Notes and Comment Blog


Black voters were twice as likely to be removed from the rolls

Jun 11th, 2018 4:54 pm | By

Ari Berman on why the Supreme Court ruling on Ohio’s voter suppression matters:

In 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act to end the disenfranchisement of black voters in the Jim Crow South. The law was remarkably successful in dismantling barriers to the ballot box like literacy tests and poll taxes, but a few decades later, Congress recognized that more still needed to be done to boost political participation. In the 1988 presidential election, for example, barely half of eligible African American voters cast a ballot.

In response to persistently low voter turnout, Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to allow voters to register at Department of Motor Vehicles offices and other public agencies. President Bill Clinton called it “a sign of a new vibrancy in our democracy.” The “motor voter” law had an immediate impact: More than 30 million people registered or updated their registrations through the NVRA in its first year in effect. Roughly 16 million people per year have used it to register ever since.

That’s good; it’s a good thing; we don’t want people to have to make “a little effort” to vote when they were prevented from voting for a century after the Civil War. We want to eliminate as much need for “a little effort” as possible, because what are minor obstacles to people with cars and internet access and free time are prohibitive barriers to people with two or three badly-paid jobs and no car and children and no nearby internet access or bus route.

One of the key features of the law was to protect voters from being wrongly removed from the voter rolls. The NVRA stipulated that someone could not be removed from the rolls “by reason of the person’s failure to vote.” But in a 5-4 decision Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Ohio could remove infrequent voters from the rolls, severely weakening the power of the NVRA and opening the door to wider voter purging.

Ohio purged more than 2 million registered voters between 2011 and 2016, more than any other state. Black voters in the state’s largest counties were twice as likely as white voters to be removed from the rolls. In a dissent to Monday’s ruling, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the court’s opinion “entirely ignores the history of voter suppression against which the NVRA was enacted and upholds a program that appears to further the very disenfranchisement of minority and low-income voters that Congress set out to eradicate.”

This is why talking about having more respect for people who make a little effort to vote is so wrongheaded.



Short sharp exchange

Jun 11th, 2018 4:19 pm | By
Short sharp exchange

An exchange on a public Facebook post.

Capture

Capture

Guy: I hate to say this but she doesn’t look like someone who’d be an expert of love…

Me: No, you were right the first time, don’t say it.

Guy: Ophelia Benson Well, she certainly doesn’t.

Me: But that’s not relevant, and it’s just crude sexist bullying.

Guy: Ophelia Benson No, it’s bullying a religious idiot and that is perfectly OK.

Capture

Me: No it is not.

Guy: Ophelia Benson I love your sense of humour.

Me: And yet you started with “I hate to say this but” so you know perfectly well what I’m talking about. Insulting people’s looks is a worthless way to dispute the content of what they say.

Guy: Ophelia Benson Relax Ophelia, take a deep breath.

Me: Don’t patronize me.

Evolve more, people.



Arrive late, poke him in the chest, call him a mofo

Jun 11th, 2018 3:34 pm | By

Trump is living the dream.

President Trump has imagined himself at the center of high-stakes nuclear negotiations since at least the mid-1980s, when he tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade the Reagan administration that it needed a New York real estate deal maker to lead arms-control talks with the Soviet Union.

When, in 1989, he ran into the man who filled that job for President George H.W. Bush, he had a bit of negotiating advice: Arrive late, poke your finger into your adversary’s chest and swear at him with a vulgar insult, he told Richard R. Burt.

So his time at the G7 was rehearsal for all that. Good to know.

For Mr. Trump, the looming question now is whether his bet that Mr. Kim wants economic development more than nuclear weapons is right.

“I understand why the administration is offering so many carrots, but I’m afraid Trump thinks Kim is a businessman,” said Jung H. Pak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who oversaw North Korea analysis for United States intelligence agencies until a year ago.

“What he’s forgetting is that Kim isn’t looking for wealth,” he said. “He has all the wealth in the country. He’s looking for legitimacy.”

He’s probably not forgetting it, because he probably never realized it in the first place. It may be that people have told him that; it may be that many people have told him that many times; it doesn’t follow that he paid any attention.

Some of those who have prepared Mr. Trump for dealing with Korea, who insisted on anonymity to speak about their briefings with the president, say they worry that he is so supremely confident in his negotiating skills that he has eschewed detailed briefings on how Mr. Kim thinks about the world.

