Late Night Russiagate Sidebar Open Thread: Beyond His Skill Set

I think Dana Houle is right — as much of a gift as it must have seemed at the time, the mainstream media’s cossetting of Sanders’ 2016 campaign did him no favors over the long term. Between their long-term baseless hatred of HRC, her campaign’s unwillingness to be (further) labelled as ‘divisive’ and ‘anti-progressive’, and the Putin regime’s covert thumb on the scales, the old man never had to stretch himself. He could trundle happily around the country, demanding the Democrats fund his private planes and top-line venues, preening for more cameras than he’d ever drawn, repeating his greatest hits (bankstahs! bill-yanayahs!) in front of adoring audiences. When he confronted genuine opposition (like those BLM activists in Seattle), or was challenged to explain his policies (consider the Daily News fiasco), he did so very poorly — but those shabby little failures were easy to overlook in the non-stop rush of Trump-Mania and But Her Emails!!! “news”. And he never *did* have to address any other-than-hagiographic stories from his own past. Now he seems to be revving up for another national campaign… and he’s already showing how very little he’s learned from the last one…

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“Progressive Independent” Open Thread: Death Wish

… AWAY & SHUT UP, if I get my wish.

If we Democrats do as well as projected in 2018, St. Bernie will be scrabbling for figurehead position on the bandwagon. If we, Goddess forbid, don’t, he’s all set to work the “Buy my book, and make a token $27 contribution to my exploratory committee” circuit, right across the aisle from Newt Gingrich. Except, as ever, the man’s timing is impeccable…

Bernie Sanders on Wednesday blamed Hillary Clinton for not doing more to stop the Russian attack on the last presidential election. Then his 2016 campaign manager, in an interview with POLITICO, said he’s seen no evidence to support special counsel Robert Mueller’s assertion in an indictment last week that the Russian operation had backed Sanders’ campaign.

The remarks showed Sanders, running for a third term and currently considered a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, deeply defensive in response to questions posed to him about what was laid out in the indictment. He attempted to thread a response that blasts Donald Trump for refusing to acknowledge that Russians helped his campaign — but then holds himself harmless for a nearly identical denial.

In doing so, Sanders and his former campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, presented a series of self-serving statements that were not accurate, and that track with efforts by Trump and his supporters to undermine the credibility of the Mueller probe.

“The real question to be asked is what was the Clinton campaign [doing about Russian interference]? They had more information about this than we did,” Sanders said in the interview with Vermont Public Radio.
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Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Learning NOTHING from History

Mitt Romney is once again trying to kill me — and his own chances. (There’s only so much my blood pressure can handle.) We are told that Trump is about as popular among Mormons as Aunt Vidalisa’s potato salad that put half the family in the ER after last year’s reunion picnic, so *WHY* is Mitt crawling to him for affirmation?

Think I’ll have to throw some cash at Jenny Wilson, in protest, even if The Smart Take is that a pro-life choice woman can’t win in Utah…


In related news, an excellent warning from one journo to her fellows:

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Russiagate Open Thread: Exposing the Tinpot Dictator Squatting in the Oval Office

(Matt Davies via

It’s a tragic status that’s getting noticed more & more…

The Pentagon is considering soliciting donations to fund the President’s requested military parade, which could cost between $3 million and $50 million, according to preliminary estimates from a defense official who spoke with CNN.

Because there is currently no money set aside for a parade in the military budget, the Pentagon would likely use those private donations to offset the cost of the non-military components of the event, according to CNN. Budget director Mick Mulvaney said Wednesday that he estimates the parade could cost between $10 million to $30 million.

Defense officials are also concerned about the lack of available troops to attend a parade, CNN reported. A large-scale parade would require weeks of planning and the transportation of equipment, like tanks, to Washington, D.C. days ahead of time in order to prepare, according to the official who spoke with CNN…

Hey, remember how offended the Trumplodytes were when the South Korean government was nice to Kim Jong-un’s sister?…

The government is preparing a VIP welcome for U.S. President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who comes to Korea for the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Feb. 25. The government apparently wants to soften her up so Trump agrees to a mooted visit to Pyongyang by President Moon Jae-in…

Trump runs the White House like a private fiefdom and has levered both Ivanka and her husband Jarred Kushner into ill-defined foreign-policy roles.

Technically, Seoul has no diplomatic obligation to roll out the red carpet for the child of a U.S. leader, and even the head of a U.S. presidential delegation does not receive the treatment given to a head of state…

Moon himself seems minded to greet her cap-in-hand. A Cheong Wa Dae official said, “Ivanka enjoys sports and especially skiing, so we are discussing having the president travel to Pyeongchang with her to watch a skiing competition.”

Ivanka Trump is the mother of two sons and a daughter, whom the government wants to lavish with presents.

The government has to calibrate the red-carpet treatment so it meets at least the welcome given to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister Yo-jong, who visited the opening ceremony. The first daughter has repeatedly been treated as a virtual head of state during visits to other countries, not least to Germany, where she shared a stage with Chancellor Angela Merkel…



Special counsel Robert Mueller’s interest in Jared Kushner has expanded beyond his contacts with Russia and now includes his efforts to secure financing for his company from foreign investors during the presidential transition, according to people familiar with the inquiry.

This is the first indication that Mueller is exploring Kushner’s discussions with potential non-Russian foreign investors, including in China…

It’s not clear what’s behind Mueller’s specific interest in the financing discussions. Mueller’s team has not contacted Kushner Companies for information or requested interviews with its executives, according to a person familiar with the matter.

During the presidential transition, Kushner was a lead contact for foreign governments, speaking to “over fifty contacts with people from over fifteen countries,” according to a statement he gave to congressional investigators…

Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Who Does the NRA Actually Represent?


Ever wonder if maybe the monsters are already here on Maple Street?


And speaking of politicians who are neither Democrats nor helpful when it comes to gun safety measures…
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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.)

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Early Morning Open Thread: Another GOP Shitshow Reaches Its Third Act

Biggest kabuki performance since the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate (and frankly that’s insulting to the professionals of classical kabuki, since the modern GOP is extremely amateur). Latest update from the Grey Lady:

The Senate easily approved a far-reaching budget deal that would reopen the federal government and boost spending by hundreds of billions of dollars early Friday, but only after enduring a one-man blockade by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who had held up the vote and forced the government to close.

The House is expected to follow before daybreak, though the outcome in that chamber was less certain. If the House approves the deal, the government will reopen before the workday begins.

But Mr. Paul, a Republican, will have made his point. Angered at the huge spending increases at the center of the deal, he delayed passage for hours with a demand to vote on an amendment that would keep in place strict caps on spending that the deal would raise…

Mr. Paul’s ideological opponents were not buying his fiscal rectitude either. Senator Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii, posted on Twitter: “Rand Paul voted for a tax bill that blew a $1.5 trillion hole in the budget. Now he is shutting the government down for three hours because of the debt. The chance to demonstrate fiscal discipline was on the tax vote. Delaying a vote isn’t a profile in courage, it’s a cleanup.”

Around 1:45 a.m., the Senate finally passed the measure, 71 to 28.

Before Mr. Paul waged his assault on the budget deal, trouble was already brewing in the House, where angry opposition from the Republicans’ most ardent conservative members, coupled with Democratic dissenters dismayed that the deal did nothing for young undocumented immigrants, created new tension as the clock ticked toward midnight…

A group of Democrats desperately trying to protect a million or so young Dreamers from deportation; a solitary Republican stunting for his own narcissistic satisfaction. Both sides!

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