That Op-Ed, Continued

While I take a measure of relief that we now appear to be closer to the beginning of the end than to the end of the beginning, I have some big concerns about that New York Times op-ed by “a senior administration official.”

My concerns are very much like David Frum’s.

Speak in your own name. Resign in a way that will count. Present the evidence that will justify an invocation of the 25th Amendment, or an impeachment, or at the very least, the first necessary step toward either outcome, a Democratic Congress after the November elections.

Clearly this is related to yesterday’s revelations from Bob Woodward’s book. The author of the op-ed may even have contributed to Woodward.

But the author is trying to preserve his/her reputation: I am being a good Republican, helping to execute good Republican policies. I am keeping the country safe from a dangerous president.

That’s a lot of responsibility to take on. The president is elected; the author has been appointed by that president and tells us that he is undermining that president. In the telling, the president is further undermined.

What did the author expect to be the next step? Donald Trump is reported to have freaked out over the Woodward revelations and have started searching for the leakers. This will turbocharge that search. James Jesus Angleton became convinced that there was a Russian mole in the CIA and practically destroyed the agency. Can the author of the op-ed protect us from a storm a couple of categories stronger?

There are a limited number of senior administration officials. We are likely to learn who wrote the op-ed much more quickly than we learned that Deep Throat was Mark Felt. How we will learn is hard to predict.


Bubble Boys

There’s some controversy about whether Giuliani’s clusterfuck interview with Hannity last night was the deliberate launch of a new legal strategy for handling the Stormy Daniels thing or a misstep by a demented dipshit who got his client into an even bigger mess. Josh Marshall reckons it was the latter:

What you have are a half dozen brainstorms cooked up by a group of old men in a room used to bending reality to their purposes when something goes wrong. That’s much more difficult on a national stage in front of intense scrutiny. That’s what happened last night. Rudy Giuliani is far, far past his prime, used to the accommodating hothouse world of Fox News cronies and cash and carry deal-making in his law firm gigs. This was as sloppy as it looked and did his client no favors.

On purpose or not — it really is hard to tell, but that is always the case with the Trump shit-storm. I think Marshall is 100% correct about the Fox News hothouse. Here’s a clip that illustrates the confines of that noxious bubble:

Partial transcript for those who can’t/won’t watch:

HANNITY (in a reverent, hushed, bewildered and horrified tone): “There’s a Politico report today basically suggesting that now Mueller would consider Ivanka Trump…a…a…a target.”

[Indignant digression about Hope Hicks, another woman in Trump’s orbit who gives the grotesque pair chivalry-boners.]

GIULIANI (incredulously): Ivanka Trump?!?!? I would, I would, I think I would get on my charger and go right into their offices with a lance if they went after Ivanka.”

HANNITY: I, uh, at this point, sir, I honestly agree with you, and I fear for the country.”

GIULIANI: “Now, I think if they DO do Ivanka, which I doubt they will, the whole country will turn on them. They’re going after his daughter?”

HANNITY: What about his son-in-law? They’ve talked about him!”

GIULIANI: “I guess, uh, Jared is a fine man. You know that. But men are, you know, disposable.” [laughs] “But a fine woman like Ivanka? Come on!”

Set aside for a moment the creepy and sexist spectacle of these two infantilizing a 30-something woman who is (preposterously!) sold as a self-made business mogul and a person who merits a White House advisory role. Giuliani and Hannity’s musings about Ivanka demonstrate what I hope is a fatal flaw in the Trump administration’s political strategy for surviving a cascade of scandals.

The approach seems predicated on the mistaken belief that the view from Fox News holds sway across the land. Would millions rise up to follow Giuliani’s lead — mounting steeds, seizing lances and charging into Mueller’s office to defend Ivanka Trump’s honor? Outside of a relative few loud-mouthed Fox rage-bots, my guess is nope.

But it’s not surprising that these morons think this way — it comes straight from the top. To the extent that he governs at all, Trump governs as if the only Americans who exist are the goobers who support him.

That fantasy may survive visits to his self-branded clubs; it may stay intact while Trump tosses chunks of red meat at carefully screened audiences at rallies, and it may seem realistic while he’s viewing highly curated Fox News content. But I don’t think it’s gonna fly when people outside the Fox News bubble get a say this November.

Speaking for myself, it would make my fucking day to see Ivanka Trump lead a perp-walk conga line — to see all of these arrogant, corrupt, know-nothing motherfuckers swept out of power. I’m not so deluded as to imagine everyone in America agrees, but I’m damn sure not alone. And my friends and I vote.

