Squaring the Circle and Running from the Ridiculous

Well, John Bolton found himself in the unenviable position of trying to explain (away) the inexplicable last Sunday on Chris Wallace and Jake Tapper’s shows. As WaPo pointed out in Monday’s column by Aaron Blake:

Serving President Trump often means trying to square a rhetorical circle. Sometimes it requires pretending he didn’t say what he said. Other times you’ll (gently) distance yourself from something you clearly regard as ridiculous.

And if you’re John Bolton on Sunday, it’s both.

On two Sunday shows, Trump’s national security adviser was asked to account for Trump’s controversial comments about Otto Warmbier. Before Trump departed from their failed Hanoi summit last week, he gave North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a little gift. He said he didn’t believe Kim knew Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student, had been mistreated in a North Korean prison before his death. This strained credulity, to say the least.

[It continues]

30 thoughts on “Squaring the Circle and Running from the Ridiculous”

  1. pogo, good catch. here’s a sample from your wapo link to see john dance:


    JAKE TAPPER: Do you take Kim Jong Un at his word?

    BOLTON: The president takes him at his word.


    TAPPER: No, I know he does, but what about you?

    BOLTON: My opinion doesn’t matter. My opinion is that …


    TAPPER: You’re the national security adviser to the president.

    BOLTON: Right. I’m not …

    TAPPER: Your opinion matters quite a bit.

    BOLTON: I am not the national security decision-maker. That’s his view.

  2. Patd, LOL. That’s a partly finished post. It was sitting on my computer as a draft when I drove Mrs. P home last night. I guess it submitted itself.  There was definitely more to it in the article. Maybe I’ll do a “Part 2” later today. BTW, love the Yosemite Sam toon.

    Bink,  your post disappears, mine posts itself. There must be a ghost in the machine. 

  3. pogo, your thread seems to prove great minds think alike theory   here’s an excerpt from latest edition of atlantic:


    Not long ago, most observers of foreign policy would have pronounced Bolton’s career over, and predicted that he would not reenter government unless (in some kind of King Ralph scenario) literally dozens of other Republican operatives were suddenly and tragically unavailable. But a little more than a year after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Bolton vaulted over all his rivals.

    He is now the most important figure in American national security, and because his position requires no Senate confirmation, he answers to no one but Trump. With the departure of James Mattis as secretary of defense early this year, Bolton is, incredibly, the only senior security official close to Trump who has seen how a normal White House works. (He has served in every Republican administration since 1981. Most Trump appointees have never served any other president.)

    Bolton’s return to power has allowed him to pursue his great passions in life, which are outmaneuvering his adversaries, foreign and domestic, and getting America out of treaties. (“So many bad deals to kill,” Bolton once wrote, “so little time.”)


    the long article concludes:

    The other possibility, of course, is that Bolton will succeed in modifying Trump’s plans. He appears to have persuaded Trump to linger in Syria longer than anticipated. But to be a brakeman, trying to keep Trump from conducting his train straight off a half-built bridge, is the most thankless job in Trumpworld. “We become what we hate,” says the proverb. Bolton, who for a whole career has fumed over bureaucrats who try to stand between their elected bosses and destiny, is for now the shadow president of the deep state.

  4. “That’s a partly finished post”

    pogo, sorry about that, I jumped the gun and published it when I saw that was in the hopper.  I tho’t jace hadn’t seen your message to him in time to schedule it.  I bet jace would appreciate you posting a sequel.  

  5. that atlantic edition also has a rather hard-hitting cold article on klobuchar titled “The Anger of Amy Klobuchar “.  here’s an excerpt:

    What could cause this burning rage in a woman who became popular among so many of us because of what had seemed to be her exemplary calm and high-mindedness? She has never addressed the question directly, but her 2015 autobiography, The Senator Next Door, offers plenty of clues. Her paternal grandfather was a hard drinker: “Sometimes he drank way too much and came home in a rage, yelling at my grandma about all kinds of grievances.” In turn, he raised an alcoholic.

