Category Archives: Blogosphere

Dr. Strangetweet or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Don

Nothing. I just wanted to use that headline.

What a week.

Do you remember in the movie, when Peter Sellers as the President has his phone conversation with the Soviet premier?

Hello? Hello, Dimitri? Listen, I can’t hear too well, do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little? Oh, that’s much better. Yes. Fine, I can hear you now, Dimitri. Clear and plain and coming through fine. I’m coming through fine too, eh? Good, then. Well then as you say we’re both coming through fine. Good. Well it’s good that you’re fine and I’m fine. I agree with you. It’s great to be fine. laughs Now then Dimitri. You know how we’ve always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the bomb. The bomb, Dimitri. The hydrogen bomb. Well now what happened is, one of our base commanders, he had a sort of, well he went a little funny in the head. You know. Just a little… funny. And uh, he went and did a silly thing. Well, I’ll tell you what he did, he ordered his planes… to attack your country. Well let me finish, Dimitri. Let me finish, Dimitri. Well, listen, how do you think I feel about it? Can you imagine how I feel about it, Dimitri? Why do you think I’m calling you? Just to say hello? Of course I like to speak to you. Of course I like to say hello. Not now, but any time, Dimitri. I’m just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened. It’s a friendly call. Of course it’s a friendly call. Listen, if it wasn’t friendly, … you probably wouldn’t have even got it.

The source of the comedy is that he is SO reasonable, so measured, so like a supremely patient elementary school teacher in his effort to calm the drunken Russian. Deferential. Diffident. Studiously unprovocative.

That doesn’t seem quite as funny now…


A simple, human appeal for civility

This morning, I saw a Tweet that said the following:

And my curiosity was piqued. What sort of a piece would have a headline like that? I was guessing it was a Dear Abby-type advice column. I HOPED it wasn’t a let-it-all-hang-out piece by an identified person talking about his or her family. That is, I hoped those pictures in the illustration weren’t of the actual people involved.

I didn’t think they were, but I was curious enough to click and find out.

What I found was something that puzzled me. It had the anonymous person writing in, but not the answer from the “Abby” figure. No advice at all. Just the personal problem set out, followed by comments.

But the thing I liked was the editor’s note that lay between the problem and the comments. It went like this:

When leaving a message on this page, please be sensitive to the fact that you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Private Lives asking for help, and may well view your comments here. Please consider especially how your words or the tone of your message could be perceived by someone in this situation, and be aware that comments that appear to be disruptive or disrespectful to the individual concerned will be removed.

It was a standard “Don’t respond just to be a jerk” appeal, but I liked the way it tried to reach, oh-so-optimistically, the humanity in the responder, however dormant it might be.

you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Private Lives asking for help…

If only people could always keep that in mind. Too many of us have trouble with that. I’ve written about this before, but I will again: Nonjournalists think of reporters as cynical jerks who no more consider the humanity of their subjects than they would the hopes and dreams of an ant under a magnifying glass.

But that’s actually not the case. Their editors might be that way, if they don’t get out of the office much. And copy editors are the most dismissive cynics to be found in a newsroom. To them, newsmakers are abstractions, distant figures even farther from them than the ant under the glass. Copy editors who work on morning newspapers can be, in my experience, the worst, because they don’t meet many people, period. Their hours don’t allow for it, and their reality becomes what they read on a screen, and the company of the other cynics that sit around them, the more extroverted of them making sarcastic cracks about the people in the news — and about the stupid reporters who apparently have never consulted a stylebook.

Reporters, by contrast, know their subjects — even the worst among them — as people. They see the newsmakers whole, as living, breathing creatures. They may be tough on them, but they know they’re being tough on fellow humans. Reporters have to be able to do that in order to connect with sources and do their jobs.

There are a lot of readers out there who are like those copy editors. The people they read about aren’t real to them.

So while it may or may not work, I appreciate that approach to asking commenters to be civil. The first step is remembering that the people they’re responding to are people…


Open Thread for Wednesday, August 9, 2017

google symbols

Here we go with some topics. Add others if you’ve a mind to:

