Funhouse Mirror View (Open Thread)

Yesterday evening, I read a few MSM round-up pieces on Trump’s G-20 trip, like this take from NBC. For the thousandth time since 1/20/17, perusing the network hot takes made me wonder who’s taking crazy pills — the U.S. journalists who are watching the bizarre Trump shit-show and presenting recaps as if covering a more or less normal presidency, or me.

I don’t expect to like any Republican president’s policies. And Trump is a person of exceedingly low character, so I expect him to behave in an embarrassing manner. But sometimes I wonder if my antipathy toward the man distorts my view of his performance. Is it possible that, while he routinely fucks up and brings shame upon the country, Trump’s presidency isn’t the unmitigated disaster I think it is?

Then I watch something like this summary from an Australian analyst, and I think, nah, it’s not just me:

A compromised, incompetent, deranged buffoon is the president of the United States. The president is surrounded and enabled by amoral, unpatriotic, power-hungry people who will paper over his gaping deficiencies and corruption to pursue their own agendas. That’s bad, obviously. But the normalization of the situation poses its own dangers.

To pick on NBC for a moment, how could a “top-5 takeaways” piece fail to mention Trump’s insane assertion that “everyone” at the G-20 was talking about John Podesta, which also indicated Trump has no idea what role Podesta played in 2016 or, more alarmingly, the CIA’s role in investigating crimes against U.S. citizens? How could a round-up piece not include the weird and unprecedented insertion of Trump’s knockoff bag and shoe peddler spawn into the conference? Or his capitulation to Putin on an attack on U.S. sovereignty?

My complaint isn’t just about the sorry state of Beltway coverage. We’ve been kvetching about routine hackery for decades and will for decades to come, I suspect. But living in a country run by a madman and his accomplices warps reality for everyone, including the people whose job is to provide facts that help shape our perceptions. It’s probably easier for news sources outside the U.S. to frame the Trump menace accurately. But this interminable national crisis will require all of us to keep a grip on what’s real and what’s an illusion.

Anyhoo, on that happy note, open thread!

UPDATE:

FSM help us, Trump is tweeting again this morning. The capitulation to Putin is now complete — apparently, Trump “strongly pressing” Putin and giving his opinion is sufficient punishment for violating our national sovereignty:

A prediction: “working constructively with Russia” will amount to lifting sanctions. Also, Trump views Putin as a credible partner in cyber security rather than a grave threat to democracy, still doesn’t understand how the CIA works and everything is still Obama’s fault:

In some quarters, this deranged raving will be covered as if it were normal. It’s not.

275 replies
  1. 1
    Beth in VA says:

    You’ve expressed my thoughts here, exactly. But in better words. Thanks for another great post, BC!

  2. 2
    debbie says:

    I was offline most of last night. This morning, I hear Russia and the U.S. are brokering a cease-fire in Syria and the U.S. is sending a negotiator to the Ukraine. I can already see Putin’s machinations: Do these two things Trump asks. Trump then removes the sanctions. Russia moves back into the Ukraine and steps up civilian bombings in Syria. Right back where Russia thinks things should have been all along. Easy peasy for Vlad!

  3. 3
    Gvg says:

    I dunno but sometimes these stupid weirdnesses of Trumps distracts from the policy implications that are actually important. That’s part of how he got elected. I think maybe journalists need to learn to report these things quickly in one sentence then get on with serious discussions.

  4. 4
    Lapassionara says:

    “Nothing to see here, folks. Just move along.”

    😱

  5. 5
    Big Ole Hound says:

    Great post Betty but for me the biggest problem was 45’s daughter Ivanka being around. Is she running for president in 2020? Nepotism at it’s worst as she has no standing in this country yet seems to be the only person our president listens to.

  6. 6
    debbie says:

    He’s already very busy this morning tweeting and lying.

  7. 7
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    from the Guardian, a little bit of context:

    Uhlmann has been the national political editor of ABC news since 2015, and won a Walkley award, Australia’s highest journalism honour, for broadcast interviewing in 2008.

    While he may not be globally recognised, he caused controversy in Australia in 2016 when he blamed the South Australian state blackout on wind power and renewable energy, even though scientists disputed the claim. Uhlmann refused to apologise despite attracting complaints, and likened himself to a heretic being burned at the stake. In February that year he also published an essay that said the “intellectual virus” of Marxism was destroying the culture of western society.

    Uhlmann describes himself as a centrist and once ran for public office in the Australian Capital Territory’s state election on a ticket with the conservative Christian independent Paul Osborne.

    In other words, he’s not a ranting far left looney.

  8. 8
    Dr. Ronnie James, D.O. says:

    As comforting as it is to think these guys will be thwarted by their own ignorance and incompetence, and that most Americans don’t share their racist views (eg the Fourteen Words crap), and as much as I know we’re not supposed to make comparisons to Germany in the 30s, I can’t help but think that those guys in Germany were similarly incompetent at first (remember Hitler’s undistinguished military career).

    So the question that stuck me yesterday was, “how did the Nazis *get* competent?” And it seems it was bc they able to get competent people in their government, bc there were surely some people there who didn’t really buy into the Dolchstosslegende/ Mein Kampf bs, but were competent and just really really loved power, no matter who held it. And when the bad guys finally repeated the Big Lie enough, and got enough power, the competent people saw which way the wind was blowing, shrugged, and flipped.

    And DC is filled with such people.

  9. 9

    @debbie: If he is breathing he is lying.

  10. 10
    Nicole says:

    Just keep reminding yourself this is not normal. And no amount of the media pretending it is will make it normal.

  11. 11
    Amir Khalid says:

    It’s not just you, Betty C, it’s the global consensus. The world as a whole (that is, Putin and other not-so-good actors aside) is disappointed and frustrated by the Trump administration’s failure/refusal to lead.

  12. 12

    @Dr. Ronnie James, D.O.: Nazi comparisons are apt. Its up to us now. No one is going to come and save us. We have to stop them now, make any association with them poison. Success is not guaranteed but let it not be for the lack of trying on our part.

    ETA: T’s regime is finding it difficult to fill all the positions, so what you are afraid of is not happening yet.

  13. 13
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @debbie: It’s not “the” Ukraine. You don’t say “the Spain” or “the France”, do you?

  14. 14
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    Hi Betty, You nailed it. My biggest problem with this whole Trump situation, is the alarming speed with which a great nation (I am not American, btw) completely capitulated FOR NO REASON. The part that gets me is that there was no reason for this situation to develop at this point – there are no great international crisis; there are no devastating terror attacks in the US; the economy is improving.
    YET, half of the voting public willingly voted for a man and now are prostrating before Russia, without Russia really not doing too much.
    Talk about return on investment on this one.
    One of the greatest democracies in the world willingly got itself into a client state situation, without much going on, except the hatred of one half of the population for the other half. It does not inspire much confidence in democracy itself, does it?

  15. 15

    To keep focus on what is important. I have turned off TV news completely including News Hour and BBC. I read the Twitter feeds of a few journalists and Washington Post, I also stay away from opinion columns for the most part.
    I am also thinking of greatly reducing time spent on Balloon Juice. I find the negativity and the talk of insurgency, civil war and political violence unhelpful and counterproductive.

  16. 16
    A Ghost to Most says:

    After watching the right’s complicity in covering for the coup, I am losing faith that our democracy will survive this peacefully.

  17. 17
    debbie says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Seriously, that’s your quibble?

  18. 18
    JMG says:

    @Ramiah Ariya: The crisis was that a large majority of white people thought the social status they give themselves because of their skin color was under threat. To keep that, they’d gladly live under dictatorship, or even foreign occupation by another white country.

  19. 19
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @debbie: It’s a quibble. Actually an important one to supporters of Ukraine, as the use of the article implies it is a territory and not a country, thus playing into Putin’s game. If your friend Charles asks you not to call him Chuckie, do you still do so?

  20. 20

    Just as Obama’s election was not the harbinger of a post racial America. T’s election is not the end of America, let historians write history. For now we need to fight for what we believe in.

  21. 21
    Dr. Ronnie James, D.O. says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Not bad ideas; some media outlets made a calculated bet that elevating Trump would get them more hate clicks than if HRC waltzed to victory, and as much as they’re now cloaking themselves as the virtuous light-shiners democracy needs, they’re getting a huge ROI of hate-clicks. At the same time, the best way to deal with a narcissist is to ignore them completely, and I think a lot of the snark aimed at Hell Toupee just ends up inadvertently supporting his and his voters’ own narrative (“Look! He drives liberals totally crazy!”); the rhetoric has been most valuable & effective when focused on how his actions hurt actual people. I still value BJ bc they do focus on this aspect a lot.

  22. 22
    Amir Khalid says:

    @debbie:
    In Gin & Tonic’s defence, the difference is significant. The definite article before the name was, if I’m not mistaken, the preferred style when Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire; it hinted that Ukraine was a region in Russia, rather than the sovereign nation it is now.

  23. 23
    d58826 says:

    Is it me or did Der fuhrer just confess on Twitter to giving aid and comfort to the enemy on twitter

    U.S. President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Sunday that he discussed forming a cyber security unit to guard against election hacking with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    Tweeting after his first meeting with Putin on Saturday, Trump said now was the time to work constructively with Moscow.
    “Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded and safe,” he said following their talks at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
    Trump said he had raised allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. “I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion…..”
    He added: “We negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria which will save lives. Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!”

    This entire framing of ‘I pressed’ is wrong.
    The conversation should have been based on a couple of simple sentences:
    1. T – we know what you did and it must stop
    2. P – we deny
    3. T – denial rejected. I will sign congressional legislation on sanctions.
    4. T – and on returning those properties – never in my lifetime.

    http://www.reuters.com/article.....ium=Social

  24. 24
  25. 25
    hueyplong says:

    Now that the fake Russian election meddling story is over, Trump can get down to the more serious business of proving which liberals stole the strawberries.

