Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Losing Ross Douthat

via Slate: a brief rundown on some of the things floating around regarding 45*'s performance - from people reportedly close to him.

Conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat sums up the situation aptly:

Read the things that these people, members of his inner circle, his personally selected appointees, say daily through anonymous quotations to the press. (And I assure you they say worse off the record.) They have no respect for him, indeed they seem to palpate with contempt for him, and to
regard their mission as equivalent to being stewards for a syphilitic emperor.

Today's Tweet

Monday, May 29, 2017

It Seems To Be Dissolving


WaPo:

(Paul Waldman - talking about the rolling cluster fuck that's been taken from the Trump "campaign" and installed as the Trump "administration" - taking some major shots, that somehow got past the editors at WaPo, because this piece would never have appeared in that paper just a few short months ago.)

Taken together, these reports paint a picture of a White House that is convinced that what it has is in large part a media problem. So creating a “war room” to craft and push out better spin seems to be the first item on the agenda. After that, they’re considering some kind of staff shakeup that would involve replacing some personnel with different people who would presumably do a better job.

But that’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what is ailing this administration. It certainly has a media problem, but it isn’t because the administration hasn’t had the opportunity to get its side of the story out. Its side of the story is out — it’s just that it keeps being contradicted by the facts. If the White House is upset that journalists greet its latest spin with skepticism, that’s only because its lies have been so copious that no reporter can take what administration officials say at face value, and in every new controversy, there’s a strong chance they’re pushing out new lies, which will then inevitably be exposed.

--and--

And now we learn that this ignorant neophyte — who seems, like many rich white guys, to have a confidence utterly unwarranted by his actual abilities — thought he was a character in a Tom Clancy novel, when he’s actually a character right out of “Veep.” His suggestion to the Russians that they set up a secret communications channel in a Russian facility was so ludicrous that even the Russians were shocked.
I loved the part about Steve Bannon trying to spin this as the "vast right wing conspiracy" in reverse.

That's like saying it's inappropriate for the cops to conspire against a gang of car thieves.

Today's Today


What they teach us to think it is



Daylight again, following me to bed
I think about a hundred years ago, how my fathers bled
I think I see a valley, covered with bones in blue
All the brave soldiers that cannot get older 

Been askin' after you
Hear the past a callin', 
From Armageddon's side
When everyone's talkin' and no one is listenin', 
How can we decide?

Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground
Mother earth will swallow you, lay your body down

Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground
Mother earth will swallow you, lay your body down

 What it actually is






Sunday, May 28, 2017

Today's Quote

“Margaret Atwood, the Canadian novelist, once asked a group of women at a university why they felt threatened by men. The women said they were afraid of being beaten, raped, or killed by men. She then asked a group of men why they felt threatened by women. They said they were afraid women would laugh at them.”

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Today's GIF

I keep thinking this is Trump in Europe and then Trump coming home to face the shit storm

Today's Tweet

Maybe It's A Trend?

...but don't count on it.

Mike Gerson at WaPo last week:

To many observers on the left, the initial embrace of Seth Rich conspiracy theories by conservative media figures was merely a confirmation of the right’s deformed soul. But for those of us who remember that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity were once relatively mainstream Reaganites, their extended vacation in the fever swamps is even more disturbing. If once you knew better, the indictment is deeper.

The cruel exploitation of the memory of Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer who was shot dead last summer, was horrifying and clarifying. The Hannity right, without evidence, accused Rich rather than the Russians of leaking damaging DNC emails. In doing so, it has proved its willingness to credit anything — no matter how obviously deceptive or toxic — to defend President Trump and harm his opponents. Even if it means becoming a megaphone for Russian influence.

"To many observers on the left..."  

Wow - it's almost like the guy is catching onto his own bullshit. 

Almost.

I could be wrong - not that it doesn't happen pretty often of course - but I'd like to see a few examples of Mr Gerson's writing from the last 15-25 years showing he was in any way concerned about the degeneration he now laments when it was so very obvious to practically everyone who was paying any attention to anything other than monetizing the ignorance of the rubes and furthering his own ("conservative") agenda.

And I absolutely have no qualms about beating the drum some more when it comes to the simple fact that a shitload of people on "The Left" have been warning about this very thing for a very long time.

