Captain Chaos Keeps the Crap Line Moving – Tillerson Out, Pompeo Up Next, Torture Lady to Run CIA

Our new CIA Director, Gina Haspel, was blocked from running a small part of the CIA in 2013 by Dianne Feinstein because Haspel oversaw torture in 2002.  Now she runs the whole shebang.*  That’s morally failing upward in the age of Trump.

  1. Continuing the tradition of the worst people running things.  The awful Pompeo moves over to take over for the Russian Medal of Friendship holder and the execrable Ms. Haspel takes over CIA.
  2. Tillerson is the most relieved person in America today. His mighty exhale could be the cause of the Nor’easter. But Rex, monitor yourself for PTSD.
  3. If there’s a loser here, besides America which is on a bad losing streak since November 6, 2016, there’s Putin.  He loses his bestie at State.
  4. Besides being the Chaos President, Trump once agains exhibits an exceptionally cowardly style of firing people by proxy, not in their presence. Apparently the only time he ever fired anybody to their face was on TV.

*Unless Senators spine up and vote no to confirmation. It may be close due to John McCain and Rand Paul who may vote against each.

Yes, Betsy DeVos is Chock Full of the Stupid, Buuuuut So Are the “Smart” Kids Who Have Supported School Choice For Years

Besides there being no shock to her ill informed, quarter assed effort as Education Secretary, a year after her ill informed quarter assed effort as a nominee… Slate calls out the policies that corporatist Democrats have been pushing for a long damn time. Now I like Cory Booker*. Met him once and he was as kind and gracious as you’d imagine.  And lord knows he was in the crucible running Newark’s schools, but he’s been on the same track as ninnies like DeVos forever.  Because there’s no points scored for supporting public schools to the hilt, there’s always some new fangled way of edumacating that will fix everything if only the dirty fucking hippies** will stop sniffing the pachouli, realize it’s not the 60s anymore and let us guys in suits fix it!

Slate slays the smug dragon

Lesley Stahl: Have you seen the really bad schools? Maybe try to figure out what they’re doing?

Betsy DeVos: I have not—I have not—I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.

But if I’m reading the reaction to the clip correctly, what seems to be striking most people as ridiculous is DeVos’ advocacy of two particular ideas:

• That rewarding high-performing schools with more resources will compel low-performing schools to improve themselves.

• That school-choice programs should be expanded despite mixed or poor results in states such as Michigan.

The bad news for Democrats who found DeVos’ performance appalling is that these principles have been a crucial part of their party’s education policy for 17 years. Broadly speaking, the regime of compelling competition between schools by creating charter-school or school-choice programs and by rewarding those whose students do well on standardized tests was launched at a federal level by the No Child Left Behind Act; the NCLB was co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy and passed the Senate in 2001 with 87 votes. When Barack Obama became president, he created the Race to the Top program, which the Washington Post described at the time as a “competition for $4.35 billion in grants” that would “ease limits on charter schools” and “tie teacher pay to student achievement,” i.e. direct extra funds to already-successful schools.

*Cory Booker is great anyway.  And so is Kirsten Gillibrand even though she screwed Al Franken. Nobody is perfect.  They’re both way more than 80% with us, enuf said.

**You know, dirty fucking hippies like 17th century New Englanders, Horace Mann, John Dewey, etc.

“You are the Problem” Is liberal smugness to blame for our godawful political climate? Um, no

When I see an article with the title “You are the Problem” Is liberal smugness to blame for our godawful political climate? the answer inside the article better be a hearty NO!  But for Reason editor’s Katherine Mangu-Ward it’s a chicken and the egg situation: the “smug” left is countered by an increasingly angry and irrational right.

Isaac Chotiner: You write in your piece that, “The problem isn’t just filter bubbles, echo chambers or alternative facts. It’s tone: When the loudest voices on the left talk about people on the right as either beyond the pale or dupes of their betters, it is with an air of barely concealed smugness. Right-wingers, for their part, increasingly respond with a churlish ‘Oh, yeah? Hold my beer,’ and then double down on whatever politically incorrect sentiment brought on the disdain in the first place.” The way that’s written implies that the right-wing attitude that we see online and from the president is a response to a smug leftism. Is that how you see thisthat essentially the right is merely reacting to something?

Katherine Mangu-Ward: The sentence that’s at the very top of the piece is, “It’s hard to tell who started it.” I actually do believe that. I think it is not a case of a single original sin that sent us cascading down into the rhetorical swamps where we now live. But I do find that, although I am demographically and in many ways even ideologically sympathetic to people on the left, in this story, in the story of smug versus trolls, I find myself sympathetic to the right, sympathetic to this response of, “Fine, if you’re going to see me that way, I’ll double down on it. I’ll be as bad as you think I am.”

We are talking about an election that was propelled by crypto-fascists like Bannon and the Mercers, pushing a nationalist agenda that includes an absolute anti-immigration platform with strong undercurrents of racism, sexism and anti-semitism.  But smugness is so insufferable liberals probably drive otherwise fine people to embrace all that hate.  They don’t really want to, they have to to counter the smug monsters.

All that said and such craziness sufficiently skewered, I’m going to give Mangu-Ward (whose name sounds like a Monty Python upper class twit put on name) the slightest bit of credit.  Yes, I am.

