September 12, 2012

President Obama makes a surprise visit to a campaign office in Port St. Lucia, Fla., on Sept. 9, and makes a couple phone calls to startled supporters. But before Obama got on the phone, he had a little trouble operating it. First, a staffer handed Obama an iPhone, which he struggled to dial. "Hold on, hold on," the "befuddled commander-in-chief said. "I can do this. See, I still have a BlackBerry." Eventually the call went through. For the next call, a staffer handed Obama a pre-dialed flip phone. The Week Staff

2:33 a.m. ET

No one understands the struggles of self-sacrifice like Louise Linton, the #hermesscarf-wearing, high tax-paying wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Linton, an actress, posted a photo to her Instagram feed on Monday showing her and Mnuchin disembarking from a government plane in Kentucky. Mnuchin was there to try to drum up support for the effort to overhaul the tax code; Linton apparently joined him so she could take a picture that resembled something that might appear in a fashion magazine profile, if you first stared at the eclipse then crossed your eyes.

One Instagram user took umbrage at the use of a government plane (typically, the treasury secretary takes domestic flights when traveling inside the U.S.), commenting, "Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable." Linton's sarcastic reply came quickly. "Cute!" she wrote. "Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol." It only got worse from there. "Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I'm pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day 'trip' than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you'd be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours." Then came the kicker: "You're adorably out of touch."

A spokesman for the Treasury Department told The Washington Post that Linton's travel costs were paid for by the couple, and that she was not compensated by any of the designers she tagged, not even #valentino (#rockstudheels) or #tomford (#sunglasses). Linton ended up deleting the post and making her account private, just the latest sacrifice she's had to make. Catherine Garcia

2:01 a.m. ET

On Monday's Daily Show, Trevor Noah took a quick look at what white supremacists actually believe, on the idea that many people have been using the term without understanding its meaning after the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville a week ago. It turns out, it's pretty self-evident: They believe white people are inherently smarter and better. "Don't get me wrong, white people have been doing very well for themselves for the past few hundred years," Noah said, citing the light bulb, air travel, and Macklemore wining the best rap Grammy. "It's been a solid run for white people, I cannot lie, but this stuff goes in cycles."

He poked fun at some of the actual white supremacists who participated in the Charlottesville melee, then brought out Roy Wood Jr. for some further analysis. Wood took things in an interesting direction. "Watching what happened in Charlottesville, it only made me wonder: How are you the master race, but you're so dumb?" he asked. "These dudes, they got a great thing going, and they're messing it up. Donald Trump's already given white supremacists pretty much everything they want. He's building the wall, he's banning Muslims, he's taking away black people's voting rights, he blocked Tyler Perry from dropping any new Madea movies."

That last part isn't true, probably, but Wood compared what the white nationalists are doing now to a mistake he made when a friend used to work at Wendy's, back in the day. "They've got a man on the inside, but all the stupid s--t they're doing is just bringing heat on them," he said. "Trump's trying to give them the hookup; this is not how you treat a hookup." He gave some more dubious examples, then brought it home: "Let me give you some advice, you, the genius master race. Comes courtesy of the Dr. Martin Luther King." Or West Side Story? Watch below. Peter Weber

1:16 a.m. ET

In President Trump's new Afghanistan War policy, laid out in a speech on Monday night, he pledged a deliberately unspecified troop surge, probably of about 4,000 extra troops, and declined to set a timetable for withdrawing the U.S. military from the country. Trump sided with the former generals in his administration rather than those advocating winding down the 16-year-old war as a lost cause, prominently his recently ejected chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, so perhaps it is no surprise that the foreign policy hawks in the Republican Party were very enthusiastic about Trump's speech...

...while Bannon's Breitbart News vehemently disagreed with Trump's decision. Specifically, the writers and editors at Breitbart took issue with Graham and other conservatives that the policy was significantly different that former President Barack Obama's.

