Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Loose Lips Sink Ships*

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump Jr. has posted a message on Twitter likening Syrian refugees to a bowl of poisoned Skittles.

Seeking to promote his father’s presidential campaign, the younger Trump posted a tweet featuring a bowl of the candy Skittles with a warning.

“If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you, would you take a handful?” said the tweet on the verified @DonaldTrumpJr handle.

“That’s our Syrian refugee problem,” said the post, which caused a stir and negative tweets on the internet into Tuesday.

Trump Jr.’s tweet said, “This image says it all. Let’s end the politically correct agenda that doesn’t put America first.”

Donald Trump Jr. likens Syrian refugees to poisoned Skittles, Associated Press, today

It is by now hardly a secret that Donald Trump Jr. has, let’s say, friends in the white nationalist crowd.*  I mean, personal friends; not just people he hobnobs with online.

A few days ago, in trying to emulate his father and his father’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway by attributing to Clinton, or the news media’s coverage of her, a high-profile trait of Donald Trump, or a routine practice of the mainstream media in covering the Trump campaign—the Trump campaign’s bizarre, kaleidoscopic modus operandi—Trump Jr. claimed that the political-news media was far harsher toward his father than to Clinton, whom, he said, the media had been letting off the hook.  His choice of analogy? Warming up the gas chamber.

In a blog post titled by the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake last week titled “A lot of Donald Trump Jr.’s trail missteps seem to involve white nationalists and Nazis,” the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake wrote about Trump Jr.’s comment:

“The media has been her number-one surrogate in this,” Trump said in a Wednesday interview with a Philadelphia radio station, referring to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. “Without the media, this wouldn’t even be a contest. But the media has built her up. They’ve let her slide on every indiscrepancy [sic], on every lie, on every DNC game trying to get Bernie Sanders out of this thing.”

Then he added: “If Republicans were doing that, they’d be warming up the gas chamber right now.”

Blake noted also that after Clinton made her “basket of deplorables” comment, Trump Jr. “Instagrammed a mock-up of a ‘The Expendables’ movie poster with his, his father’s and his father’s supporters’ faces superimposed over the words ‘The Deplorables.’  The problem: One of the superimposed faces was of Pepe the Frog, a symbol that has been co-opted by white supremacists and nationalists.”

In response to criticism about it, as Blake recounted, Trump Jr. said a friend sent it to him:

On “Good Morning America,” Trump said he didn’t know the frog was such a symbol. “If I’m glib — perhaps that’s the case — I’ve never even heard of Pepe the Frog,” he said. “I thought it was a frog in a wig. I thought it was funny. I had no idea that there’s any connotation there.”

It may well be that he—likely like most Americans (I, among them)—was unaware of the backstory to that image.  But what about the friend who had sent it to him?  And why did the expression “warming up the gas chambers” come so quickly to mind for him—an obviously weird analogy to news-media criticism of a presidential candidate?  This guy seems as mentally off as his father.

Although maybe this Wharton School bachelor’s degree holder, admitted there undoubtedly based, like his father before him, solely on his school transcripts, SAT score, and extracurriculars—I’m presuming no indiscrepecies there regarding the school’s admission of either father or son—inherited something else from his father: the sheer coincidence of regularly saying things that are misunderstood by, well, everyone.

Last weekend, NYT columnist Timothy Egan, in a column titled “America the Plunderer” that in my opinion should be nominated for a Pulitzer, discussed something that dismays be as much as it does him: During Matt Lauer’s infamous interviews of the two candidates two weeks ago, Trump reiterated his position, expressed during the primaries but (I believe) not in several months, that this country should have appropriated Iraq’s oil fields, and that it should do so now.  Yet virtually no one, including the Clinton campaign, noticed.  Or at least has cared to make this a major public point.

Egan wrote:

Because he’s being graded on a doofus curve that is unprecedented in presidential politics, Donald Trump said more than a dozen outrageous, scary or untrue things in the last 10 days and got away with all of them. But with at least one statement, marking a profound shift in how the United States would interact with the rest of the world, Trump should be shamed back to his golden throne.

He wants the United States to become a nation that steals from its enemies. He’s already called for war crimes — killing family members of terrorists, torturing suspects. He would further violate the Geneva Conventions by making thieves out of a first-­class military.