  1. Trump’s Threat of ‘Fire and Fury’ Raises Alarm in Asia — Yeah, I suppose it would. Tillerson says we should all rest easy. Why? Is Trump resigning, and he’s only told Rex? Who says stuff like this — other than, say, a Kim Jong Un? Or maybe a Saddam “Mother of All Battles” Hussein? He really, truly does not know the difference between talking like a tinhorn blowhard dictator and talking like the leader of the Free World. I like this headline in The Post: “Trump’s threats to North Korea were spontaneous and not drafted by advisers, officials say.” In other words, “Pay no attention to this guy; he’s only the president.”
  2. Top SCANA execs paid millions in bonuses for roles in failed nuclear project — Meanwhile, a state agency is challenging SCANA’s plans to further charge ratepayers for the cost of the abandoned project.
  3. FBI raided ex-Trump campaign chairman’s home for Russia probe — Nothing like a predawn raid to add spice to an investigation.
  4. McMaster rejects call to suspend Wilson over corruption probe — As you would expect. A Democrat raised this question to me last night: Why do you suppose the 2nd Vice Chair of the party made the initial demand for Wilson to go, instead of Trav Robertson? Interesting question, but now moot, since the chair has now issued the same demand. Doesn’t make it any more likely to happen, though. And I think they knew that going in, hence the lower-level statement.
  5. What about the firing of that Google guy? — I’m a couple of days late on this, but it seems some of y’all might have an interest in discussing it. My take? I suspect that the top brass felt like they had to fire him to cover their insecurity over being, you know, nerdy white guys themselves. Beyond that, I kind of liked Ross Douthat’s take. Check it out.
  6. Goodbye to Glen Campbell — Until he died yesterday. I didn’t know he was once a member of the Wrecking Crew. Cool to know. I can’t say I was ever a huge fan, although I did watch his TV show. I thought “Wichita Lineman” a particularly fine song (“Galveston,” too.). I wish they hadn’t junked it up with the strings, although I like that this clip is from the Smothers Brothers show, before Campbell’s own…

OK, I’m getting sick and tired of these paywalls


Of course, of course, of course newspapers should have charged for their content online, starting in the 1990s when the Web was a novelty everybody was playing around with.

But nobody did, so nobody thought we could.

The fact that we didn’t was sort of a boon to journalists, while a looming nightmare to the business side: We could all access each other’s copy for free in real time — no more need to convince my publisher every year to let me keep that budget line for Lexis-Nexis. (That one stuck in his craw, every time. I think on some level he thought I was using the newspaper’s money to buy myself a luxury car.)

And we all got used to that, as did readers. Which made it all that much harder to get away with putting up a pay wall. People had come to expect free news as their right.

But finally, much too late, pretty much everyone has realized they need to charge for news that it costs them dearly to produce. (Reporters don’t get paid much, but they’re not free. Editors even less so.)

And between that and the pop-up ads that repeatedly jump up between you and what you’re trying to read (yet another scrappy effort to regain fiscal viability), reading newspaper content online has increasingly become less of a pleasure, and more of a chore.

Yesterday and today, I was trying to read the Post and Courier‘s story on Alan Wilson and the Quinns, and not succeeding. I’d call up the story, it would appear tantalizingly, for a couple of seconds, and then disappear behind a dialogue box urging me to subscribe. When I declined, the screen immediately reverted to the home page, where I could only see the headline. (Eventually, a link Doug shared with me worked, and I was able to read the story.)

While I was in the midst of that, someone shared with me a link to this story in The Wall Street Journal about effective passwords. Since my subscription expired months ago, my initial effort to read it failed. Then, I went to the old workaround that hasn’t been working for me lately (Google the precise headline of the story, and call it up directly from the search page) and this time it worked! But that might be related to the fact that this was the daily A-hed story. (That’s that one fun, featury read that the Journal puts on the front page every day.) And if I remember correctly, the A-hed has been free to read for years — which is smart, because it gives prospective subscribers the impression that the Journal is a fun paper to read.

And as you all know, The State has been more and more insistent that you pay to play. In fact, a couple of months back I thought they were getting sort of obsessive about it. Three days in a row, I was forced to log in yet again in order to read the paper on my iPad app. I found this sufficiently irritating that I complained about it on Twitter — and it hasn’t happened since. I don’t think there was a cause-and-effect relationship there, but I found the result satisfying nevertheless. Almost like I still had some pull…

Of course, an awful lot of content out there remains free, to an extent. If not for that, we’d see Twitter grind to a halt — or at least, the kinds of Tweets that I value, the ones that provide links to content. And if you’re a light user, you may never, for instance, exceed The New York Times‘ allotment of 10 free stories a month. But if you’re a heavy user like me, you end up having to knuckle under and subscribe. And for how much longer, I wonder, will they allow those 10 freebies, month after month?

But it’s getting to be more work, and/or more expensive, to keep up with the news on the Web. I wish I thought that was going to save newspapers — or better yet, return the to their glory days. If I did, I’d find these barriers less irritating…

WSJ paywall

Open Thread for Monday, August 7, 2017


Nikki and the Brits voting on new North Korea sanctions Saturday.

