Interesting Read: “The calculus behind Jason Chaffetz’s sudden decision to walk away”

Two reporters from the Deseret News craft an amazing example of what I suppose must be “Mormon nice”, turning never-less-than-postive words and carefully-buffed stories into a portrait of a vicious little self-promoter attempting to slide out of the unexpected spotlight exposing every wart of Grifter King Trump’s nasty court…

Something had flipped after the election, Chaffetz had noticed, an ugly impulse unfurling across America. He had seen anger directed at him before, but nothing like this. He’d been getting death threats, on his voicemail and in his inbox, and in the ensuing weeks it would only get worse.

He had become a target, the face of Republican fecklessness. At his D.C. office, his young staffers fielded calls from all over the country, hundreds a day, demanding he investigate Trump. As chairman of the House Oversight Committee and Government Reform Committee, Chaffetz had risen to national prominence for his aggressive inquiries into missteps by the Obama administration, making him a hero to the “Fox and Friends” crowd.

He’d hammered the Secret Service, demanded documents on the Fast and Furious gun running scandal, and most notably, grilled Hillary Clinton for hours on the deaths of four Americans at a compound in Benghazi, Libya. So why wasn’t he investigating Donald Trump? People asked him this wherever he went, at the airport, at Five Guys when he was standing in line for a burger. Tonight they wanted answers.

He stepped out from behind the curtain.

The crowd erupted in deafening boos, rising to their feet. Chaffetz smiled. He’d seen worse. As a placekicker at BYU in the mid-1980s he’d played before hostile football crowds with Ty Detmer and Jason Buck. “You think this is bad,” he thought to himself. “You’ve never been to Laramie, Wyoming.”

Besides, plainclothes police officers were standing behind the curtain, and others were scattered throughout the crowd. No one here could rattle him, not really. And even if they did, he wouldn’t let them see it. He would keep smiling, no matter what he felt inside.

Clips of the town hall were starting to go viral. For the part of the electorate who felt the Trump administration was a threat to the republic, this was a moment, #Resistance. Here was one of the few people who could bring Trump to heel, who could subpoena his tax records, force him to testify under oath, really anything he wanted, and his constituents were demanding he do it.

“Do your job! Do your job!” they chanted. Chaffetz smiled through his teeth, pleading for the crowd to calm down, but no one was listening.

In the ensuing weeks, Chaffetz insisted the protesters didn’t bother him, but those closest to him began to worry if all the unhinged Facebook posts and death threats were taking a toll. Trey Gowdy, the Republican congressman from South Carolina who Chaffetz considers his best friend, openly wondered if Chaffetz’s ever-ready smile was masking pain.

“Some of the stuff left on his voicemail,” Gowdy said, pausing. “He plays it for me and I’m trying to evaluate, do you take it seriously? What do you do about it?”…
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Open Thread: Erik Prince Is Just Full of Ideas!

Hey, remember Erik Prince, friend-of-Putin and Seychelles tourist? Bloomberg Politics has another profile — “Blackwater Founder Prince Said to Have Advised Trump Team”:

According to people familiar with his activities, Prince entered Trump Tower through the back, like others who wanted to avoid the media spotlight, and huddled with members of the president-elect’s team to discuss intelligence and security issues. The conversations provide a glimpse of Prince’s relationship with an administration that’s distanced itself from him since the Washington Post reported earlier this month that Prince had met with a top aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Seychelles in January.

That island encounter was the latest in a series of conversations between Trump advisers and Russians that have come to light as U.S. investigators probe allegations that Russia interfered with the presidential election…

A Prince spokesman in London said… in a prepared statement: “Erik had no role on the transition team. This is a complete fabrication. The meeting had nothing to do with President Trump.” The statement also questioned whether Prince’s activities were being monitored. “Why is the so-called under-resourced intelligence community messing around with surveillance of American citizens when they should be hunting terrorists?”

Yet over a two to three month period around the election, Prince met several times with top aides as the incoming government took shape, offering ideas on how to fight terror and restructure the country’s major intelligence agencies, according to information provided by five people familiar with the meetings. Among those he conferred with was Flynn, a member of the transition team who joined the administration and was later dismissed, some of the people said. He discussed possible government appointees with people in the private sector, one person said. Prince himself told several people that while he was not offering his advice in any official capacity, his role was significant.

The meetings occurred in Trump Tower, the administration’s transition office in Washington and elsewhere, according to people familiar with them. In one informal discussion in late November, Prince spoke openly with two members of Trump’s transition team on a train bound from New York to Washington. He boarded the same Acela as Kellyanne Conway and they sat together. Joining the conversation at one point was Kevin Harrington, a longtime associate of Trump adviser Peter Thiel who is now on the National Security Council. They discussed, in broad terms, major changes the incoming administration envisioned for the intelligence community, as recounted by a person on the train who overheard their conversation…

A longtime critic of government defense and security policies, Prince advocated a restructuring of security agencies as well as a thorough rethink of costly defense programs, even if it meant canceling existing major contracts in favor of smaller ones, said a person familiar with the matter…

Lemme see if I understand this: A guy who made billions running mercenaries for the highest bidder, scion of a family notorious for pushing ‘privatization’ of government functions to fatten private businesses, someone who’s currently camped out in Hong Kong supervising the PRC’s turf-building exercises in Africa because he’s leery about answering to American legal authorities… just happened to be providing advice because “Trump was weakest in the area where the stakes were highest — foreign affairs.”

