Open Thread: Sean to Be Wilde

Heavy metal thunder… (giant) head out onna highway…

Have said it before, will say it again: Murphy the Trickster God is *not* a subtle scripter.

For context, Margaret Sullivan, just the day before Hannity lost it on-air, had a smart piece in the Washington Post warning us not to get too invested in dreams of a Trump impeachment:

Nixon didn’t have Fox News in his corner.

President Trump does — and that might make all the difference if he were to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein or even special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

The pro-Trump media, led by Fox, would give cover, and huge swaths of Americans would be encouraged to believe that the action was not only justified but absolutely necessary.

Night after night — for many months — Trump’s sycophant-in-chief, Sean Hannity, has been softening the ground. And his message is sinking in.

In a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, three of four Republicans said they believed the Justice Department and the FBI are actively working to undermine Trump…

And now Sean Hannity, Galactic Brain, has taken his own mooted credibility, torn it to pieces on-air, set his feet on fire, and pissed on himself to douse the flames. Good job, Sean!


Read more



Interesting Read: “Facebook Fallout Deals Blow to Mercers’ Political Clout”

Okay, maybe us ungrateful American peons don’t understand what the Mercers so generously offered to do for us, but at least there are other nations where globe-trotting oligarchs of strong familial bonds are properly appreciated. And while Putin’s fading kleptocracy — and his noisy WH figurehead — might be hogging the headlines right now, it’s China where forward-thinking empire builders really have room to grow. The NYTimes, committing actual journalism:

The revelation last month that Cambridge Analytica improperly acquired the private Facebook data of millions of users has set off government inquiries in Washington and London, plunging Facebook into crisis. But it has also battered the nascent political network overseen by Ms. Mercer, 44, and financed by her father, Robert Mercer, 71, a hard-line conservative billionaire.

Ms. Mercer’s standing in Mr. Trump’s circle had already declined following the departure last year of Stephen K. Bannon, her family’s former adviser and President Trump’s former chief strategist, according to Republicans with close ties to the president’s political operation. A pro-Trump advocacy group controlled by Ms. Mercer has gone silent following strategic disputes between her and other top donors. Plans to wage a civil war against the Republican establishment in the 2018 midterms have been derailed.

And last month, after reports on Cambridge in The New York Times, The Observer of London and The Guardian, Facebook banned the company from its platform, a major blow to any political or commercial targeting firm. Not a single American candidate or “super PAC” committee has reported payments to the company since the 2016 campaign, according to federal records.

Several Republicans in Ms. Mercer’s orbit or with knowledge of Cambridge’s business said that fallout from the Facebook scandal — combined with widespread doubts about the accuracy of Cambridge’s psychological profiles of voters — had effectively crippled the firm’s election work in the United States.

“They’re selling magic in a bottle,” said Matt Braynard, who worked alongside Cambridge on the Trump campaign, for which he served as the director of data and strategy, and now runs Look Ahead America, a group seeking to turn out disaffected rural and blue-collar voters. “And they’re becoming toxic.”…

In recent years, the Mercers have become among the most prominent and highly scrutinized political donors in the United States. In the early years of the Obama administration, they began doling out tens of millions of dollars to an eclectic array of conservative groups — many of them outside Washington’s mainline Republican establishment. Mr. Mercer invested $10 million in Breitbart News, the nationalist website, bringing on Mr. Bannon as chairman, while Ms. Mercer joined the boards of leading conservative think tanks.

The Mercers were critical of the Republican Party’s existing data apparatus, which was controlled by the party officials and consultants they hoped to disempower. Mr. Mercer bankrolled Cambridge Analytica in 2014, and Ms. Mercer encouraged candidates and PACs that took the family’s money to also hire the family’s data firm. Early in the 2016 presidential campaign, the Mercers backed Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, putting millions of dollars — and Cambridge Analytica — behind him.
Read more



Schadenfreude Open Thread: Jared Kushner’s Terrible Horrible Very Bad No Good Day

What I’m hoping is that this is the arc of the story where the Mad Baron’s lower-level minions have deserted or been killed, his enemies have the castle surrounded, and his courtiers start picking each other off, either in retaliation for past betrayals or in hopes of currying favor with the invaders. Watching the Young Prince get thrown off the tower, preferably in front of his old man’s eyes, comes right before the final battle…

Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter.