Maybe we're starting to see a bigger move to get the GOP back under control, and more in line with the Real Real America now that we pretty much know that the Phony-Baloney Real America these boneheads have been peddling for 30 years is exactly the poison we've been saying it is for those same 30 fucking years.

It continues:

But this failure of decency is also politically symbolic. Who is the politician who legitimized conspiracy thinking at the highest level? Who raised the possibility that Ted Cruz’s father might have been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy? Who hinted that Hillary Clinton might have been involved in the death of Vince Foster, or that unnamed liberals might have killed Justice Antonin Scalia? Who not only questioned President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, but raised the prospect of the murder of a Hawaiian state official in a coverup? “How amazing,” Trump tweeted in 2013, “the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s ‘birth certificate’ died in plane crash today. All others lived.”

--and--

A conspiratorial approach to politics is fully consistent with other forms of dehumanization — of migrants, refugees and “the other” more generally. Men and women are reduced to types and presented as threats. They also become props in an ideological drama. They are presented as representatives of a plot involving invasion and infiltration, rather than being viewed as individuals seeking opportunity or fleeing oppression and violence. This also involves callousness, cruelty and conspiracy thinking.

In Trump’s political world, this project of dehumanization is far along. The future of conservatism now depends on its capacity for revulsion. And it is not at all clear whether this capacity still exists.

You get to own some of this, Mr Gerson. Right along with your buddies, David Brooks and Bill Kristol and Hannity and Limbaugh and and and - either you said way too little or nothing at all, and you were fine with all of it until the lunacy started to threaten your little piece of the empire. 

Your little corner is under threat precisely because you let (ie: helped) the loonies go crazy - and that's always how it works, dummy: "The whole country's a buncha fucked up untrustworthy assholes except for you and me - and I now I'm not so sure about you."

Even if they aren't fully aware of it, a huge number of people can see that you're just looking for a little rehab - you're doing nothing but pretending you had nothing to do with "those freaks" because you need to put some distance between yourself and them so you have a shot at keeping up with the gravy train that you know is starting to pull away for you.

We know who you are and we can see what you're doing.

Tough Guy

Bill Mauldin drew one of the all-time definitive cartoons about how a real badass doesn't walk around trying to prove what a badass he is.


David Clarke is a Daddy State jagoff and exactly the opposite of who we should be holding up as an example.


WaPo:

“Look at this f‑‑‑ing guy’s uniform,” Charles Clymer wrote on Twitter. “You see all that s‑‑t pinned all over his dress uniform jacket? That’s not supposed to be there.”

His objection was that the decorations on Clarke’s uniform project “authority” — but that they themselves are meaningless. “Colin Powell once described a dress uniform as a soldier’s résumé,” he wrote. “You can tell what they’ve done by their ribbons and badges.” More ribbons and medals mean a lengthier résumé, in other words — which wasn’t the case with Clarke’s regalia.

Clymer’s tweets kicked up a whole separate dust storm of criticism and defense of the sheriff. Snopes compiled various views of Clarke’s attire, including critics and defenders.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Who's In Charge Here?

45*'s Grand Alienation Tour has made it pretty clear that almost every one of our old buddy countries is deciding Angela Merkel will be running the show from on out.  

And the US can fuck off until we come to our senses and put a grownup in the Oval Office again.

Hillary In Retrospect

Some interesting points made here.

"She was a horrible candidate". Maybe some of the perception regarding Hillary is due to our perception of how thoroughly horrible Trump is, and we're judging her relative to that. ie: "she was up against the worst person in the world and she lost, so she has to be the worst of everything ever..."

Plenty of "bad candidates" have been in office for some very long stretches of time.


New York Magazine:

Affection for her campaign staff is one reason Clinton claims she will not point fingers at her own team in assessing her loss. “I will never say anything other than positive things about my campaign,” she tells me in Chappaqua. “Because I love the people that led it, worked in it.”

