Saturday Evening Horrorshow Open Thread: SKITTLES?!?


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If this turns out to be some Repub’s idea of a funny joke — and we’ll know if it was, because the bastids won’t be able to keep from bragging about it — then I vote we bring back that neglected correctional tool, the pillory.
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Apart from praying for a targeted meteor strike, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Open Thread: Rage — Rage! — Against the Dying of “HIS” Light…

The only difference between this guy and your racist great-uncle when the family had to commit him to a full-time ‘memory care’ facility is that your RGU didn’t have (theoretical) access to the nuclear codes…

“Don’t forget, the Democrats have ruled the inner cities for 100 years. This is their rule. Very rarely do you have a Republican that — but this is their rule,” Trump said on Fox News’s “Hannity.”

“That can be turned around. We can do so many things but the Democrats have truly ruled. And when I was running I would always say, ‘What do you have to lose?’ ”…

“I don’t know what they’re doing in Chicago to have this many shootings and this many killings and all of the different things that are going on,” Trump said. “When you look at the Obama years. Chicago: one city, his adopted home town, 3,900 people were murdered. In the last six years of Obama’s presidency, 18,000 shootings. I don’t think he mentioned it but three or four times.”…

“Well first of all, minorities want police protection more than anybody. They need it more than anybody. What’s going on is crazy. And you look at some of these inner cities where it’s just out of control, and remember, I was saying things like we will — you know, what do you have to lose?” Trump said. “We will fix it. We’re going to fix it. But one of the things we’re doing very strongly now is the inner cities.”…

All he can hold in his addled mind are some random word-strings related to his many longstanding grievances. Which would be quite dangerous enough, except that too many other fearful old men and their enablers have a death-grip on both the government and the Very Serious Media. Some of those fearful old men are even, theoretically, Democrats. Like Thomas Edsall:

A Pew Research Center survey released earlier this month documented the growth of the partisan divide: “the median (middle) Republican is now more conservative than 97% of Democrats, and the median Democrat is more liberal than 95% of Republicans.”… Much of the current polarization is driven by difference of opinion on issues of race and immigration…

Disrupting this linkage is an uphill battle for Democrats…

Nathaniel Persily, a professor of law and political science at Stanford, makes the point succinctly, focusing on the importance of candidate recruitment: “How can the party nominate someone, or be led by someone, like Bill Clinton, rather than Hillary Clinton?”…

Newsflash, my friends: Bill Clinton is never running for President again. Neither is Barack Obama — or, for that matter, Ronald Reagan or Richard Nixon. Or FDR. Or Abraham Lincoln!

To be fair, despite many paragraphs of hand-wringing (and the usual NYTimes RWNJ-pleasing headline), Edsall pulls himself out of his bothsiderist funk to finish on a note of hope:
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Open Thread: The Reagan / Senility Defence

Journalist credited for bringing down Roger Ailes gets assigned to Vanity Fair‘s Trump-watch:

At first it sounded like hyperbole, the escalation of a Twitter war. But now it’s clear that Bob Corker’s remarkable New York Times interview—in which the Republican senator described the White House as “adult day care” and warned Trump could start World War III—was an inflection point in the Trump presidency. It brought into the open what several people close to the president have recently told me in private: that Trump is “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling.”

The conversation among some of the president’s longtime confidantes, along with the character of some of the leaks emerging from the White House has shifted. There’s a new level of concern. NBC News published a report that Trump shocked his national security team when he called for a nearly tenfold increase in the country’s nuclear arsenal during a briefing this summer. One Trump adviser confirmed to me it was after this meeting disbanded that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “moron.”…

According to two sources familiar with the conversation, Trump vented to his longtime security chief, Keith Schiller, “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!” (A White House official denies this.) Two senior Republican officials said Chief of Staff John Kelly is miserable in his job and is remaining out of a sense of duty to keep Trump from making some sort of disastrous decision…

The White House denies these accounts. “The President’s mood is good and his outlook on the agenda is very positive,” an official said.

