Category Archives: Michael F

“No One Said Anything About The Full Mueller”

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That’s what I think Barr will be repeating over and over shortly from now as he and the rest of the team see just how thoroughly they can spin and how gullible the press corpse [sic] might be in swallowing, hook, line, sinker…rod and reel…whatever bullshit they can push (“lightly redacted”???).

And…not to get all political, but…to get all political, it’s not like anyone’s mind will be changed by this report, or any report. The Trumpeteers are all in, Trump has decided that’s his play for another term, i.e., divide the country and see if he can squeak out another Electoral College win or at best a bare victory that he’ll insist (“many people are saying”) is the greatest and best of all time…and his cult will hypnotically nod in agreement.

Oh, hell, who am I kidding? They won’t nod hypnotically, they’ll scream, yell, stomp their feet, burn rubber in parking lots, and otherwise continue to be as obnoxious as ever…or worse. Much, much worse.

Stay tuned…

A Somewhat Personal Opinion of The Trump Base

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Somewhat personal because I agree with Adrastos and assume most of you feel the same. To use a metaphor in honor of the first black hole photo, they’re beyond the event horizon. To steal a line from Malcolm Tucker, they’re so dense, light bends around them.

They’re also arrogant. It starts at the very top, but William Barr’s testimony dripped with contempt…and then there’s the flat out refusal to comply with a clear law giving Congress authority to review tax records.

It’s the read meat — please the base by owning the libs.

But I still think it’s a bluff, and I still think it’s pretty much all they’ve got. They’re hiding something, and it’s likely awful (though the base won’t care because…beyond the event horizon)…

Without anything better, they’ll try to brazen it out, see if they can score points by portraying the Democrats as both weak AND monstrous socialist menace (consistency’s not a strong suit with the MAGASSes).

And part of me fears the Dems might fall into the trap. They’re complaining, but so far I haven’t seen much else. That’s not good.

I keep trying to imagine the shit-storm if the tables were somehow turned … difficult, given there’s really no Democratic Trump or rabid Fox Noise watching base … but, then again, it’s not like they were particularly civil to the legitimately elected and not-at-all-corrupt Obama administration.

But all that said, bluffs and cons are all Trump knows. And his core supporters? Hopeless suckers…

He’s Bluffing

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Not exactly ground breaking news to anyone who regularly keeps up with things, but between his weird language spasm and what’s sure to be an upcoming Twitter bender, Trump is the ultimate anti-poker face (he’s also a compulsive liar, which is why when he says “no collusion,” that’s all the proof I need). About all that’s surprising is how readily people who should know better — ahem, librul media — insist on marching to his orders.

Sure, he’s got his minions who will stick with him to the bitter end…and sure, their numbers are large enough to be a concern…but the whole operation has been a con job from the beginning. Trump is…weak. His getting elected was due to odd rules, dumb luck, voter suppression, and, ironically, fake news, which blew the email non-scandal out of proportion while giving Trump a comparatively free pass.

He’ll keep playing the same game. After all, it worked in 2016 (though, ahem, it was a disaster in the midterms). But bluffs only work if your opponents let them…

Twit Declares Victory, Takes Twit Victory Lap

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The dust is starting to settle, but I’m amazed that the press, even and including allegedly librul MSNBC, spent a few news cycles falling for Team Trump’s bluster and spin. Geez.

You’d have thought the pope himself had lain hands upon the crusty orange thing that sits above Trump’s skull … anyway, of course they were going to loudly grasp whatever straws William Barr threw in their direction. That’s their way…and that’s the GOP way, too.

The country is, as we all know, divided. The hard core Trumpeters won’t budge (about the only thing chronic liar Trump says that has a grain of truth — a grain — is that he could shoot someone and not lose his base). Yep.

And that’s Trump’s strategy, to the extent he’s got one: divide the country, play loud and long to the base, hope to come up with another inside straight, or, with incumbency, a bare plurality.

Welcome to campaign season, and get ready for a long and ugly ride.