Besides, she argues, “what I was doing was working. I would have won had I not been subjected to the unprecedented attacks by Comey and the Russians, aided and abetted by the suppression of the vote, particularly in Wisconsin.” She agrees that there are lessons to be learned from her campaign, just not the same ones her critics would cite. “Whoever comes next, this is not going to end. Republicans learned that if you suppress votes you win … So take me out of the equation as a candidate. You know, I’m not running for anything. Put me into the equation as somebody who has lived the lessons that people who care about this country should probably pay attention to.”
--and--

She was still in the ritualistic-process mode when she attended Trump’s inauguration. People close to her told me that she’d had doubts about being able to make it through without visibly losing control. “Oh,” says Clinton, “it was hard. It was really … difficult.” But “at the time, we hoped that there would be a different agenda for governing than there had been for running.”

Of course, it quickly became clear from Trump’s speech that there would be no change in strategy. A look of disgust crosses Clinton’s face as she recalls it. “It was a really painful cry to his hard-core supporters that he wasn’t changing,” she says. “The ‘carnage’ in our country? It was a very disturbing moment. I caught Michelle Obama’s eye, like, What is going on here? I was sitting next to George and Laura Bush, and we have our political differences, but this was beyond any experience any of us had ever had.”

I ask her about the report that Bush had said of the speech, “That was some weird shit,” and her eyes light up. “Put it in your article,” she says. “They tried to walk back from it, but …” Did she hear it herself? I ask. She raises her eyebrows and grins.

--and--

The unusually prolonged pummeling is partly because Clinton’s Election Day loss was not just hers but the nation’s; her defeat this time left us not with an Obama presidency but with an out-of-control administration led by a man so inept — and so reviled — that even (some) Republicans are voicing concerns. The nation is grasping for a way to understand how we got here, and blaming Clinton wholly and neatly takes the heat off everyone else who contributed: from the critics who derided her supporters as empty-headed shills to those supporters who were cowed into secret Facebook groups; from the journalists who treated Trump as a ratings-pumping sideshow and Clinton as the suspiciously presumptive president to all of us who permitted cheerful stories about America’s progress on gender and race to blot out the real and lingering inequities in this country.

Privatization Scam


Sec'y Reich explains:

Today's Tweet

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Signaling Hope

WaPo:

This year, federal courts have been litigating a steady stream of gerrymandering claims. And most of the electoral maps the courts have knocked down were drawn by Republicans.

That’s good news for Democrats: They have an opportunity in several states to draw more favorable congressional and state legislative maps ahead of 2018 elections. And every seat counts, given the 2020 Census is right around the corner, which brings with it the opportunity in many states to draw new district maps.

Some Republican legislatures are paying the price for capturing 21 chambers in the 2010 elections, the last time electoral maps were being drawn.
Monday, North Carolina became the third GOP-controlled state legislature in a row to get its map-drawing skills declared illegal by the Supreme Court.

Keith

Nobody keeps score better than Olbermann. And while a lot of this is "just more smoke", when we really start piecing it all together, it's not unreasonable to conclude there's prob'ly something on fire.  At the very least, we can't deny the Probable Cause bit.


Today's Tweet


Follow the whole thread so you can be ready to rebut the inevitable rationalizations.

The Big Heist

45* is all about the loopholes. And his approach is pretty simple: "I don't do anything your lawyers can't force my lawyers to try to talk me into doing."

He's spent his entire career (building whatever fortune he has) by reneging on his commitments and stiffing people for what he owes them.

Now he's in an office that's not very well constrained by law or regulation. The limits on the behavior of POTUS are mostly dependent on a tradition of self-restraint, which puts the emphasis on the honorability of the office holder.

It can't possibly come as news to find that "Honorability" is not the word likely to pop into anybody's mind when they hear the word "Trump".



And now we have even more evidence that nothing has changed with 45*.

The Atlantic:

Days before taking office, Donald Trump said his company would donate all profits from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury, part of an effort to avoid even the appearance of a conflict with the Constitution’s emoluments clause.

Now, however, the Trump Organization is telling Congress that determining exactly how much of its profits come from foreign governments is simply more trouble than it’s worth.

One more time, kids - this is not governance, this is a fucking robbery.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Keith


Today's GIF

And here we see a large angry John Brennan handling Trey Gowdy in today's committee meeting.