West Wing aides have also worried about Trump’s public appearances, one Trump adviser told me. The adviser said aides were relieved when Trump canceled his appearance on the season premiere of 60 Minutes last month. “He’s lost a step. They don’t want him doing adversarial TV interviews,” the adviser explained. Instead, Trump has sat down for friendly conversations with Sean Hannity and Mike Huckabee, whose daughter is Trump’s press secretary. (The White House official says the 60 Minutes interview is being rescheduled.)…

Recycling the GOP’s Reagan defence during the Iran-contra hearings: How can you cruel lie-brals abuse a sick old man like this? And by the time Oliver North was smarming it up for the cameras, the President was demonstrably, clinically past understanding what had been done in his name / under his auspices.

But right up to the end, Ronnie was a sunny, optimistic personality — and a trained actor. Trump is a nasty egomaniac who’s never taken direction well.

Chaser:

The pharmacist quoted now says he didn’t mean ‘Alzheimer’s drugs’ literally — it was just a hypothetical. STAT: Reporting from the frontiers of health and medicine”… and maybe, accidentally, politics?



Open Thread: More Like A Murder-Suicide Plot…

Interesting sociological argument, via valued commentor O. Felix Culpa. At USAToday, Robert P. Jones, author of The End of White Christian America, says “Fading white evangelicals have made a desperate end-of-life bargain with Trump”:

The key to understanding the puzzling white evangelical/Trump alliance is grasping the large-scale changes — most prominently the declining numbers of white Christians in the country — that have transformed the American religious landscape over the last decade. These tectonic shifts are detailed in a new report Wednesday by the Public Research and Religion Institute, which I direct. Based on interviews with over 101,000 Americans in 2016, the American Values Atlas is the largest survey of American religious and denominational identity ever conducted…

…[O]ne of the most important findings of the survey is that over the last decade — as the country has crossed the threshold from being a majority white Christian country to a minority white Christian country — white evangelical Protestants have themselves succumbed to the prevailing winds and in turn contributed to a second wave of white Christian decline in the country. Over the last decade, white evangelical Protestants have declined from 23% to 17% of all Americans. To put this into perspective, during this same period, the proportion of religiously unaffiliated Americans has grown from 16% to 24%.

The engines of white evangelical decline are complex, but they are a combination of external factors, such as demographic change in the country as a whole, and internal factors, such as religious disaffiliation, particularly among younger adults who find themselves at odds with conservative Christian churches on issues like climate change and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. As a result, the median age of white evangelical Protestants is now 55, while the median age of religiously unaffiliated Americans is 37. While 26% of seniors (ages 65 and older) are white evangelicals, only 8% of Americans under the age of 30 claim this identity.

The evangelical alliance with Trump can only be understood in the context of these fading vital signs among white evangelicals. They are, in many ways, a community grieving its losses. After decades of equating growth with divine approval, white evangelicals today are finding themselves on the losing side of demographic changes and LGBT rights, one of their founding and flagship issues. In the 1980s, a term like “the moral majority” had a certain plausibility; today, such a sweeping claim would be met with a mountain of counter-evidence from public opinion polls, progressive religious voices, changing laws and court decisions.

Thinking about white evangelicals as a grieving community opens up new ways of understanding their behavior. Drawing on her interactions with dying patients and their families in the 1960s, psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross identified at least five common “stages” of grief, which have become staples of understanding responses to loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. As Kübler-Ross found, when the stubborn facts of one’s own demise don’t yield to denial or anger, people commonly attempt to make a grand deal to postpone the inevitable.

While there are some lingering pockets of denial, and anger was an all-too-visible feature of Trump’s campaign, thinking about the white evangelical/Trump alliance as an end-of-life bargain is illuminating. It helps explain, for example, how white evangelical leaders could ignore so many problematic aspects of Trump’s character. When the stakes are high enough and the sun is setting, grand bargains are struck. And it is in the nature of these deals that they are marked not by principle, but by desperation…

“If we can’t be in charge, let’s burn the world down.”



