Now He Wants to Buy Greenland

If the United States had a functional POTUS, he’d be working overtime applying strong but diplomatic pressure on India to back off Kashmir and China to back off Hong Kong. IMO these hot spots of oppression are happening now in part because the U.S. doesn’t have a functioning POTUS. The leaders of those nations know that Trump is an ineffectual joke. So anything goes. Oh, and did I mention that India and Pakistan are both nuclear powers?

Michelle Goldberg:

All over the world, things are getting worse. China appears to be weighing a Tiananmen Square-like crackdown in Hong Kong. After I spoke to Khan, hostilities between India and Pakistan ratcheted up further; on Thursday, fighting across the border in Kashmir left three Pakistani soldiers dead. (Pakistan also claimed that five Indian soldiers were killed, but India denied it.) Turkey is threatening to invade Northeast Syria to go after America’s Kurdish allies there, and it’s not clear if an American agreementmeant to prevent such an incursion will hold.

North Korea’s nuclear program and ballistic missile testingcontinue apace. The prospect of a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine is more remote than it’s been in decades. Tensions between America and Iran keep escalating. Relations between Japan and South Korea have broken down. A Pentagon report warns that ISIS is “re-surging” in Syria. The U.K. could see food shortages if the country’s Trumpish prime minister, Boris Johnson, follows through on his promise to crash out of the European Union without an agreement in place for the aftermath. Oh, and the globe may be lurching towards recession.

Regarding the recession, see Paul Krugman, From Trump Boom to Trump Gloom. Krugman’s not predicting a recession — although neither is he ruling one out — but says it’s clear the “smart money” has turned against Trump’s management of the economy. The famous inverted yield curve amounts to a vote of no confidence in Trump.

So of course The Creature wants to buy Greenland. “The president is said to have discussed the idea of purchasing Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory, during dinners and meetings with advisers.” At least he’s providing comic relief in dark times.

Are We Winning Yet?

A screen shot of the New York Times home page just now:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 800 points today, I understand. That’s probably not good.

From WaPo:

The global economy has begun to shudder.

On Wednesday, the U.S. stock market tumbled after a reliable predictor of looming recessions flashed for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis. The Dow Jones industrial average fell around 800 points, or 3 percent, and has lost close to 7 percent in the past three weeks.

Two of the world’s largest economies, Germany and the United Kingdom, appear to be contracting. Argentina’s stock market fell nearly 50 percent in recent days, and growth in China has slowed.

Whether the events presage an economic calamity or just an alarming spasm are unclear. But unlike during the Great Recession, global leaders are not working in unison to confront mounting problems and arrest the slowdown. Instead, they are increasingly at each other’s throats.

And President Trump has responded by both claiming the economy is still thriving while dramatically ramping up his attacks on Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, seeking to deflect blame.

I am not qualified to explain inverted yield curves, but that’s what spooked everybody today. I understand that Trump’s trade war with China is not the only factor causes financial tectonic plates to shift, but it’s a major one.

Since financial reporters tend to be buoyantly optimistic about the economy until the moment the electricity is cut off and the foreclosure papers are tacked to the door, I find it unsettling that one story after another solemnly warns it ain’t lookin’ good out there. There are always qualifiers — disaster may not fall — but they are falling short of buoyant optimism today. It’s more like cautious hopefulness mixed with just a hint of panic.

Which brings us to the wonderfully understated headline Could managing the economy be more complicated than Donald Trump thought?

Paul Waldman:

Trump could not have been more wrong than when he insisted in 2018 that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” His trade war is somewhere between a failure and a disaster, precisely because he thought it would be easy to win. “We’re learning that maybe China has a higher pain threshold than we thought here,” said Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore. You mean they wouldn’t just knuckle under and give us back all our jobs? Who could have predicted such a thing?

Well, anybody who knew anything could have predicted such a thing, but that leaves out Trumpsters.

That’s our short-term problem, but the long-term problem suggested by the study of CEO pay is that the economy has been and continues to be organized primarily for the benefit of those at the top. And if we do find ourselves in a recession, it may cause people to step back and realize that not only did Trump have no idea what he was talking about when it came to our immediate challenges, everything he has done will make inequality worse.

