Notes and Comment Blog


Why can’t we just do it?

Jun 16th, 2018 11:16 am | By

Trump got bored as soon as he arrived in Singapore and wanted to rush the whole thing through so that he could kick back and watch tv.

After arriving in Singapore on Sunday, an antsy and bored Trump urged his aides to demand that the meeting with Kim be pushed up by a day — to Monday — and had to be talked out of altering the long-planned and carefully negotiated summit date on the fly, according to two people familiar with preparations for the event.

“We’re here now,” the president said, according to the people. “Why can’t we just do it?”

Trump’s impatience, coupled with a tense staff-level meeting between the two sides on Sunday, left some aides fearful that the entire summit might be in peril.

Because what, before that they were confident it would be a walk in the park?

At one point, after watching North Korean television, which is entirely state-run, the president talked about how positive the female North Korean news anchor was toward Kim, according to two people familiar with his remarks. He joked that even the administration-friendly Fox News was not as lavish in its praise as the state TV anchor, one of the people added, and that maybe she should get a job on U.S. television, instead.

At another point, Trump marveled at how “tough” the North Korean guards seemed, noting that they were always stone-faced and refused to shake hands, the two people said.

He was jealous. He wants to look tough like that – that’s what he’s going for with the scowl and the pout, but because he’s so absurd-looking, they don’t work.

Image result for north korean guards

Image result for trump scowling

No.

In a news conference Tuesday before departing Singapore, Trump hinted at his dreams of real estate diplomacy, noting that he had played Kim a video — derided by some as more akin to North Korean propaganda than the work of the president’s National Security Council — to show him the possibilities of a deal with the West.

“As an example, they have great beaches,” Trump said. “You see that whenever they’re exploding their cannons into the ocean, right? I said, ‘Boy, look at the view. Wouldn’t that make a great condo behind?’ ”

The president continued: “You could have the best hotels in the world right there. Think of it from a real estate perspective.”

And you’d get to be the only guest, too.



He neglected to await repeal

Jun 16th, 2018 10:41 am | By

Oopsie.

 

Most ominous for Trump is the attorney general’s conclusion that “Mr. Trump’s wrongful use of the Foundation to benefit his Campaign was willful and knowing.” It is ironic, and highly damaging to Trump, that he made an issue in his campaign about the federal prohibition on tax-exempt involvement in campaigns. He committed that he would act, if elected, to repeal it. It appears that he and his campaign neglected to await repeal and simply declined to comply with it. In any event, his stated awareness of the law, together with his repeated execution of tax forms for the Foundation “in which he attested that the Foundation … did not carry out political activity,” puts him at severe risk of “willful and knowing” liability. As “foundation managers” under the law, Trump and his children are exposed to personal liability if they gave knowing and willful consent to the charity’s illegal expenditures. They could face similar consequences—that is, personal liability—in the event, however unlikely, that the FEC takes meaningful enforcement action.

He conspicuously announced his dislike of the law he was breaking and planning to continue to break. Sloppy.

What emerges from the New York complaint’s account is something that has become increasingly familiar. Trump does what he wishes, acting all too often on impulse and without regard to rules or norms, and those around him are expected to do as he says. The result in this instance was, from a legal perspective, disastrous. And that is putting the matter charitably.

Maybe, eventually, that will catch up with him and this nightmare will end.

Or maybe not.



You don’t understand sarcasm

Jun 16th, 2018 9:07 am | By

Philip Rucker at the Post on Trump’s galloping case of dictator envy:

President Trump’s praise Friday for Kim Jong Un’s authoritarian rule in North Korea — and his apparent envy that people there “sit up at attention” when the 35-year-old dictator speaks — marked an escalation of the American president’s open embrace of totalitarian leaders around the world.

Reflecting on his impressions of Kim following their Singapore summit, Trump told Fox News: “He’s the head of a country, and I mean he’s the strong head. Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks, and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”

It was unclear whether Trump was referring to Americans generally or only to his staff. His interview took place along the West Wing driveway, and as the president talked about “my people,” he gestured toward the White House.

Later, when pressed by a CNN reporter about the comment, Trump claimed it had been a joke. “I’m kidding,” he said. “You don’t understand sarcasm.”

