Late Night Open Thread: FTFNYTimes

Once the rockets go up, who cares *where* they come down?
That’s not my department, says Wehrner von Braun…








Racism: The Very Gross Elephant in the GOP’s Room (Part I)

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)
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Answer: A vestigial sense among the keepers of St. Ronnie’s legacy that the time for public celebration of blatant racism was not yet ripe.

Historical documentation is always nice, but anybody with the most nominal political awareness knew Ronald Reagan was a racist. He famously started his campaign in a Mississippi town best known for the KKK murder of civil-rights activists. It was widely reported during the campaign that his father-in-law’s John Bircher cronies deliberated groomed Reagan as a prettier, more trainable version of Pat Buchanan or Bill O’Reilly — the ‘old-fashioned blue-collar working-class guy’, aka, someone who’d promote racism as a public virtue.

By the time he was in the Oval Office, the openly racist ‘conservative’ media like National Review were publicly exulting that ‘Morning in America’ was code for ‘send the colored and their commie-liberal supporters back where they belong’, and the squishy-moderate publications like Fred Barnes’ New Republic were half-heartedly suggesting that Ronnie wasn’t *really* a racist, he just pretended to be one to please the ‘hardcore’ Republican voter.

Nixon’s infamous ‘Southern Strategy’ was the HIV infection of the Republican party; Reagan’s success, followed by the Bush terms, was the emergence of full-blown political AIDS; Trump is just the Kaposi’s sarcoma that announces the disease in the most public way possible.

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Elijah Cummings Reports On A Michael Flynn – Tom Barrack Grift

ABC has the report.

Quotes from their summary:

“Today’s report reveals new and extensive evidence that corroborates Committee whistle-blowers and exposes how corporate and foreign interests are using their unique access to advocate for the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat who chairs the committee.

The investigation focuses on company called IP3 International, which is run by a group of retired American generals, and their years-long effort to promote a plan to sell dozens of nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. The company has been aided in its efforts by two well-known Trump advisers: Flynn and Barrack, a California investment executive who has deep ties in the Middle East.

Barrack promoted the effort as part of what he called a “Middle East Marshall Plan” despite concerns from some White House officials and lawmakers that Saudi Arabia’s true goal was to obtain technology for nuclear weapons, which could heighten tensions in the unstable region.

The efforts continued until recently. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry made several trips to Saudi Arabia apparently related to this “plan.”

I put “plan” in quotes because what I’ve seen of IP3 International and its predecessor companies suggests that their plan was something like

  • Sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries
  • Sell security personnel to guard the reactors
  • Peace in the Middle East and PROFIT!

One of the earlier plans was to facilitate selling Russian reactors to Middle Eastern countries. That was quickly switched out, perhaps when someone pointed out that it was poor form under “America First” not to be selling American reactors. No more than one or two of the board members of these companies have any experience at all with commercial nuclear power and the restrictions on selling it.

I haven’t read the report yet, but from what I’m seeing, I think my take is a bit different. I think the whole thing is some sort of grift, although I can’t figure out exactly how it works. A colleague says he saw a very similar “plan” back in the George W. Bush administration.

I wrote my own analysis earlier this year, here, here, and here.








Takeback the Takeback

Trump has now, predictably, reversed himself on whether he was upset with the crowd chanting “send her back” and said they’re all “incredible patriots”. He also denied that Melania and Ivanka asked him to tone it down on the racism, so, as Betty said earlier, that was bullshit that no decent reporter should have accepted.

The pattern of something terrible happening at a rally, Trump kinda-sorta disavowing it, then coming back with a full-throated defense of his core racist supporters, is common and predictable. There’s no reason that the media should report one of his little takebacks without noting that he’s taken back the takeback before.

(If you want to see something positive, here’s a minute of Ilhan Omar being welcomed home by supporters at the Minneapolis airport.)








The Trump/GOP Healthcare Plan: Lie

Indefatigable CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale surfaced this big, fat whopper from last night’s racist hate rally. Warning: the CNN clip contains brief video of Trump speaking at the hate rally, so if you watch it, you’ll see the bloated, sweaty orange shitgibbon chopping the air with his hand as he lies about the nonexistent Republican healthcare plan for about 15 seconds:

Hasty transcript of Trump’s quote for those unwilling to subject themselves to the image:

“Patients with preexisting conditions are protected by Republicans much more so than protected by Democrats, who will never be able to pull it off.”

As Dale points out, Democrats already “pulled it off” with the ACA, which is the only reason preexisting conditions aren’t a thing now, and if the Trump administration gets its way, the ACA will be struck down entirely by the courts, which will not only cause millions to lose access to coverage via the exchanges but also leave every single American with private insurance to the tender mercies of the insurance companies on a whole host of provisions, including preexisting conditions.

A few months ago, Trump started making noises about GOP healthcare reform policies, which Republican electeds played down. That’s because even if Trump is dumb enough to believe his own lies about the nonexistent GOP healthcare plan (debatable), people like Mitch McConnell know releasing a plan would necessitate defending said plan in upcoming elections. But are they going to go into the 2020 election with absolutely nothing? Possibly!

Trump appointed a couple of GOP senators to look into the issue, naming Medicare fraudster Rick Scott as “point man.” But while Scott is definitely a crook, he’s not stupid, so he immediately threw that hot potato right back at the White House on one of the Sunday shows, saying “I look forward to, you know, to seeing what the president’s going to put out.” So did it fall through the cracks? Maybe Jared is working on it?

Anyhoo, regardless of what you think of the various Democratic Party primary candidates’ approaches to healthcare, at least they have policies to debate. The same is true of many other issues, like the phantom wall that Trump lied about last night too. It looks like all Trump will bring to the general election is more lies. Am I wrong in thinking it’ll be harder to pull off a all-lie-based campaign strategy as an incumbent? Maybe, but I ‘m going to choose optimism on this point.

Open thread!