Yeeeah. When he shouted replies to some reporters on Friday as he was leaving, he said he didn’t need to prepare for the summit because he’s been preparing his whole life. Yes, really; I watched him say it. Preparing his whole life…if that’s true why is he such a mess now? Why is his head so empty? Why do so many people loathe him? Why has he destroyed everything he touches?

All in all, my hopes are not high.



An atheist poet and publisher

Jun 11th, 2018 11:18 am | By

Taslima has another piece of bad news.

The Dhaka Tribune reports:

The owner of Bishaka Prokashoni, a publishing house, has been gunned down in his home town in Munshiganj.

Shahzahan Bachchu, 60, was shot and killed in his village, Kakaldi, in the district’s Sirajdikhan upazila around 6:30pm on Monday, Munshiganj Superintendent of Police Jayedul Alam told the Dhaka Tribune.

There were five assailants on two motorcycles, the SP said.

Shahzahan had gone to meet friends at a pharmacy near his home before iftar, when the assailants came into the area. They blasted a crude bomb outside the pharmacy, creating panic.

They then dragged Shahzahan out and shot him, Jayedul said.

Allahu akbar?



Purging the voter rolls

Jun 11th, 2018 11:12 am | By

Bad news.

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld Ohio’s aggressive efforts to purge its voting rolls.

The court ruled that a state may kick people off the rolls if they skip a few elections and fail to respond to a notice from state election officials. The vote was 5 to 4, with the more conservative justices in the majority.

The case concerned a guy who voted in 2004 and 2008 but not 2010, 2012, and 2014. In 2015 he wanted  to vote against a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana and found he’d been stricken from the voting rolls.

Federal laws prohibit states from removing people from voter rolls “by reason of the person’s failure to vote.” But they allow election officials who suspect that a voter has moved to send a confirmation notice.

The central question in the case was whether a failure to vote could be the reason to send out the notice.

Ohio is more aggressive than any other state in purging its voter rolls. After skipping a single federal election cycle, voters are sent a notice. If they fail to respond and do not vote in the next four years, their names are purged from the rolls.

A few other states use similar approaches, but not one of them moves as fast.

So it’s the most voter-suppressive state in the failure-to-vote column, and the stolen vote on the court just ruled that okie doke.

A Reuters study in 2016 found that at least 144,000 people were removed from the voting rolls in recent years in Ohio’s three largest counties, which are home to Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus.

“Voters have been struck from the rolls in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods at roughly twice the rate as in Republican neighborhoods,” the study found. “Neighborhoods that have a high proportion of poor, African-American residents are hit the hardest.”

Twelve states, generally led by Democrats, filed a brief supporting Mr. Harmon. Seventeen states, generally Republican, filed a brief on the other side.

So to sum up poor and/or black and brown voters are being systematically shut out by the party of the rich and white.



Some heard their children screaming for them in the next room

Jun 11th, 2018 10:30 am | By

The Post on Representative Pramila Jayapal’s visit to the detention center where women are being held apart from their children:

Although Seattle is some 1,500 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, the debate over family separations hit closer to home for the Evergreen State after dozens of undocumented immigrants were transferred last week to the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Nearly all of those migrants — 174 out of 206 — were women, said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who spent about three hours Saturday morning meeting with the recently moved detainees at the SeaTac facility.

Most of them were from Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, she said, but there were also people from as far away as Eritrea. Many spoke of fleeing threats of rape, gang violence and political persecution, Jayapal said.

She asked the women to raise their hands if they’d been forcibly separated from their children, and more than half did.

Some said that their children had been as young as 12 months — and many no longer knew where their children were being held.

“It was absolutely heartbreaking. And I’ve been doing immigration-rights work for almost two decades. I am not new to these stories,” Jayapal told The Washington Post on Sunday. “I will tell you there was not a dry eye in the house. … Some of them heard their children screaming for them in the next room. Not a single one of them had been allowed to say goodbye or explain to them what was happening.”

It sounds all too familiar.

Birkenau-selection_BW

Back to the Post and the present day:

On Saturday, Jayapal and others gathered in front of the detention center to denounce the practice of separating children that had produced the “heartbreaking” stories they said they had heard inside. They spoke over the din of protesters demanding that arriving migrants should be allowed by law to seek asylum.

“We’ve gathered here to say one central message: Cruelty to children should not be part of American policy,” Gov. Jay Inslee (D) told the crowd. “Intentional infliction of injury to children is below the standards of America. In America, the willful infliction of trauma against children is not acceptable. America is better than this. Inhumane, callous indifference and willful injury to children must stop.”

