Independence Day Planning Open Thread: Get Your Tee Now!

Of course, his minions will do their best to protect Lord Smallgloves from knowing about this. But when the MAGAts are faced with the conundrum of choosing between ‘defending Dear Leader’ and ‘supporting Our Sacred Military’… well, if it’s actually possible for heads to explode, Garden State Fireworks and Fireworks by Grucci may have some competition on the National Mall!








Excellent (Orlando-Alternative) Read: “The Man Who Was Upset”

In my opinion, David Roth is poised to follow in the footsteps of great commentors like Damon Runyon, Roy Blount, and Charles P. Pierce as he moves from sportwriting to politics. This is from the New Republic:

Even after the hit NBC reality show The Apprentice rebuilt his personal fortune and retooled his image from Gilded Tabloid Oaf to Glowering Dealmaster, Trump never declined an opportunity to fish a quarter out of the toilet when the situation presented itself. That reflexive and amoral avarice is one of the ignoble truths of Trump, but it’s subsidiary to the most important and elemental fact about the man, which is that he never does or says anything new. Some things may be shaded slightly differently from one blurt or boast to the next—every number he says invariably cheats upward over time, and he periodically adds new scenes and jokes to the metastasizing stand-up act that he rolls out at his rallies… 


At this stage in his sublimely unexamined life and increasingly evident cognitive decline, Trump isn’t really capable of very compelling misdirections or even passably convincing falsehoods. He digresses because he loses the plot, and he lies when the truth wouldn’t look good on him; he distracts himself and tells himself lies because it is the only way to square what is actually happening with what he would prefer to be happening. (In this, he is but building on the spiritual birthright bestowed on him by his dad: Fred Trump was an ardent worshipper at the Marble Collegiate Church of Norman Vincent Peale, the reactionary business prophet who distilled many failed superpower incantations of his own in his blockbuster self-help tract, The Power of Positive Thinking. Peale presided over Donald’s first wedding in 1977, and remains Trump’s most frequently cited spiritual mentor.)

Where the media has failed and continues to fail is in its insistence that Trump is doing all of this, or any of it, for the same reason that other politicians are understood to have aimed to distract or chosen to lie. When this tendency is criticized, the criticism often arrives in the form of some lamentation that the media is still covering Trump as if he were a Normal President.


That criticism is reasonable as far as it goes, which is not nearly far enough. A series of long-standing procedural and political and discursive norms really have failed the essential challenge that Trumpian politics and Trump’s own bulletproof shamelessness present. But the steepness and rapidity of their fall raises some serious questions about just how sturdy they were to begin with. The spectacle of expert analysts and thought leaders parsing the actions of a man with no expertise or capacity for analysis is the purest acid satire—but less because of how badly that expert analysis has failed than because of how sincerely misplaced it is. Trump represents an extraordinary challenge to political media precisely because there is nothing here to parse, no hidden meanings or tactical elisions or slow-rolled strategic campaign. Mainstream political media and Trump’s opponents in the Democratic Party conceive of politics as chess, a matter of feints and sacrifices and moves made so as to open the way for other moves. There’s an element of romance to this vision, which is a crucial tenet in a certain type of big-D Democratic thought and also something like the reason why anyone would need to employ a political analyst. But Trump is not playing chess. The man is playing Hungry Hungry Hippos… 


The politics of Fox News are reactionary, but they are also hard to pin down—they are about a feeling, a combination of distaste and distrust for all the things that other people are getting away with and seem so entitled to out there. This hunched and feral posture of grievance is then combined with a fiercely put-upon impatience with the service that viewers themselves are receiving… 

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Thursday Morning Open Thread: Elizabeth Warren Is Having A Moment

Yes, I would be embarrassed by my obvious selection bias, but right at this moment in time it’s easier to find interesting stories about Warren than about her worthy competitors. So, if you have links to share concerning Harris, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Booker, O’Rourke, Gillibrand, et al — even Joe Biden! — please leave a comment, or contact me at annelaurie (dot) bj (at) gmail (dot) com, TIA.

(Besides, the alternative for today’s early-morning uplift was the Steve King / Diamond & Silk ‘press conference’ fiasco.)

Paul Waldman, at the Washington Post, “Why Elizabeth Warren is surging”:

Overinterpreting small movements in polls is always dangerous, but if she does continue to rise — and right now she looks like one of the only Democratic candidates who is gaining support — there are some particular reasons why, reasons that may help us understand what primary voters are thinking and how the media are shaping the race…

… Warren, a senator from Massachusetts, is drawing some of the largest crowds as she campaigns across the state. Those attending her events testify to her skill in winning people over, her ability to describe policy challenges through effective storytelling, and her seemingly inexhaustible energy and enthusiasm.

Then there’s the role of the media. For a variety of reasons, Warren has become the favored candidate of the liberal opinion-writing elite. Even those (such as myself) who aren’t endorsing any candidate have been complimenting Warren for a while, writing and talking about her in ways that may be having an impact on how everyone else sees her and her candidacy…

There’s something else Warren has that wins respect from those who have covered lots of campaigns, and winds up producing better media coverage in subtle ways: A clear, coherent message of the kind most of the other candidates are lacking.
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Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Be Of Good Cheer (Srsly)

The Repubs have a decompensating narcissist who only took his current position with the help of voter suppression and foreign money… and they’re all too terrified to challenge him. We have half a dozen excellent candidates, and several perfectly competent backups. Also, people like confidence!


And this would be bad… because?!?








Late Night Open Thread: Nice “Work” If You Can Get It…

Jon Chait, NYMag, “Why Are Republican Small Donors So Easy to Swindle?”:

Republicans have long complained, usually in private, that their fundraising apparatus is overrun with fraudsters. National Review’s Jim Geraghty has a column, “The Right’s Grifter Problem,” saying what many of them have been whispering. Many of President Trump’s most publicly strident loyalists are in the business of raising money for political projects that spend virtually all their funds on operating expenses…

Grifters go where the marks are:

A former pro football player who serves on the National Rifle Association board was paid $400,000 by the group in recent years for public outreach and firearms training. Another board member, a writer in New Mexico, collected more than $28,000 for articles in NRA publications. Yet another board member sold ammunition from his private company to the NRA for an undisclosed sum.

The NRA, which has been rocked by allegations of exorbitant spending by top executives, also directed money in recent years that went to board members — the very people tasked with overseeing the organization’s finances.

In all, 18 members of the NRA’s 76-member board, who are not paid as directors, collected money from the group during the past three years, according to tax filings, state charitable reports and NRA correspondence reviewed by The Washington Post.

The payments received by about one-quarter of board members, the extent of which has not previously been reported, deepen questions about the rigor of the board’s oversight as it steered the country’s largest and most powerful gun rights group, according to tax experts and some longtime members…

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