Could A London-Tower-Style Fire Happen Here?

Count on Megan McArglebargle to act as point-person for the Worst Glibertarian Hot Take. For those of us who aren’t being paid to prioritize money over humanity, here’s Justin Davidson, in NYMag, “Could the Grenfell Tower Disaster Happen in New York?”

There is no such thing as an accident when a high-rise building fails. If gas leaks, wires spark, or a wall crumbles, those are not acts of fate, but the preventable consequence of people not doing their jobs. Terminology matters; if it turned out that the fire that consumed Grenfell Tower in London, killing at least 30 people (and probably many more), had been set by a radicalized Muslim immigrant or an anti-Muslim white supremacist, those facts would shape the U.K.’s foreign and security policies. If it’s just an instance of faulty construction, politicians can wring their hands on television, appropriate some emergency funds, and then move on.

It’s too soon to be sure exactly what caused the Grenfell Tower to burn. A thick plume of accusations suggests a lot of possible culprits: a faulty refrigerator; the recently installed cladding of cheap aluminum panels with a flammable core; the gap between the wall and the rain screen, which could have created a chimney effect and sped flames and smoke up the building’s exterior; ineffectual fire alarms; a lack of sprinklers; the presence of just a single fire stair. Behind the technical factors is another layer of social issues. Residents have accused building management and authorities of ignoring their chillingly specific complaints, perhaps because of a generalized disinterest in the building’s poor and largely Muslim population, or because of the pressures of gentrification from the neighborhood all around…

New Yorkers might be tempted to react complacently to some items on this list. Aluminum panels are common, but the slightly less expensive version with the flammable polyethylene core is not legal here. All buildings higher than 50 feet must have automatic sprinklers and two fire stairs, not one. And yet to argue those points is to miss the larger awfulness of the situation. Whether the proximate causes turn out to be corruption, venality, racism, or some combination of all three, the underlying sin is contempt for the people who must live in conditions they cannot control…
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Open Sessions Session Recap Thread: “… ‘Zectif PRIVIJJ!…”

Julia Ioffe — a Russian immigrant who has some experience in such areas — thinks that Sessions may be most fearful that, during his mid-2016 stint as Trump’s “political affairs expert”, he may have gone beyond skirting-the-ethical-line to outright-violation-of-Congressional-regulation when he opened his offices and his arms to every international dignitary willing to be seen in Trump’s company. While the two men are undoubtedly soulmates, right now Sessions needs Trump a lot more than Trump needs Sessions, if Jefferson Beauregard III is to keep his cushy job abusing the rights of uppity women, people of color who don’t know their place, young free-speech drug-defending absolutists, and all the other felons unjailed during That Black Man in the White House’s tenure. Should his Repub fellows get too agitated about Sessions’ flagrant rule-breaking, of course Trump will have no qualms whatsofekkingever throwing the Malevolent Leprechaun to the media wolves…


Double the intrigueingness

So potentially talking about Presidential obstruction of justice….

And potentially following the money….

Late Night Open Thread: W.A.S.F.

Or then again, we are so… fighting back?

Open Thread: Leeroy Jenkins Lewandowski!!!

You can see why no competent people would want to join the current White House team: They know they won’t get paid, they won’t get credit (not even Johnny-Cochrane-post-OJ-style credit), and they’d have to deal with some of the most unpleasant and incompetent individuals currently not under court-mandated supervision. Not to mention, even the enthusiastic brigands might not meet Lord Smallgloves’ highly egocentric standards. But, jeez, Lewandowski again?

