Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Debate blogging

Lord Chatham (Pitt the elder) collapsing during a debate on American independence in the House of Lords, 1778, via NewEgg

Monsignor Ross Douthat, apostolic nuncio to 42nd Street, says Klobuchar and Buttigieg won the debate by giving people who like Biden a reason not to necessarily vote for Biden, I think:
they’re problem-solving Midwesterners with realistic policy blueprints who can win swing states, and (less explicitly) that they’re like Biden in their practicality and electability but unlike him in their relative youth and lack of baggage.
I hardly noticed either one of them. My notes praise Klobuchar for explaining that anti-trust law is about encouraging competition—
Start talking about this as a pro-competition issue. This used to be a Republican and Democratic issue, because America, our founding fathers, actually wanted to have less consolidation. We were a place of entrepreneurship. We are seeing a startup slump in this country. (WaPo running transcript)
and laugh at Buttigieg for "a plan for 'depoliticizing' Supreme Court that's so Baroque the National Review might like it"

Monday, October 14, 2019

He sure as hell misjudged Lindsey-Woolsey

Funeral Monday for five Syrian Democratic Forces fighters killed in battles against Turkish-led forces. Photo by Delil Souleiman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, via The New York Times.

When I was trolling the trolls yesterday with my apocalyptic prediction

I wasn't expected it to be fulfilled before nightfall (I mean nightfall in New York, not Syria), but that's what happened, more or less.

Violent imagery

Kathy Griffin and photographer Tyler Shields, via Slate.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

For the Record: Some Troll

Syrian Arab and Kurdish civilians reaching safety in Hakassah. Photo by Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images via The Guardian.

This sequence covers mainly two bases: the fecklessness of Trump's failure in northern Syria and some of the details of his financial peculations. Some of it's new, or at least new sources, so I'm posting it here:

Saturday, October 12, 2019

A Yarn Ball as Big as China

Junior, unnamed friend, Parnas, and Fruman at some Trump property in May 2018, Facebook screenshot via Financial Times.

So I was having the craziest dream, all bound up, naturally, with the impeachment inquiries, and the House Intelligence Committee attempt to get witnesses and Trump and Barr trying to make then all refuse, and there were these two respectively Ukrainian- and Belarus-born Florida business guys, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who had worked in some capacity for the president's personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, in the Ukraine matter, refusing to testify or provide documents, only they did it by mail, in the form of a letter from their lawyer, John Dowd, who used to be Trump's personal lawyer, only the letter was in Comic Sans

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Springtime for Erdoğan

Kurdish fighters on the Syria-Iraq border, September 2013. Photo by James Gordon/Flickr via Foreign Policy in Focus.

So I was at least partly wrong and Operation Peace Spring (Barış Pınarı Harekatı; the "spring", pınar, is a spring of water, it's not that they don't realize it's October) has begun, against what the announcement refers to as "the PKK/YPG and Daesh terror organizations" (slipping in the false assertion that PKK, the militant Kurdish group in Turkey, and YPG, the Syrian Kurdish army that has been fighting the Da'esh in Syria for years with US support, are the same thing) and aiming, says BBC, to establish a "safe zone" on the Turkish-Syrian border and eventually repatriate about two million of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees now living in camps in Turkey.
The old "ancient hatreds" argument used, as it so often is, to evade the responsibility the US bears for the fighting of recent years launched by the senseless invasion of Iraq, not to mention the other powers allied with Trump (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Russia) and not (Iran).

Trump seems to have the idea that all the Da'esh soldiers in Kurdish custody in the area are recruits from Europe, but in fact it's about 2,000 out of 10,000, according to BBC, and not, as he believes, mostly from Belgium, Britain, and France, but Chechens from Russia. He's become obsessed with them in recent months, apparently feeling that they are costing the US a lot of money, which is nonsensical, as Brett McGurk has explained, and sometimes suggests he's just going to bus them all from northern Syria to Belgium and let them out:

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Great and Unmatched Wisdom

Democratic Underground, using art by Sal Buscema & Mike Esposito from Captain America #227 (1978).

Funny bit of a buried lede in NPR's story on Trump and Erdoğan and the Syrian Kurds this morning, the angle of which was Pentagon sources telling Tom Bowman how entirely blindsided the Defense Department was by the development: they said that the Trump-Erdoğan call on Sunday had been what White House staff refers to as a "bad call", which I immediately took to mean the kind of call where Trump loses his temper, screams, and makes a rash decision in the hope of punishing everybody (as right at the beginning of the presidency, when he had those crazy interactions with Malcolm Turner of Australia and Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico).

It startled me because I'd been imagining something quite different—like so many of us I've got Leader calls and quids pro quo on the brain at the moment, and just assumed Trump was greenlighting a Turkish attack on the Syrian Kurds in return for something from Turkey, or somebody else who had something he wanted, like "dirt" on an opponent or maybe just cash, and spent much of the day speculating on what it might be. When I should have been reading down to the bottom of the stories we already had, like this in The Times from Peter Baker and Lara Jakes:
In this case, Mr. Trump seemed to be responding instinctively to an unexpected comment by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey near the end of a telephone call on Sunday that otherwise focused on trade and defense assistance. Mr. Erdogan, who has long threatened to send troops over the border against Kurdish fighters allied with the United States, told Mr. Trump that he was finally moving forward.