One thing we can say for sure is that whatever happens over the next year or two, economic policy turned out to be quite a bit more complicated than Trump thought. Of course, you could say that about almost any policy.

Trump has been tweeting frantically all afternoon, insisting that “Tremendous amounts of money pouring into the United States” (from where?) and about the “tremendous mistakes” of Federal Reserve Chair “Jay” Powell that are messing up his brilliant trade war that he would be winning otherwise.

I keep wondering when the money people will wise up and stop supporting this clown.

How Many Valuable Allies Has Trump Insulted Lately?

This happened at a Hamptons fundraiser last week:

Of his fundraising visit, Trump went on to say, “I love coming to the Hamptons, I know the Hamptons well, everyone here votes for me but they won’t admit it.”

And of his tough stance on trade tariffs and US military aid, Trump told a story of going as a boy to collect rent checks with his father, adding, “It was easier to get a billion dollars from South Korea than to get $114.13 from a rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn, and believe me, those 13 cents were very important.” …

…Trump also made fun of US allies South Korea, Japan and the European Union — mimicking Japanese and Korean accents — and talked about his love of dictators Kim Jong Un and the current ruler of Saudi Arabia. …

… Talking about South Korea, Trump said it makes great TVs and has a thriving economy, “So why are we paying for their defense. They’ve got to pay.” He then mimicked the accent of the leader Moon Jae-in while describing how he caved in to Trump’s tough negotiations.

Here’s my favorite part:

On his remarkable friendship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, “I just got a beautiful letter from him this week. We are friends. People say he only smiles when he sees me.”

That may actually be true.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there.

Turning to Japan, Trump then put on a fake Japanese accent to recount his conversations with Shinzo Abe over their conversations over trade tariffs.

Trump spoke about his friendship with Abe and how fascinated he was with Abe’s father, who had been a kamikaze pilot. Trump asked Abe if the kamikaze pilots were drunk or on drugs. Abe said no, they just loved their country. Trump remarked, “Imagine they get in a plane with a half a tank of gas and fly into steel ships just for the love of their country!”

How big of an ass do you have to be to say stuff like that to the bleeping prime minister of Japan? When Trump is finally gone the U.S. is going to have to spend the remainder of century apologizing for him.

Guns Don’t Make You Free

On Thursday, Dmitriy N. Andreychenko walked into a Walmart in Springfield, Missouri, wearing full body armor and carrying a semiautomatic handgun loaded with one round in its chamber and an “AR-style rifle.” He was also in possession of 100 rounds of ammunition. Andreychenko, aged 20, says he had no intention of hurting anybody. He was just making a video of himself swaggering around armed to the teeth in a Walmart to reaffirm his 2nd Amendment rights, or something.

Shoppers did not think well of Andreychenko’s stunt. They panicked and stampeded out of the store. Fortunately, there are no reports anyone was trampled. Another store patron, identified only as an off-duty fireman, pulled a gun on Andreychenko and held him until police came to take him into custody.

Like a lot of “red” states Missouri is pretty much anything goes as far as guns are concerned — carry what you want pretty much anywhere you want. Missouri also has the sixth highest rate of firearm deaths in the nation. The state motto should be changed to “The Shoot-Me State.” There was an open question whether Andreychenko would be charged with a crime, since state law allows him to openly carry lots of loaded firearms as long as he’s not doing it in a “threatening manner.”

But, apparently, a judge decided that what he did was threatening enough. Andreychenko has been charged with making a terrorist threat in the second degree, a Class E felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison. It’s not clear whether this charge was based on anything in Andreychenko’s cell-phone video or captured by store surveillance cameras, or the fact that he obviously just plain scared the stuffing out of a lot of people and caused a panicked evacuation of the store.

Andreychenko claimed he did not anticipate customers’ reactions, a Friday statement from a Springfield police officer says.

“This is Missouri,” he told investigators, according to law enforcement. “I understand if we were somewhere else like New York or California, people would freak out.”