Right now America is not better than this. Right now America is just this horrendous.



Art history

Jun 10th, 2018 3:39 pm | By

That photo of Merkel facing down Defiant Toddler Trump? It is an art history lesson.

How so?

Ah yes, so they are – although I will say, advertisers still pose women with their feet pointed like that.

We’ve learned something. Thank you Palle Hofstein.



Under the Presidential Records Act

Jun 10th, 2018 2:45 pm | By

Ugh this is so repulsive. It may seem comparatively minor but the attitude behind it is…hideous.

Solomon Lartey spent the first five months of the Trump administration working in the Old Executive Office Building, standing over a desk with scraps of paper spread out in front of him.

Lartey, who earned an annual salary of $65,969 as a records management analyst, was a career government official with close to 30 years under his belt. But he had never seen anything like this in any previous administration he had worked for. He had never had to tape the president’s papers back together again.

Why did he have to do that? Why do people still have to do that? Because Trump tears everything into bits even though he’s legally required to preserve it.

Under the Presidential Records Act, the White House must preserve all memos, letters, emails and papers that the president touches, sending them to the National Archives for safekeeping as historical records.

But White House aides realized early on that they were unable to stop Trump from ripping up paper after he was done with it and throwing it in the trash or on the floor, according to people familiar with the practice. Instead, they chose to clean it up for him, in order to make sure that the president wasn’t violating the law.

So people paid large salaries go around picking up piles of torn up paper and other people paid large salaries tape them back together because that fucking peasant hates the written word that much.

Lartey said the papers he received included newspaper clips on which Trump had scribbled notes, or circled words; invitations; and letters from constituents or lawmakers on the Hill, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“I had a letter from Schumer — he tore it up,” he said. “It was the craziest thing ever. He ripped papers into tiny pieces.”

Because he’s a stupid angry empty balloon of a human and he hates the sight of knowledge. He likes fried chicken and ice cream and Fox News, and everything else is the enemy to be torn to atoms.

[Lisa] Brown [Obama’s staff secretary] described a regimented process for dealing with presidential records. She said all paper that was going to the president “would go in a folder with labels — one color for decision memos, for example, and another one for letters. Documents would go out to the president and then come back to the staff secretary’s office in the same folder for distribution and handling. It was a really structured process.”

Brown said Obama had an eye on preserving documents for history — even ones he was not technically required to send to the National Archives. “I remember the day he sent down to me his race speech from the campaign, handwritten,” she said. “All of the campaign material didn’t need to come into the White House or go to Archives.”

Trump, in contrast, does not have those preservationist instincts. One person familiar with how Trump operates in the Oval Office said that he would rip up “anything that happened to be on his desk that he was done with.” Some aides advised him to stop, but the habit proved difficult to break.

No, the “habit” didn’t prove “difficult to break” – he just ignored what he was told and did what he felt like, which was destroying written knowledge. He’s ignorant as pig shit and he can’t stand the sight of WORDS on paper.

He goes to meetings like the G7 and sits there empty-handed while everyone else has papers and a tablet. He thinks he already knows everything.



Guest post: Take Trump being elected as a warning

Jun 10th, 2018 11:23 am | By

Originally a comment by Bruce Gorton on A declaration of ignorance and policy insanity.

It is one of the things I keep saying: We in Africa need to take Trump being elected as a warning that we cannot rely upon the West.

We need to boost our funding for the sciences, boost our spending on developing our own economies, and cut all reliance on American goods and services, because America is fundamentally headed by a madman.

The American market is always talked up as if servicing American demand is this path to wealth, yet it is remarkably rare when an outside player can actually make any headway in it. The demand economy just isn’t there anymore, it is all advertising.

American instability hasn’t historically been good for the rest of us, and what we’re seeing now is a big enough warning that it is coming sooner rather than later. We need to get ready, because I don’t think you in America really can right this ship.

Part of your problem isn’t really Russia – it is the same crisis that we in South Africa faced with Bell Pottinger. As Trump comes more and more under the thumb of oligarchs you can expect more and more hate online – it isn’t the “alt right” – it is PR companies which will be getting paid to shield your states’ corrupt actors.



Wah

Jun 10th, 2018 11:09 am | By

Image may contain: 6 people, people sitting



Digging the hole deeper

Jun 10th, 2018 9:35 am | By

Trump’s people are running around echoing his tweets bashing Trudeau, no doubt in hopes of making Trump look less deranged and backstabby.

President Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Sunday accused Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of undermining the US and its allies with comments he made at the G7 summit.

“It was a betrayal,” Kudlow said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Kudlow was speaking following the G7 summit in Canada on Saturday. As Trump flew from the summit with US allies to a planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, he lashed out at Trudeau for what he said were his “false statements” at a news conference and said the US would not endorse the G7 communique, a negotiated statement on shared priorities among the group.

Although it is unclear which of Trudeau’s statements Trump was calling false, Trudeau said in the news conference Saturday that Canada will “move forward with retaliatory measures” on July 1 in response to the Trump administration’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, the European Union and Mexico.

How very dare he, right? How dare he respond to Trump’s tariffs with his own tariffs? Doesn’t he understand that Trump gets Special Treatment and he Trudeau does not?

In his interview Sunday, Kudlow accused Trudeau of making his comments for “domestic political consumption” and doing “a great disservice to the whole G7.”

“He really kind of stabbed us in the back,” Kudlow said.

While Trump’s belligerence toward Canada is completely different because

Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, directed a series of stinging comments at Trudeau on “Fox News Sunday.”

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” Navarro said. “And that’s what bad faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference. That’s what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did, and that comes right from Air Force One.”

Top classy thoughtful diplomacy.



Shame

Jun 10th, 2018 8:53 am | By

A press release from Seattle’s congressional representative Pramila Jayapal:

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, member of the House Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement after demanding and being given access to the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Washington to look at conditions and speak with 174 immigrant women detained inside:

“What I heard from the women today being held at the detention center was heartbreaking. They are there only because of the Trump administration’s cruel new ‘zero tolerance’ policies of family separation. They spoke of fleeing threats of rape, gang violence and political persecution. They spoke of their children who have been killed by gangs and their fear of being raped. The mothers could not stop crying when they spoke about their children – young girls and boys who were taken from them with no chance to say goodbye and no plan for reunification.

“Of the 206 immigrants being held there, 174 are women. I spent almost three hours meeting with the women, almost all of whom are asylum seekers. They come from 16 different countries with the largest numbers from Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Over a third of the women were mothers who had been forcibly separated from their children, who range in age from 1-year-old to teenagers. The vast majority of the mothers have not spoken with their children in weeks and they have no idea where they are. Most have been held in detention for more than two weeks and many for over a month.

“They should not be held in federal prison, but the women I spoke to said SeaTac is the first place they feel they’ve been treated as human beings – thanks to the standards in place at government-owned and operated facilities, rather than the privately contracted facilities of DHS.

“The women talked of being held in Border Patrol facilities that they termed the ‘dog pound,’ because of inhumane fenced cages, and the ‘ice box,’ because temperatures are frigid and detainees are given no blankets or mats. They also spoke of lack of access to food and water, and said they suffered humiliation and verbal abuse from border agents who called them ‘filthy’ and ‘stinky,’ and told them that their ‘families would not exist anymore’ and that they would “never see their children again.’

“Also extremely troubling were the accounts of mass prosecutions, where individuals were processed through the court system in groups of up to 100 at a time with no ability to speak individually to a judge.

“I call on the Trump administration to release all of these individuals immediately, to give them access to attorneys to quickly process their asylum claims, and for them to be immediately reunited with their children. It is outrageous that Department of Homeland Security is violating human rights and our international legal obligations under human rights law to swiftly and humanely process asylum seekers. I will also continue to push to defund ICE, to completely reform the immigration detention system and end mass prosecutions by the Department of Justice, and defund any Department of Homeland Security programs that break up families.

“What I saw today is simply not who, we, as a country should be. This is cruel and inhumane treatment and we cannot allow it to continue on our watch.”



A declaration of ignorance and policy insanity

Jun 9th, 2018 4:47 pm | By

Paul Krugman on the summit frolics.

[T]here has never been a disaster like the G7 meeting that just took place. It could herald the beginning of a trade war, maybe even the collapse of the Western alliance. At the very least it will damage America’s reputation as a reliable ally for decades to come; even if Trump eventually departs the scene in disgrace, the fact that someone like him could come to power in the first place will always be in the back of everyone’s mind.

That’s why I keep saying we’ll never live this down. He got selected, he got elected, and he trashed the joint. Not a sign of health.