Some items to chew on while I run to the Red Cross to give platelets:

  1.  North Korea Says It Would Use Nukes Only Against U.S. — Is this supposed to make us all feel better?
  2. SC Dems call on Alan Wilson to resign over State House corruption probe — This is apparently about Wilson seeking advice from Richard Quinn on his approach to getting rid of Pascoe, back in 2014. I say “apparently” because I can’t get past the Post and Courier’s paywall.
  3. As Coal Seeks a Comeback Under Trump, the West Is Split — The NYT is leading with this. So, is this what we’re doing instead of building nuclear plants?
  4. Atheists tend to be seen as immoral – even by other atheists: study — Wow. And you thought they were tough on believers
  5. Why Does Trump Remain So Witless About the World? — This is a New Yorker piece quoting such people as Max Boot about how amazed they are at how little POTUS knows, and uninterested he is in learning.
  6. Al Green sings ‘To Sir With Love’ — No, this isn’t news, although it was to me. I never knew he had covered this. Heard it for the first time over the weekend, and loved it. Not saying it’s better than Lulu’s, or even as good as his best stuff, such as, say, “Love and Happiness.” It was just a nice weekend surprise for me — two worlds colliding, but in a good way — so I thought I’d share.

Your Virtual Front Page for Monday, July 31, 2017

Some items to chew on:

  1. SCE&G, Santee Cooper abandon nuclear power project — Wow. Major, major deal.  We’d already spent $1.4 billion, which is more than I make in a year. So… what happens next?
  2. Ding-Dong, the Mooch is out! — Scaramucci lasted 10 days as Trump’s “communications director.” No, wait — it’s been 10 days since it was announced that he would hold that post. (Had he even technically started?) Which, of course, is about 10 days too many. I look forward to reading whether this is a new record, and if not, where it ranks…
  3. Pence takes tough tone on Russia after Putin retaliates against sanctions — Are we fixin’ to go toe-to-toe with the Rooskies? Pence kinda makes it sound that way…
  4. Sam Shepard dead at 73 — Whether as a playwright or an actor, this guy sort of embodied cool there for awhile. He didn’t even look like Yeager, but he was Yeager — while Yeager had to play the barman…
  5. London’s New Subway Symbolized the Future. Then Came ‘Brexit.’ — Way to go, Brexiters. Don’t you know how much I love subways? I put this one in the mix to cleanse the palate.
  6. For First Time, Millennials And Gen-X Were A Majority Of Electorate In 2016 — Nice goin’ there, kids.
And all he got was this lousy postcard...

And all he got was this lousy postcard…

Open Thread for Thursday, July 27, 2017


Folks, I’m on vacation, in case you wonder where I’ve been. It’s a bit of a hassle to find time to sit before a laptop. But here are some things to chew on:

  1. New Sanctions Will Force President’s Hand on Russia — Let’s lead with something actually important, shall we?
  2. Ryan says he’s willing to negotiate on Senate health-care bill, boosting repeal effort — I’ve got an idea: Why don’t all of you people, in both chambers, go home and find something useful to do with your lives, instead of straining so tirelessly to make the nation a worse place?
  3. Scaramucci in furious, foul-mouthed attack on White House rivals — This has gone far enough. The president needs to sit him down and say, “You don’t do the crazy. That’s my job.” You may also want to read Chris Cillizza’s “Anthony Scaramucci’s absolutely bananas quotes to the New Yorker, ranked.” How does Trump find these people? Do they all belong to a club or something?
  4. Kevin Bryant considers running for governor — Here’s what I want to know: Why do people who would obviously be worse governors than McMaster keep talking about running? Wouldn’t it be great if for once we heard about a candidate who would be better than, or at least as good as, Henry?
  5. I wish I could figure out what these guys are doing — I mean, I know what they’re doing is trying to renourish the beach at Surfside. I just can’t figure out how. There are these two fixed platforms about half a mile off shore. There are three or four tugboats puttering about them and a barge. There are these two freighters that keep standing off and on — running out to sea several miles, then steaming back toward the platforms. So far I’ve been unable to figure out the process. Anyway, maybe when they’re done with the sand, they can fix the broken pier. No, they still haven’t done that.
Maybe when they're done with the sand, they can fix the broken pier.

Maybe when they’re done with the sand, they can fix the broken pier.

Open Thread for Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Yeah, that's probably where I would have looked first for instructions, but thanks for clearing up any doubt...

