Early Morning WTF Open Thread: With Donald Trump, It Can Always Get Weirder

Epic fiction may be the only way to get a proper handle on the dumpster fire behind the fertilizer plant that is Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Gonna be a long day for political reporters, this Wednesday.

As of right now (pre-dawn), my best guess is that Trump’s handlers are using this last-minute visit as an excuse for Trump to put off/cancel his big Phoenix Immigration Pivot(tm) Speech, because he can’t do morning fundraisers in Los Angeles, jet down to Mexico City, meet with Presidente Nieto, and get to Phoenix in time for prime-time news coverage.

Josh Marshall has what seems like the most sensible take — “Can Trump Be This Stupid? Not A Trick Question”:

It’s a general rule of politics not to enter into unpredictable situations or cede control of an event or happening to someone who wants to hurt you. President Nieto definitely does not want Donald Trump to become President. He probably assumes he won’t become president, simply by reading the polls. President Nieto is himself quite unpopular at the moment. But no one is more unpopular than Donald Trump. Trump is reviled. Toadying to Trump would be extremely bad politics; standing up to him, good politics…

Remember that the central force of Trump’s political brand is dominance politics. Trump commands, people obey. Trump strikes, victims suffer. It will be extremely difficult for him to manage anything like this in the Mexican capital. He comes with a weak hand, no leverage and the look of a loser. All Peña Nieto needs to say is no.

Again, when you’re in a campaign under constant scrutiny you do your best to control every situation, reduce the risk of unpredictable, embarrassing or damaging events. You try not to cede control to others. You especially try not to cede near total control to someone who has every interest in the world in harming you. The maximal version of that ‘big thing you’re not supposed to do’ is precisely what it looks like Trump is doing.
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Open Thread: Donald Trump NEVER Misspeaks!!! (ISIS Edition)

But sometimes us LESSER INTELLECTS fail to comprehend his SARCASM. Bigly!

Rough timeline…

Donald Trump said Thursday that he meant exactly what he said when he called President Barack Obama the “founder of ISIS” and objected when a conservative radio show host tried to clarify the GOP nominee’s position.

Trump was asked by host Hugh Hewitt about the comments Trump made Wednesday night in Florida, and Hewitt said he understood Trump to mean “that he (Obama) created the vacuum, he lost the peace.”

Trump objected.

“No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS,” Trump said. “I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.”

Hewitt pushed back again, saying that Obama is “not sympathetic” to ISIS and “hates” and is “trying to kill them.”

“I don’t care,” Trump said, according to a show transcript. “He was the founder. His, the way he got out of Iraq was that that was the founding of ISIS, okay?”
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Open Thread: The Man Can’t Help Himself

… But the NRA will do its considerable best to do so, because neither of them have better options:

With Mr. Trump increasingly isolated and hobbled by controversies of his own making, the powerful gun-rights group has emerged as one of his remaining stalwart allies in the Republican coalition: the institution on the right most aggressively committed to his candidacy, except for the Republican National Committee itself.

The association has spent millions of dollars on television commercials for Mr. Trump, even as other Republican groups have kept their checkbooks closed and Mr. Trump’s campaign has not run any ads of its own. The N.R.A.’s chief political strategist, Chris Cox, gave a forceful testimonial for Mr. Trump at the Republican convention; Mr. Trump has repeatedly praised Mr. Cox and the association’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre. Allies of Mr. Trump and the association describe their political alliance as a marriage forged out of urgent necessity…

The alliance with Mr. Trump comes at a moment of peril for the N.R.A. and its agenda, as Democrats threaten to take control of the Senate and polls show the public increasingly supportive of at least modest new limits on the sale and possession of firearms…

I assume this is a first for the Secret Service: Not only are they deterring would-be assassins, they have to deter their candidate from encouraging assassins to attack other candidates. And they say Trump’s campaign won’t be remembered in the history books!



Early Hours Aggregation/Aggravation Open Thread

Betcha Susan Collins is feeling pretty smart right now…

Barely 24 hours after Donald Trump delivered a speech intended to reset his staggering presidential campaign, his off-the-cuff suggestion that people resort to violence against his opponent has him right back in the ditch.

At a rally in North Carolina on Tuesday, Trump applied his signature sarcasm to a political third rail, stating that “the Second Amendment” may be the only way to stop Clinton from getting to appoint federal judges if she defeats him in November…

Trump’s surrogates, already positioned on television sets, were left without any plausible response as media coverage of the presidential campaign focused on the GOP nominee’s latest misstep. “Mr. Trump was saying exactly what he said,” spokeswoman Katrina Pierson said on CNN. The campaign itself put out a “statement on dishonest media” that did not even attempt to clean up Trump’s comment…

Official NRA statement:

Guy who ghost-wrote Art of the Deal:


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Monday Evening Open Thread: Debating the “Master”

It was an actual “talent” when Trump was working to gin up publicity for one of his dubious business ventures, from his first slapdash condo developments up to his reality-tv triumphs. As a method for quashing discussion of his many many political gaffes, not so much…

Clinton’s campaign manager:


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Thrice Before Cock Crow

Donald Trump, back when life was just tyrants and skittles:

“I do have a relationship, and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today,” Trump told Roberts, when asked about his relationship with Putin. “He’s probably very interested in what you and I are saying today and I’m sure he’s going to be seeing it in some form. But I do have a relationship with him and I think it’s very interesting to see what’s happened…

…I mean look, he’s done a very brilliant job in terms of what he represents and what he’s representing,” Trump said. “If you look at what he’s done with Syria, if you look at so many of the different things, he has really eaten our president’s lunch, let’s not kid ourselves.”

