The Fire This Time

Some folks say Trump is just the logical extension of a white nationalist strain in the Republican Party that began with Nixon’s Southern strategy; inspired Reagan to kick off his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi; germinated HW Bush’s Willie Horton ad; led W Bush’s dirty tricksters to spread rumors about John McCain’s adopted daughter; and culminated in the racist freak-out during President Obama’s two terms in office.

That’s all true. But there were exit ramps along the way. The Republican Party faced a hard choice after Romney’s defeat. They could adapt to changing American demographics or lose. Trump offered a third option: stop tinkering on the margins with voter suppression and dog whistles and go all in on racism, sexism and xenophobia and openly subvert American democracy to keep white folks in power by whatever means necessary.

The vast majority of the party chose door number 3. Now we not-Republicans face a choice: utterly defeat the Republican Party or watch as the U.S. morphs into an apartheid state and its law enforcement organizations engage in a never-ending ethnic cleansing project. Does that sound crazy or extreme? I don’t think it is. Read more

Summit Off

To the surprise of no one:

Ironically, Trump is probably most pissed off about the North Korean foreign minister calling Pence a “dummy,” which is perfectly true. Let’s just hope the orange fart cloud focuses on golf or staring at someone’s boobs instead of avenging his toady.

Oh well. At least we have a coin immortalizing two of the most absurd hairdos to ever adorn the noggins of a pair of nuclear-armed, narcissistic rage-bots.

Training Day (Open Thread)

When our daughter was zero to one year and eleven months old, my husband and I deluded ourselves into thinking we had a rare infant/toddler who consistently behaved in public. We pitied other parents we saw in restaurants, grocery stores, etc., when their little monsters had embarrassing public meltdowns. When that happened, my husband and I exchanged knowing glances and smiled smug little smiles.

I remember the exact moment we were disabused of our delusion. We were in a family pizza-spaghetti joint with our daughter, who had recently turned two. She was in a high chair, and instead of quietly munching the Captain’s Wafer crackers I offered to placate her until the food arrived, she pounded them into dust on the tray and distributed the crumbs in a six-foot radius of our table. She issued piercing shrieks and repeatedly threw her sippy cup.

We hastily finished our meals and departed, leaving an enormous tip and resigning ourselves to Chuck E. Cheese for the next few years. The one near us sold beer. I bet they sell A LOT of fucking beer.

Anyhoo, I experienced a similar phenomenon with the pup today. I’ve supervised Badger’s training from the mudroom/home office, gating the two of us off so poor old Daisy can get some peace and quiet and I can closely observe the little critter to hasten the house-training project. He’s doing well on that front!

But my job requires occasional phone conferences too. In the three weeks we’ve had Badger, he’s been an absolute ANGEL during these calls, sleeping sweetly at my feet. That lulled me into thinking he was just a great phone conference puppy! Not so, as it turns out.

Thank God for the fucking mute button, because today, Badger was a raging brat during a call. He’s not much of a barker, but he was running in circles growling and barking. He tore one of the ears off my piggy slippers:

As I extracted the ear from his mouth, he sank his sharp little teeth into my thumb. I happened to be speaking on the call when that happened, and listeners may have noticed that my voice rose an octave or two, but otherwise, I held it together.

I tried plying the little shit with dog training treats, which had the exact opposite of the intended effect, as any fool could have predicted; it reinforced his bad behavior, so he stood on the floor with his paws on my knee, barking as I handed him treat after treat.

The experience was almost as harrowing as when I had to climb into one of those human Habitrails at Chuck E. Cheese to extract my daughter, who refused to come out because another kid had peed and then disrobed. I’m getting too old for this shit.

Open thread!

Editing Trump

Blake Hounshell, editor in chief of Politico magazine, provided a good example this morning of a problem with media. Here’s his tweet in a screenshot, because I hope he deletes it.

The link in the Blumenthal tweet is to an article in which Vice President Mike Pence is quoted.

“There was some talk about the Libyan model last week, and you know, as the President made clear, this will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal,” Pence said Monday.

When it was noted that the comparison could be interpreted as a threat, Pence told Fox News: “Well, I think it’s more of a fact.”

The talk about a Libyan model came from National Security Advisor John Bolton and from President Donald Trump. But they were talking about two different Libyan models. Bolton said that he expected North Korea to hand over their entire nuclear program as Libya did in 2003. Trump said that if they didn’t, the United States would “decimate” them, as was done to Libya in 2011.

It’s often hard to understand what Trump is saying. This clip is more difficult than usual, but it’s pretty clear that Trump says the word “decimate” and talks about “the Libya model” in a different way than Bolton has. Before that, he said something about providing security to North Korea.

