Today’s News


Trump supporters continued to celebrate the imminent loss of their health insurance. Though originally reported by Andy Borowitz in May, this, unfortunately, was not satire. See Conservatives are rage-tweeting that the Senate health care bill is “Obamacare lite.”

In other news, the radical leftists at CNBC put out a fake news report to the effect that Trump’s Carrier deal is not living up to the hype — jobs still going to Mexico.

In still other news, the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll discloses that two thirds of Republicans believe that stories about Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 elections are bogus.

And someone named Bret Stephens, writing in the New York Times, warns liberals against moral censoriousness.

Aardvark hopes that y’all enjoy your evening.

A Model Constituent Message on Health Care for Your Republican Senators


Here at Happy Acres the progressives are marching as to war on the health care issue. In advance of our forthcoming meeting, I have prepared a model message for our Republican senators. In keeping with the zeitgeist, my draft is chock full ‘o lies.

Please feel free to adapt it, as appropriate.


Dear Senator Knownothing:

I am Arius A. Aardvark and a constituent of yours, who happily voted for you the last time you ran and who normally votes Republican. In 2016 I was a proud Trump supporter. Now that he’s in office, I stand amazed at his authoritarian authoritative leadership, and am struck dumb by the immense scope of his achievements in so short a time in office. We are winning so much that it’s beginning to make me frow-uppy.

Trump exudes hontesy, tells it like it is, and does exactly what he says he will do. Promises Made, Promises Kept—THAT’S Donald Trump, for you.

One of the reasons I voted for Trump is that he promised again and again to protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

That’s why I was shocked, stunned, and deeply saddened when I learned that the Senate health care bill guts Medicaid.

Promises made, promises broken, that’s what I see.

You should know that I have written to President Trump, urging him, as one of his most virulent vigorous supporters, to denounce the Senate bill, to denounce you personally and by name if you support it, and to veto it if it ever reaches his desk.

If y’all do gut Medicaid, in spite of Trump’s solemn promises, then I am never voting Republican again.

Have a nice day.

“Why Do We Keep Losing?”


One of my posse posed that question by email this morning, and I replied, “Beats the shit out of me.”

Actually, with a little reflection, I see that I lied like a rug. Let me, then, give two actual answers to the question.

The first comes from the ever insightful Jonathan Chait, writing this morning in This Might Be the Worst Democratic Freak-out Ever. Chait’s point is that Democrats have lost several special elections simply because those elections have taken place in heavily Republican districts.

To me, Chait’s argument, which gets right to the nub of the matter, provides useful context but little comfort. This brings me to my second point.

First, some numbers. In 2016 the unspeakable Tom Price garnered 61.7 percent of the vote in the Sixth District, while Donald Trump received only 48.3 percent. That is to say, about 22 percent of Republican voters in the Sixth District could not hold their noses and vote for Trump, while the remaining 78 percent did vote for The Donald—in spite of his bullshit, or because they loved his bullshit, one or the other.

In yesterday’s special election Ossoff took 47.3 percent (a slight improvement over Hillary Clinton’s performance) while Handel garnered 52.7 percent. In other words, only 85 percent of Price’s voters picked Handel, while the remaining 15 percent either chose Ossoff or stayed home. My working hypothesis is that these 15 percent of Republican voters in the Sixth District saw the race as a referendum on Trump, and were still unwilling to cast what was effectively a vote for President Moron.

That said, Handel’s 52.7 percent of the vote significantly exceeded Trump’s 48.3 percent in 2016.

It is metaphysically possible that some of these incremental voters also saw the vote as a referendum on Trump, and, having seen The Donald in action as president, decided to send a strong message of support.

But my working hypothesis is that most of these no-to-Trump-yes-to-Handel voters still don’t like Trump, but came to see the Georgia election as a choice between a liberal Democrat and a country club Republican—and “came home” to vote for the country club Republican.

So why did Ossoff lose? My second answer is: because it’s really difficult to sell people a product they don’t want to buy. And the product the country club Republicans want to buy is significantly lower taxes.

If lowering taxes has the side benefit of taking Medicaid away from white trash and people of color—letting “those people” wallow in their richly deserved misery—then so much the better, say the country club Republicans.

This morning Morning Joe took a  long ride on one of his very favorite hobbyhorses: the alleged Democratic failure to find candidates who “culturally match” their districts. (Apparently, Ossoff would have done much better had he armed himself with assault rifles and shot up an abortion clinic.)

Joe’s point may actually have some validity, as a general observation. But I think it has nothing to do with the Sixth District. I think the affluent, well educated white folks in the Sixth District just want to pay lower taxes and screw poor people. I think these goals are so important to them that they are willing to overlook treachery, corruption, and America’s downward spiral.

Not a Credit


Fifty-six percent of voters in Georgia’s Sixth District have college degrees, making it the sixth most educated congressional district in the United States. These affluent, mostly white folks have chosen as their representative Newt Gingrich, then Tom Price, and now Karen Handel, a person whose overweening ambition greatly exceeds her modest talents.

