Who Needs The Sorting Hat?

Here’s a little story to leaven the gloom cast by Nuremberg on the Cuyahoga*…

…I’d guess it’s kind of intuitive, but now we can point to Science! as we divide our fellow Americans into their respective Hogwarts houses.

Trump supporter: Slytherin


Those who recognize Trump’s cousinhood w. he who must not be named, and that Godwin fellow too — off you go.  It’s Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Gryffendor, as your particular talents and qualities lead you.  [via Lenika Cruz at The Atlantic]:

a forthcoming study from the journal PS: Political Science and Politicsmakes a better case for how lessons learned from fiction can influence people’s political preferences. The researcher Diana Mutz, a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, found that Harry Potter book readers are actually more inclined to dislike Trump. This was the case even after Mutz controlled for variables such as age, education, gender, party identification, evangelical identification, and ideology.

The key question here is the arrow of causality, which is what Mutz’s study attempts to study.  As Cruz notes in her write up,

There will always be limits to the usefulness of comparing real people to fictional characters. And so far, there has been only one other empiricalstudy exploring the political impact of reading Harry Potter (unlike Mutz, the researchers didn’t control for important factors such as political ideology.)

But it seems less specious to argue that the bestselling book series of all time could instill values that affected how its readers—especially its younger fans—now think about the world.

I’m not going to depend on my mastery of a Riddikulusspell to deal with the real and deadly serious menace of the Republican nominee.  But perhaps maybe the long-view approach to helping our Trump-dazed Wingnut-American fellow citizens is to hand them a book.  (Or even better, the magnificent audio books for those long, dark, nighttime journeys of the soul.)

A boy can dream.

*Stolen from somewhere on the ‘Tubes, but I can’t remember where.  Apologies to the author…

Image: poster for a revival of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sorcerer1884.

Friday Morning Open Thread: Travelling On

travels w ch nickie

From commentor Travels with Charley:

I am a longtime Balloon Juice lurker (2008) de-lurking to send my favorite dog pics. The large brown poodle is Charley, the small one is Nicky. So far, the traveling has been strictly metaphorical!

The Always Wrong Oracle has spoken!

So it looks like Trump’s speech will have been effective… at turning out the Democratic vote.

Apart from admiring a most elegant duo — and girding ourselves for the DNC next week — what’s on the agenda as we wrap up a busy week?

travels w ch duo

travels w ch charley

Late Night RNC Open Thread: Shuck’n’ARRGGH

Ghostwriter for Art of the Deal:

RNC in CLE Open Thread: Your Modern GOP, America!

(What — no hand lotion?)

Here’s Another Open Thread to discuss the Shitty RNC and all Those Awful People There

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned I was going to a colleague’s retirement party. She officially retired on the 1st of July. Several days ago, she woke up during the night, fell and hit her head, and did a great deal of damage, and was in a coma ever since. Today they removed her from life support. Everyone is very upset. 2016 has just been brutal.

In good news, Christion got a job today.

Enough catchup. Rinse Pubis is speaking.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Andrew Sullivan, Part [n]

Further to my disdain below, I can’t say anything to gloss what Andrew writes in tonight’s RNC liveblog.

MSKG - De idioot bij de vijver - Frits Van den Berghe (1926)

Truly, all you need to know about Andrew’s political and intellectual honesty is right there:

8:18 p.m. We have to answer this core question: how is it that liberal democracy in America is now flirting with strongman, ethno-nationalist authoritarianism? What happened to the democratic center?

It seems to me that the right bears the hefty majority of responsibility, moving from principled opposition to outright nullification of a presidency, trashing every important neutral institution, and now bad-mouthing the country they hope to “govern.” But the left’s abandonment of empiricism and liberalism – its rapid descent into neo-Marxist dogma, its portrayal of American history as a long unending story of white supremacy, its coarse impugning of political compromise and incrementalism, its facile equation of disagreement with bigotry – has also played a part. Liberal democracy needs liberal norms and manners to survive. Which is why it is now on life-support.

In between, moderate Christianity, once a unifying cultural fabric creating a fragile civil discourse, has evaporated into disparate spirituality on one side and fundamentalist dogma on the other, leaving us with little in the center to hold us morally together.

Annnnd, Scene!

Have at it, friends.