He probably was sort of “kidding” but that doesn’t mean he didn’t also mean it. It’s entirely possible to say things in a “kidding” way while also entirely meaning them. Trump does that all the time. It makes his endless barrage of insults and taunts sort of kind of deniable, but not really. His “base” will always claim they are “jokes” and the rest of us will know that kind of joke is not really a joke – if a joke is taken to be something we don’t really mean. Jokes can be both accurate and intended to draw a laugh, after all. Jokes about ugly people, foreigners, women, servants, Jews – they’re not less destructive or sadistic or hatred-inciting simply because they’re “jokes.”

During his visit to Singapore, Trump showered praise on Kim, calling him a “very talented man,” a “smart guy” and a “very good negotiator.” He also complimented Kim’s “great personality.”

Trump was more muted when it came to Kim’s record of human rights atrocities. The North Korean leader starves many of his citizens, sentences opponents to labor camps and executes people he perceives as threats to his power, including assassinating family members.

Asked at a news conference in Singapore how he could be comfortable calling a dictator with a murderous record “very talented,” Trump replied, “Well, he is very talented. Anybody that takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it and run it tough — I don’t say it was nice, or I don’t say anything about it. He ran it. Very few people at that age, you can take 1 out of 10,000, probably couldn’t do it.”

Trump’s posture is inconsistent with Republican orthodoxy. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted that while Trump was “trying to butter him up to get a good deal,” Kim “is NOT a talented guy. He inherited the family business from his dad & grandfather. He is a total weirdo who would not be elected assistant dogcatcher in any democracy.”

Oops. Awkward. Trump also inherited the family business from his father and grandfather.

Trump kept up his praise of Kim in an interview Friday with “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy. He noted that he gave Kim “a very direct number” and instructed him to “call me if he has any difficulties.”

“We have a really great relationship for the first time ever,” Trump said. “No president’s ever had this. So I get hit by these fakes back here” — he pointed dismissively to a group of journalists who were gathered behind him at the White House on the North Lawn driveway — “not all of them, some are phenomenal, but I get hit because I went there, I gave him credibility. I think it’s great to give him credibility.”

Yes, that’s our point. You think it’s great to give him credibility and we think it’s really really not.

Trump’s critics pointed to his salute of one of Kim’s generals — footage of which was released Thursday by North Korean state media in a documentary film about the summit — as evidence of the national security risks in his behavior.

The video captured a brief interaction that was not seen by U.S. journalists. A North Korean general saluted Trump, and the president saluted him in return. It is highly unusual for a U.S. president to return the salute of a foreign military officer. Some analysts said Kim’s government was likely to use the image in its propaganda campaigns as a victory for Pyongyang because it suggests the American commander in chief defers to the North Korean military.

Trump defended his salute in his Friday interview with Fox.

“I met a general,” he said. “He saluted me, and I saluted him back. I guess they’re using that as another sound bite. You know, I think I’m being respectful to the general.”

He thinks that because he knows nothing about it. He knows nothing about it because he didn’t trouble himself to learn anything about it. He refused to do any homework. He told us he didn’t need to, that preparing is a mistake; he told us he’d been preparing his whole life. I wish I were joking.



But everyone tried to be rational and calm

Jun 15th, 2018 5:27 pm | By

Further reporting on how vulgar, racist, crude, disgusting, and obnoxious Trump was at the G7 last week.

Trump told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe he’d be “out of office” if he had to deal with “25 million Mexicans,” and told French President Emmanuel Macron that “all the terrorists are in Paris,” The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Claiming that migration is a huge issue in Europe, he reportedly told Abe: “Shinzo, you don’t have this problem, but I can send you 25 million Mexicans and you’ll be out of office very soon,” a senior European Union official in the meeting in Quebec, told the Journal.

But Trump, who has followed up on his campaign promise to restrict immigration into the U.S., didn’t stop there.

During talks about terrorism and Iran, the U.S. president told Macron: “You must know about this, Emmanuel, because all the terrorists are in Paris,” the EU official said.

Irritation with Trump was in the air, “but everyone tried to be rational and calm,” added the official.