They have determined once again to elect a Republican, notwithstanding the demonstrated malevolent incompetence of the party and its leader.

They are not a credit to their race.

Latest Report from the Georgia Campaign

Although embroiled in a highly contested election, Democrat Jon Ossoff found time to shoot up the Republican congressional baseball team.

Charged with shooting his future Republican colleagues, Ossoff countered by pointed out that it was REPUBLICAN candidate Karen Hantel’s REPUBLICAN Party that was responsible for Sherman’s march through Georgia.

Jim Comey and the Bird of Paradise

One of my interlocutors has suggested that comment is required from Aardvark on Putin’s sarcastic “offer” of asylum to Jim Comey.

My comment is that, coming as it does from someone who regularly orders people murdered, the joke is not funny.

In any event, I understand that Comey has sent this response to Vladimir:

National Brotherhood Week

Aardvark was moved by the joint appearance last evening, on the PBS Evening News and elsewhere, of the Democratic and Republican baseball team managers. Aardvark approves, in the abstract, the advice that “let’s all cool the rhetoric.” Kumbaya is a nice song, and it’s fun and uplifting to sing it.

But it seems to me that two points are being overlooked.

First, it seems that Mr. Hodgkinson was motivated to engage in violence by political deeds, much more than political words.

Second, to focus on alleged rhetorical sins by the most famous among us tends to deny agency to the unfamous among us. We all have a duty to be angry about actions—not words, but actions—that rightly engender anger. And we all have a duty to keep our anger in check.

So, should we be singing Kumbaya, or should it be National Brotherhood Week. As for me, I go with National Brotherhood Week as the best musical expression of the current moment in our national life.

Arius Aardvark Issues Press Release


DATELINE HAPPY ACRES, BLUECITY, REDSTATE: Today, Arius A. Aardvark unreservedly deplored, condemned, rejected, denounced, reviled, and decried the despicable criminal actions of mild mannered progressive James T. Hodgkinson, who shot up a Republican baseball practice.

“I, too, am a mild mannered Bernie Sanders supporter,” Aardvark stated, “and I am also mad as hell.” But, Aardvark added, “Fortunately, my prefrontal cortex, though challenged by myriad headlines every day, is still holding up.”

Asked to cite an illustrative news story that challenges his prefrontal cortex, Aardvark responded by referring to this headline from CNN this morning: House hearing on gun legislation canceled after shooting.


Unicorns Sightings in Kansas


Moderate Republicans Revolting in Kansas

Republicans are predicting the beginning of the end of the tea party in Kansas:

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Kansas was at the heart of the tea party revolution, a red state where, six years ago, a deeply conservative group of Republicans took the state for a hard right turn. Now, after their policies failed to produce the results GOP politicians promised, the state has become host to another revolution: a resurgence of moderate Republicans.

Moderate Republicans joined with Democrats this week to raise state taxes, overriding GOP Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto and repudiating the conservative governor’s platform of ongoing tax cuts. The vote was a demonstration of the moderates’ newfound clout in the state Republican Party. Brownback was unable to successfully block the bill because many of the die-hard tax cut proponents had either retired or been voted out of office, losing to more centrist candidates in GOP primaries.

“The citizens of Kansas have said ‘It’s not working. We don’t like it.’ And they’ve elected new people.” said Sheila Frahm, a centrist Republican who served as lieutenant governor of Kansas and briefly as a U.S. senator.

God’s in His Heaven, All’s Right with the World

Vasari calls my attention to Bruce Bartlett, writing in the Guardian, under the headline, Donald Trump’s incompetence is a problem. His staff should intervene:

In recent days, there have been a number of press reports suggesting that President Trump is unable to absorb essential information needed to do his job. His attention span is too short, he won’t read anything longer than a page, and must be bribed with flattery to keep his mind focused. Writing in the New York Times on 18 May, Peter Baker asked those working at foreign embassies in Washington what they have learned from their interactions with Trump.

Said Baker: “Keep it short – no 30-minute monologue for a 30-second attention span. Do not assume he knows the history of the country or its major points of contention. Compliment him on his Electoral College victory. Contrast him favorably with Barack Obama. Do not get hung up on whatever was said during the campaign. Stay in regular touch. Do not go in with a shopping list but bring some sort of deal he can call a victory.”

Some of us have thought for a while now that the search for the method in the madness is futile: he’s just crazy. Aardvark’s sense is that most of the sentient folks among us are by way of finally shaking off their unwillingness to confront the truth.

Be that as it may, Bartlett helpfully proposes the following, which would be a great idea if it could work:

Trump has a huge staff at his beck and call. He should use them to research issues for him rather than getting his briefings from Fox & Friends. He should let his staff draft statements for him and let them go through the normal vetting process, including fact-checking. And he must resist the temptation to tweet or talk off the top of his head about policy issues, and work through the normal process used by every previous president.

Trump may not get any smarter any time soon, but he can act a lot smarter very quickly if he simply uses the resources at his disposal.