  26. 26
  27. 27
    pat says:

    Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded and safe,” he said following their talks at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

    I just copied this from Reuters but I see you’ve got it covered. How many looking glasses have we been through so far?

  28. 28

    @pat: I am not surprised, did you really think that he was going to be able to stand up to Putin?

  29. 29
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Kay bait: US residency for Charlie Gard to be proposed in Congress

    I wonder how many healthy Syrian war refugee children they are going propose US residency for? I have no idea.

  30. 30
    d58826 says:

    @pat:

    mpenetrable Cyber Security unit

    Putin would love to given the keys to our deepest cyber secrets.

  31. 31
    cope says:

    He and his administration are by no means “normal” and, in fact, I expect the long-term damage done by these carny hucksters to be much greater than I even imagine in my fevered dreams. I also expect the damage to last longer than I will, alas.

    “Bothsiderism” and the whole-scale capitulation of the major media to a “profit first” model have neutered them or even worse.

    My only solace is on the small-scale aspects of my current life. Looking at the big picture is overwhelmingly depressing.

  32. 32

    @OzarkHillbilly: ICE is deporting central American and south American child refugees fleeing violence in the last stages of their GC approval process.

  33. 33
    Lurking Canadian says:

    As far as I am able to determine, Trump’s position seems to be that the Russians didn’t interfere in the election and it’s Obama’s fault for not preventing it.

    Even CNN pundits and NY Times writers ought to be able to identify the minor inconsistency in that position.

  34. 34
    SFAW says:

    @hueyplong:

    Trump can get down to the more serious business of proving which liberals stole the strawberries.

    Ix-nay on the Queeg comparisons. At least Capt. Queeg had served his country honorably, even if he did eventually go off the deep end. What has President* Lying Littledick ever done in service to the country?

  35. 35
    tobie says:

    I don’t think we have the luxury of playing ostrich and tuning out. This doesn’t mean we have to live in the state of distraction that Trump creates. Whether or not it’s meant to wear us down, it does. But we do need to be vigilant about what Trump does and how the media reports it. If he’s normalized, the Republicans will have a lock on government for some time to come (aided principally by election shenanigans that are also normalized). The consequences of this for people here and abroad are incalculable. It’s important to do what you need to do to maintain your well-being and to fight on.

  36. 36
    pat says:

    Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded and safe,”

    I’m copying this again. What do you suppose is happening right now in those “four agencies, not 17” who are sure that Putin was behind the election hacking???

  37. 37
    debbie says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    My quibble is that is what was taken from what I posted. Let’s just overlook the plan Putin’s now put in place to co-opt this country. It seems pedantic, like bitching about an apostrophe. Oh wait, that does happen here. Silly me.

  38. 38
    Barney says:

    I don’t think that the Podesta tweets should have appeared in a “top 5” for Trump at the G 20. The lack of anything much on North Korea, which the Australian journalist mentioned, seems to be more of a story – but NBC claimed “Trump continued to pressure China for help with North Korea”. Others didn’t see the pressure – https://www.38north.org/2017/07/lsigal070617/ , https://in.reuters.com/article/g20-germany-trump-xi-idINKBN19T0PX or https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-08/trump-and-xi-skirt-north-korea-divide-in-excellent-meeting .

  39. 39
    Lounger says:

    Sen. Schumer has already called Trump and Tillerson’s meeting with Putin a “grave dereliction of duty”; this is a good start, although the statement appears to have gotten very little attention. Democratic members of Congress, prominent ex-officials (Clinton, Obama), should not hesitate to call treason on the proposal to collaborate with Russia. I think the field is clear for this, since no Republican of similar stature is willing to defend Trump on camera now.

    I think — hope — this will also generate serious backlash within the intel community and a new torrent of leaks. The fact that all of this is going on while Russia is trying to hack nuclear sites and power plants should generate a bi-partisan “holy crap” response.

  40. 40
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    From TPM: Trump Admin Defends ‘Voter Fraud’ Probe In Court Against Privacy Lawsuit

    EPIC’s attorneys argued, for their part, that the commission is violating the E-Government Act of 2002, which government agencies to conduct a privacy impact assessment before collecting personal information using information technology. No assessment was conducted before requesting voter data, the suit alleges. The DOJ lawyer responded that because the “election integrity” commission is not an official government agency, it does not have to abide by these rules.

    EPIC also raised concerns that the site the commission has set up to receive sensitive voter information is hosted by the Pentagon, with a .mil web address.

    After hearing both sides make their case on Friday afternoon,US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said she would issue a written opinion in the coming days.

    Well then, if it is not an official government agency, it has no power to compel anyone to comply with it’s requests. Right?

  41. 41
    tybee says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    You don’t say “the Spain” or “the France”, do you?

    THE United States

    :)

  42. 42
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    So this showed up on a Facebook thread started by a Kentucky news pundit (he’d posted some bullshit WSJ profile on McConnell). I thought it brilliant.

    The Seeds of a Southern Statesman

    “Addison, wake up!” shouted Julia McConnell from the far end of a hallway outside the boy’s bedroom. “Breakfast will be ready in twenty minutes!”

    Mitch McConnell sat up in bed and looked around the dark bedroom. The nine-year-old boy couldn’t see much without his glasses, but he could make out the morning sunlight that stabbed through the cotton print curtains beside a window and threw golden slats of light on wall posters of Talleyrand and Boss Tweed.

    “Addison!” Julia shouted a second time. “I’m up, Mother,” responded Mitch, as he hoisted himself out of bed and shuffled into the bathroom. He climbed onto a stool, so he could look into the mirror above the bathroom sink, then washed his face and combed his hair before adjusting his owlish horn-rimmed glasses; but his mind was far away, nervously anticipating the election of a class president that he and his fellow fourth-graders would hold later that morning.

    Mitch finished dressing and tied his Buster Browns before shuffling down the narrow hallway to the kitchen, where he sat at a wooden table and stared at a plateful of hominy grits and grapefruit. As he gulped down a glass of warm orange juice, his mother sat beside him and read aloud a passage from a morning devotional. “A reading from The Prince, by Machiavelli,” she intoned. “Chapter Nine, ‘Men judge more by the eye than by the hand, for everyone can see and few can feel. Everyone sees what you appear to be. Few really know what you are. Hence, a great man cannot be a good man.’”

    Mitch usually drew inspiration from these table readings and listened to them with keen interest, especially when his mother read from Robert’s Rules of Order. But this morning his mind was already counting ballots, and he heard scarcely a word.

    Julia noticed her son’s distraction and asked, “Have you fed your fish this morning?” “Not yet, Mother,” he replied before climbing down from his chair and walking across the linoleum floor to the refrigerator. He opened the door and pulled out a cellophane bag with two small goldfish. The fish swam in circles as Mitch carried the bag to his bedroom, where he unsealed the top and poured its contents into a nine-gallon tank that rested on the back edge of his desk and housed his two piranhas. The pair of predators stripped their prey with such rapidity that the water danced with bubbles as tiny bones floated to the surface. Mitch watched the carnage and wondered to himself if this was what Alabama politics was like.

    Julia drove her son to school, where he made a beeline for the classroom and arrived in time to pass out campaign fliers to most of the other students as they straggled to their desks. For months he had schemed and labored to become class president, an ambition fueled by his many personal limitations. He was too short to join the baseball team, and his acute myopia prevented him from becoming a patrol boy. His grades were not high enough to impress the teacher, but he had managed to become a lunchroom monitor for two months in a row; and he extorted dimes and quarters from the children who misbehaved in the cafeteria, in exchange for a promise not to report them to the principal.

    Mitch turned the modest revenue stream into a campaign fund, which he desperately needed in order to stand a chance of winning. He wasn’t as popular as his opponent, Sally Newman, a charming cheerleader with curly hair, a peach complexion and beguiling freckles, who had a line of boyfriends that stretched around the block. Mitch didn’t have the athletic prowess to win the jock vote, and he lacked the charisma to excite the masses; but for all his trouble with basic math, he had long since learned how to divide the children against each other.

    He had nothing positive to offer the students, so he craftily tied his opponent to the unpopular president of the United States. “A Vote For Newman Is A Vote For Harry Truman” warned his campaign banners. Mitch also sidled up to Minnie Taylor, the class gossip, and began a whispering campaign against his opponent, alleging that her father was a socialist and her older sister Martha had been caught matriculating with thespians at Vassar.

    One afternoon Mitch had feigned an ankle injury in order to stay in the classroom during recess, when he rifled through the teacher’s desk until he found Sally’s conduct reports for the past two years. When she was seven, she had been assigned two days’ detention after a teacher caught her trying to remove a copy of Teen Magazine from the school library. Mitch fed this juicy factoid to the other students in time to make a last-minute surge and win the election by two votes.

    He grinned dutifully as the other children applauded and the teacher handed him the president’s gavel; but his mind was already far away, hatching a plot to have the flagpole in front of the school named after himself.

    And thus began the long political career of a cunning child who aspired not to serve, but to be served.

  43. 43
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @pat: What do you suppose is happening right now in those “four agencies, not 17” who

    and who does he think “had to apologize”?

    sounds like the news of about Fredo I meeting with the Russians got into the folds of deteriorating brain like a weevil.

    (as I type that, I’m not sure what weevils do)

  44. 44
    Baud says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Don’t the French say The France?

  45. 45

    @tobie: One doesn’t need to hear the bloviating blowhards to be well informed. I gather enough information from Balloon Juice and Twitter about the CW in DC. Call me an ostrich or whatever you like, nothing is going to make me want to hear the man or watch him speak. YMMV.

  46. 46
    Baud says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: It never had that power. That’s always been clear.

  47. 47
    Ohio Mom says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: One of the Reps, Brad Wenstrup, is mine (he took Mean Jean Schmidt’s place in this gerrymandered corner of Ohio). Asshole will do anything he can to take away health care from disabled American citizens but somehow Baby Charlie is different.

    Now I know what has topic of my next phone call will be.