Pretty Weird When This Could Be An Actual Headline

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Well, assuming John McCain went to, you know, the good place

He said he gave Mr. McCain “the funeral he wanted, and I didn’t get ‘thank you,’” exaggerating the role he played in honoring the senator’s death four days before his 82nd birthday.

“I have to be honest: I’ve never liked him much,” Mr. Trump said, about 10 minutes into a freewheeling speech that was ostensibly about the resurgence of manufacturing jobs. “Hasn’t been for me. I’ve really — probably never will.”

OK, points for honesty, I guess. Whining about a dead person not thanking you for pretty much anything certainly suggests animus…and bug fuck lunacy.

Meanwhile…this week marks a grim anniversary

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Sixteen years…even worse is the utter lack of any self-reflection, much less remorse, from the people who didn’t just “bring it on,” but who insisted on it…and who questioned our loyalty and patriotism for opposing. That they’ve not been drummed out of public life and/or are in a state of perpetual apology for demanding this moral and strategic disaster … might explain why we’ve got a cretin like Trump in the Oval Office.

At Least We Were Spared The Otherwise Blameless Life Nonsense

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OK, Manafort’s prison sentence was doubled, and as a bonus, New York State filed charges that are beyond Trump’s pardon power, so he’ll be wearing jumpsuits for a while.

And this is still early on. We have no idea where this ends.

Which is why, to change the subject a bit, I was disappointed to hear Nancy Pelosi flat out reject impeachment earlier this week. Sure, you don’t want to jump off the cliff, but neither do you want to bring a white flag to a gun fight. She’s worried about dividing the country? The country is already divided — on one side you’ve got the downward spiral of a major political party into a cabal of utter dirtbags without the slightest sense of anything approaching a rule-of-law mentality, while on the other side, there’s…who?

Show some spine: if Trump commits impeachable offenses, impeach. If the idiot Repugs (I repeat myself) refuse to convict, use it against them.

They. Are. Crooks.

The Otherwise Blameless Life Of God’s Littlest Angel, Paul Manafort

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Sigh, I caught more than beads at this year’s cold and at times rainy Lundi/Mardi Gras, but am awake/alert enough to give Tommy T a hand today if he doesn’t object.

From Franklin Foer, a nice rundown of Paul Manafort’s blameless life

In an otherwise blameless life, Paul Manafort lobbied on behalf of the tobacco industry and wrangled millions in tax breaks for corporations.

In an otherwise blameless life, he helped Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos bolster his image in Washington after he assassinated his primary political opponent.

In an otherwise blameless life, he worked to keep arms flowing to the Angolan generalissimo Jonas Savimbi, a monstrous leader bankrolled by the apartheid government in South Africa. While Manafort helped portray his client as an anti-communist “freedom fighter,” Savimbi’s army planted millions of land mines in peasant fields, resulting in 15,000 amputees.

In an otherwise blameless life, he stood mute as Yanukovych’s police killed 130 protesters in the Maidan.

In an otherwise blameless life, Manafort was found guilty of tax evasion on an industrial scale. Rather than paying his fair share to help fund national defense and public health, he kept his cash in Cyprus and wired it home to buy more than $1 million in bespoke clothing.

In an otherwise blameless life, he disguised his income as loans so that he could bamboozle banks into lending him money.

Oh, and this same judge sentenced Congresscrook Bill Jefferson to thirteen years…just saying.

Small Hands, Large Checks

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So, we’re now being told that Donald Trump, who routinely stiffed or underpaid contractors, and once cashed a thirteen cent check, was maybe just paying a $35 thousand dollar monthly retainer to Michael Cohen, and not $420 thousand dollars for specific services rendered, i.e., payoffs, plus a bonus, for sweeping embarrassing details of his personal life under the rug long enough to keep it out of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Sorry, that doesn’t pass the laugh test.

Besides, if it is strictly a retainer, then consider what that could also be for, i.e., lying to Congress, insurance fraud, possible money laundering…and more.