It sounds like everybody’s worst nightmare Christmas family get-together dinner when drunken mean angry racist shithead Uncle Don throws down half a bottle of gin and starts picking a fight with everyone at the table.

Trump seemed wary of coming off as isolated, people in the room told the newspaper, and apparently said, “Oh, well, then it’s five versus two,” when Abe expressed opposition in wording for a joint statement on addressing plastic waste.

Aw, diddums, did diddums feel left out? Well then maybe diddums shouldn’t be such a foul hate-filled belligerent fascist pig. Just a thought.



Masha Gessen bails on “Intellectual Dark Web” event

Jun 15th, 2018 4:54 pm | By

Not a headline you see every day:

Masha Gessen Quits ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ Panel After Accidentally Joining ‘Alt-Right Shitshow’

The organizers of a panel celebrating self-identified members of the Intellectual Dark Web—a very serious circle mostly consisting of men who REALLY don’t want you to call them alt-right—have persuaded a few real life intellectuals into joining them on stage for a “Day of Reflection” at Lincoln Center later this year.

New Yorker contributor and author Masha Gessen tells Gothamist she was shocked to learn last night that an event she’d agreed to speak at is actually an “alt-right shitshow,” hosted by racism-debunking podcaster David Rubin and focused on such illuminating questions as: “Has #MeToo Gone #TooFar?” “Can We Move Beyond Race?” and “Does Islam Pose A Unique Challenge To Modernity?”

I’d seen the poster for it, probably via Eiynah (Nice Mangos).

061418REASON.jpg

Soooo many usual suspects…along with, to be sure, some not so usual ones. Fareed Zakaria for instance is both a get and a wild card – he’s hardly part of the Twitter anti-SJW crowd.

“The way I learned about it is that I was at home watching a movie with my kids and I saw my Twitter feed go nuts, and strangers are [direct messaging] me asking, ‘Why the hell are you taking part in this?'” Gessen said. “There’s a lot of people who watch out for my ideological purity where I don’t think it’s appropriate, but I looked at this and was like ‘holy shit.’ So I immediately told my agent I was pulling out.”

Gessen notes that when she agreed to take part, she’d only been informed of the name of the #MeToo discussion, which “gave me pause, but I thought the lineup seemed really serious.” Information on the panel—distributed to Gessen’s agent through the event organizer Pangburn Philosophy—made it seem like she’d be appearing alongside other thoughtful woman, like NY Times investigative reporter Jodi Kantor. But immediately after she signed a contract, publicity materials went out showing a wholly different set of speakers, almost all of them far-right personalities and media provocateurs. (Plus CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria, who we’ve reached out to but not yet heard back from.)

Quite so. I daresay he’ll bail too.

“Pangburn Philosophy” of course has been throwing these “angry dude plus angry dude plus angry dude” events for awhile now. Sam Harris meets Jordan Peterson meets Peter Harris Jordanson; watch the sparks fly. Zzzzzzzz. Also as I’ve mentioned before, “Pangburn Philosophy” sounds very grand but it’s just some guy. He’s not a philosopher.

Those actually scheduled to speak at the event include Douglas Murray, who wants all immigrants out of Europe, and Sam Harris, who’s just asking questions about whether black people are genetically inferior to white people, as well as several known Islamophobes. A majority of the panelists were referenced in NY Times opinion editor Bari Weiss’s recent column about the “Intellectual Dark Web,” in which Weiss (who is also set to speak at the event) described the group as “iconoclastic thinkers, academic renegades and media personalities…purged from institutions that have become increasingly hostile to unorthodox thought.”

It’s interesting that Mister Pangburn is now trying to lure people in by keeping shtum about the nature of the events he sponsors.

Updating to add: Masha Gessen on how they got her to agree:

By misrepresenting the event is how they did it I am just seeing this now, and I am pulling out.



The tyrant addresses his people

Jun 15th, 2018 11:46 am | By

The Times reports Trump is drunk on his North Korea ??success?? and lashing out at everyone in sight.

President Trump went on offense on Friday with a withering series of attacks on the F.B.I., congressional Democrats, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Canada’s prime minister, football players, the media, the special counsel and other favorite targets even as he hailed his relations with the leaders of North Korea, China and Russia.

