Late Night Puerto Rico Open Thread: Lest We Forget

Under normal circumstances, I’d be posting this tomorrow when more readers would see it… but Murphy only knows what skeletons will fall out of various Repub closets for this week’s Friday News Dump…

Tuesday Evening Open Thread: Remember, Remember…

That was my feeling, too. As soon as I could be sure my friends who actually worked in the towers were okay — at least physically. At least for the moment…

Open Thread: Woodward & All the President’s Minions

Bob Woodward’s massive volumes are not meant to be read from start to finish, any more than one would read the motel Yellow Pages alphabetically in search of an open diner. They are expensive objects meant to establish the buyer’s political savvy, or to search the index for anecdotes about one’s frenemies. Most of them roll out for the media tour under the hidden subtext that Everything Is Working Out for the Best; the newest — note the snappy title! — falls into the small & lethal category of This Subject Has Become A Problem And Will Be Dealt With Accordingly.

Yet despite Woodward’s sterling history among the highly credentialed, reviewers no longer seem completely convinced he can repeat his 1974 marketing coup. Isaac Chotiner, at Slate, says “Bob Woodward’s new book presents Trump staffers as our last line of defense. We’re doomed.”

Woodward’s book—which arrived at around the same time as the already infamous, still-currently anonymous New York Times op-ed about the men and women in the executive branch supposedly working to protect America from Donald Trump—is as much a portrait of the craven, ineffective, and counterproductive group of “adults” surrounding Trump as it is a more predictable look into the president’s shortcomings. It’s not entirely clear how aware Woodward is of what he has revealed about the people he’s quoting at length. (Sources tend to come off well in his books.) But intentionally or not, Fear will make plain to the last optimist that, just as Republicans in Congress are unlikely to save us, neither are the relative grown-ups in the Trump administration.

Is Woodward the last optimist? He obviously believes that Trump is unfit to be president, but a reader can’t quite shake the sense that he somehow thinks maybe, just maybe, things could be different with the right coaching or incentives. Fear is a book full of stories about Trump being contained; his instincts being thwarted; his worst qualities being slightly minimized by people who claim to be afraid of what would happen if they weren’t there. “It’s not what we did for the country,” former Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn says early on. “It’s what we saved him from doing.” Quotes like this aim to settle the ethical debate—which has been going on from the start of the Trump presidency—over whether anyone should be working for a bigoted and corrupt president with no respect for democracy, even if they are planning to, in that most tiresome phrase, contain his worst impulses. But that conversation has obscured the more pressing question of what those supposedly well-intentioned individuals can actually accomplish from the inside. Even allowing for the self-serving nature of the accounts that Woodward offers here, the answer appears to be: not much.
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Angry, Bitter Open Thread: Serena, Naomi, and the Nasty Little Sexist

I may not know much about tennis, but there’s few women lucky enough to have avoided the “Smile, Bitch, or Else” moment when some petty little pocket tyrant gets to hold our job / career / life hostage. I’m gonna assume it’s even worse for Black women, because the combination of racism and sexism usually is. And it wasn’t just Serena Williams the pismire was punishing for his own failures, either. Sally Jenkins, in the Washington Post:

Chair umpire Carlos Ramos managed to rob not one but two players in the women’s U.S. Open final. Nobody has ever seen anything like it: An umpire so wrecked a big occasion that both players, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams alike, wound up distraught with tears streaming down their faces during the trophy presentation and an incensed crowd screamed boos at the court. Ramos took what began as a minor infraction and turned it into one of the nastiest and most emotional controversies in the history of tennis, all because he couldn’t take a woman speaking sharply to him…

When Williams, still seething, busted her racket over losing a crucial game, Ramos docked her a point. Breaking equipment is a violation, and because Ramos already had hit her with the coaching violation, it was a second offense and so ratcheted up the penalty.

The controversy should have ended there. At that moment, it was up to Ramos to de-escalate the situation, to stop inserting himself into the match and to let things play out on the court. In front of him were two players in a sweltering state, who were giving their everything, while he sat at a lordly height above them. Below him, Williams vented, “You stole a point from me. You’re a thief.”

… Ramos has put up with worse from a man. At the French Open in 2017, Ramos leveled Rafael Nadal with a ticky-tacky penalty over a time delay, and Nadal told him he would see to it that Ramos never refereed one of his matches again.

But he wasn’t going to take it from a woman pointing a finger at him and speaking in a tone of aggression. So he gave Williams that third violation for “verbal abuse” and a whole game penalty, and now it was 5-3, and we will never know whether young Osaka really won the 2018 U.S. Open or had it handed to her by a man who was going to make Serena Williams feel his power. It was an offense far worse than any that Williams committed. Chris Evert spoke for the entire crowd and television audience when she said, “I’ve been in tennis a long time, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”…

Ramos had rescued his ego and, in the act, taken something from Williams and Osaka that they can never get back. Perhaps the most important job of all for an umpire is to respect the ephemeral nature of the competitors and the contest. Osaka can never, ever recover this moment. It’s gone. Williams can never, ever recover this night. It’s gone. And so Williams was entirely right in calling him a “thief.”

