“Your call is very important to us…”

I didn’t start this tradition of responding to Trump as if he’s a random demented asshole who wandered into a commercial establishment to harangue cashiers with unhinged rants, but I think everyone should respond in a similar way from now on.

And I mean everyone. Next time Trump calls Prime Minister Shinzō Abe at 3 o’clock in the morning because he, Trump, doesn’t understand time zones, Abe should say, “That’s an, um, interesting theory on bilateral trade, sir, but this is the 24-hour State Farm customer service help line. Do you need to upgrade your vehicle insurance?”

When he calls Theresa May at midnight, she should say, “This is British Airways. How may I help you?” Ditto Macron, except change the company to Air France. Justin Trudeau could impersonate Bank of Nova Scotia, and so on.

That motherfucker has been gaslighting the entire planet for a year and change. We should gaslight him right back. If we all stuck together, he’d crack inside a week…

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: “Well, He’s Trying… “

Extremely trying, sometimes. If this were any outlet but Politico, I’d suspect them of tongue-in-cheek snark:

Several times in the first year of his administration, President Donald Trump wanted to call Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the middle of the afternoon. But there was a problem. Midafternoon in Washington is the middle of the night in Tokyo — when Abe would be fast asleep.

Trump’s aides had to explain the issue, which one diplomatic source said came up on “a constant basis,” but it wasn’t easy.

“He wasn’t great with recognizing that the leader of a country might be 80 or 85 years old and isn’t going to be awake or in the right place at 10:30 or 11 p.m. their time,” said a former Trump NSC official. “When he wants to call someone, he wants to call someone. He’s more impulsive that way. He doesn’t think about what time it is or who it is,” added a person close to Trump…

Trump’s desire to call world leaders at awkward hours is just one of many previously unreported diplomatic faux pas Trump has made since assuming the presidency, which go beyond telephone etiquette to include misconceptions, mispronunciations and awkward meetings. Sometimes the foibles have been contained within the White House. In one case, Trump, while studying a briefer’s map of South Asia ahead of a 2017 meeting with India’s prime minister, mispronounced Nepal as “nipple” and laughingly referred to Bhutan as “button,” according to two sources with knowledge of the meeting…

Another former Trump NSC official said Trump sometimes avoids saying certain words or names when talking to a foreign leader because he’s unsure whether he can pronounce them properly. The White House official said Trump always wants to be respectful and make sure he gets pronunciations right.

At times, he wings it with unfortunate results. Meeting with a group of African countries at the United Nations General Assembly last September, Trump, in public remarks, referred to the country of Namibia as “Nambia.” (Trump did impress some of his own aides in the meeting, however. “He did a very good job of saying Côte d’Ivoire,” said one.)

Trump also raised eyebrows during the same gathering when he announced that “I have so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. I congratulate you” — prompting cringes among some aides aware how such talk would resonate on a continent that well remembers the exploitations of its colonial era. (Some African entrepreneurs said they appreciated the comment.)…

Trump’s love of talking on the phone has created special problems for his top national security officials, who say that he sometimes places calls that have no clear diplomatic purpose…

Can toddlers still random-dial strangers, now that rotary and pushbutton phones have effectively vanished? Or are they reduced to punching the ‘last dialed’ numbers for mommy’s work colleagues and daddy’s business contacts? Because I remember my three-year-old siblings were really fascinated by the telephone game, back in the day…

Dark Hours Open Thread: Is Julian Assange “the Left” Version of Donald Trump?

Were “we” so enamored with our “core virtues” of transparency and populism that a professional narcissist could manage the supreme coup of his serial grifting career? Does Julian Assange have the true Reverse-Midas everything he touches dies… gift?

Gareth Corfield, at The Register (“biting the hand that feeds IT”):

The director of whistleblower support outfit the Courage Foundation has quit after being told to pull support from Barrett Brown following some barbed comments he made about Julian Assange.

