Saturday, May 27, 2017

I want to see the video

Does the fact that our president rode a golf cart when every other G7 leader walked through Taormina mean that he has an undisclosed health problem or is he just a lazy entitled asshole?

I guess it could be both.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Jump, Spicy, jump!

I don't get it. Don't fume, quit.

Does he think that would hurt his career chances? Not if he is willing to be a former insider who will tell all. If he takes on that role, he could parcel this into a very bright future. He would be all over the teevee. He would have speaking engagements. He would get a book deal. He would be the expert on the internal workings of this chaotic administration, and could spin himself as a hero for walking out as the scope of the disaster became clear. That is certainly better than what he can expect if he is only known as the lying puppet for a historically unpopular administration.


Maybe giving a guy who can't keep a secret the job that comes with the highest security clearance wasn't such a great idea.

The damage has been done.

Although we will probably never know how much less, the U.S. now has less access to foreign intelligence because of President Trump.

And in other news, President Blabbermouth told the President of the Philippines there were two nuclear subs in the waters near North Korea (a disclosure that stunned the military). And now the whole world knows because a transcript of the call was leaked.

On the other hand, if Trump serves his whole term, maybe we will finally find out what the deal is with Area 51.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The No Homers Club

The Arab Islamic American Summit, what President Trump attended in Riyadh this week, is a strange beast. Despite the name and the fact that it took place in Arabia, it wasn't all that Arab. Looking at the list of countries that attended, they should have just called it the "Islamic Countries Excluding Iran-American Summit." I mean, look at the list, just about every other Muslim country was allowed to go. They even let countries that wouldn't normally be considered Muslim countries attend. (For example, Guyana, a South American country whose Muslims are 7% of the population).

Whether we like them or not, Iran is a major Muslim country and is effectively the leader of the Shia branch of the religion. But that's just it. We don't like them a lot. Saudi Arabia, the host, probably hates them even more. So they didn't get an invitation.

Perspective

Don't get me wrong the bombing in Manchester was horrible. But I am glad that it is not getting the over-the-top wall-to-wall coverage that every other first-world terrorist attack has gotten in the past 16 years. Not too long ago a bombing like that would have drowned out every other news story for at least a couple of days.

Other stuff is going on in the world. I'm glad there's still a lot of coverage of those other things and news sources are moving away from a terrorism-trumps-everything approach. That is, after all, exactly what the terrorists are going for.


Monday, May 22, 2017

The Moron in Chief

Last week, the President got into hot water for allegedly revealing to the Russians that his secret intelligence about ISIS originated with Israel. This week he is in Israel so he tells reporters that he never used the word "Israel" in the conversation about the Israeli-sourced intelligence, which effectively confirms to the whole world that is where the information came from.


Someone is finally standing up for goons' rights

Turkey: Our goons were treated badly! Those protesters cruelly threw their faces in front of the goons' fists and put their necks inside the goons' chokeholds!

Missiling itself in its own foot

Last month when the U.S. shot 59 Tomahawk missiles at an air base in Syria I saw a few articles about how each missile costs about $1 million. Since then, every time that North Korea shoots one of its missiles into the sea, I wonder how much that is costing them. Does anyone know?

These medium-range missiles are probably more expensive than a short-range Tomahawk. Or at least they would be if made in the U.S. Thanks to slave labor, North Korea probably saves a lot on labor costs. But they still would have material costs. The country is under a lot of sanctions, many of which are designed to restrict the country's access to materials needed for its missile program. Those factors are going to drive the cost up even higher. Plus, North Korea is a really poor country.

So whenever Kim Jung Un fires a missile to make some kind of point to the outside world, how much of an economic hit does that impose on his country? I'm not sure what it is, but it must be something.


Why weren't there any protesters in Saudi Arabia?

Also the guard wanted a selfie. So the only possible explanation is that everyone loves Trump. It certainly couldn't have anything to do with this.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Maybe Trump already has bottomed out?

On Tuesday, the morning after it was revealed that Trump gave classified intelligence to the Russians, I wondered how much further his approval ratings could sink. As I wrote:
Because there is some portion of the public that will back Trump no matter what, there is a limit to how low he can go. But what is that floor? The lowest Trump has gone so far is 35%-59% on March 28. I suspect the floor is in the low-30s, at least until the next economic downturn. But maybe this revelation will be enough to push him into the upper-20s? We should know by the end of the week.
It is now the end of the week. Gallup's 3-day average has now fully absorbed all the news from when I wrote that post and Trump's approval/disapproval numbers have gone from 38% approval/57% disapproval to... 38%/56% this afternoon. In other words, it hasn't moved at all. Look at the chart for the poll in the past week. His disapproval number has been completely flat since Tuesday.