  48. 48

    OMFG, y’all — the lunatic just posted a montage of his G-20 trip with a choir singing his campaign slogan as background music.

  49. 49

    OMFG, y’all — the lunatic just posted a photo montage of his G-20 trip with a choir singing his campaign slogan as background music.

  50. 50

    @Betty Cracker: What is his campaign slogan?

  51. 51
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @debbie: Kurt Volker is very well regarded among supporters of an independent Ukraine. His appointment was one of the few positive recent developments.

  52. 52
    Betty Cracker says:

    @schrodingers_cat: The same thing that’s on the stupid red hats: Make America Great Again.

  53. 53
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    I’m not sure what weevils do)

    They eat, and they shit. That being said it must be added that one must always choose the lesser of 2 weevils.

  54. 54
    Aleta says:

    Those last tweets were shown to be false the first time he came up with them. Guess he’s repeating lies to distract from his collusion, and his traitorous staff and sons, and the gift condo sales and whatever crime news is coming tomorrow.

  55. 55

    @schrodingers_cat: I missed the earlier threads, congratulations on becoming a citizen.

  56. 56
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Baud: Somebody should tell president man-baby.

  57. 57
    Baud says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: What would be the point of doing that?

  58. 58
    GHayduke says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Looking forward to the day he stops lying.

  59. 59
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    “Take what you can, and never give back”. It would sound classier in Latin, but he doesn’t do class.

  60. 60
    Baud says:

    @Betty Cracker: I hope the choir was paid in advance, unlike those little girls.

  61. 61
    tobie says:

    @schrodingers_cat: No offense to this blog community, but Balloon Juice and Twitter alone are probably not sufficient news sources. Print media is a great way to avoid hearing Trump’s voice or seeing his mug. My point was that the situation is urgent and requires concerted action in whatever form it takes (e.g., writing letters to the editor in local papers, going to voter suppressed areas to help people get necessary documents, calling the networks to let them know what’s wrong with their coverage, contacting the heads of various Senate committees, etc.). It stinks to high heaven to have to do this but–at least to me–it feels like our small-d democratic way of life is under attack.

  62. 62
    d58826 says:

    According to MSNBC in the press avail on AF1 the Trump team used the words ‘substantive discussions’ to prove that Der Fuhrer is into the details of policy issues. Seems to me that all he has to do to prove that is have a press conference and talk about the details of policy issues.

  63. 63
    NorthLeft12 says:

    I am having a more fundamental issue with Deadbeat Donald’s “DoWC” speech. The whole concept of “Western Civilization” is exclusionary, racist, colonial, and outmoded. Whether you [all of us] like it or not, this is one world that we share, and the idea that “the West” is some homogenous group of people who have the same culture and opinions is ridiculous.

    BTW, DD should have just said “White Civilization” if he wanted to be perfectly clear about what he meant.

  64. 64

    @tobie: Your concern about my news consumption is appreciated. Now fuck off.

  65. 65
    Yarrow says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    nothing is going to make me want to hear the man or watch him speak.

    Same. Seeing his face or watching him speak makes me ill. I feel my stomach turn. I avoid it as much as possible, but sometimes his bloated ugly mug shows up on some show I want to watch. If that happens, I lunge for the remote to mute it and will actually put my hand up to hide most of the screen from my view until he’s gone from it. He’s just that repulsive.

  66. 66
    d58826 says:

    Proposed US-Russia cybersecurity partnership a “very significant accomplishment” for Pres. Trump.

    via Sec of Treasury.
    all other things aside would you believe anything from a man who looks like a rat
    https://twitter.com/ThisWeekABC/status/884039167344234497

  67. 67
    bemused says:

    At the end of Richard Engel’s msnbc report on Russia friday night, there was a segment on American evangelicals’ love of Putin and Russia. Clip of interview with lawyer G Kline Preston IV, Nashville, TN who counts billionaire banker Alexander Torshin as a close friend. Preston’s office is filled with books on Russia, Russian dolls, painting of George Washington by Russian artist and bust of Putin. Preston would love to meet Putin and he thinks Torshin is a wonderful guy and doesn’t believe Torshin is a mobster despite charges of money laundering. Preston says evangelicals bond with Russia on anti-same sex marriage and guns.

    Doing some research on G Kline Preston IV, I read he has done business with Russia for years. He tells friends in TN to not believe media reporting suspicious deaths of journalists and other thorns in Putin’s side. Preston “monitored” an election in Russia and pronounced it completely legit. I didn’t find out which particular church he attends but learned that an evangelical church invited the Russian orthodox church to speak and Franklin Graham had meeting with Putin.

  68. 68
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @Baud: The Spanish don’t call their home Spain, the Germans don’t call their home Germany, the Japanese don’t call their home Japan etc, etc, etc

    In most cases, we accept that the English names of places are different than the native names for those places. In the particular case of Ukraine, since there is historical baggage attached to that “The” I try to remember not to use it, but the principle involved is “Don’t be a dick” not “We should call them what they call themselves.”

  69. 69
    Schlemazel says:

    @schrodingers_cat:
    That one is new to me, does it always concern troll or was that comment just inartful? It sounded sincere but with no history I can’t be sure

  70. 70
    tobie says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Whoa. So much for respectful disagreement. The violence of your comment is shocking.

  71. 71
    trnc says:

    A prediction: “working constructively with Russia” will amount to lifting sanctions.

    It will also be the excuse for continuing to undermine any investigations into Russian hacking or collusion.

  72. 72
    Brachiator says:

    Well, fuck. I woke up early because it’s a hot as hell Southern California weekend, and am now thoroughly depressed.

    But that’s okay, because Betty’,s post was just magnificent, and the link to the Australian tv news analysis was on the goddam money. It is a sad vindication to see how clearly the rest of the world understands Trump, and makes you want to holler at the putrid mediocrity of our Village pundits.

  73. 73
    Retr2327 says:

    @Gin & Tonic: the United Stars will no doubt be surprised to hear that it’s not a country anymore, but I guess that’s what we get for not defending our borders, as tRump says . . .

    But seriously, if Ukrainians prefer “Ukraine,” plain and simple, and maybe for the reason you note, maybe you should just say so? Your arguments for why “the” Ukraine is self-evidently wrong aren’t that good, and come across as needlessly insulting.

  74. 74
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Ben Cisco (onboard the Defiant): @schrodingers_cat: I missed that too, tho in our present circumstances maybe my sympathies would be more appropriate?

  75. 75
  76. 76
    Baud says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: She made the decision after the election. She’s a fighter.

  77. 77
    Ohio Mom says:

    It wasn’t keeping me up nights but I did wonder why all of a sudden we dropped “The” from “The Ukraine.” Now that I know it’s a reflection of the country’s independence from the Soviet Union, it makes a lot of sense.

    It still sounds weird to me to leave out the “The,” and I do backslide. But eventually I’ll get used to it.

    My grandparents were from the part of Hungary that borders Ukraine, and as Jews, had very dim views of everything Ukrainian. And now I am correcting myself in support of Ukraine. It is nice when history matches in a positive direction.

  78. 78
    trnc says:

    @Dr. Ronnie James, D.O.:

    And DC is filled with such people.

    Some of them already fill important positions, eg, McConnell, Ryan, Gorsuch, so they’re well on the way toward fulfilling the nightmare.

  79. 79
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @schrodingers_cat: @Baud:
    I don’t want anyone to come here less because of some of the things I and others have said. Sometimes you say things because you’re pissed and this is an outlet. No more

  80. 80
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @d58826: Can a proposal ever be an accomplishment? Seems like there’s a part being left out in the middle there where the proposing turns into doing and then the doing is, like, good.

  81. 81
    Baud says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Elitist.

  82. 82
    Retr2327 says:

    @tybee: actually, if you said “vive France,” instead of “vive la France,” your French friends would think you slept through French class.

    So it’s not clear that examples of one or the other “prove” any particular rule.

  83. 83

    @OzarkHillbilly: Thanks. Its a great country and I proud and happy to be a part of it. The current occupant of the WH not withstanding.

  84. 84
    Ohio Mom says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: My neice’s husband, also Indian, made the same decision after the election (how far along he is in the process, I haven’t heard lately).

    My first reaction was wondering why he wanted to do that. He said he wanted to join the fight, which I found very moving. Made me feel a little like a slug-a-bug — if I were in his position, would I feel as strongly? Would I make such a big life-change with such uncertainty?

    @schrodingers_cat: Adding my belated congrats!

  85. 85
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @debbie:
    @Gin & Tonic:
    @Amir Khalid:

    I found this article useful in explaining why “The Ukraine” is no longer used. There’s helpful historical, as well as linguistic, context.

  86. 86
    Brachiator says:

    @trnc:

    RE:. A prediction: “working constructively with Russia” will amount to lifting sanctions.

    It will also be the excuse for continuing to undermine any investigations into Russian hacking or collusion.

    But look on the bright side. Some US companies, and probably Trump himself, will make billions out of some deal with Russian oligarchs. Make America Grift Again.

  87. 87
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @schrodingers_cat: My wife felt the same when she took the oath some 10+ years ago. I might be going to hell for convincing her to take the leap.

  88. 88
    Oldgold says:

    How many farmers would partner up with Br’er Fox to formulate a plan to safeguard the hen house?

  89. 89
    NotMax says:

    Yes, the MSM has crossed the Rube-icon.

  90. 90

    @Ohio Mom: It was like getting married after a long live-in relationship. Sometimes that piece of paper that makes it official is important. There were people from 47 other countries at my oath ceremony, from Albania to Vietnam.

  91. 91
    SFAW says:

    @tybee:

    THE United States

    And, of course, THE Ohio State University. GO CYCLONES!!!!