Naomi Colvin walked out of the foundation after “three of Courage’s trustees wrote to me demanding that I inform Barrett Brown that he could no longer be a Courage beneficiary, on the basis of ‘nasty adversarial remarks’ about WikiLeaks,” she wrote in a blog post.

Courage works by picking people in legal trouble who it deems worthy of support and then giving them help in a variety of ways, including financially. Those eight “beneficiaries”, as Courage calls them, include Anonymous-linked FBI-baiter Barrett Brown and everyone’s go-to website for Russian-influenced propaganda the embarrassing contents of American governmental messages, Wikileaks.

Nonetheless, Brown’s growing antipathy towards Assange/Wikileaks as the increasingly isolated Wikileaker goes steadily more stir crazy in Ecuador’s London embassy earned him Assange’s ire. So it was that Colvin received missives from Courage trustees ordering her to cut Brown loose, something she would not do…

Courage’s trustees are named on its website as: Assange himself; legal activist Barbara Bukovska; left-wing activist and film-maker John Pilger; Spanish human rights lawyer Renata Avila; Scottish arts organiser Susan Benn; and clothes designer Vivienne Westwood, who modestly bills herself as “co-created punk in the 70s”.

Colvin declined to name the three who demanded she pull the foundation’s support from Brown…

Spencer Ackermann, at the Daily Beast (see tweet at top):

Brown told The Daily Beast: “I’m afraid I cannot agree with the stance, presented by the Courage board to me yesterday via a poorly written email, that I am somehow obligated to not only defend Assange’s rights, as I’m happy to do, but also to refrain from speaking out about the problems facing a movement that I risked a hundred years of prison time in order to defend.”

The short-term result of Assange’s behavior may be to consolidate control over Courage. But it has come at the expense of broken ties with two heavily respected and influential figures within the hacktivist circles from which Assange emerged. At this point, it leaves Assange with more solid support from the extreme right and its media organs than from his original community…

Colvin’s departure from Courage is especially ironic for Assange and speaks to the botched manner in which his allies retaliated against Brown. Colvin led and recently won a fight to prevent the U.K. from extraditing the computer scientist and activist Lauri Love to the United States to face hacking charges. With Assange ostensibly fearing his own prospective extradition, his desire to silence Brown has cost him a key legal asset…

Late Night QFT Open Thread: “Trump’s GOP, Party of Corruption”

Tina Nguyen, at Vanity Fair“In the witch-hunt era, a criminal indictment has become a mark of pride for Republicans”:

If there’s anyone who can sympathize with Rep. Chris Collins, the first congressman to support Donald Trump, who is currently facing indictment for insider trading, it’s Michael Grimm. “He’s going to have a really, really difficult emotional time,” the retired Republican congressman, who was himself indicted on 20 counts of various crimes, told The New York Times on Thursday, when asked what he’d say to Collins. “He’s going to have to swallow every bit of it. And smile.” He went on, “Washington, as long as you’re riding high, they want to be your friend. And when you’re not, they don’t want to be anywhere near you. . . . And whether he knows it or not, a lot of Washington is going to look at him as a pariah.”

They might also look at him as unelectable, a realistic concern in a potential wave election that threatens to wipe out the Republican hold on Congress, particularly if Collins refuses to bow out of the race. But fear not, Grimm said—he himself had done what Collins aspires to do, running for re-election under indictment in 2012, and winning…“If I were him, I would double down on the president needing us,” Grimm suggested….

But could anyone in the Serious Grown-Up Business-Friendly Party actually defend stock market fraud?

Heeerrre comes MCARGLEBARGLE!

To be fair — to the Washington Post, who paid her this time — McArdle eventually gets around to explaining that, well, insider trading might be offensive, but it’s really all the fault of Government Overregulation:

It’s surprisingly hard to pin down an actual harm from insider trading. And yet we have a stubborn intuition that it ought to be illegal because it just doesn’t seem fair. That’s a reasonable response: Insiders such as the sons of congressmen and board members should have to take the same losses as anyone else on speculative investments.

