Thursday Morning Open Thread

randy g lulu2r

randy g little-and-baby-1bw2

Many thanks to commentor Randy G. If we’re gonna look at preening and face-smooching at this hour, better cats than politicians!

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Happy nice story, not just for sportsball fans…


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Apart from the distant rumble of dumpster fire detonations in Cleveland, what’s on the agenda for the day?



Time To Take Acting President Mike Pence Seriously

Francisco_Goya_-_Night_Scene_from_the_Inquisition_-_Google_Art_Project

From The New York Times:

One day this past May, Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., reached out to a senior adviser to Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who left the presidential race just a few weeks before. As a candidate, Kasich declared in March that Trump was “really not prepared to be president of the United States,” and the following month he took the highly unusual step of coordinating with his rival Senator Ted Cruz in an effort to deny Trump the nomination. But according to the Kasich adviser (who spoke only under the condition that he not be named), Donald Jr. wanted to make him an offer nonetheless: Did he have any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history?

When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.

Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?

“Making America great again” was the casual reply.

Two obvious thoughts:

First:  the Trump folks can’t be bothered to hide the con, not even a little.

Every Trump voter out there, know this:

Remember:  in any good confidence game, most of the work is done by the sucker.  So you Trump voters?  You’re marks. Chumps. Just the latest in the long, long line of folks whom the ferret-headed Mussolini-of-Queens-County has played for losers.  You think you’re electing a tough guy who can get things done? He tells you himself that’s bullshit.

Second: as we confront the FSM-help-us-and-save-us possibility that Trump actually wins come November, who Pence is, what he thinks, and what he wants to do are much more important than they should be, more vital even than the Cheney history would remind us.

And that should scare the living piss out of us.  “Scare” isn’t the right word, actually.  Try “terrify.”  With Trumpismo as the public face of the United States and a theocratic, misogynist, bigoted incompetent administrator with zero effective knowledge/experience of the world beyond our borders in charge of domestic and foreign policy?….

Heed the words of Master Bruce:

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Image: Francisco de Goya, Night Scene from the Inquisition1810


Resiliency or fragility

Just to pile onto what Betty is saying below:

Nice is a tragedy for the people who died, their families and friends but it is not an inherently system transforming threat unless we make it so.

A poorly piloted Airbus will produce more deaths than Nice.  Ebola killed more people in a week and repeated itself week after week than those who died in Nice.

Terrorism, especially symbolic, mass casualty soft target terrorism is a strategy of weakness used to promote over-reaction and stupid thinking in a powerful and resilient opponent. Creating a stupid and hysterical response is the aim of an attack. Not being stupid and not being hysterical while taking reasonable precautions defeats the intended effect of an attack.

If the West was facing an opponent with 10,000 nuclear weapons and thirty Category A divisions within six hours of a shared border that is a significant threat. Instead we are facing opponents who can creatively improvise weapons to attack soft targets where their theory of change is based on opposition stupidity. A problem, a tragedy, but not a civilization threat.



Bayh Humbug

This is intriguing especially as it moved a reach race into a toss-up race for Democrats.

I was just looking at the 2018 Senate Map and it is not as fugly as I thought it had been. There are five red state Democratically held seats up (Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, and West Virginia) and a few swing state seats (Florida, Ohio, Virginia) that would be vulnerable in a lean Republican year. An unexpected seat in Indiana from 2016 would be a nice cushion.

Secondly, what do we know about Bayh — he is an opportunist, a weather vane, and conventional wisdom Very Serious Person. And those are his good qualities.

If he is willing to jump into a race that should be an uphill climb in a neutral environment, the opportunist as a concurrent indicator means things are looking good in November.



Chilcot Drops

A.Y._Jackson_-_A_Copse,_Evening,_1918

This is something I hope Adam will take up in earnest, but we should probably have a thread for the Chilcot report on Tony Blair and the British rush to war in Iraq.  Here’s a link to the Guardian’s coverage.

In brief, and in my reading of the press reports only, it looks like Sir John Chilcot has produced a devastating body of work that effectively condemns both Blair and Bush — and by extension the many more who enabled them in their catastrophic rush to war.

That’s obviously going to hurt, and we’ve already got a taste of the derp to come in David Frum’s claptrap, discussed below.  We’ll see a lot more ass-covering, excuse-bandying, and outright bullshit from all the usual suspects over the next few days.

But what struck me most in the immediate reaction to Chilcot’s report was one snippet from the few minutes of Tony Blair’s press conference that I managed to catch.

There, he admitted the failure to plan for what to do after an initial military victory (you think?) — but he said he stood by his decision to go to war and would make the same decision now, given the intelligence at the time.  He admitted that the intelligence was faulty, but noted that leaders have to decide based on what they know at any given time, which is certainly true.

The problem with that pivot to “bad intelligence” is that it is bullshit.

Those in a position to know understood at the edge of war that Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction as generally understood.  I give you a speech that should be much better known than it is, Robin Cook’s personal address to the House of Commons to explain his resignation from Tony Blair’s government:

 

Here’s a text version.

Our leaders knew that the stated reason for war in Iraq was false.  They did it anyway.  There’s plenty of blame to go round — and while it’s not clear how much individual members of Congress or Parliament knew, compared to the heads of government and the cabinets in both the US and the UK, some of that responsibilty certainly accrues to those legislators who went along to get along.

But the central villains of this piece are the leaders who made the choice to cajole and coerce their colleagues and their countries into war.

One last thought:  the upcoming election is between someone who’s learned from the Iraq disaster, and someone who just yesterday hearts him some murderous Saddam.

Image:  A. Y. Jackson, A Copse, Evening 1918, 1918



Got to kill em to civilize em

Or asshole of the week award nomination:

Hmm, isn’t he supposed to be a conservative with a respect for institutions that work even if they don’t work well and a healthy suscipian of outsider experts smashing a system and imposing externally solutions that don’t have internal stakeholder buy-in.

Nope, just Col. Blimp at work.



Tuesday Evening Open Thread: Respite

I find that “funny” license plates usually run the scale from trying too hard to idiot identifier, but this one is an exception. (Always had a soft spot for a VW Bug ever since my dad got one of the first ones in New York City. Just before his family increased from three kids to six… )

Apart from fond memories, what’s on the agenda for the evening?