Nearly everyone at the GOP debate thinks bringing back waterboarding is a great idea.

Finally, a cause to unite a fractured party. Ted Cruz refused to say that he would support torturing terrorism suspects, only because waterboarding, the torture technique he was asked about, isn’t torture. Cruz said that waterboarding is merely “vigorous interrogation” that doesn’t “meet the generally recognized definition of torture.”

He is wrong:

But Cruz was not alone in his opinion!

“I would bring back waterboarding, and I would bring back a lot worse,” said Trump, who thinks that entry-level torture is not enough torture.

Jeb Bush, to his credit, would not bring back waterboarding. Rubio took a different approach, saying there’s no point arguing about whether waterboarding is torture or not (it is) since President Obama is trying to close Guantanamo, which means there are fewer people we could hypothetically waterboard. “We’re not interrogating anyone right now!” Rubio complained.

January 22, 2017

Katie King

At least we made Donald Trump mad.

The last time I attended a protest of any kind was in the dreary spring of 2003, when our professor of European history dismissed class early so we could stand out on the great lawn of our small liberal arts college and listen to a series of people speak out against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. It was the beginning of the 21st century, and yet the style of liberal protest had not evolved much from its predecessors in the 1960s; between speakers, an old hippie played Dylan tunes on an acoustic guitar. We were in the New England boonies, protesting to no one but ourselves and an overcast sky. I left the proceedings early, not with a sense of uplift and solidarity, but a twinge of embarrassment. Protests, I decided, were not for me.

I still am skeptical of the value of protests. The big question that hangs over the massive marches that occurred this weekend in Washington, D.C., and around the world is whether they will translate into something more—whether they will result in political action that impedes and maybe even thwarts the onslaught of the Donald Trump era, or are remembered as a monumental gesture of impotence. But as I marched across the Mall with my wife and our two-year-old daughter, I knew, with absolute certainty, that we were having an impact on one person in particular: that he was watching, that he was counting every body with mounting rage, that it mattered to him that I was there, along with hundreds of thousands of other people. I imagined him like the Grinch in his mountain lair, irritated by all the happy Whos he can hear singing down in Whoville; or, late at night in the White House, his face lit by the blue glow of his phone, like Saturn in his gloom.

During the march, politics was a simple thing, expressed simply, on a hilarious sign or in a conversation with a stranger who was smiling as hard as you were. It was right against wrong, the people against a tyrant. The solidarity was palpable, in the roars that would periodically sweep over the crowd like a wave, which were then disseminated by social media, perhaps even finding a tinny echo in the president’s own Twitter timeline. For a moment, our voices were being heard.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

What Mike Allen doesn’t understand about language.

In Sunday’s Axios Presented by Bank of America newsletter, Mike Allen just asks this question about Saturday’s historic Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

Just asking: Did anyone notice the irony of the crude, discriminating language and signs used by some to lambaste a president they condemn as crude and discriminating?

Let us set aside the notion, entertained by Allen, that he might be the only human being on Earth to have identified a particular irony. We can only wonder what discriminatory language Allen is referring to. Was it anti-male? Anti-white? Anti-Allen’s newsletter sponsor?

I attended the march, and what I saw were a lot clever, angry, funny, and adorable signs. Some were crude by conventional definition—“pussy” and “bitch” and “tits” being the most popular words that likely made Allen squirm. But it’s worth remembering why those words have become so common with the Trump resistance:

I did try and fuck her. She was married. ... And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, “I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.” I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look....

I’ve gotta use some tic tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.

At the risk of explaining the obvious, the context of words matters as much as the words themselves. When Trump used this crude language, he did so to disrespect women. When women use the same language in protesting Trump, they are appropriating it—simultaneously depriving the words of their discriminatory offense and weaponizing them against the discriminator. This has been a familiar tactic of marginalized groups for centuries, if not since the beginning of language itself. I won’t quote other examples here because, as a straight white man, I am not entitled to use such words. Doing so would be discriminatory.

Does Mike Allen understand that? Just asking.