There is no evident problem with confidence in the markets today, but there is an obvious problem with confidence in our institutions. That’s the harm of insider trading — and all sorts of other self-dealing, self-interested practices by networks of folks with cultural, economic or political power. Occupational licensing, building restrictions that make it impossible for disadvantaged families to gain access to better schools, professional networks and degree requirements that help “people like us” climb the ladder into the best jobs — all of these look, from the outside, like more insider trading. They’re also often defended by people who regard the allegations against Chris Collins with horror…

Look, regulations only serve to encourage law-breaking, knowhutimean? As J.P. Morgan said, during our first Gilded Age, “Anything not nailed down is mine. Anything I can pry loose, was not nailed down.” It’s not the plundering, it’s the nails!

Open Thread: #UniteTheRight, A Little Clot of Pishers

Local news in the Washington Post, “White-supremacist rally near White House dwarfed by thousands of anti-hate protesters”:

White supremacists held a rally in Washington on Sunday, and almost no one but their opponents and the police showed up.

Jason Kessler, one of the organizers of last year’s violent and deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, wanted to hold an anniversary demonstration there, but the city wouldn’t let him. So he brought his show to Washington, where he hoped 400 supporters would join him for a rally at Lafayette Square, across from the White House. Fewer than 40 turned out.

The group was met by thousands of protesters who filled their half of the leafy, seven-acre park chanting “Go home, Nazis!” “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!” and “Black lives matter!” They drowned out whatever message Kessler and his small band of followers had hoped to deliver — and that was their goal.

For opponents, the day felt like a victory, albeit an often tense and angry one…

Read more

Lily Chemo Update

Here’s a nice picture of a freshly bathed Lily on the way to the doctor for her checkup (man, three weeks went by fast):

As you can see, she is shedding like crazy after her bath because I didn’t have time to brush her out after her bath. “Why were you in such a rush, you ask?”

That’s because despite having a bath yesterday in preparation for her appointment today, Lily took it upon herself to roll in goose/rabbit/whoknows shit and smear it from head to toe. I had just gotten out of the shower and was drying off, and smelled something, looked down, and it was your royal highness covered in shit. I stopped drying, gave her a bath, dried her off, put her in my bedroom and shut the door, and got back IN the shower.

At any rate, she was a perfect angel on the ride up, although she did shed all over the car which had just been vacuumed and had all leather treated on Saturday, so it’s now a mess and smells of moist dog. When I took her in to the vet, the nurses and receptionist doted on her and used a lint brush on her and then brushed her out. She is their favorite.

As to the medical news, the doctor said she is a “rock star” (I have it in writing) and she is now no longer on prednisone, still taking plavix until the next visit, all her numbers are amazing, and we go back in three weeks.

Speaking of Lily, we are headed to the beach in the middle of September. I had such a good time last year with ABC and it has been such a shit year that at some point in July I said fuck it I am going again this year. I’m going to the Outer Banks for a week because I won’t die from the heat, that is a good time for me, and IT IS CHEAP AS HELL compared to the regular season (like 1/3 of what it costs during the peak). I still can’t afford it, but I don’t give a shit. My friend Melanie from undergrad who has had a horrible year with personal bullshit is coming for a few days, and Tammy is coming for a few days with Sam and then her husband is going to meet us for a long weekend. It should be fun. I’m excited. Here I am working on my beach body:

Back to Lily- Do I need to worry about sand fleas? I asked the doctor today and he said they are more like crustaceans than typical fleas. Is this an issue? Do any of you from the area know more about this?

Our Failed Meritocracy / Media: “OMGarosa!!!

(This was scheduled to pop up at 10am this morning, but FYWP… )

Read more

Shonda: The Stephen Miller Story

… he wanted to join a party which wouldn’t have him because he was a Jew.

