Friday, June 9, 2017

That’s Your Excuse?

Speaker Paul Ryan says that Trump is too dumb to know what he’s doing, so give him a break already.

“The president is new at this,” Ryan said. “He’s new to government. And so he probably wasn’t steeped into the long going protocols that established the relationships between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses.”

When a reporter questioned why that’s an “acceptable excuse,” given that Trump has a staff and counsel that should have been informed, Ryan reiterated that Trump did not know what he was doing.

“He’s new at government,” Ryan said. “Therefore I think he is learning as he goes.”

He’s saying this about the man who claimed to be “very smart,” “I’ve got a great brain,” “I know more than … the generals,” but now he’s trying to give him cover because he’s too new and requires coaching?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Not Guilty By Reason Of Stupidity

The New York Times has a backgrounder on the mood and atmosphere at the White House.

The bad-news stories slammed into the White House in pitiless succession on Tuesday, leaving President Trump’s battle-scarred West Wing aides staring at their flat screens in glassy-eyed shock.

The disclosure that Mr. Trump divulged classified intelligence to Russian officials that had been provided by Israel was another blow to a besieged White House staff recovering from the mishandled firing of James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director.

And the day was capped by the even more stunning revelation that the president had prodded Mr. Comey to drop an investigation into Michael T. Flynn, his former national security adviser. That prompted a stampede of reporters from the White House briefing room into the lower press gallery of the White House, where Mr. Trump’s first-line defenders had few answers but an abundance of anxieties about their job security.

The president’s appetite for chaos, coupled with his disregard for the self-protective conventions of the presidency, has left his staff confused and squabbling. And his own mood, according to two advisers who spoke on the condition of anonymity, has become sour and dark, and he has turned against most of his aides — even his son-in-law, Jared Kushner — describing them in a fury as “incompetent,” according to one of those advisers.

Yeah, it’s the White House aides who are “incompetent.”  Who hired those bozos in the first place?

The stress was taking its toll. Late Monday, reporters could hear senior aides shouting from behind closed doors as they discussed how to respond after Washington Post reporters informed them of an article they were writing that first reported the news about the president’s divulging of intelligence.

So they sent out H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, to issue a flat non-denial denial, hoping that a combat veteran could take the heat.

As he was working on his statement, General McMaster, a former combat commander who appeared uncomfortable in a civilian suit and black-framed glasses, nearly ran into reporters staking out Mr. Spicer’s office.

“This is the last place in the world I wanted to be,” he said, perhaps in jest.

Meanwhile, the administration is coming a rather unique defense of why Trump blabbed to the Russians.

In private, three administration officials conceded that they could not publicly articulate their most compelling — and honest — defense of the president for divulging classified intelligence to the Russians: that Mr. Trump, a hasty and indifferent reader of his briefing materials, simply did not possess the interest or the knowledge of the granular details of intelligence gathering to leak specific sources and methods of intelligence gathering that would harm American allies.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client is too stupid to have knowingly committed this crime.”

That might actually work.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Insurance Won’t Cover Stupid

Via LGM and the Atlanta Journal Constitution we meet a young Republican who disdains any idea of help from the guvamint.

Blake Yelverton is taking a break with a burger that doesn’t cut any corners. Cheese and bacon and everything. He’s 23, a burly young man with a big red beard, and he works on his father’s cow farm.

“I don’t believe it’s the federal government’s job to provide health care,” he said. “It’s communism, socialism anyway.”

Yelverton hopes Trump trashes the whole thing, and he’s not too fond of the GOP plan being discussed in Congress either. “They’re doing a lesser evil of Obamacare,” he said.

His insurance?

“I’m on my parents’ plan,” he said.

So, Yelverton, it turns out, benefits from Obamacare. That’s because the law allows parents to keep kids on their insurance until age 26 — a widely-popular element of Barack Obama’s signature health law that Republicans intend to keep in their replacement plan.