Jason Zengerle’s GQ profile actually came online early in May, before the latest bouts of Russiagate revelations. That makes the whole thing even more darkly comic, IMO:

As unlikely a presidential candidate as Trump was 30 months ago, Lewandowski was an even more implausible pick to manage a presidential campaign. His experience in politics had been far from exemplary. When he hadn’t been failing in his own political ambitions—he managed just 143 votes in an unsuccessful attempt to secure the Republican nomination for a Massachusetts House of Representatives seat in 1994 and lost a race for the treasurer of his New Hampshire town 18 years later—he was coming up short on behalf of other politicians. Lewandowski had a stint working on Capitol Hill for an Ohio Congressman who’d later resign in scandal and serve 17 months in prison, and he managed the dismal reelection campaign of U.S. Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire, who was the rare incumbent to lose a party primary. He eventually washed up at the New England Seafood Producers Association. For years, his closest brush with the big leagues of GOP politics came via his side-gig duties as a marine patrol officer on Lake Winnipesaukee, where Mitt Romney and his clan vacation. “He wasn’t even considered a B-teamer,” says one prominent Republican strategist, who first encountered Lewandowski on Smith’s campaign. “He was like a C- or D-level political operative.”

To the extent Lewandowski was thought of at all in broader political circles, it was because of his work for Americans for Prosperity, a group funded largely by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, which in 2008 hired Lewandowski to serve as its New Hampshire state director. (“The Koch operation is the island of misfit toys,” explains the prominent Republican strategist.) It was propitious timing. Riding the Tea Party wave in 2010, AFP helped Republicans take back the New Hampshire legislature and the state’s two seats in the U.S. House. Lewandowski created his own momentum, as well. Noticeable for the fact that he was invariably wearing a suit—a rarity in New Hampshire politics—Lewandowski became famous for “debating” a life-size cardboard cutout of the state’s Democratic governor at political rallies. “It got attention,” says Greg Moore, a New Hampshire conservative activist who succeeded Lewandowski as AFP state director. “You have to have someone who’s out there and leading the charge, and Corey certainly was that.” After the 2010 triumph, Lewandowski was promoted inside AFP to a regional director.

But according to multiple sources, Lewandowski ultimately ran into trouble at AFP. One former Koch adviser says it was because of spending and management issues—including an incident in which Lewandowski threatened to “blow up” the car of AFP’s chief financial officer because of a late reimbursement check. (Lewandowski has denied making this threat.) A GOP political operative says the Kochs were embarrassed when AFP was accused of voter-suppression tactics after its North Carolina chapter, which Lewandowski oversaw, sent a mailer to voters there with incorrect voter-registration information. Another former Koch adviser says Lewandowski was simply one of many AFP apparatchiks whose heads were put on the chopping block after the group spent hundreds of millions of dollars in 2012 and Republicans failed to win back the White House or the Senate. Whatever the reason, these sources say, by the time Lewandowski met with Trump at the beginning of 2015, he had fallen out of favor at AFP.

But Trump, according to people close to him, did not realize that. Indeed, when he offered Lewandowski the job of campaign manager, he believed he was poaching one of the Koch Brothers’ top talents. “Trump thought he was getting somebody who left the Kochs to go work for him,” says Sam Nunberg, an adviser to Trump at the time who later clashed with Lewandowski. “He thought he was getting the Kochs’ shiny trophy, when he was really getting their dog shit.”
And yet, in some ways, Lewandowski was the perfect campaign manager for Trump—at least at the beginning. “Five of us, that was the whole team,” he’s recalled wistfully. “You could have put ’em in a minivan.” Unburdened by any previous national campaign experience, and eager for his new boss’s approval, Lewandowski didn’t try to force the candidate into a conventional box. Instead, his mantra was “Let Trump be Trump”—which turned out to be a singularly important insight, a strategic directive that ultimately propelled Trump to the White House. “Mr. Trump’s gut instinct is better than anyone I’ve ever seen,” Lewandowski told me.

While Lewandowski’s critics were quick to point out that his duties for Trump were less those of a traditional campaign manager than of an “advance man”—the political worker bee who ensures the rallies have the right number of flags—that particular job, given the nature of Trump and his campaign, was a crucial one. If Trump decided on the spur of the moment that he wanted to go campaign Philadelphia, Lewandowski would find the biggest arena; if an aide played the wrong walk-on music for Trump—like a live version of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” instead of the studio one—Lewandowski made sure the mistake never happened again. “Trump really pays attention to how his rallies work,” says one reporter who covered his campaign from its inception. “Corey was very good at making sure the thing that mattered most to the candidate, and at that point the campaign, were top-notch.”

