Late Night Schadenfreude Open Thread: Hugh Hewitt Gets Trumpened

“Ambulatory cream cheese sculpture” (thanks, Betty!) Hugh Hewitt has been a shameless mouthpiece for the Wingnut Wurlitzer since he first rose above the bottom ranks by comparing his Manhattan talk-radio job to reporting from the front lines of Iraq. Years of tireless service to the RWNJ meme-of-the-moment got him as far as a moderating gig during the presidential primaries. But nobody who attempts to work with Donald Trump comes through without being dinged, if not destroyed… and today Hugh Hewitt got Trumpened:

It was inevitable some Donald Trump supporter would try to rationalize Trump’s view of Vladimir Putin. People just didn’t think that person would be Hugh Hewitt.

The popular conservative radio host got thoroughly clobbered on Twitter Friday morning after he made the argument that Putin is a more effective leader than President Obama because he has “served his country’s national interest better.” Counterarguments came from the left, right and center, and they’re still coming…

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Syrian Ceasefire

The US and Russia have agreed to a ceasefire to go into effect on Monday, the first day of Eid. The Syrian Governmental Forces will cease operations in certain opposition areas and the US and Russia will stand up a joint multinational center to combat the Islamic State and the Nusra Front. The joint center will be for deconfliction – of targets and of US led coalition and Russian backed efforts.

It is important that diplomatic efforts are being made, partially because you can’t only use military power. You have to be able to bring all elements of National power – Diplomatic, Information(al), Military, and Economic (DIME) power – into play blending and balancing them to achieve one’s goals. That said I’m not exactly sanguine that this will be effective. There are a lot of moving parts to the agreement, including the Syrian government’s cooperation, as well as Syria’s other allies such as Iran and its proxies. And, of course, the enemy gets a vote. If the Islamic State, the Nusra Front, or both of them together decide to step up attacks because of the ceasefire and in an attempt to exploit it, it will increase the pressure on this fragile diplomatic effort. My view of the Syrian Civil War since I first started working on the problem set in 2013 is that it was very similar to the Thirty Years War, even as that conflict was not a perfect historical analogue.

Given what has been going on in the presidential campaign, especially during the past week, there may be some other things going on with this agreement. While Secretary Kerry has a lot of control over US diplomacy and diplomatic policy, he wouldn’t be pursuing this without President Obama signing off on it. If the Russians are unable to maintain discipline over their coalition – the Syrian government and its Iranian allies and proxies, much hay will be made over how you can’t trust or rely on the Russians (and by extension Vladimir Putin) because they can’t deliver on their promises. If the US’s local proxies – the Syrian Defense Forces (SDY) and/or the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Forces (YPG) don’t observe the ceasefire, then it will raise questions about the US and its Coalition allies ability to control their local proxies. Because of how the US presidential campaign has gone the Syrian Civil War is no longer about who will run and control Syria, be considered to be Syrian or not Syrian, and a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is now also a proxy part of the US presidential election.

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

No, its not a monster truck rally. This Sunday from 10 AM EST to about 11 AM EST Cheryl Rofer, who retired from Los Alamos National Laboratories as a chemist and has worked on nuclear proliferation/clean up issues, has graciously offered to conduct an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session regarding the nuclear test conducted by North Korea yesterday. So since even if you’re not interested in nuclear war, nuclear war may be interested in you set your (atomic) clocks, grab your coffee or other morning beverage of choice, grab a slice of mushroom cloud cake, and join Cheryl in the comments!

Atomic Cake-lo

(ADM William Blanding Celebrating a Successful Nuclear Test with Cake)


(like I wasn’t going to go there?)

The GOP Yearns for A Strong Daddy, Even If He’s A Russian Autocrat

trump backer putin toles

(Tom Toles via

So, like good little authoritarians, other Repubs rushed to praise Strong Daddy Vlad, too also…

(Admittedly, if I were asked to pick a Congressman who’d stand in front of a camera and praise Putin, Steve King would be my first choice.)

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Late Night Open Thread: “But About Your Iraq Problem, Mr. Trump… “

I’m beginning to wonder (hope?) whether the media might be turning Trump’s “I was against going into Iraq, before I was for it” bullshit into the equivalent of their bottomless fascination with Hillary Clinton’s emails. If so, it would be a most fitting punishment for Hair Fuhrer, since the whole kerfuffle is very much his own fault. He had very little reason to bloviate about his superior predictive foreign-policy skills in the first place; he was lying when he first brought up the topic; he could’ve ended the whole discussion early by acknowledging that he’d made a mistake; and he can’t stop bringing it up, even though it’s clear even to him that nobody believes him and every reiteration makes him look worse!

Note the wide range of media outlets & experts represented or quoted below:

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Breaking News: Possible (Probable?) 5th North Korean Nuclear Test


(3rd Stage of an Underground Nuclear Test)

The BBC, and other, news outlets are reporting that North Korean has appeared to have conducted its 5th nuclear test. An artificial earthquake, measuring 5.3 on the Richter Scale, was recorded near its Punggye-ri testing site. The reporting on this is clearly going to change over the next 24-72 hours, so stay tuned.

My professional opinion, with the caveat that I’m not a North Korean specialist and that North Korea epitomizes the International Relations phrase “the black box of the state” and is almost completely opaque to outside observation, is that the North Koreans treat their engagement with the outside world the way a young child does with its parents. I’m not trying to infantilize the North Koreans, their culture, their society, or their leadership, but I think there’s a clear pattern. When something is going on that involves their patron China interacting with the US or other world powers or its regional competitors, especially South Korea, interacting with the US or other world powers, then the North Koreans act out to get attention. And with the ASEAN Summit winding down in Laos and coming on the heels of the G20 summit in China, North Korea once again acts out and once again the whole world turns and gives it attention. Again, this reporting will change and/or solidify over the next 24-72 hours so more to follow.

Update at 12:50 AM EST:

Soonergrunt has let us know in comments that the Independent NK News has confirmed the test:

NK live broadcast says: NK conducted nuclear test to check power of nuclear warhead. No radioactive leakages.



Embedded Video of Clinton Press Conference

Here’s the embed of the now not so live feed: