Gunfondler BS Open Thread: Oh, Right, Trump Went to Military School

Do I hear a bid? Twenty percent? Forty percent? However bad you think he is, Trump can always manage to be that much worse. He’s throwing out what-if scenarios as though he was still stunting on The Apprentice, seeing which ‘ideas’ trip the applause meters.

Then I remembered: Trump’s parents sent him to a ‘military academy’ instead of a regular high school, because he needed ‘the discipline.’ (And the supervision must’ve been pretty good, since there’s no reports that Young Donald succeeded in ‘accidentally’ shooting anybody, including himself.) Since he has no interest in learning anything beyond his own personal experience, arming the school staff seems perfectly reasonable…



Tuesday Evening Open Thread: Will Their Most Valuable Fan Get A Comp Sub?

Can Trump insist that every WiFi-enabled device in the White House pay for a sub on the government’s dime?


.

On the other hand, there’s one WH occupant who’s apparently about to have lots of free time to stream:

Given Kushner’s debts, maybe he can set up a YouTube channel with his reactions live from the West Wing — I hear that’s a cutting-edge monetization platform these days…



Monday Morning Open Thread: Mean Shouty Granpa Having A Bad Weekend

Uneasy squats the arse that warms a throne… and one can only hope it’s chafing the Oval Office Occupant’s something fierce. Per the Daily Beast:

According to the White House, Trump on Saturday made phone calls to Parkland, Florida, Mayor Christine Hunschofsky, Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Principal Ty Thompson to offer continued support and gratitude. On Saturday, the president also made an appearance at a fundraiser thrown at Mar-a-Lago for Orphan’s Promise, a special ministry of televangelist Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. (Recently, Robertson had linked the Las Vegas mass shooting to a nationwide “disrespect for our President” Trump.)

Despite staying off the green, the president largely spent the weekend attempting to settle some scores with political enemies and perennial adversaries, binge-watching cable news, rage-tweeting late into the night, lashing out as his own national security adviser, and making the solemn moment about himself and his personal grievance…

The New York Times, turning on their man-crush:

President Trump began the weekend believing that something good had just happened to him. An indictment leveled against 13 Russians for interfering with the 2016 election had not accused him or anyone around him of wrongdoing. “No collusion” was his refrain.

But once ensconced at his Florida estate on Friday, Mr. Trump, facing long hours indoors as he avoided breezy rounds of golf after last week’s school shooting a few miles away, began watching TV.

The president’s mood began to darken as it became clearer to him that some commentators were portraying the indictment as nothing for him to celebrate, according to three people with knowledge of his reaction. Those commentators called it proof that he had not won the election on his own, a particularly galling, if not completely accurate, charge for a president long concerned about his legitimacy.

What followed was a two-day Twitter tirade that was unusually angry and defiant even by Mr. Trump’s standards. In his tweets on Sunday, Mr. Trump sought to shift the blame to Democrats for Russia’s meddling, saying that President Barack Obama had not done enough to stop the interference…

EVERYBODY IS LAUGHING AT YOU AND YOUR TINY, INADEQUATE POPULAR VOTE TOTALS.
Read more



Russiagate Open Thread: Has Manafort’s Crony Rick Gates Flipped?

Well, it would explain some of pants-pissing tantrums on His Short-Fingered Lordship’s twitter feed this morning (especially if Trump’s not the only one sending them.) Per the L.A. Times:

A former top aide to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign will plead guilty to fraud-related charges within days – and has made clear to prosecutors that he would testify against Paul J. Manafort Jr., the lawyer-lobbyist who once managed the campaign.

The change of heart by Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, Richard W. Gates III, who had pleaded not guilty after being indicted in October on charges similar to Manafort’s, was described in interviews by people familiar with the case…

Gates’ defense lawyer, Thomas C. Green, did not respond to messages left by phone and email. Peter Carr, a spokesman for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, declined on Saturday to comment…

The imminent change of Gates’ plea follows negotiations over the last several weeks between Green and two of Mueller’s prosecutors – senior assistant special counsels Andrew Weissmann and Greg D. Andres.

According to a person familiar with those talks, Gates, a longtime political consultant, can expect “a substantial reduction in his sentence” if he fully cooperates with the investigation. He said that Gates is apt to serve about 18 months in prison.

The delicate terms reached by the opposing lawyers, he said, will not be specified in writing: Gates “understands that the government may move to reduce his sentence if he substantially cooperates – but it won’t be spelled out.”

One of the final discussion points has centered on exactly how much cash or other valuables – derived from Gates’ allegedly illegal activity – that the government will require him to forfeit as part of the guilty plea.

Gates, 45, who is married with four children, does not appear to be well positioned financially to sustain a high-powered legal defense…

According to the indictment, Gates and Manafort “laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts” and took steps to evade related U.S. taxes.

If Manafort maintains his not-guilty plea and fights the charges at a trial, the testimony from Gates could provide Mueller’s team with first-person descriptions of much of the allegedly illegal conduct. Gates’ testimony, said a person familiar with the pending guilty plea, would place a “cherry on top” of the government’s already-formidable case against Manafort.

The same individual said he did not believe Gates has information to offer Mueller’s team that would “turn the screws on Trump.”

In mid-August 2016, Trump fired Manafort following reports of possibly improper payments he had received from a pro-Russia political party aligned with his longtime client, Viktor Yanukovych, who was Ukraine’s prime minister from 2010 to 2014.

Gates, however, remained with the Trump campaign through the election, serving as a liaison to the Republican National Committee. He also assisted Trump’s inaugural committee.

My emphases. “Mistakes were made. Just not by Mr. Trump.” Uh-huh…



Russiagate Open Thread: Into the Wayback Machine…

***********


.

