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Trump Thanks Putin For Expelling 755 American Diplomats

Trump Russia

Late last month, after Congress overwhelmingly passed a bill that imposes new sanctions on Russia in retaliation for its interference in the 2016 Presidential campaign as well its actions against Ukraine and other neighbors, which President Trump ultimately signed into law after some speculation that he might veto it, Russian President Vladimir Putin took action against American diplomats stationed in Russia. First, mimicking an action that the Obama Administration had taken last December, the Russian Government seized two diplomatic properties used by the United States to support its embassy in Moscow and the staff that works there. In addition, Putin expelled more than 750 American diplomatic personnel from Russia, one of the harshest ordered reductions in staff by either country in more than thirty years and harkening back to the final days of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Speaking yesterday with reporters from his golf club in New Jersey where he is vacationing, President Trump thanked Putin for taking this action, seemingly throwing nearly 1,000 diplomats and their families, along with the entire State Department, under the bus:

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Trump offered gratitude rather than outrage on Thursday for Russia’s decision to force the United States Embassy in Moscow to slash its personnel by 755 people, despite bipartisan condemnation from other American leaders who protested the Cold War-style move.

President Vladimir V. Putin last month ordered the seizure of two American diplomatic properties and directed the American Embassy staff in Russia be cut by more than half in retaliation for sanctions imposed by Congress because of Russia’s meddling in last year’s presidential election in the United States.

“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down on payroll, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people, because now we have a smaller payroll,” Mr. Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. “There’s no real reason for them to go back. So I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We’ll save a lot of money.”

Mr. Trump said it with a somewhat light tone, but it was not clear if he was joking. A request to his spokeswoman for clarification was not immediately returned.

Either way, Mr. Trump’s comment was in keeping with his practice of not criticizing Mr. Putin — no matter how tense relations between the two countries have grown.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly praised Mr. Putin as a strong leader who has done good things for Russia. Challenged once by a Fox News interviewer about whether Mr. Putin was actually a killer, given the repeated slayings of opposition leaders and independent journalists in Russia, Mr. Trump defended the Kremlin leader by saying, “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”

Mr. Putin’s decision to slash the embassy staff recalled some of the most antagonistic moments of the long Cold War and was Russia’s largest such move against the American diplomatic corps in decades.

As of 2013, the latest year that numbers are publicly available, 1,279 people worked at the United States Embassy in Moscow and at American consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok. The vast majority of those who will lose their jobs are Russian nationals, not American diplomats, who will be brought home. Assuming the current force is about the same, Mr. Putin’s order will require a nearly 60 percent reduction.

Mr. Putin said he was reducing the American government’s overall presence to the equivalent of the Russian presence in the United States. But the total staff includes more than just State Department diplomats; other American government agencies have employees stationed in Russia, including the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, NASA and the Library of Congress.

American officials said the reduction ordered by Mr. Putin will have a significant effect on services, resulting, for example, in much slower processing of visas for Russian travelers to the United States. Another major function of any embassy is to collect local information and intelligence to inform policy makers back home, which will likely be hindered as a result.

“Cutting our staff by 755 people will do tremendous damage to our diplomatic mission in Russia,” said Michael A. McFaul, who was ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama. “That our president does not appreciate this obvious fact suggests he doesn’t understand what embassies do in the pursuit of American national interests.”

There are, of course, several flaws in Trump’s statement that demonstrate that either he doesn’t know how the world works, that he quite simply doesn’t care. First of all, Trump’s assertion that this will somehow save money on payroll is false. These diplomats are civil service employees and members of the foreign service. They aren’t going to be fired because they’ve been banned from Russia. Some will be reassigned to other countries, other will be put to work in Washington, D.C. Second, this is precisely the wrong response to an action like this. It makes Trump, and the United States, seem weak, and plays right into Putin’s hands, which is something that Trump has also done with regard to the NATO alliance and American policy in Syria. Finally, for a guy who claims that his campaign didn’t collaborate with Russia and that he is a “strong” President, this is yet another example of Trump taking action that is entirely consistent with what Putin wants. How you interpret that is up to you, but it certainly seems odd to me.

This, of course, is just the latest example of President Trump seeming to kowtow to the Russian President while simultaneously making critical comments about long-standing American allies in Europe and appearing at least initially to stand up firmly for the mutual self-defense provisions that the NATO alliance created. In the past he has praised Putin as a strong leader, often negatively comparing former President Obama to him, with Putin, of course, being the positive example because he was “strong” or something. When asked about the reports that Putin had been responsible for the death and imprisonment of journalists and political opponents, Trump responded by telling a reporter that ‘we kill people too,’ thus implying a moral equivalency that simply doesn’t exist. Trump also noticed that at several points during the 2016 campaign, Putin made seemingly obsequiously positive comments about Trump that were clearly designed to stroke Trump’s ego. In response, Trump opined that if a guy like Putin liked him, then he must be doing something right. Even before the allegations regarding Russian interference in the election and contacts between people close to Trump and Russian officials, Trump was making headlines by seeming to cozy up to the Russian dictator in ways that no American President had ever even conceived of doing.

If this weren’t actually happening, I’d think it was all some bizarre dream.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. george says:

    In the long list of incredibly stupid and harmful things Trump has said, this strikes me as pretty small potatoes. It strikes me as the political equivalent of an athlete’s trash talk – “that all you got?”

    Nothing he says is going to change the Russian decision to expel the diplomats, and expressing outrage isn’t going to be taken seriously by anyone anyway. The sanctions are already on; unless the expressed outrage is accompanied by increased sanctions, it’d be empty.

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  2. CSK says:

    The Trumpkins are in ecstasies because…Trump has very cleverly allowed Putin to shoulder the task of draining the swamp of all those Obama appointees infesting the diplomatic corps.

    No, I didn’t make that up.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    There are, of course, several flaws in Trump’s statement that demonstrate that either he doesn’t know how the world works, or that he quite simply doesn’t care.

    I’ll pick C) Both.

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  4. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Absolutely. He doesn’t know, and he doesn’t care.

    May I add a third point? He doesn’t have the capacity to learn.

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  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Trump was making headlines by seeming to cozy up to the Russian dictator in ways that no American President had ever even conceived of doing.

    IOKIYAR.

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK:

    He doesn’t have the capacity to learn.

    Because he doesn’t care, but he doesn’t know that he doesn’t care that he doesn’t know….

    Oh sh*t, I think I just stepped in Donald’s brains.

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  7. James Pearce says:

    Yes, Trump is a smart ass. Yes, he’s playing to the peanut gallery. Yes, he’s soft on Russia. Yes, his supporters are unprincipled dunderheads, especially on this subject.

    But credit where credit is due. Russia expelled our diplomats because we sanctioned them. Taking the piss may be a better response than taking umbrage. Obama wouldn’t have thanked them, that’s true.

    But he would have shrugged it off just the same.

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  8. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Trump thinks Putin fired American diplomats? JFC.

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  9. al-Alameda says:

    As of 2013, the latest year that numbers are publicly available, 1,279 people worked at the United States Embassy in Moscow and at American consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok. The vast majority of those who will lose their jobs are Russian nationals, not American diplomats, who will be brought home. Assuming the current force is about the same, Mr. Putin’s order will require a nearly 60 percent reduction.

    Trump, cutting government jobs at home and abroad.

    Also, I’d like to again thank those 62 million voters who thought that it was worth it to get a thin-skinned, vindictive, self-absorbed, and preening so-called businessman installed as the 45th president of the United States.