  92. 92
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Quinnipiac:

    9) What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Donald Trump? (Numbers are not percentages. Figures show the number of times each response was given. This table reports only words that were mentioned at least five times.)

    idiot 39
    incompetent 31
    liar 30
    leader 25
    unqualified 25
    president 22
    strong 21
    businessman 18
    ignorant 16
    egotistical 15
    asshole 13
    stupid 13
    arrogant 12
    trying 12
    bully 11
    business 11
    narcissist 11
    successful 11
    disgusting 10
    great 10
    clown 9
    dishonest 9
    racist 9
    American 8
    bigot 8
    good 8
    money 8
    smart 8
    buffoon 7
    con-man 7
    crazy 7
    different 7
    disaster 7
    rich 7
    despicable 6
    dictator 6
    aggressive 5
    blowhard 5
    decisive 5
    embarrassment 5
    evil 5
    greedy 5
    inexperienced 5
    mental 5
    negotiator 5
    patriotism 5

  93. 93
    SFAW says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    As with others, I completely missed your (announcement of) becoming a citizen. Congratulations!

  94. 94
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Congratulations on your new citizenship!

  95. 95
    Humdog says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷: this is an outlet and I hope you keep venting. Don’t let others shoo you away, please. Tone police suck.

  96. 96
    Brachiator says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    I find the negativity and the talk of insurgency, civil war and political violence unhelpful and counterproductive.

    I understand, but do not agree. I want to know all the news, from as many sources as possible. It energizes me for the long fights to come.

    Also, I not only love BBC news, I love satirical programs like the News Quiz and Dead Ringers. And here, the more detail you know of the actual news stories, the better the satire lands.

    ETA. I understand that congratulations are in order. Well, congratulations!!!

  97. 97
  98. 98
    ThresherK says:

    Faith Seelye on CBS Sunday Morning has discovered “snowflake”. Guess what: Bothsides use it as an insult, so there’s no difference! And we’re all snowflakes!

    I yearn for the instantly dismissable bullshit from Ben Stein rather than this pablum.

  99. 99
    SFAW says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I might be going to hell for convincing her to take the leap.

    I don’t know if it will make you feel any better, but: there are plenty of other reasons, well ahead of that one.

  100. 100
    ET says:

    That Chris Uhlmann piece I’d devastating for its accuracy. Trump and his fanatics and true believers won’t care though. Tone deaf, backwardsd looking, and scared people do not have the capacity for self reflection and changing course.

  101. 101
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @tybee:

    You don’t say “the Spain” or “the France”, do you?

    THE United States

    :)

    The article I linked at #84 addresses this very example.

    http://www.businessinsider.com.....ow-2013-12

  102. 102
    Schlemazel says:

    @Retr2327:
    It is very simple
    THE Ukraine was a territory that belonged to the USSR. Ukraine is a nation, as it was before being swallowed and now is again – if the new USSR can be prevented from swallowing it again

  103. 103
    Aleta says:

    Hari Kunzru @harikunzru
    My friends said he burgled our house. I asked him and he vehemently denied it, so I invited him to set up a neighborhood watch group.

  104. 104
    ThresherK says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Welcome! You’re already used to ignoring the buffoons and embracing the nice people within these borders.

  105. 105
    tobie says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Missing from this list are some of Betty Cracker’s choice words. “Deranged” and “buffoon” should have been there.

  106. 106
    Aleta says:

    @ThresherK: I like snowflakes. We live at the melting point of these crystals.

  107. 107
    Aleta says:

    @tobie: I was sorry not to see illegitimate and crimes among the words.

  108. 108
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @Gin & Tonic: you do if you say it in French. Vive la France.

  109. 109
    debbie says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    I don’t doubt that. I’m certainly not against working toward peace in Ukraine. But do you not think that Trump is going to end sanctions, saying he’s doing so because Putin’s shown good faith? Do you not think that Putin will then return to doing what he was doing before?

  110. 110
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @NotMax: I’ll have to check it out.

    @SFAW: Oh, I know where I’m going, but it’s the journey that matters, not the destination. So I sin every chance I get.

  111. 111
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    a choir singing his campaign slogan as background music.

    Oh lordy, please tell me it’s not that puke-inducing “hymn” that Texas preacher wrote for the Kennedy Center thing last week.

    ETA: Here’s a review ICYMI over the holiday weekend:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/a.....22561.html

  112. 112
    Spanky says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: No “traitor”? I guess that hasn’t penetrated the national psyche yet.

    @schrodingers_cat:

    There were people from 47 other countries at my oath ceremony, from Albania to Vietnam.

    What? None from Zimbabwe? You could have spanned the alphabet. Congratulations!

  113. 113
    Amir Khalid says:

    @FlipYrWhig:
    You’re right, a proposal isn’t an accomplishment until it’s accomplished.

  114. 114
    wag says:

    Ok, let’s put his tweets together in a full sentence and try and parse the true meaning.

    <blockquote>Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded and safe

    Think about that. He wants to guard his and Putin’s ability to have an impenetrable Cyber security unit that can do many negative things and not be detected.

    insane.

  115. 115
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @d58826:

    all other things aside would you believe anything from a man who looks like a rat

    That is a very weird thing he does with his teeth.

  116. 116
    debbie says:

    @wag:

    A new and improved golden door allowing the fox greater access to the henhouse! Brilliant!

  117. 117
    Lapassionara says:

    @debbie: I am thinking T will use his “productive” meeting with Putin to justify closing Mueller’s investigation down. We need some people with spines to prevent that from happening.

  118. 118
    MomSense says:

    I am so sick of listening to media types and experts tell me that Trump was naive or got played by Putin. Trump is playing for the Russian team. Once you acknowledge this, all his behaviors and communications make sense and are consistent.

  119. 119
    Retr2327 says:

    @Schlemazel: no, I accept that Ukrainians prefer Ukraine, and that’s fine. I just thought the argument that Debbie was making an obvious mistake using the Ukraine because, e.g., it’s not “the” France was a bit much. Just say Ukrainians prefer Ukraine and explain why.

  120. 120
    Baud says:

    @Lapassionara:

    We need some people with spines to prevent that from happening

    (1) We have lots of people with spines.

    (2) No one can prevent that from happening. It’s the president’s decision, and the only price for the action is political.

  121. 121
    OGLiberal says:

    What’s terrible is for criticism of Trump in the media I turn to the Twitter feeds of John Podhoretz and Bill Kristol and the other never Trumpers at Weekly Standard, Commentary, National Review, etc, they link to. Sadly, better than reading Cilliza or watching CNN. Yes, I know they’d prefer we nuke Syria and start another Cold War but at least they recognize the insanity and stupidity of Trump and never try to rationalize.

  122. 122

    @Schlemazel: Probably sincere, but I don’t react well when I am told what to do. I did try to engage respectfully in the comment before. Also, the commenter and I have had a bit of a history, , so that may have colored my reaction.

  123. 123

    @Spanky: I am sure there were some from Zimbabwe in the 150 other ceremonies.

  124. 124
    Ruviana says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Also this era’s Terri Schiavo.

  125. 125
    danielx says:

    @Yarrow:

    He’s just that repulsive.

    He is all that. As far as I can tell, he has three expressions in his repertoire – the scowl, the smirk and the pout. Much like a particularly obnoxious eight year old, he is. I have reached the point where just seeing him in a photo or on television makes my stomach start knotting up.

  126. 126
  127. 127
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Baud: Bradd JaffyVerified account @ BraddJaffy
    Lindsey Graham: “Mr. President, you are hurting your ability to govern this nation by forgiving & forgetting & empowering” Putin/Russia #MTP

    Charles P. Pierce‏Verified account @ CharlesPPierce 1h1 hour ago
    “And I, Lindsey Graham, once again will be forced to do nothing, loudly and on TV.”

  128. 128
    The Gray Adder says:

    Unfortunately, “I’m extremely well qualified for this job, and he clearly is not (let me count the ways),” was not good enough to put a qualified person in office last year. Because emails, or Bernie Sanders butthurt, or whatever other American complacency and/or stupidity for which we’re only beginning to pay the price now.

    G19 indeed.

  129. 129

    @Brachiator: @SFAW: @ThresherK: They embraced me too. Thanks!

  130. 130
    Baud says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: It’s a bit unfair to ask a man to give up his war lust for the sake of his country.

  131. 131

    @danielx: I reached that point after RNC convention, the only speech of his I forced myself to listen to. I only lasted till about half hour.

  132. 132

    @Baud: I sent in my application one day before T’s inauguration.

  133. 133
    danielx says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    You can’t make this shit up.

    I very seldom use the phrase “my country” in an unironic fashion, but this….this egregious asshole is an embarrassment to my country.

  134. 134
    Baud says:

    @schrodingers_cat: You are an inspiration.

    @danielx: Now, is that any way to reach out to his voters?

  135. 135

    @Baud: You are making me blush. I was in a state of panic before that, seriously questioning all of my life decisions, since the night of the elections.

  136. 136

    I’m looking at the picture of Trump sitting alone at the G20 table while other world leaders and their staffs circulate and talk to one another. Maybe no one wants to go near him, but his just sitting there also clearly shows he had no agenda. There was no one he wanted to talk to about some national interest. He was probably composing his next tweet in his head.

  137. 137
    danielx says:

    @Baud:

    Now, is that any way to reach out to his voters?

    Why would I want to do that? To use a phrase, I’m not ready to make nice with those fools, nor ever will be. They helped ‘elect’ the biggest fuckup to ever occupy the Oval Office.

  138. 138
    Baud says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I think anyone who comments here should seriously question their life decisions.

  139. 139
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @OGLiberal: @Baud: I think that, like Kristol and Podherotz and others, Graham knows that Mike Pence would even easier to manipulate into signing tax cuts and launching land wars in Asia, without the distractions about Mika Brzezinski and calling their bills mean. Unlike Kristol et al, Graham has to worry about a Trumpist (Pee Party?) primary challenge.

  140. 140
    zhena gogolia says:

    In church this morning we were in a “guided meditation” (hate it!) where we were supposed to visualize standing in a stream and letting everything that was bothering us float downstream away from us. I had this horrific vision of standing there with Trump, Putin, Ivanka, and McConnell standing next to me and I was trying to make them float downstream but they just stood there.

