Friday links! Simper at the devil edition

"So then I took out a full-page ad in the Times saying they should get the chair."

“So then I took out a full-page ad in the Times saying they should get the chair.”

I don’t mean to overgeneralize, but everyone is shit. The Ivy League warmongers are in a tight race with the uneducated racists, and everyone who ought to know and/or do better is busy pandering to what segment of those audiences they imagine most lucrative. Also it’s leaf blower season, and nobody signals their turns anymore. Sometimes a small sample of unrelated events starts to seem like the end of civilization as we know it—or at least civilization as we like it—and the best thing to do with that feeling is to get it out of your system. Today is Friday, and H.L. Mencken was right: These dickcharmers are going to outlive us all. Won’t you yell through the windshield with me?

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Is it better to be known and hated than not known at all?

Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO and current fraud indictee Martin Shkreli

Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO and current fraud indictee Martin Shkreli

On September 11th, New York City watched in horror as a symbol of America’s intertwined economic and political power collapsed. Of course I refer to Hillary Clinton, who left a memorial ceremony at the World Trade Center yesterday and was subsequently diagnosed with dehydration and pneumonia. During the 90 minutes or so the Democratic nominee spent in the Flatiron apartment of her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, various onlookers gathered outside. One of them was Martin Shkreli, who livestreamed himself shouting “why are you so sick?” and “are you alive?” for about two hours. After Clinton left, Shkreli told the Daily News, “Chelsea Clinton does not live in that apartment. That apartment is an advanced medical facility.” He appeared to be lying.

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As Trump founders, Gianforte mailer strives to imitate him

The mailer Greg Gianforte, Republican for governor of Montana, sent last week

The mailer Greg Gianforte, Republican for governor of Montana, sent last week

Yes, that’s Governor Steve Bullock, letting terrorist refugees from war-torn stock photos just loom over the mountains of Montana. He refuses to use his power as governor to ban Syrians. Greg Gianforte, on the other hand, promises to stop refugee resettlement—presumably after he takes a job at the State Department, since the governor of Montana does not have the authority to prevent foreign nationals with valid visas from entering the state.

That’s one problem with the mailer above, which the Gianforte campaign sent out last week. Another problem is that it arrived in Missoula at roughly the same time as a family of refugees from the Congo, where Islamist militias are targeting Christians. Welcome to Montana, scared and exhausted family of six! One of our two candidates for governor has promised to prevent you.

The third problem with this mailer is tactical. I don’t know whether Gianforte or Bullock is ahead right now. No one does, because Montana is too big and empty to poll. But Bullock has the advantage of incumbency, and Gianforte has the disadvantage of the giant albatross perched atop his ticket. Donald Trump won the Montana primary with 74% of the vote, after all the other candidates dropped out. The candidate who got the most donations from individuals within the state was Ben Carson. Wild for guns and freedom though they are, Montana Republicans prefer a soft-spoken type. They’re ranchers and small business people, and the immigrants with whom they compete are mostly Canadian. A lot of them are likely to stay home this year, because the Republican candidate for president is a shit-eating wildman.

Why, then, would Gianforte emulate him with this mailer? Low-information xenophobes are already turning out. He should be pitching his appeal to the lifelong Republicans in this state who are disappointed in the top of their ticket. He should show the Rotary Club wing of his party why he’s still worth voting for, even if Trump isn’t. Arab-baiting appeals to public ignorance are not the way to do it. That’s what I think, anyway; only November will tell. You can read all about it in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links.

Zinke calls on both Trump and Clinton to apologize to military families

Rep. Ryan Zinke prepares to crack a walnut.

Rep. Ryan Zinke prepares to crack a walnut.

Remember a few days ago, before we were all mad at Donald Trump for implying that someone should shoot Hillary Clinton, when we were all mad at Trump for insulting the parents of a dead Muslim serviceman? At the Democratic National Convention, where Khizr Khan lambasted Trump for his bigoted remarks about Muslims. “You have sacrificed nothing and no one,” Khan said to the billionaire restorer of American greatness, who missed Vietnam due to bone spurs. It probably would have chastened a normal person, but Trump hit back, suggesting that Khan’s wife, Ghazala, hadn’t spoken during her husband’s speech because Muslim custom forbade her.

These remarks put Montana’s Rep. Ryan Zinke in a bad spot. Zinke is a freshman congressman, and he can’t afford to buck his party too often. On the other hand, the unimpeachable dignity of military service is his whole thing. His political brand is rooted in his identity as a former Navy SEAL, and his personal ethics seem to hold veterans in the highest regard. So he released this statement on his campaign website:

Both of our candidates for president have picked fights with and said extremely regrettable things to the families of service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our great nation. As a grateful nation, we cannot allow this to become the norm, and we cannot allow it to go without notice. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton should swallow their pride and apologize to the families and service members they have offended. Politics has no role in the military.

Can I get partial credit on this? Because I can definitely think of the extremely regrettable things one candidate said to the family of a service member that should occasion an apology, but I’m blanking on the other one. Was it Benghazi? Was it the part where she runs against Trump, and therefore must be made equivalent to him in all things? These and another pressing question—why would Zinke, who has a future in politics, risk his credibility for a man who is to his party as the chicken pox is to a sixth grader?—are explored in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links.

Trump suggests people shoot his opponent or vote against her—hard to tell

GOP 2016 Debate

Yesterday, after telling a crowd of his supporters in Wilmington, North Carolina that Hillary Clinton wanted to “abolish” the Second Amendment, Donald Trump warned that gun owners would face disaster if she won the presidency and got to appoint justices to the Supreme Court. Then he seemed to allude to the possibility of assassinating her. Here’s video:

If you can’t watch it because your work doesn’t allow videos that threaten candidates for president or the Secret Service is monitoring you or something, Trump said, “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people—maybe there is. I don’t know.”

That’s by no means an explicit call for violence against his opponent. It does, however, allude to something “Second Amendment people” can do after the general election, when democratic avenues to prevent President Hillary Clinton from appointing judges have failed. These “Second Amendment people” are presumably gun owners, but that, too, is ambiguous. Maybe these unspecified people could do some unspecified thing to prevent a duly elected president from appointing judges to the Supreme Court—Trump doesn’t know. He’s just running for president, saying these things.

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