Thursday, October 17, 2019
Sometime Wednesday afternoon it occurred to me that I might as well
go ahead and round up the first rush of Democratic debate links for
the Weekend Roundup. Then I wondered whether I could just dispatch
them early, in a Midweek Roundup (something I've done a couple times,
but not often). So here's what I rounded up by bedtime. Not many
comments, other than to note that the "conventional wisdom" on Syria
is not only worse than what Tulsi Gabbard has to say, it's worse
than Donald Trump (see, e.g., his dismissal of Lindsey Graham,
Some scattered links this week:
Graham threatens to become Trump's "worst nightmare" in escalating
feud: This promises to be more fun than Graham's two-plus years
of utter sycophancy, but amidst all the insanity Trump has spouted
over the last week, he sure has Graham's number:
Trump, however, doesn't seem to particularly care what his closest
Senate ally thinks.
"Lindsey Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next
thousand years, with thousands of soldiers fighting other people's
wars," Trump told reporters on Wednesday afternoon. "I want to get
out of the Middle East."
Trump said Graham ought to focus on "the judiciary" and investigating
Trump's "deep state" conspiracy theory instead.
"That's what the people of South Carolina want him to focus on,"
the President said. "The people of South Carolina don't want us to
get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria. Let them
fight their own wars."
Alexia Fernández Campbell:
No one has a damn clue how many jobs will be lost to automation.
Putin is on a victory lap of the Middle East. I suspect this is
overstated, and of little practical import, but it does reflect the
fact that the US has seen its reputation as a benefactor and power
erode after decades of incoherent, reckless, and obsessive actions
(not least its subservience to Israel). Moreover, America's position
is likely to deteriorate further, especially as American public
opinion turns against Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, and Egypt -- a
conjuncture of Islamophobia on the right and anti-authoritarianism
on the left. Trump's unique contribution to this is that he's
convinced many despots in the Middle East that they no longer have
to choose between the US and Russia.
Turkey's Syria invasion rapidly backfiring for Ankara.
Israel prepares to turn Bedouin citizens into refugees in their own
American Brexit: "It's not just Britain headed for the subbasement
of imperial history."
Turkey's Erdogan presses offensive in Syria boosted by a nationalist
surge at home. Doesn't that often happen in the early days of a
war, before blowback occurs and the consequences sink in?
Bernie Sanders's plan to reshape corporate America, explained.
Extorting Ukraine is bad enough, but Trump has done much worse.
Ben Hubbard, et al:
In Syria, Russia is pleased to fill an American void.
The racial pessimism of Clarence Thomas: Interview with Corey Robin,
whose new book is The Enigma of Clarence Thomas.
Trump 'surprised' the grieving parents of a British teen at the White
Moderators and rivals pound Warren on middle-class tax-hike evasions.
It's a rather dumb question, implying that middle class people aren't
paying for health insurance now, where in fact they're paying through
the nose into a scheme that squeezes them harder every year.
Sorry, but Democrats need to talk about Hunter Biden. "Trump won't
In 2016, Bernie Sanders famously refused to attack Clinton's emails in
the debates. "The American people are sick and tired about hearing about
your damn emails," he said to applause. The result was that rather than
Democrats realizing how damaging that story was -- and how ineffective
Clinton was at putting it to rest -- during the primary, they found that
out in the general election. And yes, the media deserves the blame for
the coverage decisions, but Democrats can't simply assume the media won't
make the same mistakes in 2020. The lesson of Clinton's emails is that
unfair smears can help Donald Trump get elected.
One thing that might help here would be to never let an answer to
this question go more than one sentence without bringing up Trump and
his family of leeches. Then feel free to point out more examples of
families profiting from their genes, like the Bushs, the Cheneys, the
Romneys, and (sure) the Kennedys. Nepotism is an endemic problem in
America, but it's worse in times of greater inequality and corruption,
like now. Maybe go on and offer a back-handed compliment to the Bidens,
who at least have the decency to recognize that even the appearance
of impropriety is something that needs to be avoided. Of course, this
approach would work better if the candidate isn't Joe Biden, but even
he could handle the question much better than he did in the debate.
Forth Worth officer charged with murder in killing of black woman in
her own home.