He didn’t put America first; Russia first would be a better description. And he didn’t demand drastic policy changes from our allies; he demanded that they stop doing bad things they aren’t doing. This wasn’t a tough stance on behalf of American interests, it was a declaration of ignorance and policy insanity.

Trump started with a call for readmitting Russia to the group, which makes no sense at all. The truth is that Russia, whose GDP is about the same size as Spain’s and quite a bit smaller than Brazil’s, was always a ringer in what was meant to be a group of major economies. It was brought in for strategic reasons, and kicked out when it invaded Ukraine. There is no possible justification for bringing it back, other than whatever hold Putin has on Trump personally.

Nukes? Great power? It’s really big?

Then Trump demanded that the other G7 members remove their “ridiculous and unacceptable” tariffs on U.S. goods – which would be hard for them to do, because their actual tariff rates are very low. The European Union, for example, levies an average tariff of only three percent on US goods. Who says so? The U.S. government’s own guide to exporters.

So what on earth was Trump even talking about? His trade advisers have repeatedly claimed that value-added taxes, which play an important role in many countries, are a form of unfair trade protection. But this is sheer ignorance: VATs don’t convey any competitive advantage – they’re just a way of implementing a sales tax — which is why they’re legal under the WTO. And the rest of the world isn’t going to change its whole fiscal system because the U.S. president chooses to listen to advisers who don’t understand anything.

Actually, though, Trump might not even have been thinking about VATs. He may just have been ranting. After all, he goes on and on about other vast evils that don’t exist, like a huge wave of violent crime committed by illegal immigrants (who then voted in the millions for Hillary Clinton.)

So what’s the goal?

Well, it was pretty much exactly what he would have done if he really is Putin’s puppet: yelling at friendly nations about sins they aren’t committing won’t bring back American jobs, but it’s exactly what someone who does want to break up the Western alliance would like to see.

Alternatively, maybe he was just acting out because he couldn’t stand having to spend hours with powerful people who will neither flatter him nor bribe him by throwing money at his family businesses – people who, in fact, didn’t try very hard to hide the contempt they feel for the man leading what is still, for the moment, a great power.

Whatever really happened, this was an utter, humiliating debacle. And we all know how Trump responds to humiliation. You really have to wonder what comes next. One thing’s for sure: it won’t be good.

Well what comes next is the meeting with Kim so…



Angela and Emmanuel and Justin

Jun 9th, 2018 4:34 pm | By

Trump did a press conference before he hopped on the plane to Singapore to meet that nice Mister Kim.

Q As you were heading into these G7 talks, there was a sense that America’s closest allies were frustrated with you and angry with you, and that you were angry with them and that you were leaving here early to go meet for more friendlier talks with Kim Jong Un in Singapore. And I’m wondering if you —

THE PRESIDENT: It’s well put, I think.

Q — if you view it the same way. And do you view the U.S. alliance system shifting under your presidency, away —

THE PRESIDENT: Who are you with, out of curiosity?

Q CNN.

THE PRESIDENT: I figured. Fake News CNN. The worst. But I could tell by the question. I had no idea you were CNN. After the question, I was just curious as to who you were with. You were CNN.

You see how sharp he is? He had no idea but he could tell. How could he tell (while having no idea)? He didn’t like the question. That makes it Fake.

I would say that the level of relationship is a 10. We have a great relationship. Angela and Emmanuel and Justin. I would say the relationship is a 10.

Ooooooooooh look at that, they have such a great relationship that he calls them Angela and Emmanuel and Justin, as if they were best friends and about to sail up the lake to play pirates with the Amazons. I guess Theresa has to stay behind to cook the potatoes.

No, we have a very good relationship, and I don’t blame these people, but I will blame them if they don’t act smart and do what they have to do — because they have no choice. I’ll be honest with you, they have no choice.

They’re either going to make the trades fair, because our farmers have been hurt. You look at our farmers. For 15 years, the graph is going just like this — down. Our farmers have been hurt, our workers have been hurt. Our companies have moved out and moved to Mexico and other countries, including Canada.

Now, we are going to fix that situation. And if it’s not fixed, we’re not going to deal with these countries. But the relationship that I’ve had is great. So you can tell that to your fake friends at CNN.

The relationship that I’ve had with the people, the leaders of these countries, has been — I would really, rate it on a scale of 0 to 10, I would rate it a 10.

Oops. This just in:

Not a 10 any more then?