The problem was that, as the campaign progressed, Lewandowski didn’t grow along with it. “You’re looking at a guy who not only didn’t understand strategy,” says a Republican political consultant who worked with Lewandowski on the Trump campaign, “he didn’t have a clue what a tactic was.” Even worse, Lewandowski resented those who did—and he became increasingly preoccupied with, and paranoid about, the people who were joining the campaign and turning the Trump minivan into a bandwagon…

His fate was apparently sealed when Lewandowski ran afoul of Jared Kushner. According to multiple sources, Lewandowski was discovered not only shopping damaging stories about Trump’s son-in-law to reporters, but also trying to keep Kushner from talking to higher-ups at the RNC. On a Sunday in mid-June—Father’s Day, in fact—Ivanka Trump reportedly insisted to her dad that he get rid of Lewandowski. The next day, Lewandowski arrived at Trump Tower at six in the morning, as he typically did, and conducted his usual series of conference calls; at 9:30, he was summoned into an office, where Trump’s two sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, as well as a family attorney, were waiting for him. They told him he was being terminated from the campaign. “What am I being fired for?” Lewandowski asked. “We won!” Security guards then escorted him from Trump Tower and he walked out, alone, onto Fifth Avenue.

But Lewandowski had the good sense not to burn his bridges. That afternoon, he appeared on CNN (in what would turn out to be a job audition of sorts) to sing Trump’s praises. “Corey recognized it was an honor, it was a gift, and it was time to hand off the torch,” says Bryan Lanza, a Lewandowski friend who also worked on Trump’s campaign. “Corey’s a professional.”…

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: A Millipede’s Worth of Dropped Shoes

(Walt Handelsman via

Remember when there was such a thing as a “slow news day”?

“CNN Contributor, former Cruz comms director, DeMint speechwriter” asks…

Tuesday Night Open Thread: Running the Country Like One of His Companies

Sticking his name on the facade in gilt letters, letting his cronies loot whatever they can pry loose, and preparing to walk away from his creditors. John Cassidy, in the New Yorker:

Donald Trump has built his political career on his reputation as a successful businessman, so it seems fair to assess his recent performance as President as if he were a C.E.O. running U.S.A., Inc. The report card isn’t pretty. Indeed, if Trump were the chief executive of a public company, the firm’s non-executive directors probably would have been huddled in a crisis meeting on Tuesday morning, deciding whether to issue him a pink slip…

Perhaps the most worrying sign for Trump came from U.S.A., Inc.,’s corporate headquarters, in Washington, D.C., where Paul Ryan, the company’s head of product development, who is widely regarded as a key Trump ally, expressed concern about the latest turn of events. While not referring to Trump directly, Ryan said in a statement that “protecting our company’s secrets is paramount.”

To be sure, I am stretching the corporate analogy here—Ryan said “our country’s secrets,” not “our company’s secrets”—but it brings out an important point. Most major corporations wouldn’t put up with Trump-like behavior. They have well-established rules and procedures for dealing with a C.E.O. who has gone rogue. If a firm’s board of directors sees the boss acting erratically and seriously undermining the firm’s long-term interests, it can step in and find a replacement. (At the very least, it can issue a reprimand and launch an internal inquiry to find out what has gone wrong.)

Politics doesn’t work like that, of course. More than sixty million Americans voted for Trump, and removing him from office would be a monumental undertaking. In light of Trump’s disclosures of classified information to Russia, some legal experts argued on Monday night that Congress could impeach him for violating his oath of office, in which he pledged to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States”—but that seems a long way off. Despite the latest statements from Ryan, Corker, and others, the G.O.P.’s leaders have come nowhere close to publicly supporting such a move…