Notes and Comment Blog


Dinesh needs a better map

Sep 22nd, 2019 4:01 pm | By

Dinesh D’Souza being…well, Dinesh D’Souza.

Children—notably Nordic white girls with braids and red cheeks—were often used in Nazi propaganda. An old Goebbels technique! Looks like today’s progressive Left is still learning its game from an earlier Left in the 1930s

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Left. In the 1930s. Goebbels.

The Nazis were not “the Left.” Not then and not at any time. They killed every communist and socialist they could get their hands on. The left in the 30s was socialist or communist or somewhere between the two, and it was anti-fascist when most people were ignoring the whole subject. The Communist Party did stab all that in the back when Stalin signed the pact with Hitler and CP policy reversed itself overnight, but that doesn’t make Nazism “the Left.”

Dinesh D’Souza is a toe rag.



His full and alarming incoherence

Sep 22nd, 2019 3:43 pm | By

Australian journalist sees Trump press conference for the first time, is taken aback by how much stupider he sounds than the press has reported. I know how she feels, even though I’ve listened to him babble extempore many times – he keeps surprising me even though I already know. He’s that bad.

But watching a full presidential Trump press conference while visiting the US this week I realised how much the reporting of Trump necessarily edits and parses his words, to force it into sequential paragraphs or impose meaning where it is difficult to detect.

That but also he sounds and looks so much more cracked than even a fully accurate transcript can convey, because of all the head-twitching and lips-funneling and smirking and other live-action habits.

The press conference I tuned into by chance from my New York hotel room was held in Otay Mesa, California, and concerned a renovated section of the wall on the Mexican border.

I joined as the president was explaining at length how powerful the concrete was. Very powerful, it turns out. It was unlike any wall ever built, incorporating the most advanced “concrete technology”. It was so exceptional that would-be wall-builders from three unnamed countries had visited to learn from it.

See? She’s summarizing too, and the mere words can’t convey the mannerisms and grotesqueries that go along with them.

The wall went very deep and could not be burrowed under. Prototypes had been tested by 20 “world-class mountain climbers – That’s all they do, they love to climb mountains”, who had been unable to scale it.

It was also “wired, so that we will know if somebody is trying to break through”, although one of the attending officials declined a presidential invitation to discuss this wiring further, saying, “Sir, there could be some merit in not discussing it”, which the president said was a “very good answer”.

The wall was “amazing”, “world class”, “virtually impenetrable” and also “a good, strong rust colour” that could later be painted. It was designed to absorb heat, so it was “hot enough to fry an egg on”. There were no eggs to hand, but the president did sign his name on it and spoke for so long the TV feed eventually cut away, promising to return if news was ever made.

The words alone don’t do it. The man in all his crazy and idiotic is the only thing that can.

In writing about this not-especially-important or unusual press conference I’ve run into what US reporters must encounter every day. I’ve edited skittering, half-finished sentences to present them in some kind of consequential order and repeated remarks that made little sense.

Yep. What I’m saying. He has to be seen and heard to be believed.

I’ve read so many stories about his bluster and boasting and ill-founded attacks, I’ve listened to speeches and hours of analysis, and yet I was still taken back by just how disjointed and meandering the unedited president could sound…

I’d understood the dilemma of normalising Trump’s ideas and policies – the racism, misogyny and demonisation of the free press. But watching just one press conference from Otay Mesa helped me understand how the process of reporting about this president can mask and normalise his full and alarming incoherence.

We know. We know.



WHY lord WHY

Sep 22nd, 2019 11:53 am | By
WHY lord WHY

Hmm.

[I removed the image; see comments]

Tiffany @catgirlsister asks

WHY are cis lesbians so transphobic

and adds

pls tell me I won’t be alone forever

Maybe it’s mean to make fun of what Tiffany says…but then again women who are accused of being “transphobic” or “cis” or lesbians or all three are subject to quite a lot of meanness themselves, often set off by people like Tiffany saying things like the things Tiffany said in those tweets.

So I’ll point at what Tiffany says, and ask why Tiffany feels entitled to demand that lesbians do something to prevent him from being alone forever. Why is that lesbians’ job? Why is it lesbians’ fault that Tiffany is alone? Why isn’t Tiffany hooking up with other trans lesbians? Surely it can’t be because Tiffany is transphobic…can it?

A separate tweet:

“Tiffany” tried [to] walk into a lesbian support group but chickened out. Tiffany wants to cry. Tiffany is the real victim here, not the lesbians who just want some fucking space.

[I removed the image; see comments]

Tiffany apparently thinks lesbians ought to welcome him as a lesbian without even looking at him as he walks in the door.

Honestly I think Tiffany would feel more at home around Trumpys than around lesbians.



How many inappropriate things he says with the whole world listening

Sep 22nd, 2019 10:50 am | By

The Post yesterday:

It is no secret that Trump and his attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, have been pressuring Ukraine to open a corruption investigation into Democratic front-runner Joe Biden. Their contention is that Biden, as vice president, encouraged the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor because he was probing a company that employed Biden’s son. Numerous journalists have shown that this accusation is bogus. The prosecutor was notoriously lax in pursuing corruption cases. So rather than fomenting corruption, Biden was fighting it. Trump and Giuliani have been acting in a highly improper fashion to induce a foreign government to lie on Trump’s behalf.

