Late Night Ugliness Open Thread: Wingnut Wurlitzers & the Pushers’ Dilemma

As with all junkies, a taste of the good stuff, the pure uncut hatred, leaves the consumers of right-wing media hatefests hungry for more and uglier “bumps” from their local pusher. But in order to stay nominally “legit”, the distributors at the top of the pyramid need to avoid public catastrophes that might expose their various enterprises to undue public scrutiny. Sinclair Media, having recently overstepped badly with a nationwide attempt to shut down honest journalism, did *not* need one of its street-level dealers to lose his shit in public, but…

A conservative commentator at a Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned television station in St. Louis has resigned after a statement he made threatening to sexually assault David Hogg drew harsh criticism and sparked the beginnings of an advertiser boycott.

Jamie Allman, who hosts a nightly news show on KDNL, a Sinclair-owned ABC affiliate in St. Louis, as well as a morning FM radio show, wrote on Twitter that he was “hanging out getting ready,” to sexually assault David Hogg with “a hot poker.”

“Busy working. Preparing,” read the March 26 tweet, which is too vulgar to print here in full, but was published as a screen shot by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as the remark began to draw more scrutiny in recent days.

Advertisers, including Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, St. Louis health center Palm Health, and local real estate office The Gellman Team, announced they would stop advertising on Allman’s shows, spurred on by activists who took to social media to highlight the commentator’s remarks, as well as Democratic state lawmaker Stacey Newman and others…

It represented the potential of yet another public relations crisis for Sinclair, which has come under harsh criticism in recent weeks after a video of dozens of its anchors reading the same mandated script about “fake stories” went viral.

Sinclair, the Maryland-based media company, is the largest owner of local television stations in the country, with 173 stations in 81 broadcast markets. It has come under intense scrutiny, as it awaits federal approval for a takeover of another media company, for injecting what many feel is a conservative bias into local news coverage. Its proposed buyout of Tribune Media, for which it needs approval from the FCC and the Department of Justice, would bring its coverage into the homes of as many as 70 percent of American households…

Jamie Allman, gettin’ high on his own(ers’) supply. Even Breitbart’s gonna have trouble finding a warm place for this dude to seek refuge.



Open Thread: Sad Little News Capsules for Our Degraded Times

As the Potemkin facades erode in the unceasing drizzle…

Speaking with pollster Frank Luntz about Donald Trump’s Twitter habits, with Luntz calling the president’s use of “fake news” detrimental to his cause, Kurtz brought up a recent poll from Monmouth University on the trustworthiness of news outlets compared to the trustworthiness of Donald Trump.

That is when things took a hilarious turn.

“Speaking of fake news, there is a new poll out from Monmouth University. ‘Do the media report fake news regularly or occasionally?’ 77 percent say yes,” Kurtz exclaimed before noticing the graphic instead showed “Who do you trust more?” with CNN at 48 percent, MSNBC at 45 percent and Fox News bring up the rear at 30 percent.

“That is not the graphic we are looking for. Hold off,” the Fox News host protested before pleading, “Take that down, please.”…

The context, from the five-minute Fox clip at the link, was Luntz & Kurtz commiserating over how Trump is “unintentionally” damaging the Republican Party (and, cough *Fox News* cough), with his undisciplined torrent of FAKE NEWS!!!! tweets. Because Frank and Howie had no idea Trump was a snake when they hugged him to their bosoms, poor innocent fellas that they be…



Late Night Repub Stupidity/Venality Open Thread: Folding His Tents Ducky Pajamas

Corpus Christi Republican Blake Farenthold abruptly resigned from Congress Friday afternoon, less than four months after dropping re-election plans under siege for crude and verbally abusive office behavior…

He made no mention on Friday of any of the allegations that ended his congressional career, and made no apologies for using $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment suit.

He promised to repay those funds four months ago, but has not done so…

Texas is seeing enormous turnover in its congressional delegation this year.

Out of 36 House members, eight announced plans to retire in the last few months. Farenthold is the first to actually leave office…

More granular detail about the upcoming primaries at the link.

ETA: Title reference, from (Republican) Charlie Sykes…



King Knut Knew What He Was Doing. These Bozos Don’t

Today’s climate change updates in the LALALALALALALA I Can’t Hear You file…

Exhibit A:

National Park Service officials have deleted every mention of humans’ role in causing climate change in drafts of a long-awaited report on sea level rise and storm surge, contradicting Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s vow to Congress that his department is not censoring science.

