Too Damn Perfect

#PutiTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Andrea Chalupa (@AndreaChalupa) and Brian Vastag (@brianvastag), via Twitter, 22 March 2017.

The setup is yet another tweetstorm, and, look, you have to be careful. To the one, Andrea Chalupa’s “thread about #RussiaGate and Paul Manafort’s $10M/year contract to further the interests of Putin’s government” is as likely as any, but it really does seem to bury the lede, that Donald Trump is a victim in all this:

@AndreaChalupa: 11. Can’t help but think today of what IC agent told me: Trump never wanted to win. They made him run. He’s trapped. And now IC closing in.

@BrianVastag: @AndreaChalupa Who’s the “they” here?

@AndreaChalupa: @brianvastag In DT’s eyes? Close friends and admirers. But they also happened to be people embedded with the Kremlin/Russian money.

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Swamp Gas (Farting Contest)

#DrainTheSwamp | #WhatTheyVotedFor

The White House (Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Standing up for, well, someone, #NeverTrump consultant J. G. Collins tries an institutional twist:

The president should clarify the tone of U.S. trade policy and insist that his staff carry it out to ensure U.S. intentions and policies with respect to trade are clear to the world. Reports that Navarro’s influence is on the wane, should deeply trouble the Trump voters. It would mean that the nationalist “drain the swamp” “free but fair” trade rhetoric of the Trump campaign had become “just more of the same” trade policy in the Trump administration.

Let’s hope the latter is not true. It’s not what Americans voted for.

While there are plenty who will harrumph and remind that President Donald Trump is “not what Americans voted for”, that point is a distraction.

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Very Nearly Inexplicable (Twitterpated Intelligence)

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr): "It's only fair that I have a chance to respond 2 any smears or half truths about alleged 'Collusion with Russians' from 2day's Intel Hearing" [via Twitter, 20 March 2017]

The hardest part of explaining Roger Stone is the fact of trying to explain Roger Stone; it a dangerous venture best left to some sort of expert. And part of this really is that he does not seem to know when to not boast, and that ridiculous episode seems to have set the tone for Caroline O.’s unparalleled tweetstorm tracking Mr. Stone’s presence in the Russia scandal, which in turn ought to be required reading.

And, in truth, if you happened to be paying the slightest of attention, it just really was something absolutely special to see Mr. Stone ask for a chance to bring his genuinely unbelievable show to the House Intelligence Committee.

This is one of those offers they can’t refuse. At least, they shouldn’t. That is to say, really? Seriously? Roger Stone wants to testify before Congress?

A’ight, then.

____________________

Image note: Tweet by Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr), 20 March 2017: “It’s only fair that I have a chance to respond 2 any smears or half truths about alleged ‘Collusion with Russians’ from 2day’s Intel Hearing”.

Beavers, Olivia. “Roger Stone claims ‘legal back channel’ to Assange”. The Hill. 5 March 2017.

O., Caroline. “You ready to take a little trip down memory lane with our good friend Roger Stone and his buddy Guccifer 2.0?” Twitter. 19 March 2017.

Stone Jr., Roger J. “It’s only fair that I have a chance to respond 2 any smears or half truths about alleged ‘Collusion with Russians’ from 2day’s Intel Hearing”. Twitter. 20 March 2017.

Rather Quite Obvious (Priorities)

#PutiTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Mexico City on 22 February 2017. The visit is the second foreign trip of Tillerson’s tenure at the State Department. (Carlos Jasso/Reuters)

The lede from Reuters:

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to skip an April 5-6 meeting of NATO foreign ministers for a U.S. visit by the Chinese president and will travel to Russia later in the month, U.S. officials said on Monday, a step allies may see as putting Moscow’s concerns ahead of theirs.

And a bit of the detail:

State Department spokesman Mark Toner had no immediate comment on whether Tillerson would skip the NATO meeting or visit Russia. Two U.S. officials said Tillerson planned to visit Moscow on April 12.

“It feeds this narrative that somehow the Trump administration is playing footsy with Russia,” said one former U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“You don’t want to do your early business with the world’s great autocrats. You want to start with the great democracies, and NATO is the security instrument of the transatlantic group of great democracies,” he added.

