Retiring Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter has already raked in some serious swag as he makes the ballpark rounds during his final season, but the Texas Rangers aggressively upped the gift ante on Wednesday night.
Retired Rangers Michael Young and Ivan Rodriguez presented Jeter with a pair of personalized cowboy boots — nice and all, but then a video of former President George W. Bush played during the pre-game ceremony. When the video finished, the real Bush (who is also a former owner of the Rangers) walked onto the field and offered Jeter a signed photograph of the pair in the Rangers' batting cage.
Jeter and Bush crossed paths a few weeks after the September 11 attacks, when the president threw out a first pitch in Game three of the 2001 World Series. Jeter warned his commander-in-chief, "Don't bounce it. They'll boo you."
Bush reportedly repeated the line back to Jeter on Thursday, which is quite charming. But let's be real: Most memorable from the typical photo ops that follow these presentations is Bush's head-tap of Rodriguez, below. --Sarah Eberspacher
Canadian immigrant argues to Tucker Carlson that white supremacists 'are Americans' while it is undocumented immigrants 'who shouldn't be here'
Canadian immigrant Mark Steyn expressed concern over the future of American society while defending white supremacists during a bizarre and alarming segment on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show Thursday night.
Steyn set out by mocking CNN's Chris Cuomo for claiming that "the real problem" in America is white supremacy, not undocumented immigrants. The white supremacists are "the real monsters," Steyn quoted Cuomo as saying, "not these hardworking illegal immigrants." Steyn added: "For the purposes of argument, let's just say [Cuomo is] right."
You might wonder where, exactly, Steyn could go from there. The answer is that he ruled that it is "irrelevant" if white supremacists are "monsters" because "the white supremacists are Americans. The illegal immigrants are people who shouldn't be here." Steyn then attempted to argue, "the organizing principle of nation states is that they're organized on the behalf of citizens, whether they're citizens of cheerleaders or white supremacists or whatever. You're stuck with them."
Steyn additionally could not get over the fact that "the majority of grade school students in Arizona are Hispanic," deducing from this that "the border has moved north" while ignoring the fact that some 56.6 million people prove you can actually be both American and Hispanic at the same time, as ThinkProgress points out. Watch the full interview below. Jeva Lange
If Congress doesn't pass a spending bill by midnight Friday, the federal government will start shutting down Saturday, with most of the impact starting Monday. About 850,000 federal workers would be sent home without pay, or furloughed, though employees deemed "essential" would stay on the job without pay (in the last shutdown, Congress paid all federal employees retroactively). A shutdown wouldn't be pretty, especially if if lasted for more than a few days, and it would cost the government in ways big and small.
Things that wouldn't change: The U.S. Postal Service would deliver mail as normal, Social Security and Medicare would be unaffected, veterans would still get health care, and air traffic controllers, Forest Service firefighters, and FDA food safety inspectors would stay on the job. And "it's a stretch, at best, to think the military would bear the brunt of a partial government shutdown," as President Trump and other Republican leaders have argued, The Associated Press says. "All military members would be required to report for work as usual. Paychecks would be delayed only if the shutdown lasted beyond Feb. 1." The White House wants to keep national parks and memorials open.
But the 850,000 employees not working will stall activities at most federal agencies, and that will cause some havoc. Most intelligence analysts would be furloughed, AP says, and 61 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be sent home during a bad flu season. The IRS would likely furlough thousands of employees as it tries to implement the new GOP tax law, and biomedical and public health research at the National Institutes of Health would grind to a halt, adversely affected some projects. "Day 1, the world doesn't fall apart," J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, tells AP. But "things start to crumble" over time. Peter Weber
The federal government appears headed for its first shutdown since 2013, but if you had plans to visit a national park or monument next week, you may not be out of luck. The Trump administration is still trying to figure out which federal employees would be furloughed and which would stay on the job during a shutdown, but Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is working to keep national parks open even if park employees are sent home, The Washington Post reports. The goal: "to minimize anger over the disruption of services."
The idea of keeping national parks and monuments open was reportedly pushed by White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who told Fox Business this week that a shutdown "would look very different under a Republican administration than it would under a Democrat." In the last two shutdowns, Republicans controlled at least one house of Congress and a Democrat was in the White House, and Republicans shouldered most of the blame for ruining vacations. This time, "there is no desire to weaponize closing of public parks or monuments for partisan, political reasons," said John Czwartacki, a spokesman for Mulvaney's office.