Let’s not forget the children of immigrants when we compile our list of people to attack. He must have gotten out of breath.

In his first extended comments on his meeting with Mr. Kim since returning to the United States, Mr. Trump hailed their agreement, enshrined in a vague 391-word statement that committed North Korea to “complete denuclearization.”

“I signed an agreement where we get everything, everything,” he said.

Although there is no concrete arrangement for how that would happen, when it would happen or who would verify that it happen, Mr. Trump dismissed such questions as details that will be worked out.

“I have solved that problem,” he told reporters. “Now, we’re getting it memorialized and all. But that problem is largely solved.”

That’s all it takes. You meet Kim, you unleash the power of the Miraculous Charisma, you exchange a few words, and that’s all there is to it. Magic! Problem solved.

He praised Mr. Kim, brushing aside questions about the repressive regime and gulags in North Korea. “Hey, he is the head of a country, and I mean he is the strong head,” Mr. Trump said. “Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”

His people sit up at attention because of the gulags and the poison in airports and all that there. Trump wishes he could do the same.

Mr. Trump confirmed that he wants to meet President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia this summer. Asked about Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which has been condemned by the rest of the world as an illegal aggression, Mr. Trump blamed not Mr. Putin for ordering it but Mr. Obama for letting it happen.

“President Obama lost Crimea,” Mr. Trump said. “Because Putin didn’t respect President Obama. President Obama lost Crimea because President Putin didn’t respect President Obama. Didn’t respect our country and didn’t respect Ukraine. President Obama, not Trump — when it’s my fault, I’ll tell you.”

Oh yes? The other day in Singapore he admitted if it turns out he’s wrong he’ll make an excuse.

Likewise, he faulted Democrats in Congress for the federal authorities’ separating children from parents trying to cross the border from Mexico.

“I hate the children being taken away,” he said. “The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law.”

Both houses of Congress are run by Republicans, who control whether legislation comes to the floor, but Mr. Trump said they could not act because it would require at least nine Democratic votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster. There seems no reason to assume, however, that Democrats would filibuster a bill barring the separation of families at the border, since they have already introduced such legislation with more than 30 Democratic co-sponsors.

Indeed, Mr. Trump made clear later in the day with a Twitter message that he would not support legislation on family separation unless it includes provisions that Democrats oppose, including full financing for his proposed border wall and a complete overhaul of the system of legal immigration to end policies allowing immigrants to sponsor relatives to come into the country.

Well right, so that proves Democrats are the problem. Heads he wins tails everyone else loses.

Over the course of the Fox interview and the subsequent conversation with White House reporters, Mr. Trump also returned to other frequent topics. He mocked National Football League players for protesting racism whey they are “making $15 million a year.”

He again assailed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada for rejecting new American tariffs after a summit meeting. “We’re all happy, and then he got up and started saying that he doesn’t want to be pushed around by the United States,” Mr. Trump said.

And he dismissed the importance of a misleading statement he dictated last year about a Trump Tower meeting with Russians during the 2016 campaign, a statement that his lawyer and spokeswoman at first denied he had dictated even though his legal team later admitted that he had. “It’s irrelevant,” Mr. Trump said. “That’s not a statement to a high tribunal of judges. That’s a statement to the phony New York Times.”

Yeah. This isn’t an incipient dictatorship, it’s just a dictatorship.



Hey

Jun 15th, 2018 11:32 am | By

The clip where he says it.



The underlying crime

Jun 15th, 2018 11:17 am | By

Virginia Heffernan reminds us:

The *underlying* crime is his profound complicity in the mass murder of civilians under Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine.

So let’s refresh our memories on that, with help from Luke Harding at the Guardian in April:

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort authorised a secret media operation on behalf of Ukraine’s former president featuring “black ops”, “placed” articles in the Wall Street Journal and US websites and anonymous briefings against Hillary Clinton.

The project was designed to boost the reputation of Ukraine’s then leader, Viktor Yanukovych. It was part of a multimillion-dollar lobbying effort carried out by Manafort on behalf of Yanukovych’s embattled government, emails and documents reveal.

The strategies included:

 Proposing to rewrite Wikipedia entries to smear a key opponent of the then Ukrainian president.