Confronted with that information, he pauses for a moment.

“I haven’t been to the doctor in four or five years,” he said.

Unfortunately for this guy, even Obamacare won’t cover an extreme case of a lack of self-awareness.  But we’ll be sure to send flowers.

Monday, February 27, 2017

No Shit, Sherlock

Via TPM:

Trump told a bipartisan group of governors at a White House reception Monday morning that GOP tax reform would have to wait for lawmakers to move on repealing Obamacare, cautioning that, “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”

“I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” Trump said.

For health policy experts and Democrats who spent the last eight years overhauling the nation’s health care system in the face of GOP intransigence, Trump’s admission that health care is hard dripped with irony. Republicans, in the mean time, voted repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but made little progress on settling on what their replacement would look like, a conundrum that is haunting them now.

You mean a 3,000 page law that the Republicans said in 2010 was unbelievably complex can’t be repealed by passing a law that says “The Affordable Care Act is hereby repealed”?  Who could have known, besides everybody?

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Trumpspam

Sheesh, what a dope.

Numerous members of the British parliament have complained that they have received multiple emails from the Trump campaign asking for a donation.

But wait, there’s more.

Accepting contributions from foreign nationals is illegal of course though in this case it seems more a matter of incompetence than criminal intent, as though Trump has bought his email list not for a party list vendor but maybe from a Nigerian email scammer. In any case, it’s not just the UK. It turns out some or perhaps all members of the Icelandic parliament have also receiving fundraising emails from the Trump campaign asking for money.

He’s gone to the other end of the world: Australia reports they’re getting them, too.

This is gotten the attention of people who regulate these sort of things.

Fred Werthemier, the president of Democracy 21, said that Trump’s fundraising pleas to foreign members of parliament are “a strange and unique development that we have not seen before in campaign fundraising.”

Campaign finance law prohibits campaigns from knowingly accepting or soliciting contributions from foreign nationals. It’s not clear whether the Trump campaign purposefully sent the emails to foreign members of parliament.

Also, a number of Nigerian princes and Russian widows are complaining about Trump going after their business.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Qualified Support

Hey, remember Dan Quayle? Yeah, that guy who was vice president under George H.W. Bush way back in the 80’s.  Ever wonder what he’s been up to since then?  Yeah, me neither.  But he’s still around and he still has the charm of inanity that endeared him to late-night comedians and sit-coms.

Hillary Clinton may be a more qualified presidential candidate than Donald Trump “on paper,” former Vice President Dan Quayle said Thursday. But Trump is more qualified in another respect, the Indiana Republican suggested.

“He’s more qualified in the sense that the American people, I think, want an outsider,” Quayle said in an interview with NBC’s “Today,” remarking that he would support him as the Republican Party’s nominee. “And they want an outsider this time. She’s not an outsider, so if you’re looking for an outsider, no, she’s not qualified, and he is.”

So he means that if you don’t really care what “qualified” means, then Trump’s your guy.

Leave it to someone who can’t spell “potato” to re-write the dictionary.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Low Information Voters

I think we should forget about holding an election and just turn the whole thing over to American Idol.

Via C&L:

We aren’t sure whether to laugh or cringe about this one.

As the presidential candidates duked it out in [Saturday] night’s ninth Republican debate, viewers used it as a chance to familiarize themselves with the contenders who stood out to them.

Unsurprisingly, Jeb Bush – who got caught in one of the night’s biggest clashes while defending his family against Donald Trump’s criticisms – was among the candidates being looked up online.

But according to Google Trends data, it wasn’t so much Bush’s policy experience that people were interested in.

The top trending question asked about him in South Carolina was, “Is Jeb Bush related to George W. Bush?” [emphasis added]

No, he’s the brother of the guy on TV who sells the baked beans.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Short Takes

Iran faces more sanctions after Saudi embassy attack.

Volkswagen faces civil suit brought by U.S.

