Thursday Morning Open Thread: Rooting for Injuries (But Not Describing Them)

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)
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Since I am not by nature a nice person, I’ll admit that stories like this make me quietly gleeful. From the Washington Post, “Senate Republicans have tolerated Trump’s controversies. His treatment of Sessions is different”:

Cornyn is not alone in rallying to the defense of Sessions, who, despite sometimes having waged lonely battles as one of the chamber’s most staunch conservatives, still has many friends among Senate Republicans. Most have issued statements of support, and several are making private calls to reassure Sessions that they are behind him.

But the tension over Trump’s treatment of Sessions goes beyond the senators defending a friend.

Unlike any other controversial move that Trump has pondered in his six months as president, Senate Republicans are sending preemptive signals that firing the attorney general or pressuring him to resign would be a terrible move.

Some have warned high-level White House officials that it would look as though Trump were making the move solely to shut down an investigation of his campaign and the White House, now overseen by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, while also making clear that they agree with Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from an investigation of the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia.

Replacing Sessions would be difficult, and the idea of Trump making a recess appointment during the planned four-week break in August is foolhardy. Democrats can indefinitely stall a resolution to fully adjourn the Senate, having already forced minute-long periods during even shorter breaks to prevent Trump from having the authority to make temporary appointments while the Senate is away.

Democrats may have vehemently opposed Sessions’s nomination, but they have no intention of allowing Trump to fire him and name a new attorney general with a recess appointment, and frankly, Republicans do not seem to want to give Trump that power either…

What’s on the agenda, as we start another bound-to-be-beleagured day?

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Speaking of public schadenfreude: Having grown up in the sort of family where interactions tended to start with a challenge and escalate explosively, I’ve spent the past forty years learning that not every dark thought needs to be described exhaustively. Not only does such gleeful venting disturb those who come from less toughened environments, but it’s really quite stressful to keep up the paranoia level that’s essential when you know at a bone-deep level that talking the talk is liable to lead to walking a very unpleasant walk.

This is John Cole’s blog, and it will never be mistaken for an Oberlin drum circle. But rest assured, no matter how inventive your torture scenarios for those public officials who most absolutely deserve them, there is no membership requirement that those scenarios be shared in the comments.

Venting is important, especially in this Trump era, but not everybody here has the same tolerance for violence porn. Wish all the bad cess on Republicans and other miscreants that they deserve, but try to keep in mind that it’s not a competition to see which of us can produce the most disturbing rant.



Friday Evening Russiagate News Dump Open Thread


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So… what’s on tapp at the “Stupid Watergate” White House?…



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Another Battle Begins

(Jeff Danziger’s website)
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As if Lord Smallgloves could tell you what was in “his” budget… Greg Sargent, in the Washington Post, “Even some Republicans balk at Trump’s plan for steep budget cuts”:

While some fiscally conservative lawmakers, particularly in the House, found a lot to praise in Trump’s plan to balance the budget within 10 years, most Republicans flatly rejected the White House proposal. The divide sets up a clash between House conservatives and a growing number of Senate Republicans who would rather work with Democrats on a spending deal than entertain Trump’s deep cuts.

“This is kind of the game,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.). “We know that the president’s budget won’t pass as proposed.”

Instead, Cornyn said he believes conversations are already underway about how Republicans can negotiate with Democrats to avoid across-the-board spending cuts that are scheduled to go into effect in October. Those talks could include broad spending increases for domestic and military programs that break from Trump’s plan for deep cuts in education, housing, research and health care…

Budget experts questioned many of the economic assumptions that the White House put into its plan, saying it was preposterous to claim that massive tax cuts and spending reductions will lead to a surge in economic growth…

“Even some Republicans” plan on a political career that lasts beyond the next election — maybe even one that doesn’t involve people spitting on them in the street. This ain’t a budget proposal, it’s a new chapter in a cultists’ holy book. Or a performance-art script for grifters hoping to massage the plutocrats’ greed glands…



Horrowshow Open Thread: Why the Banksters Love Lord Smallgloves

He’s so frugal! — with his own money, at least.

Even if the strikes were the “entertainment,” they certainly did cost the president something.

The cost of a Tomahawk missile, per the Navy budget for fiscal year 2017, is $1.355 million. Given that the strike used 59 missiles, that comes out to roughly $79.9 million for just the missiles alone.

Ross’s remarks to the conference were just the latest in unusual public remarks from the Commerce secretary on the Syria strike.

Ross was in the secured conference room at Mar-a-Lago where Trump and other administration officials huddled during the strike, though he’s not necessarily charged with national security interests as head of the Commerce Department…

Nah, not the “president”‘s money! He doesn’t even pay taxes, cuz he’s SMART!

You put Ross’ mug up on a storyboard for an evil plutocrat on Saturday Night Live, and the producers would say ‘Too broad’…

Ross, a billionaire financier, is new to government service. In the lunchtime conversation with David Rubenstein, co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, Ross reflected on his first impressions of public service.

“I’ve been heartened,” he said. “I thought the quality of people in the government was not as high as it has turned out to be. There are actually quite a lot of very good, very serious, very intelligent people wanting to do their best. It’s just they’ve been trapped in a fundamentally dysfunctional system.”