 Setting up a fake thinktank in Vienna to disseminate viewpoints supporting Yanukovych.

 A social media blitz “aimed at targeted audiences in Europe and the US”.

 Briefing journalists from the rightwing website Breitbart to attack Clinton when she was US secretary of state.

The same kind of thing, Harding points out, that Russia did to Clinton and for Trump in 2016. Maybe Manafort tutored them.

The documents reveal another surreptitious operation to influence international opinion. In 2010 Yanukovych defeated his rival Yulia Tymoshenko in presidential elections. The following summer Ukrainian prosecutors arrested Tymoshenko and put her on trial. This provoked severe criticism from the Obama administration and the EU, which accused Yanukovych of locking up Tymoshenko for political reasons.

Interesting that Trump kept talking about doing the same thing to Clinton, and continues to now.

In 2011 Manafort approved a clandestine strategy to discredit Tymoshenko abroad. Alan Friedman, a former Wall Street Journal and Financial Times reporter, based in Italy, masterminded this project. Friedman has previously been accused of concealing his work as a paid lobbyist.

Also involved were Rick Gates, Manafort’s then deputy, and Konstantin Kilimnik, another senior Manafort associate who the FBI believes has links to Russian military intelligence.

In July 2011 Friedman sent Manafort a confidential six-page document titled Ukraine – A Digital Roadmap. It laid out a plan to “deconstruct” Tymoshenko via videos, articles and social media. Yanukovych deferred to Manafort, who gave the project the go-ahead, sources in Ukraine’s former government say.

Friedman’s proposed operation was ambitious. It included producing anonymous videos attacking Tymoshenko and comparing the opposition leader to a drunk Boris Yeltsin. “The social media space offers great opportunities for guilt by association,” Friedman wrote in the document.

None of this is about reporting facts, it’s about making shit up in order to win.



A few hundred metres from home

Jun 15th, 2018 10:48 am | By

Another woman raped and murdered for daring to be outside at 10:30 p.m.

The body of Eurydice Dixon, 22, was found at a football field in Melbourne early on Wednesday, only hours after she had performed a gig at a city bar.

A man, 19, has been charged by police.

Comedians and the public have inundated social media with tributes to Ms Dixon, in a case that has reignited local debate about violence against women.

For many, it has evoked memories of the 2012 murder of an Irish woman, Jill Meagher, whose death in an adjacent Melbourne suburb prompted a peace march involving an estimated 30,000 people.

Although not widely known, Ms Dixon has been remembered as a talented comedian at the start of her career.

“She had a great passion for women’s issues and social justice issues and she drew upon them a lot in the material that she produced as a comic,” fellow comedian Nicky Barry told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Well she won’t be doing that any more.

Local media reported that Ms Dixon was a few hundred metres from home when she was attacked.

According to The Age newspaper, she had earlier sent a text message to a friend saying: “I’m almost home safe, HBU [how about you].”

Too bad Melbourne is so full of bears wolves tigers sharks rattlesnakes men who hate women.

Ms Dixon’s death has also renewed a more general discussion in Australia about violence against women.

Australia’s human rights commission has said that the country has “a disturbingly high rate of violence against women”.

According to government figures, one in five women, and one in 20 men, have experienced sexual violence or threats since the age of 15.

The other four women don’t go out alone.



What even are human rights?

Jun 15th, 2018 10:16 am | By

God damn. The big news of the moment is that Manafort is off to the slammer, but there’s another breaking item that’s horrifying: the US is going to quit the UN Human Rights Council.

Talks with the United States over how to reform the main U.N. rights body have failed to meet Washington’s demands, activists and diplomats say, suggesting that the Trump administration will quit the Geneva forum whose session opens on Monday.

A U.S. source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the withdrawal appeared to be “imminent” but had no details.

Diplomatic sources said it was not a question of if but of when the United States retreats from the Human Rights Council, which is holding a three-week session through July 6.

Why? Putative “anti-Israel bias.”

The forum, set up in 2006, has a permanent standing agenda item on suspected violations committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories, which Washington wants removed.

Washington says the Council is stacked with opponents of Israel and boycotted it for three years under President George W. Bush before rejoining under Barack Obama in 2009.

