Politics posts

Saturday November 19, 2022

The 2022 Midterms

Mike Lukovich, AJC

James Fallow in his substack says pretty much what I think of political prognostication—just better. Certainly more even-handed. Nary a swear word in the bunch.

He's taking the political press to task, particularly The New York Times, for its awful pre-midterm coverage that presaged doom for the Democrats. He also highlights the Times' bias in these matters. 

Midterms tend to go for the party not in power. “Every first-term president since World War II (except one) has suffered midterm election losses,” Fallows writes. “The average loss has been around 30 House seats.” Then he crunches the numbers for those House races. Reminder, this is just for first-term presidents:

  • 1962 (JFK): -5
  • 1966 (LBJ): -47
  • 1970 (Nixon): -12
  • 1974 (Ford): -49
  • 1978 (Carter): -15
  • 1982 (Reagan): -26
  • 1990 (Bush I): -7
  • 1994 (Clinton): -54
  • 2002 (Bush II): +8
  • 2010 (Obama): -63
  • 2018 (Trump): -41
  • 2022 (Biden): -4(?)

I'd forgotten how bad 2010 was—if I ever knew—but chalk it up to right-wing talk radio, and Fox News, and the everpresent fear of a black planet. Plus liberal complacency—mine included.

The point is, first-term midterm losses are all but inevitable. But in 2018, with Trump in office, what was the Times headline? 

EDGE IN POLLS MIGHT NOT TIP HOUSE SCALES: OUTCOME HINGES ON A HANDFUL OF TOSSUPS

A bit of a shrug there. It's the Times with their hands up: Who knows?

And their 2022 headlines with Biden in office? For some reason, the shrug is gone.

MIDTERMS SPUR A RUSH OF ANGST AND CONFIDENCE: G.O.P. SHOWS OPTIMISM AS DEMOCRATS BRACE FOR LOSSES

BIDEN FACES POLARIZED U.S. AS VOTE NEARS: ON TRAIL WITH PARTY'S OUTLOOK BLEAK

I've long been against news prognostication anyway. The news is what's been, not what might be, and what's been is tough enough without muddying the waters. But if you're going to do it, at least try to be even-handed about it. And if you fuck up—in not being even-handed, and in not being accurate—how about a mea culpa? Or a nostra culpa? From the Times so far, crickets.

I had no idea how the midterms would turn out, by the way. The Sunday before, we were in the apartment of Patricia's friend Peter Goldman, who once covered national politics for Newsweek, and I said that outright. I had a better sense of 2016, 2020, even 2018. For this year, I just didn't know what forces would matter more: the post-Dobbs, pro-democracy voice or the usual midterm “I don't like how things are so whatever” voice. Peter was also unsure. We both kind of shrugged. If only the Times had done that. 

Posted at 09:42 AM on Saturday November 19, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Thursday October 06, 2022

Lint

I was already enjoying Marc Maron's recent podcast with writer-director Tony Gilroy, who was on, one assumes, because of the new “Star Wars” thing on the Disney channel, “Andor,” which he created, wrote, executive-produced, and which I've heard is good. But Maron doesn't care much for the “Star Wars” thing; he wanted to talk about “Michael Clayton,” which Gilroy wrote and directed back in 2007, and which Maron is obsessed with. That's fun. There are no weeds too deep for Marc Maron on “Michael Clayton.” You could tell he was having a great time talking about it.

But we also get Gilroy's story—how his dad was a playwright, etc., how he write this and the other, including “The Devil's Advocate,” with Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron, and what exactly was the hook in that film that finally worked for him as a screenwriter. Also the insanity of it. Its bigness. Al Pacino eating up scenes. He and Marc are laughing about it when we get this exchange:

Gilroy: Oh my god, and the Trump shit.

Maron: Yeah. [Pause] Was he in there?

Gilroy: Fuck, man, that's his apartment. The killer real-estate dude, the killer real-estate molester, we shot in his apartment, Trump's apartment. We needed the ugliest, most garish, horrifying, real-estate developer apartment you could possibly have, and Trump threw his apartment at us.

Maron: That's right. Ohhh....

Gilroy: And we didn't have to—if you look at the movie, that's his fucking shitbag apartment, with all the Versailles gilt, and then the high-rise windows. It's just so perfect. And he came by the set every day. 

Maron: Really?

Gilroy: Oh yeah. Poke around. 