Federal forces tread lightly with Oregon VanillaISIS.

Today is the day President Obama will announce executive action to control gun violence.

GM is investing a lot of money in Lyft, the ride-sharing service.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

We’ll Get Back To You

Via Twitter:

Fox host asks why guns should be regulated in the US if “we’re not regulating the car”

I’ll tell you why just as soon as I pay my mandatory auto insurance bill.  I had it here somewhere buried under my state-required registration renewal, which was attached to the federally-mandated recall notice for my federally-required air bag.  Oh, there it is, in my wallet underneath my state-issued drivers license.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Thursday, July 2, 2015

That Settles It

Well, what a relief.

“America isn’t a racist country, not even close,” she wrote in an op-ed in The Hill on Monday. “The left falsely saying so promotes not progress but division. American history includes slavery and racism, but its current status and future as a whole does not.”

And she should know because she has never heard a racist epithet about her.  So there.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Keeping The Dough

Josh Mandel, the Treasurer of the state of Ohio, got $1,500 from Earl Holt, the white supremacist who inspired Dylan Roof, for his Senate race in 2012.  Everybody else who got money from Mr. Holt has either sent it back or donated it to charity.

But not Mr. Mandel.

The money he donated was spent over two and a half years ago so it cannot be refunded,” said Chris Berry, a spokesman for the treasurer who made clear he was speaking on behalf of Mandel’s disbanded Senate campaign as a volunteer.

Mandel’s treasury from that campaign still has $49,694 in the bank, according to its April report to the Federal Election Commission. It would be permissible under federal campaign finance law to use that money for a donation to an outside group or charity, according to a number of people involved in political campaigns. That’s exactly what some other politicians are doing.

But Mandel, who manages Ohio’s public funds, appears to view this as a matter of strict accounting for specific sums at specific times: When Holt’s money came in, it was spent almost immediately on Mandel’s Senate campaign. The surplus left after the election came from other donations.

Berry said later Monday, “Treasurer Mandel and our entire team deplore racism and bigotry of any kind. We cannot manufacture a donation that has already been spent.”

Um, yeah, any CPA worth their calculator says you can.  And even if it takes a little bit of accounting wizardry, every ounce of morality and decency says you should.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Reading

Shut Up, John Bolton — Peter Beinart in The Atlantic on the warmonger’s reckless case for war with Iran.

According to a 2013 study by the Costs of War Project at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost the United States more than $4 trillion. Over the coming decades, that number will likely rise by trillions more. If you include America’s military operations in Pakistan, these wars have taken the lives of roughly 300,000 people. And almost 15 years later, both Iraq and Afghanistan are virtually failed states.

This does not mean The New York Times should never publish op-eds proposing new wars. Although always tragic, war can sometimes be less horrible than the alternative. And it does not mean The New York Times should never publish op-eds by people who have supported disastrous wars. Even commentators who have made huge errors in the past may still contribute useful arguments in the present. At least I hope so, given that I supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq myself.

But what The New York Times should not do is let people who have supported disastrous wars in the past propose new wars casually. If you want to advocate for a new war in the most prestigious newspaper in the United States, you should have to grapple, at least briefly, with the potential dangers. Given the costs, both financial and human, of America’s post-9/11 conflicts, that’s not too much to ask.

Which brings me to John Bolton’s Thursday New York Times op-ed, “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” Bolton was both a booster, and a minor architect, of the war in Iraq. As George W. Bush’s undersecretary of state in late 2002, he told the BBC that, “We are confident that Saddam Hussein has hidden weapons of mass destruction and production facilities in Iraq.” He added that, “the Iraqi people would be unique in history if they didn’t welcome the overthrow of this dictatorial regime,” and that although building a democracy would prove a “difficult task,” the people of Iraq “are fully competent to do it.” So competent, in fact, that “the American role [in post-war Iraq] actually will be fairly minimal.”

