Open Thread: Palin Wept


.

All of them, Katie!

Yeah, I think Sam Bee is right — the President-Asterisk can’t read, at least not with any fluency. And he’s too spoilt to put in the effort to overcome his deficits.

(I always suspected Dubya was an unacknowledged dyslexic / ADD sufferer, but at least his parents had taught him to fake an interest. Sometimes. “All right, you’ve covered your ass… “)
.



Late Night Open Thread: Hail, Glowryus Leeder

If only it were as lazy easy as trademarking someone else’s slogan!

… The slogan itself was not entirely original. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush had used “Let’s Make America Great Again” in their 1980 campaign — a fact that Trump maintained he did not know until about a year ago.

“But he didn’t trademark it,” Trump said of Reagan…

The trademark became effective on July 14, 2015, a month after Trump formally announced his campaign and met the legal requirement that he was actually using it for the purposes spelled out in his [2012] application…

“It actually inspired me,” Trump said, “because to me, it meant jobs. It meant industry, and meant military strength. It meant taking care of our veterans. It meant so much.”…

Halfway through his interview with The Washington Post, Trump shared a bit of news: He already has decided on his slogan for a reelection bid in 2020.

“Are you ready?” he said. “ ‘Keep America Great,’ exclamation point.”

“Get me my lawyer!” the president-elect shouted…

“I never thought I’d be giving [you] my expression for four years [from now],” he said. “But I am so confident that we are going to be, it is going to be so amazing. It’s the only reason I give it to you. If I was, like, ambiguous about it, if I wasn’t sure about what is going to happen — the country is going to be great.”…

Or at least that’s what Trump’s personal media will tell us! Remember Jeff Gannon?

Other journalists would be grilling [[press secretary] McClellan over the Bush administration’s activities. McClellan would call on Gannon for a question. And Gannon would bail McClellan out, frequently with a leading question laden with false assumptions.

In August 2004, for example, after taking several questions from a reporter about whether American forces had killed any innocent people in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and another seeking President Bush’s opinion of the disgraced Ahmad Chalabi, McClellen turned to Gannon. And Gannon came through: He asked McClellan about a new “piece of evidence showing the direct terror ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda” and followed up by asking “how damaging” a New York Times story had been “to our war on terror.”…

Trump has already deployed the Gannon strategy as president-elect. During his press conference last week, he pivoted away from a series of questions about the intelligence community’s fears about his interactions with Russia to take one from Matt Boyle from Breitbart, the conservative website previously run by his chief strategist and that spent the election pushing his candidacy. Boyle’s softball sought Trump’s opinion of what “reforms” the media industry should undertake to avoid the “problems” of its election coverage. We should expect Trump to continue to use his platform to lift up such supportive outlets…



Open Thread: Little Man in the High Castle

Everybody relies on their routines, to some degree. But when a 74 70-year-old isolates himself in his home, refuses to deal with anyone outside of a small circle of intimates, uses gimmicks to screen himself from contact with input he can’t control… From the Washington Post, “Donald Trump waits in his tower — accessible yet isolated“:

Exactly one week after becoming president-elect, Donald Trump stepped outside his namesake fortress here for the first time. He ventured just five blocks, to dinner at the 21 Club — a dark-mahogany-and-red-leather-banquette throwback, where model airplanes and sports memorabilia hang from the ceiling and jackets are de rigueur for men.

The vintage haunt, where Trump dined with family members, feels like home. The waiters know his preferred table (No. 14, which Frank Sinatra and Richard M. Nixon also used) and his regular order (the $36 burger, well done, with fries).

So it has been for the president-elect, who has retreated to one comfortable, familiar refuge after another — his soaring Manhattan tower, his white leather-upholstered Boeing jet, his lush golf courses, his opulent beachside castle.

Trump is a man isolated, increasingly cocooned away from the voters who lifted him to his seemingly improbable victory. He favors his own people and his own places, creating the veneer of accessibility — his tweets reach millions and he still answers his cellphone — while placing himself in almost entirely habitual settings.

He spends most of his days in Trump Tower, with few close friends and few meaningful one-on-one interactions beyond the family members, advisers and loyalists who are whisked by gold-colored elevator to his 26th-floor office for private audiences. Trump rarely leaves, not even for a breath of fresh air; nor does he encounter many people he does not already know or who do not work for him…

In many ways, Trump seems most comfortable communicating at a slight remove, with a stage or a screen — television, Twitter, phone — serving as the intermediary between him and the public. Such tools are both his megaphone and his shield, allowing him to blast out a message undiluted with little risk…

At least when Reagan was first inaugurated, he was a skilled enough performer that he didn’t overtly present as an Alzheimer’s victim. Or maybe we just didn’t recognize the symptoms as quickly, back in those innocent days.