The Washington Post headline emphasized that part of the statement, even though, to my ears, the threat of “the Libya model” was more emphatic, with Trump spending more time on it.

Trump offers reassurance that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un would remain in power under nuclear deal

Acton may be right; David Nakamura and Philip Rucker may have been steered in that direction by White House aides telling them what it was that Trump was supposed to say.

Hounshell may have been subject to the same explaining, or perhaps the idea that the President is threatening war against North Korea in plain words is too uncomfortable for reporters to convey to the public.

Trump spouts word salad, a toss-up of ignorance, shaky sentence structure, vague referents, complaints, accusations, and threats. It is not the job of reporters to impose coherence on that word salad. It’s perfectly acceptable (to me, perhaps not to Trump) for them to report “In a windy set of impressions and inaccurate references, Trump contradicted Bolton and seems to have threatened war against North Korea, while putting forth a conditional security guarantee.”

Part of what they say should recognize the difficulty in knowing what Trump means. Trying to pin him down in his short press availabilities is difficult, but should be attempted. Yes, his words flow freely, unhinged from meaning, and he often refuses to answer requests for clarification.

Blake Hounshell didn’t respond to any of the comments and questions about his tweet, nor did he back up his conclusion. That conclusion will shape how he and Politico cover Trump’s actions toward North Korea. Hounshell believes, according to the tweet, “The U.S. won’t attack North Korea.” Apparently he doesn’t believe Trump’s own words. He should tell us why.

Update: Here’s a much more thoughtful and critical analysis of Trump’s words.


Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner.

Flint Nation

Corrupt swamp monster Scott Pruitt wants you to pay for his jet-setting lifestyle, but he doesn’t want you to hear any criticism of the way he mismanages his agency for the benefit of his and Trump’s paymasters:

The Environmental Protection Agency is barring The Associated Press, CNN and the environmental-focused news organization E&E from a national summit on harmful water contaminants.

The EPA blocked the news organizations from attending Tuesday’s Washington meeting, convened by EPA chief Scott Pruitt.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox told the barred organizations they were not invited and there was no space for them, but gave no indication of why they specifically were barred.

Pruitt told about 200 people at the meeting that dealing with the contaminants is a “national priority.”

Guards barred an AP reporter from passing through a security checkpoint inside the building. When the reporter asked to speak to an EPA public-affairs person, the security guards grabbed the reporter by the shoulders and shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building.

The story isn’t even a headline at CNN. It should be. This is outrageous.

Flip a Coin

If you want an expert’s insights on the issue of North Korea’s nukes, head over to CNN and read a piece featuring our own Cheryl Rofer. All I’ve got is something deeply weird and worrisome about the upcoming summit; the Trump White House issued a commemorative coin for it:

Kim Jong-Un’s PR shop must be stoked — what could signal Kim’s arrival as a legitimate player on the world stage more effectively than the U.S. president pairing his own image with Kim’s as an equal? Oh, right — nuclear weaponry.

This premature victory lap is disturbing on so many levels. From The Guardian:

Trump has reportedly been focusing on the pageantry of the summit rather than immersing himself in detailed briefings on the complex issue of North Korea’s nuclear program. He has been particularly interested in suspense-filled announcements that could come out of the meeting, according to the Associated Press.

Of course Trump has focused on the show biz angle — that’s who he is. But Trump is also a vengeful bully who is likely to go apeshit when he doesn’t get what he wants. And he’ll have Bolton whispering in his ear on the long plane ride home.

I don’t think anyone’s gonna win this coin toss.

The Invisible Hand in the “Sexual Marketplace”

The first person the Santa Fe shooter killed was a 16-year-old girl who had refused to go out with him, according to the victim’s mother. Most of the victims were women and girls, including an exchange student from Pakistan who was due to go home next month, and two teachers.

Since the shooter chickened out on his suicide plan, maybe some explanation for his actions will be forthcoming. But online and offline misogynists think they’ve already figured it out:

It’s a mystery, Mark, but maybe I can explain. What Mark here describes as the “destabilization of the sexual marketplace” is what I call women’s freedom to function in society as a fully realized human beings.

Just a scant few generations ago, the Invisible Hand of the “sexual marketplace” grabbed women by the pussy like a metaphorical Trump and traded us between fathers, husbands and other male “protectors” like a commodity. If love, respect and companionship entered into the bargain, it was usually luck rather than the objective of the transaction.

Women disrupted that marketplace by claiming their own agency. The men who are “hard hit” by that need to examine why they have to rely on coercion to get laid. Or they could use their not-so-invisible hand to jerk off. Really, guys, this shouldn’t be our fucking problem.