The Secret For Comedy Is….

…wait for it…

…wait for it…

…wait for it…

…wait for it…


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has decided to postpone its session on nuclear attack preparedness next week. Much attention had been drawn to the timing of the agency’s session, which was publicized just days after President Trump touted the size of his nuclear button compared with North Korea’s.

That’s via Sheila Kaplan in yesterday’s New York Times.

Scheduled for January 16, the session was to be on “Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation”

It was intended, as the Times reported the week before:

for doctors, government officials, emergency responders and others whom, if they survived, would be responsible for overseeing the emergency response to a nuclear attack.

And, certainly, such a meeting was well within the CDC’s purview:

“While a nuclear detonation is unlikely,” the C.D.C. wrote on its website,which included a picture of a mushroom cloud, “it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps. Despite the fear surrounding such an event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness.”

The agenda for the disaster session included “Preparing for the Unthinkable,” “Road Map to Radiation Preparedness” and “Using Data and Decision Aids to Drive Response Efforts.”

In the event, the agency swapped out this session for one on the flu.  CDC staffers made a decent argument for the swap:

“To date, this influenza season is notable for the sheer volume of flu that most of the United States is seeing at the same time, which can stress health systems,” the agency said. “The vast majority of this activity has been caused by influenza A H3N2, associated with severe illness in young children and people 65 years and older.”

But it’s hard to shake the sense, as Kaplan hints in her story on the switch, that der Hair Führer’s fee-fees may have been involved:

The C.D.C.’s announcement that it was holding a nuclear preparation workshop drew widespread media coverage and embarrassed the public health agency. It also gave ammunition to administration critics who believe that the president is bringing the country closer to a nuclear Armageddon.

And now, Hawaii!


And with, over to y’all. Open thread, I guess, though here’s a question to get things going:  How’s it all going to end. Fire? Or ice? (Preferably w. several fingers of good bourbon poured over it.)

Image: Jan Fyt, Mushroomsbefore 1650.

….Aaaaaannnnnnnnd, Scene!


There is nothing to add; perfection needs no sauce.

Open thread, y’all.

The Imagineers hate Trump’s guts too…

That’s really the only possible explanation for this

Note: Original photo edited to add internal dialogue from other robot-presidents.

Trump is hideous in the flesh, of course, so a handsome robot would be a lie. And the robot versions of President Obama and the other presidents are pretty fake and tacky looking, IMO — and since Trump is fake and tacky looking in person, you’d think it would make it easier to capture his essence animatronically.

But it’s like the Disney folks went out of their way to showcase Trump’s personal and sartorial defects, including the jowls and wattles, cotton-candy shelf of hair, poorly fitting suit, too-long tie, etc. Even though his big gut doesn’t appear to have been represented by the padding it deserves, I count the brave, patriotic Imagineers among the Resistance!

Open thread.

Convert that Gravy Boat into a Battleship!

As is its wont, Fox News is ginning up outrage among the duct-taped naugahyde recliner set by highlighting godless liberals’ plans to persecute Trump supporters over turkey this year:

The suggestions for how to ruin Trump-supporting relatives’ holiday dinner in the linked GQ article are clearly tongue-in-cheek and purposely silly. But this part is kinda true, IMO:

This year, if you’re headed home to a household that still thinks a sex-offending game show host in rapid cognitive decline was the best choice for a president, it is your civic duty to filibuster Thanksgiving.

Trump has spent the entire year performing one long, clumsy touchdown dance atop the wreckage of America’s former norms and values… Any parents still riding the Trump Train at this point have thereby signaled that nothing is sacred. It is time to follow their example. They can’t stand idly by while President Deals tramples every other American tradition and yet somehow expect that Thanksgiving will be normal too. If every other moment of this year is going to be drastically out of whack, nobody should get to pretend that everything is normal for one meal just because that’s what the pilgrims would have done.

It’s not so much that Trump supporters don’t deserve a normal Thanksgiving (although they don’t); it’s that we who are related to or otherwise entangled with these assholes have a duty to try burst their bubble of complacency.

As it should be, this obligation is borne almost exclusively by my fellow white people — it was our demographic cohort that foisted this treasonous buffoon on the world, and it’s on us Saltine-Americans to try to fix it.

Trump voters should know we feel demeaned every goddamned day that dawns with a self-described sexual predator (and child molester apologist!) representing our country. We should make them aware that we’re appalled that literal Nazis and white nationalist trash are elevated and empowered by this administration.

