Early Morning Nuclear War Open Thread

Vladimir Putin gave a talk today. What I am picking up from Twitter is that it was mostly about improving social conditions in Russia, but Putin seems to have though he needed to get into the “My button is bigger than yours” discussion.

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Good News for the White House

If those 17 kids hadn’t been killed, just think of the ugly questions the White House would have had to answer:

“For everyone, it was a distraction or a reprieve,” said one White House official, speaking anonymously to reflect internal conversations. “A lot of people here felt like it was a reprieve from seven or eight days of just getting pummeled.”

The official likened the brief political calm to the aftermath of the October 2017 gun massacre in Las Vegas that left 58 dead and hundreds more injured. That tragedy united White House aides and the country in their shared mourning for the victims and their families.

“But as we all know, sadly, when the coverage dies down a little bit, we’ll be back through the chaos,” the official said.

Another winner:

Last Wednesday’s shooting, however, effectively stabilized Kelly’s standing internally, officials said, shifting the media glare away from him and giving the retired four-star Marine Corps general a chance to perform his job in helping coordinate the federal response. Though Trump remains frustrated and at times angry with his chief of staff, Kelly’s presence on the weekend trip to Mar-a-Lago was interpreted as an indication that he was on firmer ground with his boss.

Just think – only a few more killing sprees and Kelly might make it to the midterms!

Victor Cha Won’t Be Trump’s Ambassador To South Korea

Victor Cha has been mentioned as ambassador to South Korea. He is the chair of the Korea program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and is director of Asian studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He served as Asia director at the NSC under George W. Bush and participated in the Six-Party talks with North Korea as the deputy head of the U.S. delegation. But today it was announced that the administration no longer wants his services.

Cha is on the hawkish side toward North Korea. But apparently not hawkish enough for Donald Trump or someone on his staff. Cha believes that tearing up the South Korea trade agreement is a bad idea, and that attacking North Korea probably worse.

His appointment had gone as far as the administration asking South Korea for its agreement. This is a standard step in appointing ambassadors, and withdrawing the name afterwards is extremely bad form. As South Koreans woke up, they learned of the move, and they are not happy.

The administration has handled the rest of the interaction with their usual grace and charm. Read more

The Harder They Fall

The Harder They Fall was Bogart’s last movie. He played a recently laid off sports columnist turned publicist for an asshole promoter (Rod Steiger). The plot involves a boxer with a glass jaw who the promoter is setting up for a title fight by paying off fighters to take a fall. Bogie gets down in the mud with the promoter to make some money but (spoiler alert) redeems himself somewhat at the end.

The film is based on a true story, and it exposes the greed of the promoters, the weakness of the boxing commission, and the blood lust of the fans. Even though the morality of the flick is pretty black-and-white, it’s at least sophisticated enough to recognize that boxing wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the complicity of a bunch of people who want to see a couple of guys knock the shit out of each other.

If someone were to make a modern version of this movie, it would have to be a series rather than a one-off, and it sounds like Michigan State could provide enough material for a full season. It’s not just Nassar – there’s a pattern of covering up sexual assaults by athletes, too. And let’s not forget the NCAA’s role (or, rather, lack of a role), since they were aware as early as 2010 that there were serious issues at MSU.

I’ll bet that MSU and Penn State are just the tip of this shitberg. Larry Nassar is the Jeffrey Dahmer of sexual assault, and Jerry Sandusky was the John Wayne Gacy. If it takes years to bring pedophilia of the staggering level at which those guys practiced it to light, who knows how much garden variety rape and abuse has been quietly hushed up at other programs? Before this whole thing is over, I’m guessing that the NCAA will give the Catholic Church a run for the money.

In the movie, Bogie’s big ah-ha moment comes when he learns that the promoters who took in millions claim to owe the fighter $49.07. That’s $49.07 more than the vast majority of student athletes will ever be paid, while their promoters make far more than the writers of The Harder They Fall could ever have imagined.

Simon Out at MSU

MSU President Lou Anna Simon resigned last night in the wake of the Nassar sentencing. In the comments yesterday, there was some concern over whether it was right for her to quit or be forced out. I have no such concerns, and since I pretty much agree with Scott Lemieux at LGM, I won’t repeat his arguments here.

Another concern in the comments was Judge Rosemarie Aquilina’s statement that she had signed Nassar’s death warrant. I’d suggest that anyone who’s concerned about judicial overreach watch her entire set of sentencing remarks to understand the context in which she made the statement. Overall, it was the opposite of a thoughtless rant.