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  10. Franklin says:

    Another way to look at it: If this was such a great move, why didn’t Trump do it first?

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  11. DrDaveT says:

    @george:

    It strikes me as the political equivalent of an athlete’s trash talk – “that all you got?”

    Agreed.

    I am second to none in my contempt for Trump’s (absence of) abilities, judgment, morals, and intellect — but I interpreted this one all along as the equivalent of watching your house burn down and saying “Well, good — now I don’t have to go to the trouble of taking down that crappy wallpaper in the basement.” Being Trump, of course, he didn’t even make a good joke out of it, but that’s a lesser crime.

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  12. michael reynolds says:

    Trump is owned by Putin. There is literally no other explanation that fits the facts. This is not affection, it is not policy, the President of the United States is a Russian puppet. Yes, that is reality.

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  13. James Pearce says:

    @al-Alameda:

    Also, I’d like to again thank those 62 million voters who

    sup on your misery and drink from your tears, for they have a feast before them and much to celebrate.

    Trump trolls a reporter with a transparently dumb answer and the left’s stiff upper lip starts trembling. Gonna be a long administration, guys…

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  14. teve tory says:

    @michael reynolds: Yeah, but at least Putin’s not Hillary!

    [/CompleteIdiot]

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  15. KM says:

    @James Pearce:
    See, here’s where the disbelieving hyperbole bit from the other thread comes in. How do you know Trump is intentionally trolling? With all the stupid sh^t that regularly comes out of his mouth, why in the world do you think this particular bit of verbiage is different then, oh, the crap about insurance only being $12? What gives this the benefit of the doubt in your mind?

    You keep trying to scold us for not giving him credibility for rationality, mostly because you like to tout being “level-headed”. However, a level-headed person would look at the preponderance of evidence in front of them and conclude Trump’s being stupid again, not witty. Logically, it’s consistent with his behavior and demonstrated understanding the world. It’s pretty clear he wasn’t issuing a bon mot because that’s simply not what he does – he says weird things that retroactively become “jokes” when he gets called on them.

    It keeps getting noted over and over again – Trump’s sense of “humor” isn’t something the rest of the planet gets and requires constant “explanations”. One of these days his little trolling is going to bite him in the ass and no amount of j/k backtracking will fix it.

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  16. Tyrell says:

    Trump is probably looking to swing a deal with the Russians on the property. (bugs included for free).
    “Art of the Russian Deal”

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  17. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Interesting side note to this: Team Trump is apparently going to throw Manafort to the wolves in retaliation for ratting out Donny Junior. Hence the National Enquirer story about Manafort’s multiple affairs with women half his age, which “quite coincidentally” broke a few hours after the raid on Manafort’s house was reported the other day.

    Has it occurred to any of these geniuses that when Manafort turns on them, they’re going to be in deep defecation? You think he’ll keep his mouth shut after Trump stuck a shiv in him?

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  18. dmhlt says:

    Thanking Putin for boosting the unemployment rate?
    And Trump thinks he’s the “Jobs” president?
    *sigh*

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  19. DrDaveT says:

    @dmhlt:

    And Trump thinks he’s the “Jobs” president?

    No no, you keep forgetting — working for the federal government doesn’t count as a job. Seriously. To the GOP, the correct number of federal employees is fewer than we have now, always. They have an axiom that says federal salaries are a dead loss to the economy — federal workers don’t produce anything, and they sometimes hinder production of Real Stuff(tm). Oh, except for the military — nothing’s too good for our people in uniform, though we need to fire a bunch of DoD civilians…

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  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    Trump trolls a reporter with a transparently dumb answer and the left’s stiff upper lip starts trembling.

    If this is the best you can do, give it up. I’m not even sure what you are trying to say in these threads anymore other than “I’m better than every one else.”

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  21. James Pearce says:

    @KM:

    How do you know Trump is intentionally trolling?

    He lies to the press shamelessly and continuously. This takes many forms, from mere exaggeration to straight-up bullshit. Trump knows this is going to be reported and people are going to tear their hair out and rend their garments, and he’s going to sit back, knowing that, yes, he was being ridiculous, but look at how ridiculous these clowns are being.

    This is classic abuser behavior. Making the victim an accomplice, and seriously, cut it out. We’re not children, stuck in the custody of abusive parents. We’re not battered wives, too attached to leave. We are the opposition.

    Have you ever seen The Taming of the Shrew? Trump is telling us that the sun is the moon and we’re going “Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me too.”

    We act like he’s actually thanking Putin for kicking out our diplomats, like he actually thinks this is a good way to cut the budget.

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  22. CSK says:

    @James Pearce:

    Well, Trump’s supporters certainly believe that this is a good way to cut the budget.

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  23. Jen says:

    @James Pearce: If he’s just d!ck!ng around with the press, he has zero basis on which to whine about how “unfair” they are to him.

    He’s President, for God’s sake. There is a way to respond to this question without undercutting his already demoralized Department of State. People seem to be forgetting that most of his open positions have yet to be staffed, and at some point he won’t have to thank Putin for reducing the payroll–people who are doing the work of multiple, unfilled vacancies are going to start leaving.

    We lose more than “payroll” when this happens. We lose the collective depth of understanding that is present in each embassy, in each consulate. We lose connections to our allies, and links to intelligence operatives who inform us about opponents.

    The utterly dismissive attitude State gets from both the President and the Secretary of State should be alarming–diplomacy and intelligence are two CORE functions of government. We are far less safe, and are hamstringing ourselves in the future, when we allow State to wither.

    That’s what I took away from President Smartaleck’s comments.

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  24. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Comb-over Donnie in October, 2012:

    Polls are starting to look really bad for Obama. Looks like he’ll have to start a war or major conflict to win. Don’t put it past him!

    Things that make you go, hmmmmmm….

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  25. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce: From my vantage point here in Fed Gov, nobody cares whether he was joking or not, because what he said was both inappropriate and stupid. A teenager gets a pass for stuff like that, but the President? Really? I think not.

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  26. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @James Pearce:
    You really think Trump is much smarter than the evidence suggests.

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  27. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce:

    We act like

    Speaking only for myself, I’m not acting. I think that this is probably true, with the caveat that Trump doesn’t actually think in the way normal people mean.

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  28. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    This doesn’t really get me too upset…whats he supposed to say? Threaten Russia with “fire and fury?”
    I’m more astounded by half of the Banana Republicans wanting to let Trump extend his term for imaginary reasons.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/08/10/in-a-new-poll-half-of-republicans-say-they-would-support-postponing-the-2020-election-if-trump-proposed-it/?utm_term=.96b5f993d68a

    ReplyReply

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  29. James Pearce says:

    @CSK:

    Well, Trump’s supporters certainly believe that this is a good way to cut the budget.

    Trump supporters are idiots.

    Can we stop being outwitted by them now? And if not now, can it be soon?

    @Jen:

    We lose the collective depth of understanding that is present in each embassy, in each consulate. We lose connections to our allies, and links to intelligence operatives who inform us about opponents.

    Yes, of course. But there is an upside to telling Putin and the world it was a swing and a miss instead of a direct hit. Isn’t there?

    @Mikey:

    nobody cares whether he was joking or not, because what he said was both inappropriate and stupid.

    President Trump is both inappropriate and stupid, whereas we’re, what, just stupid?

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    You really think Trump is much smarter than the evidence suggests.

