Saturday, June 12, 2021

Literary Corner: You Can't Depend on Anybody


Watermelon Eater and Man Writing. Pablo Picasso, 1965, via Rabih Alameddine.

The Book of All Books
by Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America

I turned down two book deals, from
the most unlikely of publishers, in that
I do not want to do such a deal
right now.
I’m writing like crazy anyway, however,
and when the time comes, you’ll see
the book of all books. Actually, I’ve been
working on a much more important project
right now!

Statement from yesterday, in its entirety.

Of course he's been trying to get a book deal, I can't believe that hadn't occurred to me, or two book deals, one for himself and one for the former First Lady (which he regards as also his, inevitably), mindful of the $65 million in advances the Obamas got from Random House in the spring of 2017. I wouldn't have imagined he couldn't get one, either, but that's apparently the case, judging from the concentrated confusion of this dense little message (I'm refusing to do a book at the moment, I'm doing a book at the moment, I'm doing something more important than a book). Or not from a sufficiently dignified publisher, or not one that's offering Obama-scale money, at any rate: he must be asking at least $120 million plus they pay the ghost who'd better not be one of those traitors like Tony Schwartz who will turn on him and try to take all the credit and badmouth him on TV to boot. The much more important project must be his "platform", which will make him richer than Zuckerberg if those parasites who supposedly work for him ever get off their asses for a change and do it, but you can't depend on anybody nowadays, look what's happening to our country, it's a tragedy.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Dance of the Squares


Square dance, Skyline Farms, Alabama. 1937. Ben Shahn, photographer. FSA/OWI, Library of Congress, via Johns Hopkins University Press.

Revealed in paragraph 11 of the New York Times version on this new Senate infrastructure proposal:

The five Republicans are Senators Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. The Democrats are key moderates: Senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Mark Warner of Virginia, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Jon Tester of Montana.

I'd been kind of wondering why MSNBC, CNN, and NPR didn't seem to be mentioning any of their names except Romney's and Sinema's, and also just who they were. The inclusion of Casssidy is a bit of a clue: he's not known the way the others are as a "moderate", but he was the big surprise among the Republicans who who voted to convict Trump in the second impeachment, as did Romney, Murkowski, and Collins, while Portman (who's leaving the Senate because he can't get along with the Trumpers), said Trump's conduct on 6 January was "inexcusable" and represented a violation of his oath of office but claimed the impeachment itself was illegal. In other words, they represent the anti-Trump faction, which is kind of interesting, but probably can't put together the ten Republican votes that would be needed to pass the plan in regular order (they might get to eight with Toomey and Burr, who are also retiring, and conceivably Sasse, who isn't).

Which suggests the proposal, such as it is

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

I just happen to have Senator Byrd right here with me, and...


Byrd never managed to finish college until he was an actual United States senator, but he did by God (as in "West By God Virginia") do it, and law school before he earned the B.A., but he did work as a professional musician, and if you think I don't respect him you can fight me.

Hi Senator Manchin, we've been hearing a lot about how much you rightly revere your great predecessor, Robert Byrd, and I thought you might appreciate some of the beautiful tribute given by then Rules Committee Chair Schumer as Byrd's body lay in repose on the Lincoln Catafalque in the Senate chamber, 1 July 2010, when you were still governor of West Virginia, a few weeks before you entered the race to replace him, as Majority Leader Reid had asked you to do for the party's sake, where he spoke about what was probably Byrd's last major service to the Senate, when, 92 years old and rapidly failing, he testified on the need to reform the filibuster, at a time, not long after the successful passage of the Affordable Care Act on a reconciliation basis, when a violently partisan Republican minority leader, Mitch McConnell, was doing whatever he could to stop the Democratic majority from doing its work, and in essence holding the country hostage:

at a hearing of the Rules Committee where we are now having a series of hearings under the suggestion of the Presiding Officer and leadership to decide whether we should reform the filibuster rule and what we should do about it. Senator Byrd, frail at that point, about a month ago, came to our hearing room. He sat next to me and then gave one of the best orations I have heard in a committee. He was 92. He turned the pages of his speech himself. That wasn't so easy for him. It was clearly--knowing the way he thought and his way of speaking--written completely by him. It was an amazing statement. It was impassioned, erudite, balanced, and, as the Presiding Officer remembers, it electrified the room. It was an amazing tour de force. The man cared so much about the Senate. Despite the fact he was ailing, there he was because he loved the Senate. His remarks, if my colleagues read them, were balanced. He understood the problems, but he understood the traditions, and he tried, as usual, to weave the two together.