Yeah, that’s probably where I would have looked first for instructions, but thanks for clearing up any doubt…

A few things to cogitate upon:

  1. Senate GOP to try again today to give America the shaft — Here’s hoping that when John McCain gets there, he votes against it. We’ll know soon.
  2. North Korea advances rapidly in its ability to strike U.S., experts warn — And look who we have in charge of our national security. Feel safe, anyone?
  3. Forget Trustworthy, Loyal and Helpful. It’s now Petty, Delusional and Vulgar — The President of the United States displays to Scouts exactly how they should never behave.
  4. This is not okay — That headline on an editorial in the Post kind of says it all. Another take on the same thing: Trump White House Tests a Nation’s Capacity for Outrage
  5. 111 N.F.L. Brains. All but One Had Brain Damage. — Y’all still want to be fans of this? You sure?
  6. Mark Lett to retire as executive editor/VP of The State — I wish my longtime colleague well in his retirement.
Boys climb timbers of Surfside Beach pier, wrecked in last year's storm. In distance, dredging equipment poised to pump new sand onto beach.

Boys climb timbers of Surfside Beach pier, wrecked in last year’s storm. In distance, dredging equipment poised to pump new sand onto beach.

Who spends $100 at Starbucks?

starbucks tote

Starbucks keeps making me these offers that cause me to wonder.

Yesterday, I got an email offering me a “free” tote bag.

That is, it was “free” if I spent $75 or more at the Starbucks online store.

A few days back, I got another sweet offer of 20 percent off! To get that, all I had to do is spend $100 or more at the same online store. This was an “exclusive” for a limited time only. It was so exclusive that it had a special code word. Since the offer has expired, I’m going to go ahead and violate security and tell you the code word: “QUENCH.” Print that out, memorize it and then burn it.

The thing I wonder is this: Who spends $100 at a time at Starbucks? Who needs or wants that much Starbucks stuff at any given moment? How many people got excited and took them up on these deals?

By the way, I can get a perfectly adequate “tote bag” (you know, one of those reusable shopping bags) from any local supermarket for about a buck. So…

Oh, and Starbucks: If you want to promote yourself, I’ve told you before how to do it. Advertise on this blog. I’m starting to lose patience with you on this point…



This may be the most hateful thing I’ve ever seen in politics

Forget what I said about people hating on David Brooks. That was nothing next to this:

FYI, John McCain is the only guy in Washington calling on the parties to drop the partisan posturing and try to draft healthcare legislation that will benefit the whole country:

“One of the major problems with Obamacare was that it was written on a strict party-line basis and driven through Congress without a single Republican vote. As this law continues to crumble in Arizona and states across the country, we must not repeat the original mistakes that led to Obamacare’s failure. The Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendations of our nation’s governors so that we can produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable health care.”

So of course he’s hated. That’s how it works.

Of course, the stupid woman who did this is trying to walk it back. But there is no explaining away something that hateful. It just is what it is…

Open Thread for Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Add Khrushchev and Nixon to the list of people who were NOT in the Trump Jr. meeting...

Add Khrushchev and Nixon to the list of people who were NOT in the Trump Jr. meeting…

Y’all, I might not be able to post beyond this today — I’m super under the gun all week (as I was last week) — so let’s see if there’s anything good out there. Mostly, I sense that the Dog Days have arrived early:

  1. The anti-health bill’s failure — At least, we hope it’s completely failed. The stupid mess keeps rising from the dead. As for McConnell’s (and Trump’s) even stupider idea for a “clean” vote on repeal only — just go away, OK?
  2. Lindsey Graham hopes his Senate bill could replace Obamacare repeal effort — He’s going to have to do lots of ‘splainin’ for me to like this. Personally, I’d like them all to go away and not bother us anymore until they’re ready to do one of two things: 1) Fix problems with Obamacare that actually need fixing, so it works as intended, and just shut up about repealing, or 2) Single-payer. Otherwise, go on to other issues.
  3. 8th person at meeting between Trump Jr. and Russians identified, name sent to Mueller — You know what might be easier? Let’s make a list of who wasn’t in the meeting. Let’s see: Stalin, Khrushchev, Nixon, Ivan the Terrible…
  4. U.S., Russian officials meet as Kremlin accuses U.S. of ‘robbery’ over dachas — They just won’t shut up about this. Makes me wonder: What’s in those properties that they want back so badly? If we haven’t already ripped out the walls and pried up the floorboards checking it out, we need to. The intel crown jewels must be hidden there somewhere.
  5. ‘Bleeding heart’ judge? Not so fast — Solicitor Dan Johnson sticks up for Allison Lee.
  6. Expand the West Columbia chicken plant? — Apparently, that’s going to be before the West Columbia Zoning Board of Appeals tonight. I don’t know it I’ll make it, but I wonder: Am I the only person who has been noticing the smell a LOT more over the past month? I hadn’t smelled it in a while, and now, it hits my nose pretty hard every night that I drive home via Jarvis Klapman…

Open Thread for Bastille Day — Friday, July 14, 2017

No, I don't have any stories about Bastille Day, but here's a picture.