Hannah Arendt’s remarks on Leo Strauss

This morning Politico published an op-ed by Dr. David S. Glosser, Sc. D. Dr. Glosser is one of Stephen Miller’s uncles. While Dr. Glosser’s, and much of Stephen Miller’s other relations views about him are not exactly news, this is the first time that one of his relatives has directly addressed a national audience about him, his ideology, and his actions as opposed to having those views reported about. Dr. Glossar’s column explains in detail what almost every other American Jew knows very well, that if the immigration policies, laws, and regulations that Stephen Miller is such a clear advocate of were in force when their grandparents or great grandparents came to the US, they would never have been allowed in. And given that they were in force during the Holocaust, many seeking safety were unable to find it.

The Glossers’ journey is an American story. It is the story of the families being detained and separated at the southern border right now. No one takes their children, whatever possessions they can carry, and sets out either overland or at sea unless they are desperate. Desperate to escape state directed or tolerated political violence, drug cartel violence, the violence that arises from the sex trade, and the poverty and imisseration that contributes to it and results from it. Dr. Glossar tells the story of just one of his patients – a young man who was able to flee the mental torture of being turned into a child soldier and the physical torture that arose from suspected religious deviancy to eventually make his way to safety in the US. Dr. Glossar’s patient’s story is a testament to what America is supposed to be – the safe haven for those who seek it and wish to contribute to it. When men and women like Dr. Glossar’s patient, as well as his great grandfather – and many of our great grandparents regardless of our ethnicity or religion – undertook their long, dangerous journeys to the US they knew that at the end of that journey, if they were lucky enough to make it safely to their destination, was safety. This is the ideal that is America. This is its promise. Not the cramped, small minded, bigoted, hateful belief that the wealthiest and most powerful nation-state to ever exist is somehow on the verge of collapse because desperate men and women are carrying their children with them from danger through danger in the hope that they can reach safety.

Stephen Miller is the wickedest of sons. His prejudices and petty grievances betray not a world changing intellect, but the small minded fear of the petulant child who once slighted can never give up his grudge. Miller, and the President he so gleefully serves, like Gen. (ret) Kelly, and most every other American, is only an American because of lax immigration laws at the time their forebears came to the US and family based migration (what the President calls chain migration). It is not that they are hypocrites, they most certainly are, or would be if they had any sense of shame. Rather they are small, fearful, timid men play acting as fierce warriors on behalf of a socially constructed ideal: whiteness. And in the case of Stephen Miller, because he is Jewish, he is only white on sufferance and that privilege can be revoked by the very extremists and white supremacists that Miller has been playing footsie with since he was trying to survive the mean sidewalks and quadrangle of Santa Monica High School.

Open thread!

Banana Republican Purge

Peter Strzok was formally fired on Friday. Here’s an excerpt from The Post:

FBI agent Peter Strzok fired over anti-Trump texts

The FBI has fired agent Peter Strzok, who helped lead the bureau’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election until officials discovered he had been sending anti-Trump texts.

Aitan Goelman, Strzok’s lawyer, said FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich ordered the firing on Friday — even though the director of the FBI office that normally handles employee discipline had decided Strzok should face only a demotion and 60-day suspension. Goelman said the move undercuts the FBI’s repeated assurances that Strzok would be afforded the normal disciplinary process.

“This isn’t the normal process in any way more than name,” Goelman said, adding in a statement, “This decision should be deeply troubling to all Americans.”

Trump is handling the news with the circumspection and class you’d expect:

So, he’s hoping to parlay the Strzok firing into a termination of an investigation into his campaign and its involvement with a hostile foreign power and a reopening of a completed investigation into a former political opponent. I assume that even the professionals who were appointed by Trump (Wray, Rosenstein, etc.) will continue to pretend their toddler boss isn’t smearing shit on the wall and allow the relevant investigation to proceed and the concluded one to remain closed.

That’s how it works when the Trump-appointed bosses of the national security agencies occasionally emerge to assure us they’re aware that Russia is engaged in information warfare with the US even though their boss and an increasing number of Congressional Republicans keep sending “Do you like me? Yes. No.” notes to Putin. It’s an awfully thin reed to hang one’s hopes on, though.