    Her father, Jim Klobuchar, a beloved regional newspaperman, was a serious alcoholic who spoiled family events; was charged with at least three DUIs and had to write an apology to readers of the Star Tribune; and once stopped with Amy on the way home from a Vikings game and ended up drinking in the upstairs room of a bar, while the child sat alone at the bar, nursing a 7 Up and wondering when her father would come back for her. He left his young family when Amy’s mother had just cashed out her teacher’s pension to build a new deck and addition to the back of the house. (The dream of every woman in a bad marriage: change the house and somehow the home will change, too.) At his final DUI court date—after which he finally got sober in late midlife—Amy, by then a lawyer, accompanied him to a meeting with the court’s chemical-dependency counselor, which her father later wrote about: “She told of the damage my divorce had inflicted on her, her sister, and her mother … She spoke with fury and sorrow and in tears.”

    In the classic fashion of children raised in deeply alcoholic families, the two Klobuchar daughters carved out very different identities for themselves.  Amy, the overachiever made her mark at Wayzata High School and went on to Yale and then to the University of Chicago Law School; Beth (who has since changed her name to Meagan) dropped out of high school, was gone from home for days at a time and became an alcoholic before eventually seeking treatment for her disease, getting a GED, and going to college. The behavior that Klobuchar’s staff describes—the rage at minor imperfections; the middle-of-the-night rants; the development of a secret, shameful self—would not be out of character for someone with such a specifically brutal kind of upbringing.


  6. from the “squealing like a stuck pig” department:

    Only hours after a blockbuster report reignited a national conversation about the White House’s cozy relationship with Fox News, President Trump doubled down.


    In a string of tweets Monday night, the president unloaded attacks against his usual targets — mainstream media outlets and congressional Democrats seeking to investigate Trump and seemingly every aspect of his business and political dealings.


    But on Monday the president landed his digital blows by quoting Fox personalities.


    The presidential Twitter citations essentially underscore the thesis of New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer’s detailed piece published Monday morning: that the feedback loop between Fox News and the Oval Office has turned the network into an unshakably pro-Trump mouthpiece, with as much influence over the president’s decisions as his close advisers.



    “As the President has been beset by scandals, congressional hearings, and even talk of impeachment, Fox has been both his shield and his sword,” Mayer wrote. “The White House and Fox interact so seamlessly that it can be hard to determine, during a particular news cycle, which one is following the other’s lead.”


    Mayer, a seasoned investigative reporter who has penned books on topics such as the Anita Hill hearings and the Koch brothers, meticulously tracked the relationship between Trump and Fox News, particularly the affinity between the future president and Rupert Murdoch, the founder of 21st Century Fox and News Corp.

    According to Mayer’s reporting, Murdoch recognized Trump was a natural fit for the working-class outrage his network was sparking. The New Yorker piece reports Fox executives were invested in Trump winning the 2016 election, going so far as to reportedly take questionable steps to handicap the Republican campaign.


    Citing a “pair of Fox insiders,” Mayer reports how Roger Ailes, then the chairman of the network, tipped Trump off about a question coming his way from then-Fox host Megyn Kelly about the candidate’s comments about women during a 2015 Republican candidate debate in Cleveland. A Fox spokesperson denied Trump was tipped off to Mayer. The campaign also denied Trump had prior knowledge of the question.


    Mayer also reports that a Fox News reporter had confirmed Trump’s alleged affair and payoff of adult-film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. The scoop, however, was shot down by Fox News higher-ups. “Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go,” a network executive told the reporter, according to Mayer.


    above quote from wapo’s  morning mix column

  7. Rather than do another thread starter as a reprise of this one I’ll just pick up where patd left off withteh Bolton – Tapper interview.

    BOLTON: I am not the national security decision-maker. That’s his view.

    “That’s his view.” Bolton, a notorious hawk on North Korea and many other issues, might as well have said out loud that he didn’t agree with Trump. If he did, there’s no reason to decline to subscribe himself to Trump’s view and say his own opinion doesn’t matter.
    This calls to mind then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s tortured response to whether Trump did business with Russian oligarchs. “That — that’s what he said,” Manafort replied. “I — that’s what I s — that’s obviously what the — our position is.”

    When you don’t want to associate yourself with Trump’s claims, you simply state that it’s the company line and that Trump speaks for himself. But when your national security adviser has to both rewrite history about your comments and distance themselves from them, you can get a pretty good idea exactly what he thinks of what the boss just said.

