Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Noisy Dumbshow — Another Trump Oxymoron

Anybody else reminded of a certain (often quite gruesome) vintage television show? I’m just barely old enough to remember the title sequence…

Alfred Hitchcock Presents is well known for its title sequence. The camera fades in on a simple line-drawing caricature of Hitchcock’s rotund profile. As the program’s theme music, Charles Gounod’s Funeral March of a Marionette, plays, Hitchcock appears in silhouette from the right edge of the screen, and then walks to center screen to eclipse the caricature…

More likely, in this degraded parody, the caricature will eclipse the actor — assuming that didn’t already happen, possibly as long ago as the 1980s.

The symbolic 100-day mark by which modern presidents are judged menaces for an image-obsessed chief executive whose opening sprint has been marred by legislative stumbles, legal setbacks, senior staff kneecapping one another, the resignation of his national security adviser and near-daily headlines and headaches about links to Russia.

The date, April 29, hangs over the West Wing like the sword of Damocles as the unofficial deadline to find its footing — or else.

But however real Trump’s frustrations are with the three rival power centers he has installed — chief of staff Reince Priebus, son-in-law Jared Kushner and chief strategist Steve Bannon — top officials inside and around the White House don’t expect Trump to make any drastic changes until after 100 days, lest staff-turmoil stories swamp a key stretch of media coverage…

There’s a plethora of detail on the who’s-up, who’s down machinations of the Trump Eternal Campaign Cartel, in Politico‘s best horse-race-tout style. Never mentioned in the longish article: April 29th is also the date of a potential government shutdown, barring a budget agreement… but who cares about dull minutia like that?








Monday Morning Open Thread: Pesach Sameach

Passover doesn’t actually begin until sunset, of course, but those who observe the holiday will be celebrating instead of reading this blog when that happens. The ritual retelling of history sung in the YouTube is, I’m told, very much a living text, open to interpretation for the current moment. In some moments, more apposite than others, per the Washington Post:

When Veronica Ades’s guests gather around the Seder table, they’ll read the list of the 10 plagues, just as Jews around the world will do on Passover.

But at Ades’s table, the plagues won’t be blood and frogs and lice. Her guests will read the first plague: “neo-Nazis.” Then “Fake news. Freedom Caucus. The electoral college. The American Healthcare Act.”

When Ades hosts a Seder, she says, “I don’t really understand not being political.”

The springtime holiday of Passover, when Jews retell the biblical story of the Exodus from Egypt at a ritual meal laden with food and symbolism, has long been a vehicle for political commentary. A story about liberation from slavery lends itself to that.

This Passover, which begins Monday night, the nation’s preoccupation with politics and the flurry of activism since President Trump’s election are inspiring a new crop of amateur writers to try their hand at updating the age-old Passover story…

The plague of frogs bit seems almost a little too easy…

Apart from that, what’s on the agenda for the start of another week?








The Tell: “To Charm Trump, Paul Manafort Sold Himself…”

Of course a perennially hand-to-mouth con man like Donald Trump would immediately snatch at any offer of assistance from a conveniently-placed, self-advertised “killer” with all the right enemies (like establishment GOP assassin Karl Rove!). It’s the photo which the NYTimes chose to place at the top of its story…

….On Feb. 29, 2016, Mr. Manafort, the former lobbyist and Republican operative who now sits at the nexus of investigations into Russia’s meddling in the presidential election, reached out to Mr. Trump with a slick, carefully calibrated offer that appealed to the candidate’s need for professional guidance, thirst for political payback — and parsimony.

The letters and memos provide a telling glimpse into how Mr. Trump invited an enigmatic international fixer, who is currently under investigation by United States intelligence services, a Senate committee and investigators in Ukraine, to the apex of his campaign with a minimum of vetting. The answer? Through family and friends, handshakes and hyperbole.

Mr. Manafort, who has not been accused of any crimes — and who denies any wrongdoing in his political, business and investment dealings — is nonetheless a central figure in the investigation into the interactions of Trump campaign officials with foreign governments. How he got to know Mr. Trump, and how he rose from overseeing the candidate’s operations at the Republican convention to the entire campaign, is very likely to be a focus during coming Senate hearings about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government…

… But who is that aspirational C. Montgomery Burns handing Manafort a suspiciously thick wad of notes? Why, it’s Stephen Miller, currently right-hand mannikin to the much-reviled Steve Bannon!

One might suspect that Jared Kushner, for all his dewy youth, did manage to learn certain lessons about kneecapping the competition from his father, the convicted felon.

Or maybe he’s just an aficionado of GOP tricksterism who’s read up on the Pumpkin Papers

Effin’ Millenials and their ‘retro’ fads. I could’ve lived a happy life without the current Kremlinology revival.








Open Thread: Never Let It Be Forgotten

The entire GOP leadership was willing to sell out the country to a foreign power, in return for their own petty perks and prerogatives. We’re past kleptocracy and into kakistocracy, and Donald Trump is the perfect figurehead for the band of hypocritical traitors that put him into the Oval Office.








For the Record, First Draft of History: Sidebar to Adam’s Post