Wednesday Evening Open Thread: To the Lifeboats! (Whaddaya Mean, ‘There ARE No Lifeboats’?)

Donald Trump’s campaign sent out an email to surrogates this week titled “URGENT PIVOT” as the campaign seeks to control the damage from Trump’s war of words with the parents of a Muslim U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq.

The memo, obtained by The Hill, asks surrogates on Capitol Hill to coordinate messaging and push back on attacks on Trump.

“All — As usual, the media is working against our efforts and our messaging specifically as it relates to the tragic death of Capt. Humayun Khan,” Scott Mason, Trump’s director of congressional affairs, wrote…

Mason’s email, which was also sent to Trump aides including Rick Dearborn, MacKenzie Smith, Jeff Freeland and Adnan Jalil, demonstrates how serious Trump’s team is treating fallout from the Khan controversy…

Looks like that memo went out no later than Monday, so it’s not as if his team can realistically blame “the media” for keeping Trump’s insanely self-destructive behavior in the news.

Apart from cheering (continued) confusion to our enemies, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Open Thread: Donald Trump, Insult Muppet

As you probably know, Donald Trump went to Scotland yesterday, not as a politician but to ballyhoo his idiot son’s second vanity-project golf resort. Since his arrival coincided with the #Brexit vote, he seized the opportunity to yammer jingoistic garbage — and the Scots were quick to respond. The tweet above, via Quartz, is my personal favorite so far. (Rough translation: “Go away you hamster-topped idiot, go boil your head [to make moron soup]”.) But there’s a rich lode for mining: polyester cockwomble; weaselheaded fucknugget; tiny fingered, Cheeto-faced, ferret wearing shitgibbon…

Buzzfeed has a nice selection, too — witless fucking cocksplat! Mangled apricot hellbeast! SPOON! [as in: Too dumb to be allowed the use of a fork].

Lord Short Thumbs is such a chaos muppet, he’s even managed to break Reddit. Per Jesse Singal at NYMag:

Ever since it became clear that Donald Trump was a serious threat to win the Republican presidential nomination, people have pointed out that the man doesn’t seem to hold solid, ideologically grounded positions in the way most politicians do. Many politicians flip-flop and present a massaged version of themselves in national elections, of course, but in Trump’s case there doesn’t appear to be much there there. He speaks in the language of resentment — his platform is simply Screw you, elites and Screw you, immigrants, screamed over and over at a deafening volume.

Much the same can be said about his most dedicated online followers. They are obsessed with fighting social-justice warriors, with breaking what they see as the chafing constrictions of “political correctness.” It’s a formula that works: People can’t get enough of arguments about who is offending whom, whether people are too outraged, whether people are too outraged over other people’s outrage, and so on.

For these and other reasons, tDonald Trump subreddit, r/The_Donald, has become one of the largest, most active and most influential places for Trump fans to gather, to the point where it has garnered major media attention, hosted AMAs with alt-right heroes like Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter, and, naturally, pissed off hordes of progressives with its denizens’ over-the-top antics.

But all is not well at r/The_Donald. Earlier this week, the moderator most responsible for launching the subreddit to its current lofty perch, CisWhiteMaelstrom (known more recently as Dylan-W), was removed from his position by the subreddit’s own mods, according to a post from those mods that went up late Tuesday. His story offers a tidy online microcosm of the Trump phenomenon itself, of the question of what it means to perform outrage online and how the act of doing so can be used for selfish and manipulative purposes…

The moderator responsible for the banning explained to Singal:

… Dylan-W/CisWhiteMaelstrom privately told me about this plan of his to create an alt right subreddit, to hand it over to white nationalist celebrities Jared Taylor, Walt Bismarck, and Richard Spencer, and to promote it on /r/the_donald using /u/Dylan-W. Having a moderator of the largest pro-Trump subreddit promote people that Trump himself would disavow does nothing to help Trump. It does, however, give credibility to the left wing narrative that Trump’s campaign is built on racism. Back in February Cis was helping us to keep white nationalists out of /r/the_donald, now he’s looking into promoting them and recruiting some of their leaders to run things. I do not support white nationalists and I don’t have reason to believe that Cis personally holds the views of these people. That said, this is not about what any one person on the moderator list believes in. This is about doing what is best for Donald Trump. The people who Cis said he would hand control of an alt right subreddit to are people who promote the idea of creating a white ethnostate in the United States. They are people that Trump would want nothing to do with. Just as Trump would, we disavow them…

Just in case you were worried that the public antics of the nuttier #BernOuts made the Democrats look like the biggest bunch of self-obsessed nitpickers and conspiracy theorists in modern American politics.