The document was supposed to report results of studies on the risks to National Park properties from sea level rise, which is one of the major proximate consequences of anthropogenic global warming.  Stuff like this:

The report, titled, “Sea Level Rise and Storm Surge Projections for the National Park Service,” reveals that national treasures will face severe flooding if global greenhouse gases keep increasing. Some of its projections, according to the drafts, include:

  • In North Carolina, the Wright Brothers National Memorial has the highest projected increase in sea level among parks nationwide – 2.69 feet by 2100 under a scenario of high growth of greenhouse gases. Along with Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras national seashores, the memorial could face significant permanent flooding. “Future storm surges will be exacerbated by future sea level rise nationwide; this could be especially dangerous for the Southeast Region where they already experience hurricane-strength storms,” the report says.
  • In Virginia, three parks – Colonial National Historical Park, home of Historic Jamestowne; Fort Monroe National Monument; and Petersburg National Battlefield – face the biggest potential sea level increases in the park service’s Northeast region – 2.66 feet by 2100.
  • Parks in the Washington, D.C., region could experience some of the greatest sea level increases – 2.62 feet by 2100. “Storm surge flooding on top of this sea level rise would have widespread impacts,” the report says.
  • If a Category 2 hurricane hit Florida’s Everglades National Park, the entire park could be flooded, with most of it under several feet of water.

This is the kind of information that would be useful — complete with an analysis of causes and mechanisms — to anyone trying to think how to protect America’s parks, and/or mitigate the damage that human action has set in train.  Interior Secretary Zinke and his staff — and the Trump administration as a whole, and the GOP in toto — seem to think that not saying certain words means that what those words name won’t happen.

Sadly, of course, carbon dioxide don’t care if Mr. Zinke doesn’t want to pay attention to its radiative properties. The atmosphere in bulk isn’t somehow going to get rid of the last 20 years of CO2 ppm increase just because Republicans shout at it.  The ocean isn’t going to turn around in its tracks because Deadbeat Donnie, the orange hemorrhoid-cream salesman now sadly infesting the White House wiggles his ample posterior over a putt (that he’ll miss) on some seaside golf course.

King Knut knew better, even if he had to make the live demonstration to prove it too his court.

And then there’s Exhibit B:

Dead Man Walking Trump/GOP Corruption Poster Child Scott Pruitt won’t be dynamited out of his office at the EPA without attempting to gut one more Obama-era accomplishment, the increase in fleet fuel efficiency requirements for American light trucks and cars:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced Monday that he would revoke Obama-era standards requiring cars and light trucks sold in the United States to average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025, a move that could change the composition of the nation’s auto fleet for years.

This is no surprise from Pruitt, of course, who never met a fossil he didn’t want to burn (and whose long term livelihood and political ambitions turn entirely on making sure Big Carbon loves them some Scott).  It will be challenged in court, and California may yet save the day.

Before that gets settled, though, two thoughts:

First: this is a reminder that you cannot trust oligopoly capital under any circumstances. The new standards were negotiated over a quite a long time with the big automakers, and they signed on to the Obama deal. As soon as Trump was elected, they reneged:

Pruitt’s decision reflects the power of the auto industry, which asked him to revisit the Obama administration’s review of the model years 2022-2025 fuel-efficiency targets just days after he took office.

The Auto Alliance (these guys) will tell you that they’re all about clean transportation — just look at their home page!  But it took them less than a month (see p. 4) into the new guy’s term to write to the Trump administration and seek a do-over.  You could have had these guys put up Agamemnon’s pledge and they’d have backed out on this deal as soon as they got the chance.

So:  moral one. Don’t trust anyone with that much cash on the line until you have at least one of their kidney’s in pawn. And maybe not even then.

Moral two: this is how big US industries die.  I’m sure it will be nice for those who pay for their hookers and blow by selling SUVs that the gravy train will run a few years longer.  But the rest of the world isn’t completely ignorant of climate change and, more immediately, the insane and expensive toll that air pollution takes on their cities.

I’m old enough to remember the ’70s, when the Big Three US automakers discovered in a shocking short time just how destructive it could be to miss the next technological and design shift.  Fuel efficient and alternate fuel vehicles are not just coming; they’re here. If the US-based auto industry wants to let China or whoever get one, two, three generations ahead of domestic production, that’ll happen.  And those companies and vehicles will roll, and ours will straggle behind.

