Let the Stalinist Purges Begin (Zombie Lies Never Die)

This is a charming little tidbit of what a future Trump administration will do to the country:

If he wins the presidency, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump would seek to purge the federal government of officials appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama and could ask Congress to pass legislation making it easier to fire public workers, Trump ally, Chris Christie, said on Tuesday.

Christie, who is governor of New Jersey and leads Trump’s White House transition team, said the campaign was drawing up a list of federal government employees to fire if Trump defeats Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 presidential election.

“As you know from his other career, Donald likes to fire people,” Christie told a closed-door meeting with dozens of donors at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, according to an audio recording obtained by Reuters and two participants in the meeting.

At least they are not threatening to publicly execute them. Yet. The reason for this is simple- Republicans don’t like a functioning government, so they will replace all the civil servants who actually do their jobs with apparatchiks. Monica Goodling, “Heckuva job Brownie,” anyone?

Christie, who is allegedly a former prosecutor who is supposed to deal with facts, offers up this justification for this purge of civil service employees:

“It’s called burrowing,” Christie said. “You take them from the political appointee side into the civil service side, in order to try to set up … roadblocks for your successor, kind of like when all the Clinton people took all the Ws off the keyboard when George Bush was coming into the White House.”

Christie was referring to pranks committed during the presidential transition from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush in 2001. During that period, some White House staffers removed the W key on computer keyboards and left derogatory signs and stickers in offices, according to a report by the General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress.

Except that never happened, and our failed media let’s it slide:

The technological problems the vandals wrought were so severe that, according to a report in the New York Daily News, “a telecommunications staffer with more than a quarter-century of service was seen sobbing.”

“Phone lines cut, drawers filled with glue, door locks jimmied so that arriving Bush staff got locked inside their new offices,” a disapproving Andrea Mitchell reported on NBC News. The message seemed clear: The trailer-trash Clintons and their staff had enjoyed one last bacchanal at taxpayer expense.

Now it seems those closely detailed stories were largely bunk. Last week it was revealed that a formal review by the General Accounting Office, Congress’ investigative agency, “had found no damage to the offices of the White House’s East or West Wings or EOB” and that Bush’s own representatives had reported “there is no record of damage that may have been deliberately caused by the employees of the Clinton administration.”

While cautious GSA staffers won’t issue a blanket exoneration of the Clinton team, Bernard Ungar, the agency’s director of physical infrastructure, told Salon the media clearly exaggerated the extent of the damage. According to the terse GSA statement that formed the basis of Ungar’s conclusion, “the condition of the real property was consistent with what we would expect to encounter when tenants vacate office space after an extended occupancy.”

Heckuva job, Reuters reporter Emily Flitter!



Tom Cotton Starts His 2020 Presidential Campaign

As I’ve said before, the reason Ted Cruz couldn’t do the sensible thing and wait to run for president in 2016 2020, after he’d finished at least one term in the Senate, is that there are even younger crazier Ivy-educated Talibangelicals breathing down his neck. On the first day of the 2016 RNC convention, Senator Tom Cotton staked out his claim to 2020. Mr. Charles P. Pierce explicates:

What better way to begin coverage of the 2016 Republican National Convention than to give you a preview of the 2020 Republican nominating process?… Senator Tom Cotton, the bobble-throated nuisance from Arkansas and onetime pen-pal of the Iranian mullahs… stopped by for breakfast with the delegation from South Carolina, where we learned what the euphemism du jour is for the candidate that this year’s process produced.

“I’m sure,” Cotton told the crowd, “that we’re all looking forward to a great Republican victory in November.”

The theme of the breakfast was renewing American foreign policy and having the country re-engage with the world, which made it even more inconvenient to mention that the party is preparing to nominate a guy who has mused about chloroforming NATO. This is the territory that Cotton staked out for himself. He is the world’s youngest neocon, a Richard Perle starter kit. He has a reedy, unpracticed public speaking style that he’ll have to work on before he hits the cornfields of Iowa, which ought to be about 11 minutes after the results are announced in November. But he has his theme–namely, that we are all going to die.

“The world has grown more dangerous over the last eight years,” Cotton said. “And the reason for that is that Barack Obama’s foreign policy is…impotent.”

