Interesting Read: “The calculus behind Jason Chaffetz’s sudden decision to walk away”

Two reporters from the Deseret News craft an amazing example of what I suppose must be “Mormon nice”, turning never-less-than-postive words and carefully-buffed stories into a portrait of a vicious little self-promoter attempting to slide out of the unexpected spotlight exposing every wart of Grifter King Trump’s nasty court…

Something had flipped after the election, Chaffetz had noticed, an ugly impulse unfurling across America. He had seen anger directed at him before, but nothing like this. He’d been getting death threats, on his voicemail and in his inbox, and in the ensuing weeks it would only get worse.

He had become a target, the face of Republican fecklessness. At his D.C. office, his young staffers fielded calls from all over the country, hundreds a day, demanding he investigate Trump. As chairman of the House Oversight Committee and Government Reform Committee, Chaffetz had risen to national prominence for his aggressive inquiries into missteps by the Obama administration, making him a hero to the “Fox and Friends” crowd.

He’d hammered the Secret Service, demanded documents on the Fast and Furious gun running scandal, and most notably, grilled Hillary Clinton for hours on the deaths of four Americans at a compound in Benghazi, Libya. So why wasn’t he investigating Donald Trump? People asked him this wherever he went, at the airport, at Five Guys when he was standing in line for a burger. Tonight they wanted answers.

He stepped out from behind the curtain.

The crowd erupted in deafening boos, rising to their feet. Chaffetz smiled. He’d seen worse. As a placekicker at BYU in the mid-1980s he’d played before hostile football crowds with Ty Detmer and Jason Buck. “You think this is bad,” he thought to himself. “You’ve never been to Laramie, Wyoming.”

Besides, plainclothes police officers were standing behind the curtain, and others were scattered throughout the crowd. No one here could rattle him, not really. And even if they did, he wouldn’t let them see it. He would keep smiling, no matter what he felt inside.

Clips of the town hall were starting to go viral. For the part of the electorate who felt the Trump administration was a threat to the republic, this was a moment, #Resistance. Here was one of the few people who could bring Trump to heel, who could subpoena his tax records, force him to testify under oath, really anything he wanted, and his constituents were demanding he do it.

“Do your job! Do your job!” they chanted. Chaffetz smiled through his teeth, pleading for the crowd to calm down, but no one was listening.

In the ensuing weeks, Chaffetz insisted the protesters didn’t bother him, but those closest to him began to worry if all the unhinged Facebook posts and death threats were taking a toll. Trey Gowdy, the Republican congressman from South Carolina who Chaffetz considers his best friend, openly wondered if Chaffetz’s ever-ready smile was masking pain.

“Some of the stuff left on his voicemail,” Gowdy said, pausing. “He plays it for me and I’m trying to evaluate, do you take it seriously? What do you do about it?”…
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I said hey, hey hey, what’s going on

What’s happening here?

If he resigns tomorrow, he went from being a powerful committee chair to a lurking presence in the 2020 Utah governor’s race to a schmuck in a week or so.

What is going on here?

The health policy implication is that this would be one less guaranteed Yes vote for whatever healthcare bill that hits the House Floor. Right now, it looks like there is a minimum blocking coalition of the Tuesday Morning Group members without any House Freedom Caucus members needed. One less Yes vote makes holding that blocking coalition together easier as there is a touch more wiggle room and more deals that lose support at the other end of the caucus would need to be made.

But that all might be irrelevant as there is again talk that there will be no vote on Wednesday. Let’s keep calling just to make sure Congress knows what we think.

Finally, assuming Chaffetz does resign, does it make sense to back the Democrat who was gearing up to challenge him in November, 2018 or does it make sense to back McMullin as a more probable anti-Trump vote in the House? Can both be backed? I don’t know.



Monday Evening Open Thread: Congratulations, Mr. Fahrenthold!

… Although the trophy probably doesn’t say “For Excellence in White-Hat Trolling.” May he continue to investigate the myriad weirdness of Donald Trump for as long as the President-Asterisk remains a blot on our national character.

Props also to Marty Baron, former Boston Globe standout, now Fahrenthold’s executive editor at the Washington Post.

Apart from that — and some seders — what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Friday Evening Open Thread: Put Out More (Russian) Flags!

TPM explains:

Two young, progressive activists from DC, Jason Charter and Ryan Clayton with the group Americans Take Action, purchased tickets to the conference, and handed out nearly 1,000 flags to attendees as a prank. After they were thrown out of the conference, they told TPM they wanted to “shed light on an important issue”—namely, the drip of revelations of backchannel communications between the Russian government and the Trump campaign—and allow people to “get a laugh out of their day.”

Charter, 22, told TPM by phone that he and Clayton organized the prank in order to “honor Trump’s relationship with Putin.” He said almost no one at CPAC seemed to realize the flag he handed them bore the horizontal red, white, and blue stripes of the Russian Federation underneath Trump’s name…

Apart from cheering on the pranksters, what’s on the agenda as we prepare to start the weekend?