Like your brother, your rad uncle, your impossibly cool dad

Jun 9th, 2018 3:45 pm | By

Helen Rosner in the New Yorker yesterday:

Bourdain’s fame wasn’t the distant, lacquered type of an actor or a musician, bundled and sold with a life-style newsletter. Bourdain felt like your brother, your rad uncle, your impossibly cool dad—your realest, smartest friend, who wandered outside after beers at the local one night and ended up in front of some TV cameras and decided to stay there. As a writer himself, he was always looking out for other writers, always saying yes, always available for interviews and comments. You had to fight through a wall of skeptical P.R. to get to someone like Guy Fieri, but Bourdain was right there, for everyone, in equal measure. He remembered names. He took every question seriously. He was twenty minutes early to every appointment, to the minute. Every newspaper, every magazine, every Web site that asked got its Bourdain quotes—and good ones, too! Not pre-scripted pablum but potent missiles of cultural commentary—bombastic wisdom, grand pronouncements, eviscerations of celebrities, flagrantly named names.

(I have to say, why would anyone want to get Guy Fieri? The boredom is profound.)

As Bourdain’s career grew, the truths he was positioned to tell grew, too. He was never able to shake off his association with the now pedestrian revelations of “Kitchen Confidential”—the cook’s antipathy toward brunch, the daily special as a dumping ground for leftover ingredients, the questionable integrity of Monday’s fish. But his Food Network show, “A Cook’s Tour,” his Travel Channel show, “No Reservations,” and his CNN show, “Parts Unknown” (which remains in production; at the time of his death, Bourdain was filming in France for the show’s twelfth season), allowed him to acknowledge that the point of his journeys—and of sharing them with his massive, ever-growing audience—was not a gastronomic fluency but a broader cultural one. In what is likely the most famous episode of “Parts Unknown,” Bourdain sat on low plastic stools at an unadorned noodle shop in Hanoi, Vietnam, eating bún chả with Barack Obama—at the time a sitting President. The meeting, which Patrick Radden Keefe chronicled in a Profile for the magazine, was momentous for both men—both had grown up in the shadow of the Vietnam War, and that conflict, its long shadow, and its human costs suffused the hour-long episode. Bourdain ended the episode on a brutal note, with an infamous quote from William Westmoreland, the commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, a reminder of America’s racist dehumanization of the culture we at home had just spent an hour celebrating.

That’s why Parts Unknown was interesting, certainly – there was cooking and eating but there was also exploration of various kinds. And there was appreciation…I think the reason I got to like Bourdain as a person (as opposed to a shadow on tv) was because of the respect and gratitude he expressed toward the people doing the cooking, who were often ancient peasant women.

A year and a half ago, just after the Presidential election, I interviewed Bourdain for a profile in Eater, where I was an editor at the time. We sat for a few hours at a yakitori restaurant in midtown, eating chicken hearts and drinking beer. The Rome episode of “Parts Unknown” had just aired, and, as we settled into our conversation, I jokingly mentioned his obvious crush on the Italian actor and filmmaker Asia Argento, who had been featured in the episode. At the mention of her name, Bourdain’s large, tanned hand swept over the microphone of the recorder. “What do you mean, my crush on Asia?” he said, and I laughed, telling him his puppy-dog eyes were in every frame—not to mention his Twitter posts about the episode, which fairly breathed with infatuation. He took his phone out and scrolled through his recent tweets, asking me to point out specific evidence. “We’re trying to keep it under wraps,” he said.

Toward the end of that conversation—which had jumped around from the global rise of the far right to the responsibilities of celebrity to the frustrating futility of protest—I asked him, point blank, if he considered himself a feminist. His answer was long and circuitous, what I’d come to think of as classic Bourdain: more of a story than a statement, eminently quotable, never quite landing on the reveal. He talked about his sympathy for the plight of women and gay men, his formative years as a student at Vassar, his forceful resentment of the “bro food” movement with which he remained entwined, and his unwavering support for reproductive rights. “I don’t know if that makes me a feminist,” he said. “It makes me a New Yorker. Doesn’t it?”

In October of that year, Ronan Farrow published a story in The New Yorker detailing multiple women’s allegations of sexual harassment and assault by Harvey Weinstein. Asia Argento was a central figure in that story, detailing the effect that Weinstein’s predation had on her creative and personal life. Bourdain, whose public identity had been built for decades on a focussed, auteurish individualism, seemed to find in his relationship with Argento a transformative creative and political partnership. She consulted on “Parts Unknown” and stepped in to direct a recent episode set in Hong Kong. In turn, Bourdain’s sterling credentials as a man’s man and a taker of no guff served as a bolster of the #MeToo movement at large. His unwavering support of Argento—as well as his ardent rejection of so much as a quantum of sympathy for famous chefs accused of transgression—brought him a new sort of celebrity as an activist, a revered elder statesman, an overt and uncompromising figure of moral authority.