Andreychenko’s wife and sister tried to talk him out of pulling the stunt. The wife allegedly told the police that Andreychenko is an “immature boy.” Yeah, that marriage is doomed.

This also points to the obvious stupidity of “open carry” laws. It’s fine to say that you can carry lots of guns as long as you don’t do so in a threatening manner. But the very act of openly carrying weapons is threatening in most contexts. Put another way, why else would somebody show up in a public place brandishing weapons if not, at the very least, to intimidate people? That’s really the whole point, isn’t it? It’s a dominance display, or at least an attempt at one:

Josh Marshall:

We should recognize these actions as precursor acts to mass shootings.

Indeed, yesterday the FBI announced the arrest of 23 year old Conor Climo for plotting to stage a mass shooting or bomb attack at either a synagogue or gay night club in Las Vegas. Three years ago he was in the news in Las Vegas as one of these self-styled open carry activists who’d decided he would patrol local neighborhoods uninvited with an AR-15 and various other military paraphrenalia. Here’s a local news report from September 2016. Police said he what he was doing was legal so long as he didn’t go within a certain distance of schools or certain government buildings.

Yep, the guy in the 2016 news story is the very same Conor Climo that the FBI just arrested. Back to Josh Marshall:

This isn’t just one example. It’s fairly obvious that anyone who carries off one of these stunts is worth monitoring for future mass casualty attacks. Despite the claims about acclimating people to the ‘normalness’ of being around random civilians with military style weapons and the language of “rights”, the obvious motivation behind these stunts is to feel power as evidenced by the ability to scare and terrorize people. That is to say, to experience the fear or terror or sense of powerlessness others feel when someone they don’t know or have any reason to trust is strutting around with an AR-15. The language and politics of extreme gun rights activists is consistently highly similar to those of far-right or white nationalist groups. They are of a piece both psychologically and ideologically.

I don’t expect the hard-right Missouri legislature to do a dadblamed thing about the phenomenon of play-pretend commandos shopping in Walmart. That would be for the best; the whackjob Texas legislature likes to respond to mass shooting by making sure the next shooter has an easier time arming himself by making their already absurdly loose gun laws even looser.

Folks, this is not freedom. Having to live among heavily armed Men With Issues whose personalities are somewhere on the Bozo spectrum is not my idea of freedom.  Further, if your “freedom” hinges on having to intimidate and dominate other law-abiding citizens, then your definition of “freedom” leaves a lot to be desired. And the “gun rights” crowd has a long history of using arms and intimidation to stomp on everyone else’s freedoms, especially freedom of speech when people speak up for gun control.

Charles Pierce wrote back in 2013,

The Republican party, a number of timid Democrats, and the conservative “movement” have played footsie with dangerous woodland characters for far too long. This stuff can be used, but it cannot be fully controlled. This is not political debate. This is empowered, enabled paranoia, with firearms. This is not an exercise in democracy. This is a little touch of Munich, 1923 come to the forested exurbs. This stuff can be used, but it cannot be fully controlled, and something very bad is going to happen.

Something very bad has happened a lot, and it keeps getting worse.

Dead Men Tell No Tales

The subtitle of this post is “Who took Epstein off suicide watch?

Like all federal prisons, the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan has a suicide prevention program designed for inmates who are at risk of taking their own lives.

After an apparent attempt three weeks ago, Jeffrey Epstein — the financier who was at the facility awaiting trial on charges he sexually abused dozens of girls — was a prime candidate.

Yet Mr. Epstein, 66, was not on suicide watch when he hanged himself and his body was found in his cell early on Saturday, raising questions about the steps officials took after the first incident to keep him from harming himself.

The New York Times article linked goes on to explain how these decisions usually are made but sheds no light on who made the call in Epstein’s case. “The federal Bureau of Prisons did not immediately respond to requests for information,” it says.

But, gee, who is in charge of the criminal justice system these days? And who has a history of interceding in the prison sentences of, um, certain convicts?