Trump supporters should understand that we’re repulsed by the Bible-humping hypocrites who flock to support their degenerate president, and that we’re revolted by the arrogant, preening, phony morality of anti-gay creeps like Mike Pence.

We should point out that the huckster-in-chief invited a gaggle of plutocrats to loot the U.S. Treasury while he and his pack of grifting-hyena relatives convert the presidency into a personal branding engine and profit center. That “drain the swamp” thing was 100% bullshit, and if they’re still lapping it up, Trump supporters are a con man’s willing dupes.

And Trump supporters should know we’re repelled by people who wrap themselves in the flag and invoke “the troops” as an excuse to cram their jingoism down our throats while at the same time expressing enthusiasm about a foreign autocrat undermining our democracy or turning a blind eye to it.

I could go on, but the point is, this shit is not normal, and if we’re ever going to get within hailing distance of normal again, we must not only call out Trump and his official minions, we must confront the people who put him where he is. Even if they are our dads, aunties, cousins, etc.

The techniques to confront MAGAts vary. I favor sarcasm. Valued commenter Mnemosyne has described a gambit that I’ve found particularly effective in exposing the stupidity at the core of Trumpian conspiracy theories: Feign ignorance when wingnuts repeat some chain-email lie, politely ask them to elaborate and ask pointed questions until the full lunacy of the premise is exposed, sometimes even to the speaker, who eventually trails off in embarrassment or changes the subject.

Anyhoo, arm yourselves with the rhetorical weapons that suit you best, including sweet reason and loving kindness, if that’s your thing. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m off the hook on Thanksgiving Day since no Trump-supporting relatives will be in attendance. But I will be seeing them over the coming weeks, and I will give no quarter. They don’t deserve it, and these days, silence equals complicity with a white supremacy agenda. Fuck that!

More On Trump-Tillerson Kerfluffle

We discussed this a bit in the morning thread, but it warrants further examination and derision. Via NBC News:

Tillerson’s Fury at Trump Required an Intervention From Pence

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was on the verge of resigning this past summer amid mounting policy disputes and clashes with the White House, according to multiple senior administration officials who were aware of the situation at the time.

The tensions came to a head around the time President Donald Trump delivered a politicized speech in late July to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization Tillerson once led, the officials said.

Just days earlier, Tillerson had openly disparaged the president, referring to him as a “moron,” after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials, according to three officials familiar with the incident.

I don’t know about y’all, but for me, “was on the verge of resigning” is right up there with “Ivanka privately opposed” and “John Kelly was displeased” as useless-ass information that fails spectacularly in reassuring me about the character of the people surrounding Trump. To paraphrase Yoda, “Resign, or resign not. There is no verge.” More on MoronGate:

While it’s unclear if he was aware of the incident, Vice President Mike Pence counseled Tillerson, who is fourth in line to the presidency, on ways to ease tensions with Trump, and other top administration officials urged him to remain in the job at least until the end of the year, officials said.

Officials said that the administration, beset then by a series of high-level firings and resignations, would have struggled to manage the fallout from a Cabinet secretary of his stature departing within the first year of Trump’s presidency.

Pence has since spoken to Tillerson about being respectful of the president in meetings and in public, urging that any disagreements be sorted out privately, a White House official said. The official said progress has since been made.

St. Paul in a Speedo, has there ever been a more servile toady than Mike Fucking Pence? His fawning devotion is all the more nauseating since it’s a moral certainty that Pence would shiv Trump and use the bloated carcass as the Oval Office welcome mat if he thought he could get away with it. It may well come to that, and Mother would make a splendid homespun Lady Macbeth if it does.

I’m also glad the NBC report mentions that the administration was “beset by a series of high-level firings and resignations.” My feeling is that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. It’s kind of unprecedented, isn’t it — the revolving door in this White House? I mean, it’s not unexpected; organizations that are headed up by a walking collection of untreated personality disorders often experience high turnover. But for the historical record, let’s not let that go by the boards unremarked.

Anyhoo, just as I was typing this out, I got a CNN alert on my phone saying Tillerson denies he contemplated an exit and claims the report that he called Trump a moron is “petty nonsense.” Uh huh. I bet Trump knows better, and he will hound Tillerson out of there by Valentine’s Day, if not sooner. And Rexxon will heave a sigh of relief as big as Exxon.

Open thread!

ETA: Employees of moron boss deny calling boss a moron — take that to the bank, America!