“It used to be to the victor belong the spoils,” Trump complained to the compliant Matt Lauer in the now infamous commander­-in-­chief forum. Oh, for the days when Goths, Vandals and Nazis were free to rape, pillage and plunder. So unfair, as Trump said on an earlier occasion, that we have “all sorts of rules and regulations, so the soldiers are afraid to fight.”

As with everything in Trump’s world, his solution is simple: loot and pilfer. “Take the oil,” said Trump. He was referring to Iraq, post-­invasion. And how would he do this? There would be an open-­ended occupation, as a sovereign nation’s oil was stolen from it. Of course, “you’d leave a certain group behind,” he said, to protect the petro thieves.

A certain group. Let’s be clear what he’s talking about: Under Trump’s plan, American men and women would die for oil, victims of endless rounds of lethal sabotage and terror strikes. That’s your certain group. He thinks we could get in, get the oil, and get out. Just like the cakewalk of occupying Iraq. And if such a seizure violates international law, what’s the rest of the world going to do about it? “Anything is legal” in war, as the deranged Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani explained.

For this kind of plunder, there is in fact a precedent for Trump’s plan: Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. The United States fought the first gulf war because the Iraqi dictator tried to seize Kuwait’s oil. We were the good guys, fighting an invading military force that was trying to steal a small country’s most precious natural resource.

I remember upon reading about Clinton’s “basket of deplorables’ the day after she made that comment at an evening fundraiser sponsored by an LBGT group attended, at her invitation, by her campaign’s news media pool, why on earth she would squander the attention of the political press by not using it to describe and highlight information about Trump that most of the public wasn’t aware of—and maybe refute a key claim against her—instead of just reiterating the same-old, same-old about Trump.

What I had in mind specifically then concerned Trump’s financial assistance to Florida AG Pam Bondi’s reelection campaign, including his use of his ostensible charitable foundation to funnel a substantial donation to her PAC at the same time as the public revelation that her office was considering joining New York state’s lawsuit against Trump University and Trump Institute alleging rather clear consumer fraud.  The story finally was gaining steam as a story in the mainstream media, and a reporter-pool-attended Friday evening campaign event struck me as the perfect mechanism to reach a broad spectrum of the electorate.

Equally important—if not more so—it provided the perfect hook for Clinton to compare her own foundation with Trump’s, and to get across to the public what she had failed to even try to do in late August when the story about the emails to State Dept. aides about requests from people connected in one way or another to the Clinton Foundation was omnipresent: the actual specifics of what had occurred, why they had occurred, and the result.

I had not watched the Lauer debacle, and most of the torrent of media outrage about it focused on Lauer’s failure to call Trump on his false reassertion that he had voiced opposition to the Iraq invasion before it occurred—and had used as evidence of it an interview of him more than a year after the invasion.  And about Lauer’s extensive questioning of Clinton about her emails—on the theory that this issue hadn’t received enough news coverage.

And so I didn’t yet know that Trump, after bragging falsely that he had opposed the Iraq invasion before it occurred, then said that as long as we were, y’know, there anyway, we should have confiscated the country’s oil fields as our spoils of victory.  On the theory that we needed most then, and still need most, is to invite universal international outrage against us and deliberately incite terrorism here and worldwide. And do it at the cost of the lives of military personnel who along with their loved ones are, as a demographic, among Trump’s strongest supporters.  Including those who vote in swing states such as Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio and Iowa.

Trump Jr.’s latest comment will be treated as yet another appalling racist and xenophobic shout-out by this family and this campaign.  But that is not the only reason it should draw attention.  A hallmark of his father’s various proposals during the course of his campaign is that they demonstrate a key, discrete mental trait that should be addressed in and of itself: Trump lacks the intellectual capacity to understand that actions have certain or near-certain consequences beyond the immediate, narrow ones that the policy is intended to have.  He does not know that they do.  However obvious it is that they do.

Thus, he casually suggests that this country should threaten default of its debt in order to negotiate partial default with the country’s bondholders—utterly clueless of the unequivocal repercussions should this actually be threatened, or even hinted at.

He also says, expressly, that he does not know why we can’t use our nuclear weapons, since, after all, we have them.