    I think he’s smarter than the average lefty thinks he is. He might even be smarter than the average lefty.

    Compare how he acts and what he does with where he is. I know, I know….the prevailing theory is that Trump is POTUS because racism/sexism.

    It’s a comforting thought. It means Trump is not our fault. But what if he is?

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  30. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    It’s a comforting thought. It means Trump is not our fault. But what if he is?

    Yeah, I know, the liberal insistence that gays and people of color be accorded the same level of rights enjoyed by straight white people so enraged the straight white people that they retaliated by electing Trump.

    It’s all our fault! Nostra culpa, nostra maxima culpa!

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  31. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @James Pearce:

    the prevailing theory is that Trump is POTUS because racism/sexism.

    He’s the POTUS because 46% of this nation is flat out stupid…yes, if you voted for Dumb Don you are flat-out stupid…and because of an electoral college fluke.
    To your point…yes, most stupid people are racist/sexist.

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  32. teve tory says:

    To your point…yes, most stupid people are racist/sexist.

    Poll: Roy Moore Leads In Alabama Senate Special Election GOP Primary

    stupid and racist and thumpers!

    The former chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court is in the lead ahead of Tuesday’s Republican primary election, a move toward filling Attorney General Jeff Sessions former seat in the Senate, according to a poll released by the Trafalgar Group Friday.

    The poll showed Moore leading the field, with 35 percent support. That’s more than 10 percentage points ahead of Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), who garnered 23 percent in the poll.

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  33. KM says:

    @James Pearce:

    This is classic abuser behavior. Making the victim an accomplice, and seriously, cut it out. We’re not children, stuck in the custody of abusive parents. We’re not battered wives, too attached to leave. We are the opposition.

    Interesting you went with that analogy since you constantly downplay said abuser’s bad behavior and offer paper-thin rationales for why its not so bad even as it does it again to your face. Yes, Trump glories in causing a scene and being a sh^t-stirrer. It probably gives him in inappropriate fuzzies like the alt-right gets over “liberal tears”. But James, you stand here and repeatedly blame everyone but Trump for the fallout of his actions and tell them their wrong to feel upset in what said abuser does to them. This is the logic of the enabling spouse who tells the beaten child they shouldn’t have enraged him and just go to your room already, you know how he is. Anyone who’s ever been abused would listen to the excuses you hand out and hear echoes of family members who’s “advice” was to don’t take him so seriously, why are you so overly sensitive? You know if you weren’t so sensitive, his lies wouldn’t bother you! That logic always seems to come back to blame on the victim for their reaction, not the abuser for the cause.

    I think it’s incredibly interesting that we live in a time where the President of the United States feels free to tweet out unscripted BS, flat out lie to your face and randomly threaten nations but god forbid liberals take it *seriously* because he’s obviously trolling. My god, what drama queens!

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  34. Franklin says:

    @James Pearce: I think James here has more than a hint of truth here. Like the infamous transgender tweet and several hundred other things Trump has said, we really shouldn’t be wasting all our energy on arguing about how ridiculous it is. He and his core supporters love it when we get upset over everything. Despite my earlier comment, I do think Trump was joking/trolling here (even though yes, many of his core supporters really do believe this is a good way to trim the budget).

    As for his intelligence, if I had to guess his IQ and if IQ really had a solid meaning, I’d peg him around 115. And that might indeed be similar to or even higher than the average lefty (which I consider to be a different number than the average Democratic voter which is probably very average).

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  35. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey:

    the liberal insistence that gays and people of color be accorded the same level of rights enjoyed by straight white people so enraged the straight white people that they retaliated by electing Trump

    I don’t believe that’s what happened, Mikey. Trump flipped Wisconsin, Michigan, and Penn. He won a slight majority of white women, which muddies the “angry white male” narrative.

    In other words, the liberal insistence that women, gays, and POC be accorded the same level of rights to straight white males has devolved into “Kathryn Bigelow better not dare make a movie depicting black bodies getting brutalized by white people” and “Kamala Harris for president!”

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  36. al-Ameda says:

    @James Pearce:

    sup on your misery and drink from your tears, for they have a feast before them and much to celebrate.

    Trump trolls a reporter with a transparently dumb answer and the left’s stiff upper lip starts trembling. Gonna be a long administration, guys…

    First, what’s “sup”? … no pun intended
    Second, who has the feast before them? The Russians? The 62 million? Both?
    Third, I forgot, words don’t matter, my bad
    Fourth, I promise you I’ll try harder to understand those resentful and very aggrieved Trump supporters who strongly support efforts to; rollback healthcare for millions; weaken environmental standards for water and clean air; open up federal (public) lands for mining and oil drilling; and of course want again to leverage the threat of default on federal securities against their budget and policy demands.

    If only I understood them I too might support all of that.

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  37. James Pearce says:

    @KM:

    This is the logic of the enabling spouse

    No, it’s not that simple. It’s the logic of someone who is sick of the excuses and is prepared to lay down some hard truths.

    @Franklin:

    He and his core supporters love it when we get upset over everything.

    Indeed. I think his unnerving talent for generating rage was what separated him from the pack and continues to be the source of his biggest support.

    The more goal-oriented folks on the right, they’re probably not that impressed so far.

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  38. george says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    He’s President because 95% of people who bother to vote always vote for the same party, whatever they think of the candidate – its a team sport for them, and it doesn’t matter if they think the local quarterback is an a-hole who couldn’t throw a spiral to save his life, he’s their team’s quarterback and that’s who they’re voting for. Don’t be fooled by Internet forums, which engage maybe a few million out of the hundred million voters, most people don’t spend ten minutes thinking about politics, and for the same reason most of us haven’t read a single article on say climate change in a peer reviewed journal like “Nature” or “Science” – they’ve got other things to do.

    Of the remaining 5% who will actually change which party they vote for depending on the candidate, I suspect each had their own reasons for voting the way they did. Most of them probably based it on a single 30 second advertisement (most people who are interested in politics have a home team, as a quick look at this or any other political site shows).

    I asked one overly educated friend (physics prof) why he spends almost no time at all reading about politics, and often doesn’t bother voting (he’s Canadian, so we’re talking about Canadian elections). He asked me how much time I spent analyzing the arguably at least as pressing issues involving the climate, artificial intelligence, bio-science. I could only reply I didn’t have time to do that, so I went with what the experts said. Which experts? The ones I liked, since I clearly don’t have the expertise to personally choose between experts. For instance, Elon Musk says we’re dooming ourselves with work on machine learning. Zuckerberg says there’s no problem. How am I to know which is right? I could spend time reading up on, but I’ve too many other things to do.

    And that is how most of America looks at elections. You’re kidding yourself if you think most people know anything either Clinton or Trump said during the campaign. In fact, pretty much half the population didn’t even care enough to vote.

    Confusing intelligence with lack of interest is satisfying, but wrong. We all end up choosing which experts to believe in every part of life, and usually without even a glance at the original sources. Why should politics be any different?

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  39. Kylopod says:

    @James Pearce:

    He won a slight majority of white women, which muddies the “angry white male” narrative.

    But he did notably worse among white women than Romney, McCain, and Bush. Winning a majority of an already Republican-leaning demographic isn’t much of a bragging point if Republicans normally do better among that group.

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  40. the Q says:

    Lock him up!!! Lock him up!!!! Lock him up!!! Lock him up!!!! Lock him up!!!!