  141. 141
    danielx says:

    @Baud:

    Now, is that any way to reach out to potential Baud!2020 voters?

  142. 142
    Baud says:

    @danielx: You won’t get an argument from me.

  143. 143
    zhena gogolia says:

    @danielx:

    Snark tag needed.

  144. 144
    Baud says:

    @danielx: But I comment here too! And I’m always asking myself, “What went wrong?” I’m a man of the jackals.

  145. 145

    @Baud: Jackals are my kind of people, fierce, argumentative, funny and wicked smart. I never quite fit in the old country with my argumentative and headstrong ways.

  146. 146
    zhena gogolia says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    None of these explanations deal with the fact that Russian and Ukrainian do not have articles — no a, an, or the. What this change in English parlance represents is the change (at least in Russian) from saying “na Ukraine” to “v Ukraine.” It’s roughly equivalent to the English situation with “the” vs. no article, where the “na” (like “the”) implies that Ukraina is just a region included in a larger nation, while “v” (like the absence of an article) makes it into its own country.

  147. 147
    MobiusKlein says:

    @Gin & Tonic: You don’t say “The France”, but you for say The Philippines, The Dominican Republic, and a few others.

  148. 148
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Gelfling 545: Which isn’t the point at all. Neither Ukrainian nor Russian have a definite article, so this is meaningless in those languages. This has to do with how to say it in English, in which country names are almost never preceded by a definite article (The Republic of The Gambia aside.) English-speaking Ukrainians and friends of Ukraine find it an important distinction. As Lurking Canadian said, the principle at work here is simple.

  149. 149
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    Some of the problem with the press is that they are trying to convince themselves that somehow there will be normalcy soon. Trump isn’t normal, and at 71, will never be (in fact, due to aging, will start to deteriorate).

    Sometimes I think the best guides to all of this is the stuff that Al-Alon, Ala-Teen and whatever else the 12 step movement has written. These people were dealing with Trump characters long before the Trumpster was out of grade school.

    Congrats shroedinger’s cat for being one of us now. It must take a great deal of bravery to become a citizen now, under the Trump Administration.

  150. 150
    debbie says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    I had a dream earlier this week where Trump was walking toward me with a sneering kind of smile and saying I’d been right all along, it was coming.

    I took that as some sort of twisted Game of Thrones / Trump mind meld. I couldn’t get back to sleep

  151. 151
    zhena gogolia says:

    @debbie:

    Yeah, Trump dreams are never good.

  152. 152
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @zhena gogolia: A dream? or nightmare?

  153. 153
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    the dignity vampire never drinks his fill…

    David FahrentholdVerified account Fahrenthold
    White House Chief of Staff Priebus on Fox, about @realdonaldtrump: “He was a star in Hamburg. And no one can take that away.”

    ‘please god don’t fire me I don’t want to go back to Kenosha I have a face for radio a voice for silent movies and if I go on TV liberals will make fun of me!”

  154. 154
    Baud says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: “They were all taking about him.”

    Probably factually true.

  155. 155
    M31 says:

    @CarolDuhart2:

    what do you mean, start to deteriorate?

  156. 156
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @debbie: I am encouraged by the appointment of Volker.

  157. 157
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @M31: I agree, he’s already there, but the press refuses to admit the possibility. They still hope for something that hasn’t happened and will never happen-some sort of back to normalcy.

  158. 158

    @CarolDuhart2: Thanks. This is home, has been for 20 plus years, this step just made it official.

  159. 159
    Mike J says:

    @Gin & Tonic: You would call it The Borderlands if it were in English.

    Since Ukrainians say they want it to be called Ukraine, I’m fine with that. It costs nothing to give people the respect of addressing them the way they wish (usually), so there’s no reason not to be nice about it. On the other hand, English speaking people who refer to The Ukraine generally aren’t being malicious, or even stupid since it was the consensus name for centuries. Assume they’re ignorant and help them learn something new.

  160. 160
    germy says:

    Schooley‏Verified account @Rschooley 11h11 hours ago

    Has anyone ever heard Trump speak with genuine enthusiasm about anything other than money, Ivanka, and himself?

  161. 161
    sdhays says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Wow! 30 full minutes? I couldn’t make myself watch it at all.

  162. 162

    @sdhays: Well tbh I was surfing the web and I did mute the ranting a couple of times.

  163. 163
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @Baud: Absolutely true! Saying, “Can you believe what that fucking clown just did?” is, strictly speaking, talking about Trump.

  164. 164
    kindness says:

    My hope is we will be saved when Mueller drops the $ figure the Donald & Co are in hock to the Russian mob for having floated the company for the last 20 years. Donald’s base won’t care but I hope a Federal Judge won’t approach it from the same angle. So yea, the independent judiciary is my only hope. God knows Sessions will try to take a fall with any prosecution so that is going to have to be watched. I figure the info comes out next spring. Let’s see how much the MSM tries to sweep it under the rug. We know some/many of them will. And ‘principled Republicans’ joining us when confronted with the effluent? Yea, that’s not gonna happen. There haven’t been any since Nixon. Reagan started the end, Newt finished it.

  165. 165
    pluky says:

    @Baud: In French all countries are referred to with a leading definite article.

  166. 166
    Baud says:

    @pluky: The French disrespect everybody.

  167. 167
    SatanicPanic says:

    Holy shit. That tweet about cybersecurity. Holy fucking shit.

  168. 168
    Mike in NC says:

    Trump should have tweeted “I strongly pressed my nose into President Putin’s butt hole, and it felt really good. Will look forward to doing it again soon. Winning!”

  169. 169
    Tenar Arha says:

    Does anyone have friends in NC who want a calico cat? @lasrina on Twitter says

    Anyone I know (in NC) desperately need a calico cat? Friend just found a stray, can’t find a no-kill shelter that isn’t full up.

  170. 170
    Aleta says:

    @Baud: égalité !

  171. 171
    J R in WV says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    I’m not one for much political violence so far. I would miss your calm presence if you left,, and want to encourage you to stick around. I’m actually getting much of my news here… the important stuff seems to get covered.

  172. 172
    MomSense says:

    @danielx:

    Don’t forget the bizarre Heath Ledger’s Joker expressions. My god those are terrifying. He cycles through about 20 bizarre looks with tongue flicking, eye bugging and rolling, chin jutting, and weird sneering in about 10 seconds. Pure madness.

  173. 173
    germy says:

    Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump

    Sanctions were not discussed at my meeting with President Putin. Nothing will be done until the Ukrainian & Syrian problems are solved!

  174. 174
    TriassicSands says:

    @danielx:

    I agree. And I don’t think most Trump voters have the slightest interest in what people who regularly comment on BJ think or have to say.

    Many years ago, I was taking a ferry from Haines, AK to Prince Rupert, BC. During the trip, I met an older man with a shock of white hair — he looked like a walking stereotype of the judge or politian. Superficially, he looked distinguished, but the exterior hid a radical RWNJ, with, what was to me, the narrowest of minds. At one point during our discussion — we were talking about development versus preservation and environmentalism in general — the man, an Alaska state senator it turned out — told me, without a hint of insincerity or irony, that I should enjoy hiking through a clear cut on a logging road as much as I enjoy walking on a single track trail through pristine wilderness. By the time we’d exhausted each other with our virtually universal disagreement, I had come to understand that we would never agree. There simply was no common ground and we were never going to have any meaningful communication. It was frustrating, but instructive. The pipeline had been finished two years earlier, Alaska was overrun with greedheads, and that state senator was a lot more extreme than the politicians I was used to dealing with in the lower 48. However, today, he would be a run-of-the-mill Republican and an avid Trump supporter.

  175. 175
    sdhays says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Still impressive.

  176. 176
    germy says:

    @MomSense:

    My god those are terrifying.

    The photos I find alarming are the recent group photos from G20. Everyone else in the picture is smiling for the camera and he stares vacantly, as if he has momentarily forgotten where he is and what he is doing.

  177. 177
    Baud says:

    @TriassicSands:

    I should enjoy hiking through a clear cut on a logging road as much as I enjoy walking on a single track trail through pristine wilderness.

    I’ve never done the former, but I was on an Alaskan cruise once, and we sailed past a denuded island. It was depressing to look at.

  178. 178
    germy says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    I sent in my application one day before T’s inauguration.

    That reminds me of the opening scene of “Batman V Superman” where Bruce Wayne sees buildings collapsing and runs towards the smoke and falling debris. Heroic.

  179. 179
    SatanicPanic says:

    @germy: fucking liar.

  180. 180
    Kay says:

    So can we do anything on the Trump Administration forming the Putin/Trump “cybersecurity unit”? Legislation could stop it, I would think, or at least tie it up in court.

    They’re collecting all the voter data. This is rather urgent. I really don’t want Donald Trump and Putin deciding who votes and who doesn’t.

  181. 181
    germy says:

    Michael Ian Black‏Verified account @michaelianblack 2h2 hours ago

    Trump and Putin working together on cyber security is like Nixon and Presley working together on drug abuse.

    (photo of Nixon and Elvis shaking hands in oval office)

  182. 182
    FlipYrWhig says:

    BTW there is absolutely no way that Trump uses, or can spell unaided, the word “vehemently.”

  183. 183
    sdhays says:

    @SatanicPanic: It’s unconscionable that the President of the United States prioritizes the “Ukrainian and Syrian problems” over continued Russian attacks on the United States.

    ETA: He doesn’t give a shit about Ukraine and Syria, just looking for excuses to lift sanctions and return the spy compounds Obama took away.

  184. 184
    japa21 says:

    @germy: And the real problem is that many people will believe him.

    ETA: Since only some of the sanctions are related to the Ukrainian situation, removal of any relating to the election interference should not even be involved. And he makes it sound like he told Putin that nothing will be done about the sanctions until the Ukrainian and Syrian situations are resolved. In which case sanctions were discussed.

