The Shitlord or Mastermind Question Is Irrelevant Now

Prior to making his way to Helsinki for tomorrow’s performance review with Boss Putin, Trump gave an interview to slobbering fanboy Piers Morgan aboard Air Force One. The interview is so severely cringe-inducing that it might cause more sensitive readers to collapse inward upon themselves and be transformed into a small, indescribably dense ball of shame.

But before we get to that, here’s an excerpt from a slightly more consequential interview Ocher Omnishambles did with CBS:

HELSINKI — President Trump said in a new interview airing Sunday that he hadn’t thought of pressing Russian President Vladimir Putin on extraditing the dozen Russian officials charged with hacking Democratic emails, while continuing to blame Democrats for the stolen emails that upended the 2016 presidential campaign.

“Well, I might,” Trump said when asked during an interview with CBS News about extraditing the indicted intelligence agents. “I hadn’t thought of that. But I certainly, I’ll be asking about it. But again, this was during the Obama administration. They were doing whatever it was during the Obama administration…”

“We [the RNC] had much better defenses. I’ve been told that by a number of people. We had much better defenses, so they couldn’t,” Trump said during the CBS interview. “I think the DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked. They had bad defenses and they were able to be hacked.”

Of course it didn’t occur to him to demand accountability from Putin for the coordinated and wildly successful cyber-attack on American democracy. It benefited Trump, after all, so by definition it was good.

Also, sluts shouldn’t parade around in short skirts — it’s just asking for trouble. They should be ashamed of themselves.

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Hideous Orange Baby Takes Flight

Gotta love the Brits:

We know from the absolutely disastrous (for PM Theresa May, UK-US relations, the Western alliance, basic human dignity, etc.) interview Trump gave to Rupert Murdoch’s UK scandal sheet, The Sun, that the blimp may not float like a butterfly, but it sure does sting like a bee:

Revealing he has been told of the 20ft “Trump Baby” blimp that will be flown above Parliament Square today, he said: “I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London.

“I used to love London as a city. I haven’t been there in a long time. But when they make you feel unwelcome, why would I stay there?

If that’s all it takes to repel the lumpy orange shit-stain, I say we all get busy making our own Trump Baby blimps.

Trump just held a humiliating joint presser with May. Because he has the wit and recall of a concussed, lead-painted snail, he told a new slew of lies about NATO, made a petulant show of refusing to take a question from a CNN reporter and denounced the network as “fake news,” called on Fox News (“a real network”) instead, bragged about how he knows all about “the nuclear” because his uncle was an MIT professor, and demonized [nonwhite] immigrants:

As someone in comments rightly remarked, the only thing missing was the tiki torch.

I’m thoroughly embarrassed to be an American today, and it’s not even noon on the Eastern Seaboard. The buffoon will probably snatch the Queen out of her sensible shoes with one of his absurd jujitsu handshakes before tea time. Then it’s on to Helsinki and Putin, where new horizons of national humiliation await.

ETA: Genius idea for Photoshopping…everything:

Also, very interesting:

More Projection Than Carmike

“Mommmmm! Make him stop! He’s embarrassing me in front of Luxembourg!”

Look at the reaction of the people around the bloviating block of Velveeta. Kelly is a slimy villain, of course, but he’s not a blithering idiot, so he knows this rant is shamefully stupid. I’d love to know what Kelly is scribbling on that napkin during Trump’s foolish soliloquy. “I hereby resign my position as White House Chief of Staff, effective immediately”? Or perhaps, “Note to Self: Explain to Trump how NATO works — for the 500th goddamned fucking time [frowny face-frowny face]”?

Putin must have a perma-smirk as he revels in his complete and utter triumph — and prepares Q3 and Q4 objectives for his employee’s upcoming performance review in Helsinki.

What if it’s worse than we think?

First, something nice: a roseate spoonbill flew over my house a while ago. I happened to be looking out the window when it flew by, and as usual, I scrambled to get outside with my camera, but NOT as usual, I actually got a photo:

The only reason I was able to get the shot is because the bird was circling, probably preparing to land in one of the nearby ponds or canals. It’s not a great shot, but I’m still psyched to have captured a photo of one of my favorite birds on the wing.

Secondly, something depressing: Jon Chait published a piece in New York mag yesterday called “Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler? A plausible theory of mind-boggling collusion.” The whole (longish) thing is worth a read, but here’s an excerpt that lays out the premise:

The media has treated the notion that Russia has personally compromised the president of the United States as something close to a kook theory. A minority of analysts, mostly but not exclusively on the right, have promoted aggressively exculpatory interpretations of the known facts, in which every suspicious piece of evidence turns out to have a surprisingly innocent explanation. And it is possible, though unlikely, that every trail between Trump Tower and the Kremlin extends no farther than its point of current visibility.

What is missing from our imagination is the unlikely but possible outcome on the other end: that this is all much worse than we suspect. After all, treating a small probability as if it were nonexistent is the very error much of the news media made in covering the presidential horse race. And while the body of publicly available information about the Russia scandal is already extensive, the way it has been delivered — scoop after scoop of discrete nuggets of information — has been disorienting and difficult to follow. What would it look like if it were reassembled into a single narrative, one that distinguished between fact and speculation but didn’t myopically focus on the most certain conclusions?

Probably 95% of us here are already convinced Trump (and other Republicans) conspired with Russia to swing the election. But still, reading the narrative Chait lays out is chilling. He’s right about how the way we’ve received “discrete nuggets of information” has a “can’t see the forest for the trees” effect.