    So Paul Manafort, the man who was SFB’s campaign chair and honed his chops negotiating deals with Russian and Ukranian oligarchs was reduced to a sputtering idiot when he had to try and explain away SFB’s ridiculous denials of no contact with Russia.  Absolutely ridiculous, and even more so is that the Fox base buys this bullshit and thinks it somehow makes SFB an acceptable president.

    One of my biggest fears these days is that what I’m hearing and what I’m seeing in the poll results that have come out in the last month is that SFB’s approval average is almost back to where it was  (46% then, 44.2% now) shortly after his election.  The margin between approval and disapproval is much greater now (2.3% then, 8.8% now), but that is cold comfort looking to 2020 and considering all the awful horrible very bad shit that’s come down the pike about him recently.

  8. OK, here’s why SFB should not be allowed to equate the “national disaster” at the border with actual National Disasters elsewhere.
    From WaPo:

    After the deadliest outbreak of tornadoes in years swept through the South, killing more than 20 people and wreaking devastation in Alabama, President Trump promised on Twitter that the disaster relief would be swift, the best his administration could muster — “A Plus treatment” for a state in dire need.
    “FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes,” Trump wrote Monday, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s relief efforts.
    Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R), who said she spoke to Trump, thanked him for the support.

    Donald J. Trump✔@realDonaldTrump

    FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes. @GovernorKayIvey, one of the best in our Country, has been so informed. She is working closely with FEMA (and me!).

    11:17 AM – Mar 4, 2019
    Twitter Ads info and privacy

    31.5K people are talking about this

    But elsewhere — in corners of the country also hard-hit by natural catastrophes — some leaders may have privately wondered: What about us?

    Trump’s enthusiastic assurance that Alabama would get top-flight help contrasts sharply with his barbed rhetoric following horrific wildfires in California and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, when he repeatedly threatened to cut off federal aid and picked fights with local politicians, in one instance calling the mayor of San Juan “totally incompetent.”

    It comes down to politics, said Ott, author of “The Twitter Presidency: Donald J. Trump and the Politics of White Rage.” In the 2016 election, Trump lost California by 30 percentage points. In Puerto Rico, which does not have a say in the presidential election, voters chose Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) over Trump in the Republican primary.

    But Trump won Alabama by nearly 28 points.

    “The president has politicized recovery efforts in a way we’ve never seen before,” Rafael Lemaitre, who was FEMA’s director of public affairs during the Obama administration, said in an interview. “FEMA needs to be as much of an apolitical agency as possible. It shouldn’t matter whether you live in a red state or a blue state.”

    Now don’t get me wrong – Alabama needs the disaster assistance – Hell, I’m from there and don’t argue with my home state receiving A+ aid.  But with SFB, like everything else, the aid is purely political.  Ask California and Puerto Rico whether their disasters should have gotten C minus, D plus treatment.

  9. the don as in drumpf

    pogo, pueto rico & california, no friendship no respect no calling him godfather

  10. according to salon, democrats in house will vote to reprimand rep. omar on Wednesday for anti-israel remarks which are  perceived to be *anti-semitic*.   

    wonder if republicans will also reprimand some of their folk for anti-muslim remarks, tweets and threats (which could also be perceived as being anti-semitic by semitic people who happen to be of the islamic faith)


    *according to merriam webster:  

    Definition of Semitic

     (Entry 1 of 2)


    1 : of, relating to, or constituting a subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic language family that includes Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, and Amharic
    2 : of, relating to, or characteristic of the Semites

    Definition of Semite
    1a: a member of any of a number of peoples of ancient southwestern Asia including the Akkadians, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arabs
    b: a descendant of these peoples
    2: a member of a modern people speaking a Semitic language

  11. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is pissed at that reprimand of Omar.  Questioned why there aren’t rebukes of homophobic, anti-black, etc. statements. She questioned why Rep. Jason T. Smith (R-Mo.) wasn’t similarly reprimanded when he shouted “Go back to Puerto Rico!” at Democrats during a floor debate earlier this year. (That’s from Wapo.) Tempest in a teapot.  My suggestion – put your head down, work on legislation, build some credibility and try to get into leadership if you want to make change rather than a splash.

  12. Yup, within a week of assetring that “free speech must be protected”, trump recommended a House rebuke of Rep. Omar.
    Ya can’t make this stuff up, people.
    Don’t try making sense of it, either.

