The American presidency is shrinking before the world’s eyes — Yep. And it shrinks more every day. This is what I keep saying to those of you who ask why I don’t wait to complain when Trump does something “horrible.” The answer is that he’s already doing it, every day. Worldwide respect for American institutions went into free fall the moment this guy captured the GOP nomination, and it hasn’t stopped falling yet…
Trump is under investigation for ties to Russia. What happens now? — This is a day old, but still worth examining. This is a place where we’ve never been — in the first days of an administration, we learn officially that it’s being investigated for ties with the Russians, and the head of the FBI says under oath that the president’s attempt to deflect with wild accusations about his predecessor is a load of horse manure. Where, indeed, do we go from here?
Bill allowing carrying firearms without permit advances in House — Because we just want everybody to carry guns everywhere, and we don’t even want to know anything about them. Yeah, this story’s four days old, but we hadn’t talked about it yet. Sometimes I think this stuff comes up on a dare. It won’t be long before they’ll be considering a bill to require everyone to carry, and to draw and brandish their weapons about while drinking.
I’m really busy today and will be here at work for quite awhile more, but I wanted to give y’all something else to ruminate over (not that I’m saying y’all are actual ruminants or anything):
WikiLeaks Files Describe C.I.A. Tools to Break Into Phones — And why are they doing this? Well, because they hate the United States of America and wish to weaken it as much as possible. No indication of Russian involvement on this yet (that I’ve seen), but they have to be happy to get their hands on this material.
SC House passes moped bill — I didn’t even know there was such a bill out there. Anyway, it’s apparently been watered down to where it just offers some minimal safety rules and administration regulation.
George Smiley will soon be back! — Coming in September! So I’m pretty pumped. Technically, an elderly Peter Guillam seems to be the protagonist, which indicates present-day, which means George is probably no longer among us (he’d be close to 100 if he were). But he’s bound to appear in flashbacks. If only he could be with us in the flesh, in the West’s dark crisis of faith…
Happy Mardi Gras! The holiday is huge in Dominica in the Caribbean, where my youngest daughter teaches ballet under the auspices of the Peace Corps. This is from her Facebook page, “Ballet in Dominica.”
Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds — A depressing piece in The New Yorker on how our brains work, or don’t work. It makes some good points — the ones that say things I already believed. The rest of it is fake news. Sad.
Trump Learns That a Health Overhaul Is ‘So Complicated’ — Specifically, he said, “nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” I hope that didn’t shake him up too much, just before his big speech. You know what else is complicated? Stuff. Way more stuff than he has ever realized…
Today, most of the leading news is Trump-free! And no artificial additives!
Scientists discover seven Earthlike planets orbiting a nearby star — This is very cool. And they’re only 229,261,492,590,000 miles from here, as a crow would fly if he could fly through space and wasn’t inclined to get tired after a few hundred billion miles. Hey, maybe there’s an alternative Earth where Kasich won the election! A lot of us would like to go to there! (I didn’t say the news was entirely Trump-free.)
Benjamin Netanyahu met with Trump at the White House.
Some quick takes:
Mideast Peace Doesn’t Require 2-State Deal, Trump Says— Remember in “Mr. Mom” when Michael Keaton tries to impress Martin Mull by boasting that he’s rewiring his house himself, and Mull asks whether he’s doing everything as 220, and Keaton looks blank before saying, “220, 221, whatever it takes…?” I thought of that when I read Trump’s quote: “I’m looking at two-state and one-state.”
Labor nominee withdraws amid rising GOP concern — Apparently the standard is, if really bad stuff is said about you on “Oprah,” you’re toast. It’s good to know there IS a standard. I think maybe she needs to bring back the show, and help America vet these nominees.