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Saturday Morning Open Thread: ICYMI

It was, after all, a very busy week…

Friday Morning Open Thread: Where Did She Come From?

Molly Ball is a good writer, even if Time is a less-than-worthy venue:

Nancy Pelosi stopped caring about what people think of her a long time ago, so she has no qualms about eating ice cream for breakfast with a stranger. Dark chocolate, two scoops, waffle cone. It’s a freezing January morning in Baltimore’s Little Italy, where Pelosi grew up in the 1950s. “You know what’s good about ice cream in this weather?” she says. “It doesn’t melt down your arm while you’re eating it.”

We are sitting in an Italian café on Albemarle Street, alone save for the staff and Pelosi’s security detail, to whom she has offered coffee. The Trump era has many Democrats in a panic, but Pelosi inhabits a more cheerful reality. She is convinced that America has hit bottom, has seen the error of its ways and is ready to put her back in charge.

The 78-year-old former House Speaker knows what her critics say about her: that she’s too old, too “toxic,” too polarizing; that after three decades in Congress and 15 years leading her party’s caucus, she has had her turn and needs to get out of the way. But there’s a reason she sticks around. Had Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election, she says, “we’d have a woman at the head of the table.” When that didn’t happen, Pelosi realized that without her, there might not be a woman in the room at all.

Pelosi is one of the most consequential political figures of her generation. It was her creativity, stamina and willpower that drove the defining Democratic accomplishments of the past decade, from universal access to health coverage to saving the U.S. economy from collapse, from reforming Wall Street to allowing gay people to serve openly in the military. Her Republican successors’ ineptitude has thrown her skills into sharp relief. It’s not a stretch to say Pelosi is one of very few legislators in Washington who actually know what they’re doing.

But few people talk about her in those terms. Instead, Pelosi is regarded as a political liability…

The attacks on Pelosi are particularly ironic in this political moment. Since Donald Trump’s election, American women have poured into the streets, signed up to run for office in record numbers and surged to the polls. Many of them look a lot like Pelosi once did. They are brainy, liberal and comfortably situated moms who have looked at the political system with the exasperation of a person who has seen her husband get the laundry wrong and realized that she’s going to have to do it herself. If Democrats regain congressional power in November, as most experts expect, it will be by riding a tidal wave of female rage. But rather than tout their female leader–the first woman Speaker in history, and the odds-on favorite to reclaim the title–many Democratic politicians, both male and female, are running in the opposite direction. In this season of female political empowerment, Pelosi’s power still rankles.

It seems to enrage people that Pelosi feels entitled to things: money, power, respect. Of course it does–a woman is always held responsible for her reputation. Clinton, in her years running for President, was asked over and over again some version of the question, Why do you think people don’t like you? (Despite not being on any ballot, Clinton, too, figures prominently in the Republicans’ fall campaign strategy.) A powerful woman is always defined less by what she has done than by how she makes people feel.

Pelosi isn’t humble. Many women, she thinks, are afraid to show pride and need to see an example of confidence. Besides, making sure you get your due isn’t something you can delegate. One former Pelosi aide told me everything she does is rooted in this combination of obligation and entitlement: the sense that someone ought to do something, and she is the only one who can do it. Pelosi seems to feel no need to apologize for her status in the way women are expected to and men rarely are. Perhaps the assertion of ego by a woman is the most radical act there is: the refusal to submit or be subordinate.

It is not in Pelosi’s nature to cower or grovel. She will be who she is–liberal, privileged, unpopular–and let the chips fall where they may. To some Democrats, Pelosi’s is an attitude of unconscionable selfishness: she’s willing to damage her party to hold on to the position she believes she deserves. The story of Nancy Pelosi is, inevitably, the story of what people think of her. The way she is recognized and remembered, the way she is held to account. And so Pelosi doesn’t have the luxury of not caring about what people think of her: it’s the question on which her future, and the future of American politics, depends…

When things get really, really ugly, the Media Villagers and their donors will ‘graciously’, temporarily, allow a woman to leave her proper place and come clean the place up. Or, sometimes, a Black man, as a less-emasculating alternative. Hey, speaking of the cleanup squad:

Repub Stupidity / Cupidity Open Thread: Nobody Loves An Anonymous “Hero”…

Not that he’ll be anonymous for long, which I’m presuming was part of the grift. This is the single best response I’ve seen so far…

See — you can be old and reliant on young staffers and yet not be a total dick!

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