Notice how filthy this is. Biden and Obama were leaning on Ukraine to get corruption out of its justice system. A corrupt justice system benefits rich crooks, and no one else. Making a justice system non-corrupt is a good thing, not a bad thing. Trump and Giuliani see this and, instead of thinking “a good move for the people of Ukraine,” they think “we can flip this to smear Biden.” What kind of people think that and then go on to do it? People like Trump and Giuliani – and, apparently, Trump and Giuliani themselves. It’s filthy. Not content with corrupting everything in the US, they want to spread the corruption to the rest of the world, so that they can have more power and money and corruption.

Filthy.

On Sept. 5, The Post’s editorial page reported that Trump had put a hold on $250 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine to force Zelensky to launch a probe of Biden. Several congressional committees are now investigating this explosive accusation for which there is considerable circumstantial evidence.

Kiev’s own readout of the call between Zelensky and Trump says that Trump urged Ukraine to “complete investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.”…

Oddly enough, just as Congress began looking into these allegations last week, the White House finally released its hold on the $250 million for Ukraine.

Oh gee, I wonder why.

Trump’s defense — that he would not “say anything inappropriate with a foreign leader” knowing that others were listening in — is unconvincing, given how many inappropriate things he says with the whole world listening.

I’ve been thinking about that one. It’s an absurd defense, because he has no idea what’s inappropriate. None. Nearly everything he says is inappropriate. He has said thousands of inappropriate things on Twitter, knowing that others were listening in; of course he would do the same (and has) when talking to a head of state. He shoved the prime minister of Montenegro aside knowing that cameras were running; he has no clue how to behave or what not to say.

Trump has already won an election once with foreign help. If he is now misusing his office to force a foreign leader to help him in 2020, the House would be compelled to impeach, even if the Senate wouldn’t convict, simply to show that Trump is not a king who can violate the law with impunity.

Compelled how, though? Compelled by what or whom? It’s a very boneless, non-specific claim, especially when we the people have been yelling for impeachment until we are hoarse and cranky, and nothing ever happens. I think this idea of agentless “compulsion” is magical thinking.

I’d love to be wrong though.



Morning centaur

Sep 22nd, 2019 9:59 am | By

Just confirming that he really does stand funny.

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The knees are locked, the butt sticks out, the torso tilts, the hands dangle, the jacket flaps.

Via reporter Jennifer Jacobs.



No cars? We’ll show them!

Sep 22nd, 2019 9:21 am | By

Typical Trumpy behavior – if there’s an island that had had a ban on motorized vehicles since 1898, why, what’s there to do but go to that island with 8 SUVs and parade around in them.

Vice President Mike Pence arrived at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in an eight-vehicle motorcade Saturday, prompting cries of “sacrilege” on social media.

Cars are generally banned on the island, and that century-old ban is integral to its charm.

When President Gerald Ford visited the island in 1975 — the only sitting president to make such a visit — he and first lady Betty Ford traveled by horse-drawn carriage.

Pence, who spoke at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, is the first sitting vice president to visit the island. He traveled to and from the airport with a cluster of monster SUVs shipped to the island Friday night.

It was the first-ever motorcade on Mackinac .

Who but a Trumpy would want such a first-ever?



With largely corruption

Sep 22nd, 2019 8:57 am | By

Trump this morning gave an eloquent defense of his phone call with the president of Ukraine:

While Democrats stepped up calls for impeachment, President Donald Trump directly acknowledged Sunday that he spoke with the president of Ukraine about an investigation into political opponent Joe Biden, but called the talk appropriate.

Speaking with reporters en route to a trip to Texas and Ohio, Trump said: “The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, with largely corruption – all of the corruption taking place – and largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine.”

His brain is like a broken record. The word “largely” gets into it somehow and then it gets stuck, and he can’t stop saying it. And he can’t find the word “contributing” when he wants it so he swaps in “creating.”

He described the call as “absolutely perfect.”

It’s odd the way he keeps telling us how “beautiful” his talks with heads of state are. It’s very odd, and seems like classic protesting too much. Why do people protest too much? Because they’re worried or afraid or insecure about the X they’re protesting too much about. What’s Trump insecure about? This whole business of talking to heads of state – of pretending to be a grownup and a normal functioning professional when in reality he’s a child and a bizarre incompetent amateur. He keeps bragging about the talks because he wants us to think he aced this difficult task of faking the Head of State on the Phone act. It’s no good though – we know he didn’t because we know he’s incapable of it.

The plans for Trump’s day out are almost as bizarre.

Trump spoke before a day of travel to Texas and Ohio in the company of foreign leaders.

First comes a visit to Houston for an event with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be held at the city’s pro football stadium. The administration is billing the Texas event – dubbed “Howdy, Modi!” – as the largest gathering ever for a foreign leader (except for the Pope).

And…why? Modi is dreadful. He’s a Hindu nationalist, which is no more benign than being a Christian nationalist or an Islamist. Theocracy is a bad thing, and Modi is a theocrat. Why is Trump giving him the Top Dog treatment? Hell if I know.



Scruple-free

Sep 21st, 2019 5:40 pm | By

But don’t worry, the Ivankas are still enjoying their White House Years.