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  41. James Pearce says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I promise you I’ll try harder to understand those resentful and very aggrieved Trump supporters who strongly support efforts to; rollback healthcare for millions; weaken environmental standards for water and clean air; open up federal (public) lands for mining and oil drilling; and of course want again to leverage the threat of default on federal securities against their budget and policy demands.

    They don’t want to “rollback healthcare for millions.” They want to improve healthcare results and reduce its costs. They’ve been convinced that “rolling back healthcare for millions” is the vehicle that will take them to that place. They have not been convinced that Obamacare is.

    If they want to weaken environmental standards, it’s for economic reasons, not comic book villain reasons. We could provide them an alternative idea that would satisfy their economic concerns, but why do that when we could virtue signal our way into political irrelevance?

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  42. grumpy realist says:

    @James Pearce: except that we’re also dealing with the segment of the US population that is perfectly happy to burn the entire house down just to cock a snook as “those elites”.

    Talk about having a chip on your shoulder a mile high. That’s Trump’s base. They want REVENGE for not being treated the way they think their race/skin color/sex/family background entitle them to.

    At least here in the US if someone decided to “not take a job” because “those jobs” were only for immigrants and then whined about the level of welfare payments everyone would say, put a sock in it. (So we’re at least better than some of the British Brexit supporters.)

    If you want to see the mess caused by indulging people with a chip on their shoulder acting without thought, take a look and see what will happen to the U.K….

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  43. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @george:

    Confusing intelligence with lack of interest is satisfying, but wrong.

    If you voted for Trump then you are stupid. You voted for a man uniquely unqualified for the office.
    You voted for a man that will set this country back decades. You voted for a 70 year old child. End of story.

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  44. Gustopher says:

    I’m surprised he didn’t expel 756 Russian diplomats, in an effort to literally one up Putin. Let’s just hopefully call this “restraint” and move on.

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  45. Jen says:

    @James Pearce:

    Yes, of course. But there is an upside to telling Putin and the world it was a swing and a miss instead of a direct hit. Isn’t there?

    No, not really. Because Putin knows that the only ones who were cut from payroll are the Russian employees, the US embassy employees are still on the payroll. They don’t just get randomly fired when this happens, they get reassigned or are based out of DC for a bit. It’s disruptive as hell for the embassy families, and will cost US taxpayers a ton of money to have them moved out en masse like that. It was a dumb comment, not funny, and again, demoralizing for State Dept. employees.

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  46. KM says:

    @James Pearce :
    Are you the person who argues a drunk driver shouldn’t go to jail for manslaughter because they didn’t mean to hit the person? Or the doctor who leaves a tool in a patient shouldn’t be sued because they clearly didn’t mean to do that?

    Your argument is lack of malicious intent with lack of viable options should excuse negative consequences when in reality such a notion doesn’t fly. The road to hell is paved in good intentions. I don’t care that nobody on the right is literally standing around doing a Simpsons-esque “excellent!” when it results in black-lung and polluted waters. If you tell them their actions will cause problems and they do it anyways for whatever reason, that makes them guilty because they were made aware of the nature of their actions. If you tell me stealing is wrong and I steal to feed my family, i’m still committing theft albeit with a sympathetic backstory. If you want to rollback healthcare for millions to make it cheaper for yourself, you are still taking care away from those that need it. If you choose to poison the atmosphere to keep a tiny town alive for a few more years instead of trying a new industry, you are still choosing to screw up your world.

    For someone who values level-headedness, you sure do go out of your way to pass the buck on responsibility. They make the choices they do, not because of lack of options, but because that’s the option that they want to follow for their own benefit. Own it – to save themselves money, they’d throw another under the bus. It might be the only thing they can do to stay personally afloat but that doesn’t change what it is. They like the lies they are told to make them feel better for having shoved others. It’s not virtue signaling to point out when someone’s actually lacking in virtue – it used to be known as “calling a spade a spade”.

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  47. Neil Hudelson says:

    @James Pearce:

    In other words, the liberal insistence that women, gays, and POC be accorded the same level of rights to straight white males has devolved into “Kathryn Bigelow better not dare make a movie depicting black bodies getting brutalized by white people”

    You beat that strawman! You beat him until he’s good and dead!

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  48. Neil Hudelson says:

    @James Pearce:

    It’s the logic of someone who is sick of the excuses and is prepared to lay down some hard truths.

    You’ve been asked repeatedly to, you know, actually lay down those truths. You’ve demurred, even saying its not your job to do such. When you have tried to ‘lay down a hard truth’ so far those truths have been “people aren’t talking about things I don’t like them talking about.”

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  49. James Pearce says:

    @Kylopod:

    an already Republican-leaning demographic

    I seem to recall assumptions that women were going to vote Hillary, either because of her awesome pro-woman policies or the awful Access Hollywood tape. That is to say, sure, it’s not that surprising they broke for Trump when you consider all factors.

    But that process didn’t start on the left until January probably, and for some, it hasn’t even started at all.

    @grumpy realist:

    except that we’re also dealing with the segment of the US population that is perfectly happy to burn the entire house

    Most of the US population is perfectly happy to watch the entire house burn down if it means they would have made their point. We’re not innocent on this either.

    @Jen:

    It’s disruptive as hell for the embassy families

    Sure is. It’s utterly indefensible, further testament to how NOT OUR FRIENDS the Russians really are. Further testament too to Trump’s unfitness for office.

    And, also, I’m afraid, testament to the futility of our efforts to supplant him.

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  50. grumpy realist says:

    @James Pearce: Sounds like what you’re saying is: Americans are stupid and at some point will reap the consequence of said stupidity and it’s impossible to expect Americans to learn any better.

    Oh well, I always felt that we were culturally living off the ever-dwindling traces of New England thrift and resourcefulness, backed up with the refugee brains from Europe during WWII. If we really want to make sure that none of “them furriners” come here again for greater opportunities, letting the US dwindle in to a third rate country with nothing more than cheap moonshine, aggressive Christianity and everyone outfitted with guns should be a bloody good way to do it….

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  51. James Pearce says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    You beat that strawman!

    Straw people, Neil. With links and a pretty decent non-racialized, non-politicized review of the film to boot.

    You’ve been asked repeatedly to, you know, actually lay down those truths.

    In the context of that comment, the “hard truth” is that Carmela Soprano was an enabler/accomplice in her own abuse, full of unimpressive excuses for the “depressed criminal, prone to anger, serially unfaithful” man who was ruining her life.

    As for my prescriptions, we’ve been over them. Many times. My campaign slogan will be “Making liberals liberal again.” We’re going to reacquaint the left with the virtues of free speech, empathy, and racial equality.

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  52. MarkedMan says:

    Can someone pull me out of Spam purgatory?

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  53. Kylopod says:

    @James Pearce:

    I seem to recall assumptions that women were going to vote Hillary

    Who predicted she would win the white female vote, completely defying the usual leanings of that demographic? I’d like names here.

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  54. george says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Elon Musk or Stephen Hawking could say that if you haven’t been following the potential dangers of machine learning (which they claim could wipe out humanity) then you’re an idiot.

    Or if you haven’t been reading the source materials on climate change you’re an idiot.

    There are so many ways of being idiots today, because there are so many critical issues out there. So everyone gets to choose in what way they are idiots. The fact is, most people spend most of their time just dealing with day to day issues. Following politics, or machine learning, or climate change, or genetic variability of crops, or microbe resistance, or any of a number of things with as big or bigger long term dangers than politics takes up more time than most people have.