  13. roger, roger, roger, never learn


    Two of Roger Stone’s websites deleted as Robert Mueller flags judge to possible gag-order violation by Trump friend

    Two websites used by President Donald Trump‘s longtime friend Roger Stone to raise funds for his defense against criminal charges lodged by special counsel Robert Mueller and in civil cases have been deleted.


    At least one of those deletions apparently occurred after CNBC reported Sunday that the Republican operative might have violated the terms of his judicial gag order by posting an image on his Instagram account asking “Who framed Roger Stone.”


    Another of Stone’s websites, which itself was titled whoframedrogerstone.com, has also been deleted.


    If Judge Amy Berman Jackson finds that Stone broke the gag order, she could revoke his $250,000 signature release bond and send him to jail pending trial.


  14. also reported by CNBC:

    New York state regulators have issued a subpoena to the insurance brokerage for President Donald Trump’s company as part of a large probe into the Trump Organization’s business practices.


    The subpoena to the Aon brokerage was issued by the New York Department of Financial Services late Monday evening, according a source familiar with the case, who spoke to CNBC on the condition of anonymity.


    The demand for documents from Aon came five days after Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen told a congressional committee that Trump himself had inflated company assets for insurance purposes.



    The subpoena was first reported by The New York Times.


    The Trump Organization and Aon had no immediate comment.


  15. Following Ms Pat’s Merriam-Webster definition, we can see that Ms Omar is a Semite, herself. 
    It’s about time that folks pro-con, hither and yon, stop pretending that netanyahu is the Semitic people.
    Shit, he isn’t Israel, either. He’s never had a majority government, because his party has always been a minority. Thinking that asshole is Israel doesn’t even make as much sense as thinking trump is the USA.

  16. jolly roger, jolly roger, jolly roger
    Crass houses shouldn’t stow stones.
    Or sumpthen.

    Imo, Dems are covering their behinds, but that isn’t the same as throwing Ilhan Omar under the bus.
    The best way to counter mistakes such as Ilhan’s is to compare Jewish-Americans’ devotion to Israel with to the Irish-Americans’ devotion to Eire, or to Roman Catholics’ devotion to the Vatican. Bashing Rep Omar is counter-productive. 
    Btw, Rep. tlaib IS hate-filled, but, is she hate-filled because of her allegiance to Mecca or to Teheran ? Enquiring minds want to know !

    Ah, but they did for terrorist russia, terrorist basher assad, and commie king kim.
    CBS : The White House Counsel’s Office is refusing to release documents requested by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform related to its issuance of security clearances, teeing up a potential subpoena battle between Capitol Hill and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In a letter addressed to Chairman Elijah Cummings on Monday, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said the White House will not provide “unilateral concessions without any offer of accommodation” by the committee.

  19. Just catching up. Have spent most of the day at doctor appointments.

    Pogo thank you so much for posting today. I was fresh out of ideas and you bailed me out.?

  20. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said the White House will not provide “unilateral concessions without any offer of accommodation” by the committee.

    Exactly WTF does that mean?

  21. Jace, I live to serve. (A cheap WaPo subscription is an almost endless source of inspiration). 

    But now I’m watching Bama try to put Auburn away.

  22. The White House refuses Americans’ legislators the courtesy it extends to terrorist thieves, kidnappers, extortionists, and murderers. As I admitted a couple of months ago, I was wrong and Mr Flatus was correct : trump is the worst president we’ve ever had. Worse even than taylor, pierce, buchanan, nixon, bush and bush. And man, that is reeeeaally bad.

  23. ”…Irish-Americans’ devotion to Eire, or to Roman Catholics’ devotion to the Vatican.”-xrep

    Lol, because the pro-Ireland lobby has SO much influence over American foreign policy, right?  Talk about false equivalencies!

    Jewish people aren’t Israel, and Israel isn’t Jewish people. Yes, it is dangerous to criticize Israeli influence in a fundamentally racist country like the United States populated by people too lazy or stupid to know the difference. Both of those things can be and are true.

    As far as Roman Catholicism is concerned, adherence to that faith grants no American “right of return” to any sovereign nation based on that fact alone. You know it, and i know it.

    The only justifcation Israel needs for claiming their land is that they won it militarily, just like the United States did, but don’t try to tell me that Indigenous Americans were treated equitably as this country was expanded. United States authorities expelled them from their homes and forced them onto some of the most inhospitable terrains on the continent. Go to the Mojave and tell me i’m wrong.