Pre-Dawn Comic Relief Open Thread: Sebstian Gorka, Gilbert & Sullivan Character Set Adrift in A Star Wars Century


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Excellent Read: “The Girl From Plainville”

Teenagers, these days! Boomers, GenXers, and even Millennials like to tell each other that their obsessions with those new-fangled portable communication devices will lead to nothing but misery. Certainly some of those barely-fledged technopiles make spectacularly bad choices, which is hardly an innovation. But smartphones and the internet have exposed a myriad of individual tragedies to a degree not achievable since the days when humans expanded beyond the hunter-gathering status where everybody was literally all up in their whole society’s business. Jesse Barron, in Esquire, falls a little bit too far in love with his subject, but (even though I live in the same intensively media’d area) this is the most informative report on the Conrad Roy/Michelle Carter tragedy I’ve read:

The text messages started the night her son went missing. Lynn Roy saw the first one around ten-thirty on July 12, 2014: “Do you know where he is?” She saw the second the next day: “Did you call the police yet?” Then a third: “Any news?” The sender, Michelle Carter, was familiar to Lynn as a girl her son, Conrad, texted. She guessed they were friends. It turned out Michelle was right to be worried: That afternoon, July 13, police found Conrad in the parking lot of the Kmart on Route 6 in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, asphyxiated by the carbon monoxide from a water pump in the cab of his F-250.

A few days later, Conrad’s father, Conrad Roy II, discovered a spiral-bound journal at his house. Inside, his son had written down the passwords to his iPhone and to his laptop, along with suicide notes. One was addressed to Michelle, whom Conrad II knew as a girl his son had met years ago, on vacation. “Keep strong in tough times,” it read. “Our songs, listen to them and remember me.” Another said: “Dad, I’m sorry I wasn’t the boy you wanted.” Conrad II was a salvage-boat operator, which entailed frequent two-week stints away from home, including one that began the day after Conrad was born. Lately, relations between father and son had been fraught. That February, after a fight, Conrad II had been arrested for punching his son in the face and sending him to the hospital.

The Roys lived in Mattapoisett, a harbor town of six thousand on the state’s south coast. The week after Conrad died, they held his wake at a local funeral parlor. In the receiving line, a blond seventeen-year-old girl waited patiently with her mother and introduced herself to Lynn as Michelle Carter. Michelle came from a suburb called Plainville an hour north. Lynn had never been there. It was landlocked, Waspy…

When school started in September, everyone at King Philip High, in Wrentham, saw that Michelle Carter was broken up over the tragic death of her boyfriend. On the thirteenth—the day after what would have been Conrad’s nineteenth birthday—she held a fund-raiser for suicide prevention in his honor. Girls surrounded her, picked her up to pose for photos. Privately, some of them were confused. “Before the suicide,” one of her soccer teammates told me, “he was never her boyfriend—he was just ‘my friend.’ “…
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Late Night Rational Economics Open Thread: In A Successful Marriage, Each Partner Contributes Their Individual Talents…

Not that it’s easy to sympathize with Louise Linton, but why should only one partner in the relationship be taking so much stick on the internet?

In a purely sociological sense, both Linton and Mnuchin have fallen victim to shifting social standards. Since approximately the 1950s, an aspiring businessman has been more or less required to find himself a wife who was not only comely and young (or working hard to appear young), but also an educated and ideally successful partner. Having achieved a highly satisfactory level of social/economic success (Skull & Bones, Goldman Sachs, IndyMac), Mnuchin could afford a (third) wife who was not only 18 years younger than he, but an actual (tv & remake) ‘movie star’. After working hard to achieve enough success that she could partner an independent production company, Linton assumed she could take a (second) husband and an ongoing role as a high-profile trophy wife.

Alas for romantic dreams, in today’s turbulent world, a Treasury Secretary is required to be not only wealthy but also socially conscious (thus his former classmates’ request that Mnuchin speak up about that whole Charlottesville embarrassment). And a High-Placed Public Official’s trophy wife — someone whose “job”, by definition, is to be seen traveling to all the newsiest places while wearing easily-identifiable high-dollar goods (preferably donated, for marketing purposes, by the best brands) — is required to demonstrate a conspicuous modesty about her good fortune. When Mnuchin fluffed his social-responsibility test, the news only appeared on the political pages; when Linton #failed her So-lucky-God-and-the-market-have-blessed-me audition, she immediately became fodder for the voracious celebritainment media she’d formerly courted…

As a side bar, because I am a a natural-born hater, I find this grace note intriguing…


(Why would a proud leftier-than-thou Independent have such sympathy for the sufferings of a rich man’s wife at the hands of the media, just because she might’ve gotten a little… overambitious on the wings of her husband’s success? Maybe he’s just that generous a soul!)