Open Thread Dec. 29: Babylon and On

Filed in National by on December 29, 2017

Tired of waiting for the weekend, when Trump routinely slips his restraints and takes to the Twitter machine, for your expected dose of crazy? You’re in luck. A New York Times reporter hit on the tactic of hanging out at his golf course and buttonholing the chatterbox-in-chief for an impromptu half-hour yap flap. The highlight was his insistence — 16 times — that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia, but the whole thing is yet more evidence of his state of mental collapse.

With all due respect to the people who get paid to write such things, the media is still missing the biggest story of 2017 — or, more accurately, nobody has the guts to run with it: The president is functionally incapacitated, no better able to conduct the affairs of state than Woodrow Wilson post-stroke, and the Republican Party is complicit in keeping this charade going. This is the elephant in the room that the party of the elephant is ignoring: A bill will come due for this someday. Or, to quote the bard, the truth will out.

Or maybe it won’t. I like to collect evidence of how much influence propaganda has on the conservative mind, and Trump has given us another quick-and-dirty data point: Nearly half of Republicans believe Trump’s claim that he repealed Obamacare, which is news to those of us who are on it.

Since Delaware Republicans have been so slavishly devoted to Trump, perhaps someone should ask them for their reaction to Delaware’s likely revenue loss from the Trump tax bill.

Before Oprah Winfrey can run for president, she’ll have to answer for Dr. Phil, who rose to fame thanks to her. Let’s see if his impending fall splashes any mud on her, because this report on his show’s practices should end his career. The banner accusation comes from an alcoholic, who was put in a dressing room with a bottle of vodka so that he’d be drunk on the air.

Traffic deaths in the U.S. once topped 50,000 a year, but stronger safety features (thanks, air bags!) and tougher drunk-driving laws have been shrinking the mortality rolls for decades — until last year, when, for the second year in a row, deaths shot higher. You don’t have to look far to find the culprit: those ever-present smart phones that people can’t keep their eyes off. Yet another reason that driverless vehicles are coming sooner than you think.

Remember how our erstwhile friends liked to tell Bernie Sanders’ supporters that by criticizing Hillary Clinton they were doing the work of her enemies? They meant that literallty –Russian troll farms actually invented fake reporters for left-leaning web sites.

Given that story, and the folly of trying to sort truth from fiction where Russian sources are involved, take this “confession” by a Russian hacker that he did the work on Kremlin orders for what it’s worth.

From the Here’s Why We Science file: Coyotes increasingly live in cities, and lots of people think hunting them will help solve the problem — after all, common sense says more dead coyotes equals fewer live ones. Not so, empirical evidence shows: Hunting coyotes breaks up packs and scatters individuals, who then form new packs and bear larger litters. In short, hunting increases the coyote population. This is why saying “it’s just common sense” shows a lack of common sense.

From the Wahmbulance Emergency File: U2 lead singer Bono, in an interview with Rolling Stone, opined that popular music today is “too girly.” It doesn’t sound quite as bad in context — he was trying to make a point of debatable merit about young male rage — but the feminists of Twitter showed him that female domination of the popular music charts doesn’t equal a lack of anger and energy in popular culture.

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  1. Homesteader says:

    I saw a comment about Trump’s tweet on global warming, saying that “he has the grammar skills of a lead-paint-chip-eating third grader”.

  2. Liberal Elite says:

    So… How many of the noisy Benie-bros were actually just Russian trolls??
    …or were they all just suckered and hoodwinked by Russian propaganda?
    Do we have a clear picture on this yet?

  3. puck says:

    I don’t know, but one thing is clear – the Clintonites’ false caricature of a BernieBro was fueled by Russian agit-prop on Facebook.

    We felt it even here on this blog. At first it was bewildering and hurtful – but now I see they were getting stoked by fake Facebook posts designed to be divisive, then coming here and projecting their rage on us. I didn’t realize it at first because I don’t do Facebook.

  4. jason330 says:

    I don’t think it even matters to Clintonites that it was Russia all along. Like Trumpians, they operate under a crazy “enemy of my enemy is my friend” ethos.