Image:  Frits Van den Berghe, The Idiot by the Pond1926

Triumph of the Vile: RNC in CLE Night #4

(via the Guardian)

And the old Obama hand keeps us from getting too giddy at the confusion of our enemies…

Buckle your seatbelts, it’s gonna be a long night.

Which Of These Is Not Like The Others?

Andrew Sullivan — yes, I know, and I’ll get back to that in a moment — is live blogging the RNC for New York Magazine.  His reaction on Day 2  to the Christie-led witch trial “lock her up” frenzy was as it should have been:  it was vile and the mark of a neo-fascist campaign.  That evoked a response from a reader Sullivan then posted to the blog, which argued, reasonably enough, that errors in office are not criminal offences.  For example, that reader wrote and Sullivan published:

Politicians and presidents make serious ethical mistakes. Reagan/Bush 41 on Iran-Contra, Bush 43 on WMD intelligence/torture, Bill Clinton on perjury.

Let’s review.

Iran -Contra:  trading with a reviled adversary to fund an illegal covert war that killed thousands of the most vulnerable, least powerful people in our hemisphere.


WMD intelligence/torture: launch a war on false pretexts that left thousands of Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, many more wounded, millions displaced, an ongoing conflict that has spawned attacks on innocents all over the world, and that has led the United States government at its highest level to countenance war crimes.


Perjury:  lying about a blow job.


That one could write that sentence without a hint of irony is a measure of the damage done to US politics by the Republican party made as far back as 1968 to put power at all costs before all else.  That Andrew Sullivan could disseminate it without comment reminds us of his own Clinton Derangement Syndrome, and his unreliability as any kind of moral arbiter.

Sullivan is a clever man, a fast and fluid writer, and does get some things right; certainly, for all his CDS, he’s got no illusions about Trump as anything more than a Mussolini wannabe.

But for all that, he’s a terrible thinker.  Through the live blog (I’ve gotten through day 1 and most of day 2 so far) he talks repeatedly about the GOP’s focus on feeling at the expense of facts and reason — and he’s right of course.  But when the issue strikes one or another of his standing emotional chords, he’s no better.  I hope tomorrow to have the time to write up his stuff on Black Lives Matter.  It is everything you’d expect, and the current debacle turns on his unwillingness to do the intellectual work needed to test his own assumptions.

OK — it’s over to you, and back to the problem of figuring out 17th century share prices from one end of a coffee shop to another for me.

Images:  Fra Angelico, The Massacre of the Innocents 1450.

James Sowerby, Coloured Figures of English Fungi or Mushroomsplate 43, 1798.

Ito Jakuchu, Elephant and Whale Screens, 1797.

Ailes is Out

It’s hard out there for a pimp:

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of Fox’s parent company 21st Century Fox, cut short a vacation on the French Riviera with his wife Jerry Hall to return to New York and finalise the departure of his long-term ally. He will assume the role of chairman and acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.

Open thread.

He Did Everything Right…

Charles Kinsey, a behavioral therapist who was trying to help an autistic patient who had wandered away from a group home, did everything right when confronted by cops with guns drawn. He got shot anyway:

Luckily, Mr. Kinsey is expected to make a full recovery. The cops were responding to a 911 call about an agitated, armed man threatening suicide. The man was the group home patient, and the “weapon” was a toy truck. Kinsey said he was more worried about his patient than himself, but Kinsey is the one who ended up shot in the street.

The people who minimize the problem of police violence against unarmed citizens — specifically black male citizens — will point out that the video doesn’t show the shooting. That’s true; it doesn’t.

First it shows Kinsey lying in the street with his hands up, calmly explaining who he is, what he is doing there and stating that neither he nor his patient are armed. Then it shows him handcuffed and bleeding from a gunshot wound.

I guess we’re supposed to believe that Kinsey attempted to ninja the cops during the video break. Such bullshit.

The NY Times Transcript of the Trump Interview: Its Actually Worse than the Article Made it Seem

Here’s the link to the transcript of the NY Times interview with Trump. They released it in response to Paul Manafort challenging the veracity of their reporting and asking if they had (audio) tape of the interview. Here’s a sampling:

SANGER: But I guess the question is, If we can’t, do you think that your presidency, let’s assume for a moment that they contribute what they are contributing today, or what they have contributed historically, your presidency would be one of pulling back and saying, “You know, we’re not going to invest in these alliances with NATO, we are not going to invest as much as we have in Asia since the end of the Korean War because we can’t afford it and it’s really not in our interest to do so.”

