Random Thoughts about the Vietnam War Documentary

One of the things that I have been wondering about our involvement in the Vietnam War is how arrogant we were- at one point late in episode 2, Neil Sheehan mentions that “We thought we were the exceptions to history, the Americans. History didn’t apply to us.”

It makes me wonder- how did we get so arrogant so fast? We weren’t a global power until recently in the post WWII era. Or am I wrong about that? I never thought of the United States as a real global power until the 1950’s. I sort of thought of us as bit players throughout WW1 and up until the very end of WWII and our development of nukes. And we were damned near really humbled in Korea. How did we get the mentality that we can’t lose?

Or, again, am I just wrong about this?

Thoughts on the President’s Remarks to the UN General Assembly

I originally did this as a comment to BettyC’s post, but decided I wanted to elevate it to the front page, make a tweak or two, and add a couple of additional points.

The President’s remarks today are clearly a Stephen Miller authored speech. With the exception of the Rocket Man quip. It is Miller channeling all of his own naive, arrested development sense of entitlement, paranoia, pettiness, grievances, anger, rage, and woeful ignorance of foreign and national security policy and strategy, the global system and how it works, and any state and society other than the US. It is also Miller channeling the President’s naive sense of entitlement, paranoia, pettiness, grievances, anger, rage, and woeful ignorance of foreign and national security policy and strategy, the global system and how it works, and any state and society other than the US. The ego fluffing bits about how great things are in the US under the President are Miller making sure his boss’s ego is stroked.

This would have been bad enough and inappropriate at a campaign rally, it is even worse at the UN General Assembly. Threatening to abrogate the P5+1 agreement with Iran is only going to make dealing with the DPRK worse. What Kim really wants is an assurance that the US will 1) not remove him and 2) will negotiate with him in good faith over whatever it is that Kim wants other than reassurance he won’t be removed. The threat to abrogate the agreement with Iran makes that virtually impossible. Moreover, it makes it almost virtually impossible to negotiate anything with any other state or supranational entity as no one will now believe that the US will live up to its commitments under the current administration and president. The President holds a mistaken belief that every agreement the US has entered into that he has not negotiated are bad for the US; should never have been entered into; and as a result should be abrogated. This just happens to be every single one as he and his administration haven’t negotiated any agreements since taking office in January. It demonstrates how little he and Miller understand how any of this works. If I was the governors of Alaska, Louisiana, and Arkansas I would be very worried that their states are going to be handed back to Russia and France respectively. Governor Abbot should also begin learning how to ask President Nieto for things once we give Texas back to Mexico as well. As should Governor Ducey of Arizona and Governor Martinez of New Mexico.

Kori Schake, who has held appointments at the Department of Defense, the National Security Council, and the Department of State, and is currently at the Hoover Institution at Stanford has written an excellent essay explaining just what total destruction means in light of the President’s remarks regarding the DPRK.

President Trump took the exact opposite course in his speech today. Moreover, before the entire world, he threatened the destruction of an entire country. Not only does that draw a red line that will be difficult to walk back from; it is also a much less credible and ethical threat than a pledge to more narrowly target the Kim regime. Waging war against people already enslaved by an authoritarian government punishes them unjustly—that would have been an easy point score in front of a UN audience.

While I highly recommend the whole essay, I want to focus on this portion. When campaign plans are developed there are a list of action words that the planners and those pulled into the operational planning teams (OPTs) use. Total destruction is not one of them. What the President is potentially calling for here is the complete reduction of the DPRK. Reduction of an enemy is a tactical term (Chapter 6, paragraph 18):

The reduction of an encircled enemy force continues without interruption, using the maximum concentration of forces and fires, until the encircled enemy force’s complete destruction or surrender.

There is no way to totally destroy (reduce) the DPRK as a state without destroying the DPRK as a society. This means destroying the North Koreans who make up the DPRK as both state and society. Total destruction doesn’t refer to a strategic strike to decapitate the leadership of the government and the military. Nor was it qualified as a strategic strike to solely and specifically reduce the DPRK’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, as well as its offensive military capabilities that could be directed at its neighbors. It was a warning that the President of the United States has considered and is willing to authorize the DPRK’s “complete destruction or surrender”. Given that it is unlikely that Kim would surrender… And none of this seems to account for the damage and destruction to the Republic of Korea, Japan, Guam, and the tremendous loss of life that war on the Korean peninsula would engender.