Thirdly, another depressing thing: Trump was on Twitter earlier teasing tonight’s prime-time SCOTUS pick reveal, and he apparently ordered that woman who runs the RNC, Mitt’s niece, to hype it up too. It’s all so tacky and gross, like a reality TV nightmare in which the stakes are your civil rights.

I will most definitely NOT be watching. Will have to remember to turn off alerts on my phone too. It doesn’t matter who he picks. The candidates are all uniformly awful Federalist Society/Heritage Foundation shit-birds.

Someone text me if he picks Judge Jeanine from Fox News. There would be entertainment value in that since her affect is that of a braying drunk at the end of the bar with whom every other patron avoids making eye contact. She would even make Alito, Gorsuch and Roberts squirm. (I suspect Thomas is used to similar displays from his wife and would thus be unfazed.) But otherwise, I don’t give a shit.

Open thread!

Republicans Roll Over in Russia

This was covered over the holiday, but I think it bears repeating: A delegation of Republicans from the House and Senate spent the Fourth of July in Russia, handing a propaganda coup to the Putin government prior Trump’s meeting with the boss man himself later this month.

Those Republicans are:

Senator Kennedy (LA)
Senator Shelby (AL)
Senator Daines (MT)
Senator Hoeven (ND)
Senator Thune (SD)
Senator Moran (KS)
Senator Johnson (WI)
Rep Granger (TX)

The meeting was closed to the American press. If you check the lawmakers’ Twitter feeds, all posted treacly paeans to American exceptionalism yesterday, but not a single one mentioned the Russia trip while they were abroad, even though politicians are usually quick to publicize their foreign policy junkets. Daines even posted photos that indicated he was in DC for the fireworks yesterday.

I don’t know when the delegation got back — maybe Daines was shaking hands with Lavrov in Moscow and back in DC for the fireworks show that evening. But it’s weird that no one tweeted about it at the time. Only Daines has broached the topic at all on Twitter, and he did so by posting a clip from a Fox News appearance this morning, where Republicans go to set up narratives:

Daines sounds tough on camera, but the Russian media is allegedly covering it in an altogether different light, i.e., saying that the Republicans rolled over on Crimea, affirmed Russia’s superpower status, etc. Senator Thune, that sun-kissed son of the prairie who once stirred David Brooks’ loins to absurd effect, sounded remarkably less butch than one would expect from a national security daddy, even in quotes from the American press:

Sen. John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, called for a “change in behavior” on the part of Moscow.

“The best way to demonstrate this as we head into the 2018 election is to show the American people and our congress and our administration that the Russians have no intention of messing or playing with the American election,” Thune told The Associated Press in an interview.

Pretty please. With sugar on top.

The Daines clip above includes a claim that’s increasingly peddled by Fox News and the Republican Party — that U.S.-Russian relations are at their lowest ebb since the end of the Cold War. But that’s just a flat-out lie:

Trump can’t check items off Putin’s to-do list fast enough. But the myth-making by Republican lawmakers suggests that Trump isn’t the only Gooper who’s beholden to Moscow, as we’ve suspected all along.

Trump and his party want to come out of the upcoming summit looking like they’ve accomplished something other than complete capitulation to Putin. Expect gaslighting on an epic scale.

Happy Fourth (Open Thread)

I don’t much feel like celebrating, seeing as how a malignant narcissist who was sleazed into office by a murderous foreign autocrat is running the country into the ground.

Let’s talk about this gecko instead:

It showed up in my sink at 4 AM yesterday. Geckos eat bugs, so they are welcome in our home.

But it soon became clear the critter was stuck in the sink. I’ve seen them crawl across ceilings, but the sides of my deep sink were too much for this one.

I propped a spatula in the sink to make a bridge for the creature, but it did not use it. After an hour or so, I trapped it in a glass and released it outside.

What are y’all up to today?

Be Careful Out There

CNN just followed up on a story about how Russian trolls exploited people’s legitimate anger over the summary execution of Minnesota motorist Philando Castile to help Trump win the election. Here’s an excerpt:

By 2016, American prosecutors allege, the Internet Research Agency [Russian troll farm] was “primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton.”

According to prosecutors, an internal memo circulated in February 2016 read, “to use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump — we support them).”

Later in 2016, according to the indictment, the group began trying to discourage African Americans from voting.

One post on a fake black activist account highlighted by prosecutors read, “[A] particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off without voting AT ALL.”

Trump will do nothing to address this attack on our democracy since it benefits himself, and the Russians will continue to exploit the fault lines in our society since their last disinformation campaign was so wildly successful. So, how can we, as activists in our own communities, prepare for the onslaught?

The real activists in Minnesota modeled one way forward. They had no idea at the time that Russian trolls were exploiting Castile’s death, but they were skeptical when an anonymous person started organizing a local event online:

Around 8 a.m. ET on July 7th, less than ten hours after the shooting, a Facebook page began running ads targeted at people living near Minneapolis and promoting an event called “Justice for Philando Castile.”

The event was scheduled for the coming weekend and would take place outside the police department where the officer who shot Castile was based. Quickly, thousands of people expressed interest in attending.

But, to [Mica] Grimm, something didn’t feel right.

“So the activists really know each other here,” Grimm told CNN. “We’ve seen each other’s faces, and if we don’t know each other, then we know someone who knows someone.”

No one in the tight-knit community of activists seemed to know who was behind the campaign.

Grimm and her fellow activists questioned the troll who set up the account and persuaded him to give them the keys to the rally page by threatening to out him as an impostor if he didn’t. Then they staffed the event with experienced organizers. In doing so, they likely prevented the chaos and possible violence the Russian trolls hoped to foment.

We’ll have to be similarly smart to prevent disinformation campaigns from disrupting the upcoming midterms. Our government isn’t going to help us. We’re on our own.