Today's Quote

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. 
--M. Kathleen Casey

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Congress Critter

Letter to the Editor, The Roanoke Times:

I was the first questioner at Congressman Tom Garrett’s Moneta town hall on May 9. I spoke about my father’s eight-year battle against cancer, and asked how he would have been able to afford coverage with a preexisting condition if the Republicans’ health care bill had been law at the time. The congressman in response told me about his own family’s struggle with cancer. It truly is tragic how many of us know the pain and heartbreak of this disease.

Unfortunately, the congressman did not answer my question. It was a familiar feeling for many of us at the town hall who asked questions the congressman didn’t care for. So, yes, as the evening went on I found myself booing, clapping, and even shouting. What the heck was wrong with me?

Well, for starters, our congressman just voted to take health care away from 24 million people. Frankly, I’m sick of hearing that the real issue here isn’t what Congress is doing that will actually affect peoples’ lives, but how people react to these terrifying, sickening developments. To reiterate: under the bill the congressman voted for, if my father had still been with us, he could have been charged hundreds of thousands of dollars more just because he had the misfortune to develop a brain tumor. I can’t be polite when thinking of that possibility. The congressman doesn’t get points because he delivers that view calmly or respectfully.

Voting to kick 24 million people off their health insurance to fund a tax credit for the rich deserves some heckling, as the editorial put it. (By the way, heckling is what one does at a comedy club; at an American political event, we refer to it as protest.) And if my untoward behavior gives even a single member of Congress pause before taking another life-threatening vote, by driving home just how personally and viscerally their actions affect us, I will wear the “childish” label as a badge of honor. We couldn’t set a better example for the next generation; and I know I made my father proud.


Mr Garrett is big on using the dismissive, "we can disagree without being disagreeable". Which is a basic truth, but it's not something anybody gets to use as an all-purpose shield to deflect any and all criticism.

Garrett is a radical rightwing Freedom Caucus Ayn Randian authoritarian Daddy State bozo. The policies he supports and the agenda he's trying to advance are dangerous - and I don't use that term lightly.

The letter writer stated it pretty well - it's not heckling; it's protest. Characterizing this protest as nothing but grousing and/or heckling is another dismissive and condescending tactic used by people who can't answer the criticism and have no intention of considering your opinion anyway.  

These meetings are not about the Daddy State solliciting our input. They're about giving us the opportunity to agree with decisions that have already been made (aka: running government like a business).

So, one of the main conclusions here is: Fuck Polite, and Fuck Decorum.

And fuck Going Along To Get Along - which, btw, is something guys like Garrett have been loudly proclaiming for 30 years.

What it comes down to, I think, is that in order to get to the meat of the policy protest, we first have to be ready to break thru the armored fog these guys are always trying to get us to think is a valid argument in their favor, when it's almost never anything but one Logical Fallacy or another.


And, as a quick little refresher: Know Your Logical Fallacies

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Keith


Today's Tweet

Monday, May 15, 2017

Vote Like Ya Mean It



We don't get to know who voted for what, but having Gorsuch on the court didn't serve to move that NC shit up the food chain at all. On to Texas and Wisconsin.

WaPo:
It was one of numerous voting rights changes passed by Republican-led legislatures after the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision striking down a key section of the Voting Rights Act. That decision effectively removed federal oversight of states with a history of discrimination.

“This is a huge victory for voters and a massive blow to Republicans trying to restrict access to the ballot, especially in communities of color,” said Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.

The 4th Circuit on July 29 agreed with allegations from the Justice Department and civil rights groups that North Carolina’s bill selectively chose voter-identification requirements, reduced the number of early-voting days and changed registration procedures in ways meant to harm African Americans, who overwhelmingly vote for the Democratic Party.

The appeals court did not allow the law to be used in the 2016 election, and voters replaced the state’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, with Democrat Roy Cooper.

[Supreme Court won’t let North Carolina use voting-law changes]

Cooper and the state’s new Democratic attorney general, Josh Stein, told the Supreme Court they did not want to appeal the lower court’s decision that the law violated the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.

“We need to be making it easier to vote, not harder — and the court found this law sought to discriminate against African-American voters with ‘surgical precision,’ ” Cooper said in a statement after the Supreme Court acted. “I will continue to work to protect the right of every legal, registered North Carolinian to participate in our democratic process.”