After all, the American military is a mighty machine, and therefore one that can hardly have been privatized enough, so far.

You can’t take your eyes off these goniffs for a single minute.



Just In Time For Dinner…

A snarkalicious palate cleanser:

Just days before the state visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach private club, Florida restaurant inspectors found potentially dangerous raw fish and cited the club for storing food in two broken down coolers.

Inspectors found 13 violations at the fancy club’s kitchen, according to recently published reports — a record for an institution that charges $200,000 in initiation fees.

Three of the violations were deemed “high priority,” meaning that they could allow the presence of illness-causing bacteria on plates served in the dining room. [h/t TPM]

Now that’s how you consummate foreign affairs! Poison visiting leaders. Introduce projectile vomiting as an Olympic event.  Introduce our allies to the miracle of American health care!

Is there anything the shitgibbon touches that isn’t a whited sepulchre? Asking for a friend.

Consider this a break from waiting for the war(s) to start.  Open thread and all that, with a special request for receipe/dish names to be served at Mar-a-Microbe.

Image: Giovanni Bellini, The Feast of the Gods, 1514.



Good News: The Mar-A-Lago China Summit Seems to Have Been Mostly Pointless


(If by ‘chemistry’ you mean ‘they’re both thinking about the really strong hand sanitizer’)

The Washington Post:

PALM BEACH, Fla. — The United States and China wrapped up a two-day presidential summit here by announcing a 100-day plan to improve strained trade ties and boost cooperation between the rival nations…

Trump aides who participated in the talks described a productive first meeting between the leaders, saying they exhibited “positive” chemistry. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the two sides agreed to speed up trade talks to help close a lopsided imbalance in China’s favor, a common campaign-trail complaint of Trump’s.

Trump advisers said the goal, at least from the U.S. side, was to increase American exports to China. But they offered no details about how they planned to achieve that.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said there was “acknowledgment” from the Chinese side “that we do need to get to a more balanced trade environment.”

But the surprise U.S. military response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians threw a wild card into the summit…

Serious readers only: “Trump had his first big foreign policy challenge. So what did we learn?”

Evan Osnos, in the New Yorker:

Trump always promised to behave this way—“We’re so predictable. We’re like bad checker players,” he said during the campaign—but, for China, handling the new President just got more complicated.
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Thursday Evening Open Thread: Seems Longer Than That, Doesn’t It?

Which Rep. Cummings knows — as do we all — is not gonna happen.

This is on every single godsdamned Republican, down to the lowliest school board committee member and drainage department monitor. Thanks a whole fucking bunch for giving this monster his big chance, GOP!

Apart from continuing to #Resist, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: “Just Not FUN Anymore, Paulie Boy!”

Okay, I’m a little obsessed right now. Because I’m hoping for the political equivalent of a Trump-Ryan murder-suicide pact, and I don’t even care which partner goes first.

Apart from keeping one eye on the perpetrators at all times, what’s on the agenda for the day?
.



Early Morning Open Thread: Not Lookin’ Good Right Now, Our Roger

Politico, “Roger Stone takes center stage as Congress lines up Russia probe witnesses”

On Monday, Schiff placed Stone front-and-center as he questioned FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers.

Schiff made the most of his opportunity Monday during the committee’s first public hearing of its probe into whether there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow officials on the alleged digital meddling campaign that bruised Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The lawmaker pressed Comey on whether he knew who Stone is and if he was aware of Stone’s interactions with suspected hackers.

Comey said he was “generally” aware of who Stone is but wouldn’t comment on his reported activities.

“I’m worried we’re going to a place I don’t want to go, which is commenting on any particular person,” Comey added. “So I don’t think I should comment. I’m aware of public accounts.”…

Stone, who is in the midst of promoting a book on last year’s election, has a ready explanation for each action that has drawn the attention of lawmakers. He will gladly share them if asked.

“I don’t have to be subpoenaed,” Stone told POLITICO in an interview last week. “I’d come voluntarily, but if they want to issue a subpoena to get a headline, that’s fine, too. I’m anxious to speak, the sooner the better. I would like to put an end to this myth about collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.”…

The document sent to Stone requests he retain pertinent documents from the campaign. However, [Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr] Burr said there is no timeline yet for bringing in Stone.

“Sometimes the people that want to talk the most are not the ones who are the most valuable,” he said.

CNN has a helpful timeline of every incident where “Trump adviser Roger Stone repeatedly claimed to know of forthcoming WikiLeaks dumps”.

I’m quite sure ol’ Roger is busy at what he does best — massaging his every source, promising to rat out all his associates, attempting to make sure that never happens. Still, like Mr. Pierce, I can dream!