Yeah, but at least the Democrats aren’t actively abetting our foreign enemies…



Russiagate Open Thread: First Bannon, Then Gates? Or the Other Way Around?

Anybody less prone to hyperbole want to extrapolate here? From the Washington Post:

House Republican leaders are weighing “further steps” to force former top White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon to answer investigators’ questions in their probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election — including potentially declaring him in contempt of Congress — after a Thursday interview they called “frustrating.”

Bannon came to speak with the House Intelligence Committee under a subpoena the panel issued on the spot last month, when he refused to answer questions related to the transition period and his tenure in the White House. The interview came after Bannon met with investigators in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe on Monday and Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the sessions…

The intelligence panel’s probe is not supposed to overlap with the objectives of Mueller’s investigation, but several events and people are common to both efforts. Bannon has not yet met with the Senate Intelligence Committee in its probe of Russian meddling in the election.

But in the House, Republicans and Democrats alike have been angered by Bannon’s repeated attempts to dismiss questions based on a claim to executive privilege that Trump never formally invoked, even when served with a subpoena.

Intelligence Committee member K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.) said Thursday that he, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and a few others would decide whether to accept Bannon’s legal arguments against answering the panel’s questions or take punitive measures such as declaring him in contempt. The decision-makers will not include panel chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Conaway said…

Republican leaders are not expected to decide on a course of action until late February, after they return to Washington following a one-week recess, he said.

Schiff, however, demanded that the committee move to hold Bannon in contempt as soon as possible.

“I think contempt is the only road left open to us,” the Democrat said…

It sure sounds like the Repubs suspect Bannon is no longer loyal to La Familia GOP — but they don’t wanna risk raising his profile, either, just in case. And Rep. Schiff is needling them.

Then there’s this, per Vox:

Rick Gates — Paul Manafort’s longtime junior business partner, and a 2016 Trump campaign staffer — is “finalizing” a plea deal in which he’d cooperate with the Mueller investigation, CNN’s Katelyn Polantz and Sara Murray report. Gates has been in negotiations with Mueller’s team about cooperating for over a month, their report says, citing sources familiar with the case.

Back in October, Mueller’s team indicted Gates and Manafort on a combined 12 counts that mostly focused on alleged money laundering, failure to disclose financial assets, and false statements regarding their work for the government of Ukraine and a Russia-affiliated Ukrainian political party — matters that didn’t have anything specific to do with Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. (Both pleaded not guilty.)

But apparently, Mueller didn’t intend to stop there. The special counsel’s team had prepared superseding indictments that would add to or replace the original charges against both Manafort and Gates, per an earlier CNN report. Facing an expensive legal defense with no end in sight, Gates signed a new lawyer who has been working on cutting him a plea deal.

The biggest question, though, is whether Gates’s possible flip is mainly bad news for Paul Manafort concerning those lobbying and money laundering charges … or whether it would have even bigger implications for the investigation into Russian interference as a whole, and into President Trump specifically…

We’ve all been trained by years of watching/reading police procedurals: First to flip gets best terms. Presumably Gates and Bannon are just as aware of this truism as the rest of us.



Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Maybe They’ll Call It ‘Brown Apron’

Mick Mulvaney’s brill idea seems to have evaporated overnight, but Repubs never give up on a proposal that looks like a chance to screw The Undeserving while allowing a little free-market looting… er, “privatization”… of the common treasury. So I figure we’ll soon be seeing sketches of the proposed Versace-designed uniforms for the troops of the ‘SNAP czar’ in charge of seeing those people are humiliated and starved for the crime of being poor:

The Trump administration is proposing a major shake-up in one of the country’s most important “safety net” programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Under the proposal, most SNAP recipients would lose much of their ability to choose the food they buy with their SNAP benefits.

The proposal is included in the Trump administration budget request for fiscal year 2019. It would require approval from Congress…

Currently, SNAP beneficiaries get money loaded onto an EBT card they can use to buy what they want as long as it falls under the guidelines. The administration says the move is a “cost-effective approach” with “no loss in food benefits to participants.”

The USDA believes that state governments will be able to deliver this food at much less cost than SNAP recipients currently pay for food at retail stores — thus reducing the overall cost of the SNAP program by $129 billion over the next 10 years.

This and other changes in the SNAP program, according to the Trump administration, will reduce the SNAP budget by $213 billion over those years — cutting the program by almost 30 percent.

Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a hunger advocacy group that also helps clients access food-assistance services, said the administration’s plan left him baffled. “They have managed to propose nearly the impossible, taking over $200 billion worth of food from low-income Americans while increasing bureaucracy and reducing choices,” Berg says…

It isn’t clear how billions of dollars’ worth of food each year would be distributed to millions of SNAP recipients who live all over the country, including dense urban areas and sparsely populated rural regions. The budget says states will have “substantial flexibility in designing the food box delivery system through existing infrastructure, partnerships or commercial/retail delivery services.”

Critics of the proposal said distributing that much food presents a logistical nightmare. “Among the problems, it’s going to be costly and take money out of the [SNAP] program from the administrative side. It’s going to stigmatize people when they have to go to certain places to pick up benefits,” says Jim Weill, president of the nonprofit Food Research and Action Center…

According to Dean, from CBPP, the Trump administration wants to trim an additional $80 billion from the SNAP program by cutting off about 4 million people who currently receive food assistance. Most of them live in states that have decided to loosen the program’s eligibility requirements slightly. Under the administration’s proposal, states would no longer be able to do so…

Of course, the biggest beneficiaries of SNAP are American farmers and local food retailers, both of whom need those ‘food stamp moochers’ as paying customers.

For more background, Simon Maloy at Media Matters has a good summary of the “decades of conservative lies about welfare” behind “Trump’s SNAP attack”.

(Fifty-four more excellent questions from Lowrey here.)


Read more