The Post article says Strzok’s termination was ordered on Friday, although the news only became public today. Maybe that explains Trump’s weird tweet on Saturday:

By the way, the language Trump uses regarding Lisa Page is beyond creepy, not to mention dangerous and hypocritical. People are supposed to be allowed to have private political opinions in this country, and it’s gross and inappropriate that an infamous serial philanderer who is known to pay off porn film actors, Playboy playmates, etc., would use his office to publicly harass a private citizen this way.

I realize the larger issue is that law enforcement officials should be able to have private opinions without threat of being purged by an unhinged narcissist in the Oval Office, Banana Republic style. But the persecution of Page is noteworthy in its own right; she hasn’t been a public employee for a while now and was not central to the investigation, but Trump continues to publicly shame her.

So, we continue the march toward nuclear-armed Banana Republic status. Just another day ending with “y.”

You’re the Puppet

I hesitate to pay any attention to relentless self-promoter Omarosa Manigault Newman, but her latest broadside against Trump is something. She appeared on the Today show this morning and released a recording of a conversation she had with Trump the day after Kelly fired her, in which Trump acts like he didn’t know about the firing.

This sent Twitler into a Twitter tizzy, as you can imagine. He called “Wacky Omarosa” a loser and shares that everyone in the White House hated her guts but he hired her because she “begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok.”

Trump also says, “When Gen. Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me – until she got fired!”

This is confirmation that, as we suspected, the only criteria for working for Trump is to kiss his ass. Trump goes on to say, “While I know it’s ‘not presidential’ to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!”

Christ on a pony. For her part, Manigault Newman claims Trump is unfit to hold office and that John Kelly is actually running the White House, and hence the country:

“I don’t think he’s fit. He doesn’t even know what’s happening in his White House. General Kelly — John Kelly is running this White House, and Donald Trump has no clue what’s going on. He’s being puppeted, and that’s very dangerous for this nation.”

So, when a pair of notorious liars trade accusations, how can we know who’s telling the truth? Filtering their words through their documented behavior makes sense to me.

I suspect Trump DID know that Kelly canned Manigault Newman — he’s a chickenshit who doesn’t confront people to their faces, so it makes sense that he would outsource the firing to Kelly or at least okay the termination on Kelly’s say-so and then wimp out and plead ignorance when he talked to Manigault Newman.

I also suspect Trump doesn’t really run the country, per se. If he did, he’d be too busy to live-tweet Fox & Friends, engage in petty vendettas on Twitter, etc.

As our first retiree president, Trump plays golf every four days and watches Fox News. He gets trotted out for ceremonial purposes, and there are probably a few people whose job it is to give him things to do, like handing out medals, meeting Bikers for Trump and attending campaign rallies. But Kelly likely does a lot of the actual work, perhaps with the assistance of Pence and others in the West Wing.

And yes, that’s “very dangerous for this nation” as Manigault Newman says, but probably no more so than if Trump were actually running things. It remains surreal that these battling reality TV villains are/were in charge of anything important, let alone the goddamned U.S. government.

Medicare for all, means and ends

The Hill is reporting that all of the major health industry players are orgnizing an umbrella lobbying group against single payer systems.  They get a follow-up quote from Senator Sanders (I-Vt) that provides some very specific distinctions that we’ll ponder a lot on and waste an amazing number of pixels in 2021 if there is a Democratic Trifecta:

The critical phrase is “healthcare for all”.

  • Medicare for all.
  • Single Payer
  • Swiss style heavily regulated private exchanges
  • Singaporean style forced and subsidized savings models with owned providers models

Those are all universal coverage systems.

Is that the goal?

Or is the goal a particular economic and political arrangement?

Great Britain when they instituted their National Health Service had to stuff the mouths of the their doctors with gold to get buy in.  It produced a national universal coverage system.  Is that an acceptable trade-off for you?

