Open Thread: How Bad *IS* Trump’s Brain?

Pretty damned bad!


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As they say in the news business: Three’s a trend!

The Washington Post:

President Trump has expressed certainty that the special-counsel probe into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia will be finished by the end of the year, complete with an exoneration from Robert S. Mueller III, according to several friends who have spoken with him in recent days.

Trump has dismissed his historically low approval ratings as “fake” and boasted about what he calls the unprecedented achievements of his presidency, even while chatting behind the scenes, saying no president since Harry Truman has accomplished as much at this point…

In all these instances, as well as other setbacks, Trump has sought to paint the rosiest possible picture of his presidency and his character — and has tried to will others to see it his way, like the big-promises salesman he once was.

Sometimes… Trump simply rejects facts — and his own past admissions — as he spins a new narrative. His critics accuse him of creating an alternative reality, though people close to the president say he is simply a savvy marketer protecting his brand, as any businessman or politician would…

The first year of Trump’s presidency has brought tumult and chaos, including the expanding Russia probe, an absence of major legislative achievements and instances of self-sabotage by the president himself. But in recent days, Trump has been in an unusually upbeat mood, according to friends who visited with him…


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The NYTimes, of course, prefers to handle the issue more… delicately:


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ACA and Health Policy 101

Charles Gaba has put together a 17 minute Youtube video on ACA and more generally health insurance works:

 

 



Late Night Russiagate Open Thread: Schadenfreude Is Always A Delicious Side Dish!


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Sounds like “President” Looselips got an early heads-up on Flynn’s (potential) defection. The Washington Post confirms the earlier NYT story:

Even if Flynn has begun discussions with Mueller’s office, there is no guarantee he will ultimately reach a deal with prosecutors.

Flynn served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama before he was pushed out in 2014 amid criticism of his management style and clashes with other administration officials.

He then established a private consulting firm and gave paid speeches, work that has drawn intense scrutiny from Mueller…

Flynn served 24 days as Trump’s national security adviser, but was forced to resign after acknowledging that he had secretly discussed sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during Trump’s presidential transition in December.

Lawyers for the president and senior White House aides had been quietly speculating over the last few weeks that Flynn was under increasing pressure to cooperate because Mueller had signaled his ability to charge his son alongside the father.

Michael G. Flynn, the retired general’s son, helped his father with business arrangements and served as chief of staff at his father’s consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group…

Of course, since it’s Donald Trump we’re talking about, he further disgraced his current position by cheaping out on the spread for servicepeople condemned to working the holiday…



No One Could Have Predicted- Keystone Pipeline Edition

It never ends:

The Keystone pipeline running from Canada across the Great Plains leaked Thursday morning, spilling about 5,000 barrels of oil — or 210,000 gallons — southeast of the small town of Amherst in northeast South Dakota.

The spill comes just days before a crucial decision next Monday by the Public Service Commission in Nebraska over whether to grant a permit for a new, long-delayed sister pipeline called Keystone XL, which has been mired in controversy for several years. Both are owned by Calgary-based TransCanada.

Over and over and over again, experts warn us that something is a bad idea, we ignore them, then shit blow up. And we never learn and nothing ever changes.








Open Thread: Did Papadopolous Read Too Many Spy Novels? Or Not Enough?

The Daily Beast makes his entrapment sound like something out of a Spy-vs-Spy parody:

Days after becoming a foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign in 2016, George Papadopoulos started meeting with a woman he believed to be Vladimir “Putin’s niece,” according to a newly unsealed indictment by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The woman, along with a Kremlin-connected, London-based professor, wanted to help Papadopoulos arrange meetings between representatives of then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Maybe, the woman said, she could even get the two men to meet face-to- face.

“I have already alerted my personal links to our conversation,” she later emailed. “As mentioned we are all very excited by the possibility of a good relationship with Mr. Trump. The Russian Federation would love to welcome him once his candidature would be officially announced.”

But the woman was not, in fact, Putin’s relative. Papadopoulos had, in a sense, been catfished—and then lied about catfishing to federal investigators…

Papadopoulos was living in London when he was named a foreign policy advisor to Team Trump in March 2016. Approximately eight days after accepting the job, Papadopoulos met another Londoner: a Russian professor who “claimed to have substantial connections with Russian government officials,” the indictment reads.

One of those connections was of particular interest to Papadopoulos. On March 24, the professor invited Papadopoulos to a meeting with a Russian woman, whom he introduced as a relative of Russian president Vladimir Putin. After the meeting, Papadopoulos wrote an email to the Trump campaign, stating that he had just met with the professor, whom he described as a “good friend,” and the alleged “niece.”

Papadopoulos said “Putin’s niece” and the professor had offered “to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.”

The woman also allegedly promised to introduce Papadopoulos to the Russian Ambassador in London, but never made good on the offer.

But Trump campaign staffers praised Papadopoulous’s new connections. “Great work,” an unnamed campaign supervisor replied to the email. The supervisor shied away from making any early commitments to a meeting, but promised to “work it through the campaign.”…

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He was arrested July 27 in Dulles International Airport, according to his indictment. Since his arrest, which remained secret until now, Papadopoulos has met with investigators to answer more questions—and cooperate with Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe of ties between Trump Tower and the Kremlin…

So — if I’m reading this correctly — the first arrest was made three months ago. Points to Bobby Three Stick’s team for not sharing this news until the time was right!

And speaking of people who don’t share what they know…

Why, yes, that is Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III at the foot of the table…



Further Russiagate Open Thread: A Caution from Kindly Uncle Ben…

a/k/a Benjamin Wittes, at LawFare:


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That being said…



Sunday Night Horrowshow Open Thread: As American As A Burning Cross

MSNBC finds a way to phrase the GOP problem… delicately:

There are five counties in the state of Alabama where more than 30 percent of the 25-and-over population has a college degree, according to the U.S. Census. Strange won three of those counties and did so fairly convincingly, by about 8 points, 54.1 percent – 45.9 percent.

But the rest of state went against the sitting senator and the margins for him got worse as the percentage of those with a college education dropped.

There are two counties where the college education rates were between 25 percent and 30 percent. Moore won those counties by about 6 points, 53.2 percent – 46.8 percent. The rest of the counties have fewer than 25 percent of the population with a degree. Moore won them by more than 18 points, 59.2 percent – 40.8 percent.

Those education numbers have a special significance when you look at the Republican Senate seats that are up in 2018. In eight of them, all but Utah, the college-educated population numbers are below 30 percent, which is roughly the national average.

The Alabama results suggest the Republican voters in those states may be ready for a more populist, anti-establishment candidate — one that would challenge the incumbent and pull him or her toward the more populist end of the GOP.

To be clear, these college education figures aren’t solely about education, they are about people living in different economic and cultural worlds…

In other words: “We’re not gonna spell it out, but there’s a genuine fear among the people who make a living off the GOP that it’s turning into the house brand for ignorant rubes who’ve never had to meet anyone they weren’t related to.”

(And, of course, they’re heavily armed.)
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