Late Nightmare Open Thread: “Expertise” Is for LUZERS!!!

It’s not like I trust these particular individuals, but it would be nice if there was someone in the President-Asterisk’s office who knew that electrical outlets were not made for having forks stuck in them. And from what I know of corporate practices (in or out of government), we have to assume that if the top offices are being filled with newbies and know-nothings, then the bureaucratic middle ranks are now divided between nervous people busy shopping around their resumes, and time-servers/incompetents/fellow true believers…

From the company paper in the town whose monopoly industry is national politics, the Washington Post, “‘Never Trump’ national-security Republicans fear they have been blacklisted“:

They are some of the biggest names in the Republican national security firmament, veterans of past GOP administrations who say, if called upon by President-elect Donald Trump, they stand ready to serve their country again.

But their phones aren’t ringing. Their entreaties to Trump Tower in New York have mostly gone unanswered. In Trump world, these establishment all-stars say they are “PNG” — personae non gratae.

Their transgression was signing one or both of two public “Never Trump” letters during the campaign, declaring they would not vote for Trump and calling his candidacy a danger to the nation…

The president-elect has virtually no experience in national security and foreign policy, and his transition team could presumably benefit from the broadest pool of applicants for the influential appointive positions in the State Department, Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security.

But the purportedly blacklisted figures report to their jobs at Washington law firms and think tanks in a state of indefinite limbo as their colleagues, some working in the same offices, are flirting with potential administration jobs.

Last week, the Trump transition held a private briefing for secretary-of-state nominee Rex Tillerson to prepare him for his Senate confirmation hearing. One former Bush national security official who works at a Washington think tank said that some of his younger staff assistants were invited to participate but that he was not. He assumes it was because he signed the letter.

“It’s hostile,” said this person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of further retribution. “It’s not just that we’re frozen out. . . . I was told they said there was an enemies list.”

Among those who signed at least one of the letters are Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, the first two secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security; two former U.S. trade ambassadors, Carla Hills and Robert Zoellick; two former heads of U.S. intelligence agencies, John Negroponte and retired Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden; a former ambassador to NATO; and several former deputy secretaries of various U.S. government agencies.
Read more



Open Thread: Arrogantly Clueless, or Deliberately Evil?

When it comes to the President-Asterisk’s administration, we’ll never be sure! The Washington Post‘s art critic reports “The controversy behind the painting that will hang at Trump’s inaugural luncheon”:

Since Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration in 1985, an American painting has served as a backdrop during the inaugural luncheon, at which members of Congress play host to the newly installed president. When Donald Trump is made the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20, George Caleb Bingham’s “The Verdict of the People” will be the chosen painting, hanging on a partition wall behind the ceremonial head table in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.

The painting was finished in 1855 by an artist best known for his Mississippi River scenes, which burnished the rough-and-tumble and often violent West into a benign and mythological place, ready for investment, development and full participation in American political life.

“The Verdict of the People,” which shows a large crowd celebrating or mourning election results in a Missouri town, is part of a series of three large canvasses created in the 1850s, each taking up the theme of democratic self- governance… Despite the title, “The Verdict of the People,” and the seeming jubilation of many of the figures in the picture, Bingham was representing a despairing moment in the life of his state, and American politics.

“Bingham is a Whig Painter, using these images to depict a Democratic victory,” says Adam Arenson, associate professor of history at Manhattan College in New York, and an expert on Missouri history. As a Whig, Bingham was anti-slavery while the Democratic Party, at the time, was either proslavery, or complicit in status-quo acceptance of it. “The Verdict of the People” was painted just as Congress passed the disastrous Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which put a future of slavery in Kansas to a popular vote. Thugs from Missouri got in the fray, crossing the border to attack abolitionist settlers. One of the state’s senators, David Atchison, called on his supporters “to kill every Goddamned abolitionist” if necessary to secure Kansas as a slave state.

“Bingham is painting out of a great fear that popular sovereignty and the Kansas-Nebraska act will lead to an irreparable divide in the country,” says Arenson. “It represents a moment when democracy was unable to handle the conflict of the country.”…

And so Bingham’s painting is an almost ideal emblem for a president who came to power on a promise to “Make America Great Again.” Blunt seems to read this painting as a reassuring sign that American electoral politics have always been messy and fractious. But he chose an image that in fact depicts a (likely) proslavery candidate triumphing in the name of an America that denies not only full suffrage, but basic human and constitutional freedoms to its African American population.