    So, how many of the issues that experts say could either end civilization (or even wipe out humanity) are you following close enough to have an informed opinion on them? Remember, if you miss any of them you’re an idiot.

    Seriously, the goal is to nullify Trump by winning in 2018 and then 2020, not to feel better about ourselves by insulting people too busy to think about politics. If we could get even a few percent of the 45% of eligible voters who can’t be bothered to vote we’d win in a landslide.

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  55. James Pearce says:

    @Kylopod:

    I’d like names here.

    How many?

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  56. Kylopod says:

    @James Pearce: Five.

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  57. James Pearce says:

    @Kylopod: Donna Brazille, Karen Finney, Jennifer Lawless (director of the Women and Politics Institute), everyone at Emily’s List and Planned Parenthood –yes, that’s cheating– and Lena Dunham.

    If you want, you can take off Dunham and replace her with Feinstein, Pelosi, Gillibrand, Waters, M. Obama, etc.

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  58. teve tory says:

    Or if you haven’t been reading the source materials on climate change you’re an idiot.

    It doesn’t take a lot of material to know enough about climate change to vote intelligently.

    1) CO2 traps heat. We’ve known that since Arrhenius in 1896.

    2) Fossil fuels are 95% carbon.

    3) we dump 38 billion tons of CO2 into the sky every year.

    4) global temperatures have gone up since the industrial revolution.

    5) when CO2 dissolves into the ocean it forms carbonic acid. The ocean has measurably acidified over the last few decades.

    6) 97% of the relevant scientists think this is a big problem. Even Exxon’s own scientists told them it was a big problem in internal documents in the 1970’s.

    7)The people who go on tv and claim it isn’t a problem are often paid by fossil fuel companies, are frequently creationists, occasionally are GOP politicians, etc.

    You can argue about details, scientists do so every day, but the basic facts are as clear as pure Plexiglass.

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  59. teve tory says:

    But you know, aside from that, in a representative democracy, you don’t even need to wade into the details as much as you might think. If you vote for smart people with good values, like Liz Warren, Al Franken, etc., you can trust them to make decent decisions on most topics. If you vote for stupid people with shitty values (© Republican Party) like Roy Moore, Rick Perry, Louie Gohmert, etc, you’ll get shitty decisions on most topics.

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  60. Tyrell says:

    @the Q: Ventura 2020

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  61. Kylopod says:

    @James Pearce: I just looked up several of those names on Google, and I didn’t find any quotes where they predict Clinton will win the white female vote.

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  62. An Interested Party says:

    test

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  63. James Pearce says:

    @Kylopod:

    I didn’t find any quotes where they predict Clinton will win the white female vote

    During your googling, did you find any of those people even referring to “white women?” Even if it’s not capitalized, you can almost hear it in their voices. It’s Women.

    Old women, young women, white women, black women, Latinas, Asians. Women. Hillary’s not with them. They’re “with her.”

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  64. James Pearce says:

    PS. I don’t want to give the impression I’m against “women’s issues.” I just think Hillary assumed she had “Women” all sewn up.

    And she didn’t.

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  65. Scott O says:

    Doug, Thanks for another great column.

    If this weren’t actually happening, I’d think it was all some bizarre dream.

    Agreed. We are living in interesting times. I hope it doesn’t get too interesting.

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  66. Monala says:

    @george: the difference between politics and most of those others issues is that the average person has a say in the former. They can contact their legislators, campaign for politicians they support, and vote. It kind of makes sense to be a bit more informed in that case.

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  67. george says:

    @teve tory:

    Greenhouse gases have been part of the atmosphere for billions of years. Why do we think today’s concentrations are dangerous? Because of computer models, which are based on a system of non-linear differential equations put on various grids. Typically the models run the oceans, atmosphere, and biosphere separately, with many of the interactions (even vital processes like turbulent mixing) parameterized. These models are actually pretty good (and yes, I’ve actually taken a bit of time to read some of the papers, though sadly most of it requires more specialization than I have time to give it). Long term predictions are always iffy, but the general predictions fit recent history fairly well, giving some confidence about their strength in predicting the future.

    The point being, effort has to be put into understanding these issues, and there’s only so much time. So at a certain point people just go with the experts – what the climate modelers say, what your doctor says, what your mechanic or plumber says.

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  68. george says:

    @teve tory:

    I’d be willing to bet heavily that at least half the population hasn’t heard of any of the politicians you mentioned on either side. In fact, I’d be surprised if half could even name a current vice-President.

    You have to follow politics to know those names.

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  69. george says:

    @Monala:

    If you don’t understand the underlying problems, what difference does your say in things make? Listening to politics is the last step in the decision process.

    Its like choosing the captain of your football team without knowing anything about football.

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  70. Monala says:

    @James Pearce: I agree with you that a lot of Democrats and Hillary Clinton thought she’d win white women. Last fall, I kept wondering why the polls were so close since the white women demographic is so large. That should have been a clue, and it’s probably a major reason so many predicted the election so badly.

    Outside of that, your arguments on this thread are full of sh*t. You equate what a few elite academics and some social media activists say about a media depiction (which most Americans probably haven’t heard of) with the breadth of concerns that people of color and LGBT folks have about their rights and safety, and act like the latter is unimportant, at least in comparison to the concerns of rural white people.

    By the way, the folks on the left who want to burn it all down? They tend to be folks like Susan Sarandon and the worst of the Bernie Bros. You know who doesn’t want to burn it all down, and still cares about good government and working within the system to improve it? The mainstream Democrats who you’re so critical of.

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  71. Andre Kenji says:

    @James Pearce:

    I seem to recall assumptions that women were going to vote Hillary, either because of her awesome pro-woman policies or the awful Access Hollywood tape. That is to say, sure, it’s not that surprising they broke for Trump when you consider all factors.

    To be fair, I’ve never imagined someone being elected to the governorship of a very poor province or state in a Latin American country after being filmed saying that he was going to grab the genitals of women. Imagining someone being elected to the White House saying the same thing was even more difficult.

    But I think that people in the left think that women are going to vote for women candidates just because they want women candidates. I lived in São Paulo(That had two female mayors since 1989), I remember two Presidential elections with a female candidate – polls showed that Dilma Rousseff did not have advantage among women voters in her two elections.

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  72. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    [or] that he quite simply doesn’t care.

    Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner! Everyone clear your cards for the start of the next game.

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  73. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Jen:

    the only ones who were cut from payroll are the Russian employees, the US embassy employees are still on the payroll.

    Considering that Russian embassy employees are probably in support positions–receptionists, stenographer/clerks, custodial staff, kitchen staff (??), etc–don’t these termination/decertifications actually end up costing the US more money when we have to bring in people from the States (who may need to speak Russian BTW) to do these jobs?

    Or do we just stop answering the telephones and sweeping the floors?

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  74. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: First The Rock, now Jesse Ventura. Jeez… :-(

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  75. JohnMcC says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: My ‘Bing’ facepage tells me that a major republican player (Steven Law) is encouraging Kid Rock to run for the U.S. Senate against Debbie Stabinow.

    Anybody? Who is Kid Rock? When I was growing up only a professional boxer would have had that name.

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  76. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    He’s a big cross-over artist doing rap-rock and country-rock. He wrote the song used as Romney’s campaign song and leans Libertarian/GOP. Oh. And he was married to Pamela Anderson and had one of these sex tape mini-scandals IIRC.