Late Night Open Thread: Feel the Bern! (But Wash Your Hands, First)

Truly, the inventiveness of social media shall never fail to astonish. As Slate explains the phenomenon:

Buzzfeed reports that Tinder has blocked one New Jersey 23-year-old, Robyn Gedrich, from using the app after several users reported her for spamming them with the same request: “Do you feel the bern? Please text WORK to 82623 for me. Thanks!” She sent that message to dozens of matches each day for two weeks straight. Gedrich started her tack after becoming disillusioned by the men she matched with on the app. She decided, without any directive from the Sanders campaign, to try her hand at political persuasion instead. “These guys are disgusting. They’re just looking for sex and that’s it,” she told Buzzfeed. “So if they’re going to swipe right, they might as well do some good and donate to the man, the myth, the legend: Bernie.”

Tinder locked another young woman, married Iowan Haley Lent, out of the app for using it as a campaigning tool. Lent told Reuters she paid for Tinder’s premium privileges so she could change her location to New Hampshire and match with potential voters there. One man from California told the BBC that the tactic stemmed from a feeling that Sanders wasn’t getting enough mainstream press to reach young voters.

These renegade Sanders swipers have gathered in a Facebook group, Bernie Sanders’ Dank Tinder Convos, to share screenshots of their text conversations with matches. With encouraging comments and plenty of ridicule for Tinder matches who respond to Berners with Trump talking points, it’s become a kind of support group for people who use the dating app to canvass singles in their area. “Let’s take over Tinder with Bernie Sanders convos,” the group’s mission reads. The screenshots show a lot of backlash from unwilling marks… It’s making the Facebook group a kind of consciousness-raising space around the absolute garbage men fling at women on Tinder…

Consciousness-raising!… and to think, back in the day, we mostly used that phrase sarcastically, when a borderline-sexist joke or offhand comment fell flat. Good to know that the Youngs continue to invent new political uses for consumerist technology, I suppose.


The Politico team will be no more after the 2016 Hunger Games as founders Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen are evacuating the smoking remains of the Village by helicopter.

In what can be described only as a cataclysm in Beltway media, CEO Jim VandeHei is leaving Politico, the eight-year-old politics website that shook up Washington journalism, according to sources and reports by Huffington Postand CNNMoney.

And in what can be described only as a mega-cataclysm, Politico Chief White House correspondent Mike Allen is joining VandeHei in rushing toward the exits of Politico’s Rosslyn headquarters. Allen writes the daily franchise newsletter “Politico Playbook.” A bearer of occasional scoops, Allen is the driver of very frequent revenue. Weekly sponsorships for “Playbook” run in the $50,000 to $60,000 range this year, depending on the news cycle. And that’s not even rolling in the big money that comes from “Politico Playbook” conferences/interviews anchored by Allen. His work alone — complete with ethical issues — subsidized a platoon of Politico reporters.

It doesn’t end there: Kim Kingsley, the Chief Operating Officer is leaving as well. Kingsley has provided the glue that bridged Politico’s newsroom and its business side as the site sprinted to revenues approaching $20 million just years after launching. She headed the colonization of radio and cable-news airwaves that helped establish Politico as a preferred Washington source both for readers and advertisers. The company’s successful events business was also an obsession of Kingsley’s. Other departures are Danielle Jones and Chief Revenue Officer Roy Schwartz.

VandeHei, Allen and Schwartz will stay through the 2016 election; the others will leave on earlier timetables. Editor-in-Chief John Harris will say on board and take on the additional title of publisher.

Politico as we’ve come to know it is no longer.

The disintegration appears to be over money issues, as most business problems seem to be, and surely most of these folks will land on their feet.  But Politico’s particularly toxic brand of Beltway both-siderism has surely taken a beating in the era of LOL PMURT NOTHING MATTERS ANYMORE, and I’m thinking since the rules of Beltway “journalism” have been thoroughly napalmed over the last six months, Jim and Mike are getting off the playground where they’ve realized that they’re no longer the guys in charge of giving out all the kickballs.