Among those nations discussing ways to influence Kushner to their advantage were the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico, the current and former officials said…

H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report. The issue of foreign officials talking about their meetings with Kushner and their perception of his vulnerabilities was a subject raised in McMaster’s daily intelligence briefings, according to the current and former officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

Within the White House, Kushner’s lack of government experience and his business debt were seen from the beginning of his tenure as potential points of leverage that foreign governments could use to influence him, the current and former officials said.

They could also have legal implications. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has asked people about the protocols Kushner used when he set up conversations with foreign leaders, according to a former U.S. official.

Officials in the White House were concerned that Kushner was “naive and being tricked” in conversations with foreign officials, some of whom said they wanted to deal only with Kushner directly and not more experienced personnel, said one former White House official…

He’s not a ‘traitor’ traitor — he’s just ill-informed and over his head! Sure, that’ll work.


Read more



Everyone Loves A Parade!

A self-absorbed autocrat is planning a military parade for his capital. “We’re going to show the people as we build up our military,” he said. Heavy equipment on the streets and aircraft overhead.

 

Oh wait. It is unclear what role he would play, whether he may perhaps serve as a grandmaster or observe the spectacle from a reviewing stand.

 

Moving right along…

It’s – you guessed it – our own American President wanting to do the most American thing ever, show people that his, um, military is bigger than everyone else’s. He’s been stewing about this ever since Emmanuel Macron bested him at the handshake game and then threw THE BEST MILITARY PARADE EVAH for Trump and Melania. And North Korea may be planning one for Thursday, to get their own jump on the Olympics.

 

Open thread!

 



But it must have been the wrong time

Great that very serious people like Jon Rauch and Ben Wittes are seeing the light, but this is something we unserious partisans figured out 15 or 20 years ago:

We have both spent our professional careers strenuously avoiding partisanship in our writing and thinking. We have both done work that is, in different ways, ideologically eclectic, and that has—over a long period of time—cast us as not merely nonpartisans but antipartisans. Temperamentally, we agree with the late Christopher Hitchens: Partisanship makes you stupid. We are the kind of voters who political scientists say barely exist—true independents who scour candidates’ records in order to base our votes on individual merit, not party brand.

[….]

We’re suggesting that in today’s situation, people should vote a straight Democratic ticket even if they are not partisan, and despite their policy views. They should vote against Republicans in a spirit that is, if you will, prepartisan and prepolitical. Their attitude should be: The rule of law is a threshold value in American politics, and a party that endangers this value disqualifies itself, period. In other words, under certain peculiar and deeply regrettable circumstances, sophisticated, independent-minded voters need to act as if they were dumb-ass partisans.

I guess the proper attitude is “welcome aboard” but how was all of this not obvious years ago? Even if you gloss over the Gingrich bullshit in the 90s, the Bush tax cuts, the lead-up to the Iraq War….how could you not see this when McCain chose Palin as his running mate?

As you know, I’m fueled creatively by my massive hatred of Christopher Hitchens. But leaving aside the misogyny, the slurred speech, the Oxbridge mumbling…the fucker was always wrong. When you’ve managed to be a commie and a neocon in one lifetime, well…..



Late Night Open Thread: Collateral, DAMAGED!

All those toilsome years of HRClinton-bashing, followed by eighteen months of gently nurturing the hothouse flower of Lord Smallgloves’ self-esteem, and some celebrity raconteur blows the whole thing sky-high. OH THE SIMULACRA-OF-HUMANITY!



Anastasia screamed

I felt a little bad at first mocking that Koch kid who makes the ugly shirts. It’s not his fault his family are assholes, but, you know, that’s what all the looting is about, stealing money from the workers and giving it to your dim-witted fuck-up kids.

And this is one of the most succinct summaries of Trump yet:

Another legacy kid with nuclear weapons.