TRUMP: If we cannot be properly reimbursed for the tremendous cost of our military protecting other countries, and in many cases the countries I’m talking about are extremely rich. Then if we cannot make a deal, which I believe we will be able to, and which I would prefer being able to, but if we cannot make a deal, I would like you to say, I would prefer being able to, some people, the one thing they took out of your last story, you know, some people, the fools and the haters, they said, “Oh, Trump doesn’t want to protect you.” I would prefer that we be able to continue, but if we are not going to be reasonably reimbursed for the tremendous cost of protecting these massive nations with tremendous wealth — you have the tape going on?

SANGER: We do.

HABERMAN: We both do.

TRUMP: I’m only saying this. We’re spending money, and if you’re talking about trade, we’re losing a tremendous amount of money, according to many stats, $800 billion a year on trade. So we are spending a fortune on military in order to lose $800 billion. That doesn’t sound like it’s smart to me. Just so you understand though, totally on the record, this is not 40 years ago. We are not the same country and the world is not the same world. Our country owes right now $19 trillion, going to $21 trillion very quickly because of the omnibus budget that was passed, which is incredible. We don’t have the luxury of doing what we used to do; we don’t have the luxury, and it is a luxury. We need other people to reimburse us much more substantially than they are giving right now because we are only paying for a fraction of the cost.

SANGER: Or to take on the burden themselves.

TRUMP: Or, if we cannot make the right deal, to take on the burden themselves. You said it wrong because you said or — or if we cannot make the right deal for proper reimbursement to take on the burden themselves. Yes. Now, Hillary Clinton said: “I will never leave Japan. I will never leave Japan. Will never leave any of our ——” Well now, once you say that, guess what happens? What happens?

HABERMAN: You’re stuck.

TRUMP: You can’t negotiate.


TRUMP: In a deal, you always have to be prepared to walk. Hillary Clinton has said, “We will never, ever walk.” That’s a wonderful phrase, but unfortunately, if I were on Saudi Arabia’s side, Germany, Japan, South Korea and others, I would say, “Oh, they’re never leaving, so what do we have to pay them for?” Does that make sense to you, David?

SANGER: It does, but we also know that defending the United States is a harder thing to do if you’re not forward-deployed.

TRUMP: By the way, and I know what I’m talking about is massive. If we ever felt there was a reason to defend the United States, we can always deploy, and it would be a lot less expense. …

You need to click across and read the whole thing to get a real sense for just how far Trump is, in regards to what he is proposing as a foreign, defense, and security policy from not just the consensus in the US over the past 70 years, but the norms of both parties, and those of our allies and partners. What Trump is proposing is a major, unilateral transformation of the international system and global order. It isn’t merely a hypernationalistic vision of America’s interest overwhelming everything. Rather it is a pay for play security shakedown scheme.

What Trump is proposing is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of not just the North Atlantic Treaty, but also almost every other international institution that has been established since the end of World War II. NATO was not just about opposing the Soviet Union. Rather it was part of several institutions that the US either was directly involved with creating or supported the creation of in order to change, hopefully permanently, the pre WW I and WW II dynamics of Europe. NATO militarily binds the European nation-states to each other. Every member of NATO’s member state’s militaries have, at this point, grown up in a Europe and served in their state’s militaries within the context of France and Germany and Britain and Spain and Italy and Greece and Portugal, etc, etc, etc all being allies. They’ve been on joint NATO training missions, participated in high stress, little sleep joint NATO exercises, and been assigned to joint NATO billets. Almost all of the senior officers and general officers/flag officers have been educated at multiple levels of American Professional Military Education. And because of the EU they and/or their relatives work, travel, and play all over Europe. All of this is intended to forge strong, tight, and effective bonds to prevent the parochial political, social, economic, and/or religious ambitions of people within each of these states being wrapped into nationalism and gushing forth in the death, destruction, and waste of The Thirty Years War, World War I, and WW II. The goal of these institutions and arrangements, as well as similar ones in Asia and other parts of the world, is to prevent the region’s disputes from becoming wars and those wars from engulfing the world. For over 70 years it has worked. Trump proposes to wreck it because he doesn’t think the US is being paid enough and this is a sign that our allies and partners don’t treat us fairly.

