Open Thread: “Wag the Prague” — Early Reviews


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For A Good Time In Cambridge (Tonight!)

Just a quick heads-up.  My colleague Seth Mnookin will be moderating a panel for the MIT Communications Forum on “Republican Resistance in the Age of Trump.”

The event goes from 6-8 p.m. in MIT Building 3, room 270. (MIT map.)  The speakers are interesting:  Stuart Stevens (Romney’s 2012 chief strategist, among other presidential election gigs); Jennifer Nassour, former MA GOP chair (I know…) and the founder of a group dedicated to electing more Republican women in the northeast; and Dr. Daniel Barkhuff, a Navy Spec Ops doc veteran and leader of a non-partisan group supporting “veterans who have demonstrated integrity and rational thought as they run for positions in local, state and federal elections.”

These are folks with whom I expect I have pretty near zero agreement on policy terms.  But if there is common cause to be found in constructing an American democracy on a foundation of shared political norms, I’m down for that, and plan to listen closely.

In any event, should be an interesting time. And I note that I’m the more interested as a bunch of posters around campus have been torn down, which I interpret as a Trumpian response to unwelcome news.  All the more reason to show up, IMHO.

Image: William Hogarth, An Election Entertainment(painting from his series, “The Humours of an Election”), c. 1755.



Late Night Open Thread: Happy Thought to End the Day…

Not a professional myself, but “Less than 15% of our hull has been breached!” somehow doesn’t seem like the happiest rally for the S.S. Greedy Old Perverts…



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: We’re On Our Own

Almost missed this grace note — from Boston magazine, “Michelle Obama Is Not Running for President”

It’s simple, really: Michelle Obama does not want to be president, and so she is not running for president.

During a moderated conversation at Simmons College’s 39th annual leadership conference on Thursday, the former first lady discussed a litany of topics ranging from diversity to the state of American democracy—and put to rest any notion that her name will be on the ballot in 2020.

“I have never had the passion for politics,” Obama said. “I just happened to be married to somebody who has the passion for politics, and he drug me kicking and screaming into this arena. Just because I gave a good speech, and I’m smart and intelligent, doesn’t mean that I should be the next president.”

Obama emphasized the need to encourage qualified women with political drive to pursue higher office, rather than homing in on inspiring people like herself and Oprah who may have other aspirations…



The Boltoning Continues (Memo To Self: Start Digging That Shelter)

Not even through his second day on the job and John Bolton is making real progress in his effort to fully crazify the US  national security apparatus:

[Homeland Security advisor] Tom Bossert was an ideal Trump administration official – a man with the résumé of an Establishment Republican, and the capacity for sycophancy of a Trump crony.

…In a West Wing beset by chaos and dysfunction, Bossert was regarded as one of the few competent aides still standing.

And John Bolton just got him fired. As Homeland Security adviser, Bossert would have been a subordinate of the incoming, mustachioed White House national security adviser; and Bolton would prefer to assemble his own team. [links in the original]

Official portrait of that new band of all-stars:

This is really Adam and Cheryl’s turf, of course, so I won’t foist my amateur analysis on the jackals; I hope they’ll weigh in on Bolton early and often.  But I will go so far as to say that so far the new National Security Advisor is behaving exactly as advertised: he’s the boss from hell, and no independent minds or voices will be allowed anywhere near power.  It’s all mustache all the time.  Given his wretched record as anything but a bureaucratic infighter, the US — and the world — should be damn nervous.

Open thread.

Image: Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne, Fools have the most fun1661



Late Saturday Night Open Thread: Redemption Is Possible!

Seagulls, dude…

A Nova Scotia man banned from Victoria’s stately Fairmont Empress hotel is welcome back after apologizing for an incident more than 17 years ago in which seagulls hungry for pepperoni trashed his room in a rock star frenzy.,,

“I remember walking down the long hall and opening the door to my room to find an entire flock of seagulls in my room,” stated Burchill’s letter. “I didn’t have time to count, but there must have been 40 of them and they had been in my room, eating pepperoni for a long time.”

He said he startled the gorging birds, which is when things really got out of control.

“They immediately started flying around and crashing into things as they desperately tried to leave the room through the small opening by which they had entered,” said Burchill. “The result was a tornado of seagull excrement, feathers, pepperoni chunks and fairly large birds whipping around the room.”

Tracey Drake, the hotel’s public relations director, said Monday there were thoughts this was an April Fools’ Day prank, but a check of the records and Burchill’s appearance at the front desk last weekend confirmed the seagull story and the former guest’s permanent ban…

“The hotel followed up with his employer afterwards, saying he’s not welcome back at the hotel due to the damage in the room,” Drake said. “He’s correct. The lamps were broken. The room was trashed. It’s a really funny story to tell 17 years later, but I was sitting here thinking about the housekeeper and what her first reaction must have been when she opened that door.”…

The letter he sent to the Empress and posted on Facebook explained how his plan to bring spicy Nova Scotia pepperoni to Victoria to share with friends stationed at the West Coast naval base went astray when he decided to cool the meat near the window because his room didn’t have a fridge.

Drake said the damage to the room was beyond description, but all is forgiven and Burchill is back on the guest list…

Surely there’s a Trumplodyte joke lurking in there somewhere?



Another Chemical Attack

It looks like Bashir al-Assad dropped another bunch of chemicals on civilians in East Ghouta again today. Horrible photos of the dead are circulating on Twitter. It’s not clear whether this was Sarin or chlorine, or Assad’s trademark mixture of the two. Early reports are that over 100 people have been killed.

It is exactly a year ago today that Donald Trump sent 59 cruise missiles into Syria to respond to a similar chemical attack.

There’s a continuing argument among strategists about deterrence. One side says that if you whack someone like Assad hard enough, he won’t do it again. The other says that Assad will choose to do what is best for him strategically and take his lumps if necessary, or take the chance that there won’t be retribution. I tend toward the second

It’s that argument that continues around Barack Obama’s “red line” for Syrian chemical weapons use. One side says that taking the deal to disarm Syria of most of its chemical weapons instead of whacking Assad led to the belief that Obama was soft, hence Putin’s incursion into Ukraine and all other evils since then. I think that putting aside a strike that would have killed more civilians and been far from taking out all the chemical warfare facilities in favor of peacefully removing most of the chemical weapons was a sign of good judgment.

And, contrary to some of what I’m seeing in response to Assad’s strike today, nobody expected that every single drop of chemical agent would be removed from Syria. But most of it was, and the facilities for making more disabled.