This speech is a good example of the limits of the abilities of the reasonable advisors and staffers to constrain and contain the President, his worst impulses, and the worst impulses of his advisors such as Miller. I think it is highly likely that there was originally a draft speech prepared and vetted through the Interagency with inputs from Secretaries Mattis and Tillerson, LTG McMaster, Ambassador Haley, Gary Cohn, and others which was then handed to Stephen Miller by the President with instructions to MAGA it up. And MAGA it up he did. Eventually the bad reviews will filter up to the President’s attention, whether tonight when he’s back in the residence this evening on his own watching cable TV or tomorrow morning when he’s watching Morning Joe. At that point expect the usual tweetstorm.

Look at the Birdy (Open Thread)

This mockingbird rested briefly on my wrecked banana trees earlier:

She looks weary but determined, which is why I assume she’s a “she.”

Horrible news out of Mexico City. I hope, unlike last time, Twitler is able to scare up a satellite phone to communicate with Mexico’s president before several days elapse. Or not. Mexico’s president has enough on his plate without adding an unnatural disaster.

Anyhoo, open thread.

So, Trump’s fucking U.N. speech…

I couldn’t bear to watch the speech live. Trump could read MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech and ruin it with his horrible snuffling and fake-tough-guy patois. Saw a couple of clips on Twitter. This one seems to be getting the most attention:

God, how embarrassing. Resorting to the transcript is just as cringe-inducing, but at least you’re spared the quivering jowls, rigid hair-helmet and bully-boy voice. Here are some morsels I found notable for one reason or another:

It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city, as a representative of the American people, to address the people of the world.

Standard boilerplate, but I will never recover from the deep sense of shame that washes over me every time I confront anew the fact that this buffoon represents my country. I’ll always feel it, even if President Gillibrand is followed by Presidents Kamala Harris, Ted Lieu, Joaquin Castro, et al, and the Republican Party atrophies like a vestigial tail, drops off and is forgotten by history. This shame is eternal.

Of course, the speech had elements of a campaign rally:

Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8th. The stock market is at an all-time high — a record. Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before. Companies are moving back, creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time. And it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense.

Mostly lies and distortions, except the last sentence. The crowing about the $700B in military spending stands in sharp contrast to the spectacle now playing out in Congress, where the GOP is attempting to gut healthcare for millions of people so they can funnel that money to the rich in the form of tax cuts.

There’s your healthcare and infrastructure, folks. If it’s not streaming into a fat cat’s pockets via tax cuts, it is being poured into the insatiable maw of a military machine that already consumes more than what the next eight top militarized nations spend combined. And guess who gets fat off those defense contracts?

But, moving on, Trump reminds us that America is great because it developed an indeterminate number of pillars:

It was in the same period, exactly 70 years ago, that the United States developed the Marshall Plan to help restore Europe. Those three beautiful pillars — they’re pillars of peace, sovereignty, security, and prosperity.

The White House speech team can’t count.

But enough about peace, prosperity, blah blah blah — who threatens us? “Radical Islamic terrorism,” Iran and North Korea. Not Russia! Though Trump does eventually mention the 1,600 lb. bear in the room:

I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council.

There was no mention of Russia’s flagrant interference in our democracy, of course. In light of that, this bit toward the end was unintentionally ironic:

The true question for the United Nations today, for people all over the world who hope for better lives for themselves and their children, is a basic one: Are we still patriots? Do we love our nations enough to protect their sovereignty and to take ownership of their futures?

Apparently not, if you’re a Republican, and you’ve grafted your husk of a party onto the weak, vain, unprincipled, incoherent and erratic clown who addressed the United Nations today. The rest of us will have to be the patriots.

I Like Peas

Rather than think about the fact that our President is a god damned lunatic and national embarrassment who just disgraced us all with a bellicose stream of bullshit at the UN, I’d like to follow Betty’s lead and offer my hot take on peas.

I like them. A good bit. I really like them fresh when you just crack open the pod and shuck them into your mouth. The people who want to put them in guacamole can fuck right off, but peas are good. I like them in a vegetable or chicken/turkey soup, I like them steamed with a little butter.

I don’t like canned peas other than those really expensive ones from Le Sueur. But over all, I am going to have to give a thumbs up to peas. They always come in one of my favorite chinese dishes, too.

You know what I really don’t care for? Asparagus. I can only eat the tips of those- the rest of it is just bitter and has a gross stringy mouth feel. Plus it makes my urine stink. You know what else makes my urine stink? Coffee. My first bathroom break after a cup of coffee smells like coffee. It’s really weird.

And now this thread has come full circle, as we started with talking about a piece of shit and ended talking about piss.

Visualize Whirled Peas

I know there’s a series of acute global and national crises brewing. There’s climate change, which may have flung hurricanes and typhoons across the oceans like so many martial arts stars targeting our vulnerable coastlines. And the quickening investigation into the role a foreign power played in installing a racist, sexist, xenophobic demagogue in the Oval Office. And federal agencies repackaged as force-multipliers for rogue police departments and out-of-control border protection units. And smarmy liars trying to gut healthcare and social services to further enrich obscenely wealthy plutocrats. And our escalating showdown with the planet’s other nuclear-armed narcissist with a fondness for nepotism, military parades, sycophancy and preposterous hairdos.