When in Rome …

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Updating to add Alfalfa:

Image result for alfalfa our gang



The man used his high office to solicit foreign election interference

Sep 21st, 2019 4:44 pm | By

Tensions rising.

Trump:

“It appears that an American spy in one of our intelligence agencies may have been spying on our own president. The complaint suggests that this intel agent was listening in on Trump’s conversation….….with a foreign leader. Was this person officially asked to listen to the conversation or was he or she secretly listening in?” @GreggJarrett

Joyce Vance:

I think we can feel sure that a whistleblower would not make a report unless he or she had legitimately accessed the information in question. This is ridiculous.

Martina Navratilova:

Just shut up already, this person is, unlike you, a patriot.

Neal Katyal:

This switch in strategy away from denial may mean Trump finally read something, the transcript of the call. Also …. isn’t this the same guy who 2 days ago denied the story because he knows his calls with foreign leaders are “heavily populated”? Now he’s saying the call wasn’t?

Walter Shaub:

Seems clear he extorted them, likely even offered a quid pro quo. But it’s not necessary to show he extorted them or offered a quid pro quo. The man used his high office to solicit foreign election interference. If that’s not enough, let’s drop the pretense of being a republic.

Bill Kristol:

Trump’s been tweeting away, attacking Joe Biden and our intelligence officials. But to my knowledge he hasn’t once denied that he repeatedly demanded of the president of Ukraine that he investigate Hunter Biden.



Body language

Sep 21st, 2019 12:13 pm | By

Speaking of “Charlotte” Clymer

“Before, I used to get a lot of women accusing me of ‘mansplaining’ stuff to them, but if they say that to me now I can get them fired.”

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Remind us of how fragile and vulnerable Clymer is, because at the moment I just can’t seem to see it.



If not now when

Sep 21st, 2019 11:54 am | By

Eric Swalwell yesterday:

Here’s the deal: don’t fall for the “if there was quid pro quo” trap. If @realDonaldTrump
told a foreign government to investigate his opponent that’s it. Game. Set. Match. He has committed a crime. If he’s innocent, he’ll release the tapes. #ReleaseTheTapes

But is it though? Is it Game. Set. Match? How? When, by what process, how? What new mechanism will come into play now that hasn’t before? Republicans will vote to impeach? Of course not. So, what then?

It should be, of course, but then so should a long list of other outrages (which is not to say this isn’t the worst outrage). Should be but never was, because oh what do you know, it turns out we don’t have any effective mechanisms at all for getting rid of a wholly evil and uncontrollable president if the president’s party also controls the Senate.

Oops.

Tom Nichols

The president of the United States reportedly sought the help of a foreign government against an American citizen who might challenge him for his office. This is the single most important revelation in a scoop by The Wall Street Journal, and if it is true, then President Donald Trump should be impeached and removed from office immediately.

Until now, there was room for reasonable disagreement over impeachment as both a matter of politics and a matter of tactics. The Mueller report revealed despicably unpatriotic behavior by Trump and his minions, but it did not trigger a political judgment with a majority of Americans that it warranted impeachment. The Democrats, for their part, remained unwilling to risk their new majority in Congress on a move destined to fail in a Republican-controlled Senate.

But what difference would it have made if it had triggered a political judgment with a majority of Americans that it warranted impeachment? The Senate would still be free to ignore it.

Now, however, we face an entirely new situation. In a call to the new president of Ukraine, Trump reportedly attempted to pressure the leader of a sovereign state into conducting an investigation—a witch hunt, one might call it—of a U.S. citizen, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden.

Yes, it’s gruesome, but the Republicans will just wrap themselves in Fox robes and say it’s all the Democrats’ fault and Trump will carry on regardless, doing even worse things.

If this in itself is not impeachable, then the concept has no meaning. Trump’s grubby commandeering of the presidency’s fearsome and nearly uncheckable powers in foreign policy for his own ends is a gross abuse of power and an affront both to our constitutional order and to the integrity of our elections.

Yes indeed, but we’ve been learning that the concept does in fact have no meaning if the president’s party is in control.

The story may even be worse than we know. If Trump tried to use military aid to Ukraine as leverage, as reporters are now investigating, then he held Ukrainian and American security hostage to his political vendettas.

No, it’s worse than that. It’s not about vendettas. (Nichols quoted a Ukrainian official saying Trump did it in revenge for his friend Manafort, which I think is ludicrous – Trump doesn’t care about Manafort, he doesn’t care about anyone but Trump.) It’s about breaking the knees of the guy he perceives to be his biggest threat in the next election. It’s about Trump holding Ukrainian and American security hostage to his determination to stay president whatever it takes.

Let us try, as we always find ourselves doing in the age of Trump, to think about how Americans might react if this happened in any other administration. Imagine, for example, if Bill Clinton had called his friend, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, in 1996, and asked him to investigate Bob Dole. Or if George W. Bush had called, say, President Vicente Fox of Mexico in 2004 and asked him—indeed, asked him eight times, according to TheWall Street Journal—to open a case against John Kerry. Clinton, of course, was eventually impeached for far less than that. Is there any doubt that either man would have been put on trial in the Senate, and likely chased from office?

