Opinions, Context & Ideas from the TPM Editors TPM Editor's Blog

Dominance and Humiliation, No Middle Ground

I've been praised in recent months for having some handle on the Trump phenomenon. The truth is a little different. Early on I realized that when it came to Trump if I figured out the stupidest possible scenario that could be reconciled with the available facts and went with it, that almost always turned out to be right. The stupider, the righter. So with this rule of thumb in hand, as the empiricist my Dad taught me to be, I just kept following that model and it kept working. Last night there was chatter - half tongue-in-cheek but not totally - about whether Trump's decision to postpone his vice presidential announcement wasn't simply some gambit to gain advantage from the massacre in Nice but an effort to play for time and possibly back out of his apparent decision to place Mike Pence on the ticket. That couldn't possibly be true. Not really. But it's Trump. So who knows?

Now of course we find out early this afternoon that it was true. Because of course it was.

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Another Update

Quite a lot has transpired over the last four hours since my last post. I was away from the computer and updating only on twitter. It now seems clear the coup against the Erdogan government has failed or is clearly on the road to failure. A few questions occur to me.

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Update On Turkey

The Turkey experts I trust tell me they think that at least for now, the Turkish military has pulled this off and is in control. Obviously coups can unravel based on a fluid political backdrop. But at the risk of sounding churlish, when it comes to coups, when you're Facetiming, you're losing ...

A Military Coup in Turkey is a Very Big Deal

The latest news out of Turkey is that the Turkish military has announced that it has taken control of the state. In other words, it has executed a successful military coup overthrowing the increasingly autocratic but still civilian and duly elected government of President Erdogan. It is important to note that this could be as much propaganda as statement of fact, an effort to make a fait accompli of a still fluid and unfolding situation. Regardless, it shows the seriousness of the crisis now unfolding in Turkey.

I wanted to address a few quick points about Turkish and its history of military coups. I've seen a number of people saying that military coups have been commonplace in Turkey. This is true but also quite misleading.

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Something Big Happening In Turkey

I was just at work on a Mike Pence post. But I want to address this quickly, even though we still know very little. Something big and seemingly ominous is underfoot in Turkey. There are numerous reports of tanks on the streets, low flying military aircraft troops securing key bridges - events of this sort happening in both Ankara, the capital, and Istanbul, the great metropolis. These are all the signs one expects to see in a military coup or, conversely, a strong handed response to a conspiracy against the state. Military coups have been common place in Turkey for half a century - especially against Islamist leaning governments. But the general consensus has been that Prime Minister and now-President Erdogan had finally broken the political (Kemalist) grip of the military (show trials, possibly uncovering a coup or maybe fabricating false accusations of a coup). And the era of coups was over. But something of great drama and import is happening.

More updates to follow.

Late Update: AP, CNN and other news sources now report Turkish PM is saying an attempted military coup is underway, i.e., idea being that the outcome is still in suspense.

Later Update: The Turkish military has reportedly sent an email announcement to journalists saying it has taken control of the state. Worth keeping in mind that that can still be more propaganda then fact, trying to make a fait accompli of a still fluid situation. But it leaves no doubt of the seriousness of the situation.

Inside Newt & Christie's Final Wild Ride

Earlier this morning Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort said that Trump's decision to cancel his vice presidential announcement in the aftermath of the terror attack in Nice was an "emotionally" driven one. The smartass wisecracks and snark lines almost say themselves: Just what you want in a President, someone who get emotional and reacts impulsively in the fact of a crisis.

I don't find myself agreeing with Manafort often but I suspect he was accurate in describing the impulsive nature of the move. We all have emotions. We hope presidents won't usually act on them. We hope especially that they won't act impulsively on their emotions. It was one of the pivotal moments of the 2008 campaign when John McCain decided to 'suspend' his campaign in the wake of the unfolding financial crisis. I have no idea whether this fumble will play for voters in a similar way. But I think it's actually much more revealing about the candidate's character.

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Another Day of Terror and Tragedy in France

To get an idea of the enormity of what is happening in France, one can convert it to American terms. France is smaller than Texas and about seven percent the size of the United States. Its population is about a sixth that of the U.S. From January 2015, when the Charlie Hebdo massacre took place through yesterday in Nice, France will have suffered – when the full extent of yesterday’s toll is known – almost 250 deaths from terrorist attacks. That’s about 1500 in American terms. Imagine if Texas alone had suffered that many deaths from terror in the last eight months – what it would do to the mentality of the people there, the extent to which they would be living in fear.

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This Is Not the Natural State of Things

Thirty plus years ago I was lucky enough to be one of two poor kids on scholarships in my class at a school for rich kids in a small town in California. The other was the renowned science fiction writer John Scalzi. I just noticed this tweet from him as I was watching a welter of reports about what appears to be yet another terror attack in France.

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An Appealing Opening Address by Britain's New Prime Minister

Ever wonder what a center-right and not a rightwing politician sounds like. They used to be fairly common in the United States, but beginning in the late 1970s, they were hounded out of the Republican party and are now virtually extinct. Here’s what Britain’s new Tory prime minister Theresa May said in her brief opening speech:

…we believe in a union not just between the nations of the United Kingdom, but between all of our citizens, every one of us, whoever we are and wherever we are from.

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