That Echo Chorus Lied to Me

Let’s feel really, really sad about the dilemmas that Republicans and Trump appointees find themselves in.

In the aftermath of the white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Republican lawmakers and leaders face the most unpalatable set of choices yet in their relationship with President Trump. They are caught between disgust over his failure to unequivocally condemn neo-Nazism, a desire to advance a conservative agenda and fears of rupturing the Trump-GOP coalition ahead of the 2018 elections.

If you enjoy watching a bunch of powerful assholes wring their hands about their self-induced powerlessness, read that whole piece.

On the one hand, Nazis. On the other, tax cuts. What’s an old white man to do?

And then there’s Mnuchin:

“While I find it hard to believe I should have to defend myself on this, or the president, I feel compelled to let you know that the president in no way, shape or form believes that neo-Nazi and other hate groups who endorse violence are equivalent to groups that demonstrate in peaceful and lawful ways,” Mnuchin, who is Jewish, said in a statement released by the Treasury Department.
His comments followed assertions by Trump last week that there was blame on “both sides” at the Charlottesville gathering organized by white supremacist groups that turned deadly and that some “fine people” participated in a march to protest the removal of a Confederate statue.
Mnuchin was among the Trump administration officials standing by Trump’s side as he made those comments at Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday at an event advertised to focus on Trump’s plans to spur new investments in the nation’s infrastructure.

First, let’s pause to note that those three paragraphs of straight reporting should be taught in what’s left of journalism schools as a primer on showing that a politician is full of shit. Second, Mnuchin is worth something like $500 million, yet he’s willing to serve as a cabinet member of an obvious clown who thinks there are some good Nazis.

On the one hand, selling out, losing friends, betraying your long-suffering people, and being on the wrong side of history. On the other hand, a little power.

Dilemmas, they’re everywhere.



Late Night RWNJ Open Thread: FISK, Dammit! She Said ‘Fisk’!

Well, she seems to have clenched something pretty tight…

Speaking of highly excitable Wingnut Wurlitzer cheerleaders, whatever happened to Michelle Malkin?



Lazy Late Friday Open “Tech” Thread: Move Fast, Break the Wrong Stuff…

Shoved aside, amid all this week’s affray. It’s all about noisy displays of public dominance, innit? The NYTimes:

Timothy D. Cook of Apple, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Eric Schmidt of Alphabet were among 18 tech executives and investors — many of whom have criticized the Trump administration — who attended the four-hour afternoon session to discuss cloud computing and procurement systems run by government agencies.

For many, it was the second group meeting with Mr. Trump since the election — and another demonstration of the administration’s ability to summon top business executives, even amid controversy.

“Government needs to catch up with the technology revolution,” said Mr. Trump, who strolled in at the end of the meeting to greet the tech titans. “We’re going to change that with the help of great American businesses like the people assembled.”

He later said, drawing laughter, “We have approximately $3.5 trillion of market value in this room — but that’s almost the exact number that we’ve created since my election.”

Few technology specialists from the White House attended. The administration has not filled several major science and technology positions. But the business and economics team closest to the president attended, including Gary D. Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, and Dina Powell, senior counselor for economic initiatives…

As described by NYMag‘s Select/All blog, “Tech Leaders Cucked by God-Emperor Trump”:

The White House is hosting leaders and CEOs from leading technology companies this week, hoping to get the best in the biz to figure out why the government sucks so bad at technology. The summit was the first meeting of the American Technology Council, which the administration established in May, led by Jared Kushner. Big boy Jared even made a speech, and presumably received an extra scoop of Cheez-Its at snack time for doing so…

Kushner suggested shifting government data to the cloud. “Federal agencies collectively operate 6,100 data centers,” he noted, “the vast majority of which can be consolidated and migrated to the cloud” (a little fun fact for you tech-heads out there: Remote data centers are what comprise “the cloud”). He also spoke about how the Department of Defense still uses floppy disks (not sure how that matters to the average American, but fair point), and that it takes months to update any government website (in part because the “move fast, break things” ethos doesn’t work for enormous populations of more than 300 million people).