I can think of a couple hundred Villagers who need to follow those two out the door, too.

Media Culpa

I forget who, but someone in comments was complaining the other day about Hillary Clinton’s failure to apologize for eGhazi. Well, now she has: Clinton apologized for using a private email server during an ABC News interview last night. She also posted the following statement on her Facebook page:

I wanted you to hear this directly from me:

Yes, I should have used two email addresses, one for personal matters and one for my work at the State Department. Not doing so was a mistake. I’m sorry about it, and I take full responsibility.

It’s important for you to know a few key facts. My use of a personal email account was aboveboard and allowed under the State Department’s rules. Everyone I communicated with in government was aware of it. And nothing I ever sent or received was marked classified at the time.

As this process proceeds, I want to be as transparent as possible. That’s why I’ve provided all of my work emails to the government to be released to the public, and why I’ll be testifying in public in front of the Benghazi Committee later next month.

I know this is a complex story. I could have—and should have—done a better job answering questions earlier. I’m grateful for your support, and I’m not taking anything for granted.
I understand that you may have more questions, and I am going to work to keep answering them. If you want to read more, including my emails themselves, please go here:

Will this make her most vociferous detractors happy? Haha, no! If her goal is to please them, nothing short of dousing herself with kerosene and striking a match will do.

Basically, her position hasn’t changed — she’s still saying what she did was legal at the time, but now she’s sorry she did it. Earlier in the week, media outlets were jumping all over a CIA report that claims some of the emails were highly classified, but Clinton says the State Dept. and CIA often address the same issues and classify the same items differently, so she’s sticking to her original contention that none of the emails she sent or received were classified at the time.

Clinton has been dealing with wingnuts and otherwise politically affiliated haters for long enough to know an apology won’t change their minds, so what’s the point? I guess to lay down a marker for the media, which was starting to make the non-apology “a thing.” But certainly she knows the issue isn’t going away anytime soon, not with an upcoming guest appearance on Gowdy Doody Time on the schedule.

I am not now and never have been a huge Hillary Clinton fangrrrl, but I still think eGhazi is a nothingburger. However, as with all media chew toys (see Gore, Al), the substance of the accusation is irrelevant.

The question is whether the Beltway press can continue the scandal drumbeat well into 2016 in a way that sandbags Clinton’s candidacy. My guess is no, but I’m not 100% confident about that. What do you think?

Late Night B-Movie Open Thread: Ferret-Faced “Activist” Tries for One More Score

Looks like Dinesh D’Sousa’s not the only once-hot far-right “political activist” feeling pushed out of the limelight by more marketable grifters. Apart from the scrimier far-right websites, the Washington Post is the only media outlet that seems to have given a mercy-writeup to “Conservative video-maker James O’Keefe: Homeland Security targeted me, asked intrusive questions“:

… It all started in August 2014, when O’Keefe donned green fatigues and an Osama bin Laden costume and sneaked across the U.S. border to Mexico and then back into Texas, a stunt cited by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in congressional hearings. O’Keefe said in an interview Wednesday, that his point was to “show that our elected officials were lying to the American people” by saying the border is secure.

But he may have messed with the wrong bureaucrats, because the powerful DHS — the third-largest Cabinet department — controls border security. Ever since the bin Laden stunt, O’Keefe said, he has been stopped and questioned at length by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers each of the five times he has tried to reenter the United States. The questions, he said, have been overly intrusive, covering his business operations, what his next investigative project will be and his political views.

“It is our contention that this is retaliation for our journalism along the Mexican border,” O’Keefe said. “It’s troubling that they are doing this to a citizen reporter. . . These questions have nothing to do with national security or border issues or smuggling narcotics into the country. They are questions that they would never ask a Washington Post reporter, that they would never ask NBC News.”

To buttress his claims, O’Keefe did what he does best: He released a surreptitiously recorded video. The 9-minute-16-second production provides hints that DHS was not pleased by O’Keefe’s bin Laden venture but reveals no clear evidence that the agency is targeting him…

In a statement late Wednesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection rejected O’Keefe’s allegations of retaliation but said it could not comment on the specifics of his case, citing privacy concerns…

In [the ACORN] case and others, O’Keefe was accused of selectively editing his videos. And his new release is not really a video at all: It consists mostly of audio recordings of the federal officers, with the Customs and Border Protection logo on the upper left part of the screen.

