Late Night Open Thread: Big Mouth, Tiny Thumbs

Trump’s 10 most-engaged Twitter followers over the past 30 days include five confirmed robots and three accounts that appear to be bots, according to audience data collected by Social Rank. Trump’s most prolific respondent, @Trump2016_Fan, has posted more than 18,000 times in the past year, mostly all-caps messages of support for the 45th president. The account appears to be automated and did not respond to a request for an interview.

But there are plenty of humans in the 20,000 or so replies generated by a typical Trump tweet. These are piled like building blocks beneath each tweet, a tower of typos, insults, and encouragement that stretches on and on. Scrolling through the replies to a single Trump message is enough to test the fortitude of any reader; getting to the last reply is the sort of task it’s hard to imagine any human doing voluntarily. Yet the replies bundled nearest to @realDonaldTrump—in a sorting determined by Twitter’s mysterious algorithm—are likely to be seen by hundreds of thousands of users. If Trump is the most powerful and visible user of Twitter, the replies appearing closest to his messages must occupy some of the most influential real estate on the internet.

… According to beta content-analysis software used by Social Rank, 19 percent of Trump’s followers are women. Among Trump’s 20 most-engaged followers, only two had traditionally female names—and both of those accounts appear to be automated…








Tuesday Evening Open Thread: EGG-ROLL-GATE!

Old standard: That guy could screw up a two-car funeral if you spotted him the hearse.

Trump standard: That guy could screw up the Easter Egg Roll if you spotted him a legion of parents, fans, and local-color media-droids eager to help out.

The Grey Lady takes the Wider View [warning: autoplay]:

By that time, the ovoid uncertainty had raised a question perhaps not as consequential as investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election, a legally dubious travel ban and a collapsed health care bill, but no less a window into the inner workings of the Trump administration: Could this White House, plagued by slow hiring and lacking an on-site first lady, manage to pull off the largest, most elaborate and most heavily scrutinized public event of the year?

“It’s the single most high-profile event that takes place at the White House each year, and the White House and the first lady are judged on how well they put it on,” said Melinda Bates, who organized eight years of Easter Egg Rolls as director of the White House Visitors Office under President Bill Clinton. “I’m really concerned for the Trump people, because they have failed to fill some really vital posts, and this thing is all hands on deck.”…

The Washington Post, as the local paper, is more in the lack-of-constituent service mode. If it’s true that no big-city mayor can successfully recover from a failure to keep the streets plowed or the garbage picked up, the Trump Mis-Administration has lost whatever part of the Beltway vote it might’ve retained. “How Trump turned a White House Easter Egg Roll devotee into a political activist“:

Before Trump, Rebetsky was known as the colorful chair of the English department at Linganore High School in Frederick, Md., whose only involvement with the White House was a mild obsession with the annual White House Easter Egg Roll — the largest annual public event at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., with 35,000 people attending last year.

She has almost two dozen commemorative White House Easter eggs on display in her Sykesville, Md., kitchen. You can touch anything in her Easter egg collection. Just not the White House ones.

When March came around, the time folks usually start making their Easter Egg Roll plans, the White House had yet to announce it was holding the event. The folks who make those commemorative eggs began egging on the administration over Twitter, begging it to submit its plans. They even began to worry that Trump wasn’t going to hold the annual event.

Rebetsky looked at the egg collection, wondering if there would be a 2017 egg. And that was the first time she realized she would have political feelings about a Trump egg. Would she even want one this year?

That gave her an idea. What if she made an alternative egg? And her life as the alt-egg lady began…

So she talked to a marketing guy the family knows. Her heart was pounding in her chest when she called him with her scheme: What if she sold an alternative Easter egg to raise funds specifically for PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts, two organizations on Trump’s budgetary chopping block?…

There’s a big photo of Rebetsky’s eggs at the link. Frankly, they’re a lot classier than what seems to be the Trump-ficial version:








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.