Yes. The doubt all hinges on which party was in the majority in the Senate.

I am speaking only for myself as an American citizen. I believe in our Constitution, and therefore I must accept that Donald Trump is the president and the commander in chief until the Congress or the people of the United States say otherwise. But if this kind of dangerous, unhinged hijacking of the powers of the presidency is not enough for either the citizens or their elected leaders to demand Trump’s removal, then we no longer have an accountable executive branch, and we might as well just admit that we have chosen to elect a monarch and be done with the illusion of constitutional order in the United States.

I admitted that long ago – with rage, without a trace of resignation, but the fact of it, yes.



Living his best ponytail life

Sep 21st, 2019 9:23 am | By

One from the “stupid shit” file – the deep personal importance of The Pony Tail to a trans laydee.

It starts with a photo of an actual pony tail on the head of an actual woman, I guess so that we’ll know what “Charlotte” Clymer is talking about.

When I was in kindergarten—and very much in the closet as transgender—I had begun to crave a ponytail like the ones I saw on many of the girls in my class.

Five-year-old children are not “in the closet.”

I’m well aware that for many girls and women, the ponytail is a “bare minimum” style, often for lazy days, but the girls I saw in my class emulated the women I saw on television who were strong, confident, and successful.

Wut? Five-year-old girls emulated women who were strong, confident, and successful? No they didn’t, any more than little Clymer was deep in the closet. Those are adult terms. Also, the women little Clymer saw on television were strong, confident, and successful? What universe is that? We don’t get to see many strong, confident, and successful women on television now and I don’t recall more of them 25 years ago. The ones we do see tend to be on cable news and the like, which I doubt little Clymer was watching. His own story about himself sounds like complete bullshit, so how good can his understanding of women and sex and sex roles and stereotypes be?

Even at six, I knew better. I was raised in deeply conservative Texas, in a world with firmly cemented gender roles. I was a boy and I had better keep to “boy things.” The bouncy ponytail of my dreams? Not a boy thing.

Yes but here’s another aspect of that bouncy ponytail: it’s not enough to shape your life around.

But it seems Clymer is just too dim to grasp that fact.

In 1999, when I was 12, the U.S. Women’s National Team won their second World Cup, and Mia Hamm became a personal icon. For weeks I dreamed of what it would be like to have the freedom to sport a ponytail like Hamm’s. By then I was fully aware of a desire within me to be a girl, but I kept it buried in the back of my brain, suppressed whenever possible. Still, it sometimes crept up, summoned by the most mundane signifiers of femaleness. Mia Hamm was confident and beautiful and successful, and although I had no sense of what womanhood meant to me, I couldn’t help but feel that her hair represented all the things I was missing. I wanted an authentic life. I wanted to feel confident. I wanted a ponytail.

Confirmed. He has no clue. He confuses the trivia of personal grooming for “an authentic life.” Dude, a ponytail does not an authentic life make.

Then we get his journey, his struggles, his therapy, his coming out. Then we return to his hair. It was short. It took a long time to grow out. He kept fiddling with it, wishing it would hurry up.

I hadn’t tried putting my hair up in months when one evening in late July, I absentmindedly grabbed a hair tie off my shelf and made a go of it. After some awkward handling and smoothing of rogue strands, I adjusted the band high on the back of my head and turned toward the mirror. I don’t know how to adequately articulate the combination of happiness and relief I felt in that moment. It’s just hair, I thought. But then I glimpsed the waves, how the strands bundled together so beautifully. I couldn’t help it. I got emotional.

Maybe he couldn’t help getting emotional, but I tell you what he could help, and that’s writing about it in Glamour.

Imagine a white guy writing this kind of shit about getting corn rows. Nobody would publish it and if he did a blog post about it anyone who read it would heap scorn on him. But burbling about his journey to Womanhood and A Ponytail? Oh that’s brave and stunning and gets space in Glamour.

Image result for betty archie comics



Thumping the Ukraine theme

Sep 21st, 2019 8:49 am | By

Ed Pilkington at the Guardian wonders why the hell Giuliani is doing what he’s doing.

Giuliani began thumping the Ukraine theme in April, when he laid out his theory – some would say, conspiracy theory – on Fox News. He accused the former vice-president of using bribery to shield his son from legal peril relating to business activities in the eastern European country.

Specifically, Giuliani alleged that Biden leant on a former Ukraine president to fire a top prosecutor who had been investigating corruption within a gas company on whose board Hunter Biden then served.

A week after Joe Biden launched his presidential campaign, Giuliani blabbed to the New York Times that he had discussed the issue of the Bidens and Ukraine with Trump on “multiple occasions”. He also divulged that he planned to make a trip to Kiev to meet the Ukrainian president.

Under US law, it is categorically illegal for anybody to solicit the help of any foreign national – let alone a government – for a US election. Yet here was Giuliani blithely telling the same newspaper a week later his visit to Kiev was intended to kickstart an investigation into the Bidens that could be helpful in next year’s presidential race.

“There’s nothing illegal about it,” he told the Times. “Somebody could say it’s improper … That information will be very, very helpful to my client.”

Giuliani’s a lawyer – he’s a former prosecutor. He’s a former big name prosecutor in a big name district, and now his client is the US president. You’d think he’d be well familiar with the relevant laws.

