Late Night B-Movie Open Thread: Giant Albino Amphibian vs. Zombie-Eyed Grannie Starver

Jim Newell, at Slate, on “the perfect running mate for Donald Trump”:

… Gingrich, in his trademark way of exuding unsubtlety in the execution of what he believes to be a stealth operation, is angling for the vice presidency even more aggressively than Trump is angling for the presidency. When Gingrich responded to a question about the inexperience of Trump’s foreign policy advisers by instructing Slate’s Isaac Chotiner to read both The Art of the Deal and The Art of the Comeback, such a shameless non sequitur could only be read as that day’s canned talking point in his campaign for the vice presidency. Gingrich was among the earliest bold-name political figures to liaise between Trump and official Republican Washington. Like Chris Christie, Gingrich may have realized that taking the plunge early with the party’s incoming standard-bearer was the best way to position himself for a sweet gig down the road—and perhaps persuade Trump to help retire lingering campaign debt.

Trump basks in what normals might consider uncomfortable levels of flattery, and so, by several accounts—including Trump’s own mouth—Gingrich has successfully implanted himself on his new master’s veep shortlist. Though Gingrich has said Trump would need “psychiatric help” if the presumptive nominee were to select him as his running mate, he definitely will not rule himself out. The former speaker of the House is now a ubiquitous force in the Trump effort, selling him in the media and advising him on policy and politics…

For all of his put-on suck-uppery, Gingrich is one of the few people on Earth who can understand what it’s like to be in Trump’s shoes. Gingrich, over a more gradual period of time and climaxing in the 1994 elections, blew up an existing political era—that of the Democrats’ supposedly permanent House majority. He knows what it is to have the world looking in horror at you for shattering their reality, much as they’re looking at Trump now. He can brief Trump about how to weather this and, should Gingrich cave to the sort of introspection that neither he nor his tutee are known for but which may exist somewhere deep inside, teach him from his own mistakes….

I’m old enough to remember The Rain Reign of Speaker Newt, and this is good news for Democrats. The Newt’s thin skin and enormous ego are indeed very reminiscent of a certain short-fingered vulgarian, and Gingrich’s inability to keep his eye on the prize (or his pecker in his pants) were largely responsible for the implosion of the GOP’s ‘new permanent majority’ twenty years ago. Putting him under the lights with Deadbeat Donald over the next five months would mean taking bets on which of the two would throw a total pants-soiling hissy-fit first… and whether it would be directed at the other half of the ticket. Read more



Wednesday Evening Open Thread: Hostile (to Reality) Takeover

It’d be funnier if Deadbeat Donald didn’t have a minimum 40% (very) base vote for the taking…

Psychological research suggests that people, in general, suffer from what has become known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. They have little insight about the cracks and holes in their expertise. In studies in my research lab, people with severe gaps in knowledge and expertise typically fail to recognize how little they know and how badly they perform. To sum it up, the knowledge and intelligence that are required to be good at a task are often the same qualities needed to recognize that one is not good at that task—and if one lacks such knowledge and intelligence, one remains ignorant that one is not good at that task. This includes political judgment…

This syndrome may well be the key to the Trump voter—and perhaps even to the man himself. Trump has served up numerous illustrative examples of the effect as he continues his confident audition to be leader of the free world even as he seems to lack crucial information about the job. In a December debate he appeared ignorant of what the nuclear triad is. Elsewhere, he has mused that Japan and South Korea should develop their own nuclear weapons—casually reversing decades of U.S. foreign policy.

Many commentators have pointed to these confident missteps as products of Trump’s alleged narcissism and egotism. My take would be that it’s the other way around. Not seeing the mistakes for what they are allows any potential narcissism and egotism to expand unchecked…

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Apart from acknowledging that too many of our fellow citizens think Idiocracy was a documentary (or an instruction manual), what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Late Night Open Thread: Our Opposition, in Their Own Words



Lest We Forget: “The Disaster of Richard Nixon”

There are pundits already lathering themselves up about how this is the most seriously dangerous inflection point in all of American history — which is, thankfully, untrue. It’s probably not even the most dangerous time in living memory, among other reasons because things have changed in response to earlier crises. In the New York Review of Books, Robert G. Kaiser reviews a new batch of Nixon studies:

Thanks to his gross abuses of presidential power symbolized by the Watergate scandal and to his own decision to record the details of his presidency on tape, Nixon seems destined to remain an object of fascination, amazement, scorn, and disgust for as long as historians pay attention to the American presidency. When the subject matter is their foreign policy, Nixon’s sidekick, Henry A. Kissinger, will be right there beside him…

Vietnam was the defining issue of Nixon’s presidency, as he knew it would be. Months before he became president, Nixon assured H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, his closest aide, that “I’m not going to end up like LBJ, Bob, holed up in the White House, afraid to show my face on the street. I’m going to stop that war. Fast.” Antiwar protesters had driven Lyndon Johnson into early retirement, which allowed Nixon to become president. Nixon played to the country’s war weariness in his 1968 campaign, implying that he had a plan to end the war.