Meet the WWII computer programmer whose name will replace white supremacist’s at Yale — All those words, when the headline could have said “Grace Hopper” and “John C. Calhoun.” (And “white supremacist?” Seems kind of anachronistic for Calhoun. Like saying Attila the Hun had self-esteem issues.) We know who those people are, right? I may have told this story before, but: My Dad was sent to take a course taught by Adm. Hopper back in the 1950s. He kept thinking, I’m a naval officer. Why do I need to know about computers? How will they ever affect my life?
Court deals blow to Trump, maintains freeze on travel ban — This is old now, but I missed it when I posted the Open Thread early yesterday. And it’s yuge. Yay, Constitution! The most telling fact in the case is that the administration has NO evidence that anyone from any of those countries posts a threat to the U.S. As Charles Krauthammer notes, “Not a single American has ever been killed in a terror attack in this country by a citizen from the notorious seven.” If you want to know just how unhinged Trump is from reality, you might start there.
As Trump Backs Off on Taiwan, China Gains Upper Hand — In other words, he lost face in China by going all in-your-face, then backing down to the default One-China policy. That’s another thing about Trump. Even when he does the consensus, conventional thing, he manages to do it in a context where the U.S. loses. What worries me is that if this story’s right, he may never walk back a confrontational position again.
Trump claims the media is covering up terrorist attacks — You know, I was going to make a joke about this, say something like, “You mean, like the Bowling Green Massacre?” Or say something pedantic such as “You mean media are, not media is.” But then I just got totally creeped out reading that the actual President of the United States told U.S. Central Command that the “dishonest press doesn’t want to report” on terrorist attacks, claiming that “they have their reasons.” We’re talking serious Looney Tunes, folks.
Yo, Mr. President: Commuting Manning’s sentence is a BFD — and not in a good way.
Have we done one of these this year? Well if we have, we haven’t done it enough:
President Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning’s Prison Sentence — Well, I suppose that’s all right. What would be outrageous and utterly unthinkable would be if he commuted the sentence of Bradley Manning, because that little slimeball betrayed his country big-time, and is lucky he wasn’t shot. Just to be clear about it. And let me say now that if the president is even thinking about dismissing charges against Edward Snowden, I may have to take back every good thing I’ve said about POTUS. That would be completely beyond the pale.
Dollar Tumbles on Trump Comments — Welcome to the big leagues, Mr. Trump. Well, I don’t exactly mean welcome. That’s just what the worldwise major-leaguers say to the bushers when they do something stupid, right? If only we could send him down to single-A ball soon after the season starts Friday.
British Leader Commits to a Clean Break From the E.U. — I’ve been seeing stories about this since early in the morning, starting with The Guardian, and I keep thinking, Isn’t this what we thought she’d say? Isn’t that what the referendum decided? I mean, I see that she says that in the future, British courts would hold sway, not E.U. courts. And I’m like, duh! They’re be NO point to a Brexit without that particular point of sovereignty. That’s minimal!
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan pause for a moment of silence following a wreath laying at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 27, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Sorry, I hadn’t posted the last day or two. I got a cold or something that hit me like a ton of bricks Christmas night, and just started feeling noticeably better today. Since I’m off from work this week, I’ve just been kicking back in sickbay mode.
… which in a way isn’t news, since it was a foregone conclusion. But it’s a tribute to the fact that we still live under a system of laws and not of men — innocent until proven guilty, etc. — which is reassuring in this post-election world in which so much that our Founders bequeathed us seems threatened.
Of the seven news outlets I just glanced at, five led with it, including both British outlets I looked at:
In other South Carolina news, Steve Benjamin — of all people — had a meeting with Donald Trump. He says he thinks it went well. Sure — that’s what people say just before Trump gives them the Mitt Romney treatment…
How Moscow Aimed a Perfect Weapon at the U.S. Election — Wow. This currently leads the NYT site. It takes the story well beyond where The Washington Post had advanced it. This is a huge accusation — and an assertion that not only did Russia attempt to sabotage our election, they got it done. Heads up — Trump is really not going to like this one.