Friday Morning Open Thread: Watching the Legislative Detectives

Nancy Nailed It

We’ve never had a president who is more needy and attention-seeking than Trump, so Nancy Pelosi’s move to deny him an invitation to deliver the SOTU during the government shutdown was brilliant, as most of us appreciated in real time. A report from The Times yesterday reveals for the record just how significant a role Pelosi’s use of the SOTU as both carrot and stick played in reopening the government:

Mr. Trump, aides said, views the speech and all of the pomp and circumstance that accompany it with some reverence, and aides said he puts more time into his script because it is one instance where he usually sticks to it. For all of the president’s fabled norm-busting, there are aspects of the conventional presidency that appeal to him, none more so than standing in the hallowed halls of Congress, with all eyes on him speaking to the nation…

In fact, the dark-wood venue and the history of the address appeal so much to Mr. Trump that his reluctance to deliver the speech in an alternative venue — something that was briefly discussed in the White House after Speaker Nancy Pelosi initially canceled the speech because of the partial government shutdown — was part of Mr. Trump’s calculus for reopening, at least temporarily, the government.

Take that in for a moment: Trump abjectly surrendered on the shutdown — humiliating himself politically, infuriating creatures like Ann Coulter, underscoring his entire party’s capitulation to its leader’s stupidity and irresponsibility — all so he could flap his gums and wave his stubby fingers in front of official Washington, DC and live on all the networks.

I’ve read reports that McConnell and Co. were ready to pull the plug on the shutdown anyway since Trump’s and the rest of the GOP’s approval ratings were cratering and they feared the damage would haunt them next year. Well, that’s to Pelosi’s credit too since she held her caucus together.

But from what we know of Trump — his addiction to adulation, his disregard of collateral damage inflicted on anyone not named Donald J. Trump, his craving for unearned respect — my money’s on the SOTU as the chief factor in the shutdown cave. Well played, Madam Speaker.

Are y’all going to watch the shit-show tonight? We may or may not — it’ll be a game-time call for us, depending on our mood at 9 PM ET.

According to The Times report linked above, it sounds like xenophobic incel goon Stephen Miller is wrestling with more conventional GOP turd-polishers over the tone of the speech. So, it might be interesting as a rhetorical artifact to watch the theme ping-pong between white nationalist scaremongering and pseudo-lofty pablum.

Open thread!

Monday Morning Open Thread: Bread & Roses

I still hope I won’t have to give up my senior Senator. But as a childhood survivor of the ‘duck’n’cover’ era (the nuns at our primary school didn’t bother, since — as they pointed out — Manhattan was most assuredly one of the primary Soviet targets, so the only preparation we needed was to keep our souls in a perpetual state of grace), I think Warren’s already found some damned good talking points. Per NYMag:

In a bold and controversial move, Elizabeth Warren introduced legislation this week that would revoke Donald Trump’s existing authority to trigger a nuclear holocaust whenever he feels like it. The “No First Use Act,” which Warren co-authored with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, would legally establish that it is the policy of the United States to never be the first power to use nuclear weapons in an armed conflict…

Advocates of “no first use” believe the adoption of such a measure could spur more concrete changes in atomic policy, like putting our nuclear arsenal into a lower state of readiness (and thus reducing the probability of an accidental world war).

But leading Republicans believe that maintaining “calculated ambiguity” about whether America is a rogue, terrorist state that just might wipe a city off the face of the Earth at any moment is cool and good. Nebraska senator Deb Fischer said of Warren’s bill Wednesday, “With Russia and China increasingly attempting to intimidate their neighbors — some of whom are U.S. allies — this is the wrong message to send. It betrays a naïve and disturbed world view.”

Thank God our current leaders have a worldview that is sophisticated and sane.

Yeah, about that…

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Actions Have Consequences

Positive reinforcement, as the behaviorists say. Trump performed his task (ended his pointless shutdown) on command; as a reward, he gets to stand in front of ALL THE CAMERAS and tell everyone how great & powerful he is. Win-win!

The State of the Union is the biggest annual event for political Washington, and the logistics needed to put it together are formidable. Security for the address is extraordinary, as the president, vice president, Cabinet members, Congress, Supreme Court, military leaders and diplomatic corps gather inside the Capitol.

The event is declared a “National Special Security Event,” meaning extensive resources and thousands of personnel from the federal government — including some military troops — are brought in to help guard the area.

For the media — especially the TV networks — the address requires a huge investment in equipment and resources as well. Hundreds of reporters attend the session, with Statuary Hall turned into an “interview room” for dozens of TV cameras.

Will Trump use the occasion to attack his perceived enemies? No doubt — but remember, right now, that includes all the Wingnut Welfare Wurlitzer mouthpieces (Ann Coulter, Breitbart, the Federalist) calling him bad names becauses he ‘caved’ on The WAAAHLL. Nancy, as he calls her, has given him a public show of ‘respect’ with her letter; his favorite Fox News analysts are caught between disbelief and derision. Lord Smallgloves has a short memory and a shorter capacity for gratitude; Steve Miller may write speeches that get lauded by all the Reicht people, but Miller’s not the guy being yelled at by Sean Hannity.

Tragically negative reinforcement:

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Monday Morning Open Thread: Yes, Madam Speaker

Gonna be a long week (cuz they’re *all* long weeks, now) so let’s eeeease into it. From the Washington Post, “‘Pelosi does not mess around’”:

Nancy Pelosi’s first showdown with President Trump began with him publicly questioning her political viability. It ended with the House speaker winning an unmitigated victory and reviving her reputation as a legislative savant.

Trump’s capitulation — agreeing to reopen the federal government after a 35-day standoff without funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall — generated rave reviews for Pelosi from fellow Democrats and grudging respect from Republicans who watched as she kept an unruly party caucus united in the face of GOP divide-and-conquer tactics.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) emerges from the shutdown as a stronger leader of her party — and more popular with the public, by early measures — as Democrats eye aggressive efforts to counter Trump’s agenda through ambitious legislation and tough oversight. That suggests the shutdown might have been a strategic misstep for Trump, in addition to a tactical error…

When the two met in the Oval Office on Dec. 11 Trump suggested she was constrained by the fact she had not yet been formally elected speaker: “Nancy’s in a situation where it’s not easy for her to talk right now.”

Pelosi shot back: “Mr. President, please don’t characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting.”

In retrospect, the remark was more a warning than a retort…
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