That’s what Bolton said publicly. Privately, according to a 2005 report by the Democratic staff of the House Judiciary Committee, he distributed classified information about Joe Wilson in an attempt to smear the former ambassador, who was then questioning President Bush’s claim that Iraq had tried to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger. Bolton also played a key role in forcing out Jose Bustani, director of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, because he feared Bustani’s inspectors in Iraq would undermine the case for war. It was behavior like this that led Washington Post columnist David Ignatius to observe that Bolton “epitomizes the politicization of intelligence that helped produce the fiasco over Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.”

Should this disqualify Bolton from penning a New York Times op-ed urging America to bomb Iran? No. But it should have disqualified him from penning the op-ed he published on Thursday.

Replacing Andrew Jackson — Jaime Fuller in New York magazine in getting a woman on the $20 bill.

On paper, it doesn’t look like it would be difficult to change the faces that greet us on dollar bills whenever we pull out our wallets. The Treasury Secretary has unilateral authority to banish Franklin from the $100 or Lincoln from the five spot whenever he wants; Congress also has the power to change the portraits used on U.S. currency. The possibilities for new monetary muses are nearly limitless — the only requirement is that they be dead, just like the luminaries chosen for stamps. There’s also an expectation that the portraits will be familiar faces from history.

However, the process must be harder than it looks, because the Treasury hasn’t retired a portrait since 1929, when Andrew Jackson replaced Grover Cleveland — which has everyone wondering what will happen with a new campaign to get a woman on the $20.

Plenty of people have tried to change a portrait. Most of these attempts involved Ronald Reagan. In 2004, Grover Norquist tried to boot Alexander Hamilton from the $10 and replace him with the conservative icon; Senator Mitch McConnell thought the idea was a great one. “Hamilton was a nice guy and everything, but he wasn’t president,” Norquist told USA Today. At the same time, a few House Republicans were trying to get Reagan put on the $20. Six years after those efforts failed, Representative Patrick McHenry sponsored legislation to get Reagan on the $50.

“There’s an inherent conservatism when it comes to money here,” notes Matthew Wittmann, assistant curator of American coins and currency at the American Numismatic Society.

A new group has decided to try a different tack by advancing a new portrait that is not Ronald Reagan. Women on 20s has started a campaign to get a woman on money that Americans use (unlike $1 coins) — something that even President Obama has said is a “pretty good idea.” They’ve even picked the perfect guy to kick off currency — Andrew Jackson, once best known for military prowess, and now remembered for causing the Trail of Tears.

“Andrew Jackson folks would complain,” says Daniel Feller, an expert on our seventh president at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, “but there aren’t many Andrew Jackson folks left. I don’t know who in government would be against it.”

However, the problem was never going to be complaints about keeping Jackson on the $20; it was always going to be about narrowing the entire universe of eligible women to put on the bill to one in a town where agreeing is often a laughable dream, and everyone has different reasons for wanting to try something new with currency — or keep it the same.

When the Treasury thinks about redesigning money, it isn’t about the politics. The department — along with the Federal Reserve, the Secret Service, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing — is always thinking about how to best stop people from counterfeiting it. (Everyone forgets, but the Secret Service was created to protect money, not the president.) That’s why dollar bills have slowly morphed over time, with stripes and nearly unnoticed whizbangs continually cluttering the currency, and the important men in them shifting in their invisible seats and switching up their stare. A Treasury official, who stressed the department’s aim to prevent unauthorized production of money, was unable to talk about any specific campaigns to change currency design “or about anything political.”

Making Stupid Official — Andy Borowitz on the new law in Indiana.

INDIANAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report)—In a history-making decision, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana has signed into law a bill that officially recognizes stupidity as a religion.

Pence said that he hoped the law would protect millions of state residents “who, like me, have been practicing this religion passionately for years.”

The bill would grant politicians like Pence the right to observe their faith freely, even if their practice of stupidity costs the state billions of dollars.