Byrd's opening statement to the Rules Committee, published 5/19/10 in The Hill, seems kind of relevant today:

Unconcern Troll

Tattoo design by Nolan-Huff/DeviantArt.

Monsignor Douthat's new number is pretty original—surfacing as, I don't know, maybe you could call it an unconcern troll, with some friendly Joker-style advice for Democrats: "Why so serious?" ("Are We Destined for a Trump Coup in 2024?")

I wrote my weekend column about three ways that Donald Trump might be prevented from plunging the country into crisis in 2024, should he reproduce both his 2020 defeat and his quest to overturn the outcome: first, through the dramatic electoral overhauls favored by progressives; second, through a Bidenist politics of normalcy that prevents the G.O.P. from capturing the House or Senate; or third, through the actions of Republican officials who keep their heads down and don’t break with Trump but, as in 2020, refuse to go along if he turns another loss into an attempted putsch.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Literary Corner: Unpleasant

Ryan and Bill Owens, via NBC News.

The Endless Wars, So Bad

By Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America

These were the endless wars, so bad, so bad. I’d visit soldiers
at Walter Reed Hospital, where the doctors are truly fantastic
what they can do, but I’d see these young people that were just
blown to pieces, and it’s so sad. I’d be at Dover where these
magnificent machines would come in, the big cargo planes,
and that door would open up and there’d be a coffin in the back.
And the military, the soldiers, would take that coffin and walk it
off the plane. And I’d be with the parents an hour before and we’d
be talking, and I’d say to the general in-charge, “General,
the parents seemed to be okay,” and he’d say, “No, they’re not, sir.
They’re not okay.” I said, “General, I’m having a great conversation.”
And the mothers oftentimes would say, “Oh, my son was such a great
football player. Sir, he had an arm that was so powerful. He was
so strong and he could throw a ball so far. He was such a good player,”
or other things. They’d tell me these stories. They just were so in love
with telling the stories about their son or their daughter, in some cases,
their daughter. And then, I’d look at the general. I’d say, “Well,
it’s amazing the way they can handle it.” And then, the plane
would come in and the general would say, “Sir, it’s not going to
be good.” And that door would open up, that big back door, right,
would open up from this incredible, powerful machine that can lift up
Army tanks like it’s nothing. And it would open up, and there’d be one
or two or three or four coffins, and I’d see the same people that were
talking to me so jubilant about their child, how great the child was,
would start screaming, screaming. Screams like I’ve never heard before.

It was the most terrible thing to watch. And the general in charge would say,
“Sir, you’re going to see things that you maybe will not have seen.”
“Like what, General?” He said, “Mothers and wives, and even fathers sometimes,
breaking through the military ranks and jumping on top of the coffin.” And
I got to see that one time where a mother, she was devastated. She jumped
on, and these incredible, extremely fit soldiers are taking that coffin, 
and would jump onto the coffin, and they wouldn’t do a thing, they would
just keep walking. And the mother was on the coffin, and this is
for Afghanistan and for Iraq, and for these other places, where so
many mistakes were made, where we shouldn’t be, and we can’t do that.

Shocked-shocked there is partisanship going on in this legislature

Strip by Brian McFadden/Kos.

Senator Joe Manchin, "Why I'm Voting Against the For The People Act", Charleston Gazette-Mail, 6 June 2021:

The right to vote is fundamental to our American democracy and protecting that right should not be about party or politics. Least of all, protecting this right, which is a value I share, should never be done in a partisan manner.

His grammar kind of fell off the back of the truck there—he was starting to write "Least of all should it be done in a partisan manner", but as he was clarifying that he is in theory for protecting the right to vote (as if to say "I just said it was fundamental to democracy but I want you to know I'm in favor of it anyhow"), he lost track of the structure and turned it into logical roadkill ("least of all should it never be done the way I'm telling you not to do it").