The last time I saw Bourdain was a few months ago, at a party in New York, for one of the books released by his imprint at the publishing house Ecco—of his many projects, his late-career role as a media rainmaker was one he assumed with an almost boyish delight. At the bar, where I’d just picked up my drink, he came up and clapped me on the shoulder. “Remember when you asked me if I was a feminist, and I was afraid to say yes?” he said, in that growling, companionable voice. “Write this down: I’m a fuckin’ feminist.”

I wish we could drag him back.



Get ready for that boot

Jun 9th, 2018 12:34 pm | By

Tritler wants to lay waste to all the rules, throw out all the treaties and accords, tear up all the agreements, pull the US out of all the deals. He wants to break everything, so that he can make his mark, and also so that he can make America safe for crooks and thugs like him.

As he pursues his America First agenda, Mr. Trump has driven a wedge between the United States and its allies by imposing aggressive tariffs, abandoning the Paris climate change accord and pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal that the Western democracies negotiated along with President Barack Obama.

And with no warning on Friday, Mr. Trump deepened that rift by directly challenging the 2014 Hague Declaration and calling for Russia to be reinstated as a member of the world’s most elite group of nations without insisting on any of the conditions the West has demanded in terms of ending its intervention in Ukraine.

On Saturday, pressed on the issue at a news conference, Mr. Trump made clear his belief that Russia’s actions in Crimea should not stand in the way. “It’s been done a long time,” he said. “I would rather see Russia in the G-8, as opposed to the G-7. I would say that the G-8 is a more meaningful group than the G-7, absolutely.”

Remember what he said yesterday to reporters on his way to the helicopter? “Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run. And in the G7, it used to be the G8, they threw Russia out, they should let Russia come back in.” It may not be politically correct but – he’s saying international norms and rules are mere political correctness. He’s saying there shouldn’t be any international norms and rules, there should be only force. He’s nullifying all morality by belittling it as political correctness, something for losers in sandals to talk about over their Starbucks lattes. There is no morality, there is only power. A boot stamping on a human face forever, as Orwell put it.



Really, really bad

Jun 9th, 2018 11:22 am | By

Tritler goes full crazy.

President Trump said on Saturday that he had brought up with America’s closest allies the dramatic prospect of completely eliminating tariffs on goods and services, even as he threatened to end all trade with his counterparts if they didn’t stop what he said were unfair trade practices.

Speaking to reporters at the end of a contentious weekend meeting of the Group of 7 nations in a resort town outside of Quebec City, Mr. Trump said that eliminating all trading barriers would be “the ultimate thing.” But he railed about what he called “ridiculous and unacceptable” tariffs on American goods and vowed to get rid of them.

“It’s going to stop. Or we’ll stop trading with them. And that’s a very profitable answer, if we have to do it,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “We’re like the piggy bank that everybody’s robbing, and that ends.”

Paul Krugman says those tariffs DON’T EXIST.

Mr. Trump’s comments came during a wide-ranging news conference as he prepared to depart for a summit meeting in Singapore with Kim Jong-un, the reclusive leader of North Korea. Mr. Trump said he would know within the first minute of his face-to-face meeting whether Mr. Kim was serious about eliminating his nuclear weapons and attempting to make peace with the world.

“Just my touch, my feel. That’s what I do,” Mr. Trump said. “You know, the way they say you know if you’re going to like somebody in the first five seconds. Did you ever hear that one? Well, I think that very quickly I’ll know whether or not something good is going to happen.”

Oh godddddddd he’s so stupid. He can’t know any such thing at a glance, and a guy who’s stupid enough to think he can and act on it should not be anywhere near government. He’s perfectly capable of instantly deciding he loves Kim and giving away the store while getting nothing in return. It’s pretty obvious that he’s already decided that and is using the Magic Glance bullshit as cover.

In his remarks to questions on Saturday, Mr. Trump repeatedly insisted that the private discussions with his counterparts had been positive, saying that “the relationship that I’ve had with the people, the leaders of these countries has been — I would really rate it on the scale of zero to 10, I would rate it a 10.”