Does NATO’s mission need to be regularly reassessed and periodically adjusted? Without a doubt. As do a number of the international security and economic institutions. But scrapping NATO, or any of these agreements, doesn’t make Europe or the world safer, it makes it less stable and more dangerous. And scrapping NATO and other agreements that form the basis of the current international system without any plan other than “nice country you’ve got there, be a shame to have anything happen to it, so the boys’ll be around every third Thursday to collect” is not just unacceptable, but stupendously reckless and dangerous. I am not arguing that the current system is perfect, that it hasn’t caused its own share of unintended negative outcomes, but it has been amazingly stable compared to what came before. What Trump is proposing isn’t. It is a sign of a superficial thinker who hasn’t spent much time grappling with the problem sets that the US, its allies, and its partners face and one who has no real idea how to appropriately deal with threats and attempt to turn challenges into opportunities other than to demand that his interlocutors knuckle under and give him what he wants. The transcript of Trump’s interview makes it clear that regardless of what anyone may think of him as a presidential candidate or what the effect of his candidacy and/or election may or may not be on the US in terms of its domestic affairs, his election would present a clear and present danger to the stability of the global order.

We All Need A Giggle

An hairpiece-free excursion (by request!) to bring howls of joy to your day:


And, (apologizing for the nod to the orange one from whom we so need respite) a reminder of the wellsprings of political philosophy that animate our “friends” across the aisle, not just the nominee, but his entire foreclosed on, possession taken, bust-out-begun party.


I know what’s happening when Donald Trump is one tight election away from Götterdämmerung ain’t even remotely funny.  But Messrs. Python are, and sometimes we all can use a break.

Open thread.

It turned into a ballroom blitz

This morning Martin Longman made what I think is the first correct interpretation of what happened with Ted Cruz last night. Yes, the Trump campaign had Ted Cruz’s speech in advance. I am sure that they read it. They almost certainly discussed it with Cruz. So how could such a disaster happen with their eyes open?

The answer is that it all happened just like Trump wanted. In wrestling terms Trump lured Cruz on stage and surprised him with a heel turn.

A sensible person would tell me that could not possibly be true. That speech blew apart the Republican party. The crowd screamed for Ted’s head and the donor class almost killed him. The whole idea of party unity is dead like Chef in South Park. If Trump had a breath of hope in November this screwup put the last nail in that coffin, epoxied the lid, welded the seams, encased it in reinforced concrete and dropped it off a cargo ship with the GPS turned off.

That leads us to 2020. Ted Cruz just saw his stature go up a hundred times with the faction of Republicans who would normally fill all those empty seats. And that convention is missing a lot of Republicans (NSFW article title). Erick Erickson should start talking about Cruz 2020 any day now. The No Homers Trumps Club will have the driver’s seat in four years, so Cruz just became the de facto leader of post-2016 Republicans.

From a strategic perspective that makes last night an unmitigated catastrophe. The only thing worse than the Cruz meltdown was the raging insanity that Trump said about NATO to the NYT, which is almost too big a deal to blog. I want to leave that to Adam Silverman if he’s still with us. It is hard to process how dumb Trump would have to be not only to allow the Cruz thing to happen but make it worse by orchestrating a crowd riot. But never forget Josh Marshall’s guiding maxim about Trump.

Trump’s Razor: Ascertain the stupidest possible scenario that can be reconciled with the available facts”.

So I have to disagree with everyone but Longman about this. The stupidest possible scenario is not Trump blindly stumbling into an ambush by Cruz. Laziness maxes the stupid meter at maybe a six or seven. It’s a sin of omission. The stupidest possible thing Trump could do is set the trap for essentially selfish/malicious reasons and then congratulate himself like Hannibal from the A-Team when the disaster sets his campaign on fire just like he planned.

Consider a few things.
Read more

One done, four to go

Let the triaging begin!

Via The Hill:

Two prominent groups that back Republican candidates are scrapping millions of dollars in advertisements aimed at bolstering vulnerable Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) in the fall, as polls show him trailing former Sen. Russ Feingold (D).

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has pushed back reservations for pro-Johnson advertisements. Once set to begin in early August, the ads are now scheduled to run in October.

There are two take-aways. The first is that Johnson is cooked and the national Republican mobile money is moving to races that they have a chance in. Secondly, the amount of money is not huge and the triaging is early, so is it an indicator that the national Republican mobile money is more constrained than normal? Are the early spring brags that the big money donors would shift everything down ticket instead of top of the ticket full of hot air?