    He’s seems like a good fit for the current Republican party as he grew up affluent and became bloody rich but puts forward a faux-working class, hard-living, tough-boy exterior. Someone on my twitter timeline put it as “a rich man’s idea of a working-class man”.

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  77. James Pearce says:

    @Monala:

    Outside of that, your arguments on this thread are full of sh*t. You equate what a few elite academics and some social media activists say about a media depiction (which most Americans probably haven’t heard of) with the breadth of concerns that people of color and LGBT folks have about their rights and safety, and act like the latter is unimportant, at least in comparison to the concerns of rural white people.

    To be fair…I have never acted like the concerns that POC and LGBT folks have about their rights and safety are “unimportant,” and if I’ve given that impression, bad on me.

    I have, however, been very critical about the left’s culture wars, and pretty up front that I consider them to be a contributing factor to our current political environment, with “white nationalists” carrying tiki torches and all that.

    As it concerns “Detroit,” I think it’s an interesting case study. For years, we’ve heard from social justice types that Hollywood is dominated –the word always used to describe it– by white males who stunt the careers of women filmmakers and won’t tell “non-white stories.” And yet every time Kathryn Bigelow makes a movie, there’s a chorus of voices rising up saying “She can’t make that!” None of them thought she could make a war movie until they saw the Hurt Locker. Later, others were upset that she didn’t turn Zero Dark Thirty into an anti-torture memo. And now she has Detroit, a female filmmaker telling an untold and topical non-white story, and again, the chorus sings. Same song. “She can’t make that!”

    Yes, she can.

    @Andre Kenji:

    But I think that people in the left think that women are going to vote for women candidates just because they want women candidates.

    Yeah, there’s something to that. For instance, I think a lot of people are looking with interest at Kamala Harris because a) she’s black, b) she’s a woman, and c) they don’t know anything else about her. That kind of superficial understanding of politics is not helpful.

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  78. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “None of them thought she could make a war movie until they saw the Hurt Locker. ”

    To be fair, before The Hurt Locker Bigelow had made a string of incredibly stupid thrillers like Blue Steel, Point Break and Strange Days and seemed to have a Tim Burton-level inability to tell a coherent story.

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  79. de stijl says:

    @wr:

    Does Kathryn Bigelow have a worse track record than her peers and contemporaries?

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  80. de stijl says:

    Re: Trump thanking Putin for reducing DoS payroll

    If something you say is guaranteed to be replayed next election against you, maybe you should restrain yourself.

    Who am I fooling? Like Trump will run again. Or that Trump can restrain himself. Silly me.

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  81. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    CTRL-F “sarc”

    Phrase not found.

    Neither Mr. Mataconis nor a single member of the commentariat here recognizes sarcasm?

    Just when you think the people here have hit rock bottom… they keep digging.

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  82. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    I have, however, been very critical about the left’s culture wars

    Yes, you have.

    The asymmetry you don’t seem to get is that these “culture wars” happen out on the fringe of Democratic politics, among celebrities and a few academics that, frankly, I’ve never heard of and who have no role at all in the Democratic Party or its platform. Bernie Sanders changed that a little bit — but not a lot.

    On the flip side, the GOP version of the culture warriors set the party’s platform, and exert massive influence on the politicians themselves — to the point that some of them (including Our Glorious Leader) are merely tools of the fringe.

    To me, it looks like you’re doing exactly what J-e-n-o-s used to do all the time — you’re making a false equivalence between what some whacko citizens aligned with one party do on the one hand, with what the actual party leadership and elected officials do on the other hand. It’s pernicious nonsense. Social Justice Warriors are not the left, and they are certainly not the Democratic Party.

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  83. CSK says:

    The White house has issued a statement claiming that Trump was only joking, so now the fan club has to do a 180 and maintain that they knew that all along.

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    The problem is, Trump blurts out such an unending stream of witless/deranged/bellicose/vulgar nonsense that any attempts he may make at satire are indistinguishable from what constitutes a “serious” remark.

    He congratulated the governor of Guam on the island becoming a tourist attraction in the wake of North Korea’s threats. Sarcasm? You tell me.

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  84. grumpy realist says:

    @DrDaveT: I wonder how these idiots think that patents and trademarks get examined, approved and registered with the US government? IP fairies?

    Anyone who doesn’t think the US government does anything worthwhile should be forced to live for at least five years in a place without government.

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  85. teve tory says:

    The asymmetry you don’t seem to get is that these “culture wars” happen out on the fringe of Democratic politics, among celebrities and a few academics that, frankly, I’ve never heard of and who have no role at all in the Democratic Party or its platform. Bernie Sanders changed that a little bit — but not a lot.

    On the flip side, the GOP version of the culture warriors set the party’s platform, and exert massive influence on the politicians themselves — to the point that some of them (including Our Glorious Leader) are merely tools of the fringe.

    ‘Zactly. Bernie’s one dude. The House Freedumb Caucus is 30-40 people.

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  86. de stijl says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    I lived through the Ventura governorship.

    It was remarkably ineffective.

    He had positive attributes, but what killed him is that he was markedly thin-skinned and pouty. Sound familiar? No legislative constituency. No one in government owed him anything or could expect any substantial benefit for supporting him.

    Again, sound familiar?

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  87. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @CSK: Doug described the vote for the sanctions as “overwhelming.” That was an understatement.

    The House vote was 422-3.

    The Senate vote was 98-2.

    Just for the record, the thresholds for overturning a presidential veto are 290 in the House and 67 in the Senate. And to be perfectly clear, 422 is way more than 290, and 98 is way more than 67.

    So, what should Trump do in a case like this? He literally had no say in the sanctions that Russia was reacting to, so he tosses off a flippant remark. Should he acknowledge that the anti-Russia hawks (in the Democrats’ case, they’re extremely recent converts to this — basically, since November of last year, when Hillary needed a scapegoat for her failure) have completely and totally won in this case? Should he point out that he has zero maneuvering room in this matter?

    Every day the truth of the statement “Trump supporters take his statements seriously but not literally; Trump opponents take his statements literally, but not seriously” becomes more and more obvious.

    Trump is stating that he’s not going to let Putin get under his skin, and that he intends to defend Guam should North Korea actually carry out an attack (or even act like they’re going to attack).

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  88. teve tory says:

    Bigelow had made a string of incredibly stupid thrillers like…, Point Break

    You shut your FACE.

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  89. DrDaveT says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I wonder how these idiots think that patents and trademarks get examined, approved and registered with the US government? IP fairies?

    That’s a good example, partly because it’s important and partly because you and I both know that it is massively underfunded — we don’t have nearly enough patent examiners, and they aren’t nearly knowledgeable enough, and their compensation system is insane.

    I am so sick of the GOP trying to prove that government can’t work, even if they have to break it themselves to make it true.

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  90. wr says:

    @de stijl:” Does Kathryn Bigelow have a worse track record than her peers and contemporaries?”

    In what way? I disliked most of her early films, but there are people I know and respect who admire them, so on some level it’s personal taste. I was merely making the point that until The Hurt Locker she had never made anything that would have been considered a “serious” film.

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  91. MarkedMan says:

    @wr: Wait, Bigelow did Point Break and Strange Days? I liked those movies! OK, I’m not claiming they were deep intellectual fodder but they were really watchable. And I remember thinking that “Near Dark” was a darn good vampire movie, years before the whole twinkle vampire steamroller happened.

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  92. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    They need to acquaint themselves with civil service rules. I’d wager that most, if not all, of those affected have career tenure. They’re permanent. Removing them from employment isn’t as easy as recalling them from abroad.