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Waning Tacitry

#AmericanPrestige | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President-elect Donald Trump delivers his first official news conference since winning the November election, 11 January 2017 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Via msnbc:

Ordinarily, a half-way competent president would manage to avoid quite so many international incidents, but Trump has managed to create these problems after just two months—in many cases, for reasons that are only obvious to him.

Remember, as we discussed a month ago, Republicans spent years investing enormous energy into the idea that President Obama hurt the United States’ international standing. The opposite was true, but GOP officials nevertheless argued, with unnerving vigor, that America had forfeited the admiration of the world.

During the Republican presidential primaries, for example, Jeb Bush insisted that during the Obama era, “We have lost the trust and confidence of our friends.” Around the same time, Scott Walker and Donald Trump had a chat about “how poorly” the United States is now “perceived throughout the world.” Mitt Romney added, “It is hard to name even a single country that has more respect and admiration for America today than when President Obama took office.”

The point is pretty much the same, whoever makes it: For all Republicans complained about American prestige during the Obama presidency, it seems, like so many of their other complaints, precisely strange that they should have backed President Donald Trump. Then again, perhaps we should consider what that really means.

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A Memo to Pat McCrory: Deplorability and Expectation (#bullyblubbering)

#bullyblubbering | #pooreffingyou

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory addresses the Wake County Republican Party 2016 Convention at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, 8 March 2016. (Photo: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call/Getty)

MEMORANDUM

To: Pat McCrory

re: Deplorability and expectation

Over at Salon, we learn:

Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican best known for his controversial bill banning transgender people from using the bathrooms that match their gender identity, is now complaining that the association with anti-transgender prejudice is hurting his post-gubernatorial career.

“People are reluctant to hire me, because, ‘oh my gosh, he’s a bigot’—which is the last thing I am,” McCrory complained on a podcast for an Asheville-based evangelical Christian website known as WORLD on Friday, according to the Raleigh News and Observer.

During a previous interview he told WORLD that “if you disagree with the politically correct thought police on this new definition of gender, you’re a bigot, you’re the worst of evil. It’s almost as if I broke a law.”

It is worth noting, sir, yeah, that’s going to happen: When you go out of your way to do something deplorable, other people regard you accordingly. It is, in point of fact, rather quite difficult to countenance the proposition that you are so incapable of comprehending this point.

To the other, apparently you’ve accepted several opportunities—your phrasing, remember: “I’ve accepted several opportunities”—so it would seem you’re not hurting for work.

Furthermore, you forfeit a good deal of general human sympathy when lamenting of having been “purged due to political thought”: You do recognize, sir, do you not, that you went out of your way to harm other people? You signed a law. You advocated against human rights. You created danger and harm for other people in doing so. If you wish society to commiserate with you as others react to your deplorable behavior, at least have the decency to describe circumstances honestly.

And what the hell do you have against veterans, sir?

Yeah, I know, it gets me, too, that nobody talks about this part, but you also went after veterans.

So, anyway, you were in fear for your safety because you were faced with protesters? And you were “sitting there”? Really, you can flee protesters while sitting?

Seriously, sir, if you would like to start rebuilding your reputation, perhaps you might start with not behaving deplorably.

Honesty would be a start.

Be warned, though: At some point you must face the fact that general human decency is a constant requirement of being viewed as a decent human being. I know, I know, some days it’s tough. I mean, you did sign that bill into law, and all. And you did go out and advocate for it. And you still don’t seem to have a clue what you did wrong.

Seriously, though, the times being what they were, yes, potty police and other assorted urogenital obsessions were going to try; and yes, an intelligent, decent public servant is expected to know better; and no, you don’t get to pretend you are any sort of victim.

And maybe you can stop with the bullyblubbering long enough to tell us what the hell you have against veterans?

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Image note: Photo by Al Drago/CQ Roll Call/Getty.

Rozsa, Matthew. “Pat McCrory, who signed North Carolina’s HB2 bill, can’t find work because people think he’s a ‘bigot'”. Salon. 14 March 2017.