Giuliani cancelled his Kiev trip. Instead, he travelled to Madrid in August, where he met a top Ukrainian official whom he “strongly urged” to reopen the investigation into the Bidens.

Perhaps most incendiary of all are suggestions Trump and Giuliani may have tried to encourage the Ukraine government to play ball by invoking US aid to the country.

It sounds like Bugs Bunny playing gangster – “Give us the doit on Biden and we’ll give you 250 million smackeroos.” It sounds like broad comedy but it’s real Giuliani.



We’re a free republic or we’re not

Sep 20th, 2019 5:45 pm | By

The Wall Street Journal on Trump and Ukraine:

President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden ’s son, according to people familiar with the matter, urging Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani on a probe that could hamper Mr. Trump’s potential 2020 opponent.

“He told him that he should work with [Mr. Giuliani] on Biden, and that people in Washington wanted to know” if his lawyer’s assertions that Mr. Biden acted improperly as vice president were true, one of the people said. Mr. Giuliani has suggested Mr. Biden’s pressure on Ukraine to fight corruption had to do with an investigation of a gas company for which his son was a director. A Ukrainian official this year said he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden or his son Hunter Biden.

Mr. Giuliani in June and August met with top Ukrainian officials about the prospect of an investigation, he said in an interview. After the July call between the two presidents, the Ukrainian government said Mr. Trump had congratulated Mr. Zelensky on his recent election and expressed hope that his government would push ahead with investigations and corruption probes that had stymied relations between the two countries.

Mr. Trump on Friday defended his July call with Mr. Zelensky as “totally appropriate” but declined to say whether he had asked the Ukrainian leader to investigate Mr. Biden. At the same time, he reiterated his call for an investigation into Mr. Biden’s effort as vice president to oust Ukraine’s prosecutor general. “Somebody ought to look into that,” he told reporters.

In recent months, Mr. Giuliani has mounted an extensive effort to pressure Ukraine to do so. He said he met with an official from the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office in June in Paris, and met with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Mr. Zelensky, in Madrid in August. Mr. Giuliani said in an interview this month that Mr. Yermak assured him the Ukrainian government would “get to the bottom” of the Biden matter.

The August meeting came weeks before the Trump administration began reviewing the status of $250 million in foreign aid to Ukraine, which the administration released earlier this month. Mr. Giuliani said he wasn’t aware of the issue with the funds to Ukraine at the time of the meeting.

Walter Shaub puts it this way:

It’s not complicated. If the executive really did abuse his power to push a foreign government to knock out his political rival before the next election, that’s either too much for you or nothing ever will be. Don’t need a statutory citation. We’re a free republic or we’re not.

It’s the “if the executive really did” part that’s not entirely nailed down.

Cory Booker:

This story is stunning and should be shaking Washington right now—Donald Trump’s moral vandalism disqualifies him from being president. As I’ve said before, it’s time for impeachment proceedings.

Joyce Vance:

Trump didn’t ask Ukraine’s President to work with our government – he asked him to work with Trump’s personal lawyer to investigate the front runner to be Trump’s opponent in the 2020 election.



We’re doing — we’re doing — we’re going to Mars

Sep 20th, 2019 4:57 pm | By

Onward with the Remarks. Time to talk about Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaace.

Q    Mr. Trump, can you talk about the exciting new space program to the moon, sir?  And what does that mean for both countries?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  So we’re doing a great program.  We have — Vice President Pence is very much involved.  And we have a tremendous space program.  If you look at our facilities, they were virtually closed up.  There was crabgrass growing on the runways and now they’re vital.

And, you know, we’re doing — we’re doing — we’re going to Mars.  We’re stopping at the moon.  The moon is actually a launching pad.  That’s why we’re stopping at the moon.  I said, “Hey, we’ve done the moon.  That’s not so exciting.”  They said, “No, sir.  It’s a launching pad for Mars.”  So we’ll be doing the Moon.  But we’ll really be doing Mars.  And we’ll be — we’re making tremendous progress.

What they wanted to say, of course, was “No, you dumb fuck, did you not read any of the material? What the hell is wrong with you?”

Then they talk about minerals. Trump helps a lot.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  It’s very important to Scott.  We talk about it a lot.  Because that business can get out of control a little bit, from the standpoint of environment.  And you have really approached it in an environmentally-sensitive way.

Coal, as an example: You’re the leader of safety in coal digging.  And we’ve actually studied it because we’re doing a lot of coal.  And you have very — literally, you almost have no — you know, you used to have a thing: black lung disease.  And in Australia, you almost don’t have it anymore.  You’ve got all of the dust down.  And, you know, they’re very — they become wet mines, basically.  But it’s great.

PRIME MINISTER MORRISON:  Well, it’s a very technologically-advanced industry in Australia.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Incredible.

PRIME MINISTER MORRISON:  All of that resources industry are — from the robotics that’s involved in the production and all the way through.

But that, critical metals, space — these are the things we’re going to be talking about because Australia has a wonderful partnership with the United States, not just militarily and not just strategically, but also economically.  And that’s going to be a big part of this conversation we have today.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  And environmentally, I have to say —

Q    (Crosstalk.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  And environmentally, the things that they have done, environmentally, with digging.  Digging is a — you know, when you talk minerals, it’s about digging.  And what you’ve been able to do with environ- — with the environment, having to do with taking minerals out of the ground, including — and, you know, I would say even especially — because you’re leading on coal.