A frisson ran through the applause that greeted this remark–although whether this was because of Cotton’s argument, or because he said “impotent” in public, is hard to say…

TIME has the transcript of Cotton’s thoroughly anodyne-edging-into-dishonest speech, if you must read it. [Warning: autoplay]

Lauren Fox, at TPM:

… “Frankly, I think a lot of political leaders need to stop fanning the flames of racial division,” Cotton said Monday in Cleveland at an event hosted by The Atlantic. “Because there is a police shooting does not mean the police are racist or that police officer did anything wrong. You cannot know that until there is an investigation that takes place.”

But Cotton also hinted that the GOP needs to be doing more than it is to expand its base.
Read more



Late Night WTF Open Thread: The GOP’s Goombah Problem

The GOP and their Media Village idiots keep telling us we don’t know enough about Hillary Clinton — although they’ve been sifting through every facet of her life & career for the past quarter-century. And then something like this pops up from the Trump campaign:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is seeking $10 million in damages from a former senior campaign consultant, Sam Nunberg, alleging that Nunberg leaked confidential information to reporters in violation of a nondisclosure agreement.

In a court filing obtained by The Associated Press, Nunberg accused Trump of trying to silence him “in a misguided attempt to cover up media coverage of an apparent affair” between two senior campaign staffers.

The highly unusual legal dispute reflects Trump’s efforts to aggressively protect the secrecy of his campaign’s inner workings.

The AP reported last month that Trump requires nearly everyone in his campaign and businesses to sign legally binding nondisclosure agreements prohibiting them from releasing any confidential or disparaging information about the real estate mogul, his family or his companies. Trump has also said he would consider requiring such agreements in the White House.

In the court filings, Nunberg denied disparaging Trump and accused the presumptive GOP nominee of attempting to “bully” him into silence after Nunberg decided to publicly support Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential bid…

In particular, Nunberg said Trump filed a $10 million arbitration claim against him and falsely accused him of being a source of a New York Post story from mid-May that recounted a public quarrel between former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks. Lewandowski was fired from the campaign in June after months of tension with other senior Trump advisers.

Nunberg denied being the source of the article, but in court papers referred to the quarrel as being part of an “apparent affair.”…

CNN adds helpful annotation:

Nunberg, through his association with longtime Trump political adviser Roger Stone, advised Trump amid his flirtation with a presidential run in 2012. And when Trump began preparing his 2016 bid, Nunberg was again at his side, making early preparations for a potential campaign.

But late last summer, racially charged posts that Nunberg posted on Facebook surfaced and the campaign fired him.

Since then, Nunberg has been fiercely critical of Trump and his campaign staff, particularly Lewandowski, who is now a CNN contributor…

(A CNN contributor still being paid by the Trump campaign, if you believe MMfA.)

So, if I parse this correctly, we have Donald Trump (presumptive presidential nominee of one of the only two national political parties we’ve got) aggressively defending the honor of Corey Lewandowski (while perhaps soiling that of the highest-ranking non-family female staffer on the Trump campaign) against former employee Nunberg, mini-me of Roger Stone, aka “Trump’s Gepetto“, once Richard Nixon’s original ratfvcker. Over a mooted “affair” that nobody outside the families involved would ever have heard about, if it weren’t for Donald Trump’s mania for secrecy…

Just in time for the RNC convention to kick off in Cleveland.

I wish Mario Puzo were still around, to explain this stuff for the rest of us, because as a purely political narrative it’s not making much sense.



The Wizard of Haws

wizardoftrump

In a country with a working press and sane electorate, this would simply be the end of the Trump candidacy:

In blunt testimony revealed on Tuesday, former managers of Trump University, the for-profit school started by Donald J. Trump, portray it as an unscrupulous business that relied on high-pressure sales tactics, employed unqualified instructors, made deceptive claims and exploited vulnerable students willing to pay tens of thousands for Mr. Trump’s insights.

One sales manager for Trump University, Ronald Schnackenberg, recounted how he was reprimanded for not pushing a financially struggling couple hard enough to sign up for a $35,000 real estate class, despite his conclusion that it would endanger their economic future. He watched with disgust, he said, as a fellow Trump University salesman persuaded the couple to purchase the class anyway.

“I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme,” Mr. Schnackenberg wrote in his testimony, “and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money.”

Combined with the fact that he refuses to release his tax returns (nice troll-fu, DNC), this theory that Trump is basically broke by Josh Marshall makes a lot of sense:

This was interesting, too:

The idea that Trump is wealthy to the tune of his oft-claimed $10 billion dollars, combined with his utter lack of transparency regarding his fantasy financial statements left little to go on. For political professionals, due diligence required we assume he could bring serious cash to the game.