Yesterday’s closed door hearing with Cohen came complete with boxes of documents. That’s a lot of retaining, particularly from someone as (small) hands-on as Trump.

Remember, he takes great pride in being greedy

It’s The Party Of Trump…It’s Also The Cult Of Trump

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Like Adrastos, I’m recycling an image. Wish I could say it was because of Muses, but unfortunately it’s because of work. Well, work and that while watching yesterday’s House hearing, I kept thinking, wow, they’re fucking brainwashed. All of them. Sure, Cohen’s a convicted felon and a liar, but as the pundits kept saying, the lies were when he was … the president’s lawyer.

Michael Cohen got caught, realized his options were, at best, highly restricted, and that cooperating was his only chance at avoiding decades in prison.

The Trump cultists, on the other hand, have decided to stick with him, regardless. They’re either going down with his ship, or we’re in for some particularly dark times.

Meanwhile, what is Trump himself doing? Cozying up with a finalist if not top contender for creepiest living despot on the planet.

This isn’t normal.

Charles Pierce

This was a vivid look into the chronic ward of the prion disease that has eaten away the higher functions of American conservatism—and, thus, those of the Republican Party as well—since Ronald Reagan first served up the monkey brains almost 40 years ago. These are the complete creatures of the talk-show culture, the perfect products of two and three generations of gerrymandered in-breeding. These are the monsters from inside The Bubble. You could see this moment coming during the Obama years, in which the country returned the two worst Congresses in American history, full to the gunwales with Bible-banging crazy people. Sooner or later, this was going to be all that was left, and it was going to have to confront a serious crisis with unserious people. That’s what Wednesday was about.

John Cassidy

For all Cohen’s record of duplicity and lying, which he repeatedly fessed up to during the hearing, [his] statement[s] had the ring of genuine insider knowledge. To be sure, this was a figure who acted as Trump’s fixer and bruiser for more than ten years, and who recently pleaded guilty to tax evasion, making false statements to banks, engaging in campaign-finance violations, and lying to the last Congress. But the very things that made Cohen such a problematic witness—his closeness to Trump and his history of finagling on behalf of his boss and himself—are also what made him a compelling one. This was an account of the darkness, told from within.

And yet the cultists, having neither the law nor the facts to pound, pounded Cohen or the table … reality television as government oversight. The Real Representatives of Wingnut Nation.

Damn.

Roast Tucker

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Some things don’t change — and one of those is that Tucker Carlson will forever be a ninny…a weenie

BREGMAN: You’re a millionaire funded by billionaires. That’s what you are. I’m glad you finally now jumped the bandwagon of people like Bernie Sanders and AOC, but you’re not part of the solution, Mr. Carlson. You’re part of the problem, actually.

CARLSON: But AOC — but could I just say, and …

BREGMAN: It’s true, right? That all the anchors on Fox …

CARLSON: You would have to be a moron …

BREGMAN: … they’re all millionaires! How is this possible? Well, it’s very easy, you’re just not talking about certain things.

CARLSON: Fox doesn’t even play where you are!

BREGMAN: “It doesn’t play where you are”? Well, have you heard of the internet? I can watch things, whatever I want, you know.

CARLSON: You haven’t even seen Fox before!

BREGMAN: I have, actually. I can’t say I’m a great fan of your show, but I do my homework when you invite me on your show. So you’re probably not going to air this.

CARLSON: I doubt it.

BREGMAN: But I went to Davos to speak truth to power, and I’m doing exactly the same thing right now. You may not like it but you’re a millionaire funded by billionaires, and that’s the reason why you’re not talking about these issues.

CARLSON: But I am talking about these issues.

BREGMAN: But only now, come on, you jumped the bandwagon. You’re like, “Oh, I’m against the globalist elite, blah blah blah.” It’s not very convincing, to be honest.

CARLSON: I want to say to you — why don’t you go fuck yourself, you tiny brain — and I hope this gets picked up because you’re a moron, I tried to give you a hearing but you were too fucking annoying …

BREGMAN: You can’t handle the criticism, can you?

No, he can’t.