The president’s tax cut proposal has been a hot topic among the business community at this year’s conference. Rubenstein asked Ross whether it was realistic to expect a tax plan to pass this year.

“I certainly hope so,” he said. “God knows Congress has debated the issue enough times. It’s really a question of, ‘Is there the willpower to do it?’ If the Republican side can get itself unified, then it will work, even if the Democrats remain as determined as they seem to be to block any kind of progress.”

As if we needed more of an impetus to ‘block any kind of progress’ that would make these fekkers happy.



Wonk shade

Dan Diamond brings together the wonderful health nerd traditional of #HealthPolicyValentines and topical commentary on the firing of the NSA for being compromised by the Russians.

I needed this laugh.

Open Thread



Open Thread: Trump Prepares to Pay Off His Donors

The President-Asterisk may have a long history of cheating the people who work for him, but he’s not gonna stiff the people he works for

Via Joy-Ann Reid, from the Daily Beast, “Trump Just Declared Open Season on Suckers“:

If the 2016 election was a national litmus test to see just how many suckers live in this country, the next round of President Trump’s executive orders are going to make sure those millions of suckers are taken for every last penny…

One of Trump’s two executive orders today calls for a review of Dodd-Frank Law, a rule that was put in place in the thick of the recession of the aughts. It was supposed to be the law that represented the lessons we’d learned from the 2008-2009 financial crash. Lessons, one would hope, that would have lasted more than the average run of a successful sitcom.

At Dodd-Frank’s inception, this country was experiencing the most dire financial crisis since the Great Depression. Overzealous financial institutions had created and traded billions in securities made of underlying assets-—mortgages and credit-related products—that were valued based on wildly quixotic assessments of consumer creditworthiness. It wasn’t until these credit-backed products had become major components of massive portfolios, like pensions and hedge funds, that anybody realized that they were essentially valueless. The markets took a nosedive, Bear Stearns went ass-up, Lehman was shuttered, Merrill was sold. The American taxpayer subsidized all of it…

Trump’s other Executive Order is more insidious, somehow, than “doing a number” (his words) on Dodd-Frank. The President is planning on ordering the Labor Department to roll back the Obama administration’s “fiduciary rule,” which was supposed to take effect this April.

The rule would have required brokers and agents who manage retirement accounts to provide advice to their clients based on what would be best for the clients, rather than what’s suitable. This means that if a broker is considering two suitable investment vehicles for clients, but one makes him a fat commission and the other doesn’t but has slightly better prospects for the consumer, there’s nothing stopping him from pushing the client in the direction of the one that earns the commission. As long as they’re both “suitable.” …

With the number of people reaching retirement age growing by the year, these two moves by Team Trump are troubling signs of what might be to come. Thanks to the fact that many Americans who are now approaching retirement age entered adulthood when it was possible for young people to buy homes, many of them have spent decades passively amassing wealth as the value of their homes swelled. Their retirement accounts have more than recovered from the market troughs of 2008 and 2009. They’ve got more money than they’ve ever had, which means they’re more vulnerable to be fleeced than they’ve ever been….



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: You Knew Trump Was A Snake When You Pressed Him to Your Bosoms

President Trump’s temporary ban on refugees and other foreigners has significantly deepened fissures in his already fragile relationship with congressional Republicans, as GOP leaders on Capitol Hill complained angrily Monday that they were not consulted before the order was issued.

At least a dozen key GOP lawmakers and aides said Trump’s order took them by surprise, even as the White House insisted that it collaborated with Congress. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s political team sought to reassure donors and other supporters that the temporary ban on travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries does not amount to a “religious test.” And a steady stream of Republican lawmakers released carefully tailored written statements expressing concerns about the order…

The disarray over Trump’s fulfillment of a core campaign promise underscored the increasingly strained relationship between the new White House and the Republican congressional majority. It comes after a rocky first week-and-a-half punctuated by confusion over health care and tax reform, as well as frustration with the president obsessing over crowd size and his loss of the popular vote in November…

Not that they’re liable to do anything useful, like stand up to some of Trump’s more egregious appointments, but hey: REPUBS IN DISARRAY!

Even the godsdamned kids are whining to Vanity Fair — the magazine that originated the “Trump, short-fingered vulgarian” meme, back in the 1980s!

Little more than a week into the Trump presidency, the timing of the Friday sunset seems to be growing increasingly important. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and West Wing adviser, has been positioned as something of a mollifying presence upon his mercurial boss. “I have a feeling that Jared’s going to do a great job. He’s going to do a great job. You’ll work with him,” Trump recently declared at his pre-inaugural gala to assorted well-wishers and friends from the business community. In a White House split between those seemingly loyal to the Republican Party (Reince Priebus, the former chairman of the R.N.C., now Trump’s chief of staff), and its rabid base (Breitbart chairman turned chief strategist Stephen Bannon), Kushner appeared to be a Valerie Jarrett type—a steady familiar voice who could suss out the signal from the noise.

Kushner, along with his wife, Ivanka Trump, is also an orthodox Jew who observes Shabbat. From sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday, the couple abstains from technology and work. And early in the incipient Trump administration, that brief period has been unusually fraught…
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