I will tell you: I sent a whole crew over, because you’re record is so good in terms of illnesses from digging.  Better than anybody in the world.  So we’re going to catch you on that, okay?

Digging. It’s about digging. I can understand digging.

Also let’s not forget the nuclear.

TRUMP: So, we’ll see what happens.  Look, the United States is in a class by itself.  We have the most powerful military in the world, by far.  There’s nobody close.  As you know, we’ve spent tremendous and hopefully — and we pray to God we never have to use it, but we’ve totally renovated and bought new nuclear.  And the rest of our military is all brand new.

The nuclear now is at a level that’s it’s never been before.  And I can only tell you because I know — I know the problems of nuclear.  I know the damages that — I know what happens.  And I want to tell you: We all hope, and Scott hopes — we all pray that we never have to use nuclear.  But there’s nobody that has anywhere close to what we have.

How about that UN, huh?

Q    What is your message at UNGA next week?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, UNGA is going to be very exciting, and we look forward to it.  We’ll be there.  You’ll be there?

PRIME MINISTER MORRISON:  Yeah, I’ll be later in the week.  Yeah.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  And, for you, it’s a much longer trip.

PRIME MINISTER MORRISON:  It is a bit, yeah.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  But we look forward to it.  We have a big message for UNGA.  We have a big message.  And I very much — I haven’t been back to New York in a long time.

We have a big message and he has absolutely no idea what it is. It’s probably something like:

It will work out, and that’s great, or it won’t work out, and that’s great. It always works out. It will be big. The nuclear will be there, and the moon. They told me, sir, the moon will be there. We’ll see what happens.

There’s a question about Iran and military action, and Trump takes the opportunity to share his biography with everyone.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  The easiest thing for me to do — and maybe it’s even a natural instinct, maybe I have to hold myself back.  I remember during the debates, and when I was running against Hillary and the Democrats and the media — I view them all the same; I view that partnership very much the same.

But when I was running, everybody said, “Oh, he’s going to get into war.  He’s going to get into war.  He’s going to blow everybody up.  He’s going to get into war.”  Well, the easiest thing I can do — in fact, I could do it while you’re here –would say, “Go ahead, fellas.  Go do it.”  And that would be a very bad day for Iran.  That’s the easiest thing I could do.  It’s so easy.

And for all of those that say, “Oh, they should do it.  It shows weakness.  It shows…”  Actually, in my opinion, it shows strength.  Because the easiest thing I could do, “Okay, go ahead.  Knock out 15 different major things in Iran.”  I could do that and — all set to go.  It’s all set to go.  But I’m not looking to do that if I can.

And I think I’ve changed a lot of minds.  People are very surprised that — and many people are extremely happy.  Many people are thrilled.  And many people are saying, “Oh, I wish you’d hit the hell the out of them.”  Well, let’s see what happens.  But it will take place in one minute; I could do it right here in front of you and that would be it.  And then you’d have a nice, big story to report.

And I think it shows far more strength to do it the way we’re doing it.  And again, whether it’s next week or two weeks or three weeks doesn’t make any difference.  Whether it’s now or in three weeks doesn’t make any difference.  But I think the strong person’s approach and the thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint.  Much easier to do it the other way.  It’s much easier.

And Iran knows if they misbehave, they’re on borrowed time.  They’re not doing well.  I’d like to see them do great.  I’d love to see them do great, but they’re not doing well.  They’re doing very poorly.  They’re doing far worse than they’ve ever done before.  They’re having riots in their streets.  They’re having a lot of problems in Iran right now.  They could solve it very quickly.

But the easiest thing for me to do is say, “Okay, let’s go.  Let’s just do it.”  Very easy for me to do.  But it is interesting, because when I was campaigning, everybody here thought that I was going to be like — it would be one day.  But what I have done is I’ve defeated ISIS, I’ve rebuilt our military to a level that it’s never been before, spent a lot of money.  The budgets are not so hard to fix for me, but when you’re spending one and a half trillion [dollars], so far.  Now, another $738 million — billion — on the military.  But think of it: one and a half trillion dollars.  And we have the greatest in the world.

But I think restraint is a good thing.  I think it’s a good thing.

Well that’s all enormously reassuring. I very much get the sense that he’s fully aware of the weight of responsibility on him and all that could go wrong.

Also he’s punched Afghanistan harder than anybody ever has.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Yeah, well, we were thinking about having a meeting.  I didn’t like the idea that they couldn’t produce a ceasefire.  I wasn’t in favor of that.  I said, “No.  If they can’t produce a ceasefire, then why are we bothering?”  And they thought that it was a sign of strength to kill 12 people, wound others — badly wound some others.  And one of those 12 people was a young man — young soldier from Puerto Rico, from our country.  And when I heard that, I said, “I don’t want to deal with them anymore.”

We have hit — in Afghanistan, we have hit the Taliban harder than they’ve ever been hit in the entire 19 years of war.  They’ve been hit harder.  It’s come back to me through absolutely impeccable sources that they are saying, “Wow.  We made a mistake with this guy.  We made a big…”  They made a mistake.