The 47-member forum last month voted to set up a probe into killings in Gaza and accused Israel of excessive use of force. The United States and Australia cast the only “no” votes. Israel’s ambassador in Geneva, Aviva Raz Shechter, castigated the Council for “spreading lies against Israel”.

Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un is a smart talented guy who makes his people sit right up when he talks.



When the door is closed, you can’t see anything at all

Jun 15th, 2018 9:38 am | By

Jefferson’s Monticello has been getting an update for several years, which included restoring Mulberry Row where Jefferson’s many slaves lived. Philip Kennicott at the Post starts with an arresting detail:

You cannot see Thomas Jefferson’s mansion, Monticello, from the small room burrowed into the ground along the south wing of his estate. When the door is closed, you can’t see anything at all, because it is a windowless room, with a low ceiling and damp walls. But this was, very likely, the room inhabited by Sally Hemings, the enslaved woman who bore six of Jefferson’s children, a woman about whom little is known, who lived her life as Jefferson’s property, was considered his concubine, was a source of scandal and a political liability, and yet who might be considered the first lady to the third president of the United States if that didn’t presume her relationship to Jefferson was voluntary.

The detail is the room. It was underground, and it was windowless. It was like a grave. It was under White Man’s beautiful posh house, and it was used for storing his sex slave. Jefferson owned a lot of books, a lot of bottles of expensive French wine, and a lot of people. He kept his very own on-demand vagina in a hole under his house.

Another fun fact: Sally Hemings was his wife’s half-sister, and thus of course his daughters’ half-aunt. They shared a grandfather. This was a commonplace in the slaveowning South, but it’s striking nonetheless.

On Saturday, Monticello will open the room to the public, with a small exhibition devoted to the life of Hemings and the Hemings family. Reclaiming this space, which previously had been used as a public restroom, marks the completion of a five-year plan called the Mountaintop Project, which has seen significant changes to the beloved estate of the founding father. Using archaeology and other evidence, Monticello curators have restored Mulberry Row, where enslaved people lived and labored, and made changes (including to the wallpaper, paint and furnishings) inside the mansion, restored the north and south wings, and opened the upstairs rooms to the public on special tours. But symbolically and emotionally, the restoration of the Hemings room is the heart of the new interpretation of Monticello, and it makes tangible a relationship that has been controversial since rumors of “Dusky Sally” became part of American political invective in the early 19th century.

“Our goal has been to get the stories back and get the landscape back, so people understand the proximity of Jefferson’s house to this community,” says Leslie Greene Bowman, president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and operates the historical site. “People used to think, ‘Oh, the slaves were down on the plantation.’ No, they were right here in the middle of it.”

To the extent that he was humane in his role as patriarch — “Was he a good master?” is still the most asked question, according to Monticello tour guides — it was because he conceived of Monticello as embodying an Enlightenment ideal of stewardship. When he encouraged leniency in the discipline of enslaved men, it was because severe punishment “would destroy their value” and “degrade them in their own eyes by the whip.” Rationality and efficiency were the governing ideas of the estate, just as they were the ideals for the larger governance of the nation. Sally Hemings’s room wasn’t in the line of sight from the stately rooms that Jefferson inhabited, and one senses that for Jefferson, the problem of slavery needed to be kept carefully out of sight when thinking about the future of the nation he had founded.

The wolf by the ear.

But, as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.
– Jefferson to John Holmes, (discussing slavery and the Missouri question), April 22, 1820

Meanwhile, keep them out of sight of the house.



He speaks and his people sit up at attention

Jun 15th, 2018 9:09 am | By

Trump wishes we would act more like the people of North Korea.

President Donald Trump on Friday defended his warm praise of Kim Jong Un, saying his newfound affinity for the North Korean dictator was making Americans safer.

At the same time, Trump expressed esteem for the forced deference North Koreans show for their leader and joked he wished “my people” would do the same.

Well you can say he “joked” but we all know he means it. He wants universal groveling adoration, and nothing less will satisfy.

Asked why he’s warmed to Kim, Trump insisted he was defusing a nuclear standoff.

“I don’t want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family,” he told reporters during an impromptu question-and-answer session at the White House.