  185. 185
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Just goes to show that you don’t have to be a Communist, Lefty Pinko Hippie to see right through Trump and his ineptitude. Even Rightwingers can see what and who he is. It’s the honest ones like Uhlmann who speak openly about this.

  186. 186
    SatanicPanic says:

    @sdhays: This is so fucking over the line I can’t believe we’re at this point. This man is selling us all out.

  187. 187
    lollipopguild says:

    @zhena gogolia: Things like that are supposed to help you get rid of stress not increase it.

  188. 188
    The Lodger says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I don’t remember hearing about your new citizenship status either. Congratulations.

  189. 189
    sdhays says:

    How much does anyone want to bet that Trump’s “pressing [of] President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election” amounted to:
    1). “Vlad, a lot of losers in the US think you guys helped me win my amazing, historic election. That’s total bullshit, right?”
    2). “Vlad, you know I won a historic, masterful election last year that everyone’s talking about. Those Democrats whining about losing an election, that they should have won, I might add, saying that Russia hacked them and helped my campaign are just fake news, am I right?”

  190. 190
    lollipopguild says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: It depends on how you define “star”. If you use “star” to define the biggest boor/idiot there then yes he was a “star”.

  191. 191
    Neldob says:

    I found the protests in Hamburg to be interesting. Maybe that is a model of some sort?

  192. 192
    sdhays says:

    @Neldob: What was interesting about them? They were described as riots.

  193. 193
    trollhattan says:

    @Neldob:
    Which, the peaceful ones or those where they burned shit and looted? What’s “interesting” in this context?

  194. 194
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @lollipopguild: the biggest star since Rob Ford! Maybe since Yeltsin!

    I can’t remember which standup it was who said, the scariest thing about trump, he’s a teetotaler! This is his brain off drugs.

  195. 195
    trollhattan says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:
    I know he claims to be and perhaps is…today. He acts just like somebody who partied heavily for a time when younger and quit too late.

  196. 196
    TriassicSands says:

    @Baud:

    I’ve done a lot of sea kayaking off the coast of British Columbia. There’s a stretch of coast north of Fair Harbour on Vancouver Island on the way to the Bunsby Islands and the Brooks Peninsula that has been stripped of every tree from the top of the mountain ridge all the way down to the sea. It’s miles long and the resulting erosion is an ecological nightmare. The logging practices in British Columbia are horrific. It feels like one is looking at a kind of war zone.

    There is a campground on Vancouver Island I stopped at once on my way north that features a nature trail through some old growth (Douglass firs). The trees are magnificent, without challenging any size records. Right next to the trees is a lake. While at the CG, I took my kayak out on the lake for a look around. Once on the water, I could see the trees and where the trail was. The trail had been carefully constructed to hide the fact that there were only a small number of trees left from a clear cut. Once on the trail, the hiker is surrounded by vegetation and trees that make it seem like s/he’s in an old growth forest. But it’s really just a relatively few “show” trees left to create an illusion. The reality is devastation.

  197. 197
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Retr2327: If you said “Vlve la France,” you would be speaking French which has little to do with whether an article should be used before the name of a particular country when speaking English.

  198. 198
    Retr2327 says:

    @Schlemazel: You could say the same thing about the Belarus, the Georgia, the Armenia, etc. And yet, we didn’t call them that. Which might suggestion a problem with the whole “the” implies domination theory.

    But again, as stated, if Ukrainians now prefer Ukraine, that’s good enough. I just don’t buy the arguments that putting “the” in front of a country’s name necessarily and in all instances a) is wrong, grammatically, or b) implies subjugation, etc.

  199. 199
    James Powell says:

    @Dr. Ronnie James, D.O.:

    As comforting as it is to think . . . that most Americans don’t share their racist views

    I cannot imagine anyone being comforted after Trump’s election. What we learned is that even if they do not loudly express their racist views, the great majority of white Americans are sympathetic with those views and, at a minimum, do not consider a candidate’s openly stated racist views to be a reason not to vote for him. We also learned that the press/media will minimize racism and provide euphemisms for racists to use when being openly racist won’t do. See, e.g., economic anxiety, conservative, family values, evangelical Christian, etc.

    The only people I can imagine being comforted after Trump’s election are white racists & religious bigots who believe that they got their country back and the rich, who realized that the great mass of voters are still stupid & racist enough to be manipulated by a transparent fraud.

  200. 200
    debbie says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Good. I am glad at the prospect of peace there. I just don’t believe Putin will honor whatever agreement is reached.

  201. 201
    trollhattan says:

    @TriassicSands:
    When we did our addition nearly all the lumber/wood products came from Canada, even though we’re in California. They’re basically the 51st state when it comes to raw material resources.

  202. 202
    Neldob says:

    @OGLiberal: Those jerks set the horror show in motion.

  203. 203
    Neldob says:

    @sdhays: Why were they rioting and why don’t American citizens ever do such things? What would have happened if citizens rooted when M McConnell denied Merrick a hearing?

  204. 204
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Dr. Ronnie James, D.O.:

    So the question that stuck me yesterday was, “how did the Nazis *get* competent?” And it seems it was bc they able to get competent people in their government, bc there were surely some people there who didn’t really buy into the Dolchstosslegende/ Mein Kampf bs, but were competent and just really really loved power, no matter who held it. And when the bad guys finally repeated the Big Lie enough, and got enough power, the competent people saw which way the wind was blowing, shrugged, and flipped.

    Tell me, are you aware of this thing called the German Empire that lasted up until 16 years before Hilter’s election. Were does this German tradition of Jeffersonian democracy that produced these technocrats you refer to come from?

  205. 205
    Neldob says:

    But you are probably right. Nonviolent protest is better.

  206. 206
    sdhays says:

    @debbie: And who would take American negotiators seriously under these circumstances? Having credibility matters. The Trump “plan” is to let Russia “fix” these “problems”, declare victory, and then give stuff to Putin. He has no policy or priorities in Ukraine or Syria beyond “winning”, which can be defined any way that works. And even if certain people on the American team are credible and knowledgeable, they’re not the ones in charge and they’re not the ones who can make sure that the US enforces any agreements.

    It’s all kabuki. The priority is “better relations with Russia” which translates to doing whatever Putin wants.

  207. 207
    Another Scott says:

    ‘morning Afternoon, all.

    ICYMI, Jared/Barron has some competition in the Cyber. Wikileaks proposes that Assange leads Trump’s US/Russia cyber outfit.

    (boggle)

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  208. 208
    Retr2327 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: If you think English has clear and simple rules that universally apply, then that’s a whole ‘nother debate. . . .

  209. 209
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Well if we sing songs to the glory of Trump Don IL let it be like this. I feel like goose stepping and kicking libtard arse already!

  210. 210

    I suppose I feel a tiny bit sorry for the media. Maybe during the campaign, they should have run stories about how an empty-headed blowhard was being treated as a credible candidate for President, and not tried for “balance”. They didn’t and now they have this situation.

    And now, they have to choose between basically fomenting panic, and savaging the elected US President daily, or, pretending this is a normal presidency. They know *how* to do the latter… so they do.

    I’m not saying that this *excuses* them. But I do feel a bit of understanding of how much it hurts, especially if they realize that this is a sort of Nazi-lite administration, and are trying to figure out “okay, we done screwed the proverbial pooch, now, just as a person who’s done that literally and non-proverbially, we have an embarrassing situation that brings up difficulties *no one* is trained or aware of how to deal with, but we can’t just walk away, either!”

  211. 211
    hueyplong says:

    @sdhays: Not exactly a shocker that Trump the bottom “seeks better relations” with Putin the top by doing whatever he says.

  212. 212
    Another Scott says:

    @tobie: This. We can note what’s going on and point and laugh, or shake our heads and sigh, or apply black humor. But we can’t be distracted from the existing policies and norms that are being destroyed, the know-nothings that are trying to give away the store and loot the Treasury, and the horrible world that they’re trying to create through action and inaction.

    We can and must keep our eyes on the prize.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  213. 213
    japa21 says:

    @sdhays: I have no problem with having better relations with Russia. However,a lot depends on what Russia is required to do. Syria is a minor issue as far as Russia is concerned. It would cost them very little to resolve the situation there. Ukraine is another matter. I can very easily see a situation where Putin says we will have the “Russia friendly” forces cease any further attempts to gain territory and just have territory they already have and Crimea be part of Russia. Trump would hail that as a victory, as violence has been stopped. In many ways it would be worse than Munich. In return we would give Putin 50 – 75% of what he wants in terms of lifting sanctions, which again would be a victory for Putin.

    Putin, like Trump, believes in a zero-sum game. All he has to do is make Trump believe that Trump is the winner and he is the loser. That isn’t hard. Trump is a kindergartner playing with the big boys when it comes to Putin.

  214. 214
    sdhays says:

    @Neldob: Riots focus attention on the violence and obscure what people are upset about. Nonviolent protests demonstrate that a bunch of people care a lot about a set of issues, and that’s the story. The average person reading about the G20 will know that there were riots, or if they know a bit more, they’ll know that people were protesting “globalization” (which, to me, is such an overly broad term that it’s essentially meaningless in this context) but they’re violent criminals, so who cares what they think? In my opinion, that’s a complete and total failure and not to be emulated.

  215. 215
    Another Scott says:

    @tybee: I agree with G&T. Sticking “the” in front of country names, countries that had a history of being oppressed by colonialism or imperial neighbors, is something that shouldn’t be done any more. It is still done by British news types too often, also too – “the Sudan, the Congo”.

    Using American English, we don’t talk about “the Kansas” or “the Japan” or similar singular nouns.

    It grates on the ears of people with tied to those countries. There’s bad history behind it. It’s not that hard not to drop the article.