What is the goal?

Monday Morning Open Thread: Reasons to Believe

Click on any of the tweets below to read the whole thread…

Same for this tweet-string:

Read more

Late-Night Horror-Farce Open Thread: Orange Is the New “Glow”

If there *is* a tanning bed — I’m agnostic on the topic — my bet would be it was a bargaining chip for Melania: I can’t possibly leave New York for exile in D.C. until… It’s the sort of just-this-side-of-reasonable demand common to any diplomatic negotiation between the corteges of a medieval baron and his third royal princess, a delaying tactic to test the sympathies of the new court. (And to make an aging monarch look slightly ridiculous, whether or not he complied.) Wasn’t there a media kerfuffle, right after the inauguration, about “Melania’s people” wanting to install an expensive professional-media-quality hair salon / makeup room in the West Wing?

Read more

Sunday Evening Open Thread: It’s All Fun & Games…

If my train goes off the track

I’m going to try to pick up the fundraising pace. Here’s an ask from reader JA:

This is a plea for money on behalf of Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a Democrat running in the November election to represent Oregon’s Second Congressional District, replacing long-time Republican Representative Greg Walden.

I have said here on Balloon Juice that I thought Greg has a lock on his seat. His R-majority constituents have happily returned him for ten terms, and during those twenty years no Democratic challenger has come close to unseating him. I bought the conventional wisdom that the 2018 election would be no different.

That was before I met Jamie.

Jamie has at least two game-changing factors in her favor.

First, she’s an appealing candidate — of any party affiliation — for the vast rural Second, twenty rural counties comprising nearly two-thirds of Oregon’s geography. Her approach and her message are intensely local. She has a knack for making people feel heard, and for building broad support for non-partisan solutions. She is fresh and energetic, with deep family roots in the same rangeland culture misrepresented by the Bundys and Hammonds. Jamie has the right mix of qualities to attract persuadable conservatives, yet, though she may not always make progressives 100% happy, she’s no Blue Dog. Plus, for the BJ audience, she is an unapologetic dog lover, whip smart and pleasingly opinionated, and an out, married lesbian.

The second game-changing factor is an emerging perception that Walden is vulnerable in this election in a way he hasn’t been up to now. Part of that is the broader Trump taint. But a more damaging element in this district is that Greg’s once-admirable record of close contact and effective representation has been eclipsed by his party loyalty and clear support for wealthy special interests. He has taken a lot of grief from all sides over his support for the tax bill and for his sponsorship of AHCA, both of which are called out in local, typically Walden-friendly media for harming large minorities of Greg’s constituents. There has been a well-established “raised middle finger” satisfaction for many of Greg’s long-time voters — by supporting Oregon’s sole Republican elected federal office holder, they are really sticking it to the liberal pansies in the more populous western third of the state. But some of those same Walden die-hards voted for Senator Wyden in 2016.

Greg is absolutely mailing it in so far this campaign. He’s currently getting yelled at for avoiding voter contact while making plenty of time for non-resident donors in distant, closed-door fundraisers. The sleeper bet for 2018 is that Walden is easily back-footed and that enough of his Republican constituents will vote for Jamie to make the difference. While Greg lowers himself further into the swamp, Jamie is meeting voters and attracting volunteers in numbers not seen for any Second District candidate, of any party, ever.

Jamie McLeod-Skinner’s campaign is at a critical phase in mid-August.

She has had a surge of fundraising lately, but she will need more heading into the final months before the election, when hard costs (ads, lawn signs, paid campaign staff) make the most difference, and when every contribution makes it easier to bring in even more.

Jackals, this is an opportunity to boost a campaign with a real shot at a seat few thought worth the effort just a short time ago. A win for Jamie is within reach. It’s the right move for the district, and it will be one of the biggest upsets in the Blue Tsunami.

If you have a few spare dollars, thank you for helping Oregon’s Second by contributing at the link. XOX

You know what to do.

Goal Thermometer