Maron: What was your impression of him? At that time. Obviously the apartment's the apartment, but--

Gilroy: Look, he was a clown. I grew up in New York. I'd been in New York since 1979, I sat at a table in the China Club with he and Bo Dietl. I'd been around him. Just a fucking clown. You know, just that clown.

Maron: Grifter.

Gilroy: Grifter-clown, kind of loser-outsider. A pretend rich guy. Because, you know, if you live in New York, and I'd been there all this time, and the kids go to school, you're really around titans. 

Maron: Sure. Yeah, yeah.

Gilroy: There's some really big arterial power and money. He was not any part of that. 

Maron: And they looked at him like, “Look at this guy.” 

Gilroy: He's lint.

Maron: So you had a deal with him on Devil's Advocate.

Gilroy: He would come by. He would come by on the way down to the office or wherever, peek by, try to see Charlize or whatever the thing he was trying to do. Everyone's laughing at him. Laughing at his apartment. 

Maron: It's so funny he was part of the “Devil” movie. Of course he was. 

A few thoughts.

One, Gilroy sounds a little like Sidney Pollack's character in “Michael Clayton”: I know where the power lies and how the game is played, and these other schmucks don't. And one of those schmucks is the former president.

Two, I love that Maron is interviewer enough to just ask the open-ended question “What was your impression of him?” He's talking about the great villain in Maron's and my life, but he doesn't impose any of that on the question. He pulls back and opens it up. That's the way to do it.

Three is simply a question: Does Donald Trump hear the laughter? Does he do what he does to silence the laughter? Did we all go through the horrors of the last six years, and however many years going forward, because the Tony Gilroys of the world laughed at this dumb, dumpy real estate developer? 

When I first heard this exchange, I wanted to get it in front of all of those idiots who continue to see Trump as a great man, a great businessman, a moral examplar. The 74 million absolute idiots that voted for him. Listening again as I transcribed the above, I realized it was probably the only moment in the last six years where I felt anything close to a pang of empathy for him. 

Posted at 10:49 AM on Thursday October 06, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Thursday September 08, 2022

The Random-Nut Memo

“I remember, when I was reporting on the book, Mitt Romney said to me, 'One of the first things you learn in politician school is: Don't say something that's going to inflame the random nut out there.' And Donald Trump never got the random-nut memo.”

-- Journalist Mark Leibovich last week on the “Stay Tuned with Preet” podcast. Thought of it again reading Ruby Cramer's excellent piece on the threats on the life of Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and other Democratic members of Congress. And it's not just Trump. It's Fox, and right-wing talk radio, and that crowd. I remember after Obama got elected, how Fox News upped the rhetoric against him, and the concern I had for this very reason. Today, the nuts are much more numerous and much less random. 

Posted at 04:47 PM on Thursday September 08, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Monday September 05, 2022

Repeat This Sentence Every Day Until the 2024 Election

“On December 18th, Trump hosted Flynn and a group of other election deniers in the Oval Office, where, for the first time in American history, a President would seriously entertain using the military to overturn an election.”

-- from “Inside the War Between Trump and His Generals: How Mark Milley and others in the Pentagon handled the national-security threat posed by their own Commander-in-Chief,” by Susan Glasser and Peter Baker, in The New Yorker. Recommended.

Posted at 11:01 AM on Monday September 05, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Monday August 29, 2022

Weaponizing Americans

The other week I said Mark Leibovich's “Thank You for Your Servitude: Donald Trump's Washington and the Price of Submission” was easier to read than, say, Jane Mayer's “Dark Money,” because it's kind of fun finding out how painful the Trump era was/is to most traditional Republicans: the Reince Priebuses and Paul Ryans of the world. Example:

When Trump took office in 2017, there were 241 Republicans in the House, David Wasserman of The Cook Political Report pointed out. “Since then, 115 (48%) had either retired, resigned, been defeated or at that point had signaled plans to retire in 2020.” Anecdotally, the single biggest reason these members gave for walking away was they had no interest in debasing themselves in the service of Trump any longer than they had to. “You have a situation where the leader of our party models the worst behavior imaginable,” another outgoing Republican member of Congress told me. “And if you're a Republican in Washington, the idea is basically to make yourself as much of a dickhead as possible in order to get attention and impress the biggest dickhead of all, the guy sitting in the White House.”

I asked the outgoing congressman—very nicely, even a tad aggressively—whether I could attach his name to this excellent quote. “No fucking way,” he said. Why? “Because a lot of these dickheads are my friends. And I might have to lobby them one day, too.