And he says—repeated as recently as two weeks ago—that we should have appropriated Iraq’s oil fields.  To the victor should go the spoils.  But only if it’s other people’s blood, and other people’s loved ones’ blood, that effectuates it, for no purpose other than that we want to provoke terrorism, here and elsewhere around the world.

Donald Trump is often analogized to a child or adolescent in personality, but this is an intellectual trait, not merely a temperamental trait, of children.

Trump Jr. thinks his picture of a bowl of Skittles says it all.   Actually, it says only some of it all.  An image of U.S. military personnel in heavy combat at an Iraqi oil field in efforts to defend this country’s confiscation and appropriation of it, and a few images of terrorist attacks around the world during this ongoing combat or in the wake of belligerent comments by President Trump, would say some of the rest of it all.

As they used to say back during the two world wars: Loose Lips Sink Ships.

Let’s indeed end the politically correct agenda that doesn’t put America first.  And while we’re at it, make clear that the folks who incessantly invoke the moniker “politically correct” are the ones to whom it actually now applies.

____

*I just saw this, posted tonight at Slate.  The list it includes hopefully will be widely disseminated.  There are some additional indiscrepancies in it, and all should be noted.  Added 9/20 at 8:48 p.m.

____

UPDATE: You really, really should read Paul Waldman’s new post at the Washington Post’s Plum Line blog about Post investigative reporter David Farenthold’s report in today’s Post about the massive illegality Farenthold just uncovered at the Trump Foundation–conduct that is at the  very heart of that foundation.

The title of Farenthold’s article is “Trump used $258,000 from his charity to settle legal problems.”  The legal problems all concerned fines or debts his businesses owed.  His businesses, folks.

His tax-exempt non-profit, whose funds came entirely from others’ donations to this ostensible charity, paid Donald Trump’s for-profit businesses’ legal obligations. As well as Trump’s payoff to Bondi–as Waldman mentions.

Got that?

That report is just the latest in Farenthold’s series of investigative reports on the Trump Foundation, for which I expect him to be nominated for a Pulitzer.

Added 9/20 at 4:58 p.m.

 

*Yes, it’s loose lips, not lose lips, that sink ships, as reader MS 57 kindly mentioned to me in the Comments thread.  Usually it is, anyway, although losing lips might prevent indiscrepencies of that sort.

Aaaaaargggggh.

Corrected 9/21 at 10:45 a.m.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , Comments (8) | |

Dear AB Readers: Please start a whispering campaign that I am Jewish.

Former Missouri Sen. John Danforth sharply criticized the state’s current political discourse during his eulogy for state auditor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Schweich on Tuesday.

“Words do hurt. Words can kill. That has been proven right here in our home state,” the Republican told an audience packed with the state’s top political figures, including Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Schweich died after an apparent suicide in his suburban St. Louis home last Thursday. Danforth said in his speech that he had spoken with Schweich two days before and that Schweich was “upset about” a radio commercial and a “whispering campaign” that he was Jewish.

John Danforth decries ‘anti-Semitic whispers’ in Tom Schweich eulogy, Nick Gass, Politico, today

This is a seriously weird political story, folks.  I read a lengthy background article about it on Friday, hours after the news of Schweich’s suicide broke, and it already was clear that this was no garden variety political story.  But, a whispering campaign that the guy was … Jewish?  In 2015?  In this country? In supposedly mainstream politics?  Seriously?

Okay, so anyway … please start that whispering campaign about me.  I myself am about to start one about Robert Waldmann.  I know it will upset him deeply, though, so just don’t tell him I’m the rumormonger, okay?

Tags: , , , Comments (20) | |

My Twitter Exchange With Jamelle Bouie

Washington Post contributor Jamelle Bouie, or @jbouie, posted the following to a thread in Alex Seitz-Wald’s Twitter feed (or whater it’s called) about my hyphenated-names post from earlier today:
Holy crap. That post would have been better if it were just “Look at this Jewry Jew Jew.”
To which I responded:
I don’t buy into the Jews-rule-the-world-with-their-hedge-funds-and-Neiman-Marcus-Holiday-Season-catalogues thing. But I’m Jewish.
Bouie responded graciously, saying:
Um, I was being really, really sarcastic when I sent that tweet.
I tweeted (oooock, I hate that word, but I guess that’s what I did) back:
Thanks for responding.  I was about to post a sarcastic response to you on Angry Bear. Suffice it to say that I’m not anti-Semitic.
Elsewhere in that thread, begun by Seitz-Wald, someone named Irin Carmon–like Seitz-Wald a staff writer for Salon, I just learned; I’d never heard of her before–tweeted:

that seemed like a very long way to say “Alex Seitz-Wald sounds like he’s Jewish”

She’s right, of course.  I mean, who knew that only Jews work on Wall Street and have Neiman’s credit cards?!  And that “Carlyle” is a Jewish name?!  Or, for that matter, that Seitz is?!