No, I don’t have any stories about Bastille Day, but here’s a picture.

I think I’ll lead off with a change of pace, paying attention to the kinds of stories I normally pass over — if only as a way to cite more local stories:

  1. SC man left children home alone with no power to visit girlfriend, police say — Yeah, another Parents Who Do Awful Things To Kids story. This one’s actually relatively mild compared to the horror stories I’ve turned my head away from lately (because they’re so painful to read). Are these kinds of things proliferating, or are police just intervening more?
  2. Kershaw sheriff slams ‘bleeding heart’ judge — I’m going to recuse myself on this one, since Judge Allison Lee goes to my church and all. Besides, I don’t know enough about her work on the bench to pass judgment; I just know she’s been criticized this way before.
  3. Across Beaufort County, monkeys once terrorized dogs, rode mules — This is just here as Odd Headline of the Day. You don’t actually have to go read the story to appreciate that.
  4. Ex-Soviet counter-intelligence officer says he attended Trump Jr meeting — Next thing you know, we’ll learn that Stalin was at the meeting. With Mata Hari. And Ernst Blofeld.
  5. New Health Bill on Knife’s Edge as Republican Support Wavers — Heads up: While we’re distracted with all of the above, Senate Republicans are still trying to pass their “No Healthcare For You!” bill. They haven’t succeeded yet, thank God.
Yoo-hoo, Trump Jr.! Sorry I couldn't be at the meeting! Turns out I'm dead...

Yoo-hoo, Trump Jr.! Sorry I couldn’t be at the meeting! Turns out I’m dead…

No, I don’t! Stop saying that!

This is from the Bugs Bunny “He don’t know me very well, do he?” department…

I keep getting the Google Adsense ad you see below. I just now refreshed like four times, and it wouldn’t go away.

I guess it’s because some of y’all brought up birth control on the previous post. You’ll notice that I didn’t engage. That was mainly because I wasn’t interested in doing so, but now I have an additional reason not to — at some point, I’d like to stop seeing this ad…



Open Thread for Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Yo, Paul! How are those predictions coming?

Yo, Paul! How are those predictions coming?

In no particular order:

  1. Trump Jr. on Russians’ Offer: ‘I Love It’ — This is a pretty big deal — meeting with a Russian after being told what the Russians were trying to do. And yet, I haven’t focused on it that much yet. I care more about what the boy’s daddy does. But yeah, this could be significant.
  2. Repeal of Obamacare without a replacement not ‘politically palatable,’ Sanford says — Wow. If Mr. Never-Met-A-Government-Program-I-Liked is saying that, I guess it’s pretty much of a non-starter.
  3. Paul Ehrlich is still around and peddling the same stuff! — In this case, it’s in a column in The Guardian. Yo, Paul — how are the predictions coming? That Population Bomb go off yet?
  4. Shark attack on nude beach! — Sorry about the second exclamation point. I just couldn’t resist this. I did learn one thing about it: I didn’t know there were nude beaches in America, probably because it’s something I don’t keep up with. I just figured it was some sort of decadent French thing. Oh, as for the attack on the nude swimmer: First, it was a guy, so get this scene out of your heads. Second, don’t worry about him, guys — he didn’t lose anything important.
  5. Christie Blasts N.J. Caller: ‘I Love Getting Calls From Communists In Montclair’ — This guy’s just really losing it, isn’t he? Whatever; I just hope we can keep him off those nude beaches…


A running list of all the ways this is not normal

As I’ve said over and over, it is critically important that we don’t let our guard down and “get used to” Donald J. Trump being president of the United States.

Amy Siskind

Amy Siskind

This situation is not normal, and we must not for a moment act as though it is. We must remember that for 240 years this country had qualified leaders who were, to varying degrees, worthy of our respect. We must keep our expectations high so that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we can return to normalcy, and get back to being an example for other nations, rather than a country that other countries are embarrassed to be seen with.

Because I believe that, I’m grateful to Amy Siskind, who right after the election started publishing a weekly list of all the things happening that are not normal.