The President-Asterisk is on it!!!!



Oh, Yay, We’re Gonna Relitigate Watergate Now

Sensible people understand that Gerald Ford pardoning Richard Nixon — and thereby eliminating any chance of airing the true extent of the nitwitted criminality of the entire Nixon Administration and its GOP supporters — was a national tragedy. It allowed all the low-level CREEPsters to scurry away into wingnut-welfare hidey-holes from which they would reemerge, stronger and ever more venal, first during the Reagan Adminstration (aka ‘Iran-Contra’), and later during the Cheney Regency. What the country needed in 1974 was the equivalent of South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission, where amnesty might be granted, but only after a full examination of the crimes and their impact on civil society.

Of course the criminals in the permanent Republican Party, and their nitwit courtiers among the Media Village Idiots, persist in their self-defensive fantasies that Watergate was a cruel and misguided assault on a great man and his loyal acolytes. Since paranoia, racism, and a lust for cruelty are never out of fashion in the authoritarian fringes of the far right, whole generations of would-be Haldemans and Ehrlichmans have nursed ambitions to avenge Tricky Dick… and it seems that they may be seizing upon the President-Asterisk and his klown klavern as their last best hope.

As a leading indicator, Drum-Major-General and Bothsider-in-Chief David Brooks meeps out a preemptive call for Truth and Honor, once again, to submit to the needs of The Narrative. After hastily dismissing both the Democratic tactic of actual resistance to Trump’s no-longer-hidden attempts to subvert our democracy, and the #NeverTrumpist withdrawal into their think-tank boltholes, Brooks declaims that “we” need… another Gerald Ford:

… The third possibility is that the primary threat in the Trump era is a combination of incompetence and anarchy. It could be that Trump is a chaotic clown incapable of conducting coherent policy. It could be that his staff members are a bunch of inexperienced second-raters…

If the current reign of ineptitude continues, Republicans will eventually peel away. The Civil Service will begin to ignore the sloppy White House edicts. The national security apparatus will decide that to prevent a slide to global disorder, it has to run itself.

In this scenario, the crucial question is how to replace and repair. The model for the resistance is Gerald Ford, a decent, modest, experienced public servant who believed in the institutions of government, who restored faith in government, who had a plan to bind the nation’s wounds and restored normalcy and competence.

Personally, I don’t think we’re at a Bonhoeffer moment or a Benedict moment. I think we’re approaching a Ford moment. If the first three weeks are any guide, this administration will not sustain itself for a full term. We’ll need a Ford, or rather a generation of Fords to restore effective governance…

… and “we” will find them, never doubt, among the comers at the Heritage Institute, the young sprigs of the National Review, and whichever statehouse seatwarmers the Kochs and Mercers decide are ready for a bigger platform.


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Open Thread: Trumpstuntin’ Status, Moving From SNAFU to FUBAR


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Meanwhile, in another part of the galaxy…



A Note from History on “Alternative Facts”

Mr. Pierce, at Esquire:

It was quite a weekend for official mendacity. Kellyanne Conway went sailing off into a truthless land into which not even Richard Nixon ever set down his polished cordovans. And she did so in defense of Sean Spicer’s very public episode on madness on Sunday evening. I think “alternative facts” is going to be sticking around as a meme, as the kidz call them, for quite a while now. But the real story of this weekend actually was something that happened in 1974.

In August of that year, the White House tape finally emerged that drove Nixon from power and placed in his stead Gerald Ford, an earnest congressional lifer whose record indicated that he would not be a crook, which pretty much was all the country was looking for in a president back then. Ford staffed his administration with people around whom he felt comfortable and, after six years of having an antisocial paranoid in the Oval Office, the country was OK with that, too.

Ford picked as his press secretary one Jerald terHorst, a longtime Detroit newspaperman who was at that moment writing a biography of Ford which, I would imagine, needed extensive rewrites. terHorst had the job for only a month…

On September 8, Ford pardoned Nixon for “for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974.” This, as many people including me have argued, was a capital mistake and kickstarted the process of infantilizing the American public into people who would not be able to cope with impeaching Ronald Reagan over Iran-Contra, or probing too deeply into the events leading up to the attacks of 9/11, or bringing true justice down on the torturers and Wall Street brigands of the first decade of the 21st century…

It took terHorst less than a day to resign in protest against what Ford had done. His grounds were that he had stood in front of the White House press corps for a month and denied that a pardon would be forthcoming. Now, Ford had taken his legs out from under him and terHorst felt that he could not in good conscience continue to be a spokesman for an administration that had done so, even though he was a longtime personal friend of the president, and even though his departure would make Ford’s decision look even more dubious….

And that’s what the big story of this weekend was—that once, in Washington, there were people unwilling to sell their consciences so cheaply, and that there were people who knew that there were things bigger than The Job or The Boss…

YOU OWN THIS, REPUBLICANS!