Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Is this even news?

Given Trump's record, does the fact that that he said he would shut down the government to funding for a border wall mean that he will, in fact, force a shut-down to get funding for a border wall?

I think the answer is "no." Trump's statements about what he will do have almost no predictive value for what he will do later on. Sometimes he does follow through on what he promises (i.e. the immigration-related executive orders) but often he does not. The fact that Trump said something in a speech doesn't give us any information about how likely that thing will actually happen. If it doesn't give us any information about what Trump will later do, it is not news.


I'm impressed that the NYT published a "look how different Kazakhstan was from my expectations" article without ever mentioning Borat.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Loser's choice

Just to follow-up on the point of this post, it is interesting that the warmongers managed to change Trump's mind about Afghanistan by convincing him that following their Afghanistan escalation plan would make him appear to be a "strong and decisive leader." It doesn't have to be that way. The reality is, going further into a conflict without clear victory conditions is a cowards way out and a sure-fire path to losing.

By giving into the generals and doing something that he has long advocated against, Trump has made the choice of someone without any backbone. The only reason anyone will see it otherwise is because our media culture is obsessed with war and views any pro-war stance, even one as nonsensical as this one that completely lacks any clear goals, as a sign of strength. But in reality, nothing about this decisions demonstrates strength. He has made the loser's choice.

I realize this blog has zero influence, but if everyone started calling it that, maybe that could make a difference in Donald's wee brain.

President Trump actually asked a good question

“We’re losing,” the president declared, according to a person who was in the room. The [Afghanistan] plan, he complained, was vague and open-ended, with no definition of victory. “What does success look like?” he asked.
Back in the early years of this blog, when W was president and the Iraq War had no end in sight, one of my constant refrains was that: if you can never "win" a war unless you give a precise definition of what "winning" means. Or, as the president put it, what does success in Afghanistan look like? Without a clear answer, it will never be a success.

While I applaud Trump for actually asking an intelligent question for once, he is back to being a moron for abandoning that point and giving in to the generals. For a guy obsessed with "winning," he needs to make it possible for there to be a win. Thanks to the generals in his administration (allegedly the only grown ups who have Trump's ear), we are now ramping back up our Afghanistan War without any hope of a "win."

Monday, August 21, 2017

That's not "all options," it is only one option

One phrase that is often used in politics that I absolutely despise is "all options are on the table" as a code for military force. 'If "all options" does not encompass alternatives to killing people, then you have already defined the terms of the political debate to make it more difficult to avoid killing people.

Don't even get me started on the idiotic narrative around Obama's "line in the sand" with Syria.

Silly Icelanders, no blotted out sun for you!

I'm back in United Stateslandia, just in time to see the sun blotted out. Well, 75.3% of it. I got some nifty I'm-pretty-sure-not-fake eclipse glasses. Luckily I won't have to wonder for long. If my eyes stop working after 2:44 I will know for sure I was ripped off.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Does it look even crazier from here?

I realize I have been really quiet this week--and it's not just because I'm driving past fjords, looking for puffins, and hoisting Noz Jr. onto icebergs. It's just that every time I take a peek at the news from home, it feels like I'm looking at some nightmarish alternate fantasy of the country I grew up in.

Sure, the social media posts from friends marching in Philadelphia are reassuring, but as bad as the last 9 months have been, I didn't think the President would be able to openly sympathize with Nazis without, at the very least, suffering a cascade of resignations. I'm not just talking about CEOs on a non-binding advisory council. I mean actual cabinet members, or at least staffers. I mean, seriously. The Jewish treasury secretary is working for a guy who said there were good people marching for a cause that was overtly anti semitic. The CEOs know being associated with this guy is bad for business, but why don't cabinet members and staffers see that their reputation will forever be tainted by Trump unless they make a stink and resign.

None of this makes sense. Trump isn't popular. There is literally no up-side to standing with him and whichever insider is the first to publicly break with up could easily leverage their late-coming courage into a a narrative of national heroism, with book deals, national attention, and a possibly bright political future in their own right. Why isn't anyone in their situation seeing the amazing opportunity that awaits them if they are just the first to publicly turn on our deranged chief executive? Watching this continuously not happening is both mind-boggling and frustrating.

So instead, I put down the device, look up at the mountains and breath the clean icelandic air. It's not a total escape but it will do. And where the fuck are all the puffins hiding?!?!?

Friday, August 11, 2017

"the memo had been working its way through the Trump White House. Among those who received the memo... was Donald Trump Jr."

It's funny how Don Jr. got the memo. I mean, he's separated from government stuff by that firewall, right?

Moron in Chief

Not only is that a politically stupid thing to say, it's also wrong. The people Russia expelled didn't lose their job. They just had to leave that country. They are still on the U.S. payroll, just working somewhere else.

Ice Ice Baby

In the 14(!) years that I have run this blog, I have done different things before I go away on vacation. Early on, I would tend to give my readers (yes both of them) a warning that I'm going away and that posting frequency might dip. But whenever I did that, hit stats would take a steep dive. After I noticed that, I started just slipping away without saying anything in advance. But still my posting frequency did change, so the hit stats still dipped.  It turns out that what keeps the hits coming these days is post frequency and I do post less when I am on a trip.

But who cares about the hit stats! This place is supposed to be where I can talk about whatever I want to talk about. So I guess I will tip my hand and reveal that I am escaping for a little more than a week of the worst month (weather-wise) in mid-Atlantic and heading today to the Land of Ice with the family.

I will probably post something from there (because I always do). And who knows, maybe posts will be just as frequent as usual! My posting has been so erratic lately,  almost anything can be usual.