The painting’s use at the inauguration also highlights a problem that opponents of the new president will face again and again: Is there method in what appears to be simply blundering cultural ignorance? Is there design in casual remarks and off-the-cuff observations that seem to be deliberately provocative? …



Self Inflicted Wounds: Blind, Deaf, and Maybe Dumb

In the street of the blind, the one eyed man is the guiding light

Genesis Rabbah (300-500 CE)

Last week Yediot Ahronot reported, now confirmed by Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post, that Israel’s Intelligence Community has itself been warned to be careful sharing and transferring information and intelligence with the White House during the next Administration.  Now the Sunday Times of London and The Guardian are reporting that our British allies are very, very concerned:

A British intelligence source with extensive transatlantic experience said US spies had labelled Trump and his advisers’ links to the Kremlin problematic. “Until we have established whe­ther Trump and senior mem­­bers of his team can be trusted, we’re going to hold back,” the source told the Times. “Putting­ it bluntly, we can’t risk betraying sources and methods to the Russians.”

The concern is that any information and intelligence shared after the transition  will wind up with the Russians and the Russians would likely provide it to the Iranians (and the unspoken bit here for the Israelis is the Iranians would share it with the Syrians and Hezbullah). That this information quickly leaked from the Israelis is not an accident or a coincidence. It was intended to leak in order to provide the same message our allies and partners:  that anything shared with the incoming Administration’s White House team may wind up with Russia. Through the Israeli leak the US’s other allies, partners, and clients have now been warned. This includes the other four members of the Five Eyes Intelligence alliance, the rest of our NATO allies, and other allies and partners. They have all been put on notice that the US Intelligence Community thinks that the incoming President, Vice President, their strategy, policy, and communication advisors, the incoming National Security Advisor and his deputies, and the rest of the incoming White House team cannot be trusted with classified information.

This means that the US will have its ability to see and hear seriously restricted starting next Friday. We won’t be blind, as we’ll still have our own capability, but our vision will be significantly dimmed and our hearing significantly dulled. This will make managing and mitigating the foreign, defense, and national security problem sets that we are currently facing, let along the ability to anticipate future ones, much more difficult. And this includes the ongoing Russian active measures, influence, and cyber operations directed at us, at our allies, and at our partners.

We are off the looking glass and through the map.



Late Night #FacePalm Open Thread: “Rebels” Without A Clue

The grifters / nitwits / true believers in President-Asterisk Trump’s entourage are busily stumbling from one unforced error to another…

The transition team for President-elect Donald Trump asked the head of the D.C. National Guard to remain in command throughout Inauguration Day after media reports that he would leave in the middle of the ceremony created controversy, the Guard said.

Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz told The Washington Post on Friday that he will be removed from his post immediately after Trump is sworn in as president. That irked at least one D.C. Council member because Schwartz will have to abandon his post during one of the Guard’s most important operations, helping maintain security and order during Washington’s highest-profile event.

As is customary for presidential appointees, Schwartz had offered his resignation after Trump was elected. In an interview Friday, Schwartz said he learned he would be replaced on Jan. 20. He said the transition team ultimately asked him to stay in the job for a few additional days, but only after the report of his departure had been published Friday on The Washington Post website.

Schwartz said he turned down the transition team’s offer because, by then, he had begun packing up his office and notified his staff. He said he believes the offer came only as a result of the negative attention his departure attracted…

Transition officials for the new administration on Friday said the team asked Schwartz to stay on through the inauguration to maintain continuity. They did not immediately respond Saturday to questions about when and how that offer was extended…

*Somebody* thought it would be a fine display of alpha-male dominance to order That Black Guy’s old staffers out the door the very minute His Short-Fingered Lordship was crowned inaugurated. Or maybe they just didn’t know enough to realize this guy had an actual job to do, what with all those Very Important People scheduled to stand around in a very public space. Either way, bad optics!

… So now we’re supposed to pretend to believe this was all a minor clerical error — either Maj. Gen. Schwartz didn’t understand what Trump wanted, or else he’s a Democrat partisan who just wants to embarrass the President-Asterisk. Or maybe the “Fakeington Post” made it all up, as the Lugenpress will do! Because Trump cannot fail, he can only be failed!

Guy isn’t even in office yet, and he already has his cult members on high alert. NOT. NORMAL.