Nobody in the U.S.A. believes that Epstein alone was responsible for his death. The Right is certain that Hillary Who Can Bend Time and Space to Her Evil Will Clinton, She Who Is Behind All Nefarious Plots, ordered the death to protect Bill. The Left, of course, is very certain the person being protected is Trump and/or someone close to him. But there are a great many people with money and power with a keen interest in this case. Charles Pierce:

How in the hell do they let this happen? The guy was incarcerated in the Manhattan Correctional Center. He already had made one try. He had to be on suicide watch. And the suicide happens the day after a massive document dump in which a woman who said she was one of Epstein’s victims implicates an entire brigade of celebrity “clients,” up to an including some European royalty? There almost can’t be a dog more reluctant to hunt than this one.

A whole bunch of Somebodies need to get fired behind this. Beyond it, of course, a thousand conspiracy theories will now bloom across all the Intertoobz. The other people involved have to be nervous. Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s alleged accomplice who has yet to be charged, has to be looking over her shoulder. Is she looking over her shoulder to see if the FBI is back there, or to see if something darker is closing in? This country is losing what’s left of its mind.

So many people have been implicated in this scandal that I don’t believe Epstein’s death will end it, but it might take the criminal justice procedings off the front pages. I’m sure we’ll learn more eventually.

Los débiles

William Saletan makes some interesting points at Slate. Among other things, he notes that today’s white nationalists seem to be claiming they must dominate America not because they are superior to those other races, but because they aren’t.

Racist terrorists who have left behind manifestos or other writings—Dylann Roof (Charleston, 2015), Robert Bowers (Pittsburgh, 2018), John Earnest (Poway, California, 2019), and others—generally regard whites as victims. That’s their standard excuse for murder: that they were acting in self-defense. They’ve fretted about “ethnic replacement,” “demographic annihilation,” and “white genocide.” Crusius claimed to be fighting a “Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me,” he wrote. “I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.”

The alleged El Paso shooter, Patrick Crusius, actually wrote that whites were threatened  “as stronger and/or more appealing cultures overtake weaker and/or undesirable ones.” In other words, he was less about white supremacy and more about white preservation. The “invasion” of nonwhite immigrants would overwhelm “white culture,” whatever Crusius imagines that is. Further, he fears whites themselves would disappear though intermarriage.

I find the culture thing annoying. In the realm of the fine arts, “white” culture is more or less European culture, which includes Spain. Your average wingnut wouldn’t know a work by Murillo or Velazquez from one by Rembrandt, and wouldn’t care. So it’s folk and popular culture that concerns them. Apparently wingnuts feel oppressed by mariachi bands, which is a damn shame because mariachi music makes me happy. If mariachis don’t cheer you up, there’s something wrong with you. And dare I say — La Bamba?

And speaking of invasions, let us not forget that Texas used to be a state of Mexico. But I digress.

So we’ve got these pathetic weenies who feel oppressed by frijoles and accoustic guitar music and are terrified their supposedly recessive DNA will be wiped out by aggressive, curly-haired dominatrix DNA from someplace not European. And these bozos think they deserve to be protected and preserved, why, exactly?

An article at Psychology Today on the Psychology of Racism says, “racism (and xenophobia of all kinds) … is primarily a psychological trait — more specifically, a psychological defense mechanism generated by feelings of insecurity and anxiety.” Well, of course it is.

In other words, racism — and xenophobia of any kind — is a symptom of psychological ill-health. It is a sign of a lack of psychological integration, a lack of self-esteem and inner security. Psychologically healthy people with a stable sense of self and strong inner security are not racist, because they have no need to strengthen their sense of self through group identity. They have no need to define themselves in distinction to — and in conflict with — others.

Do read the whole article, it’s quite good. So, your average racist is an individual with a badly integrated personality, low self-esteem and a deep sense of insecurity. Note that none of this rises to the level of “mental illness,” unless you want to define half the population as “mentally ill.” Marching around with tiki torches and assault weapons makes them feel stronger. I would add that men who are abusive of women have similar issues.

These specimens see themselves as big, strong men, but they aren’t strong at all. They are armored. They are defensive. People who go through life armored, whether with weapons or just belligerence, are weak people. Genuinely strong people don’t need armor except on a battlefield.

