Wednesday Evening Open Thread: Easy Targets

Maggie Haberman, of course:

President Trump projected an air of calm on Wednesday after charges against his former campaign chief and a foreign policy aide roiled Washington, insisting to The New York Times that he was not “angry at anybody” and that investigations into his campaign’s links to Russia had not come near him personally.

“I’m not under investigation, as you know,” Mr. Trump said in a brief telephone call to The Times late Wednesday afternoon. Pointing to the indictment of his former campaign chief, Paul Manafort, the president said, “And even if you look at that, there’s not even a mention of Trump in there.”

“It has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said…

.

Apart from pointing & mocking, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

My personal ‘And what was your first clue, Sherlock?’ fave-of-the-day…



Russiagate Open Thread: Cambridge Analytica Apocrylyptica

Alexander Nix, who heads a controversial data-analytics firm that worked for President Donald Trump’s campaign, wrote in an email last year that he reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about Hillary Clinton’s missing 33,000 emails.

Nix, who heads Cambridge Analytica, told a third party that he reached out to Assange about his firm somehow helping the WikiLeaks editor release Clinton’s missing emails, according to two sources familiar with a congressional investigation into interactions between Trump associates and the Kremlin. Those sources also relayed that, according to Nix’s email, Assange told the Cambridge Analytica CEO that he didn’t want his help, and preferred to do the work on his own.

If the claims Nix made in that email are true, this would be the closest known connection between Trump’s campaign and Assange…

Those 33,000 messages were a central focus of Trump and his allies during the campaign. At least one Republican operative tried to recruit hackers to obtain those emails, according to The Wall Street Journal. And at a press conference on July 27, 2016, while the Democratic National Convention was underway, Trump—then the Republican nominee—said he hoped the Kremlin would recover those emails.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’ll be able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said.

And on the campaign trail, Trump praised WikiLeaks and tweeted about its findings. Politifact calculated that he mentioned the site about 137 times during the campaign….
Read more



Excellent Read: “The President of Blank Sucking Nullity”

This appeared before last night’s shitshow in Phoenix, but it seems a perfect explainer. Underrated sports writer David J. Roth, in The Baffler, on what dogs and Donald Trump have in common. [Probably NSFW, especially if your workplace frowns on employees simultaneously laughing & weeping]:

It is not quite fair to say that Donald Trump lacks core beliefs, but to the extent that we can take apart these beliefs they amount to Give Donald Trump Your Money and Donald Trump Should Really Be on Television More. The only comprehensible throughline to his politics is that everything Trump says is something he’s said previously, with additional very’s and more-and-more’s appended over time; his worldview amounts to the sum of the dumb shit he saw on the cover of the New York Post in 1985, subjected to a few decades of rancid compounding interest and deteriorating mental aptitude. He watches a lot of cable news, but he struggles to follow even stories that have been custom built for people like him—old, uninformed, amorphously if deeply aggrieved.

There’s a reason for this. Trump doesn’t know anything or really believe anything about any topic beyond himself, because he has no interest in any topic beyond himself; his evident cognitive decline and hyperactive laziness and towering monomania ensure that he will never again learn a new thing in his life. He has no friends and no real allies; his inner circle is divided between ostensibly scandalized cynics and theatrically shameless ones, all of whom hold him in low regard and see him as a potential means to their individuated ends. There is no help on the way; his outer orbit is a rotation of replacement-level rage-grandpas and defective, perpetually clammy operators.

To understand Trump is also to understand his appeal as an aspirational brand to the worst people in the United States. What his intransigent admirers like most about him—the thing they aspire to, in their online cosplay sessions and their desperately thirsty performances for a media they loathe and to which they are so helplessly addicted—is his freedom to be unconcerned with anything but himself. This is not because he is rich or brave or astute; it’s because he is an asshole, and so authentically unconcerned. The howling and unreflective void at his core will keep him lonely and stupid until the moment a sufficient number of his vital organs finally resign in disgrace, but it liberates him to devote every bit of his being to his pursuit of himself. Actual hate and actual love, as other people feel them, are too complicated to fit into this world. In their place, for Trump and for the people who see in him a way of being that they are too busy or burdened or humane to pursue, are the versions that exist in a lower orbit, around the self. Instead of hate, there is simple resentment—abject and valueless and recursively self-pitying; instead of love, there is the blank sucking nullity of vanity and appetite…



Thursday Morning Open Thread: Covfefe Happens

Sometimes ya gotta laugh, just to allay the pain, however briefly.

Apart from SSDD, what’s on the agenda for the day?



Open Thread: The Shoddier the Jury-Rigging, the Quicker the Ship Falls Apart

The warring powers within Lord Smallgloves’ court…

… Or sometimes, all three factors! And the blowback on every trumpstunt continues:

The State Department drafted its own statement last month marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day that explicitly included a mention of Jewish victims, according to people familiar with the matter, but President Donald Trump’s White House blocked its release…

Instead, the White House’s own statement drew widespread criticism for overlooking the Jews’ suffering, and was cheered by neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer…

The White House’s explanations for omitting Jews in its statement haven’t quelled the controversy and in some cases made it worse. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks originally defended the omission to CNN saying, “we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered.” Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said he didn’t regret the wording.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday accused critics of “nitpicking” over the statement. He said it was written “with the help of an individual who is both Jewish and the descendent of Holocaust survivors.” A source with knowledge of the situation told POLITICO that person was Trump aide Boris Epshteyn…

Great job breaking it, Repubs!

This is really reminding me of the Watergate-revelation days, only louder and shoddier, as befits the farce succeeding a tragedy. I need to dig out my beloved copies of The Friends of Richard Nixon (George V. Higgins) and How the Good Guys Finally Won (Jimmy Breslin). Modern reviews complain that they’re insufficiently descriptive, to which I can only reply: You had to be there!



Open Thread: Any Journalists Up for Some High-Stakes Adventure?


(see * bottom of post)
.

Next day:

You know that old folk curse, “May you live in interesting times?”

* schrodingers_cat: The movie has been panned by critics but I love its title track, especially the panchakshara* stotra, the female voice in Sanskrit interspersed with a rapid fire, rap-like (in Hindi) description of Shiva.
Panchakshara == 5 letters (na ma shi va) nam = name shiva



Friday Evening Open Thread: Goddess Bless David Fahrenthold, Now & Forever

He has most certainly earned the first Pulitzer for Excellence in White-Hat Trolling.

Also, too, being a genuine billionaire has its perks:

***********

Apart from mocking the little man behind in front of the curtain, what’s on the agenda as we start the weekend?