Zombie Special Envoy

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Drain the swamp? Elliot Abrams IS the swamp, or at least the zombie swamp thing that won’t go away. And good that Ilhan Omar took some time to remind us.

“Mr. Abrams, in 1991 you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush,” Omar begins. “I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony you give today to be truthful.”

“If I could respond to that …” Abrams says, before Omar cuts him off.

“It wasn’t a question,” the lawmaker says icily.

Abrams reacts angrily to this response, and only gets angrier from there. Omar pushes Abrams on Reagan-era policies in places like El Salvador and Nicaragua, and he flatly refuses to answer. Instead, he angrily dismisses the entire line of questioning as a “personal attack.”

Omar points out that it isn’t a personal attack at all, but rather quite relevant to his current job. Trump has contemplated intervening militarily in the Venezuela conflict before; it’s reasonable to ask, with Abrams in a key office, whether he has learned from the cruel and illegal positions he took in the Reagan years.

But more fundamentally, what’s striking about this video is how angry Abrams gets about being held to account for his past actions.

Oh, and pointing this out is not a defense of Nicolás Maduro, who combines malevolence and incompetence. This is also about the United States. And when Elliot Abrams is your public face, the message is more than a little malevolent and incompetent as well. Not to mention just plain gross. Abrams is a creep.

So, Did I Miss Anything While I Was Away?

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Wow — there are places in the world where people live their lives without the unwelcome and unpleasant truth that our own country is nominally headed by a guy who can’t get out of bed or away from the television most days (and that’s probably for the best…really. I mean, do we actually want this guy doing anything besides muting the commercials now and again?).

That said, and also having thankfully missed the Toddler SOTU, I did see it included a firm warning about the dangers of socialism…from someone who’s almost certainly up to his eyes or beyond in debt to Russians. Wow. That he wasn’t immediately drummed from the stage by the echoes of divine/derisive laughter — and likewise manged to get through the national prayer breakfast without something similar — suggests either a lack of divine presence, or maybe that the Supreme Being is telling us something…something like, “Medamnit, Trump’s your problem. You deal with it.”

Two more years…or, heaven forbid, six…

 

Forget The SOTU. The State of the POTUS Is…

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evidently toddler, and it’s also evident the press still can’t help themselves in making this a both sides story, even though, for fucks sake, it’s only one side. Christ.

On Day 33 of the longest government shutdown in history, Washington took on the air of a split-screen television. On one side was a spat between Mr. Trump and Ms. Pelosi over the president’s constitutional duty to periodically report to Congress on the state of the union. On the other, the House and Senate trudged along with their daily business, with lawmakers in both parties grasping for a way out of the shutdown stalemate.

It now seems all but certain that 800,000 federal employees who have been either furloughed or working without pay for more than a month will miss another paycheck on Friday. The best hope, people in both parties say, is that the expected failure of both bills in the Senate on Thursday will prompt bipartisan negotiations that could lead to a compromise.

During a closed-door meeting with House Democrats on Wednesday morning, Ms. Pelosi urged her caucus to stay unified and not to peel off and begin negotiating with the president on his terms, which could muddle the stark differences between Mr. Trump and them on a critical issue.

She also told rank-and-file lawmakers that they should not get “too bogged down” on what legislation was being voted upon — a direct message to some of her restive centrist freshmen, who have been meeting with Republican freshmen to discuss a bipartisan path out of the shutdown. The appeal seems to have worked; as they emerged from the closed-door meeting, rank-and-file Democrats appeared united behind their leaders’ demand that the government open before border security negotiations took place.

No. What’s happening is that the fucking president — who’s supposed to faithfully execute the laws, etc. etc. — is throwing the mother of all hissy fits because Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh called him a wuss. That’s it. No both sides, and there’s no massive border crisis that requires a $5 billion-with-a-b dollar appropriation for a wall that will never get built anyway…which means that’ll be $5 billion-with-a-b dollars that gets grifted by someone who, among other things, insisted he’d get another country to fork over the money anyway.

