Monday Morning Open Thread: Mean Shouty Granpa Having A Bad Weekend

Uneasy squats the arse that warms a throne… and one can only hope it’s chafing the Oval Office Occupant’s something fierce. Per the Daily Beast:

According to the White House, Trump on Saturday made phone calls to Parkland, Florida, Mayor Christine Hunschofsky, Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Principal Ty Thompson to offer continued support and gratitude. On Saturday, the president also made an appearance at a fundraiser thrown at Mar-a-Lago for Orphan’s Promise, a special ministry of televangelist Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. (Recently, Robertson had linked the Las Vegas mass shooting to a nationwide “disrespect for our President” Trump.)

Despite staying off the green, the president largely spent the weekend attempting to settle some scores with political enemies and perennial adversaries, binge-watching cable news, rage-tweeting late into the night, lashing out as his own national security adviser, and making the solemn moment about himself and his personal grievance…

The New York Times, turning on their man-crush:

President Trump began the weekend believing that something good had just happened to him. An indictment leveled against 13 Russians for interfering with the 2016 election had not accused him or anyone around him of wrongdoing. “No collusion” was his refrain.

But once ensconced at his Florida estate on Friday, Mr. Trump, facing long hours indoors as he avoided breezy rounds of golf after last week’s school shooting a few miles away, began watching TV.

The president’s mood began to darken as it became clearer to him that some commentators were portraying the indictment as nothing for him to celebrate, according to three people with knowledge of his reaction. Those commentators called it proof that he had not won the election on his own, a particularly galling, if not completely accurate, charge for a president long concerned about his legitimacy.

What followed was a two-day Twitter tirade that was unusually angry and defiant even by Mr. Trump’s standards. In his tweets on Sunday, Mr. Trump sought to shift the blame to Democrats for Russia’s meddling, saying that President Barack Obama had not done enough to stop the interference…

Read more

Florida Woman vs. Florida Man

In case you missed it, here’s a speech by a young woman, Emma Gonzalez, who survived the Douglas High School massacre. She calls out Trump, the NRA, Senator Grassley and the other cowardly shits who have done nothing while people, including school children, are slaughtered by maniacs with easy access to weapons of war:

I’m so damn proud of these kids. Some highlights for the video-phobes:

If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.

You want to know something? It doesn’t matter, because I already know. Thirty million dollars. And divided by the number of gunshot victims in the United States in the one and one-half months in 2018 alone, that comes out to being $5,800. Is that how much these people are worth to you, Trump? If you don’t do anything to prevent this from continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you.

To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you.

[Crowd chants: “Shame on you!”]

If your money was as threatened as us, would your first thought be, how is this going to reflect on my campaign? Which should I choose? Or would you choose us, and if you answered us, will you act like it for once? You know what would be a good way to act like it? I have an example of how to not act like it. In February of 2017, one year ago, President Trump repealed an Obama-era regulation that would have made it easier to block the sale of firearms to people with certain mental illnesses.

From the interactions that I had with the shooter before the shooting and from the information that I currently know about him, I don’t really know if he was mentally ill. I wrote this before I heard what Delaney said. Delaney said he was diagnosed. I don’t need a psychologist and I don’t need to be a psychologist to know that repealing that regulation was a really dumb idea.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa was the sole sponsor on this bill that stops the FBI from performing background checks on people adjudicated to be mentally ill and now he’s stating for the record, ‘Well, it’s a shame the FBI isn’t doing background checks on these mentally ill people.’ Well, duh. You took that opportunity away last year.

The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and our parents to call BS.Companies trying to make caricatures of the teenagers these days, saying that all we are self-involved and trend-obsessed and they hush us into submission when our message doesn’t reach the ears of the nation, we are prepared to call BS. Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS. They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.

If you agree, register to vote. Contact your local congresspeople. Give them a piece of your mind.

[Crowd chants: “Throw them out!]