”I know, it's depressing.“

Reading that and other similar comments, though, some part of my schadenfreude dissipated. Because I realized this on a deeper level: No one in American history has weaponized a greater segment of the American public than Donald Trump. No one. He's turned 35% of America into his private little goon squad.

This past week has underlined this fact. He has threatened to unleash his useful idiots if the DOJ/FBI continues its investigation into the Mar-a-Lago docs. Because after six, seven years, these people still believe his lies. They still attack and threaten those who search for the truth, or who fight to keep America—and them—safe. That's the irony and awfulness. They think Trump is their guy but he's only his own, horrifically his own. Yet they'll flip and flop however far he asks them to: from cries of ”Law and order!“ to cries of ”Kill the FBI!“ From ”Lock her up!“ to ”It's just papers!“ Never have so many been so devoted to someone so worthless.

Will they ever fall away? What would it take? It's a cult. That's the Republican party now: a cult propped up by cowards and opportunists. It's not just depressing, it's beyond depressing. ”I might have to lobby them one day, too." Sure, buddy. And when you look around from that lobbying, when you look beyond your own interests, exactly what kind of country are you standing in? That's the worry.

Posted at 10:02 AM on Monday August 29, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Sunday August 28, 2022

Trump's Not-Final Scorecard

Read this the other night while finishing Mark Leibovich's book on the cowards and opportunists in the Republican/Trumpian party. It's a sum-up as Trump is letting the door hit his ass on the way out:

Trump's always-low approval ratings—now down in the 30s—were the well-earned product of a toxic personality and now fully disastrous final scorecard: he would leave office as the first president in history to be impeached twice, the first since Hoover to preside over his party's loss of the House, Senate, and White House in a single term, the first president in history to leave office with fewer jobs than he entered with, the indirect cause of (conservatively) thousands of coronavirus deaths, countless international embarrassments, and a nation that felt far more divided and deranged than at any time in decades. Trump was easily the sorest loser, most prodigious liar, and most insufferable whiner in presidential history. And no commander in chief had ever departed the White House with as massive a legal and financial burden as Donald Trump would now face.

And it gets worse—for him. This week the affidavit that led to the FBI retrieval of classified and/or national security documents from Trump's private residence at Mar-a-Lago was made public in very redacted form. (The New York Times has a very helpful annotated version.) What does it show that we didn't suspect? Not much. But it shows it in plain legal language. All of us are learning our government acronyms, too: NARA for National Archives and Records Administration, the dept. that spent much of 2021 and '22 trying to retrieve the 15 or more boxes; NDI for National Defense Information, which was what was in those 15 or more boxes, including SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information), SI (Special Intelligence) and HCS (intelligence derived from human sources or spies). Trump was putting them all at risk—that's how NYT led with it the following day—but the big point is he might have already done so. Allies and operatives might already be dead because of him. He's a sloppy man who put top secret intel in a sloppy place, and the question is still this one: why.

Initially I thought it was just the sloppiness. It was the whiny baby in him who needed to say “MINE!” on the way out. That, by the way, is the best interpretation Republicans can make—that their man is just a whiny spoiled child who grabbed stuff as he pouted his way home. “Well, if you're not letting me win I'm going to take this!” That was my initial thought. But now I'm wondering. There's also vindictive Trump. Maybe he's trying to get back at us, the whole country, for “betraying” him by not letting him win. Then there's bad-businessman Trump, who never did a thing in his life without attempting to monetize it. Those documents had value to our enemies—who were often his friends. Could I perceive a scenario where Trump might think, “Why wouldn't I make money by showing my friends these papers that my enemies, who wouldn't let me win, think are important?” You bet. 

That final scorecard is still in play.

Posted at 10:31 AM on Sunday August 28, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Thursday August 18, 2022

'If It Were Anyone Else...'

“If it were anyone else but the president, a former president, they would be facing criminal charges now.” 

Former Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, a defense policy expert, on the national security documents retrieved from the safe of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate by the FBI, on Stay Tuned with Preet (12:10 in).

Posted at 07:51 AM on Thursday August 18, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Sunday August 14, 2022

Quote of the Decade

“The reason Donald Trump is the first former president to be treated like a criminal is that he is the first former president who is a criminal.”

-- Jonathan Chait, “What Is Really Unprecedented Is the Criminality: Republican outrage to the raid on Trump is telling,” in New York magazine. Among the Republicans he quotes berating DOJ and the FBI for upholding the rule of law are Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, and National Review, which, Chait reminds us, “treated the FBI's preelection announcement of an investigation into Hillary Clinton, over whether she mishandled classified information with her emails, not as a case of FBI abuse but as a devastating indictment of Clinton, and it was still publishing stories two years later insisting she ought to have been criminally charged.” Trump's actions already go way beyond a private email server. And yet more of the same from the GOP. Another chance to break free and instead they double down.