Christ, is that too difficult? It never ceases to amaze me just how eager the media is to accept the wingnut case…a case that doesn’t exist, but which is now front page news, at least until the toddler POTUS gets something he can call a win (and you can bet the same media will make that the story)…while people who keep working for no pay are getting ever more desperate (not that the same toddler POTUS gives a shit).

Geez.

Yes!

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My own effort isn’t nearly as impressive, but I cranked it out pretty quickly; The Yes Men’s latest was carefully crafted and well worth a look

Early this morning, thousands of commuters in Washington, D.C. were handed a spitting image of the Washington Post. But this one was dated May 1, 2019 — and in lieu of the Post’s usual tagline, “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” the phrase “Democracy Awakens in Action” appeared at the top. The paper’s lead headline: “Unpresidented: Trump Hastily Departs White House, Ending Crisis.” (An online version of the paper has also been making the rounds, at democracyawakensinaction.org, complete with PDF of the print version.)

A scan of the paper’s front page offers up a compelling backstory for Trump’s flight: a women-led, multi-racial grassroots resistance. Their winning strategy is borrowed from other movements against authoritarian rulers: target those who support the tyrant, rather than the tyrant himself.

That strategy has also led to growing support for a package of groundbreaking progressive legislation known as the “Bundle”64 bills sure to be popular across the political spectrum, including some — the Green New Deal bills, Medicare for All, the H.R. 1 election reform bill — that already are.

“The story this paper tells is more reasonable than our current reality,” says author Onnesha Roychoudhuri, who created the paper together with author L.A. Kauffman and trickster activist collective the Yes Men. “And it’s anything but far-fetched. We’re already seeing unprecedented levels of protest and resistance. Now we just need to ask ourselves: What’s next? This paper offers a blueprint to help us reclaim our democracy.”

One can hope.

Famous Front Page Updated

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Whether for show or not, the toddler administration was on full display. Big lies, petulance…about all that was missing was a threat to hold his breath until he turned blue. Meanwhile, the shutdown is causing real pain and having real effects.

Just a thought, but if I was negotiating, I’d offer to appropriate however much money it takes to make a state visit to Mexico. Trump could do his song, pout, and dance there.

I’m also wondering if this is both a pathetic, craven suck up to Limbaugh, Coulter, et al, but also an attempt to distract from what’s likely to be a pretty damning Mueller report.

Maybe he’s running out of cards to play. One can hope.

“The French Revolution? Too Soon To Say”

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There’s some question as to what Zhou Enlai really meant, but the post title is a fairly accurate quote…and worth considering in light of this op-ed  (hat tip to Adrastos, who pointed it out).

Today’s Christian nationalists talk a good game about respecting the Constitution and America’s founders, but at bottom they sound as if they prefer autocrats to democrats. In fact, what they really want is a king. “It is God that raises up a king,” according to Paula White, a prosperity gospel preacher who has advised Mr. Trump.

Of course, there are those on the Christian right who have made a show of holding their noses while supporting Mr. Trump to advance their aims of stacking the Supreme Court or ending abortion. But we are kidding ourselves if we think their continuing support for him is purely transactional.

I have attended dozens of Christian nationalist conferences and events over the past two years. And while I have heard plenty of comments casting doubt on the more questionable aspects of Mr. Trump’s character, the gist of the proceedings almost always comes down to the belief that he is a miracle sent straight from heaven to bring the nation back to the Lord. I have also learned that resistance to Mr. Trump is tantamount to resistance to God.

This isn’t the religious right we thought we knew. The Christian nationalist movement today is authoritarian, paranoid and patriarchal at its core. They aren’t fighting a culture war. They’re making a direct attack on democracy itself.

They want it all. And in Mr. Trump, they have found a man who does not merely serve their cause, but also satisfies their craving for a certain kind of political leadership.

Yep. They’d be perfectly happy getting rid of the whole enlightenment thing…minus of course the parts that are explicitly racist.

All that said, still, wow: yesterday, once again, Trump demonstrated he’s their Angel Moroni…minus the “i” at the end.