Trump is a very armored man, I have noticed. He is all belligerence and self-defensiveness. He is so insecure he wouldn’t allow press to cover his recent visits to Dayton and El Paso, but the White House public relations people assure us Trump was “greeted like a rock star.” Sure he was. And then there’s this:

While visiting a hospital in El Paso, Texas on Wednesday after a mass shooting that left 22 people dead, President Donald Trump found time to boast about the crowd size at a campaign rally he held in the city several months ago.

Trump was meeting with a team of medical staffers at the University Medical Center, where eight victims of the shooting are still in recovery, when he suddenly brought up the rally he held in El Paso (for which his campaign still hasn’t paid back its debt of over $400,000 to the city).

“I was here three months ago and we made a speech,” he said before shaking the hand of a hospital employee who said he was at the front row of that rally (which was held in February, not three months ago).

“That was some crowd,” Trump bragged. “And we had twice the number outside.”

That led to a tangent about 2020 Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke and the counter-protest he had led on the day of Trump’s rally.

“And then you had this crazy Beto,” he continued. “Beto had like 400 people in the parking lot. They said his crowd was wonderful. But we had some—”

Trump then interrupted himself to admire a hospital worker’s Trump-themed socks.

“Oh wow! Look at that,” he exclaimed. “Don’t tell it to the press because they won’t even believe it.”

I started to say Trump must have intestines of jello, but even jello beats whatever he’s got. Total wimp.

The Coming Economic Meltdown

Here’s a headline from the New York Times that ought to give us pause:

Frankly, this one scares me even more, from the Washington Post:

Trump is increasingly relying on himself — not his aides — in trade war with China

If it appears the Trump Administration is veering even more out of control, that’s probably because it is. Anyone in the administration with half a brain has been fired or forced to resign. We’re now down to the hard-core morons and the Moron in Chief, Trump himself.

This is from the Ready to Rumble article:

The swings in financial markets Monday are hard to justify in narrow terms. A slightly cheaper Chinese currency shouldn’t have huge consequences for the global economy. Rather, investors are coming to grips with the reality that the trade war is escalating and spreading into the global currency market.

While the drop in the stock market gets the attention — the S&P is down 5.8 percent in the last week — it is global bond markets that are flashing the most worrying signs about the outlook for growth in the United States and much of the world. Ten-year Treasury bonds yielded 1.72 percent at Monday’s close, down from 2.06 percent a week earlier — a sign that investors now believe that weaker growth and additional interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve are on the way.

The “relying on himself” article basically says Trump is not listening to anybody any more. He decided he wanted to label China a “currency manipulator,” so that’s what he tweeted. Then his aides and Steve Mnuchin scrambled to make that official policy. Trump is convinced that China will be hurt much more than the U.S. in this game. I think he underestimates the degree to which China’s leaders, who aren’t worried about being voted out of office, are willing to inflict pain on their own people.

“We’re learning that maybe China has a higher pain threshold than we thought here,” said Stephen Moore, who was an economic adviser to Trump during the 2016 election and remains close to the White House. “They don’t seem to care that this is having extreme negative effects on their economy. It’s kind of a mutually assured destruction game right now.”

Do tell. Here’s another headline, from yesterday:

U.S. farmers suffer ‘body blow’ as China slams door on farm purchases

Chinese companies have stopped buying all U.S. agricultural products, China’s Commerce Ministry said yesterday. All of them. And we might remember that last year Vladimir Putin said Russia was ready to provide China with all the agricultural products it wanted. One wonders if it was Putin who put the trade war idea in Trump’s empty head.

Here’s another headline, from Steve Benen at MSNBC:

‘A body blow’: farmers grow frustrated with Trump’s trade failures

The president occasionally singles out parts of the country he doesn’t like, but he clearly sees farmers as being on Team Trump. In January 2018, he spoke at the American Farm Bureau’s annual convention, where the Republican strutted like a man who assumed he was among adoring fans.

“Oh, are you happy you voted for me,” Trump said, straying from the prepared text. “You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege.”

A year and a half later, many farmers are increasingly desperate – and openly skeptical that their president knows what he’s doing.

