SAD, But True

I hope you’re sitting down, because I’m about to deliver bad news with the gravity of an oncologist.

You’re not the president. I’m not the president. Not one of us in this whole wide world is president of the United States of America right now save Donald Trump.

“I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not. You know.”

Donald Trump can spew forth all sorts of falsehoods because he’s president. He can ramble incoherently – and boy howdy does he, just read the full interview with Time’s Michael Scherer  – and the media will report it because he’s president. He can direct his lawyers to repeatedly harass a teen girl who made a website where you can make kittens can sock his face because… well, you get the idea.

The relationships between position and dignity, truth and power have always been fraught. But in our times, the two have rarely seemed so far apart.

(Year Zero/Day Sixty-Three)

The Actor’s Actor

Since his stunning debut on the national stage, Sean Spicer has delivered one electrifying performance after another. The man’s an actor’s actor, a Daniel Day Lewis of promoting the official White House line.

Being, as he is, a consummate performer, the general public takes his incomparable thespianism for granted. Yet underneath the apparent ease with which he spins, there’s a real commitment to his craft.

Par exemple, at today’s White House press briefing Spicey took a bold artistic risk by playing the role of a man who sincerely believes the Republican-controlled Congress is about to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“Member by member we’re seeing tremendous support flow in our direction. The count keeps getting stronger for us.”

When asked what would happen if the American Health Care Act does not get enough votes on Thursday to pass, Spicer said that the administration had “no plan B.”

“There’s plan A and plan A,” Spicer said. “We’re going to get this done … This is it. If you want to see Obamacare repealed and replaced, this is it. This is the vote.”

The reality is rather more complicated. The hard-right House Freedom Caucus has vowed to vote down the American Health Care Act. Should it pass the House, the bill as it exists is expected to be dead on arrival in the Senate. The anti-Trumpcare anger expressed at town hall meetings continues to make GOP congressmen quake in their boots.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate Spicer’s artfulness. There are challenging roles and then there are are challenging roles. Critics of the future will call today one of his finest hours.



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Let’s Talk About Anything Other Than Russia

Has the roaring waterfall of Russia-related stories exhausted you? Us too. It’s like, okay, we get it, Russia is a country. Big deal. So they want to meddle in foreign affairs. It’s not like they invented it. Oh, cool, they were Soviets for a while. Are we supposed to be impressed?

That’s why we won’t be talking about Russia in this post. Who knows? Maybe we won’t ever talk about it again. We’ve had our fill. We’re up to our necks in conspiracy theories about Eurasian superpowers. Instead, we’d like to bring to your attention some things that will brighten your day and restore your faith in the state of the world.

Let’s start with the most adorable picture of a precious yawning pupper!

See, this isn’t so difficult. We’re just like Buzzfeed!

Hey, did you hear about the 20-year-old pony in New Zealand who was washed away in a flood, only to return home 13 days later? Animals are so smart and loyal! You’ll be pleased to know th–

BREAKING NEWS: Trump campaign chief linked to Putin interests

President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press has learned. The White House on Wednesday acknowledged the AP’s revelations had “started to catch a lot of buzz” but brushed them aside, though some members of Congress expressed alarm.

Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse.

No. NOPE! NOPENOPENOPE. We’re not doing this. Nice try, Associated Press. This is a Russia-free zone.

We can get through this. We’re a safe space from international turmoil. Deep breaths.

How about a quirky story? Quirk is good. Did you hear that Cadbury’s had to spen

BREAKING NEWS: Bank that lent $300m to Trump linked to Russian money laundering scam

The German bank that loaned $300m (£260m) to Donald Trump played a prominent role in a money laundering scandal run by Russian criminals with ties to the Kremlin, the Guardian can reveal.

Deutsche Bank is one of dozens of western financial institutions that processed at least $20bn – and possibly more – in money of “criminal origin” from Russia.

Great. Russia’s ruined everything again. Can’t we go one lousy post without the Russian Federation shitting all over our hopes and dreams? Is it too much to ask?!

You know what? No. Quitting now would be letting Putin win.

This will insert joy right into your feels. Marines helped to relocate 1500 desert tort

We give up.

(Year Zero/Day Sixty-Two)

The Trump administration just released its first weekly compilation of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in American sanctuary cities, a move which is nearly identical to a similar publication put out by the Nazis about Jewish Germans in the years leading up to World War II.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Declined Detainer Outcome Report was created by one of President Trump’s executive orders. The listed crimes include such offenses as drug possession, domestic violence, and DUIs, also making a point to note the immigrant’s country of origin.

Many of the immigrants listed, it should be noted, have not yet been convicted of their crimes.

It has become something of a cliche in contemporary politics to compare an unpopular figure to the practices of Nazi Germany, but this report is quite literally straight out of Hitler’s playbook. The Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer ran a regular segment titled the “Letter Box,” which regularly published accounts of Jewish crimes. The segment was launched by Hitler’s operatives after the majority of Germans did not participate in a boycott of Jewish businesses in April 1933 as a way to inflame anti-Semitic sentiment.

–Nathan Wellman, Straight from Nazi playbook, Trump publishes list of alleged criminal immigrants

In The Nazi Conscience, Duke historian Claudia Koonz notes that the Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer ran a feature called “Letter Box,” which published readers’ accounts of Jewish crimes. When the Nazis took power, the German state began doing something similar. Frustrated by the failure of most Germans to participate in a boycott of Jewish businesses in April 1933, Adolf Hitler’s government began publicizing Jewish crime statistics as a way of stoking anti-Semitism. In Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of Persecution, the historian Saul Friedlander notes that, until 1938, Hitler’s Ministry of Justice ordered prosecutors to forward every criminal indictment against a Jew so the ministry’s press office could publicize it.

Trump’s defenders might claim that what he’s doing differs from these prior examples. He’s publicizing the crimes of a legal group—illegal immigrants—not a religious, ethnic, or racial one. But in the United States in 2017, talking about “illegal immigrants” is like talking about “welfare mothers” or “crack dealers” in 1987. The racial implication is clear. Trump made it so himself in his announcement speech when he said that, “When Mexico sends its people…They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

–Peter Beinart, Trump Scapegoats Unauthorized Immigrants for Crime