Each week, she kicks off the list with the same headline:

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

Over the weekend, she posted the list for Week 34. She started this way:

This is arguably the most alarming weekly list so far. A plot that has played out week-by-week as Trump alienated our allies while cozying up to authoritarians, followed by his embarrassing behavior at the NATO and G7 meetings, culminated this week at the G20 with US isolationism. This video, which traces weekly not normal items, explains why Putin is the winner in this new world alignment.

This week Trump amped-up his assault on the media, including encouraging violence. With this, Trump has distracted the country and media, and taken back the narrative. In the atmosphere of chaos, this week also stands out for the number of important stories that received little or no media coverage.

The list follows. So you’re probably thinking there will be three or four items, with things like the CNN-bashing video and Ivanka taking her Dad’s seat at a summit.

No. There are 96 items on last week’s list, and she’s right: Many of them will have escaped your notice. So those among us who wish to be good, vigilant citizens should probably make a note to check in on her list regularly, in order to stay informed, and avoid complacence.

Here are some of the 96 items. Some of them make note of what is different about things you’ve already heard about. Other items may be new to you:

1. As more and more states refused to comply with what Trump described as his “very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL”, he questioned, “What are they trying to hide?”

9. On Sunday, Trump tweeted a video created by a Reddit user from both his personal account and the official @POTUS account, showing him violently wrestling down a person whose face is the CNN logo.

10. The Reddit user was named “HanAssholeSolo” and his posts were full of anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic and other white supremacists materials.

11. The Reddit user later apologized, but Trump did not. The parents and wife of the CNN reporter who covered the story received around 50 harassing phone calls. Allegedly, CNN did not defend the reporter.

13. Following Trump’s tweet, three media watchdog groups have started to do something they never imagined: documenting violent threats and actions against the media in the US.

14. Maine’s Governor LePage said he makes up stories to mislead the press. LePage also called the media “vile” and “inaccurate.”

18. Maddow reported that TRMS was sent a forged NSA document. Maddow speculated this was an attempt to trick her show into reporting a false story, and hence weakening her credibility and dulling that storyline.

20. POLITICO reported on the Trump regime’s obsessive crackdown on leaks from the intelligence community, which has led to an “increasingly tense and paranoid working environment” in the national security community.

22. NBC reported that in Trump’s first 168 days in office, he spent 50 days at Trump properties and 36 days at Trump golf resorts.

23. NYT reported that while working with industry players, not EPA staff, Pruitt has moved to undo, delay or block 30 environmental rules, a rollback larger in scope than any other in the agency’s 47-year history.

32. Female journalists were banned from the Speaker’s lobby, a room area where reporters speak to members of Congress, because their sleeveless dressed were not viewed as “appropriate attire.”

33. In a 53 page memo to the court, Trump attorney Kasowitz argued for the dismissal of a sexual harassment lawsuit against Trump, claiming Trump cannot be sued in state court while in office.

36. The KKK plans a rally in downtown Charlottesville today, and warned that many of its 80–100 members and supporters will be armed.

40. On July 4, NRP tweeted the Declaration of Independence, and was attacked by Trump supporters who called it “propaganda” and “spam.”

43. While his predecessors Clinton, W. Bush and Obama celebrated July 4th by visiting troops, Trump spent the day on a Trump-branded golf course. McCain, Warren and Graham visited troops in Afghanistan.

44. Despite his recusal, Sessions spoke to Fox & Friends about the Trump-Russia probe, offering advice to Mueller on hiring practices and tempo.

45. WSJ reported the OGE will release an additional two dozen ethics waivers just filed for Trump regime members working on issues they handled in their private-sector jobs. Trump has already granted as many waivers to WH officials as Mr. Obama did in his eight years in office.

47. In a survey of 35k employees in the State Dept and USAID, workers said they were concerned about the future of their agencies and the lack of support from the Trump regime and Tillerson.

50. One of the DOJ’s top corporate crime watchdogs, Hui Chen, resigned, saying holding companies to standards the Trump regime wasn’t living up to was “creating a cognitive dissonance that I could not overcome.”

53. CREW filed an ethics complaint against Kushner, saying he failed to make the required disclosure of his ownership interest in Cadre. The online real estate investment company has a value of $800mm.

58. Matt Tait, who is cited in the WSJ story on possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia on Hillary’s deleted emails, wrote an op-ed, “The Time I Got Recruited to Collude with the Russians,” to tell his story.

63. CNN reported that Russia is stepping up spying efforts in the US post the US elections. Officials cited said Russia feels emboldened by the lack of a significant retaliatory response by Trump and Obama.