For his part, Trump has already approved a couple of bailouts for the industry – some of the money ended up going to foreign companies – and the Republican suggested this morning that he’s prepared to do a third.

The president added in his tweet that American farmers “know that China will not be able to hurt them,” which is plainly wrong, since Trump’s trade war has already hurt them.

Trump often praises farmers for being “patriotic,” which in his mind seems to mean they will stand by him no matter what. Farmers have stuck with him a lot longer than I thought they would, but there’s always a breaking point, and we might have reached it. From Yahoo Finance:

U.S. farmers are exasperated by latest trade war moves: ‘Another nail in the coffin’

“This is just another nail in the coffin,” Tyler Stafslien, a North Dakota-based soybean farmer, told Yahoo Finance. “To see this thing only seems to be getting worse rather than better is very concerning, and the American taxpayers may have to foot another round of funding if this keeps up — or we could see a ton of farmers’ loss throughout this nation.”

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said that the pain extended across the country.

“China’s announcement that it will not buy any agricultural products from the United States is a body blow to thousands of farmers and ranchers who are already struggling to get by,” Duvall stated.

So, Trump’s trade war is causing extreme pain in large parts of the U.S., and Trump doesn’t understand this or doesn’t care. Chinese leaders probably do realize the pain they are causing but are sticking to their long game.

The stock market is up a bit today, and the financial press is bubbling with all kinds of feel-good stories about “corrections” and August often is a bad month for stocks anyway, etc. But they were bubbly and optimistic until the day Lehman Brothers failed, too. See also:

Economy may be weaker than generally recognized

Keep some money in a safe place, folks. Like maybe your sock drawer.

FYI: Crusius Is a German, Not Latino, Surname

Last week after the mass shooting in Gilroy, California, Alexandra Petri wrote a gut-wrenching column that I heartily recommend. It is first-rate writing. But I just want to call out this little bit:

Imagine being careless enough and cruel enough to allow someone to punch such holes in the world deliberately, repeatedly, in the name of a lie. The lie is that we have no choice in this matter. The lie is that any effort, however common-sense, to restrict firearms or lower the capacity of magazines, is part of a vicious scheme to strip you of your freedoms. The lie is that this imaginary, vast conspiracy is more to be feared than these deaths that occur so frequently that we are almost out of synonyms for “horror.” How do you tell someone he is a sacrifice worth making to preserve this lie? How do you tell a child?

So the Republicans are already mouthing pious things about God and whatever, and you know they will not do a damn thing about gun violence and the threat of right-wing domestic terrorism. Indeed, the first instincts of wingnuts is to misdirect

Authorities hadn’t even released the official number of dead and wounded from a mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart on Saturday when Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick began complaining on Fox News about Antifa.

I am not aware that antifa is responsible for even one death in the U.S., although I acknowledge they’ve probably broken some windows. But never fear, Texas Republicans are on top of what needs to be done!

Texas Republicans have been steadfastly avoiding the topic of gun control in the wake of the El Paso shooting on Saturday that left 20 people dead, instead placing the blame on mental health, video games, and even lack of school prayer.

“I think we need to focus more on memorials before we start the politics,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) told reporters on Saturday when asked about his stance on gun legislation.

Did you know that 4 of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern US history havetaken place in Texas? The shooters were Devin Patrick Kelley (2017, 25 dead, Sutherland Springs); George Hennard (1991, 23 dead, Killeen), Charles Whitman (1966, 18 dead, University of Texas), and the alleged shooter at the El Paso WalMart was Patrick Crusius (20 dead, so far). All white men. The Sutherland Springs shooting was in a church; I assume they prayed there. Didn’t stop the bullets.

Wingnuts are telling each other that Crusius is a Latino name, but I checked — although it looks sort of Latin, it’s mostly found in Germany. Notable people with the name Crusius include Christian August Crusius (1715–1775), German philosopher and Protestant theologian; Ludwig Friedrich Otto Baumgarten-Crusius (1788–1843), German Protestant theoloian; and Otto Crusius (1857–1918), German classical scholar.