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  216. 216
    sdhays says:

    @japa21: I totally agree. I’m not against having better relations with Russia, but the frame that Trump and Putin come at this from is that it’s all the US’ fault that relations are poor. Putin doesn’t want improved relations – he wants the US to do his bidding. And Trump doesn’t give even one shit about US relations with anyone; he’s getting paid, or at least thinks he is.

    I’ll just add that Trump isn’t getting played unless he’s been promised that Gazprom money and isn’t actually going to get it (and I don’t think they’re going to double-cross him for what’s chump change to them). He doesn’t comprehend American interests outside of “what’s good for Trump”, so he doesn’t really care about or even understand damage done to US policy, citizens, institutions, etc. He’s not getting tricked into selling us out, he’s just selling us out cheap.

  217. 217
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @sdhays:

    It’s all kabuki. The priority is “better relations with Russia” which translates to doing whatever Putin wants.

    Similar to the Rethuglican definition of “bipartisan” which is do what the Rethugs want.

  218. 218
    sdhays says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Birds of a feather…

  219. 219
    Another Scott says:

    @d58826: But he’s a billionaire, so he’s obviously better and smarter than all of us, and all of the Treasury, combined. It’s all good.

    :-/

    Cheers,
    Scott.
    (“Imagine a world where only public, non-profit institutions could use the public airwaves for mass communications…”)

  220. 220
    stinger says:

    @Ohio Mom: I need a Like button.

  221. 221
    Heidi Mom says:

    @TriassicSands: I’ve read that the “spirit bears” (rare light-colored brown bears) of B.C. are alive today only because the native people of the area kept their very existence a secret from white hunters. That has the ring of truth; whether it is I don’t know.

  222. 222
    James E Powell says:

    @sdhays:

    How come nobody ever says that about RW violence or armed resistance?

  223. 223
    dr. luba says:

    @tybee: The USA is a collective noun, so to speak. (I am not a grammarian, so there is probably a correct term for this.) Like the UK, the Netherlands. It used to be “the Cameroons,” when there was French and British Cameroon; but no one calls Cameroon that nowadays, since it is an independent country.

    The “the” in front of Ukraine is a vestige of Russian imperialism (whether under the tsars or the commissars), and is of a kind with the Ems Ukase and Soviet Russification. It was all an effort to deny the existence of Ukraine as a separate nation and people, and to absorb them in the Russian Borg.

    None of that should even matter, though. When China decided it’s capital should be correctly known as Beijing, did people continue to call it Peking?

  224. 224
    Heidi Mom says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: After discussing “rhinoceroses, how best stowed,” no doubt. Always happy to encounter another Patrick O’Brian fan (although I’ll never forgive him for a certain totally unexpected death that occurs late in the series). And one of the finest illustrations of leadership, in a myriad of challenging situations, was Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander.

  225. 225
    MomSense says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee:

    Shit did you see the video trump tweeted of the G20? Skips all the embarrassing parts and is set to fascist music. If I weren’t elbow deep in weeds and dirt I’d link to it.

  226. 226
    The Lodger says:

    @Another Scott: On the other hand, there are situations where using “The” is the height of good taste.

  227. 227
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Retr2327: Given the hundreds of years of history between Muscovy and Kyiv, trust me on the linguistic and other subjugation.

  228. 228
    stinger says:

    @Iowa Old Lady: I notice that about all the photos–Trump is alone or on one side of a group, and people are talking to each other and not to him. Whereas Obama was usually in the middle of a group, and everyone near him was laughing. He is engaging, and people like him, including other world leaders. I’ve never seen any image remotely like that with the EC Prez at world leader events.

  229. 229
    Another Scott says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Thank you. We Americans need all the help we can get – it’s going to be a long struggle.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  230. 230
    trollhattan says:

    @Neldob:
    Riots gave us law-and-order President Nixon for one-point-something terms and also, too, the most successful 3rd party candidate of my lifetime: George Wallace.

    Also, google “Seattle WTO”

  231. 231
    Ruckus says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:
    I think it’s good to remember that the US is not a democracy. We are a representative republic. It’s been called a democracy by us and so many others that people don’t see the difference any longer. It was set up so that the regular people don’t really have the power we nominally attribute to them. The political parties have the power and that can be manipulated, as it has been for the last almost 40 yrs, to arrive at the point we are at now, a complete mess, to say the least.
    I think there are some fixes without starting over completely but I get a lot of pushback from most when I talk about them, that they don’t reflect the will of the people. Seeing as how the loser in the last election got around 5% more people to vote for her I’m looking at our current system as the one that doesn’t reflect the will of the people but more of the will of property.

  232. 232
    sdhays says:

    @Ruckus:

    I’m looking at our current system as the one that doesn’t reflect the will of the people but more of the will of property

    Works as originally designed.

  233. 233
    Elie says:

    @CarolDuhart2:
    It’s not just that Trump is abnormal but the whole administration and the GOP. The whole thing

  234. 234
    Mike in NC says:

    @stinger: As has been pointed out a number of times, here and elsewhere, Trump has never had any real friends — only people with whom he does business, for better or worse — and he is awkward and insecure as a result. Having a terrible personality will also do that to a person.

  235. 235
    Another Scott says:

    @TriassicSands: Years ago I had an on-line friend who was from BC. He said many of the rivers there had been destroyed decades before by the pulp and paper mills. Even areas with great natural beauty can be damaged in hidden ways. (Another example is areas around Athabasca…)

    Cheers,
    Scott.
    (“Who hopes the BC fires are brought under control soon…”)

  236. 236
  237. 237
    Ruckus says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    The words I use are “fucking asshole” but that’s just me.

  238. 238
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Another Scott: I mean, I get it, but, on the other hand… The Bronx. The Netherlands. The Vatican.

  239. 239
    The Lodger says:

    @stinger: The EC Prez? Is that Emotionally Challenged? Eerie Comics? Existentially Clusterfucked?

  240. 240
    sdhays says:

    @The Lodger: I believe it refers to the Electoral College which provided Trump’s win. But your suggestions work too.

  241. 241
    Another Scott says:

    @japa21:

    Syria is a minor issue as far as Russia is concerned. It would cost them very little to resolve the situation there.

    Syria is a quagmire and Putin was “forced” to intervene there. He wasn’t willing (or able) to give up Russia’s Mediterranean base(s) there, so he had to go big when Assad was on the verge of collapse. Syria is a bleeding wound that shows the weakness of Putin’s position there. He can’t leave, he can’t impose a solution, he can’t “win”, and he’s tied to Assad (at least to some extent – he’s mainly tied to whoever is controlling the government there). His best hope is probably to claim a “win” in a rump state with Damascus and his precious bases, but seeing Syria divided up between factions supporting Iraq and Iran and the Kurds and Turkey and all the rest won’t help his strategic interest in saying he’s a stronger counterparty to the USA and the West. It makes him look weak (and he actually is weak).

    He undoubtedly thinks that Syria is a trump card (heh) in his dealings with Turkey and the EU (“You better do what I want or who knows how many millions more will flee Syria and try to get into Eurorpe!”) but for that threat to be credible he has to invest a lot more in Syria – money and military matériel that he really can’t spare. He’s stuck.

    Obama will be proven right. When? Who knows…

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  242. 242
    Ruckus says:

    @zhena gogolia:
    I’ve been through that thought exercise and when people like you mentioned are included, all I can think about is at least one of them is pissing in the stream, just to see if anyone notices so they can say “I pissed on you.” Because that seems to be their only rational for breathing, to piss on everyone else.

  243. 243
    sdhays says:

    @Another Scott: Good point. Syria’s so screwed up by now that no one can “fix” it. Certain parties can be constructive, but it’s a raging, disastrous clusterfuck. Removing Assad won’t fix things, although it might open up a constructive path to peace, but I don’t believe Putin is willing to sacrifice Assad for alleviation of sanctions. He could have gotten that deal from Obama.

  244. 244
    tybee says:

    @Another Scott: in the early 2000s, I spent some years working with a phd in applied mathematics from the university of Donetsk and he, in conversations carried on in English, called the country he was from “the Ukraine”.
    he immigrated about 5 years after the fall of the soviet union. He had to wait that long because he worked on government projects that had to do, ultimately, with guidance systems for ICBMs. interesting fellow.
    still exchange emails a few times a year with him.
    i will also say that, as to “the” Ukraine part, since his native language had no articles, he generally put an article of some sort in front of every noun. some were hilarious.

  245. 245
    Ruckus says:

    @germy:

    momentarily forgotten

    It’s not momentary. If you need to go back as far as you want. He’s never momentarily forgotten how to smile or even just act bored. That vacant look of stupidity is the way his face normally sits. Because that’s who he normally is. If he is smiling you should check to make sure your wallet is still intact, even if you were watching TV at the time and there is no possible physical connection. Is he deteriorating? I think he is. But it’s not deteriorating from normal human, it’s deteriorating from his normality, and that is as a fucking asshole.

  246. 246
    Another Scott says:

    @tybee: You know your friend better than I do, of course, but I will note that Donetsk is one of those areas that was consciously “messed with” via industrial and political decisions in Moscow to move in lots of non-Ukrainians. Donetsk demographics.

    It’s complicated.

    (I’ve mentioned before:) My graduate advisor’s family was from Ukraine. They were refugees after WWII and he was born in Germany. They emigrated to Australia and he ended up in Ohio after his graduate education. He had a strong Australian accent, but he and his wife (who was also Ukrainian via Australia) and kids spoke Ukrainian at home and on the phone. They’re a very proud people who aren’t going to give up their country.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  247. 247
    Ruckus says:

    @sdhays:

    Works as originally designed.

    Yes it does. I should have added this part because it’s also important that we recognize it. And in case anyone is wondering this maladministration would probably offend a number of the founding fathers, but not all of them. This is who they are, it’s who they’ve always been, it’s just taken this long to find the perfect candidate that can be manipulated so easily by cash. And bullshit. And really not that much of either.

  248. 248
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Retr2327: Given that I said nothing of the kind, I don’t really think such a debate is needed.

