Open Thread: Donald Trump, FAKE! President; Real Traitor?

Even the not-very-political USA Today!



Saturday Night Foreign Intrigues Saga Open Thread: In Our Last Episode…

“What did the President-Asterisk know, and when did he know it?”

(Well, a lifelong Democrat can dream… )

The Gang That Couldn’t Steal (an election) Straight…



Competency and conscience

I want to highlight two events from yesterday.  First James Joyner’s response to the mass resignation of the membership of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders:

 

And secondly, the decision by Admiral Harward to turn down the National Security Advisor position because he could not bring in his own staff:

Both of these moves in isolation make perfect sense. One is because the admiral thought he would not be able to do a job to his personal perception of acceptable competence without his ability to choose his own staff and the other is because clear moral lines were passed.

And the downside is exactly what James outlines. Acts of either professional competence or personal competence where integrity requires disassociation and resignation means the replacement will be far worse. Personal integrity of the competent and well meaning leads to governance by the Brietbart comment section, third raters and grifters.  We are getting the Provisional Coalition Authority on the Potomac where Heritage interns are overqualified compared to the other applicants who actively want the job.

For the career civil service folks as well as political appointees who are more conservative than my preference but are fundamentally competent, this is a nasty acid test of their personal beliefs.  Are their beliefs better served by remaining for fear of who replaces them, or to leave once a red line is crossed.  I don’t know what the right answer is for anyone, I just know that it is an acid test for integrity.



Oh, Yay, We’re Gonna Relitigate Watergate Now

Sensible people understand that Gerald Ford pardoning Richard Nixon — and thereby eliminating any chance of airing the true extent of the nitwitted criminality of the entire Nixon Administration and its GOP supporters — was a national tragedy. It allowed all the low-level CREEPsters to scurry away into wingnut-welfare hidey-holes from which they would reemerge, stronger and ever more venal, first during the Reagan Adminstration (aka ‘Iran-Contra’), and later during the Cheney Regency. What the country needed in 1974 was the equivalent of South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission, where amnesty might be granted, but only after a full examination of the crimes and their impact on civil society.

Of course the criminals in the permanent Republican Party, and their nitwit courtiers among the Media Village Idiots, persist in their self-defensive fantasies that Watergate was a cruel and misguided assault on a great man and his loyal acolytes. Since paranoia, racism, and a lust for cruelty are never out of fashion in the authoritarian fringes of the far right, whole generations of would-be Haldemans and Ehrlichmans have nursed ambitions to avenge Tricky Dick… and it seems that they may be seizing upon the President-Asterisk and his klown klavern as their last best hope.

As a leading indicator, Drum-Major-General and Bothsider-in-Chief David Brooks meeps out a preemptive call for Truth and Honor, once again, to submit to the needs of The Narrative. After hastily dismissing both the Democratic tactic of actual resistance to Trump’s no-longer-hidden attempts to subvert our democracy, and the #NeverTrumpist withdrawal into their think-tank boltholes, Brooks declaims that “we” need… another Gerald Ford:

… The third possibility is that the primary threat in the Trump era is a combination of incompetence and anarchy. It could be that Trump is a chaotic clown incapable of conducting coherent policy. It could be that his staff members are a bunch of inexperienced second-raters…

If the current reign of ineptitude continues, Republicans will eventually peel away. The Civil Service will begin to ignore the sloppy White House edicts. The national security apparatus will decide that to prevent a slide to global disorder, it has to run itself.

In this scenario, the crucial question is how to replace and repair. The model for the resistance is Gerald Ford, a decent, modest, experienced public servant who believed in the institutions of government, who restored faith in government, who had a plan to bind the nation’s wounds and restored normalcy and competence.

Personally, I don’t think we’re at a Bonhoeffer moment or a Benedict moment. I think we’re approaching a Ford moment. If the first three weeks are any guide, this administration will not sustain itself for a full term. We’ll need a Ford, or rather a generation of Fords to restore effective governance…

… and “we” will find them, never doubt, among the comers at the Heritage Institute, the young sprigs of the National Review, and whichever statehouse seatwarmers the Kochs and Mercers decide are ready for a bigger platform.


Read more



Wonk shade

Dan Diamond brings together the wonderful health nerd traditional of #HealthPolicyValentines and topical commentary on the firing of the NSA for being compromised by the Russians.

I needed this laugh.

Open Thread



Late Night Open Thread: Trumpstuntin’ Like A Giant Meteor Aimed Straight At Us



The Firings Have Begun

Per the Washington Post:

Earlier on Monday, Yates ordered Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world, declaring in a memo that she is not convinced the order is lawful.

Yates wrote that, as the leader of the Justice Department, she must ensure that the department’s position is “legally defensible” and “consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”…

What will happen next is unclear. A Justice Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said those who would normally defend the order under Yates’s authority can no longer do so. Yates will probably be replaced soon by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump’s attorney general nominee, who could be confirmed as early as Thursday or Friday. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider his nomination Tuesday, and the entire Senate must wait one day before voting…

The President-Asterisk goes full RMNixon. Now, more than ever:

From the Washington Post, “Trump’s hard-line actions have an intellectual godfather: Jeff Sessions” —

The early days of the Trump presidency have rushed a nationalist agenda long on the fringes of American life into action — and Sessions, the quiet Alabam­ian who long cultivated those ideas as a Senate backbencher, has become a singular power in this new Washington.

Sessions’s ideology is driven by a visceral aversion to what he calls “soulless globalism,” a term used on the extreme right to convey a perceived threat to the United States from free trade, international alliances and the immigration of nonwhites.

And despite many reservations among Republicans about that worldview, Sessions — whose 1986 nomination for a federal judgeship was doomed by accusations of racism that he denied — is finding little resistance in Congress to his proposed role as Trump’s attorney general….

The author of many of Trump’s executive orders is senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, a Sessions confidant who was mentored by him and who spent the weekend overseeing the government’s implementation of the refu­gee ban. The tactician turning Trump’s agenda into law is deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn, Sessions’s longtime chief of staff in the Senate. The mastermind behind Trump’s incendiary brand of populism is chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who, as chairman of the Breitbart website, promoted Sessions for years.

Then there is Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who considers Sessions a savant and forged a bond with the senator while orchestrating Trump’s trip last summer to Mexico City and during the darkest days of the campaign.

In an email in response to a request from The Washington Post, Bannon described Sessions as “the clearinghouse for policy and philosophy” in Trump’s administration, saying he and the senator are at the center of Trump’s “pro-America movement” and the global nationalist phenomenon…

Sessions helped devise the president’s first-week strategy, in which Trump signed a blizzard of executive orders that begin to fulfill his signature campaign promises — although Sessions had advocated going even faster.

The senator lobbied for a “shock-and-awe” period of executive action that would rattle Congress, impress Trump’s base and catch his critics unaware, according to two officials involved in the transition planning. Trump opted for a slightly slower pace, these officials said, because he wanted to maximize news coverage by spreading out his directives over several weeks.

Trump makes his own decisions, but Sessions was one of the rare lawmakers who shared his impulses.

“Sessions brings heft to the president’s gut instincts,” said Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser. He compared Sessions to John Mitchell, who was attorney general under Richard M. Nixon but served a more intimate role as a counselor to the president on just about everything. “Nixon is not a guy given to taking advice, but Mitchell was probably Nixon’s closest adviser,” Stone said…

With such a rogues’ gallery supporting him, you don’t even need to know about Jefferson Beauregard Sessions’ long history defending racism and voter disenfranchisement to realize he is NOT a good man, or a trustworthy judge.