Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Exhibit 283,453,765,901 that the President is in Serious Mental Decline

Trump thinks he should have fired FBI Director James Comey before he had the power to fire the director of the FBI.

On the other hand, if Trump had fired Comey at the end of the primaries, he probably would not have won the presidency and thus never would have had the authority to fire Comey.

I call that the demented president paradox.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Trumpies don't think they can give in on Kavanaugh

There is some logic to this. All year, conservatives I know with at least an ounce of sanity have acknowledged that Trump is a disaster "but at least he got us Gorsuch." If the Kavanaugh nomination fails, it will look like Trump is too politically wounded to deliver a Supreme Court nominee anymore, which would increase the chance that Republicans who don't like his other nonsense might conclude that Pence would be better.

But on the other hand, it doesn't really make sense. Republicans are in too deep at this point to pull off a clean transition to Pence. If there was an actual Republican attempt to remove it, the Trumpies will fight back hard. Plus, if Kavanaugh fails because of his rapiness or perjury or whatever, it won't necessarily mean he could not deliver another different nominee through to confirmation.

There is a plausible argument that immediately dumping Kavanaugh to rush through another uber-conservative (using the lame duck session if the GOP loses the Senate) might be their best available scenario. It certainly would let them avoid the potential political minefield of next week's hearings over Kavanaugh's alleged sexual assault. Believe me, this is not the public spectacle they want 40-something days away from the mid-terms. But there is no chance that Trump would withdraw the Kavanaugh nomination, even if it would be his best move. He just doesn't have it in him.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Once they get out the high school yearbooks no one is gonna look good

This latest Kavanaugh controversy has people rummaging through the high school yearbook of Kavanaugh and his character witness Mark Judge (previously known for a racist essay and his book about being a black-out drunk the whole time he was in high school with Kavanaugh). I also went to a private high school, where all the seniors got to design their own entire page in the year book. So I understand how the inside jokes and pithy quotes that seemed funny or profound when you were a 17-year old designing your page often do not age very well.

I mentioned below how Judge's book might have recounted incidents from Brett Kavanaugh's past with the pseudonym "Bart O'Kavanaugh." But what I found interesting from the yearbook pages is among the inside jokes and references to who-knows-what on Kavanaugh's page it says "have you boofed yet?" Meanwhile, on Judge's yearbook page, also buried in a series of references is: "Bart, have you boofed yet?" Which suggests to me that "Bart" really was Judge's nickname for Kavanaugh in high school and "Bart O'Kavanaugh" in Judge's book is almost certainly Brett Kavanaugh.

As for what "boofing" means. Who knows? It could have just been a term the two teenagers made up for their own private joke, on the other hand, there is the urban dictionary definition...

Not gonna work this time

I could very well be wrong1 but my sense is that a Russian (or anyone's) social media disinformation campaign can be very effective at moving a vote by a couple of percentage points, but it is not much better than that. In other words, the campaign can only work if the vote is already pretty close. Internet trolls are not going to turn a comfortable victory into a defeat. But they may be able to push a populace that is sitting around the middle of the fence to fall on one side or the other.

I can't find any recent polls, but this one from February showed that Macedonians support the name change proposal 61-33. Unless things have completely changed in the past 7 months, I doubt the Russians will get their way in this vote.

1- Yeah, I know I could start every post with those words.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Anti-migration demagogue visits his ancestral region, in a different part of the world from where he demagogues.

The NYTimes reporting from the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan:
In 2016, the lone guest of honor was Steven Seagal, the former Hollywood action star. This year high-profile guests included President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary.

“Our origins are from here, so we want to make the relations stronger and stronger,” said Vermes Balazs, 28, a Hungarian farrier dressed in leather armor he had tooled himself. About a dozen such horsemen escorted Mr. Orban to his seat of honor at the Games.
It's almost like the Hungarian people originally came from somewhere else and only later migrated to what is now modern Hungary. Ironically, the NYT article hints that Viktor Orban already knew that.

Justice O'Kavanaugh

I hope during the debate over his nomination, someone refers to him as "Bart O'Kavanaugh."

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Why is rightwing nationalism an international movement?

Transnational cooperation to further rightwing nationalism doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If you believe that your own national (or ethnicity) is superior and the goal should be advancing its own interest over the interests of others, why would you want other countries to be governed by the same philosophy? I would think that a real American firster (for example) would want all the other countries to recognize their subservience to the U.S. and to not primarily pursue their own interests.

Friday, September 14, 2018


I understand why he feels that he has to change the name. Trump has spent so long railing about how terrible "NAFTA" is, how would it look if he concludes the new negotiations and just ends up with a new NAFTA? But I wonder if people will pronounce USMC "us-mick" or if they will use call it "the U.S. Marine Corps."

Actually, in terms of pronounceability, MUSC is better (pronounced like "musk"), but that would be putting Mexico first, so we can't have that.

Thursday, September 13, 2018


As stupid as the idea of a Bloomberg presidential campaign is, it will give his opponents a real opportunity to attack head on the notion that someone is qualified to be president just by being a rich businessperson. That idea has haunted U.S. politics my entire adult life (thanks Ross Perot). The disaster of the Trump presidency is a particularly auspicious time to make that argument.

The being a senator bonus

The assumption that "only a sitting senator" could get confirmed as Attorney General speaks volumes about the people in the Senate. Jeff Sessions was confirmed with a 52-47 vote. I could be wrong (and we will never know), but I doubt that someone with as troubled a history as Sessions, including being rejected as federal judge because of suspected racism and a damning letter from Martin Luther King's widow, would have survived a confirmation vote. But Sessions was a senator. I don't think he was even particularly well-liked among the GOP caucus, but he was in their club so, senators voted for him who I do not think would have if he was not "one of them."