US Missiles Hit Syria, Repubs Go Nuclear
Friday, April 7, 2017
Vol. 6, No. 89
Thin Red Line: The US fired volleys of missiles at targets in Syria in response to dictator Bashar al-Assad’s use of nerve gas in his country’s civil war.
Military officials said they fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles aimed at destroying Syrian aircraft and support facilities at Al Shayrat airfield, the base from which the chemical attack was launched. The Russian military was notified in advance of the attack. No Russian aircraft were at the airfield and no Russian forces were targeted.
President Trump said last night from his Mar-a-Lago club, “It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”
The Trump administration acted quickly after signaling how gravely it took the use of chemical weapons. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said just yesterday, “It’s a serious matter. It requires a serious response.” He went on, “Assad’s role in the future is uncertain, clearly, and with the acts that he’s taken there would seem to be no role for him to govern the Syrian people.”
It’s a 180-degree reversal from Tillerson’s statement just last week that Syria’s fate is up to the Syrian people.
Kaboom!!!: Senate Republicans invoked the “nuclear option” yesterday, reducing the number of votes required for a Supreme Court confirmation from 60 to 51. After the Democrats began a filibuster of the appointment of Neil Gorsuch, the Republicans moved quickly to change the voting rules.
The rule change has potentially big implications, reducing the collegiality and cooperative nature of the Senate to a simply partisan knife fight.
The Dog House: Rep. Devin Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, abruptly removed himself from the investigation into Russian influence on the US election last fall.
He’s been accused of the unauthorized release of classified information regarding the investigation, and being too cozy with the president, who may be a subject of the investigation. Nunes issued a statement focused not on the Russians, or what he did, but on the people named in leaked information. He said, “Several leftwing activist groups have filed accusations against me with the Office of Congressional Ethics. The charges are entirely false and politically motivated, and are being leveled just as the American people are beginning to learn the truth about the improper unmasking of the identities of U.S. citizens and other abuses of power.”
While we’re on the subject of Russia, the NY Times reports that the CIA told senior members of Congress last summer that Russia was trying to help get Donald Trump elected president. The paper reports that their sources tell them there was a split between the CIA and the FBI. The CIA, according to the paper, thought Russia was trying to get Trump elected while the FBI thought the Russians were just trying to mess up the election.
Speaking at a public forum yesterday, defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton said Russia “weaponized” information and that, “I didn’t fully understand how impactful that was,” Mrs. Clinton said at a women’s conference in New York.
The Obit Page: Comedian Don Rickles, who made art out of insult, has died at age 90. Nothing was out of bounds with Rickles. He’d pick people out of his audience and insults their looks, their race, their wife, and sexual orientation. He would joke that America needs Italians “to keep the cops busy” and blacks “so we can have cotton in the drugstore.”
Friends said Rickles was a lovely guy in person, but on stage, no one was safe. He said to Orson Wells, “Thirty years ago you were handsome, and now we’re going to put Goodyear on your face and fly you over the beach for a half hour.” He said to Clint Eastwood, “Clint, I say it, nobody else has said it, but I say it from my heart, you’re a lousy actor.”