    What we now have is a group of federal employees being paid (for the short term) to do absolutely nothing while State tries to figure out how to redeploy them.

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  93. Guarneri says:

    How are the set piece players doing these days?

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  94. James Pearce says:

    @wr:

    To be fair, before The Hurt Locker Bigelow had made a string of incredibly stupid thrillers like Blue Steel, Point Break and Strange Days and seemed to have a Tim Burton-level inability to tell a coherent story.

    Point Break, for all its merits, is a beloved “classic” and I personally think Strange Days was pretty good. (James Cameron wrote the script, and most of the movie’s faults are his. Bigelow’s direction, especially during the first person sequences, was pretty innovative.) For me, though, my favorite is Near Dark, a cult vampire movie from the 80s.

    Everyday you should give yourself a present, and someday you should make watching Near Dark that present.

    Also consider this more socratic than sarcastic:

    she had never made anything that would have been considered a “serious” film.

    What’s a “serious” film? Schindler’s List is hilarious. Some serious movies -Oliver Stone’s Alexander comes to mind- are abjectly ridiculous.

    The late Sam Shepard said movies are a dream. Eat popcorn and dream.

    @DrDaveT:

    Social Justice Warriors are not the left, and they are certainly not the Democratic Party.

    No, but they are a significant enough faction, and from a certain point of view, not a very helpful one.

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  95. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    Schindler’s List is hilarious

    Did you actually just f’king say that? Seriously?

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  96. t says:

    i know reynolds likes to brag about the quality of weed he gets in california but damn james.

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  97. de stijl says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I went to Schindler’s List but I don’t really know what happened because I was making out with my GF throughout the entire movie.

    Hold on, maybe that was a Seinfeld episode.

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  98. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @de stijl:

    I’ve never managed to make it through watching the whole movie either, although for entirely different reasons

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  99. de stijl says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Newman!

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  100. de stijl says:

    So, I went to a friend’s place in the Hamptons to see their baby. (Had to. “You gotta come see the baaaby!” until my ears were freakin bleeding)

    Anyhoo, my friend George had gone in the ocean and then was changing in the guest room when my GF at the time (same GF with the Schindler’s List deal) walked in and inadvertly saw his junk. George freaked the eff out because he was not representing the full glory of his junk in the proper context because the water was chilly.

    “There was shrinkage!” he kept shouting.

    Good times. Good times.

    Wait, did that really happen?

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  101. wr says:

    @MarkedMan: ” I liked those movies!”

    So this is why I brought up the matter of personal taste…

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  102. An Interested Party says:

    Trump is stating that he’s not going to let Putin get under his skin…

    Oh it goes deeper than Trump’s skin, as Putin’s hand is so far up Trump’s derriere that you can see Vlad’s finger tips every time Don opens his mouth…

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  103. Monala says:

    @HarvardLaw92: When I first saw Schindler’s List in the theater, I found it emotionally devastating. A few years later, it was televised during a period in my life when my schedule was very busy, so I had to record it. Due to the same busy schedule, I could only watch the recording for about a half hour at a time.

    Watching it in snippets like that, I came to appreciate how much humor is in the movie. A few examples: the Jewish accountant played by Ben Kingsley is witty and sarcastic throughout. In one scene, Schindler is trying to justify his friendship with the Nazi commandant by saying, “He loves great music! He loves fine wine! He loves beautiful women!” Kingsley’s character mocks Schindler’s voice to add, “He loves killing!”

    In another scene, the old rabbi is unable to work as fast in the factory as the Nazi guards would like, so they take him outside to shoot him, but they can’t get the gun to fire. In the theater, I was riveted by the rabbi, on his knees with eyes closed, praying while waiting to die. Watching it on my TV, however, I noticed that in the background of this scene, a bunch of kids used the guards’ distraction to run back and forth and steal chickens.

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  104. Monala says:

    The NRA is recruiting on this site by offering a free knife. No matter how often I close the ad, it keeps coming back. :(

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  105. Kylopod says:

    @James Pearce:

    During your googling, did you find any of those people even referring to “white women?” Even if it’s not capitalized, you can almost hear it in their voices. It’s Women.

    Old women, young women, white women, black women, Latinas, Asians. Women. Hillary’s not with them. They’re “with her.”

    I feel like I’m arguing with a wet bar of soap.

    I asked you a very specific and concrete question: can you name even one person–let alone several–who predicted Hillary would win the white woman vote?

    You rattled off a string of names, and now it turns out that not one of them–not one–ever made such a claim.

    All I found from Donna Brazile, for example, was a statement about Hillary’s appeal to women of color, and she was talking about the primaries, anyway, not the general election.

    The search on Jennifer Lawless brought me to an article in which Lawless expressed skepticism at the idea that dislike for Clinton was motivated by sexism, as opposed to “anti-Clintonism.”

    I couldn’t find anything even remotely on this topic from Nancy Pelosi. Not that it matters–Pelosi is a paid party hack, which is fine, given her job.

    Searching OTB’s archives, I did find one comment sort of vaguely in the territory of what I was asking for, but it isn’t from any of the names you listed. It came from long-time Republican strategist Stuart Stevens, who predicted Clinton would win the votes of college-educated white women–a sub-group that Clinton did, in fact, go on to win. (See CNN’s exit polls.)

    And now, after completely failing to back up the point you so confidently asserted before, you fall back into vagueness, a debate tactic used by people who know they’ve lost but aren’t man enough (pun intended) to admit it. Congratulations.

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  106. t says:

    @Monala:

    The NRA is recruiting on this site by offering a free knife. No matter how often I close the ad, it keeps coming back.

    download an ad blocker. i use Ublock origin

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  107. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: “You rattled off a string of names, and now it turns out that not one of them–not one–ever made such a claim.”

    That’s because he pulled the names out of his arse. You didn’t really believe his list or his claim was based on credible research or study did you?

    And, yes, you do happen to be arguing with a wet bar of soap whenever you are dealing with Pierce on the subject of Hillary. Every. Freaking. Time.

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  108. Kylopod says:

    @Monala:

    Watching it in snippets like that, I came to appreciate how much humor is in the movie.

    I first saw the movie in early 1994, when I was a teenager in Baltimore, a city with a large Jewish population. When we tried to catch a showing of it at noon, the line into the theater was so huge–bigger than any I’d seen since Return of the Jedi more than a decade earlier–that we left and waited till evening.

    Spielberg made Jurassic Park around the same time, and he intended that to be the popular crowd-pleaser. Schindler was more of a personal project that he didn’t expect to be commercially successful. But as I watched the film in the theater, there were plenty of moments where people in the audience laughed, including one very dark scene–the one where Goethe says “I pardon you” to a boy he later shoots.

    Over the years, Schindler is one of the few Holocaust movies that I’ve seen more than once. I tend to find the genre hard to watch. My grandparents are survivors, and I was brought up hearing stories about all the terrible things that happened to them and that they witnessed. (They were both interviewed by Spielberg in the course of his memorialization projects.) My grandmother, who passed away a few months ago at the age of 92, was always a nervous wreck of a woman for as long as I knew her. If you heard some of the things she went through, you’d understand why.

    I’ve never been tempted to see The Pianist a second time (my great uncle, also a survivor, claimed it was the most authentic Holocaust film he’d ever seen) or any of the movies about Anne Frank. One exception is the pair of TV miniseries from the 1980s, The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. Though more than 30 hours each, I have watched them multiple times and I intend to watch them again when I get the chance.