71. In their campaign for the upcoming election, Merkel’s party has dropped the reference to the US as a “friend.” Four years ago, her party referred to the US as Germany’s “most important friend” outside of Europe.

73. Pew Research found that 17 of the 19 G20 countries in their survey look to Merkel, not Trump, to lead in world affairs.

74. Guardian reported Trump considered a sneak visit to Downing Street in order to avoid massive UK protests en route to or from the G20 summit. After the story broke, the WH said Trump would not visit.

78. At a news conference in Poland, Trump said he thinks meddling in the US election was done by Russia, but “it could have been other people in other countries” and that “nobody really knows for sure.”

79. Also on his trip to Poland, Trump continued to dismiss and belittle US intelligence, saying, “Do we even have seventeen intelligence agencies?

82. LA Times reported that in preparing Trump for his meeting with Putin, aids had written a list of “tweet-length sentences,” which summarize the main points.

84. Friday, without provocation or reason, Trump tweeted a random lie about Podesta: “Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!”

85. At the G20, Trump and Putin met for 2:16 hours off-camera, behind closed doors. The meeting was originally scheduled to last 30 minutes.

95. The US abstained from signing onto the G20 communique on climate-related issues, the sole country at the summit to do so.

96. As the summit came to a close, leaders feared for that the G20 summits may be ineffective while Trump is in office. President Macron said, “Our world has never been so divided.”

Yeah, that’s a lot, but I left out some pretty important things as it was…

Open Thread for Thursday, July 6, 2017

"Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids..."

“Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids…”

Some quick topics; I’m kind of snowed today:

  1. SC won’t release voter info to Trump panel. SC GOP will get it instead — Say what?!?!? I mean, good on the first part — SC is joining most states in this — but as to the second: How is that better, especially since the state GOP head says he’ll turn it over to the Trump Fantasy Election Committee? I mean, if he’s going to do that, what’s the point of the initial refusal? And how is it that a private entity, a political party, has any standing in this? This is nuts, and the Election Commission needs to revisit the decision. Do like the secretary of state in MIssissippi, and Just Say No.
  2. Trump wonders whether Western civilization has ‘will to survive’ — I dunno. I mean, we elected him to be president, which is definitely not a good sign of our republic’s health. Of course, he brings up a good topic to ponder, as I’ve suggested more than once lately — except his notion of what the West is about differs from that held by those of us who actually believe in liberal democracy.
  3. Majority Of Americans Believe Trump Acted Either Illegally Or Unethically With Russia — In other words, they hold uninformed opinions. Did he act illegally with regard to Russia? We don’t know yet. Did he act unethically? Well, yeah — but “ethically” in the sense of violating actual ethics laws? I dunno. It’s a profound dereliction of duty for the POTUS to completely dismiss the fact that our intelligence agencies are certain that Russia interfered in our election, and particularly unethical — in a moral sense — to dismiss it considering that Russia interfered on his behalf. What we know is that a man who would do that has absolutely zero business being president of the United States. Whether laws were broken — we’ll see, if he stops trying to hinder the investigation (by things like, you know, firing the head of the FBI).
  4. Mars covered in toxic chemicals that can wipe out living organisms, tests reveal — So don’t invest in Arean real estate just yet. Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids…

It’s not the CNN-bashing; it’s the pro ‘wrestling’ thing

I don’t know about y’all, but I took off Monday and had a lot to do over the long weekend, so I more or less disconnected from the madness, aside from an occasional Tweet.

So I was just barely aware of the Trump tweet that pushed out memories of his Morning Joe childishness last week:

It is now, by the way, his most reTweeted post ever. So you think he’s going to stop doing stuff like this? Not likely.

But here’s the thing for me: Of course, of course, this embarrassment provides further proof — as if anyone needed it — of Donald J. Trump’s utter and complete unfitness for the job he defiles each day he holds it.

But it’s not because it shows him cartoonishly beating on CNN. There’s nothing new about that sort of anti-media demagoguery, or about Trump inciting violence, or about Trump-affiliated politicians actually committing violence against the press.

What this does for me is forcefully remind us that we have a president of the United States who is in the professional wrestling Hall of Fame — and is not even slightly embarrassed by that fact.

Trump Tweeting out a clip that reminds us of his affiliation with pro “wrestling” — something anyone with any sort of position of responsibility would want to bury — is like… it’s as if George W. Bush had Tweeted old video of himself on a bender before he sobered up and started demonstrating the kind of seriousness that used to be a prerequisite for the office.

The Tweet says, How low has America sunk? This low…

All hail President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho!