I’m not a Twitter user–wasn’t, that is, until an hour or so ago; I think it’sis ridiculous–but I opened an account this evening in order to repond to the many accusations of anti-Semitism in that Twitter thread, including from Seitz-Wald, who surely knows that Seitz is not usually a Jewish name, but figured I thought it was.

Carmon, by the way, is a Harvard alum, who in the Twitter thread said her kids have (surprise!) hyphenated last names.  She’s probably busy getting ready for the High Holidays next month.  I can tell by her last name.

—-

UPDATE: An exchange between reader Sheila and me in the Comments thread to this post:

SHEILA: I have a hard time understanding why post generation boomers are so negative about us. We cared about the poor, protested unnecessary wars, protested corruption and actually gave a shit about racism and the environment. Along with women’s rights. And for this we are vilified? It seems the right wing has been allowed to change the narrative to cast us as a bunch of stoned welfare recipients. I am a boomer and I kept my name because we moved to Alaska and I wanted my friends from the Bay Area and Madison to be able to find me . My kids are named after my husband. It honestly did not seem to matter. At any rate, I am really proud to be of my generation. I only hope that the generations to come eventually emulate us. Sheila

ME: And you think my post is about women who keep their married names after they marry, WHY EXACTLY, Sheila?

Let me spell it out: This post is about people WHO GIVE THEIR KIDS a last name that is: the mother’s last name, a hyphen, father’s last name.  This is a tiny segment of upscale people, almost all of them with degrees from fancy universities and from or currently living in a large metro upper-Atlantic coast area. I suspect that you could travel throughout, say, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, and almost every other non-northeastern or mid-Atlantic state, spending weeks in each, and never encounter a Millenial with a hyphenated mother’s-last-name/father’s-last-name last name.  Yet people with those last names are heavily represented in the student body of the most prestigous and expensive private colleges and universities, and in the upper-tier print news media and other no-one-but-people-with-upscale-backgrounds-need-apply professional circles.

To spell it out further: It’s about elitism. It’s about putting a neon sign on your kid that is intended to shout: “Upscale.” “From erudite, highly-educated family.”  Exactly the way, back in the early and mid-20th Century, the New England boarding prep schools, the Ivy League, the banking industry, the State Department, and ALL the other pillars of wealth and privilege were stocked with names like McGeorge Bundy, Erskine Bowles, Fill-in-the-Blanks-Wasp-Last-Name-As-First-Name.

 

Tags: , , , , Comments (18) | |

Richard Williamson and John Bolton are Jewish! Recent converts, apparently. [Updated.]

Are Richard Williamson and John Bolton—two of Romney’s three main foreign-policy advisors, and reportedly the two most influential—Jewish?  Really?

Or are they simply under the influence of Dan Senor and other manipulative neocon Jews?  Sorta like Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld were.

Oh, please.

—-

WARNING: Every word of the above post except the last two is said facetiously.

But this is not: The Dylan Byers Politico post that I link to has this quote:

“[The] weirdest part of the anti-semitic tropes on the [Maureen] Dowd column is how lazy they are,” Max Fisher, an editor at The Atlantic who is leaving to launch a foreign policy blog at the Washington Post, tweeted.

Apparently, mimicking Mitt Romney’s pot-calling-the-kettle-black habit has become quite the thing this season among conservatives.  Or maybe Fisher did investigate and has learned that Williamson and Bolton really haveconverted to Judaism.

Oh, and by the way: I’m Jewish.  Happy new year.

—–

UPDATE: Much to my surprise, a link to this post appears on the Jewish American Heritage Month website, at http://www.jewishamericanheritagemonth.com/jewish/richard-williamson-and-john-bolton-are-jewish-recent-converts.php.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , Comments (5) | |