So Wisconsin is a highly likely Democratic pick-up instead of just a likely Democratic pick-up and we get Senator Feingold back. That means three more seats for a tie with a VP nudge or four more seats for a clear majority.

As a side note, given that Wisconsin is a third tier swing state, there is no Republican presidential ground game in Wisconsin, and now there is a written off Senate race. The highest profile contested races for Republicans which may have ground level organization are the House seats. Can Dems run up the score?

The Gray Zone Under Threat: Straining Alliances

The Gray Zone, the civil space that allows for people to exist outside of their private lives and participate in societal, political, economic, and to some extent religious activities, is not just threatened by terrorist attacks and the extremism they’re rooted in, or systemic failures of political and social institutions as they age. It is also threatened when elected and appointed officials, and those seeking elected office, seek to purposefully break institutions for partisan gain. Yesterday the NY Times featured an interview with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. As has been the case several times since he began his run for the Republican nomination and the presidency of the United States, Trump threatened the institutions and alliances that have provided stability and prosperity, albeit an imperfect form of stability and prosperity, since the end of World War II.

Trump’s remarks to the Times included:

He even called into question whether, as president, he would automatically extend the security guarantees that give the 28 members of NATO the assurance that the full force of the United States military has their back.

For example, asked about Russia’s threatening activities that have unnerved the small Baltic States that are the most recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”

As I wrote after the March 10 GOP primary debate, the US is not an empire and we don’t demand tribute from our allies and partners. We now have, however, the nominee of one of the two major political parties in the US announcing that he may not fulfill America’s NATO treaty obligations, as well as other American international commitments. This is at a time when our NATO allies, and especially those in Eastern Europe, are especially worried about the actions and intentions of Vladimir Putin and Russia. The strategic messaging of Trump’s remarks is amazing. The presidential nominee of the Republican Party, the party long put forward as the party of national security (the Daddy Party), has just told Putin that should he be elected, it is not only possible, but also plausible that the US would not honor its everyday commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty, let alone an Article 5 request for collective defense.

For all the sturm and drang about President Obama providing al Qaeda or al Qaeda in Iraq with a clear date and time of US withdrawal from Afghanistan or honoring the Bush 43 Administration negotiated date of withdrawal from Iraq; Trump has now given Putin the time window he would need for planning should he decide to engage in further adventures in the former Soviet states of Eastern Europe. President Obama and Secretary Clinton have been accused of leading from behind because they took the time to work through and with partners or assemble coalitions to deal with major international issues such as Iran’s nuclear program or the terrorism and low intensity warfare of the Islamic State. What Trump has done, in his remarks during the debates, on the stump, and in this interview with the NY Times is actually signal that the US will just not lead at all unless Trump feels it is being treated fairly.

And this brings us full circle back to Trump’s foreign policy speech. When Trump gave his foreign policy address at the end of April, the overarching theme running throughout his remarks was: “America will be treated fairly.” It is quite clear that being treated fairly is actually the overall strategic message, for lack of a better term, that runs throughout the Trump campaign. First it was “the GOP will treat Trump fairly or I’ll run third party”, which was the origin of the GOP candidate pledge to support the eventual nominee. Then it was “the media will treat Trump fairly” or he’d take his campaign activities away from them and deny them the advertising revenue. He actually did this with FOX Cable News when he refused to participate in one of the debates and held a highly controversial counter event to raise funds for veterans. The core of Trump’s pitch to voters is that “only Trump knows how to ensure that they will be treated well.”

The fly in the ointment of all these appeals for fairness, however, is the implicit or explicit “or else…” Trump has told our NATO and EU allies, and by extension other allies and partners, that if he’s elected they cannot necessarily count on American support and assistance, which has been at the core of the post World War II system that the US helped to build to change the security dynamics in Europe that has been a hallmark of the stability and prosperity of the past 71 years. By strategically communicating that the US may not lead, depending on how Trump feels as President about those asking us to do so, he’s told Putin and his planners, as well as those of al Qaeda, the Islamic State, the Peoples Republic of China, Boko Haram, North Korea, and others, that they can develop contingencies for actions to start the weekend of January 21, 2017. With this approach to National security, foreign, and defense policy, Donald Trump has taken the GOP, the oft promoted party of National security, and, perhaps the US, into uncharted territory that threatens the Gray Zone in a way that no terrorist, extremist, or state based actor ever could. More frighteningly, it is unclear what the plan would be for charting this brave new world.