Remember, This Is #WhatTheyVotedFor


#resist

#PutiTrump: Protest image of Vladimir Putin, artist unknown. Donald Trump in detail of photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for msnbc, 2016.

Republicans go to Hell, now:

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

(Washington Post)

Simply put: I am a child of the Cold War; the idea that a Republican would sell out the nation to the KGB will take some … ah … effort. Sixty-two million nine hundred eighty-four thousand eight hundred twenty-five might not have been a raw majority, but it was enough to elect a president who would sell out the nation to the Russians.

I know: Republicans. This is #WhatTheyVotedFor. Who’d’a’thunk?

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Miller, Greg and Greg Jaffe. “Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador”. The Washington Post. 15 May 2017.

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If It’s Tuesday I Must Be Whining


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya, 18 October 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press)

Microcosmic: As Rachel Maddow asks Michael Beschloss his opinion on campaign norms―e.g., releasing tax returns―it occurs to me that we are quite possibly witnessing a microiteration of a problematic thumbnail sketch: If achieved, then change standard.

As Maddow asked, what about the future? And that would approximately make sense: Hillary Clinton is about to be elected president of the United States of America. We’ve already decided that everything else in her career is just that much more volatile and alarming and inappropriate than any man who came before her, repeatedly suggesting with each iteration that we will, in fact, attempt to change the rules in order to forestall certain outcomes.

For instance, who remembers the One-Drop Rule? Was there nothing incongruous or untoward about the proposition that we finally laid the One-Drop Rule to rest when Barack Obama was elected? Okay, that’s not fair; we lynched the One-Drop Rule and then put the corpse in whiteface: If Barack Obama is one-drop white, we haven’t yet elected our first black president.

Remind me all you want that it didn’t work; I’ll just shrug and wonder why we bothered trying.

Still, though, if we call off the customary tax return release? It’s easy enough to expect the ritual to survive Donald Trump, but we’ve seen this happen before. No, really, did you know that politicians were never supposed to get paid for public speaking when they weren’t in office? Apparently this has always been the rule, and Hillary Clinton just wasn’t smart enough to know. And since her predecessors didn’t really use the private email systems that they actually did, Secretary Clinton should have known that behaving like her predecessors was forbidden; I mean, it’s not like we suddenly invented this standard that what she did was unacceptable out of thin air just because she’s Hillary freakin’ Clinton, right? It’s not like we didn’t care when it was anyone else and then just decide to care because some scandalmongering political opponents decided to pretend something entirely ahistorical and―you know, since it’s “Her”―well, yeah, why not, sounds great. Sorry, I guess that’s just a distraction, isn’t it? Because while we’re spinning pay for play fancies because transparency means we can, the only reason we don’t care about the idea of pay for play through Colin Powell’s foundation, while he was Secretary of State, is because he’s Colin Powell, not Hillary Clinton, so that sort of thing could never, ever happen.

Nor is it just about girls, though it’s true in this case it kind of is. But the underlying principle of schoolyard socialization dynamics includes a function whereby a bellwether among the despised might achieve a threshold of respectability, and the communal response is to alter the threshold in order to maintain exclusion. That is to say, some kids will simply never be allowed by their peers to be cool; it’s a general bully principle, because without it the list of people bullies are allowed to treat poorly pretty much crumbles to dust in the wind.

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Image note: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane 18 October 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press)

Maddow, Rachel. “Historic debate could reset campaign norms”. msnbc. 27 September 2016.

Caption, Please?


To the one, there is such thing as a bad picture, and we all know it. Sometimes the camera just … you know, that’s the way it goes.

To the other, we usually worry about that when we are the subject of the picture, instead of merely a set piece.

Still, we sometimes find an unforgettable moment if only because it was captured in still life.

More the pity, I suppose. Something about that which we cannot unsee goes here.

Gov. Chris Christie addresses members of the Camden County police force, 2 November 2015. (Image credit: Emma Lee/WHYY)

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Image note: Gov. Chris Christie addresses members of the Camden County police force, 2 November 2015. (Image credit: Emma Lee/WHYY)

Note on Ideas


In the history of ideas … right. It is not so much that there are good ideas and bad ideas; rather, every once in a while the question arises, “What, this is an idea?”