To all that, I say, “Blaarrrgh!” Not because it’s not important. Not because I don’t care. But rather because, like the sole remaining team member in a dodge-ball match, I don’t know how to avoid the blows, so I’m curling up in the fetal position. This post is a pixelated manifestation of that phenomenon.

Instead of worrying about these grave crises, I want to know who is trying to shove green peas down our throats. Is there a Pea Council? A Green Pea Growers Association? Because some cabal is pushing peas, and they’ve infiltrated the highest levels of our media organizations and social media platforms.

The first salvo was The New York Times’ unconscionable suggestion that we put green peas in guacamole a couple of years ago, but that was just the beginning:

“Trust us?” How about “fuck no!” Suddenly the food section had become as unreliable as the political coverage. Thankfully, we still had President Obama to protect us back then:

And after that high-profile beat-down, the pea pushers kept a lower profile, but they haven’t stopped. For years now, I’ve stood by helplessly as peas crop up in the most unlikely recipes. I was just looking up ingredients for green goddess salad dressing, and damned if there wasn’t a video ad adjacent suggesting that green peas should be pureed and used to make a sauce for seared sea scallops. As fucking if.

I’ve got nothing against green peas. They have their place, which is alongside carrots, in soups, in a monoculture side dish and even smushed up with mint and served with fish and chips by the more tradition-minded purveyors.

But this business of adding peas to anything green or pretending that they are on the same culinary plane as butter, olive oil, scallions or garlic has to fucking stop.

Please feel free to discuss weightier matters, such as Trump’s wack U.N. speech. I’ll be over here trying not to visualize whirled peas.

Open thread!

Russiagate Open Thread: Everybody’s Talking ’bout Me…

Full disclosure, I am writing this at 6am (exhaustion-induced insomnia) so it may well be superceded by the time it appears. But just as a supplement to Cheryl’s promised post…

Sarah Posner, at the Washington Post, “Trump’s lawyer has a big mouth. Here’s what that tells us about Mueller’s probe”:

Keeping in mind that we do not know for certain that Cobb is right about McGahn keeping documents in a safe, or, if he is, what those documents contain, there is nonetheless ample evidence that McGahn, in particular, is likely in possession of information critical to Mueller’s probe of possible obstruction of justice by Trump in firing Comey. There is strong reason to believe that these documents could tell Mueller a great deal about Trump’s state of mind when he fired the FBI director…

We have become accustomed to Trump’s White House leaking bits of information to reporters, cloaked by anonymity. In the Russia investigation, at least, Cobb’s indiscretion is unlike anything we’ve seen so far. If Cobb is right that McGahn has documents has locked away, he not only has (once again) demonstrated his penchant for reckless public chatter. He also may have revealed just how reckless he can be in protecting his client’s interests — by giving Mueller a gift.

Renato Mariotti, at Poltico, “How to Read Bob Mueller’s Hand”:

Although the scope of the special counsel’s investigation is vast, public reporting of his activities indicate the direction his investigation is taking and gives us a good sense of the types of charges that could result. But most of the breathless speculation about what he will ultimately do is likely wrong—the result of a misunderstanding of how the law works, a misreading of the public evidence we’ve seen so far or wishful thinking by those who would either like to see the president driven from office or see everyone on his team exonerated.

As a starting point, it’s important to keep in mind what prosecutors do: They investigate discrete crimes. Although the media often throw around phrases like “Russian collusion,” that term has no legal meaning whatsoever. Mueller won’t charge one grand conspiracy involving everyone he’s looking at. If he brings charges, expect to see individuals charged separately unless they committed a crime together…

… We know Mueller is looking at obstruction related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey for many reasons—most recently, the Justice Department refused to permit a Senate committee to interview two FBI officials who were witnesses on this issue, and when asked about the matter, referred questions to Mueller. This indicates that Mueller believes the FBI officials are potential witnesses. (If Mueller thinks he might use their testimony later, he would want to reduce the risk that potential defendants and their counsel can learn about it in advance. He also doesn’t want to generate inconsistent accounts from witnesses that can be used to undermine them at trial.)
Read more

Call the Senate

Keep on banging the drum today on Cassidy-Graham.

Reward good behavior with praise and let everyone who has not announced a firm yes that there is a way for praise.

Keep on banging the drum.

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: “Family” Value(s) for Money



President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee raised an unprecedented $107 million for a ceremony that officials promised would be “workmanlike,” and the committee pledged to give leftover funds to charity. Nearly eight months later, the group has helped pay for redecorating at the White House and the vice president’s residence in Washington.