Again: our kleptocratic leaders can say what they want. Shortsighted corporations can grab for the next dollar, and miss next year’s millions. Don’t change a thing.

So, in sum: this is one dumb move on every level, and puts yet more pressure on an already breaking climate system. But I don’t think that a change in US fleet standards is nearly as big a deal as Pruitt et al. wish it were.  Much of the world doesn’t give a shit about our stupidity, and the creation of a more efficient transport system is already on rails (sorrynotsorry).  ISTM that this move is mostly a surrender of crucial industrial ambition and opportunity to other regions and will have only a minor effect on emissions going forward.

IOW: Trump, Pruitt, the Republicans and Big Auto just punched America in the nuts, for all the joy it brings them.

Also too: King Knut was a pretty smart guy.

Images: Joseph Mallord William Turner, Calais Pier1803.

Jan Steen, The Sacrifice of Iphigenia1671.



Schadenfreude Open Thread: Could Not Happen to A More Deserving Ex-Felon, Mr. Kushner

Whatever their weakness for the current Oval Office occupant, the NYTimes spares little sympathy for yet another scheming NYC real-estate developer…

It was sweet redemption for Charles Kushner last year when his son Jared was named senior White House adviser. A dozen years earlier, a sordid scandal stemming partly from a family falling-out had reduced the senior Mr. Kushner from real estate baron to felon making wallets at a prison camp in Alabama.

Now, with his son newly installed as a top aide to the president, Mr. Kushner even expressed hope, one close family friend said, that he might receive a pardon.

Absolution, however, is not what the White House has conferred on the Kushners. For the patriarch and his family, the pinnacle of American political power has turned out to be a wellspring of trouble.

Jared Kushner is embroiled in the special counsel inquiry, including questions about whether he discussed the family’s business with foreign officials — a suggestion he has denied. His younger brother, Josh, has opposed the Trump presidency, driving a wedge between the men in a family that prizes close ties.

The elder Mr. Kushner, his company and his family are assailed by criminal and regulatory inquiries largely rooted in their newfound access to presidential power. The family’s East Coast-based real estate empire is under a fiscal and ethical cloud, shunned by some investors who fear being dragged into the spotlight trained on the Kushner nexus with President Trump. Two major Manhattan properties are on creditors’ watch lists, one after foreign investors backed out of a financing deal…

Charles Kushner is adamant that his family remains united in the face of their difficulties. But friends say Jared Kushner’s sister is distressed by investigators’ focus on her, and there are tensions between Jared and Josh over Mr. Trump. That Josh Kushner, 32, has made no secret of the fact that he did not vote for Mr. Trump upset his brother, several friends said. Voting records show Josh Kushner did not vote in the 2016 presidential election. Josh’s spokesman, Jesse Derris, said the brothers “are just as close as ever.”…

[N.B.: That statement can be read two ways]

The Kushners have weathered ordeals before and emerged stronger and more prosperous. In 2004, Charles Kushner pleaded guilty to 18 counts of witness retaliation, tax violations and false statements to the Federal Election Commission after he hired a prostitute in a scheme to entrap and retaliate against his brother-in-law, who he suspected was cooperating with a federal inquiry into his business.

Charles Kushner still does not speak to his brother, whom he publicly blamed for instigating the investigation that led to his two-year prison sentence. Asked whether he hoped for presidential absolution, Mr. Kushner said, “I would prefer not to have a pardon” because it would trigger only further publicity.

His real estate empire is now under a national microscope, its every deal scrutinized for hints of federal influence. And while Charles Kushner insists his bankers are loyal, investors are eager and deals are plentiful, some business associates say the drumbeat of unflattering headlines is putting tremendous pressure on the family business. Banks must assess the risk of any continuing regulatory or criminal inquiries before making loans; potential investors are worried that they could come under scrutiny or that projects will be delayed or fall apart…

In my lifelong experience with dysfunctional families, We all stick together tends to be said less as a profession of innocence than as a call for omerta.

And I’ve read many economists asserting that My bankers are loyal and deals are plentiful all too frequently means I owe those mooks so much they have to keep throwing good money after bad, but in my favor, there’s a sucker born every minute.

Maybe I’m just a cynic!