Because he’s such a tough scary guy. Like Rambo but with goldy hair.

And as for North Korea, he’s done miracles there.

I was totally willing to have a meeting.  I’ll meet with anybody.  I think meetings are good.  I think meetings are good.  There’s no such thing as, “Oh gee, we shouldn’t.”  I really believe meetings are good.  Worst that happens, it doesn’t work out.  That’s okay.  Even then, you get to know your opposition.  Don’t forget, I’m looking at them like they’re looking at me.  You get to know your opposition.  You can see if they’re real.  Sometimes you develop a relationship, like we do, but sometimes you develop — and many times you won’t.  But you get to know your opposition.

I think the best thing that’s happened to this country is the fact that, at least for three years, the fact that I have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un.  I think that’s a positive.  His country has tremendous potential.  He knows that.  But our country has been playing around for 50 years and getting nothing.  And we have a relationship.  There’s never been a relationship with them.

We’ll see what happens.  It might work out.  It might not work out.  I’m not saying it will, but in the meantime, he hasn’t been testing any nuclear.  You’ve had no nuclear tests since — since — for a long time.  And he has been doing some short-range missiles, but so does every other country — do short short-range missiles.  Every country is doing them.  They’re pretty standard fare.

Whew!! That’s that fixed then! What a relief!



In the end, it always works out

Sep 20th, 2019 4:24 pm | By

The White House transcribed today’s Remarks. Thank you, White House, because I sure didn’t want to listen to all that.

Trump says we’re “dealing with Saudi Arabia.”

So we’re dealing with many nations.  We’re dealing with some of the neighbors to Saudi Arabia.  And of course, we’re dealing with Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia is very much involved, from the standpoint of what we’re doing and what they’re doing.  And we’re working together with others.

We’re also working on the cost of this whole endeavor.  And Saudi Arabia has been very generous.  We want to see if it works out.  And if it works out, that’s great.  And if it doesn’t work out, that’s great.  In the end, it always works out.  That’s the way it is: It always works out.

Look at that. We get dealing, and doing, and working. Then we get it will work or it won’t work and it always does work. This is someone whose mind is almost entirely empty. A toddler can talk more interestingly and cogently than this. It’s shockingly basic. He’ll be grunting and pointing soon.

He grunts about Iran for awhile.

We want to see them do well.  But it looks to me like, with what’s happening, maybe they want to keep going at it.  And when they go at it with us, there’s no way they win — no way they win in any way or in any capacity.

In any way or in any capacity. This is cornered dude who hasn’t done any reading on the subject trying to fill the empty space with synonyms. It fools no one.

(On the other hand Robertson thinks we say “for I”:

PRIME MINISTER MORRISON:  It’s a tremendous honor for Australians for Jenny and I to be here with the President and Mrs. Trump.

And for we to have you.

Then they get to it.

Q    Do you want to address this whistleblower story?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  What story?

Q    The whistleblower, whether it was (inaudible)?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  It’s a ridiculous story.  It’s a partisan whistleblower.  Shouldn’t even have information.  I’ve had conversations with many leaders.  They’re always appropriate.  I think Scott can tell you that.  Always appropriate.  At the highest level, always appropriate.  And anything I do, I fight for this country.  I fight so strongly for this country.  It’s just another political hack job.

Q    Mr. President, on that point, did you discuss Joe Biden, his son, or his family with the leader of Ukraine?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  It doesn’t matter what I discuss.

Well in a sense that’s true, but in other senses…it really isn’t, and we really do get to know if you do reckless or corrupt things. We’re not just the furniture around here.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  It doesn’t matter what I discuss.  But I will say this: Somebody ought to look into Joe Biden’s statement, because it was disgraceful, where he talked about billions of dollars that he’s not giving to a certain country unless a certain prosecutor is taken off the case.

So, somebody ought to look into that.  And you wouldn’t, because he’s a Democrat.  And the Fake News doesn’t look into things like that.  It’s a disgrace.

Joe Biden doesn’t hold office at this time. (I hope he never will, but that’s another subject.)

But I had a great conversation with numerous people.  I don’t even know exactly who you’re talking about, but I had a great conversation with numerous people — numerous leaders.  And I always look for the conversation that’s going to help the United States the most.  That’s very important.

Q    Mr. President, do you know the identity of the whistleblower?  Do you know the identity of the whistleblower?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I don’t know the identity of the whistleblower.  I just hear it’s a partisan person, meaning it comes out from another party.  But I don’t have any idea. But I can say it was a totally appropriate conversation.  It was actually a beautiful conversation.

He doesn’t know which conversation they’re talking about, but it was a totally appropriate conversation and a beautiful conversation. Whichever one it was. Totally. And he doesn’t have any idea.

Q    Mr. President, on the whistleblower, have you read the complaint?  Have you read the complaint of the —

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  No, I haven’t.  It’s — it’s —

Q    Who in your White House has?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I just tell you, it is — everybody has read it and they laugh at it.  And it’s another —

Q    But you haven’t read it?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  It’s another media disaster.  The media has lost so much credibility in this country.  Our media has become the laughingstock of the world.

But he hasn’t even read it. He hasn’t read it. Couldn’t he get someone to read it aloud to him? Very slowly? Over and over?