But we know what he means, and that, after all, is bad enough: this is a supremely important thing to do and therefore we shouldn't do it. Or we should only protect the right to vote in a way that's compatible with our opponents' desire to take it away. Or voting rights are sacred, so you shouldn't spoil them by fighting for them. The more important a thing is, the more important it is not to be too eager about it. Nutrition is vital to human life, so you shouldn't be eating stuff when your thinking is all distorted by hunger. 

But healthcare isn't fundamental, so it's OK to pass that in a partisan manner?

Bad writing can be a technique of hiding from one's own thoughts, as we've seen over the years with David Brooks. Joe Manchin actually doesn't care at all about protecting the right to vote, or thinks West Virginians are generally against it, which comes down to the same thing, I suppose. They care about affordable health care (suggesting they may actually be smarter than people in a lot of Southern and Midwestern states, or maybe it's just that they're historically so deprived that they're aware of it), and they care about infrastructure (which is why I still expect Manchin to vote for the huge reconciliation package later this year). His donors care about keeping the minimum wage at rock bottom, and truly low-income people don't vote much. But the right to vote? Not even their own, perhaps (at 57.6% of the voting-eligible population, the state's voter turnout in last year's record high election statistics came in at 48th of the 50 states plus DC).

Lot more from Steve, on the same subject. 

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Emperor News

Doña Juana "la Loca", the mad queen of Castile, 1479-1555, as depicted by Francisco Padilla (1877), via Wikipedia.

I may have a scoop here: The Antisocial Medium, sometimes dismissively referred to as "Trump's blog", which was permanently canceled a couple of days ago

Former President Donald Trump’s blog — a webpage where he shared statements after larger social media companies banned him from their platforms — has been permanently shut down, his spokesman said Wednesday.

The page “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” has been scrubbed from Trump’s website after going live less than a month earlier.

It “will not be returning,” his senior aide Jason Miller told CNBC.

has in fact returned, or been reconstituted, or cloned, apart from the scrubbed "From the Desk" page, in the spot where it existed four and a half months before it was officially announced and from which it never actually left, on the "News" page of his website, formerly known as (it was from the office before it was from the desk), where all the content of the short-lived "blog", along with all the earlier posts (25 January to 4 May), before the "blog" existed, and a good deal of new stuff from the last couple of days, the official closing of the "blog" was really just two days, 29 and 30 May, following which he just quietly resumed posting on the "News" page as if nothing had happened, with a Memorial Day message obviously 100% by Stephen Miller:

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Toxic Therapy Party


Image via Dr. Tracy Hutchinson, Fort Myers, Florida.

Brad DeLong (subscribers only) gets a letter from Senator Rubio:

Fellow Patriot, 

I really am disappointed, Fellow Patriot. I am disappointed to say we missed our goal for May. I heard that Mark shared our internal financial memo with you and you still didn’t step up? I am SO disappointed. Like I told you, we had plans to open a field office, but we are going to have to push that opening back. With a RADICAL DEMOCRAT challenger just about to announce her campaign against me, we really cannot afford any missteps. 

I have been working my absolute hardest to ensure the people of Florida and America are best served by Congress. My efforts have not gone unnoticed, I was fortunate enough to receive an endorsement from President Trump for working on behalf of our veterans, enhancing Border Security, and standing up to “woke” corporations. While it was an honor to receive President Trump’s support, it riled up the Left. The good news here is I won’t EVER bend a knee to the radical Left. I am COMMITTED to fight for your conservative values regardless of whatever the out-of-control Left will try to throw at me. I will never give up on you, Fellow Patriot. However, despite all of these good things, missing this deadline is a MASSIVE misstep. I won’t lie, I am nervous. But I’ve spent the day strategizing with my team, and I have convinced them to extend our deadline for another 24 HOURS.... 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Very Haruspicious

A Roman haruspex examines the entrails of a sheep. By Mary Evans Picture Library.

Me earlier today (not to mention 10 days ago):

And guess who agrees with me, give or take a month or so and a few hundred billion dollars—a team of economists from Goldman Sachs, predicting that Biden's negotiations will break down and the big plan (Jobs plus Families proposals) will be passed with Democratic votes alone, per Ben Winck/Insider:

Negotiations have so far been fairly bipartisan, with Republicans meeting with Biden in recent weeks to mull over their respective plans. Yet Goldman sees the White House eventually ditching the GOP and pushing forward with Democratic support only.