While Pence’s action drew the praise of stupid people across America, former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was not among them. “Even I wasn’t dumb enough to sign a bill like that,” she said.

Doonesbury — Without notice.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Latin Beat

I had always held out the hope that there was one last vestige of intelligence in America, and that it would be in a place that has a reputation for tolerance and open-mindedness, such as Vermont.  After all, NTodd lives happily there.

But I guess not.  From Wonkette:

Here’s a sweet little story of Democracy in Action. A bright eighth grader writes to her state legislator with an idea for a law: Vermont doesn’t have an official Latin motto, so why not adopt one? And for that matter, make it a reference to history? Neato!

So state Sen. Joe Benning — a Republican who was actually trying to do a good thing, which he has probably learned to never try again — introduced a bill to adopt the motto “Stella quarta decima fulgeat.” — May the fourteenth star shine bright.” Because Vermont was the 14th state, see? Benning noted that when Vermont briefly minted its own currency, it was engraved with “Stella Quarta Deccima,” so the phrase had real historical cachet.

And then Burlington TV station WCAX put the story on its Facebook page with the headline, “Should Vermont have an official Latin motto?” and all Stupid broke loose when morons thought that Vermont was knuckling under to a bunch of goddamned illegal immigrants.

Click on the link to read some of the more enlightened comments.

Stultitia est infinita.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Triple Double Down

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal keeps digging in on the fictional Muslim “no-go zones” in Europe, and he’s using the official state website to do it.

Apparently Jindal believes that amassing a trove of links amounts to a preponderance of evidence proving the existence of the so-called “no-go zones” in Europe. The landing page of his website links to a page titled “Setting the Record Straight,” which compiles reports largely cribbed from a think tank linked to anti-Muslim activists.

[…]

To substantiate “no-go zones” in England, Jindal’s page links to a CNN segment and refers four times to the same Daily Mail article. That article quotes Tom Winsor, the U.K.’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, as saying “There are cities in the Midlands where the police never go because they are never called. They never hear of any trouble because the community deals with that on its own.”

What Jindal’s page doesn’t source, though, is the chief constable of West Midlands Police’s rebuttal.

“[Winsor’s] characterisation of these communities as born under other skies is just wrong,” Chief Constable Chris Sims told the Daily Mail. “Many members of communities in Birmingham are British-born and I find that a very odd expression.”

It’s one thing to set up a con and get the rubes to fall for it, but when you start to believe your own bullshit, then you’re just embarrassing yourself.  And to do it with taxpayer money just makes it worse.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Shiftless Thievery

Via:

1960 Ford manual transmission 04-15-13Police say two carjackers almost got away with a vehicle near Ocala’s downtown skating rink Wednesday night — but they didn’t know how to drive a stick shift.

Ocala Police Department officers spoke with the owner of a 2014 Toyota Corolla near the city’s ice skating rink. The man told them he was sitting in his car talking on his cellphone when a man with a gun tapped on the driver’s side window. Another man stood by the passenger’s side window.

The gunman demanded he get out of the car and hand over his money. The victim said he told the man he didn’t have any cash. The robber ordered him to give him his wallet, which he did. The robber then demanded his keys, a report states.

The victim handed over the keys and quickly walked away from the car and headed west toward Southeast First Avenue. He said he saw the robbers trying to drive away, but they had trouble making the car move.

The victim, meanwhile, stopped another motorist and asked the person to call police. Before officers arrived, the robbers ran from the car, which still had the keys in the ignition.

Kids these days.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

From the Department of Obvious

Via TPM:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) admitted on Wednesday that it was a bad idea to run for president in 2012.

“I was a bit arrogant,” he said in an interview with the Washington Post about his bid for the White House.

Perry said that he thought he was prepared to run the country after serving as Texas governor.

“I was mistaken,” he said.

You don’t say.

Oh, by the way, he’s thinking about running in 2016 because he’s totally ready now.