses have a fascinating history. Check out this article on the origins of dollhouses from The Atlantic. Also, spent a few minutes watching the above video about Colleen Moore’s tiny and elaborate Fairy Castle, currently housed at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.