By August of last year, I was working to convince major donors that Trump would be a destructive force and likely throw the race to Hillary Clinton. One moment from that period sticks with me as a turning point in my thinking about Trump’s money; a major Wall Street donor laughed when I told him we’d need to mount a serious and fully-funded effort to take on Trump if he chose to self fund.

My friend scoffed at the very idea that Trump was worth even a quarter of the mythical $10 billion, much less that he was liquid to the tune of more than $200 million. “He’s not a billionaire. I’m a billionaire. He’s a clown living on credit.”

***

The evidence is mounting, and quickly, that his promises to fund his campaign are just one more Trump con; a shell, a hollow edifice of fake-it-til-you-make-it. Trump, is by the standards of 99.9% of Americans, a wealthy man, but he’s not liquid enough to fund an actual modern campaign. It’s not simply that he doesn’t have the money; it’s that his mythos requires that no one ever figure out that he doesn’t have the money.

The press seriously should stop asking him any questions except for those related to his release of his taxes.



Open Thread: Welfare Ranchers Get No Respect

There’s never a FREEDUMB-loving billionaire around when you really need one…

Any of our BundyBund-addicted lawyers (or others) want to weigh in on the chance that Koch beneficiary and “snake oil salesman” Ken Ivory might finally have skirted one government regulation too many here? Who’s got standing to address this?



They Are Who We Thought They Were, Part Deux

The CIA really, really doesn’t want us to know just how badly it can f**k up:

The CIA inspector general’s office — the spy agency’s internal watchdog — has acknowledged it “mistakenly” destroyed its only copy of a mammoth Senate torture report at the same time lawyers for the Justice Department were assuring a federal judge that copies of the document were being preserved, Yahoo News has learned.

Das_Geheimnis_-_Le_secret

Although other copies of the report exist, the erasure of the controversial document by the CIA office charged with policing agency conduct has alarmed the U.S. senator who oversaw the torture investigation and reignited a behind-the-scenes battle over whether the full unabridged report should ever be released, according to multiple intelligence community sources familiar with the incident. [Via the esteemable Charles Pierce.]

As the aforementioned Mr. Pierce writes

A democracy cannot survive if its people believe they are being played for marks. It can survive for even less time if they turn out to have been right.

Shitty cops are bad enough.  Shitty secret police…

Feh.

Image: Felix Nussbaum, The Secret, 1939



They Are Who We Thought They Were

Exhibit A, from Trump’s “butler”*

Anthony Senecal told West Virginia newspaper The Martinsburg Journal on Friday—one day after a Secret Service agent called Senecal regarding online comments he made calling for Obama’s death—that he believes the President is a “traitor” who deserves to be killed.

…“I think they (Secret Service) wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to go there with a rifle,” Senecal told the newspaper. “I told them it was too far to drive…

The 84-year-old…told the newspaper that he stands by the comments he made in his Facebook posts.

And then, there’s this guy, who is actually (attempting) to stake a claim on Washington:

“Unfortunately, for seven and a half years this animal we call President, because he’s an animal, OK — seven and a half years, has surgically and with thought and very smart, intelligent manner, destroyed this country…

Joseph_Mallord_William_Turner_-_The_Shipwreck_-_Google_Art_Project

It’s hard to pick where to start.  Should it be with the backwards-jacket level delusions concerning Obama-the-Destroyer? (Damn that doubling of the stock market; damn that cut in unemployment by half; how will we survive millions of our fellow Americans gaining access to health care; how wretched it is for our troops not to be on their fourth or fifth deployment and so on).

No: it is with the raw racism — enabled since 2009 (and really, since 1968) by the more “genteel” members of the Republican Party, who have made the fact of a black President such a horror to those who know in their bones that such a event cannot be permitted to happen in any well-behaved universe.

So yeah, while it’s easy to point and laugh at an aging crazy who perhaps sipped too much of whatever it was he brought The Donald, or to slap down Beruff’s vile manners, never forget the story behind the story:  these folks feel empowered to speak of the best president of a generation (or more) as if he were disqualified from the human race by those who trained ’em up.

There are lots of reasons the Republican Party must not merely be defeated this fall, but wrecked, utterly.

This is one.

*I swear that has to be code for some other function. Pharmaceutical grade toad purveyor, perhaps?

 

Image:  J. W. M. Turner, The Shipwreck1805