  249. 249
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @dr. luba:

    When China decided it’s capital should be correctly known as Beijing, did people continue to call it Peking?

    Only in Chinese restaurants. ::ducks::

  250. 250
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @sdhays: I agree, but when the French rebelled against their ancien regime in 1789, I’m sure much of the upper class saw the rioters and rebels as violent criminals. None of that mattered when the revolutionaries became the government. Of course that led to more horrors, but the ideals that it spawned were very important. A major reason it went awiry was because France had no established democratic tradition or institutions.

  251. 251
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Another Scott:

    It is still done by British news types too often, also too – “the Sudan, the Congo”.

    In early (1920s-’30s) Agatha Christie novels, Hercule Poirot’s sidekick Hastings was forever running off to do engineering or construction jobs in “the Argentine.”

  252. 252
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Retr2327: TL;DR version:

    We should always say/write “Ukraine” to be respectful, in the same way that we should always write/say “Romania” rather than “Rumania” to refer to the nation with București (“Bucharest”) as its capital. And for much of the same reason – the old forms bring to mind former occupiers (Russians & Turks).

    —–

    That being said, there is a plausible argument that “the Ukraine” is a reflection of French usage[1] (l’Ukraine), in which the name of every nation has a definite article.

    The issue doesn’t even apply in Slavic languages, including Russian & Ukrainian, which generally[2] do not even have articles; one has to go through some conniptions to express “a” or “the”, which are usually inferred from the context[3] & thus are often left out by native Slavic speakers when speaking/writing English.[4]

    So it may be that the only European language in which there is even the possibility of offending Ukrainians by adding the definite article to “Ukraine” is English.[5] Dang.

    NB: In 2010 I spent 8 days in Ukraine. The first 4, in Lviv, smiles all around whenever I tried a few words of Ukrainian (via memory or phrasebook).[6] Then in Kyiv, even things as basic as будь ласка (bud’ laska, “please”) or дякую (dyakuyu, “thank you”) drew blank stares. Can’t imagine my pronunciation deteriorated that badly on the overnight train… Very few people spoke (or cared to speak) anything but Russian. (And me with no Russian phrasebook. Or access to Gogol, um, Google Translate. Bozhemoi!)

    That I made it back to my friends in Prague mostly in one piece is a testament to the genial English speakers who helped the American graybeard arrange & buy his rail tickets.

    —notes—

    [1] This may also be true in other Romance languages, but French, as a diplomatic language, is the most significant instance.
    [2] IIRC Bulgarian is an exception – definite article suffixed to the noun.
    [3] E.g., in Czech, “a” = “an indefinite one of a number of like items” => a form of jeden, “one”; “the” = “a unique item or specific one of a number of related items” => a form of ten/ta/to, “this/that”. Not very commonly though.
    [4] Thus Boris Badenov refers to Bullwinkle & Rocky as “Moose and Squirrel” (Лося и белка) – & we all know from context just which of the species he means.
    [5] Not familiar enough with Greek, German, or the various Scandinavian or Finno-Ugric (Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian) tongues to say.
    [6] Which has been my experience throughout Europe. Except for Hungary. Long story.

  253. 253
    sdhays says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷: True, but that’s a bit different to me. Violence can be effective, but usually only when the violence is directed and with purpose (it’s a Pandora’s box which I don’t endorse, though). Riots to get attention, which is how I interpret the Hamburg riots, will always simply discredit the protest it’s associated with. Unless, of course, that was the point…

  254. 254
    Spanky says:

    KIEV, Ukraine — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that Russia must make the first moves to rein in separatists and remove its weaponry from eastern Ukraine. He also vowed that sanctions would remain in place until Moscow reverses its actions and respects the border between the two countries.

    Well, I guess that settles that! Trump is yet again going to shit all over what his SoS just said. Stand by for “corrective” tweets in 3 …2 … 1 ….

  255. 255
    El Caganer says:

    The Ukraine, the France, the Cyber, whatever.

  256. 256
    trollhattan says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:
    IC wut you did dere. :-)

  257. 257
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @Elie: The Administration reflects its leader. If the leader is sick, so are the surrounding staff. But the difference is that once Trump leaves one way or another, the surrounding staff and party can at least fake normal and some have time enough to change (even).

    To me, this Administration is less “Triumph of the Will” than Benny Hill. Nobody really has any ideas that have been tried and not already failed-or people who have tried and failed and can’t ever really win.

  258. 258
    Jim Parish says:

    @Retr2327: It may be worth noting that neither Russian nor Ukrainian has a definite article (nor an indefinite one, either), so the distinction simply cannot be made in those languages.

  259. 259
    Kenneth Kohl says:

    @tybee: THE Ohio State University

  260. 260
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @sdhays: Yeah, violence is a last resort and for it to be effective it has to be well organized. Pandora’s box indeed

  261. 261
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Uncle Cosmo:

    See my comment above. You can be offensive in Russian (and I assume in Ukrainian, although I don’t speak it) by using “na” instead of “v” as “in” for “in Ukraine.” “na” is the old style, “v” is the new, analogous to leaving out the “the.” I think maybe the English usage trailed after this innovation in Slavic languages.

  262. 262
    Another Scott says:

    @Uncle Cosmo: Thanks!

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  263. 263
    Another Scott says:

    @SFAW: ICWYDT.

    Hehe.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  264. 264
    TriassicSands says:

    @Heidi Mom:

    They’re very light (cream to almost white) colored black bears. They are also called Kermode bears, after Frank Kermode, one time director of the Royal BC Museum.

    I don’t know about saving them from white hunters, but it’s possible — is there anything hunters (yes, some hunters) won’t kill?

  265. 265
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Another Scott:

    See my comment 146 above. There is an equivalent in Slavic.

    When you say “I’m in X country,” “in” is “v.” If you say you’re on an island or in a region like the Caucasus, “in” is “na.” It used to be you said “na Ukraine,” as if it were just a region; now the correct usage is “v Ukraine,” as it’s a country.

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    TriassicSands says:

    @Another Scott:

    British Columbia is extraordinarily beautiful. The mountains, forests, and coastal areas are stunning. But there has been far too much environmental damage done by extractive industries. I’m often saddened by the thought that the US has used BC as something of a resource colony and Canada has cooperated.

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    Another Scott says:

    @zhena gogolia: Thanks to you too!

    Cheers,
    Scott.

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  269. 269
    TriassicSands says:

    @Kenneth Kohl:
    @TriassicSands:

    Arrgh. I’m typing on a laptop with a touchscreen and mouse (I dislike touchpads). The cursor jumps around uncontrollably without warning and copies and pastes text wherever it decides to. That’s why the previous comment looks like it is all a reply. I was then denied permission to edit my own comment — so it stands. Annoying.

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    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @TriassicSands: Happens to me all the time on laptops w/ either touchpad or mouse & it drives me nuts. You’d think someone would have invented software to fix that & they probably have. (Anybody know of anything?)

    But as a stopgap, try this when commenting here: Click in the “Leave a Comment” window & immediately move the cursor outside of the window (don’t click on it, just reposition the arrow or whatever so that it sits on the screen somewhere outside the window). Then start typing. If what you type stops appearing in the comment box, bring the cursor back in, click at the end of the text, then again immediately move the cursor outside of the window. That at least should prevent the jumping-around & the inadvertent highlighting of text (which is then deleted with the next character you type). It’s a PITA to remember to do it, but it’s better than seeing your comments mangled.

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    TriassicSands says:

    @Uncle Cosmo:

    Thanks. I’ve tried that with limited success. I’ve also tried positioning the cursor inside the comment box and then turning the mouse OFF. Then, I use the touchscreen if I need to put the cursor back inside the comment box. So far, I haven’t found anything that works perfectly.

    I think what happened with the comment I referred to is that I had left the mouse ON and when I used the touchscreen to scroll down to hit the “Comment” button, the comment box moved off the screen to the top and I didn’t see the copying and pasting happen. I just hit “Comment” and saw the mess. But to add insult to injury I wasn’t allowed to edit my own comment. What’s up with that? Do you have any idea why the commenter is denied editing privileges? That was the second time it’s happened to me.

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    chopper says:

    @Jim Parish:

    you mean the Ukrainian.

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    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @zhena gogolia: It’s really hard to learn the finer points of prepositions (or postpositions, as in Hungarian) in any language. I’ve studied some Czech, & according to James Naughton’s Czech: An Essential Grammar, a somewhat similar distinction is made therein between na and v when used with the locative case to mean “in” as in “inside of”:

    Various places which are not considered as enclosed spaces use na, whereas those which are treated as buildings or enclosed spaces use v.

    I suppose using na when referring to a region might imply that it’s part of a larger entity, whereas v might imply it stands on its own.

    Then again, Naughton concludes, It is ultimately just a matter of usage. (You couldn’t tell by me – I’m still trying to wrap my head around verb aspect!)

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    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @TriassicSands:

    Do you have any idea why the commenter is denied editing privileges? That was the second time it’s happened to me.

    Had it happen a couple of times; also have “clicked to edit” & gotten the message “comment successfully loaded” when the editing window stayed completely blank. No rhyme or reason I can find as to why &/or when.

    One of the few things I took away from years working in electronic equipment reliability is that nothing will turn a reliability engineer into a gibbering mass of ectoplasm faster than an intermittent failure, or a CND (“could not duplicate”), or a RTOK (“retest OK”). Except, possibly, a speech by Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Most of my colleagues were politically 6 megaparsecs to starboard of Genghis Khan.)

    How to proceed? Report any instances to Alain, provide him any information that could conceivably be related, pray to St. Jude (patron saint of lost causes) for intercession. And don’t hold your breath.

    (ETA: I did in my time there witness at least one instance of a recurrent intermittent fault that turned out, after some very clever analysis, to be completely explicable & easily resolved. Not many more than one, though.)

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    Retr2327 says:

    @Uncle Cosmo: that’s a nice and thoughtful examination of the issue, thanks.

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