The meeting appears to be fulfilling its implied purpose: making the president look good. Breitbart, to highlight one example, is celebrating how these feeble lefty tech CEOs are bowing before their new god, citing quotes like Eric Schmidt’s: “I’m absolutely convinced that during your administration there is going to be a huge explosion of new opportunities because of the platforms that are getting built in our industry.” (In January, Schmidt told an audience of Googlers that Trump would do “evil things,” citing the president’s stance on immigration.) Jeff Bezos said that Trump could be the “innovation administration,” while Tim Cook pressed the president on immigration and requiring coding classes in public schools…

What odds Trump vaguely assuming putting all this government stuff “in the cloud” would make it too heavy to hang over his head suspiciously any more?

In other news…

(Backstory)



Call Congress

Medicaid is the key. The AHCA is still cutting $800 billion plus from Medicaid over a decade and this is the point of resistance for the Tuesday Morning Group, a group of 40 to 50 less conservative Republicans who are likely to represent districts that are vulnerable in wave elections.

Let them know that this is important and that killing Medicaid kicks them out of a job in 2018.

With Chaffetz going out for surgery, Ryan can afford to lose 21 votes assuming every Democrat shows up. (Any Democrat who is not in the ICU or at the funeral of spouse and does not vote should be primaried). The House Freedom Caucus might still have two or three No Votes, Rep. Massie from Tennessee is still a NO vote. The Tuesday Morning Group needs to supply at least seventeen or eighteen No votes to defeat the legislation.

Call Congress and tell them what you think…



#Facepalm Read: Andy Griffith’s Home Town Hates & Fears This Modern World

(Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)
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I believe I may have discovered the platonic ideal of all “Poor Little WWC Voters!” stories. And because it is from the Washington Post, I strongly suspect its bathetic overkill may be entirely intentional. “How nostalgia for white Christian America drove so many Americans to vote for Trump“:

Residents and tourists from far-flung states mill along the thoroughfare, past the quaint low-slung shops made of Mount Airy’s famous white granite and named, like Floyd’s City Barber Shop, for references in “The Andy Griffith Show,” the folksy comedy set in the idyllic fictional small town of Mayberry that first aired in 1960.

And yet even as this city of about 10,000 nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains fills its coffers by selling nostalgia, many of its residents would agree with the now-popular saying “We’re not in Mayberry anymore.”

If only the real Mount Airy, which has experienced decades of economic and social decline, were like the Mayberry facade, muses Mayor David Rowe. If only his city and the rest of America could return to the 1950s again.

“Now it’s about secular progressivism, not the values you get out of this book,” such as honesty and hard work, said Rowe, 72, jabbing his finger at the leather Bible on his office desk.

But as Donald Trump prepares to move into the White House, Rowe and many of his constituents are hoping for a return to the past…

Seventy-four percent of white evangelicals believe American culture has mostly changed for the worse since the 1950s — more than any other group of Americans — compared with 56 percent of all whites, according to a 2016 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute. In sharp contrast, 62 percent of African Americans and 57 percent of Hispanic Americans think the culture has changed for the better, the survey said.

“You think back to the 1990s, and conservative Christians could throw around the phrase ‘moral majority,’ and there was a kernel of truth to that,” said Robert P. Jones, chief executive at PRRI and author of “The End of White Christian America.” “Even in 2008, they could say the country is on our side on [same-sex marriage], and that’s changed so quickly in this last decade. The election hit on fundamental questions about what America is and should be.”…

Thomas, who blames the loss of his $75,000-a-year factory job on Obama, now makes $18,000 working in his friend’s gun store and pawnshop. He is hopeful Trump will bring jobs back.

His colleague, Dreama Staples, 53, said people are bringing in their prized possessions to sell so they can buy groceries and gas. At 4.8 percent, the unemployment rate in Surry County is similar to the national figure, but Staples said that finding full-time work with benefits is difficult. She said she has grown angry over what she considers government overreach.