The reason, O’Keefe said in the interview, is that he could only record audio because the agents searched his phone. Even to do that, he said he had to “manufacture a special type of device that was recording, where they would have no idea.” He declined to describe the device or where it was hidden…

“My entire purpose is to shock the conscience of the American people by exposing reality,” he said, adding: “I think immigration is a very timely topic right now. I could have continued recording more interactions, but sometimes your gut instinct is to package a story when you feel you have enough facts.”

It would, of course, be very wrong for the DHS to target Mr. O’Keefe. On the other hand, the possibility that a couple of random Border Security agents might have found something potentially suspicious about a skinny young dude (in costume?) glaring at them and fumbling under his clothes for… nothing at all, Officer! why would you even ask? are you *challenging* me? I warn you, I know my rights!… Well, let’s just say that O’Keefe’s prior record would give a neutral observer every reason to doubt the complete, heartfelt, unedited veracity of his shock and dismay.

Open Thread: Zombies & Violent Sociopaths, Always Good for the Ratings

Since I wondered about the numbers, earlier this morning. The evening news mentioned the audience was “bigger than that for the World Series,” but gave no stats. (Coincidentally, since New Hampshire is in our media market, I also saw my first Ben Carson ad — Babies are adorable, so vote for me! Seriously. Poor man is toast.)

We may finally have found last night’s target market, though. Former restaurant reviewer and professional sadsack Frank Bruni:

On Thursday night in Cleveland, the Fox News moderators did what only Fox News moderators could have done, because the representatives of any other network would have been accused of pro-Democratic partisanship.

They took each of the 10 Republicans onstage to task. They held each of them to account. They made each address the most prominent blemishes on his record, the most profound apprehensions that voters feel about him, the greatest vulnerability that he has.

It was riveting. It was admirable. It compels me to write a cluster of words I never imagined writing: hooray for Fox News…

But Fox accomplished something important. It prevented the Republican contenders from relying on sound bites and hewing to scripts that say less about their talents and more about the labors of their well-paid handlers…

I cede the rebuttal to Professor Krugman, “From Trump on Down, the Republicans Can’t Be Serious“:

This was, according to many commentators, going to be the election cycle Republicans got to show off their “deep bench.” The race for the nomination would include experienced governors like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, fresh thinkers like Rand Paul, and attractive new players like Marco Rubio. Instead, however, Donald Trump leads the field by a wide margin. What happened?

The answer, according to many of those who didn’t see it coming, is gullibility: People can’t tell the difference between someone who sounds as if he knows what he’s talking about and someone who is actually serious about the issues. And for sure there’s a lot of gullibility out there. But if you ask me, the pundits have been at least as gullible as the public, and still are.

For while it’s true that Mr. Trump is, fundamentally, an absurd figure, so are his rivals. If you pay attention to what any one of them is actually saying, as opposed to how he says it, you discover incoherence and extremism every bit as bad as anything Mr. Trump has to offer. And that’s not an accident: Talking nonsense is what you have to do to get anywhere in today’s Republican Party…

…[W]hile media puff pieces have portrayed Mr. Trump’s rivals as serious men — Jeb the moderate, Rand the original thinker, Marco the face of a new generation — their supposed seriousness is all surface. Judge them by positions as opposed to image, and what you have is a lineup of cranks. And as I said, this is no accident.

It has long been obvious that the conventions of political reporting and political commentary make it almost impossible to say the obvious — namely, that one of our two major parties has gone off the deep end… Until now, however, leading Republicans have generally tried to preserve a facade of respectability, helping the news media to maintain the pretense that it was dealing with a normal political party. What distinguishes Mr. Trump is not so much his positions as it is his lack of interest in maintaining appearances. And it turns out that the party’s base, which demands extremist positions, also prefers those positions delivered straight. Why is anyone surprised?…

Can Mr. Trump actually win the nomination? I have no idea. But even if he is eventually pushed aside, pay no attention to all the analyses you will read declaring a return to normal politics. That’s not going to happen; normal politics left the G.O.P. a long time ago. At most, we’ll see a return to normal hypocrisy, the kind that cloaks radical policies and contempt for evidence in conventional-sounding rhetoric. And that won’t be an improvement.