Several hundred folks in my part of Florida — hundreds of miles from the Douglas High massacre — had a rally against gun violence yesterday. Wouldn’t it be ironic as shit if FLORIDA, of all fucking places, ends up being the birthplace of gun sanity?

Meanwhile, from his Disgraceland estate in Florida, Trump uses dead kids and teachers as human shields:

That deranged globule of rancid marmalade is on a Twitter tear this morning. I’m not going to subject you to further rantings from that quarter in this post, but it confirms what we already knew: Now that Trump can no longer deny Russia’s cyber attack on U.S. democracy, he’s casting himself as its chief victim, and he’ll do absolutely nothing to stop further attacks.

Like the high school kids in Florida, we must find the courage to put an end to this bullshit ourselves. Our government, as presently constituted, isn’t going to help us. We have to change it.

This time, it’s personal…

I sense a shift in the political wind on gun control. I know, crazy, right? Even before Newtown, but especially since that horrible event resulted in exactly ZERO congressional action on gun safety, I lost hope that Americans could ever make headway against our insane gun culture. I don’t expect the 17 deaths in a Florida school this week to spur much action in the short term. But this feels different.

I could be wrong, so if you’re gearing up to tell me that nothing will ever change and I’m a fool for thinking this latest senseless tragedy might move the needle, save your pixels; I’m already telling myself the same goddamned thing.

But here’s why I think something MAY be shifting now, and in response to a mass shooting that wasn’t a third as deadly as the worst shooting in the last six months. I think we may be at least approaching a Rubicon because more people are joining an awful club no one ever wants to join — the subset of folks whose lives have been touched by this madness. Read more

Trump to “Address a Grieving Nation” at 11 AM ET

According to All-Access Haberman of The Times, there was pressure from advisers for Trump to make a public statement after yesterday’s school shooting in Parkland, FL:

Looks like the advisers prevailed in the interim. Here’s the announcement that the tiny-fingered, Cheeto-faced, ferret-wearing shitgibbon will “address a grieving nation” shortly and has ordered the flags lowered to half-staff until Monday:

None of the lies Trump reads off a teleprompter today will blot out what he said at an NRA conference last April:

President Donald Trump promised guns rights advocates gathered in Atlanta on Friday that he’d come through for them as they did for him during the 2016 campaign.

“The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end,” Trump told the members of the National Rifle Association, assuring them that they now “have a true friend and champion in the White House.”

“I will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” Trump said. “Never ever.”

The blood-gargling sociopaths of the NRA invested more in Trump than they’ve ever invested in any pol in history, and they may have funneled Russian cash to Trump too. As a brand licensing entity for decades, Trump regards the NRA as just another lucrative licensing deal.

Trump will probably read things about mental illness off the teleprompter, even though he rescinded an Obama-era measure that would have added people with mental illness who receive federal benefits to the background check database and is in the process of de-funding healthcare that might address the issue on the margins.

The blather about mental illness will be a distraction, as will the promise by Trump’s minion in Florida, AG Pam Bondi, that the state will pay for the funerals of yesterday’s victims. In the end, the brand licensing deal will hold because it has paid off handsomely for Trump, the Republicans and the NRA.

The only solution is to get rid of all parties to that agreement. Vote out the politicians who take NRA cash, and make affiliation with the NRA as toxic as an association with the Klan or the Nazis. Until that happens, nothing will be done.

Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Maybe They’ll Call It ‘Brown Apron’

Mick Mulvaney’s brill idea seems to have evaporated overnight, but Repubs never give up on a proposal that looks like a chance to screw The Undeserving while allowing a little free-market looting… er, “privatization”… of the common treasury. So I figure we’ll soon be seeing sketches of the proposed Versace-designed uniforms for the troops of the ‘SNAP czar’ in charge of seeing those people are humiliated and starved for the crime of being poor:

The Trump administration is proposing a major shake-up in one of the country’s most important “safety net” programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Under the proposal, most SNAP recipients would lose much of their ability to choose the food they buy with their SNAP benefits.

