The Party of Putin

Nice Op-Ed from NeverTrumper extraordinaire, Evan McMullin:

Whether its leaders and members realize it, the Republican Party is at risk of becoming the Vladi­mir Putin-aligned party in the United States. It can be convincingly argued that it’s already similar to Putin-supported parties in Europe, given Donald Trump’s presidency, the Republican base’s increasingly favorable views of Moscow and the House GOP leadership’s disinterest in investigating and preventing Russian interference.

Increasingly sophisticated Russian influence and cyberoperations threaten Americans’ ability to choose their own leaders. This isn’t hyperbole; in fact, it’s hard to overstate just how serious this issue is. Yet President Trump continues to sow doubt about whether Moscow even interfered in the 2016 presidential elections and to suggest the question’s insignificance by ignoring it all together.

Our commander in chief seems more interested in protecting Moscow than he does in deterring its future attacks. The Post reported that the administration is actually considering allowing the Russian government to reopen the two spy compounds that President Barack Obama closed in late December in response to Russia’s election attack. There are also reports that the White House plans to step up lobbying efforts against a new Russia sanctions bill that the Senate passed with overwhelming bipartisan support this month. The measure would add new financial sanctions and require congressional review before Trump could lift these or other retaliatory measures currently levied against Moscow, including the closing of the two compounds.

Worse, Trump appears to have some support in this from Republican leaders in the House. Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have delayed the bill, citing the constitutional requirement that such bills originate in the House.

Serious question… is there actually any way to distinguish between the positions/actions of Trump regarding Russia and an American president who was an actual Manchurian Candidate style plant?  Whatever it is, it’s not much.  And, hey, Trump is Trump and generally horrible in most everything.  What is more concerning is so many Republicans willing to go blithely along.  Nicely captured in this tweet I saw the other day:

 

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Americans and breasts

A couple things that I couldn’t resist about this story.  First, this lede:

On a sunny day on the boardwalk, with salt on her skin and ocean breezes snapping the American flag behind her, Cynthia Heath did not want her perfect beach vacation ruined by toplessness.

“Not here, Ocean City is not that kind of place, it’s a family place. Absolutely not,” Heath, 55, said, leaving the restaurant where she just had lunch with her husband, her 9-year-old granddaughter and her granddaughter’s friend.

They ate at Hooters.

Welcome to America, land of mixed messages and double standards. Breasts, especially, continue to confound us.

And, also, because when I was a kid my family owned a condo at Ocean City, MD, and went there every summer.  Nice to know that the Ocean City of 35 years ago remains in this description:

Breasts made national news because the all-American summer destination Ocean City was confused about whether women could show them.

And that’s pretty funny.

Because this family-friendly place with “No Profanity” signs along the boardwalk also has guys selling Bongzilla outside its boardwalk shops; T-shirts with pot jokes, sex jokes and drinking jokes on every corner; hotels with giant kiddie pools outside and clouds of marijuana smoke inside; guys lugging suitcases of Pabst everywhere. Also: twerking, thongs and foam dance parties galore.

But please, save the children from breasts.

Actually, there’s also an interesting public policy debate to be had here.  But, mostly, yes, Americans are pretty schizophrenic about female breasts.

Oh my

Just in case you haven’t seen this crazy new NRA video yet:

And some solid context from Zach Beauchamp:

It’s not hard to figure out what the narrative is here. A liberal insurgency is destroying American society. The “only way” to protect yourself from this surge in left-wing violence (a made-up threat, to be clear) is to donate to the NRA — an organization that exists solely to help people buy guns.

The ad isn’t an outright exhortation to violence. NRA ads never are. But the NRA has a very long history of using apocalyptic, paranoid rhetoric about the collapse of American society in order to sell people on the notion that they need to act now to preserve their gun rights…

The problem with this rhetoric isn’t, again, that it’s telling people to use violence against others. It’s that it functions as a kind of anti-politics — casting the NRA’s political opponents as devious enemies who can’t be opposed through normal politics. Republicans control all three branches of government and a large majority of statehouses nationwide. There is literally zero chance that any kind of major gun control passes in America in the foreseeable future.

The threat, instead, is from a kind of liberal-cultural fifth column: People who are acting outside of legitimate political channels to upend American freedoms, through protest and violence. It’s a paranoid vision of American life that encourages the NRA’s fans to see liberals not as political opponents, but as monsters.

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