But he had no plan. Ironically, even before he took office Nixon personally sabotaged an opportunity he might have had to avoid Johnson’s fate. The books under review suggest that this is one of the stories that will continue to stain Nixon’s reputation.

In late October 1968, when Johnson’s negotiators in Paris finally reached an agreement with North Vietnam to end American bombing and begin negotiations on a political settlement, Nixon took an enormous personal risk to derail the peace talks before they could begin. At the time, polls showed that Hubert H. Humphrey, Nixon’s Democratic opponent and Johnson’s vice-president, was rising fast—so fast that Nixon feared he might lose the presidency because of the peace deal. So he performed a dirty trick that foreshadowed many more to come.
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Late Night Creepshow Open Thread: Nothing Says FREEDUMB Like Locking People Up

Would-be seditionist and “GOP manly man” (note new Lincoln-esque beard) Senator Tom Cotton is outraged, outraged!

… He described efforts to restore voting rights to felons as a partisan tactic to drive up Democratic turnout and make it easier for people to find jobs after they exit prison. At one point, he directly accused such policies of creating higher rates of crime.

There are 2.3 million Americans in jails, prisons, and juvenile corrections facilities today. Nearly one half of all American children have at least one parent with a criminal record, which makes it prohibitively difficult to even get a job interview let alone find employment.

America is by far the world’s leading jailer, with less than 5 percent of the planet’s population but more than 20 percent of its prison population. Half of all the countries in the world imprison fewer than 150 out of every 100,000 citizens. The U.S. puts 716 out of every 100,000 Americans is in prison — compared to 475 in Russia, 294 in South Africa, 274 in Brazil, 132 in Malaysia, and 80 in Egypt…

It may be tempting to dismiss Cotton as an unserious figure. But his backward approach to criminal justice is already having a tangible influence on the still-young bipartisan movement to walk back years of self-defeating policy crafted in the heyday of Tough On Crime politics…

My emphasis. Imagine the horror, says the bought & paid for Kochsucker, of making it easier for former felons to get jobs, i.e., removing them from the prison-industrial complex that siphons so much money to the right (Right) pockets. And they’d probably use their new freedoms to vote wrong, too.



Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Christianist Hypocrites Embrace the Combover Caligula

Or, as the Grey Lady mealymouths it, “Social Conservatives, However Reluctant, Are Warming to the Idea of Trump”

Activists and leaders in the social conservative movement, after spending most of the past year opposing and condemning Donald J. Trump, are now moving to embrace his candidacy and are joining the growing number of mainstream Republicans who appear ready to coalesce around the party’s presumptive nominee…

“Oh, my, it’s difficult,” said Penny Nance, the president of Concerned Women for America, a group that has openly campaigned against Mr. Trump. “He’s not my first choice. He’s not my second choice,” she added. “But any concerns I have about him pale in contrast to Hillary Clinton.”

And Mr. Trump — whose litany of offenses against cultural conservatives include support of Planned Parenthood, past positions on abortion rights and his more accepting views on gays and lesbians — is winning over this once deeply skeptical constituency.

He has made overt moves, such as suggesting last week that he would name Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, and sent subtle signals, like employing people for his campaign who are well known in the movement.

Mr. Trump has, to a large extent, placated a vocal and powerful element of the Republican Party’s base, whose backing he will need if he wants to wage a general election campaign leading a united conservative movement.

The support of social conservatives is not just symbolic. It means getting assistance from groups that plan to spend millions of dollars mobilizing voters, people who lead influential faith-based organizations and Republican activists who will help craft the party’s platform at the national convention this summer…

“They love a convert because it’s what their faith is all about,” said Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and a friend of Mr. Trump.
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Late Night Weird Kinks Open Thread: But It Worked in St. Ronnie’s Day!

gop imaginary threats sheneman

(Drew Sheneman via GoComics.com)

Back in the Morning of America, when the Moral Majority ruled the land (or at least the cable news networks), a Repub pol looking for cheap publicity could count on Newt Gingrich or Jerry Falwell to provide attention-catching scare topics for every election. Alas, the dogs bark but the caravan moves on. The situation has gotten so far out of GOP control that godless sophisticates like Ed Kilgore can ask, “Are Republicans Falling Into a Democratic Trap on Transgender Bathrooms?”:

I first began to suspect Democrats of throwing chum into troubled waters on transgender-bathroom labeling upon reading reports that conservatives were determined to launch a platform fight at the Republican convention to make sure “bathrooms” were an important part of the GOP agenda. Yeah, bathrooms. Ridiculous, right? Not if you are a conservative religious activist who believes LGBT rights opened the gates of hell and are ushering in the End Times. I’m sure more than a few Christian Right folk heard about criticisms of the North Carolina bathroom access law and thought: This is what we’ve been talking about all these years
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