Does this mean that 38% is the portion of die-hard Trump supporters who can't be moved by news events no matter how bad they are? That's about 5-8 points higher than I thought. I still think it can go lower if we experience a serious economic downturn. But Trump's approval rating might have a 38% floor until that happens.

America First

Consider this scenario: A foreign leaders visits the U.S. and then watches as his goons beat the shit out of Americans who were peacefully protesting his visit. The D.C. cops briefly detained some of the goons, but they were promptly released "when it was determined that they held diplomatic status."

President Trump could not have prevented this from happening. But he could have, at least, raised the issue with Erdogan when they met after the incident.. I bet any other U.S. president would have done something to protest the abuse of U.S. citizens for exercising their constitutional rights by foreign security forces on U.S. soil.


A bag of crazy cats

North American Free Trump agreement

I predict that the new renegotiated NAFTA will be almost total bullshit. There may be a few tweaks, maybe some minor changes to update some specific provisions that the industry thinks need updating, but the basic framework will remain  and as a substantive matter, there will be little difference between the new NAFTA and the NAFTA we have right now.

Maybe all Trump will do is make sure the "T" stands for Trump rather than "trade" in the acronym. Then he will hold a big rally, proclaim victory, and never mention NAFTA again.


Measuring Joementum

I wonder if the fact that Joe Lieberman lacks any relevant experience or qualifications to be FBI Director will pose any barrier to him being confirmed. This Senate has already approved a bunch of cabinet members who completely lacked qualifications for their post. Will this be any different? Have the lessons of the last few months sunk in? Will the fact that we have crept slightly closer to the 2018 mid-term elections make a difference? Or will the fact that Holy Joe is well liked by several key Senate Republicans allow him to sail through to a major law enforcement post despite his complete lack of any law enforcement or background in criminal justice?

It looks like a lot of Democrats won't support the nomination, but the real question is whether any Republicans will defect.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

What Yglesias said

I totally agree with this. Trump is just an extreme example of a broader problem with how our society treats the wealthy.

Man on Turkish payroll didn't like the Kurds for some reason

I guess it matters when you put someone who is a paid agent of a foreign government on the National Security Council.

In my mind the biggest deal about Flynn is not the secret dealings with Russia or Turkey, it is the display of such incredibly bad judgment. The Trump people even knew Flynn was suspected to be a foreign agent when they brought him into the administration, and they put him in the most sensitive position they could anyway. The recklessness and irresponsibility is pretty astounding.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Trump's wavy plan

So Trump has this idea for an "Arab NATO" (can't we just call it ATO?). Is he aware that just over one year ago the Saudis announced a new Islamic Military Alliance? The alliance still exists, although it doesn't seem to do anything but bomb the shit out of Yemen, which is what member states were already doing before December 2016. Would ATO be a subset of the IMA, only allowing the IMA members which are ruled by ethnic Arabs? Or will ATO let in the Arab nation of Iraq, which has been excluded from the IMA because it is ruled by icky Shi'ites?

Surely our great Preznit has thought through these questions and knows the answer because he is a thinking through and answering kinda guy! This is totally a full-assed proposal.

ASIDE: "Arab Treaty Organization" would be "منظمة المعاهدة العربية" and the Arab acronym could be "ممع", not a word I know but google translate says it means "wavy."


What could possibly go wrong?

The New York Times on Trump's upcoming trip to Israel:
“He’s in real danger of blowing up Jerusalem as an issue that divides rather than unites two of the Abrahamic religions,” said Martin S. Indyk, an American ambassador to Israel under Mr. Clinton. “That part of the visit needs to be handled with extreme care.”
First, in what sense has the issue of Jerusalem "unite[d] two of the Abrahamic religions" even before Trump came long?

Second, is there anyone on the planet who believes that Trump will be capable of handing any middle eastern issues "with extreme care"? This is a conflict where the wrong turn of phrase can cause chaos. So we are sending in our loudmouthed President, who knows nothing about the region, its issues, or its history, has surrounded himself with extremists, and who regularly blurts out completely inaccurate ignorant comments about any issue he encounters.

So what will be the biggest debacle of Trump's Middle Eastern trip? His bull in a china shop approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or when our country's most powerful anti-Muslim bigot gives a speech about Islam in Saudi Arabia?


The argument for an independent counsel

The bottom line is that any president who would do this should not be permitted to appoint the next FBI director who will be in charge of an investigation of that president.

The President does have the legal right to appoint an FBI Director, but the Director has to be confirmed by the Senate, so the Senate should refuse to confirm anyone unless all investigations of the President, his associates, the members of his campaign, and the members of his administration are assigned to an independent investigator and taken out of the hand of the FBI Director.

There is chatter that Trump's support among some Senate Republicans is starting to crack. (My own otherwise useless Republican Senator has called for Trump to appoint a Democrat). If just three Republicans are serious, then they need to insist upon an independent counsel before we get a new FBI Director.