“I want to have a good relationship with North Korea. I want to have a good relationship with many other countries,” Trump said. “We had great chemistry. He gave us a lot.”

Wait. If the explanation is “cozy up to them so that they won’t throw nukes at us” then why did he pull the US out of the Iran deal?

The remarks, which came three days after Trump met Kim in Singapore for an unprecedented and friendly summit, are likely to do little to allay concerns that Trump has shown too much regard for a brutal despot, one responsible for the death of at least one American and of countless North Koreans.

Pressed on that record, Trump demurred.

“I can’t speak to that,” he said. “I can only speak to the fact that we signed an incredible agreement.”

He can’t speak to that??? Why the fuck not? He feels no inhibitions about speaking to anything he feels like speaking to, so why can’t he speak to the realities of Kim’s despotism?

Since returning from his summit with Kim, Trump has referred to Kim as “funny,” “smart,” “very talented,” and someone who “loves his people.”

He’s also spoken with barely contained awe about the displays of reverence North Koreans are obligated to show toward their supreme leader.

“He’s the head of the country,” Trump said of Kim Friday during a live interview on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.” “And I mean he’s the strong head. Don’t let anyone think anything different.”

“He speaks and his people sit up at attention,” the President added. “I want my people to do the same.”

Ah, well maybe that’s why – he can’t speak to it (i.e. acknowledge and condemn it) because he thinks it’s a good thing. He can’t speak to it because he’s too busy envying it.

Kim has had 340 people executed in his first five years. (Counting his brother poisoned in the airport? Not clear.)

In June 2016, a top education official was executed by firing squad after he exercised a “bad attitude” at the country’s Supreme People’s Assembly. Kim’s defense minister was executed in May 2015 with an anti-aircraft gun at a Pyongyang military school, before an audience.

Trump would love to be able to do things like that.

(And I’m not joking or deliberately exaggerating. It doesn’t take much for people to love doing that. A situation in which it’s possible coupled with enough self-regard and brutality: done.)

His flippant talk on the subject is yet another disgrace we’ll never live down.



An Orgy of Logic and Reason

Jun 15th, 2018 8:40 am | By

Oh hooray another conference! Nice Mangos presents:



But

Jun 14th, 2018 5:39 pm | By

It turns out that James Comey used a private server for some of his FBI email.

Image result for but her emails



Paul said do what you’re told

Jun 14th, 2018 5:10 pm | By

Sessions says it’s “Biblical” to treat migrants like criminals.

That’s a worthless attempt at justification, of course, because the bible says a lot of things and many of them are evil (and many of them contradict each other). It’s also insulting, because Trump himself is a serial criminal, in far more destructive ways than most immigrants, let alone their children.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the Bible on Thursday in defending the Trump administration’s immigration policies — especially those that result in the separation of families — directing his remarks in particular to “church friends.”

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent, fair application of law is in itself a good and moral thing and that protects the weak, it protects the lawful. Our policies that can result in short-term separation of families are not unusual or unjustified.”

Then what’s he doing working for Trump?



Not a joke

Jun 14th, 2018 4:37 pm | By



I confess that I don’t understand the risks

Jun 14th, 2018 2:21 pm | By

From a comment on a guest post at Daily Nous, “When Tables Speak”: On the Existence of Trans Philosophy by Talia Mae Bettcher (who is a trans woman):

TMB suggests that trans people “find these same erasures and invalidations perpetuated within a philosophical context,” referring to being abused, assaulted, and stripped. But those things do not happen within philosophical contexts, or in any case asking whether trans women are women is not doing these things. She continues: “To invite me to a philosophical forum in which I prove my womanhood is to do something far different from inviting me to share my views on mathematical Platonism. Do you understand the risks?” I confess that I don’t understand the risks. What are they? I’d be very surprised to hear that inviting trans women to philosophical fora where they prove their womanhood has a lot of causal impact on the abuse, assault, etc. that trans women suffer outside of philosophical fora. I’d be even more surprised to hear that any causal link had been established by empirical inquiry.