Donald Trump this morning:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about Russia. You made a lotta headlines with Russia this week. What exactly is your relationship with Vladimir Putin?

TRUMP: I have no relationship with Putin. I have no relationship with Putin.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if you have no relationship with Putin, then why did you say, in 2013, “I do have a relationship,” in 2014, “I spoke–”

TRUMP: Because he has said nice things about me over the years. I remember years ago, he said something, many years ago, he said something very nice about me. I said something good about him when Larry King was on. This was a long time ago. And I said, “He is a tough cookie,” or something to that effect. He said something nice about me. This has been going on. We did 60 Minutes together, by the way, not together together…

To his credit, The Clinton Guy Shocked By Blowjobs (™ Charles Pierce, but too damn good not to steal) pressed the Incompressible Jizztrumpet* just a wee bit on that bit of revisionist Trumpismo:

STEPHANOPOULOS: But– I– I just wanna clear this up. Because you did say, on three different occasions, you had a relationship with him. Now you say there’s none.

TRUMP: Well, I don’t know what it means by having a relationship…

Stephanopoulos asked Trump three times in all to square that circle, and by interview’s end, the mangled apricot hellbeast seemed to realize he had a bit of a problem, leading to this weak finish to the line begun above with “Well, I don’t know…”

I didn’t meet him. I haven’t spent time with him. I didn’t have dinner with him. I didn’t– go hiking with him. I don’t know– I– I wouldn’t know him from Adam except I see his picture, and I would know what he looks like.

 

rembrandt peter christ

Beyond looking on in awe at the sheer speed and volume of Trump’s lies (a strength to date, but, I’m coming to think, a growing liability in the general election phase), there’s the meat of the interview, and his attempt to have it both ways on the Ukraine and Crimea:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Then why did you soften the GOP platform on Ukraine?

TRUMP: I wasn’t involved in that. Honestly, I was not involved.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your people were.

TRUMP: Yes. I was not involved in that. I’d like to — I’d have to take a look at it. But I was not involved in that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you know what they did?

TRUMP: They softened it, I heard, but I was not involved.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They took away the part of the platform calling for the provision of lethal weapons to Ukraine to defend themselves.

Why is that a good idea?

TRUMP: Well, look, you know, I have my own ideas. He’s not going into Ukraine, OK?

Just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right?

You can mark it down and you can put it down, you can take it anywhere you want.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he’s already there, isn’t he?

TRUMP: OK, well, he’s there in a certain way, but I’m not there yet. You have Obama there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama, with all the strength that you’re talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this, in the meantime, he’s going where — he takes — takes Crimea, he’s sort of — I mean…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you said you might recognize that.

TRUMP: I’m going to take a look at it. But, you know, the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were. And you have to look at that, also.

Now, that was under — just so you understand, that was done under Obama’s administration. And as far as the Ukraine is concerned, it’s a mess. And that’s under the Obama’s administration, with his strong ties to NATO.

So with all of these strong ties to NATO, Ukraine is a mess. Crimea has been taken. Don’t blame Donald Trump for that.

The key soundbite, of course, is “The people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were.”

There’s more:  Stephanopoulos’s failure to press Trump on taxes (the Weasel-headed Fucknugget trotted out the audit excuse again, and Stephanopoulus let it pass); Trump’s claim he has no business ties to Russia, no debt, the claim “I’m so liquid, I don’t need debt,” and the truly bold lie, “If I need debt, if I want debt, I can get it from banks in New York City very easily.”  Err, not so much. Note also that Trump’s sole remaining big-bank lender isn’t exactly robust.)

All of which is to say that while Capt. Khan’s parents make the overarching argument against Trump the person as president, this Russia stuff, and the question of who owns Donald Trump is the drip, drip, drip tale that reminds us that Trump the policy-maker poses a clear and present danger to American and global security.

In IOW, my friends, this interview is the sound of a story with legs.

*I find as I check the source that I misquoted yesterday’s invective.  It was Cheeto-faced, ferret wearing shitgibbon, not as I had it:  “Cheetos-faced, ferret-topped shitgibbon.  The singular cheeto is clearly better, but I think ferret-topped scans better, so there.

Image: Rembrandt van Rijn, St Peter’s Denial, 1660. ETA: It will reward you to click on the link and look at a full rez version of this painting.  Jesus being led away in chains on the right whilst Peter goes “No, no, no….” in glorious chiaroscuro.



Open Thread: And Take that Cigar Out of Your Mouth, Donald

Things that are too grotesque to parody, for a bazillion…

Trump has long refused to release his tax returns, saying that he is currently under audit. But asked Thursday night by Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren if he would release older tax returns that are not under audit, Trump said the beating Romney took in 2012 over his own tax returns should serve as a warning.

I remember with Mitt Romney four years ago, everybody wanted his, and his is a peanut compared to mine. It’s like a peanut. It’s very small. Not nearly as big a document. I mean, mine, you saw the picture where it’s two or three feet high,” Trump said.

“Now, they finally got it in September. He decided to give it. And they found a couple of little minor things. Little things that didn’t mean anything,” Trump continued. “He did nothing wrong. By the way, Mitt Romney did nothing wrong. But when they gave them, they found a couple of little sentences. If you remember Harry Reid lied about it. He told a dirty lie. And Mitt gave that and after he gave it, they found a little sentence and they made such a big deal. He might have lost the election over that.”…

Maybe a Democratic prankster can start following Trump’s campaign around, carrying a sign saying HARRY REID WILL LAUGH WHEN HILLARY TAKES YOUR PEANUT. But only out of sympathy, for our oppressed billionaire class!