Democrats criticized Trump's lack of details or vision. And while the reaction at Fox News was much more positive, not all Fox News regulars were on board. Laura Ingraham, a conservative radio host once considered for White House press secretary and reportedly in talks for her own Fox News TV show, sounded almost like the Democrats.

So, 2017, strange bedfellows, etc. Peter Weber

12:58 a.m. ET

When Rickee Stewart walks down the aisle next month, she won't have any wedding presents waiting for her to unwrap when the day is over — and that's exactly how she wants it.

The West Jordan, Utah, high school teacher has registered for winter coats and tennis shoes to give to homeless students, rather than china and sheets. Stewart told she had no idea there were more than 100 homeless students at Copper Hills High School until the school set up a food pantry for them. In her wedding invitations, she let guests know that instead of sending gifts to her, they could help her students. Her goal was reached before she sent out all of her invitations, and in the second batch of invites, she asked guests to consider donating money to provide coats and tents for every Jordan School District student in need.

Stewart said donations are coming in from friends and family across the U.S., and even strangers, and she plans on incorporating lessons about homelessness and charity into her curriculum. She told her "hope is that we get to not only have this amazing wedding and start our lives together, but that we are able to put some warmth on all of those kids." Catherine Garcia

August 21, 2017
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

When President Trump finally settled on a strategy for the war in Afghanistan last weekend at Camp David, he went with the plan pushed by generals who understand the complexities of the situation and have battlefield experience, not what the non-interventionist faction in the White House wanted, several administration officials and Trump allies told The Washington Post.

Trump has spent months angry over the fact there's no quick fix for Afghanistan, the Post reports. He discussed yanking every U.S. troop out of the country, firing the commander, and even sending the controversial founder of Blackwater to Afghanistan to privatize the war, but finally, he settled on sending more troops after listening to Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, whose son was killed in 2010 while fighting in Afghanistan.

One way McMaster convinced Trump that Afghanistan could become a more modern place, the Post reports, was by showing him a photo from 1972, before the rise of the Taliban; in it, women are shown walking down the street wearing miniskirts. For years, Trump was very vocal about how pointless he thought the war in Afghanistan was, calling it a "total disaster" that is "wasting our money" in 2012, and saying in 2013, "We should leave Afghanistan immediately." He echoed these sentiments during the campaign, but now, the Post says, he just wants to be seen as "strong and decisive" when it comes to fighting the war. Read more about the strategy, and how former chief strategist Stephen Bannon faced off against McMaster, at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

August 21, 2017

Given Fox News host Tucker Carlson's previous treatment of President Trump, the wags on Twitter had some fun predicting what he would say Monday night about Trump's decision to stare directly into the sun during the solar eclipse, without using the solar glasses in his hand, ignoring all the warnings about irreversible eye damage. "It is good the president is blind now," reads one fake Carlson talking point imagined by comedy writer Jason O. Gilbert. "Trump's other senses are about to get MUCH stronger."

Haha. So here's what Carlson said on actual real life Fox News.

Maybe Carlson was getting in on the joke by declaring, with a straight face, that Trump's staring at the sun without protective glasses was "perhaps the most impressive thing any president has ever done." Maybe he was serious. Who can say? But seriously, looking at the sun without protection during a solar eclipse is a bad idea that can lead to permanent retina damage and partial blindness. Whether or not you think of the American president as a role model, Trump was clearly setting a bad example by risking his vision for a momentary thrill on national TV. The New York Daily News gets it.

Yeah. Peter Weber

August 21, 2017
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

While discussing his strategy for the war in Afghanistan, President Trump on Monday had sharp words for Pakistan, saying the United States could "no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond."

Islamabad has "much to gain" by working with the U.S. in Afghanistan, and "much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists," Trump said. The U.S. has been paying Pakistan, an ally, "hundreds of millions" at the same time they are housing "the very terrorists we are fighting," and that "has to change immediately," he added. Because both Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons, their "tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict," Trump said, and it is in everyone's best interests to come together to fight "agents of chaos, violence, and terror." Catherine Garcia

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