    What those miniseries and Schindler have in common is that they are entertaining–though, unlike, say, Inglorious Basterds, they don’t make you feel guilty about being entertained. They are solid, serious works, even if they have the occasional light moments.

    My biggest problem with Schindler (apart from a few minor complaints of style–I always thought the girl in the red coat amidst the B&W image was a little much) was that, while it’s a fascinating story in itself, it has come to be viewed as the ultimate Holocaust movie, not just as a little Holocaust story. That’s usually considered one of the movie’s achievements. The problem is that there was only one Schindler, but there were numerous Goethes. If you aren’t familiar with that period of history, the movie can give the distorted impression that it was an even playing field.

    One of the problems with most popular depictions of the Holocaust is that there’s a tendency for them to aim for a message of hope. But there was nothing hopeful about the Holocaust, one of the biggest human catastrophes in modern history. Virtually all the Anne Frank adaptations play up her line “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart”–a sentiment I doubt she had when she was dying of typhoid in a camp.

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  109. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Monala:

    Given that the vast bulk of my extended family died in those camps, I think maybe you can appreciate why I find no humor in the film. For me, the movie is quite personal.

    Hilarious is not the word I’d choose …

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  110. Monala says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I can certainly understand that. I apologize for being insensitive.

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  111. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Monala:

    No need to apologize. I react to it based on my own family history, and that is my issue. I don’t expect others to share it. I was just trying to explain why I react to it as I do.

    I’ve tried to watch it several times. I’ve just never been able to make it through. I always end up having difficulty breathing and breaking down into sobs.

    On an intellectual level, I suppose that I can appreciate that there are moments of levity – of banal normality even – contained in the film, but in many ways that’s the most horrifying aspect of the Shoah. When you go looking for monsters there, all you’ll find are functionaries and apparatchiks and drones carrying out the drab machinery of state sanctioned mass murder. That transforms those events from something uniquely horrific to something which could easily happen again. I think it’s important to recognize that. To remember it, and to guard against it, because there but for the grace of G-d and constant vigilance is where we could find ourselves again.

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  112. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Did you actually just f’king say that? Seriously?

    Yes. The hope is those moments of levity, and the film is full of them, bring about some kind of catharsis. I would say try and watch it again, but you know…you don’t have to.

    @Monala:

    A few examples: the Jewish accountant played by Ben Kingsley is witty and sarcastic throughout.

    Agreed. My fav Kingsley moment: when Schindler insists on a toast, he just sits there holding the glass, blinking.

    @Kylopod:

    And now, after completely failing to back up the point you so confidently asserted before, you fall back into vagueness

    My original point, now lost among the dross, was that when Hillary made her deplorables comment she didn’t know she was talking about “51% of white women” because she thought “Women” –this monolithic, mythical category she was catering to– were “with her.” Now she knows.

    I gave you some names of those who promulgated the idea that “Women” were going to support Hillary on the issues. They’re not the only ones, which is why I asked how many.

    There’s soooo many.

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  113. Kylopod says:

    @James Pearce:

    My original point, now lost among the dross, was that when Hillary made her deplorables comment she didn’t know she was talking about “51% of white women”

    Here is what Hillary said: “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.” That’s half of Trump supporters, not all. It sounds like you never actually heard her original comment in context, and that all your information about it came from the distorted version that Trump and his minions jumped on.

    Furthermore, it isn’t 51% of all white women in the country who supported Trump, just 51% of those who voted. And it’s especially strange to hear you make this leap when just a couple months ago you made the very same distinction I’m making here after I cited an exit poll showing that Clinton won 89% of the black vote in Georgia. In that case, however, your point was irrelevant. I was talking about how even in a state with a large black population, near-unanimous support for Clinton among blacks wasn’t going to guarantee her victory when the white majority supported Trump in overwhelming numbers. The fact that many blacks didn’t vote isn’t relevant, since the exit polls showed that blacks were not underrepresented relative to their share of the populace (i.e. blacks constitute 30% of Georgia’s populace, and they also constituted 30% of the Georgia voters in 2016).

    Here, however, you’re clearly accusing Hillary of condemning 51% of white women, not only ignoring the distinction between those who voted and those who didn’t, but utterly distorting what she said as a statement about all Trump supporters when it explicitly was not.

    I gave you some names of those who promulgated the idea that “Women” were going to support Hillary on the issues.

    I was 100% clear and specific about what I asked for: statements suggesting that Hillary would win the white female demographic that you previously referenced. You knew exactly what I asked for when you confidently rattled off those names, and yet not one of them said what I asked about. And now you’re falling back into vagueness. What do you mean they said “”Women’ were going to support Hillary?” Did they ever say all women were going to support her? That seems unlikely, though you still have yet to provide me with a single quote. Did they say she’d win the majority of the female vote? Guess what–she did! You’re really grasping now, desperate to create a strawman when you haven’t even produced a single quote.

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  114. teve tory says:

    We’ve seen plenty of evidence this week in Virginia of the Deplorables. Several even explicitly praised trump for not explicitly condemning them.

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  115. teve tory says:

    Why is the White Women category so important? Hillary won like 54% of total women voters.

    She also won bigly majorities of everyone under 44, but lost bigly with the elderly. That should tell you what the future looks like, especially with nearly 50% of Generation Z nonwhite.

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  116. teve tory says:

    Reminds me of that NRO writer who said Obama’s not as popular as the polls indicate, because he was super-duper popular with black people, thus distorting the results.

    Yes, that happened.

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  117. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Alas, it’s not necessary at all to have monsters to do things like the Shoah. Ordinary bureaucrats work just fine.

    It only took a 20-year-old schlub to run over that person in Charlottesville this weekend too. He thought Nazis were cool.

    Not a monster, just one of the J-E-N-O-Ses in the world.

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  118. Kylopod says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: Ordinary bureaucrats did do the Shoah.

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  119. James Pearce says:

    @Kylopod:

    It sounds like you never actually heard her original comment in context

    At the time, I actually defended her on the comment, mostly because I think there are a lot of deplorables on the rights. Maybe it’s half, maybe it’s 25%. I’ve long said that Trump supporters are assholes, suckers, or idiots. If you like his style, you’re an asshole. If you think he is presidential material, either because he’s a businessman or because he “speaks his mind” you’re an idiot. If you think any bargain with him isn’t Faustian –judges!– then you’re a sucker. The best thing that you can say about him is that he’s a con man about to take this country on a ride. The worst…well, we shall soon see, won’t we?

    None of that absolves Clinton or the campaign she ran or the illusions she ran it under.

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  120. Kylopod says:

    @James Pearce:

    At the time, I actually defended her on the comment

    I did a Google search on OTB and I didn’t find one instance of you defending her “deplorables” remark. This was the only one of your comments from 2016 in which you so much as alluded to the remark, and you certainly weren’t defending it.

    But never mind–the fact is that now you clearly implied she’d called all Trump supporters “deplorables.” (Your words: “when Hillary made her deplorables comment she didn’t know she was talking about ‘51% of white women.'” Your reference to the exit poll on the percentage of white women voters who supported Trump makes no sense if you understood her comment to be talking only about half of all Trump supporters.) I assume this wasn’t a deliberate lie, but simply a mistake. Whatever the reason, you’re unaware she only referred to half of Trump supporters, or perhaps you forgot.

    In that case, you should acknowledge your error and apologize immediately. You aren’t helping your credibility by digging in your heels.

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