What We're Up Against

Politico:

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus issued a stern warning at a recent senior staff meeting: Quit trying to secretly slip stuff to President Trump.

Just days earlier, K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser, had given Trump a printout of two Time magazine covers. One, supposedly from the 1970s, warned of a coming ice age; the other, from 2008, about surviving global warming, according to four White House officials familiar with the matter.

Trump quickly got lathered up about the media’s hypocrisy. But there was a problem. The 1970s cover was fake, part of an Internet hoax that’s circulated for years. Staff chased down the truth and intervened before Trump tweeted or talked publicly about it.

The episode illustrates the impossible mission of managing a White House led by an impetuous president who has resisted structure and strictures his entire adult life.

The guy has spent his whole life playing outside every parameter.  It's how he's made his way in the world forever.  In confusion there is opportunity, and he believes the greater the confusion, the greater the opportunity. So he creates confusion every chance he gets.

It's part of his basic approach of playing the SmarmSpace - that little bit of daylight between making a commitment to do something and then actually doing it.

His pattern has always been to Over-Promise and Under-Deliver, which I've attributed to his being an extraordinarily bad salesman. ie: it's not about doing what needs done. It's only about saying whatever gets the other guy to commit. 

45* knows this basic concept:

You will go to great lengths to keep your word.  

Because making a promise means something to you, he gains great advantage by being not just willing to go back on his word, but building it into the plan - which is why (I think) he never tells anybody what he's planning to do. And it's not just that he doesn't want you to know - he's so completely invested in his approach, he plays the SmarmSpace with everybody around him.  They do their best to spin it as 45* being some kind of strategy genius, but they don't have one fuckin' clue what the guy will do from one minute to the next. At best, they're just guessing and that's because he wants it that way.

One of the best examples of playing the SmarmSpace was 45*'s threatening tweet about how Comey better hope there's no tape of his conversations.

That is straight-up Daddy State Basics - 45* fears (ie: he prob'ly knows) there're tapes of him talking with or about the Russians, with some damning bits that'll blow him up, so he has to turn that around and point it at Comey or whoever else comes to mind in order to get it all directed away from him. Is any of it true? Doesn't matter. He may know absolutely there's no such tape, but he also knows you and I will have to stop and consider the possibility, because we have some scruples - and a respect for process, and for logic, and for critical thinking - and he doesn't.  He only has that animal instinct for preserving and benefitting himself.

So then along comes someone else who also cares about nothing but furthering their own agenda items, and we get a staffer willing to pimp the "Climate Hoax", knowing 45* will not think beyond "what's in it for me?".  Almost literally, all they think they have to do is meet him in that SmarmSpace and he'll do what they want him to do.  But he won't be changing his rules; he won't alter his approach; he'll be looking for the SmarmSpace within the SmarmSpace.

This really has degenerated into what Ayn Rand called The Politics Of Pull.  Getting power and wielding power and keeping power eventually reduces the system to trading in favors - not goods and services (another reason "Gov't Should Be Run Like A Business" is pure bumper sticker bullshit, but that's part of a different rant).

Anyway, it makes for the perfect environment for a SmarmSpace peddler like 45* because there's no way you can specify a value for those favors that everybody can agree on. I may think I'm doing you a solidly huge one, but when I come around to collect, all you have to do is downplay it - something 45* has made a long and very lucrative career of doing.

There is no soul and no honor in this.

Workday Poem

Coffee
blah blah blah
Drive home
Wine

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Trump Tapes

The Hill:

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee leading the probe into Russia’s meddling in the presidential election, said Friday that President Trump’s tweet about FBI Director James Comey was “inappropriate.”

"But to say more would be a mistake,” Burr added, according to WRAL.

Burr was referring to Trump’s Friday morning tweet in which the president threatened the former FBI chief.

No, guys - that's not how you respond to 45*'s threatening tweet.

This is how you do that:

Mr President, if you have something on Comey - like a taped conversation that indicates something nefarious, or is just embarrassing, or whatever.

If you have something, then bring it. Otherwise, fuck the fuck off you fucking fuck.

This is just another attempt to put the chill on people - folks who want to stand up for something honorable by showing us just how fucked up this Daddy State bullshit is getting.

Can you say "Prior Restraint"?