“We’re losing control of our freedoms,” Staples said. “The government was taking away our rights. Taxes are higher, our jobs are gone, and it just feels less Christian.”…

Not everyone is nostalgic for the 1950s.

Ron Jessup, 68, who grew up in Mount Airy during that era, found the place generally friendly then, he said — as long as he and other blacks obeyed the racist laws and social mores of the time.

If African Americans went to the theater, they sat upstairs, he said. If they went to the restaurants, they avoided the counter. “We understood what was considered our place,” said Jessup, who is retired from his job as a high school principal in nearby Winston-Salem. Even now, all five Surry County commissioners are white.
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Open Thread: Jason Chaffetz, Junior Detective Putz

This ugly tidbit seemed worth noting, even amid the flood of more immediate information. Jason Chaffetz, thwarted of the Speakership by Paul Ryan, jealous of fellow Utan Mike Lee’s higher profile, and nervous about a potential Evan McMullin challenge in 2018, has decided to give up his figleaf of Trump disapproval and seek refuge in the ever-popular pursuit of Hillary Rodham Clinton for… not being a Republican, essentially. Per Dave Weigal at the Washington Post:

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — Jason Chaffetz, the Utah congressman wrapping up his first term atop the powerful House Oversight Committee, unendorsed Donald Trump weeks ago. That freed him up to prepare for something else: spending years, come January, probing the record of a President Hillary Clinton.

“It’s a target-rich environment,” the Republican said in an interview in Salt Lake City’s suburbs. “Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.”

In a tweet Wednesday night, Chaffetz reaffirmed his distaste for Clinton and his refusal to endorse Trump — but reversed his plans not to vote for the Republican nominee.

If Republicans retain control of the House, something that GOP-friendly maps make possible even in the event of a Trump loss, Clinton will become the first president since George H.W. Bush to immediately face a House Oversight Committee controlled by the opposition party. (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama lost Congress later in their presidencies.)…

“The rigorous oversight conducted by House Republicans has already brought to light troubling developments in the [Hillary] Clinton email scandal,” the office of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement to The Washington Post. “The speaker supports [Oversight’s] investigative efforts following where the evidence leads, especially where it shows the need for changes in the law.”…

Fortunately, Hillary Clinton has no illusions about the persistence of minor pests like Rep. Chaffetz…


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Popcorn and incentive structures

First as a teaser:

Secondly how in the world did the Republican establishment fuck up so badly? I have some odd connections to Republican million dollar donors and bundlers and I know they shovelled tens of millions of dollars to Right to Rise and other places. All of the reporting that has hit Trump hard was either digging out tapes or reporters doing the hard grunt work of reading through tax returns, cross referencing things and pulling the string. It is not the political dark arts. Sticking a couple of College Republicans on “Listen to Howard Stern” and “consume Playboy archives” duty would have paid off massively in the Fall of 2015. And that could have been done with minimal fingerprints.

Finally, there is chatter that the RNC is trying to force Trump out. I want to highlight a post from early August after the Khan implosion:

He does not care about the House, he does not care about the Senate. He does not care about policy outcomes. He has a very limited shadow of the future and a very narrow give a fuck space that barely intersects with Republican insider give a damn space.

What is the gain for Trump to step aside? His brand is underwater as his name is currently toxic. If he is to step aside, his brand (and his ego) won’t recover quickly. His best chance of re-establishing his brand (and his ego) is to double down and win. If he wins the White House in November even if there are 98 Democrats in the Senate and 431 Democrats in the House, he won, and the Republican establishment are full of losers. His brand would take off and he could make odd speeches at golf courses while Mike Pence attempts to govern.

If he steps aside, the party insiders are better off, but his brand is shit and his ego is bruised as he would be the loser genuflecting to the wills of the loses that he beat in the primary process.

Has that changed at all?

Oh yeah, fourth point, Orville Redenbache has to be making a killing as we’re all passing the popcorn.