Or on a scale of zero to seventy leventy trillion, he would rate it a seventy leventy trillion, because he’s just that good.

Mr. Trump said some of the other leaders he met with during the Group of 7 summit appeared to admit that their trade arrangements with the United States were unfair.

“A lot of these countries actually smile at me when I’m talking,” he said. “And the smile is, ‘we couldn’t believe we got away with it.’ That’s the smile.”

No, Don, that’s not the smile. The smile is of awed contempt.



I won’t I won’t I won’t!

Jun 9th, 2018 11:00 am | By



No rules in a knife fight

Jun 9th, 2018 10:57 am | By

Well you see it’s like this: it turns out the US doesn’t like rules. Rules are for sissies and Democrats and women, and we all hate all three. We like violence and force and power.

President Trump aggressively confronted America’s closest allies on Friday as they convened their annual summit meeting, calling for Russia’s readmission to the Group of 7 nations and refusing to ease his assault on the global trading system.

The response from the leaders of Europe, Canada and Japan was swift and angry. Most rejected the return of Russia, which was ousted from the diplomatic forum after President Vladimir V. Putin violated international norms by seizing parts of Ukraine in 2014. And they assailed Mr. Trump’s embrace of protectionism as illegal and insulting.

That’s why he likes it. No rules, no manners, just power and commands.

“The rules-based international order is being challenged, quite surprisingly, not by the usual suspects, but by its main architect and guarantor, the U.S.,” Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said as the summit meeting got underway in Quebec’s picturesque resort town of La Malbaie on the banks of the St. Lawrence River.

The trans-Atlantic rift manifested itself in a behind-the-scenes debate about the wording of the traditional summit communiqué. The American side objected to including the phrase “rules-based international order,” even though it is boilerplate for such statements, according to two people briefed on the deliberations. The Europeans and Canadians were pushing back, but it remained unclear whether the Trump administration would ultimately sign the statement or be left on its own.

Yes well it can’t be rules-based, you see, because that would hinder Trump in his desire to do whatever he fucking well feels like doing.



It was just a woman talking

Jun 9th, 2018 10:07 am | By

Trump is, of course, making himself as obnoxious as he possibly can at the G7 meeting.

A tardy Donald Trump created a distraction Saturday when he showed up late for a G7 meeting on women’s empowerment.

The U.S. president arrived several minutes after the start of the breakfast meeting between G7 leaders and the gender equality advisory council that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created for this year’s summit in the Charlevoix region of Quebec.

Hey – the meeting was on women’s empowerment. What’s he going to do, show up on time? Sit down and shut up and listen politely? Don’t be silly! He has nothing but contempt for women, so obviously he’s going to disrupt that meeting by turning up late.

Trump missed Trudeau’s introductory statement at the meeting and entered the room while council co-chair Isabelle Hudon, who is Canada’s ambassador to France, was speaking.

His arrival was impossible to miss as security personnel had to open a path for Trump through a mob of journalists, many of whom were holding large cameras.

Trump stopped at the edge of the room and flashed a big smile in Trudeau’s direction before continuing to his seat.

The rapid-fire clicks of cameras intensified as Trump made his way into the room — to the point that the noise of all the cameras almost drowned out Hudon’s remarks.

Job done. Point made. Woman drowned out by noisy pompous man.

Trump also pitched a fit at his colleagues last night.

Then, on Friday night, Trump essentially acting out his Twitter feed, ranted at his companions about how badly he believes the U.S. is being screwed on trade. Trump’s recent imposition of tariffs on Canada and the European Union on specious “national security” grounds have infuriated Canada and the European Union, who are increasingly realizing that Trump cannot be coaxed or flattered into rationality on that, or any other, issue. The rift between Trump and other leaders has gotten so bad that the group may forego its traditional, end-of-summit statement of joint purposes.

After the meeting, in hastily announced remarks to reporters, Trump contemplated cutting off trade with G7 countries altogether if they didn’t bend to his unreasonable demands, though he said his personal relationships with Angela Merkel, Macron, and Trudeau were all a “10.” He also reiterated his desire to see Russia admitted back into the delegation.

Trump then departed the summit early — missing the climate change portion of events, which he presumably cares about even less than the women’s empowerment breakfast — to jet off for Singapore, where he will sit down with a leader he currently appears to feel more kinship with than any leader of a liberal democracy: Kim Jong-un.

He likes dictators and tyrants; they’re his kind of people; he feels at home with them.