Whitewashing History (Ben Carson Revisionist Remix)

#AlternativeFacts | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Housing and Urban Development Secretary-designate Ben Carson testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 12 at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. (Zach Gibson | AP file)

“If we use Ben Carson’s logic, Frederick Douglass made it big after his plantation internship, Harriet Jacobs went into servitude for the sole purpose of memoir research and Harriet Tubman was the best tour guide of her time. Carson’s actions have prompted many, including myself, to label him as an Uncle Tom. But we might be wrong about that: ‘Uncle Tom’ may be too good of a title for the HUD secretary.”

D. Watkins

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Image note: Ben Carson testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 12 at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. (Zach Gibson/AP file)

Watkins, D. “Ben Carson’s infinite fall from grace”. Salon. 7 March 2017.

What Bugs a Sith Lord (When Nature Strikes Back)

When history looks back on this period of American thought and communication, we might from our present vantage in that past to be wonder how prominently will stand out the question not of re-definition, but, rather, de-definition. Once upon a time it was enough to simply mutter and growl that transition is a noun. Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 8 March 2017. Meanwhile, pretty much any noun in the language can now be converted to a verb; simply apply the gerund form to mean, approximately, “using the [noun] as the [noun] is to be used”.

This makes sense in some cases; ’tis true enough that some words simply were as such when they arrived in our knowledge. There is a Fulghum joke in that, but it’s a regional thing, or it would be except nobody really cares. But it is, in fact true. We saw with a saw, for instance, and that is simply how the word arrived in our lifetimes.

Robert Newton Peck once explained it is always a lasso and never a lariat; you lasso with a lasso, but do not lariat with a lariat. And maybe he was wrong, but the lesson stuck. American pedantry is a thoroughly internalized empiricism.

So it goes. For the moment it suffices to blame Adam.

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Image note: Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 8 March 2017.

Something About Getting Stoned … Rogered … Trumped … (Never Mind)

#PutiTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Roger J. Stone Jr. in La Quinta, California, in March, 2017. (Photo: Jenna Schoenefeld/The New York Times)

Via the New York Times:

Roger J. Stone Jr., an informal adviser to President Trump, has been asked by the Senate Intelligence Committee to preserve any records he may have in connection to a broader inquiry into Russian attempts to interfere with United States elections.

The letter sent to Mr. Stone, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, represents the first public indication of the scope of the committee’s inquiry, and possible connections to Mr. Trump’s campaign.

The Senate committee asked Mr. Stone, who is also under scrutiny from other federal investigators, to “preserve and retain all hard copies and electronically stored information as specified below in furtherance of the committee’s ongoing investigation into Russian actions targeting the 2016 U.S. elections and democratic processes globally.”

Mr. Stone confirmed the existence of the letter, which was dated Feb. 17. However, he said he had received it only on Friday, by email. Mr. Stone has acknowledged trading messages over Twitter with Guccifer 2.0, the online persona that officials believe was actually Russian intelligence officers.

Part of the trick is if you squint enough, you can focus on just one aspect of the #PutiTrump scandal and make it stand out just enough to say it’s actually nothing at all. If you stare hard enough, everything else becomes a blur, and then this bit in focus seems the only thing there is, and therefore nothing of any significance at all.

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Donald Trump’s Flaccid Machismo

#PutiTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shake hands at the conclusion of their joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., 17 March 2017. (Detail of photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Much ado is or not, but something about a block of paragraphs from Reuters rings a bell:

Trump and Merkel shook hands when she arrived at the White House but did not do so in the Oval Office where she frequently leaned towards him while he stared straight ahead, sitting with his legs apart and hands together. In the Oval Office both leaders described their meeting in brief remarks to reporters as having been very good.

She began her remarks at the news conference by saying it was better to speak to each other than about each other.

“We held a conversation where we were trying to address also those areas where we disagree, but we tried to bring people together … (and) tried to find a compromise that is good for both sides,” Merkel said.

They shook hands again at the end of the press conference and then exited the East Room together.

Honestly, I think we’ve seen this before. Something goes here about Vladimir Putin and a dog.

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