    *”Clintinites and Trumpians” are gross simplifications, but you get the idea.

  5. jason330 says:

    Given how easy it was for Russian trolls to stir up social media, it’s a virtual certainty that they’ll make more trouble in 2018, if they ever stopped at all.

    “We should have every expectation that what we witnessed last year is not a one-shot deal,” Douglas Lute, the former U.S. ambassador to NATO, told the Post. “The Russians are onto something. They found a weakness, and they will be back in 2018 and 2020 with a more sophisticated and targeted approach.”

  6. Dana Garrett says:

    This Bernie Bro liked social democratic thinking long before the Russian pranksters ever turned on a computer. I suspect that I am not by far the only one.

  7. Alby says:

    @DG: Me, too. I especially liked being told that, as someone who has preached against the moral rot of the Clintons since 1992, I was only doing so in 2016 because I’m a misogynist.

    What Democrats haven’t yet dealt with, and have no idea of how to deal with, is the intellectual rot of identity politics that maintains everyone but white males is concerned mainly with their standing as non-white/non-male. Hence advocating a jobs-and-economy-based campaign isn’t an appeal to everyone who has to work for a living, it’s a racist appeal to white males, at least in their strawman-stocked worldview.

    Just as Republicans’ multiple attempts to impose “conservative economic policies” (a very pretty term for “legalized theft”) have consistently led to fiscal disaster but have done nothing to dull their enthusiasm for the project, Democrats failed spectacularly by making this the centerpiece of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, yet show no diminishment of enthusiasm for this losing strategy.

  8. RE Vanella says:

    Bernie Bro. Rest in peace.

  9. RE Vanella says:

    Heather Heyer was a Bernie Bro.


  10. RE Vanella says:

    Nina Turner is a Bernie Bro

  11. RE Vanella says:

    Symone D. Sanders is a KGB agent.

  12. RE Vanella says:

    Kshama Sawant is a RED! A Ruskie spy sent by… Putin.

  13. Liberal Elite says:

    @j “I don’t think it even matters to Clintonites that it was Russia all along.”

    Sure it does. The Russians drove a wedge through the Democratic party and a significant fraction of the fools at this website bought all that crap, hook, line, and sinker.

    For Trump to win, the Dems needed to be divided, and you weren’t smart enough to realize that you were being played.

  14. RE Vanella says:

    Good story.

  15. RE Vanella says:

    Just today I realized I was being “played” by Estonian memes. I swallowed them whole. I’m so stupid. God damn Putin.

    Fuck, you guys, I feel so bad. I never considered it till my mom Liberal Elite explained it. She’s so wise. Should have read books.

    Gosh, I’m so embarrassed. I’ll watch MSNBC all this week. Promise. Maddow especially.


    Fuck Democrats and fuck you.

    Have a horrible New Year you cunts…

    P.S. If you hate Hillary join DSA.


    Yours in genuine hate… REV

  16. Liberal Elite says:

    @REV “If you hate Hillary join DSA.”

    Thanks for the rant. I really enjoyed it.

    But… You’re too dull to even note that it is possible to wholly support both Hillary and the DSA.

    Let’s just hope that when the next competent liberal/progressive presidential candidate steps forward, the rubes here don’t continue to drive a stupid wedge through the party again and again. We don’t need to let “good” be the enemy of “great”, especially since Trump, and all that he stands for, needs to be defeated, and defeated badly.

  17. RE Vanella says:

    No, it isn’t. And if you don’t understand why you’re a fucking dummy.

    Nothing is more boring than you stupid cliche.

    Stop embarrassing yourself.

  18. Liberal Elite says:

    (muttering to self… Don’t argue with idiots… Don’t argue with idiots… What the hell… It’s a new year)

    Yes it is. And I’ll offer myself up as an example. There it is.

  19. RE Vanella says:

    At least I’m not an anonymous coward. How am I to argue with you? You’re a bad faith actor.

  20. Liberal Elite says:

    OK. Bad faith? Coward? Perhaps so.