That’s what I was saying (over and over again) on that post last week about (ironically, or inevitably, or both) the misogyny of the response to women trying to talk about what we mean by “identify as” and similar jargon. It’s both funny and disgusting that the basic point was “we can’t even discuss this without getting shouted at and bullied, which makes it hard even to discuss it” and that it instantly sparked comment after comment full of shouting and bullying and subject changing and accusation, as if to underline the very point I was making. And it all started with, basically, DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE RISKS?

The risks of writing about it on a blog? No, I don’t understand those risks, because I don’t believe they exist. I think saying that is saying “shut up or else.” Nothing more.



Heated exchanges

Jun 14th, 2018 1:13 pm | By

Politico has more:

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders engaged in heated exchanges with multiple reporters on Thursday over the administration’s controversial policy of separating migrant families at the border.

“Don’t you have any empathy?” Brian Karem, the White House reporter for Playboy, asked at the press briefing Thursday afternoon. “You’re a parent of young children.”

Sanders blamed the practice on Democrats, saying the party refuses to “come to the table” and find a larger immigration solution.

As Walter Shaub points out, that makes no sense: the Democrats are in the minority.

CNN reporter Jim Acosta also pressed Sanders on the family separation policy, which has increasingly garnered national attention with critics calling it cruel to immigrants, many of whom are seeking asylum.

“It’s a policy to take children away from their parents,” Acosta said. “Can you imagine the horror these children must be going to, when they come across the border, they’re with their parents and suddenly they’re pulled away from their parents? Why is government doing this?”

“Because it’s the law,” Sanders said. “It doesn’t have to be the law. The president has called on Democrats in Congress to fix those loopholes. The Democrats have failed to come to the table, failed to help this president close these loopholes and fix this problem. We don’t want this to be a problem. The president has tried to address it on a number of occasions, we’ve laid out a proposal and Democrats simply refuse to do their job.”

But it’s the Republicans who are in the majority in both houses.

She lies like a rug.



Disgrace

Jun 14th, 2018 12:18 pm | By

Reporter Jacob Soboroff has a viral Twitter thread about his visit with other reporters to a facility holding (i.e. imprisoning) boys from immigrant families in Texas.

That eloquent quote? Sebastian Murdock at Huffington Post found the source:

At a facility in Texas holding more than 1,400 immigrant children, a mural of Trump stares them in the face. His featured quote, “Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war,” is from his book “Art of the Deal” and is in reference to his failed attempt to evict tenants from their homes in 1985.

Damn. Immigrant children forcibly taken from their parents and imprisoned by Trump’s people on Trump’s orders are greeted by a bleak aphorism about his failed effort to evict people from his crappy racially-exclusive apartments more than thirty years ago. Daaaaaamn.

The HP summarizes:

At a Texas facility holding nearly 1,500 migrant children, a mural of President Donald Trump with a quote about his past attempt to evict New York tenants greets the children detained there.

On Wednesday, MSNBC reporter Jacob Soboroff joined other reporters in a tour of the Brownsville facility, which detains up to 1,500 boys, ages 10 to 17, who have been separated from their parents by the U.S. government. In the building ― an old Walmart ― administrators give children two hours of outdoor time, provide them with limited space within the facility and instruct them to go to bed at 9 p.m.

Some of Soboroff’s tweets:

Trump is getting his revenge on those tenants who refused to be evicted.



Vladdy told me so

Jun 14th, 2018 11:38 am | By

Buzzfeed’s Alberto Nardelli and Julia Ioffe report:

President Donald Trump told G7 leaders that Crimea is Russian because everyone who lives there speaks Russian, according to two diplomatic sources.

Trump made the remarks over dinner last Friday during a discussion on foreign affairs at the G7 summit in Quebec, Canada, one of the diplomats told BuzzFeed News.

Russia invaded and then annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, leading to widespread international condemnation and sanctions. It also directly led to Russia being kicked out of the then-G8. Russian President Vladimir Putin defended Russia’s intervention in Crimea at the time saying that he had the right to protect Russian citizens and Russian speakers in Ukraine.

Well, Putin says he and Trump chat on the phone regularly, so no doubt Trump gets his deep knowledge of what language people speak in Ukraine from the Pu-man himself – you know, the guy who annexed Ukraine and got Russia kicked out of the then-G8 as a result.