I will say this for the Bartlett article: its argument roughly approximates its headline. The same may not be said, I think, for Masha Gessen’s Trump’s Incompetence Won’t Save Our Democracy, to which Fredda Foxy has kindly directed my attention.

But the point of Gessen’s piece is about saving or losing democracy, but rather to advance the argument that other authoritarians were (or are, as the case may be) likewise ignorant and mentally limited. Gessen writes,

A careful reading of contemporary accounts will show that both Hitler and Stalin struck many of their countrymen as men of limited ability, education and imagination — and, indeed, as being incompetent in government and military leadership. Contrary to popular wisdom, they are not political savants, possessed of one extraordinary talent that brings them to power. It is the blunt instrument of reassuring ignorance that propels their rise in a frighteningly complex world.

Modern strongmen are more obviously human. We have witnessed the greed and vanity of Silvio Berlusconi, who ran Italy’s economy into the ground. We recognize the desperate desire of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to be admired or at least feared — usually literally at his country’s expense. Still, physical distance makes villains seem bigger than they are in real life. Many Americans imagine that Mr. Putin is a brilliant strategist, a skilled secret agent turned popular leader.

As someone who has spent years studying Mr. Putin — and as one of a handful of journalists who have had an unscripted conversation with him — I can vouch for the fact that he is a poorly educated, under-informed, incurious man whose ambition is vastly out of proportion to his understanding of the world. To the extent that he has any interest in the business of governing, it is his role — on the world stage or on Russian television — that concerns him. Whether he is attending a summit, piloting a plane or hang-gliding with Siberian cranes, it is the spectacle of power that interests him.

And so on.

Aardvark takes the point, and is willing to indulge the assumption that it is accurate. But here’s my question: even if we should not see Hitler, Stalin, and Putin as geniuses, were they not able to grasp the basics of cause and effect? Couldn’t they focus on a topic for longer than 30 seconds? Couldn’t they sometimes avoid belief in delusional ideas, and thus effectively work to advance their evil ends?

Enquiring Minds Want to Know.

The French Have a Right to Condescend, For Once


Don’t Hold Back, Maureen. Tell Us What You Really Think

WASHINGTON — We’ve been conditioned by Hollywood to see the president of the United States step up to the lectern to confidently tell us how he will combat the existential threat to the planet … So it was quite stunning to see the president of the United States step up to the lectern to declare himself the existential threat to the planet.

America is living through a fractured fairy tale, in the grip of a lonely and uninformed mad king, an arrogant and naïve princeling, a comely but complicit blond princess and a dyspeptic, dystopian troll under the bridge. …

The more he is labeled a boor and a brute by his critics at home and abroad, the more Trump digs in, trying to drag America back to a time when black smoke belched, women scrambled for birth control, sick people were out of luck, reefer madness reigned and Cuba was shunned. …

Trump was goaded in the direction of dropping out of the Paris accord by a couple things that irritated him.

As Mark Landler and Michael Shear reported in The Times, Cohn, the president’s chief economic adviser, had told reporters in Sicily that Mr. Trump might be coming around. “His views are evolving” on climate change, Cohn said. “He came here to learn. He came here to get smarter.”

That smarted and made Trump want to blast classic rock.

Then the president read an interview with Emmanuel Macron in a French newspaper, bragging about how he had prepared to give Trump an Iron Man grip because it was “a moment of truth” showing that he “won’t make small concessions, even symbolic ones.” …

Trump [by contrast to Macron] has rattled the world with his crude manner, cruel policies, chaotic management style, authoritarian love-ins and antediluvian attitudes, cementing his image as the highchair king.

For once, the French have a right to be condescending toward the United States.

As Night Follows Day

It WILL Get Worse

Josh Marshall hits the nail on the head:

There’s always been a core of [Trump] advisors that wanted [to exit the Paris accord]. But if not for the events of the last few weeks I think we’d have remained in the Paris accord. Trump got into a growing fight with Europe. France rejected Bannon’s favorite Le Pen. He met with and got disrespected and criticized by the leaders of NATO and the EU. He got mad. Both Merkel and Macron spoke about him as a bully and a child. Macron has happily spoken publicly about over-manning Trump when they met in person.

This isn’t about climate and it isn’t about Trump’s base. It’s about sticking it to the leaders of Europe. That’s what gave the Bannonites the edge. That and one other thing.

Trump is scared. He’s entering a a widening gyre of political crisis over Russia. He’s scared and he’s angry and he needs friends. So he’s more and more likely to hug his base – both the most aggressive advisors and the most committed supporters. He’s trying to bring back Corey Lewandowski, his wildest and most troubling-driving advisor who has the unshakable loyalty and lickspittledom Trump now requires. Indeed, we can take it as a given that as the Russia scandal crisis deepens Trump will become more aggressive and more extreme in his policies both to maintain his emotional equilibrium and reinforce his backing from a shrinking base of supporters. This is as certain as night follows day.