Dylan Matthews, et al:
5 winners and 3 losers from the October Democratic presidential debate.
Winners: Bernie Sanders; Elizabeth Warren; Pete Buttigieg; opioid epidemic
activists; universal basic income. Losers: Tulsi Gabbard; Joe Biden; free
trade. My biggest problem with these judgments concerns Gabbard. Zack
Beauchamp charges her with "a series of blatantly false statements,"
but the first one he points out is "the regime change war we've been
waging in Syria." He flatly asserts that "The US is not waging a war of
regime chance in Syria (as Biden pointed out later in the debate)," but
the US was an early supporter of anti-Assad forces, way before ISIS
emerged as a factor in the war. ISIS gave the US an excuse to use air
power and ground troops in Syria, but the US never wavered in its
opposition to the Assad government (even while fighting ISIS undercut
the opposition and helped Assad stay in power). Beauchamp repeats the
"regime change war" canard several times, and applauds Buttigieg for
his "succinct and devastating" putdown of Gabbard: "You can put an
end to endless war without embracing Donald Trump's policy, as you're
doing." But Gabbard has been much more consistently opposed to Trump
on Syria than her critics, who seem to have forgotten how we got into
this horrible, nasty war in the first place. You can read the debate
Here's what the 2020 Democrats are saying about Trump's Syria policy.
Warren's statement there isn't bad: "We need to get out but we need to
do this through a negotiated solution." A President Warren might even
be able to do that. Indeed, the best solution to all of America's many
foreign policy problems would be negotiation, aimed at replacing the
myopic projection of American power with mutually beneficial international
frameworks. But Gabbard is less deluded by American myth than any other
candidate, and that clarity helps her here. (Where she falls down is not
having the commitment to justice that you see with Sanders, or for that
matter with Warren.) But Trump is incapable of negotiating anything, not
least because he has no sense of decency himself, so his own sloppy exit
is probably the best one can hope for now. You could even say that what
he's done is accidentally brilliant: by double-crossing first the Kurds
then the Turks in rapid succession, he has pivoted US policy in favor of
consolidating Assad's power, which is at present the only viable path to
peace in Syria. No reason to think he was smart enough to figure that
out himself, but maybe Vladimir Putin was. Trump's unique contribution
was in being too insensitive to object.
Ella Nilsen/Li Zhou:
House Republicans joined Democrats in condemning Trump's actions in
Syria. Vote was 354-60.
Ronan Farrow's new book is a reminder of how silencing women helped
Trump get elected: Book is called Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies,
and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators. Also on the book: Daniel
Ronan Farrow: National Enquirer shredded secret Trump documents.
The fourth 2020 Democratic presidential debate, explained in under 25
Documents reveal hospital industry is leading fight against Medicare for
Tom Steyer shouldn't be running for president.
There are only 5 candidates still standing after the latest Democratic
debate: He's counting Joe Biden out, which seems a bit premature,
so you can probably guess the rest: Warren, Sanders, Harris, Buttigieg,
and Klobuchar. Assumption seems to be that the latter two-three will
pick up "moderate" support as Biden falters/flails. I think that may
misread much of Biden's support: what they like about him is that he
comes off as a solid, old-fashioned Democrat, safe and respectable,
at a time when Republicans have every structural advantage and have
never been more dangerous. Others may have similar platforms, but no
one else has that particular vibe, or comes close.
California's deliberate blackouts were outrageous and harmful. They're
going to happen again.
Giuliani's $500,000 payout from Fraud Guarantee reveals the hypocrisy of
his attacks on Hunter Biden: "Giuliani is staunchly opposed to cashing
in on political connections -- unless he's doing it."
Mick Mulvaney's role in the latest Trump scandal just deepened.
Trump wants to erase protections in Alaska's Tongass National Forest,
a storehouse of carbon.
Kamala Harris's call to suspend Trump's Twitter account, explained.
"It's complicated." I rather doubt that. Steve M.
This is why it's not worth shutting down Trump's Twitter.
In Democratic debate, more evidence that Ukrainegate helps Biden:
"The more Democrats rally around Joe Biden, the clearer Donald Trump's
Is this Elizabeth Warren's Democratic Party?