    But yet it’s true. I’ve posted here long enough that people know that I was both a strong Hillary supporter and that I also strongly support almost the entire socialist ideology.

    As such, it pains me to see something like this: “If you hate Hillary join DSA.”
    It’s an ignorant thing to post. As I see it, you both slander Hillary and you make membership in the DSA appear to be something both dumb and ignoble.

  21. RE Vanella says:

    Hillary’s over. She’s simply a proxy for neoliberalism and late capitalism that is crushing everyone. She’s a proxy for the policies and ideas that put us all in this predicament. If you can’t see why that is I’m sorry. If you’re personally offended by this as a proxy you should find out why that is.

    Hillary is a proxy for the idea that our society’s success is measured by how well the economy does or how much money the ultra rich steal.

    And it’s not just my membership in DSA. Every member fighting for the best for all people is noble and great.

  22. Liberal Elite says:

    @REV “She’s simply a proxy for neoliberalism”

    That’s simply BS…
    Look at what she tried to do with healthcare. Neoliberalism? NOT.
    Do you think Hillary would have killed net neutrality? A true neoliberal would.
    Look at what she did as Secretary of State. Neoliberalism? NOT.

    This Hillary=neoliberal nonsense is truly BS.

    “Hillary is a proxy for the idea that our society’s success is measured by how well the economy does or how much money the ultra rich steal.”

    Sorry. That’s just not Hillary. That’s the GOP. Choose a better proxy.

  23. RE Vanella says:

    Even your family is embarrassed now. You’re borderline cultist.

  24. RE Vanella says:

    I just thought about how Clinton was one of the primary salespeople for NAFTA, pushed TTIP (trade deal NATO basically), supported TPP and is an incredible war hawk/interventionist and I laughed.

    You don’t really know what you’re talking about at all. The worst of it is you think you know. It is neither nonsense or “BS”. But like a good little cultist you just repeat things. Weird.

    Also, of note, I voted for Clinton. I understand the first Tuesday in November is a binary choice. But refusing to accept the history and the reality of how this all happened isn’t doing you any favours.

  25. Alby says:

    The problem with the neoliberal ideal as delivered by the Clintons and many others is simple: Giving everyone an “equal opportunity” sounds nice, but it’s just an equal opportunity to engage in cutthroat capitalism, which ultimately is an acceptance of the same paradigm preached by neoconservatism. A system in which 20% “win” and 80% don’t is no longer sufficient to our needs.

    It’s not just Hillary who’s an avatar for this. The constituency for it is even smaller than the white supremacist faction that controls the GOP. It’s a dead end, which is why anyone still touting Clinton as anything but a fossilized relic is a dead-ender.

  26. Alby says:

    @LE: What she tried to do with healthcare? You mean back in the ’90s, when she came up with a system so absurdly complex that even the Heritage Foundation could do better, which is how we got Obamacare? That wasn’t neoliberalism? Please. Check your dictionary.

    Her foreign policy hawkishness isn’t neoliberalism? Maybe you better just get a new dictionary.

    Also, can you identify one of these neoliberals who is against net neutrality?

  27. puck says:

    Hillary’s campaign focus on undocumented immigrants (“Everybody gets to stay!”) is also part and parcel of neoliberalism. Working class voters understand that employment of illegal labor is part of the race to the bottom on all our wages.

  28. Alby says:

    “Working class voters understand that employment of illegal labor is part of the race to the bottom on all our wages.”

    Highly speculative. Working class voters might agree with you about immigration, but not necessarily for the reasons you think. A lot of them are the same people fighting for the “right to work.”

  29. puck says:

    “A lot of them are the same people fighting for the “right to work.””

    That is the result of highly successful propaganda organized by Republicans. First, the name “right to work” is well chosen to be deceptive. Who isn’t for the right to work?

    And then, conservatives successfully demonized unions, playing up resentment of the union dues deduction from your paycheck, and raising the specter of 70’s era “union bosses” who were out of touch and seemed to be always getting indicted.