It’s getting harder and harder to believe Trump doesn’t drink

The most powerful man in the world feels so picked on by these people that he lashes out like a middle-schooler writing in a slam book.

The most powerful man in the world feels so picked on by these people that he lashes out like a middle-schooler writing in a slam book.

A guy is up at 3 a.m. spewing out Tweets that are nearly or completely incoherent (covfefe!), filled with offensive vitriol, lashing out at everyone who has ever — in his surly, dim perception — done him wrong. Especially if they’re women. The next day, everyone who knows him is in an uproar. The whole world, including some of his friends, says this must stop! The next night, he does it again.

This is a classic pattern, right? So how is it possible that there’s not alcohol, or some other intoxicant, involved?

And yet, we are so often reassured, the man who Tweeted that gross effusion about Mika Brzezinski — just the latest in a sickening, unending series (it still blows my mind that a president of the United States finds time to tweet more than I do) — does not touch strong drink. There’s a compelling, tragic backstory to this — Trumps older brother, an alcoholic, died at 42.

And I continue to believe it.

But how, then, do we explain the Tweets? Or the rest of his behavior, for that matter? But the Tweets seem the perfect distillation of all this other unhinged behavior, set down in writing and shared with all…

What grown man who is sober would write about a woman, “She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!” (Especially when there’s no truth in it.) A sober 12-year-old might. But not a sober grownup, under any circumstances.

Oh, and by the way — I cited above the pattern of middle-of-the-night Tweets. This wasn’t even that. The two Tweets leading to the latest uproar went out at 8:52 a.m. and six minutes later. You know, at a time you’d expect a POTUS to be getting his morning intelligence briefing, or making calls to Congress to try to pass his agenda, or meeting with foreign dignitaries, or something other than watching a TV show and obsessing about how much he hates the hosts, and publishing rude, crude comments about them — the sort of childish, mindless insults that kids wrote in “slam books” when I was in middle school.

If Trump were a guy who started drinking at breakfast, like Winston Churchill, this would make some kind of sense.

But once you take alcohol out of the mix, how do you explain it?

Continuing to define the presidency downward


Today, we have our own Lindsey Graham calling Donald Trump to task for his continued efforts to degrade the office of president:

He was responding to these childish, crude outbursts:

That gross effort to defame a woman based on her appearance was not, apparently, even loosely based in fact. As a post at CNN dryly noted, “For the record, photos from Mar-a-Lago do not show any blood or bandages on Brzezinski’s face.”

But what if it had been accurate? Seriously, can anyone even begin to imagine a previous president of the United States of America publicly making such a crude observation?

And so it goes, as Donald J. Trump continues to go far, far out of his way to define the presidency downward…

Open Thread for Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Huck cogitates on whether to do something "unregular"...

Huck cogitates on whether to do something “unregular”…

Very quickly, as I have to be somewhere:

  1. As a Last Resort on Health Bill, G.O.P. May Try Bipartisanship — Those wild and crazy Republicans! For whatever reason, they remind me of Huck Finn, who in a desperate situation made a fateful and unprecedented decision: “I reckon a body that ups and tells the truth when he is in a tight place is taking considerable many resks, though I ain’t had no experience, and can’t say for certain; but it looks so to me, anyway; and yet here’s a case where I’m blest if it don’t look to me like the truth is better and actuly SAFER than a lie. I must lay it by in my mind, and think it over some time or other, it’s so kind of strange and unregular. I never see nothing like it. Well, I says to myself at last, I’m a-going to chance it; I’ll up and tell the truth this time, though it does seem most like setting down on a kag of powder and touching it off just to see where you’ll go to. ” Huck was as well acquainted with truth-telling as these lawmakers are with bipartisanship. As to whether they have it in them, well, we’ll see.
  2. Obamacare Had Big Impact in Kentucky. Its Senators Hate It. — Which shows you just how completely unaffected by reality ideologues are, and the extent to which it has warped our politics. You boys and girls may not believe it, but I’m old enough to remember a time when senators supported things that benefited the people of their states, instead of placing a greater priority on partisan purity.
  3. Just 17 Percent Of Americans Approve Of Republican Senate Health Care Bill — Just a little something McConnell et al. may want to consider…
  4. Will Folks go to jail to protect a source? — This is a fascinating situation. Will doesn’t adhere to a lot of the norms and standards that conventional journalists do, yet here he is standing on principle as a conventional journalist. Strange new ground. I hope it doesn’t come to him going to jail — for his and his family’s sake, and because I’m not sure what purpose it would serve. Yet Kenny’s lawyers are seeking just that…