How to keep the parks open is still being worked out, and there are risks involved with allowing unsupervised tourists to wander around federal lands. But politics aside, this seems like a nice gesture. After all, if Trump isn't changing his vacation plans for a government shutdown, why should you? Peter Weber
The U.S. is hurtling toward a government shutdown, 9 million children are on the verge of losing health care, and North Korea has the bomb, but on Wednesday night President Trump "stayed laser-focused — by announcing the winners of his 'Fake News Awards,' the Fakeys," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday, "and I'm sad to say, The Late Show was snubbed." It wasn't for lack of effort. "Like everything from Donald Trump, this award ceremony was overhyped and underwhelming," Colbert said. Trump had "pumped this as a big event," but all he did was tweet out a broken link to the Republican National Committee website. "404 Error — yes, presidency not found."
Eventually, they got the link to work, and the winners were ... just a poorly formatted listicle. "There isn't even a trophy," Colbert groused. "You can't just make a list and and call it awards." The RNC justified hosting Trump's listicle because the media has "spent 90 percent of the time focused on negative coverage," a claim Colbert found reasonable. "Well, yeah — Trump is bad at being president 90 percent of the time," he said. "Just this week, we are preparing for a government shutdown, found out that Trump had an affair with a porn star, and almost lost Hawaii. It's only Thursday!"
Jimmy Kimmel was also underwhelmed with Trump's presentation. "But I have to say, it was very thoughtful of the president to hand out awards to the media — the Dishonest and Corrupt Media Awards, but still, they're awards," he said on Thursday's Kimmel Live. "And since he did that for us, on behalf of the media, I think it's only fair that we extend the same honor to him." The categories for Kimmel's "Dishonest and Corrupt President Awards" include "Least Convincing Display of Love," "Best Fabricated Numbers," and "Outstanding Achievement in Obama Fan Fiction."
At least Jordan Klepper at The Opposition found the awards a success. Watch below. Peter Weber
On Thursday, the Justice Department dropped its charges against 129 of the remaining 188 defendants arrested during sometimes-violent protests during President Trump's inauguration a year ago. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff said in a court filing that the government "is focusing its efforts" on the 59 remaining "defendants who engaged in identifiable acts of destruction."
The Justice Department had planned on a series of trials throughout most of 2018, employing a novel strategy, prosecuting the arrested protesters, journalists, and bystanders not for acts of violence or vandalism but because they had knowingly participated in a march they knew would turn violent. That strategy suffered a setback in December when a judge and jury threw out all charges against the first group of six protesters. Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the Defend J20 Resistance, said his group will work to help the remaining 59 defendants from "what is clearly a political prosecution." The next trial is scheduled to start March 5. Peter Weber
On Thursday, Carl Higbie resigned as head of external affairs for the federal government's volunteer services organization after CNN's Andrew Kaczynski dug up comments he had made on the radio disparaging black people, women, Muslims, gay people, veterans with PTSD, and other groups. President Trump appointed Higbie, a Trump campaign surrogate and spokesman for his Great America PAC, in 2017 to be the public face of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which oversees programs like AmeriCorps and Senior Corps.
“I know the best people”: Racist Trump appointee Carl Higbie resigns as public face of agency that runs AmeriCorps after KFile review of racist, sexist, anti-Muslim & anti-LGBT comments on the radio. Where was his #extremevetting before his appointment? https://t.co/MnUMQCrLzr pic.twitter.com/xXdT2CIigF
— Khary Penebaker (@kharyp) January 19, 2018
Many of the comments were from Higbie's time as host of the internet radio show "Sound of Freedom." In one December 2013 episode, for example, Higbie said "the black race" has "a lax of morality," and black women "think that breeding is a form of employment." You can read and listen to more of his comments at CNN. "Effective immediately, Carl Higbie has resigned as chief of external affairs at CNCS," agency spokeswoman Samantha Jo Warfield said in a statement. The White House did not respond to CNN's request for comment. Peter Weber
On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed a lower court's order that North Carolina's Republican-controlled General Assembly redraw the state's congressional map by Jan. 24, well before the 2018 election, on the grounds that it is excessively partisan. The state can continue using the current map through the appeals process, meaning North Carolina will likely use its gerrymandered map in 2018.
When Republicans approved the district map's criteria in February 2016, they were pretty open about the goal being to keep 10 of North Carolina's 13 U.S. House seats in GOP hands, despite the close partisan split in the state. The three-judge federal panel ruled earlier this month that such "invidious partisan discrimination" violated the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause, with two judges also saying it violated the First Amendment. All nine Supreme Court justices weighed in on the appeal from North Carolina Republicans, and the court order notes that Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor would have denied the stay.
The eventual outcome of the North Carolina case will be swayed by whatever the high court decides in a raft of gerrymandering cases this term from Wisconsin, Maryland, and Texas. Peter Weber