More to follow.



Le mot du jour

Sep 20th, 2019 12:29 pm | By

Merriam Webster today:

Good morning! Today’s #WordOfTheDay is ‘misprision’ https://s.m-w.com/2K33oII

Image

Zinnnnnnnng.



We hear her voice again

Sep 20th, 2019 12:20 pm | By

Gulalai Ismail has escaped Pakistan and is free in New York.

A Pakistani human rights activist who spoke out against the army has fled the country after months in hiding.

Gulalai Ismail is now in the US, having eluded a country-wide hunt and a travel ban imposed by Pakistan’s authorities.

They accuse Ms Ismail of “anti-state activities” and “inciting violence”.

The activist said she was forced to run as she feared for her life, telling AFP news agency: “If I had ended up in prison and tortured for many years, my voice would have been silenced.”

Her father, Muhammad Ismail, told BBC Urdu that Ms Ismail had six cases filed against her in the Pakistani courts. And that she had decided her life was in serious danger.

“Gulalai decided to leave the country at this time because she realised that her life is under threat and she has to leave the country otherwise anything could happen to her,” he said.

Ms Ismail added in a statement: “The last few months have been awful. I have been threatened, harassed, and I am lucky to be alive.”

She reported the beginning of that awful on Facebook, but then she went quiet. I’m so glad she’s out.

For many years, Ms Ismail has been an outspoken critic of human rights abuses, especially against women and girls.

However, it appears she attracted officials’ attention in the last year, particularly after she began to advocate for women alleging they had been victims of sexual abuse during an army crackdown near the border with Afghanistan.

She herself was alerted to the allegations when a boy came to her to complain about his mother’s treatment at the hands of security services.

“Dozens of women had come to tell us that the incident of sexual harassment was not unique,” she told AFP in Washington this week. “It is systematic. It had been happening for years.”

Pakistan is not one of the better countries to be a woman.



Hey, we’ve already done the moon

Sep 20th, 2019 11:47 am | By

Aaron Rupar watched Trump babbling:

TRUMP: “I defeated the caliphate … I defeated the caliphate, ISIS.” He then threaten to release ISIS fighters at the border of European countries if those countries don’t agree to take them back. “Then they’ll have to capture them again,” he says.

“Our media has become the laughingstock of the world … the media of our country is laughed at all over the world now. You’re a joke.”

“We’re going to Mars. We’re stopping at the moon. The moon is actually a launching pad. That’s why we’re stopping at the moon. I said, ‘hey, we’ve already done the moon. That’s not so exciting.’ They said, ‘no sir, it’s a launching pad for Mars.'”

There’s that “sir” again.

Trump on military strikes against Iran: “It’s all set to go. But I’m not looking to do that … I could do it right here, in front of you. And that will be it. And then you’ll have a nice big story to report. I think it shows far more strength to do it the way we’re doing it.”

Trump claims the Taliban is terrified of him because of how hard he’s hitting them: “It’s come back to me through absolutely impeccable sources that they’re saying, ‘wow, we made a mistake with this guy.'”

The Guardian sums up:

Typically confusing, and contradictory, statements from Trump just now.

Trump referred to the whistleblower controversy a “ridiculous story”.

And then: asked whether Trump discussed Joe Biden in conversations with Ukraine, Trump said: “It doesn’t matter what I discussed”. He added: “Someone ought to look into Joe Biden.”

Trump also said the whistleblower was “partisan”, before telling the White House reporter he did not know who the whistleblower is.

Dunno who whistleblower is, whistleblower is partisan.

Trump doesn’t think about epistemology much, does he.



Trump says he never

Sep 20th, 2019 10:38 am | By

Trump says nah he didn’t.

Who could fail to believe that?

Donald Trump has denied a report alleging he made a promise to a foreign leader, which sparked a whistleblower’s formal complaint.

The complaint is reported to relate to a July phone call with Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

The Washington Post said an intelligence official found the comment “so troubling” they went to the department’s inspector general.

One guess is that it has to do with trying to steal the next presidential election with the help of the military.

Democrats are trying to get the complaint turned over to Congress, with the details still unknown.

However, some reports allege that Mr Trump asked Mr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter – who previously served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company – in return for continued US military support.

Totally normal. “Hey, Volodymyr, how’s about you help me sabotage Joe Biden, and in return I’ll send you weapons.”

Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson said the complaint consists of a “serious or flagrant problem, abuse or violation of the law” that involves classified information, a letter to lawmakers revealed.

Which Trump and his enforcers are keeping secret. That’s not supposed to be how this works.

Earlier this month, before the whistleblower’s complaint came to light, House Democrats launched an investigation into Mr Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s interactions with Ukraine.

Three Democratic panel heads – Eliot Engel (foreign affairs), Adam Schiff (intelligence) and Elijah Cummings (oversight) – said Mr Trump and Mr Giuliani had attempted “to manipulate the Ukrainian justice system to benefit the president’s re-election campaign and target a possible political opponent”.

They allege that Mr Trump and Mr Giuliani tried to pressure the Ukrainian government into investigating Joe and Hunter Biden.

Well at least they didn’t try to pressure the Ukrainian government into kidnapping Stormy Daniels.