January 21, 2017

Getty Images

This dispatch about Trump’s sad, pathetic CIA visit proves we are entering the golden age of White House pool reports.

America’s brand spanking new President Donald Trump on Saturday visited the CIA headquarters, where he gave a speech that evinced no insecurities whatsoever. Here’s the unedited pool report from S.V. Dáte, a senior political correspondent for The Huffington Post:

The motorcade loaded up and is en route back to the White House at 1540. POTUS visibted with officials at the CIA headquarters and then delivered remarks for about 15 minutes. Transcript to follow, but highlights:

-- POTUS explained why CIA was his first visit: because the dishonest media has made it seem like he was having a feud with the intelligence community

-- He said the IC has not been utilized properly in recent years to help win wars

-- He boasted that “probably everybody in this room voted for me ... because we’re all on the same wavelength.”

-- ISIS is evil and must be eradicated off the face of the earth.

-- He is very smart, and again pointed to his uncle the MIT professor. “Trust me, I’m like a smart person.”

-- Said that after meeting Mike Pompeo, he wasn’t interested in meeting anyone else for the CIA job.

-- He claimed the media are lying about size of the inauguration crowd -- he believes it was about 1-1.5 million people, not 250,000.

-- critized yesterday’s mistaken pool report about the bust of MLK as further proof of the dishonest media.

The speech was attended by about 400 CIA employees in the lobby of its building in Langley, Virginia.

EarthCam

The Women’s March is yuge, and it must be driving President Donald Trump crazy.

Saturday’s march in Washington is in full swing, and its organizers have more than doubled their crowd estimate to 500,000. That should be taken with a grain of salt, given the source, but images from EarthCam suggest that many more people have turned out for the march than did for Trump’s inauguration.

Here’s what Friday’s crowd looked like at its peak:

And here’s Saturday’s at around noon:

What’s more, the march is still growing, as many thousands of marchers are en route. Metro reports that subway ridership is significantly higher than on Friday. This is to say nothing of the millions more who are marching around the country and world.

It was embarrassing enough for Trump that his inauguration crowd was a fraction of the size of Barack Obama’s in 2009. That Saturday’s march is also dwarfing his turnout must be giving him a very itchy Twitter finger. He has refrained from criticizing the protesters thus far, tweeting only the following:

But the day is young. There’s still plenty of time for Trump to whine about the unfairness of it all.

Update: It is indeed driving Trump crazy. At a briefing later on Saturday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told a blatant lie on his boss’ behalf: “This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe.”

January 20, 2017

Donald Trump’s inauguration speech echoes not Washington or Lincoln but Bane from The Dark Knight Rises.

Presidential speeches are often rich in allusion. President Obama in particular liked to echo phrases previously uttered by figures like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

President Trump’s inaugural speech also had an allusion but an unusual one. Bane is perhaps the most political villain in the Batman pantheon. In The Dark Knight Rises, he leads a populist revolution against the corrupt elite of Gotham City. In one speech he says, “And we give it back to you ... the people.” These words were repeated almost exactly by Trump. The inflection and pause were also the same. The prospect of President Bane is not a reassuring thought.

Alex Wong/Getty

Donald Trump’s inauguration speech was aimed at his supporters and no one else.

Trump will enter the White House with the lowest approval rating in recorded history. The expectation from pundits was that Trump would use his inaugural address to try to heal the country’s wounds and assure America that he would be president for everyone—that he would finally put his campaign behind him and start to govern the entire country, not just the parts that voted for him.

For nearly a year now, pundits have been waiting for Trump to pivot. It never happened, of course. Trump ran the same campaign in the primaries that he did in the general election, emphasizing economic nationalism and white grievance, while presenting himself as the only man who could save the country from ruin. The speech he gave at the inauguration could have been given at any point over the past 18 months: It was combative, radical, and alarming. It was delivered in a pitch that usually sends his supporters into a frenzy.

“American carnage” is how Trump depicted this country, a dark, decimated place where “rusted-out factories [are] scattered like tombstones.”

