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.



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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