  24. Mr Bink,
    Not sure you’re right about Ireland. They have a dual citizenship program. Also, we failed to punish them for trading with Germany in WWII and Viet Nam in the ’60s. Hell, we bombed a French ship and an Indian hospital, but their partnerships with Viet Nam were much bigger than Irelands. To me it’s slightly iffy, but I admit defeat and give you the point. Mr Bink 1 – x 0. 
    Yes, there is no Vatican Right of Return, although Cardinal law escaped. My thought was that many Americans through the centuries have wrongly accused Catholics of having dual allegiances, including trump’s personal pastor in the 60s, the john birch society in the 70s, plus james hagee and Solar today. I think I’ll give this point to myself. Mr Bink 1 – x 1.
    Want to appeal ? Or should we just play a rubber match ?
    netanyahu and likud are criminals. Israel will be well rid of them. 

  25. I’ll concede that nothing good has ever come to a nation engaged in persecuting Jews, but to use that specter to stifle criticism of apartheid policies in Israel is disingenuous and anti-human.  It’s all moot, this species ends by destroying itself- when is anyone’s guess.

    This argument has been had on this forum 20 times- it’s like we never had it, at all.

    Ok, buenas noches.

  26. I’ll concede that nothing good has ever come to a nation engaged in persecuting Jews, but to use that specter to stifle criticism of apartheid policies in Israel is disingenuous and anti-human. – Bink
    Agreed. And, Israel remains the most just and open country between South Korea and the Czech Republic.
    Israel certainly isn’t perfect, but people demand that it be better than any other country, even the Israelis. 

  27. 2 relevant articles in NYTimes:  House’s Anti-Semitism Resolution Exposes Generational Fight Over Ilhan Omar

    WASHINGTON — A formal condemnation of anti-Semitism that is up for a vote in the House this week has touched off a furious debate between older House Democrats and their young liberal colleagues over whether Representative Ilhan Omar is being singled out for unfair treatment over her statements on Israel.

    The resolution, likely to be voted on Thursday, grew out of Ms. Omar’s suggestion last week that pro-Israel activists were pushing “for allegiance to a foreign country” — a remark that infuriated leading Jewish members of the House, who say it played into the anti-Semitic trope of “dual loyalty.”   [continues]



     Ilhan Omar’s Criticism Raises the Question: Is Aipac Too Powerful?

    WASHINGTON — When Representative Ilhan Omar landed a coveted seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Stephen Fiske began working the phones to Capitol Hill.

    Alarmed by messaging that he saw as anti-Semitic and by Ms. Omar’s support for the boycott-Israel movement, Mr. Fiske, a longtime activist with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, began texting and calling his friends in Congress to complain. He is hoping Aipac activists will punish Ms. Omar, a freshman Democrat from Minnesota, with a primary challenge in 2020.

    On Wednesday, House Democratic leaders will mete out one form of punishment: Spurred by outrage over Ms. Omar’s latest comments suggesting that pro-Israel activists “push for allegiance to a foreign country,” they will put a resolution condemning anti-Semitism on the House floor.

    “Many other people involved in the pro-Israel community, a lot of Aipac-affiliated members, there’s a lot of concern; there’s a clarion call for activism,” said Mr. Fiske, who is the chairman of a political action committee that backs pro-Israel candidates. “It really hit a nerve, and the grass-roots Jewish community in South Florida is not one to treat it as an ostrich, putting their heads in the sand.”


    Ms. Omar’s insinuation that money fuels American support for Israel — “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” she wrote on Twitter, specifically citing Aipac — revived a fraught debate in Washington over whether the pro-Israel lobbying behemoth has too much sway over American policy in the Middle East. The backlash to Ms. Omar’s tweet was fierce, with even Democratic leaders accusing her of trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes. The congresswoman apologized.

    But the swirling debate not only around Ms. Omar but also around broader currents buffeting the Middle East has forced an uncomfortable re-examination of the questions that she has raised: Has Aipac — founded more than 50 years ago to “strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship” — become too powerful? And with that power, has Aipac warped the policy debate over Israel so drastically that dissenting voices are not even allowed to be heard?  [continues]


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