For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment, it belongs to you.

Trump set up a dichotomy in the speech: There was honest, hardworking America and there was corrupt Washington D.C., which stole the jobs and wealth of hardworking America and gave it to themselves and to foreigners. Trump promised those days were over. “For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military. We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own.”

He claimed that he wrote his own speech, but it had Steve Bannon’s fingerprints all over it. Real America vs. Washington D.C. had a double meaning. It channeled the grievances of his voters, who are predominantly white and rural and hostile toward both elites and multiculturalism in general. Trump’s promise was to return America to them.

Trump’s inauguration, as the BBC sees it.

The British Broadcasting Corporation is struggling to cover the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States. “The success of Donald Trump may, uh, recalibrate the definition of success,” one commentator says. Furthermore, people appear to have come from “different parts” of the United States to attend. The journalists who are speaking leave long gaps between clauses. Melania Trump is “Slovenian; tall,” they observe.

“As your hat says,” a BBC reporter on the ground says to a Louisianan man named Rob, “you are a Donald Trump supporter.” Rob doesn’t seem to understand her accent. Michelle Obama walks out onto the inauguration platform and you can hear the smiles in the commentators’ voices return.

As Trump’s speech ends, the BBC observes that it was 20 minutes long. “I don’t know why we thought that Donald Trump would do a standard political speech,” one BBC woman muses. She observes that the camera is panning now across “all those establishment people that Donald Trump has just told off.” The camera lingers on Elizabeth Warren’s face with all the tenderness a machine can express.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Overheard in Slack.



“Delicate baby hands”

“But like the Virgin Mary as American Revolution soldier”

“Michelle is in ecclesiastical purple”

“Barron does not want to be there”

“This is so Mike Allen-y”

“Trump always looks so restless during prayer. Like a kid forced to go to Sunday school”

“God, this is like a wedding. Of people you hate”

“Why does this choir look like they’re watching a quidditch match”

“Everyone who likes choral music should be jailed”

“This is what today needed—satanists”

“The whole point of being an atheist is you don’t have to wear dumb robes, in my opinion.”

“Is everyone aware that ‘trump’ means ‘to fart’ in the U.K.”

“TURTLENECKS”

“Oh my god here it comes”

“welp”

“Still refuse to acknowledge this is real”

“It’s like rain/On your inauguration day”

“This is dystopian”

“This is so racist”

“I hate to be this person, but I keep thinking about The Plot Against America

“haha”

Destroying D.C. businesses is absolutely the wrong way to protest Donald Trump.

In the hour before Trump took office, parading protesters in downtown Washington broke glass at at least one bus stop and smashed the windows of a McDonalds, Starbucks, and a Bank of America branch:

That corporate businesses were targeted doesn’t make this violence any less foolish. A full 90 percent of D.C. voters supported Hillary Clinton in November; some of them, surely, work in these now-damaged buildings. But more importantly, this behavior is detrimental to the cause of resisting Trump, because it lets conservatives cast the opposition as a fringe operation rather than mainstream movement that it is.

Kellyanne Conway is on another level.

Conway, perhaps the most skilled liar in the country, has seemingly leveled up over the past 24 hours—the inauguration of her boss, Donald Trump, bringing her new and hitherto unforeseen powers.

First, at Trump’s inaugural ball, her boss doted over her incredible ability to lie to everyone, even people who might point it out. 

“There is no den she will not go into. When my men are petrified to go on a certain network I say, ‘Kellyanne, will you go?’ Then she gets on and she just destroys them. So anyway, thank you, baby. Thank you, honey. Thank you. [As she walked down the stairs] Be careful.”

Everything about this is extremely weird. “No den she will not go into”? “My men”? “Baby?” This reads like a pervy speech from a bad modernization of Henry V.  

And then Kellyanne Conway said this, on the morning of Trump’s inauguration, which boggles the mind. 

None of this is even remotely true.

And then she showed up to the inauguration dressed like Raggedy Ann cosplaying as Light-Horse Harry Lee. 

God help us all.