Posted at 04:11 AM on Sunday August 14, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Sunday July 10, 2022

Donald Trump and the Doormat Duo: Mark Leibovich's Perfect Essay on GOP Cowardice and Opportunism

There is a great Mark Leibovich essay about Trump and his GOP toadies on The Atlantic site, called “The Most Pathetic Men in America: Why Lindsey Graham, Kevin McCarthy, and so many other cowards in Congress are still doing Trump's bidding,” which ... right? Right from the start—pathetic, cowards—it doesn't pull punches the way much of the press has done for the last seven years. It's a fucking breath of fresh fucking air and everyone should read it. You get the feeling if the press was this honest, or less dishonest, we wouldn't be where we are.

Turns out it's from Leibovich's upcoming book, “Thank You for Your Servitude: Donald Trump's Washington and the Price of Submission,” which I've already ordered.

The essay is both insidery and brutal—a good combo. Leibovich is protecting no source. Here's a standalone graf that'll serve as a primer:

Trump said and did obviously awful and dangerous things—racist and cruel and achingly dumb and downright evil things. But on top of that, he is a uniquely tiresome individual, easily the sorest loser, the most prodigious liar, and the most interminable victim ever to occupy the White House. He is, quite possibly, the biggest crybaby ever to toddle across history's stage, from his inaugural-crowd hemorrhage on day one right down to his bitter, ketchup-flinging end. Seriously, what public figure in the history of the world comes close? I'm genuinely asking.

For the last seven years everyone's pretended that this is a legitimate figure, a legitimate American leader, but this is the world as I see it, the world—I would argue—that's closer to what is actually true. And it's fucking time someone fucking said it.

Then he gets into the lies, and the lying liars: the ones who legitimized this crybaby, the GOP, particularly Lindsey Graham and Kevin McCarthy, whom he dubs “the doormat duo.” He doesn't pretend they're the same. Graham has always had the need to glom onto a father figure, and for the first two decades of his career that was John McCain, and for the last five it's been McCain's opposite, Donald Trump, and this massive contradiction has never seemed one on Graham's little head. McCarthy, meanwhile, comes off as just another sad, dull opportunist, but more so. Both men want power, want to stay in power, want to be relevant. Country be damned. 

Both men, in the parlance, get the joke:

“Getting the joke” is a timeworn Washington expression, referring to a person's ability to grasp a shared truth about something best left unspoken. In the case of Trump, the “joke” was that he was, at best, not a serious person or a good president and, at worst, a dangerous and potentially criminal jackass.

“Oh, everybody gets the joke,” Mitt Romney assured me in early 2022 when I asked him if Senate Republicans really believed what they said in public about how wonderful Trump was. “They still are very aware of his, uh, what's a good word, idiosyncrasies.”

Yes, politicians will sometimes say different things in front of different audiences. No big shocker there. But the gap between the public adoration expressed by Trump's Republican lickspittles and the mocking contempt they voiced for him in private could be gaping. This was never more apparent, or maddening, as in the weeks after the 2020 election. “For all but just a handful of members, if you put them on truth serum, they knew that the election was fully legitimate and that Donald Trump was a joke,” Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois, told me last year. “The vast majority of people get the joke. I think Kevin McCarthy gets the joke. Lindsey gets the joke. The problem is that the joke isn't even funny anymore.”

And 80 million people aren't in on the joke. If the Dems don't use this to talk to Republican voters directly, they're nuts. “They're in on the joke and you're not. Maybe, to them, you are the joke.”

Everybody in the GOP “got the joke,” and everybody in the GOP “humored him” after he lost the 2020 election, hoping he would simmer down, or maybe he would eventually just leave the stage and life would return to what it was. Then Jan. 6 happened. Lebovich says what I said/hoped back then: “January 6 had to be the end of the line for Trump, right? Surely, this would be the moment when the fever broke.” 

Leibovich tags the moment the fever returned: McCarthy's groveling visit to Mar-a-Lago on January 28:

So, there they were, Donald and his Kevin, side by side again, reunited and it felt so good. In the photo that shot across social media, the old besties held the same clenched smiles and seemed to both be sucking in their tummies like bros of a certain age do. McCarthy's visit set off a parade of ring-kissing pilgrimages. Graham headed down to Florida again and again, so often that his host couldn't help but marvel, “Jesus, Lindsey must really like to play golf”...