Katherine Mangu-Ward: I think this is the argument for [saying], “OK, maybe these people who we are talking about here, these Trump voters, it is not that they are confused about their own interests, but simply that I am not looking at the world the way they look at the world. How can I do better at that?” It’s an Oprah thing to say, but it is nonetheless the answer.

Isaac Chotiner: It seems like what you’re saying is a version of political correctness. It’s as if saying this, even if it’s the truth, doesn’t work, so you should stop saying it, which is itself almost condescending. It’s essentially, “You people can’t hear this.”

Katherine Mangu-Ward: Yeah, I think that’s right. It is a version of political correctness, but the origins of political correctness are nonpernicious. The very, very beginning of the political correctness movement was basically just people saying, “Hey, why not temper your speech slightly to avoid giving offense to those in a position of less power than yourself?” That’s a good idea. I think obviously you don’t want to pull every punch, but at the same time, to say over and over, both formally as the Democratic Party and also rhetorically as the pundit class, “You all are wrong about what you need and want,” is not doing it.

Well that’s true.  To the extent we’re having any discussion with the right, we’re not getting through.  Instead of “smugness” I prefer to say we’re living in the fact based, reality-based universe.  Our opponents of course think that they are.   So screaming ensues.  Unless maybe we keep our cool and listen and espouse the same values of patriotism, make our case and earn their trust with a sort of “political correctness” that prevents us from berating them with insults.

It sounds good anyway.  Count as my attempt to reach out to Ms. Mangu-Ward, libertarian thinker, without stating out loud that the term libertarian thinker is an oxymoron.  See I can be kind and calm and quietly think she’s a moron without saying it out loud. I’ll even give her credit for maybe having a point.  Maybe.  A point that makes sense at least in theory, if not in practice.

Unfortunately, when a stereotype, a reputation, whatever you want to call it, has been established, no matter how much you want to deny its veracity and legitimacy, it is there and has to be taken into account and countered.  Liberal smugness as a cause of our toxic political environment may sound ridiculous, but a lot of people accept it, even if we do not.  And just telling them they’re wrong is indeed, not working.


Dems Need Blue Dogs, But Inaction on Guns is Unacceptable

Fingers crossed, Conor Lamb gets across the finish line tomorrow in the PA-18 special election.  As Vox notes, Lamb is a “pro-gun” Democrat and that can be a problem for Dems going forward.  It doesn’t have to be.  Yes, there are always the small minded who have to scour everything with ideological bleach and kill all more nuanced, complicated or opposing viewpoints.  The purity squad will not be silenced even when faced with the greater good and the exceptionally salient point that we need Democrats to win all over the country, and they’re not all going to hold the same 100% progressive policy viewpoints.  We do have to be a big tent.  So it does depend on exactly what “pro-gun” means.

For me, it does matter if you take NRA money.  Don’t do that.  After that there’s a good amount of wiggle room.  So Conor Lamb likes to fire AR-15s.  The great compromise that is out there is my line in the sand.

Would Conor Lamb support a law that confines assault weapons to shooting ranges? I would hope so.

I would ban them outright.  But hell, I DO NOT support the second amendment.  You won’t hear me offer the knee jerk pleasantry that affirms support for the 27 words written 230 years ago.  Nope.  I’d repeal it.  I think Madison and Hamilton would repeal it if they saw the firepower available today and legal to walk around a city with.  Short of overturning or modernizing an anachronistic part of our Constitution, we can go back to the pre-Heller position on the amendment, held for 220 of the 230 years that, of course there are limits we can make to the availability of deadly weapons.

Does Conor Lamb agree with that?  That’s my test.  If we can’t ban semi-automatic weapons, or at least high powered assault style semi-automatic weapons, then we can at least compromise and register them and confine them to qualified, secured, shooting ranges.

Does anybody agree with 80%* of what we stand for?  They’re with us, we need them.


*So long as the other 20% isn’t in contradiction to bedrock principles – no racism, sexism or other prejudice against a minority.  If you’re okay with education, enlightenment, science, humanism, fairness, justice for all, etc., we can work together.

The Stupid Has No Consistency

Trump is contantly overstating our trade deficit with China, all our trade deficits really, and the importance therein, but whatever.

Today he claims that China is working to reduce that trade imbalance by (use Dr. Evil voice) One Billion Dollars!!  The implication that he’s making this happen, of course.  That’s 1/375th of the deficit.  So which is it, much, much bigger than we think or much, much smaller?


Can the stupid at least be consistent?  Or is inconsistency the nature of some stupid?

So philosophical….

Belarussian Sex Worker May be Our Missing Collusion Link, Maybe Not, But Let’s Get Her a Lifeline

Um, after everything we’ve seen are we even phased by this?  If Nastya Rybka is the modern Christine Keeler of America, yeah, why not?  I hope Mueller has someone in Thailand securing her passage to America.  If she ends up not having anything of use but getting an Einstein visa (like Melania) to sign a contract with Wicked and make porn videos that’s all good too.

“They were discussing elections,” she went on. “Deripaska had a plan about elections.” And she claimed they had conversations with three people who spoke English fluently and who she thought were Americans. (Again, we don’t know whether this is true or self-serving.)

Getting poisoned by Putin is a terrible prospect.