But nothing has yet gone to charity.

What is left from the massive fundraising is a mystery, clouded by messy and, at times, budget-busting management of a private fund that requires little public disclosure. The Associated Press spoke with eight people — vendors, donors and Trump associates — involved in planning and political fundraising for the celebration, an event that provides an early look at the new president’s management style and priorities. The people described a chaotic process marked by last-minute decisions, staffing turnover and little financial oversight…

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On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Juicers who are are on the road, traveling, or just want to share a little bit of their world via stories and pictures. So many of us rise each morning, eager for something beautiful, inspiring, amazing, subtle, of note, and our community delivers – a view into their world, whether they’re far away or close to home – pictures with a story, with context, with meaning, sometimes just beauty. By concentrating travel updates and tips here, it’s easier for all of us to keep up or find them later.

So please, speak up and share some of your adventures and travel news here, and submit your pictures using our speedy, secure form. You can submit up to 7 pictures at a time, with an overall description and one for each picture.

You can, of course, send an email with pictures if the form gives you trouble, or if you are trying to submit something special, like a zipped archive or a movie. If your pictures are already hosted online, then please email the links with your descriptions.

For each picture, it’s best to provide your commenter screenname, description, where it was taken, and date. It’s tough to keep everyone’s email address and screenname straight, so don’t assume that I remember it “from last time”. More and more, the first photo before the fold will be from a commenter, so making it easy to locate the screenname when I’ve found a compelling photo is crucial.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

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Late Evening Open Thread: Florida Man and Woman in the Wake of Hurricane Irma Edition

It’s too late in the evening for another serious post, so here’s some Florida man and woman for you.

A Florida man and woman were arrested for stealing downed power lines after Hurricane Irma, according to officials.

Deputies were called to an Altamonte Springs neighborhood Sept. 16 after a neighbor said two people were cutting downed power lines on his property.

Deputies said the power lines were down after a pole snapped in half during Hurricane Irma.

The power was out and the neighborhood was dark, deputies said.

Deputies found $5,000 worth of power lines cut up in the back of a truck.

They questioned Charles Mahoy, 41, and Andrea Foster, 45, and found methamphetamine and marijuana in the truck, deputies said.

Mahoy and Foster were arrested on suspicion of larceny during a state of emergency, criminal mischief and drug possession.

Apparently it’s something of a crime epidemic:

Open thread!

Paul Manafort In Tonight’s Russiagate News

CNN says that Paul Manafort was wiretapped through the past couple of years under suspicion for his ties to Russia.

The warrants for the wiretaps were obtained through the secret FISA court. One seems to have started in 2014 and ended last year, under concerns about  work done by a group of Washington consulting firms for Ukraine’s former ruling party. Then another warrant was obtained that extended into this year, part of the FBI’s efforts to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives.


The FBI wasn’t listening in June 2016, the sources said, when Donald Trump Jr. led a meeting that included Manafort, then campaign chairman, and Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law, with a Russian lawyer who had promised negative information on Hillary Clinton.

The anonymous sources are mentioned so many times in this article that I wonder if the reporters have some reservations about them.

Meanwhile, the New York Times was composing a piece about the fearsome tactics of Robert Mueller. That article starts out with the FBI raid on Manafort’s home. Not much new about that, except

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, then followed the house search with a warning: His prosecutors told Mr. Manafort they planned to indict him, said two people close to the investigation.

The rest of the article is about Mueller’s aggressive tactics, which is interesting, but I have to wonder why the Times put this into an article. It’s background more than news, which is helpful. It’s possible that someone behind the scenes, not necessarily at the Times, thought it was time for a warning.

Reinforce good behavior

For those who live in Arizona — encourage good behavior

And if need be, drink after you thank the very nice intern for working for such a Mavericky Maverick.

Speaking of assholes

Fuck Paul Ryan (give to Iron Stache below):

Goal Thermometer

And fuck all the Republicans in the House (give to the eventual Democratic nominees in all districts currently held by Republicans):

Goal Thermometer

Fuck Him

Fuck the Emmys for having him, and fuck the NY Times for this handjob:

During his surprise comedy skit at the Emmys on Sunday, Sean Spicer may have made light of his six-month tenure as the White House press secretary, but a message was also embedded in his performance.

In an interview on Monday morning, Mr. Spicer said he now regrets one of his most infamous moments as press secretary: his decision to charge into the White House briefing room in January and criticize accurate news reports that Barack Obama’s inauguration crowd was bigger than President Donald J. Trump’s.

“Of course I do, absolutely,” Mr. Spicer said.

I’ll just outsource this to Jay Smooth:

Eat a bag of dicks, Spciey.