I have not read the alleged shooter’s manifesto, and I wouldn’t link to it if I had. Josh Marshall has read it and makes some interesting points:

There’s abundant evidence the shooter is a big fan of President Trump and certainly of his worldview. And yet the manifesto includes a sort of preemptive rebuttal of any claims that he is a Trump supporter or that Trump influenced. He predicts that “the media” will identify him as a white supremacist and blame President Trump’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric for radicalizing him and provoking the attack. Such claims would be “fake news” and such claims will indeed only prove that “the media” is “fake news.”

After these horrors, we expect rightwing talking heads to attack any suggestion that these attacks might be related to the President’s politics and rhetoric. But here the assailant is doing so himself in advance. Indeed he denies Trump’s influence by using Trump’s signature attack lines. For someone who specifically denies Trump radicalized him, he’s very focused protecting the President. He doth protest rather too much.

We don’t yet know enough about yesterday’s Dayton, Ohio, shooting to know if it fits the white supremacist pattern. The alleged shooter’s name was Connor Betts; his sister was among the nine killed, suggesting the motivation might have been more personal than political.  But Andrew Marantz points out at The New Yorker that most recent mass shooters seem to have been radicalized in the same way.

Each killer, in the moment, may have acted alone, but they all appear to have been zealous converts to the same ideology: a paranoid snarl of raw anger, radical nationalism, unhinged nihilism, and fears of “white genocide” that is still referred to as “fringe,” although it’s creeping precariously close to the mainstream. On many social networks that bill themselves as bulwarks of “free speech,” including Gab, 4chan, and 8chan, this way of thinking is so dominant that it is often taken for granted. In April, the Anti-Defamation League wrote that such platforms “serve as round-the-clock white supremacist rallies.”

Would it help if these platforms were shutdown? Could the platforms be shut down? This is a point Marantz addresses; the answer is, probably not. And if they were, would not other platforms spring up in their place?

White supremacy has been hardwired into American culture as soon as Europeans began moving here. The whole rise of Trump and right-wing domestic terrorism might be interpreted as the fight of a wounded animal, or white supremacy’s last hoorah. We have reached a moment in our culture in which white supremacy really isn’t acceptable any more. This is not to say that systemic racism isn’t still in place, or that racial equality finally reigns o’er the land. But for those pathetic losers — who have always been among us — who take their pride and identity and self-worth from nothing but their whiteness, our culture is, finally, beginning to deny them that. And in their own minds they have no where else to go.

Update: I just noticed that this post is getting a big influx of traffic, I assume from some right-wing site. Please read the commenting rules before posting comments.

Moscow Mitch’s Cut of the Kulebyaka

If you read nothing else today, be sure to catch Dana Milbank’s McConnell’s new posture toward Moscow. Here is just a bit:

After the Trump administration last year exempted Deripaska-related enterprises from sanctions, a bipartisan rebellion attempted to reinstate the sanctions (House Republicans joined Democrats in a 362-to-53 vote), but McConnell led a successful effort in the Senate to thwart the rebellion, which he called a “political stunt.” (In exchange for sanctions relief, Deripaska agreed to reduce his ownership in Rusal’s parent company, but Deripaska could retain de facto control .)

Three months later, the Russian aluminum giant announced its $200 million investment in Kentucky. McConnell declared in May that his vote to exempt Deripaska enterprises from sanctions was “completely unrelated.”

Of course.

It was also unrelated, no doubt, to the fact that Len Blavatnik, a Ukrainian American whose SUAL Partners owns 22.5 percent of Rusal, contributed $3.5 million to the McConnell-affiliated Senate Leadership Fund between 2015 and 2017, making McConnell his top recipient. Blavatnik — whose partner in the Rusal investment, Putin-allied oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, has been hit by U.S. sanctions — gave millions more to other Republicans and to Donald Trump’s inauguration. (Another Rusal owner, Russian state-owned VTB Bank, is also under U.S. sanctions.)

There’s a lot more. Damning stuff. Back when Mitch first killed the attempt to reinstate Russian sanctions people assumes he was just trying to please Trump, but now it seems Mitch is in on the oligarch action up to his mandible.

This may have some traction.