No, no, no. That is not really about the artistic product. Playing with such ideas is part of cartooning, especially in the network century. Given that truth is stranger than fiction, we can expect the cartoonists will never actually catch up, even those who catch on.

Detail of SMBC, 30 September 2014, by Zach WeinerThere are some ideas that seem so removed from the realm of good ideas that we might wonder whence they rise. That is to say, given the content of the annals of life, the idea that one might try such an approach is, well, yes, it is possible. And, given that this is the twenty-first century, after all, why not? Think of politics. If you do not like the question, make something up. And if someone complains that you did not answer the question, argue that you did. So that if the question is the economics of family and you hear a Republican declare that intra-uterine devices are abortifacients, bear in mind that it is, after all, an answer. What would make anyone think it is a good or even relevant answer has nothing to do with anything.

Divorce humor is one thing. Humor in divorce is quite another. The saddest part is that we can rest assured that something like this has happened before. It has all happened before, and it will all happen again until humanity chooses extinction, which, in turn, is an idea, and with the benefit of being applicable to nearly any question.

Meanwhile, Zach Weiner tries his hand at something having to do with divorce and humor, and considering the history of ideas, the disheartening thing is the realization that while life is not so simple as to be adequately explained in eight frames, neither is it so routine that such a proposition should seem extraordinary.

Personal Reflections on Politics and Priorities


The Statue of Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol building.

Let us speak of love and life and the beauty of this Universe.

What? Oh. Right. Sorry.

Look, to the one it seems really simple; to the other, we all have people in our lives who will, when they don’t like the obvious implication of an obvious fact, chuff and puff and stutter: “Wh-wha-what? What are you talking about? What does that even mean?” The thing about this behavior is that except for the fact of contention, these people in our lives know damn well what we’re talking about, and if there is any confusion about what it means, they’re certainly tipping their hand by going from zero to attack in zero-point-two-one-seven-three seconds. You know that common tease, “Struck a nerve, there”?

Sometimes it seems tragic: Perceived competitive pressures can seem so permeating in and of the perspectives subscribing to or advocating its processes and outcomes as to inhibit normal, healthy social function. More accessibly: Capitalism escalates mental health risk factors. Or, more generally: People who believe in or advocate the dog eat dog rat race can fall into it so deeply that their social faculties degrade into dysfunction.

And sometimes we think, “Huh? But you knew what this meant yesterday. And you even believed it last week!”

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Quote of the Day: Benen on Republicans and the Ten Commandments


The Ten Commandments

The larger point is that some conservatives are so eager to have government extend official support to their religious beliefs that they’re willing to argue that their sacred texts have no religious value at all. It’s ironic, in a way – it’s tempting to think opponents of religion would want to strip sacred texts of their spiritual significance. Here we have the opposite.

Steve Benen

Yes, it comes to this.

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Benen, Steve. “This Week in God, 8.23.14”. msnbc. 23 August 2014.

On the Complexity of Making Things Complicated


Hillary Clinton

Sometimes the key to politics is to make things complicated not so much by making them actually complicated, but by complicating things with additional layers and steps. Political discourse is something like the living, realtime inspiration for internet chatter; after two or three quick rounds it’s hard to tell what anyone is referring to, anymore.

But at the same time, it is not as if the rhetorical devices of American politics are especially complex. Consider, for instance, Paul Krugman:

This policy unity has been helped by the fact that Obama has had a moderate degree of success in achieving these goals. If he had had an easy time, the party might be divided between those wanting more radical action and those not in a hurry; if he had failed utterly, the party might be divided (as it was for much of the past three decades) between a liberal faction and a Republican-lite faction. As it is, however, Obama has managed to achieve a lot of what Democrats have sought for generations, but only with great difficulty against scorched-earth opposition. This means that the conflict between “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” — exemplified these days by Elizabeth Warren — and the more pro-big-business wing is relatively muted: the liberal wing knows that Obama has gotten most of what could be gotten, and the actual policies haven’t been the kind that would scare off the less liberal wing.

One would think this easy piece of political perspective would not be so rare in our discourse, but for some reason—perhaps a tendency toward equivocation for the sake of narrative simplification—it sometimes seems useful to take a moment and think about how it comes about.

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