Open Thread: “President” Grampa Needs A Nap

NOTHING TO SEE HERE CITIZENS EVERYTHING IS NORMAL…

It’s not just that President Donald Trump loves Dobbs’ show and his on-air style. It’s not just that the president asks West Wing aides and confidants if they’ve seen specific, recent segments of Dobbs’ program, or that Trump calls the cable-news personality semi-regularly to gossip or solicit counsel, or that he’s boosted Dobbs on his Twitter account. It’s not just that the president has sat for a friendly interview with Dobbs or that he is on a first-name basis with “Lou.”

Indeed, much of this can describe Trump’s relationships with various other television personalities. What sets Dobbs apart is the degree to which the president views him as a political and populism godfather, the #MAGA Socrates to Trump’s Plato…

During the more intense days of the tax-bill push, Trump made sure to have his White House personal secretary get Dobbs on the line. And toward the conclusion of one memorable meeting, when the line was disconnected and Dobbs said farewell, Trump looked up, smiled, and simply told the room, “Love Lou.”

“He cherishes Lou,” a senior White House official told The Daily Beast. And the feeling is, evidently, quite mutual…

For Dobbs, however, Trump is a revelation as much as a cause. For years, Dobbs has staked out a position for himself as one of cable news’ most strident and devoted immigrant-bashers, as well as, more recently, a staunch crusader against what he lambastes as multiculturalism’s excesses in American life—to the point where he has repeatedly attacked St. Patrick’s Day and other “ethnic holidays.”

Much like the sitting president, Dobbs has also long railed against the forces of political correctness and was similarly an early mainstream promoter of racist Obama birther conspiracy theories. Also like the president, Dobbs earned himself the political backing of Trump’s one-time White House chief strategist and campaign chief. According to two sources familiar with their past discussions, in 2010 Bannon tried, but ultimately failed, to convince Dobbs to run for president as a right-wing populist firebrand.

“Dobbs is pretty strong on immigration enforcement issues… so better that the president listen to him than his son-in-law or his daughter,” Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies and a leading activist for a stricter immigration system in the U.S., told The Daily Beast. “Dobbs has been talking about immigration for years. He has a certain body of knowledge that other advisers, even people working in the administration, don’t have.”

Though Trump regularly calls Dobbs to riff on immigration and other issues, some of the president’s earliest political supporters have hopes that the Fox host will play an even larger role in the second year of the administration. That is especially true for those pushing a more nativist immigration policy, who see Dobbs as potentially a useful cog in keeping Trump on his America First track…



Russiagate Open Thread: Lawyerin’ Up. Or Down. Or Sideways…

From the original Reuters report:

A little-known former prosecutor with a doctorate in medieval history will play a central role on U.S. President Donald Trump’s legal team, as many top-tier lawyers shy away from representing him in a probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

Andrew Ekonomou, 69, is one of a handful of lawyers assisting Jay Sekulow, the main attorney representing Trump in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Sekulow told Reuters on Tuesday that after the departure of Washington attorney John Dowd from Trump’s personal legal team last week, Ekonomou will assume a more prominent role…

The elevation comes at a crucial time in the Mueller probe, as Trump’s team is negotiating the terms under which the president himself may be interviewed. Sekulow is now the last man standing of a trio of personal lawyers hired last spring to assist Trump on the probe. Combative New York lawyer Marc Kasowitz exited the team last summer…

Trump has tried to tap top-tier lawyers to represent him but been repeatedly rebuffed, according to people familiar with the matter. For example, on Monday, Dan Webb, a former U.S. attorney in Illinois, said Trump had reached out to him and a Washington colleague, but business conflicts prevented them from representing the president.

Savannah Law School professor Andrew Wright, former associate counsel in the Obama White House, said it is unusual for a president to turn to lawyers like Ekonomou who are untested on the national scene and not part of the elite white-collar bar…

Following what he called a “mid-life crisis,” Ekonomou said he went back to school and got his doctorate in medieval history at Emory University in 2000. Ekonomou said he is the author of a book on Byzantine Rome and the Greek popes.

Drew Ashby, a trial lawyer who worked for Ekonomou between 2007 and 2010, said Ekonomou has a commanding presence that would likely serve him well when dealing with Trump.

“He is a force of nature,” Ashby said. “Andy has the kind of presence and the kind of mind that I would think would make Donald Trump listen.”

So, he looks like the guy you’d find to play a top-dollar lawyer on a tv show. Aka, The Trump Special Hire!

In case this isn’t already clear, yes, it is pretty unusual for a sitting “President” and avowed billionaire to have so much trouble finding legal representation…


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