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…
Read more



One More Thing: I Do Dare Call It Treason

There’s no way to parse what happened in the few weeks before the election without recognizing that both FBI director Comey and Senate Majority Leader McConnell effectively colluded with Russia to throw this election.

hanged-men-pittura-infamante-andrea-del-sarto-6c

Comey can’t not have known about the Russia connection to the emails, and yet chose to violate policy, precedent and explicit advice from Justice in his email letter ten days before the vote.

McConnell was specifically briefed on Russia’s efforts to influence the election, and he pressured (successfully, alas) the Obama administration to withhold that information from the public.

Both of them made choices that directly enabled Putin’s efforts.  Both of them knew, to a virtual certainty, that this was the case.

Both of them are in my view traitors — both to our country as it is now, and to the idea of a representative democracy America is supposed to embody.

And one more one more thing: Elaine Chao, McConnell’s wife, is Trump’s nominee for Transportation secretary. It is unconfirmed at this time that this is payment for services rendered.  It would, however, be irresponsible not to speculate.

Image: Andrea del Sarto, Study for a “Shame Painting” — In Italy, this form of execution was associated w. traitors. Before 1530.



A thousand and one posts

Wow, that last post was my 1,000th post here at Balloon Juice. I was not expecting that when I first got started here.

I’ve been a Balloon Juice reader and primarily a lurker since before the Cole Conversion time. Over the summer of 2013, I saw a lot of good questions about the ACA and how it would effect our community. I got in touch with a front-pager I know in real life and asked if I could write a couple of posts to answer a couple of questions. He e-mailed John and John gave me the keys to this place. I figured that I would twenty to thirty thousand words in forty or fifty posts and then I would be done.

Over the past three years, I have eight hundred or more health insurance posts with about half a million words written.

That was a slight miscalculation.

I’ve rediscovered how much I like to write about a subject that I like. Every day I get to answer a question, explore something that I heard something about but now need to explain, or advocate for a slightly better world with tweaks to the current policy universe. I’ve been able to point people in the right direction when they are getting screwed over. We’ve been able to go through complicated choice structures to get community members taken care of when they know they need to do something but do not know what they have to do.

At the same time, my education has deepened as the community here and a second community of wonks, advocates and researchers. If I need to know about anti-trust law, I have a couple of world class experts who share their time with me. If I need to know more about Medicare, I can talk to people who are on it, I can talk with CMS techno-wonks, and national level advocates. If I need to learn more accounting, there are plenty of people who will share their knowledge and expertise with me.

I never thought I would have written here for more than a couple of months. But between all of you, the community and John’s amazing ability to let things flow, I am more energized than I ever thought I would be a thousand posts ago.



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Serves the Man Right

trump has ryan in fetal position luckovich

(Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)
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Universally respected commentor LAMH, last night:

Well, the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver won his primary last night, for all the joy it’ll bring him:

JANESVILLE, Wis. — House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) reveled in the aftermath of his commanding and expected primary victory Tuesday against Paul Nehlen, a Donald Trump-inspired opponent, by ordering cheese curds and beer for his supporters.

But Ryan’s celebration will be brief, with the skirmish only the latest in this tempest of a year for a Republican Party churning between Ryan’s traditional conservatism and Trump’s flaring populism…

A self-described “movement conservative” whose politics are rooted in the tax-cutting platforms of Republicans past, Ryan has been uneasy from the start about parts of Trump’s candidacy and especially its tenets on trade and immigration.

Nonetheless, the GOP’s 2012 vice-presidential nominee has swallowed hard and endorsed Trump, intent on stitching together his party where possible as he labors to get voters to notice “A Better Way,” the six-pronged policy outline he crafted and unveiled earlier this year, which has proposals to reform poverty programs and cut federal spending…

Deadbeat Donald is spoiling Pauly’s Ayn Rand wet dreams of slashing social services for Those People while providing additional tax relief to America’s Makers. And the godsdamned circus barker isn’t even gonna win!…

Apart from another tasty schadenfreude breakfast, what’s on the agenda for the day?



A LITERAL Shitshow

Valued commenter LAO submits for our consideration a report of a norovirus outbreak at the RNC:

A handful of Republican staff members in Cleveland for the GOP convention were reported to be suffering Tuesday from a possible norovirus infection.

And if there are a few people with norovirus, it’s likely there will be more.

Norovirus, for those who are unfamiliar with it, is a massively contagious and unpleasant but usually non-life-threatening ailment that turns cruise ships into giant vomit-filled shit canoes.

If Uday and Qusay Trump appear on stage tonight and open their mouths to sing their horrid racist father’s praises but instead emit twin streams of projectile vomit while simultaneously shitting their pants, I will reconsider my lifelong atheism.

Open thread!



Talk me down…

trumpster fire

Trump’s not going to blow this thing, is he? The campaign manager’s arrest. The massive abortion gaffe and walk-back. The foolishness about nuclear proliferation. It’s been a bad week.

I’m afraid he’s going to flame out before clinching the nomination, paving the way for the GOP to nominate someone who can impersonate a sane person more convincingly.

Trump’s got this thing, right? Right?!?!?!?



Today’s Smart Read…

…comes from Thomas Edsall at The New York Times

He answers his question “Why Trump Now?” by looking at the material reasons for working-class white disaffection, not just with the post-civil-rights Democratic Party, but with the cabal to whom that group turned in increasing numbers from 1968 forward.  He writes:

The share of the gross national product going to labor as opposed to the share going to capital fell from 68.8 percent in 1970 to 60.7 percent by 2013, according to Loukas Karabarbounis, an economics professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Even more devastating, the number of manufacturing jobs dropped by 36 percent, from 19.3 million in 1979 to 12.3 million in 2015, while the population increased by 43 percent, from 225 million to 321 million.

The postwar boom, when measured by the purchasing power of the average paycheck, continued into the early 1970s and then abruptly stopped (see the accompanying chart).

In other words, the economic basis for voter anger has been building over forty years. Starting in 2000, two related developments added to worsening conditions for the middle and working classes…

Distribution_of_Loaves_to_the_Poor_David_Vinckbooms

Read the whole thing.

If you’re too busy the TL:DR of those two developments are the interrelated facts that from the year 2ooo, upward mobility reversed itself, with more people falling into the middle class and poverty and fewer making it up the ladder — and the impact of China and its increasing integration into a world-wide free-trade regimen.  Edsall’s reporting on the China development — with its accompanying misreading by free-trade elites — is particularly sharp.

Add to that, as Edsall does, the TARP bailout after the elite-engineered collapse of 2007-8 and the Citizens United decision and you have specific and plausible reasons for Republican working class voters (and everyone else, of course) to see their chosen political leaders as shills and swindlers:

By opening the door to the creation of SuperPACs and giving Wall Street and other major financial sectors new ways to buy political outcomes, the courts gave the impression, to say the least, that they favored establishment interests over those of the less well off.

Edsall’s conclusion?

The tragedy of the 2016 campaign is that Trump has mobilized a constituency with legitimate grievances on a fool’s errand.

The crux for this year is exactly that:  Lots of Americans have been screwed — systematically, with comprehensive effect — for decades.  The material losses they – we — have suffered are real.  The responses Trump offers, such as they are, may be hopelessly at odds with any actual redress of those wrongs.  But any campaign (are you listening, Hillary?) that ignores the fact that two generations of Americans now have seen the basic expectations of life reversed is going to have hard time winning, just by pointing out that Trump’s bloviating won’t help either.

Image: David Vinckbooms, Distribution of Loaves to the Poor, first half of the 17th century.