And there we were. And there we are. 

“When we look back, Kevin's trip to Mar-a-Lago will, I think, turn out to be a key moment,” Liz Cheney told me when we talked again this April. It would, she said, go down as one of the most shameful episodes in one of the country's most shameful chapters. More than anyone, McCarthy ensured that the Republican Party would remain stuck in its 2020 post-election purgatory, still working to placate America's neediest man.

The book comes out July 12.

Posted at 07:29 AM on Sunday July 10, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Saturday June 25, 2022

Indict the Sumbitch Already

Yesterday afternoon, after a day spent reading about SCOTUS overturning Roe v. Wade 6-3, and how Justice Thomas' decision bodes poorly for other precedents like gay marriage (and interracial marriage, Clarence?), I walked over to Lake Washington on a sky-blue day listening to Ezra Klein and Jamelle Bouie have a smart conversation about the Jan. 6 hearings and whether Donald Trump can and should be charged with crimes.

Main takeaways:

  • We're as much a nation of norms and formalities as we are a nation of laws, and Donald Trump shattered those norms and formalities. They're out there for anyone to use and abuse now. They don't go back in. 
  • Bouie in particular goes into how the founders hedged their bets on democracy by building into the process, for example, the electoral college, with state electors, rather than we the people, casting the true ballots. This is one of those formalities that Trump tossed into the dungheap. “Oh, there's no law preventing an elector from switching their vote? It's just on the honor system?” That's a wide-open lane for someone like Trump who has no honor.
  • The two go into the whole right-wing “We're not a democracy, we're a republic” bullshit, and what's being truly said.
  • They also talk about how indicting a former president sets a dangerous precedent; and how, given everything Trump has done, it's much more dangerous to do nothing.

Anyway, smart conversation on another dumb day for America.

Posted at 01:10 PM on Saturday June 25, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Friday June 17, 2022

The Pardon List

“I've decided I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works.”

-- attorney John Eastman, the so-called legal architect behind the Jan. 6 insurrection, in an email to Rudy Giuliani after Jan. 6., as revealed during the Jan. 6 hearings

Of course it quickly became a meme. (The above is my favorite example so far.) And it deserves to be a meme. It's an astonishing sentence. Both the casualness of it and the sense of privilege. I've decided? How nice when one gets ownership over one's own absolution. And the whole “if that's still in the works,” indicating they'd all already talked about it, indicating they all knew they were involved in activities that needed presidential pardoning in the first place. Which they did. From The New York Times

Mr. Eastman also admitted in a private conversation with Mr. Pence's top lawyer, Greg Jacob, that if the Supreme Court ever had to rule on the legality of a vice president deciding the results of an election on his own, the court would unanimously vote to toss the matter, Mr. Jacob testified. But more important, Mr. Jacob told the committee in a videotaped deposition — snippets of which were played during the hearing — that Mr. Eastman had admitted in Mr. Trump's presence that the plan to pressure Mr. Pence violated an 1887 law known as the Electoral Count Act. According to Mr. Jacob, Mr. Eastman acknowledged the illegality of the scheme in front of Mr. Trump on Jan. 4, 2021, just two days before Mr. Pence was to oversee the certification of the election.

What fucking assholes. At least he never got the pardon. I guess it's still in the works.  

Posted at 07:15 AM on Friday June 17, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Wednesday May 11, 2022

Reminder

“The analysts who keep flogging Biden for his inability to pass more ambitious legislation through Rooseveltian persuasion and Johnsonian party discipline tend to ignore the fact that F.D.R. and L.B.J. enjoyed immense congressional majorities. Biden has Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. His stimulus bill, a significant achievement, attracted zero Republican support. The members of the political class of the G.O.P., with rare exceptions, have determined that their voters are with Trump, and so they must be, too. These men and women have all the political independence and moral courage of the trembling members of Putin's national-security council. They have traded the principles of a liberal democracy for a job.”

-- David Remnick, “A Role Model for the Midterms,” The New Yorker

Posted at 09:21 AM on Wednesday May 11, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Thursday April 14, 2022

'The Litany of Trump-Russia Intersections Remains Remarkable'

There is a long, remarkable paragraph in Robert Draper's excellent New York Times Magazine feature on former presidential adviser Fiona Hall. It's good reading for Americans who, per David Bowie, don't really remember their President Trump. Or the bills they have to pay. Or yesterday. 