Worst Hallmark Christmas Movie Ever

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Get over it, Virginia…

“Besides, Santa could be Russia, he could be China, he could be a guy sitting on their bed who weighs 400 pounds … a real Santa would stop the witch hunt … put Crooked Hillary on his shit list …”

“I’m like, really smart, see? On trade, we’re being played for suckers … they need to start paying for our protection … I tell you, it’s a disgrace, a real disgrace … believe me, many people are saying this …”

“No, wait, wait, excuse me, EXCUSE ME … that was a very stupid question. A stupid question … I know nothing about it. My attorney handles that, my attorney who only did a bit of public relations work now and again.”

“I have to go. I’m leaving for a surprise visit to the troops. Merry Christmas, and you can thank me for winning the war on Christmas so that you can say Merry Christmas again, even if Santa is marginal. You’re seven. Deal with it.”

“Happy Holidays.”

Mission Accomplished! The Remake

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Gee, who knew — is 45, deep down, a peace-loving pacifist? Of course not, but this underscores how limited the president really is: oh, they’ll let him sign bills, bark up a storm on Twitter or at rallies, and even release a Rose Garden video, but his grand pronouncements might as well be delivered while playing on the White House swing set.

I’d set odds of no worse than 50-50 that in a week, like so many other DJT pronouncements, it will be forgotten, swept under a rug…and with surprisingly little followup from the media (e.g., it’s rare to see or hear news reports noting Trump insisted, over and over, Mexico would pay for a border wall).

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce, then as opera buffa. Toy soldiers have more gravitas and authority.

“I alone can fix it.” Oh, he’s in a fix alright.

Medicated? Or Something Else?

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Yesterday was surprisingly quiet for Trump — for the most part an unusual Twitter silence, a late day even by his lax standards, more TV (they call it Executive Time) than usual. Did they dose POTUS? Or was he in an extended snit after Tuesday’s Oval Office command performance.

Of course, his hard core base probably loved the act. But they’re not exactly known for deep thinking either.

And with sentencing day for Cohen, and, potentially much more damaging, prosecutors announcing they’ve struck a deal with American Media, Inc. — the general mood at the White House can’t be good.

Aside: Speaking of American Media, Frank Figliuzzi told quite a story on the Brian Williams show last night. He was part of the FBI team investigating the anthrax attacks at AMI’s Florida headquarters. In the process of decontaminating the office, he asked David Pecker what objects he wanted above all to save. Pecker’s response? Photos of Elvis Presley in his coffin…and Bat Boy. No, Really.

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(slightly modified).

Anyway…is the reality show finally coming to a close? Well…unfortunately, probably not. GOP elected officials are as slavishly cult-like towards Trump as the party’s evangelical base…

And with patriotism as the last refuge, I won’t be surprised over the near term to see DJT cozying up to as many American flags as he can get his small hands and stubby fingers on…he might even find a cross of some sort to carry as well.

And Then He Loudly Cleared His Throat…

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…pocketed his monocle, put on his white gloves and top hat…while muttering about how difficult it is to find good help these days. I swear, Ross Douthat is the world’s youngest grumpy old man.

…the WASPs had virtues that their successors have failed to inherit or revive.

Those virtues included a spirit of noblesse oblige and personal austerity and piety that went beyond the thank-you notes and boat shoes and prep school chapel going — a spirit that trained the most privileged children for service, not just success, that sent men like Bush into combat alongside the sons of farmers and mechanics in the same way that it sent missionaries and diplomats abroad in the service of their churches and their country.

And somehow the combination of pious obligation joined to cosmopolitanism gave the old establishment a distinctive competence and effectiveness in statesmanship — one that from the late-19th century through the middle of the 1960s was arguably unmatched among the various imperial elites with whom our establishment contended, and that certainly hasn’t been matched by our feckless leaders in the years since George H.W. Bush went down to political defeat.

Someone needs to sit Ross down and tell him — then maybe explain — the Aristocrats joke.