As I said, it's a long paragraph. This is how it begins: “The litany of Trump-Russia intersections remains remarkable,” and then Draper lists them off. He doesnt' bullet-point them but I'm going to. They demand bullet-pointing. Most of them I remember. I didn't know the thing about Gordon and Kislyak. I knew about the watering down but not the details behind it. Ready? Rock 'n' roll...

  • Citizen Trump's business pursuits in Moscow, which continued throughout his candidacy
  • Candidate Trump's abiding affinity for Putin
  • The incident in which the Trump campaign's national security director, J.D. Gordon, watered down language in the 2016 Republican Party platform pledging to provide Ukraine with “lethal defense weapons” to combat Russian interference — and did so the same week Gordon dined with Russia's ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, at an event
  • Trump's longtime political consigliere Roger Stone's reaching out to WikiLeaks through an intermediary and requesting “the pending emails,” an apparent reference to the Clinton campaign emails pirated by Russia, which the site had started to post
  • Trump's chiming in: “Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
  • The meeting in the Seychelles islands between Erik Prince (the founder of the military contractor Blackwater and a Trump-campaign supporter whose sister Betsy DeVos would become Trump's secretary of education) and the head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund in an effort to facilitate a back-channel dialogue between the two countries before Trump's inauguration
  • The former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort's consistent lying to federal investigators about his own secretive dealings with the Russian political consultant and intelligence operative Konstantin V. Kilimnik, with whom he shared Trump campaign polling
  • Trump's two-hour meeting with Putin in Helsinki in the summer of 2018, unattended by staff
  • Trump's public declaration, at a joint news conference in Helsinki, that he was more inclined to believe Putin than the U.S. intelligence team when it came to Russia's interference in the 2016 election
  • The dissemination by Trump and his allies in 2019 of the Russian propaganda that it was Ukraine that meddled in the 2016 election, in support of the Clinton campaign
  • Trump's pardoning of Manafort and Stone in December 2020
  • And most recently, on March 29, Trump's saying yet again that Putin “should release” dirt on a political opponent — this time President Biden, who, Trump asserted without evidence, had received, along with his son Hunter Biden, $3.5 million from the wife of Moscow's former mayor

This is the guy that his base, his idiot base, says would be tough on Russia right now. This fucking putz.

Jonathan Chait has a piece over on the New York magazine site about Sean Hannity trying desperately to get Trump to condemn Russia's aggression in Ukraine and Trump constantly deflecting to complain about NATO and our western allies and Ukraine. Jesus fucking Christ. It could be high comedy but Chait knows it's not and ends the piece ominously: “Had 44,000 votes in Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin swung the other way, Zelensky would probably at this moment be in exile, in a Russian prison, or dead.”

Posted at 06:05 PM on Thursday April 14, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Wednesday March 30, 2022

Why Dictatorships Fail

“We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing, and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions, because his senior advisers are too afraid to tell him the truth.”

-- U.S. intelligence official in a statement today. Here's hoping Putin doesn't learn the truth until it's too late. (At the same time, he must suspect something, right?)

Posted at 04:53 PM on Wednesday March 30, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  

Thursday March 10, 2022

Just a Reminder to All the Useful Idiots Who Claim Trump Was 'Tough on Putin'

“I think [Trump] feared [Putin]. I think he was afraid of him. I think that the man intimidated him. Because Putin is a scary man, just frankly, I think he was afraid of him. I also think he admired him greatly, I think he wanted to be able to kill whoever spoke out against him. So I think it was a lot of that. In my experience with him, he loved the dictators, he loved the people who could kill anyone, including the press. ... And I will say this, just in watching all of this with Zelenskyy, Donald Trump would be 57 feet below ground hiding. And Zelenskyy has been out there fighting for his country.”

-- former Trump White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham on The View on Tuesday, via Vanity Fair. Then, for those with short memories, we get some nice reminders of all the times Trump showed how much he loved dictators:

  • Saying he believed Russia didn't interfere in the 2016 election because Vladimir Putin told him so—even though U.S. intelligence said otherwise
  • Believing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that he had nothing to do with the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi—even though the CIA said otherwise
  • Taking Kim Jong-Un's word that he “didn't know about” the yearlong imprisonment of American student Otto Warmbier, who died of brain damage days after returning to the U.S.
  • Hosting and praising autocrats such as Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey

Plus all the Putin shit

Posted at 07:07 AM on Thursday March 10, 2022 in category Politics   |   Permalink  
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