The proposal is included in the Trump administration budget request for fiscal year 2019. It would require approval from Congress…

Currently, SNAP beneficiaries get money loaded onto an EBT card they can use to buy what they want as long as it falls under the guidelines. The administration says the move is a “cost-effective approach” with “no loss in food benefits to participants.”

The USDA believes that state governments will be able to deliver this food at much less cost than SNAP recipients currently pay for food at retail stores — thus reducing the overall cost of the SNAP program by $129 billion over the next 10 years.

This and other changes in the SNAP program, according to the Trump administration, will reduce the SNAP budget by $213 billion over those years — cutting the program by almost 30 percent.

Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a hunger advocacy group that also helps clients access food-assistance services, said the administration’s plan left him baffled. “They have managed to propose nearly the impossible, taking over $200 billion worth of food from low-income Americans while increasing bureaucracy and reducing choices,” Berg says…

It isn’t clear how billions of dollars’ worth of food each year would be distributed to millions of SNAP recipients who live all over the country, including dense urban areas and sparsely populated rural regions. The budget says states will have “substantial flexibility in designing the food box delivery system through existing infrastructure, partnerships or commercial/retail delivery services.”

Critics of the proposal said distributing that much food presents a logistical nightmare. “Among the problems, it’s going to be costly and take money out of the [SNAP] program from the administrative side. It’s going to stigmatize people when they have to go to certain places to pick up benefits,” says Jim Weill, president of the nonprofit Food Research and Action Center…

According to Dean, from CBPP, the Trump administration wants to trim an additional $80 billion from the SNAP program by cutting off about 4 million people who currently receive food assistance. Most of them live in states that have decided to loosen the program’s eligibility requirements slightly. Under the administration’s proposal, states would no longer be able to do so…

Of course, the biggest beneficiaries of SNAP are American farmers and local food retailers, both of whom need those ‘food stamp moochers’ as paying customers.

For more background, Simon Maloy at Media Matters has a good summary of the “decades of conservative lies about welfare” behind “Trump’s SNAP attack”.

(Fifty-four more excellent questions from Lowrey here.)

Read more

Fox News Confirmation Bias Cycle: Exhibit A

We’ve discussed at length the destructive effects of Fox News. We’ve marveled at the network’s ability to sell “up” as “down” and “black” as “white” to a significant portion of U.S. citizens, thus undermining a pillar of democracy — an informed citizenry — and compromising the concept of “truth” itself.

The Fox News effect a deliberate and decades-long project that culminated in the installation of a pathological liar in the White House. Predictably, the pressure to reconcile said liar’s continuous string of falsehoods with reality has caused the Republican Party and its media arm to become even more unmoored from the truth.

This is bad news for the republic, obviously. But I wonder if the party’s wholesale estrangement from reality might cause it to make dumb mistakes that fatally dent its credibility with anyone outside the Trump base?

Exhibit A is the current furor in wingnut circles over a partially declassified memo filed by National Security Adviser Susan Rice on her last day on the job. Here it is (image via TPM):

Now, a sane person would read that and think, “Holy shit! The outgoing president was wary of sharing information with the incoming president’s staff even before the incoming administration’s National Security Adviser and foreign policy adviser pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their nefarious contacts with foreign nationals and before the former campaign chairman and his deputy were charged with conspiring against the United States!”

I mean, that highlighted paragraph is pretty stark, right? It straight-up says the Obama people were concerned about sharing information about Russia with the Trump people because they didn’t trust Team Trump to safeguard national security. Subsequent events, including Trump blurting out top secret information to the visiting Russian foreign minister and ambassador a few months after taking office, sorta validates the Obama team’s suspicions. Not to mention the aforementioned guilty pleas and charges of conspiracy!

But that’s not how the memo is being received on the right. Republicans have always had a weird antipathy to the no-nonsense Ms. Rice. (Can’t imagine why! Not.) They spent millions of dollars and countless hours pretending that a set of bland talking points from Ms. Rice’s shop after the Benghazi incident was evidence of a treasonous conspiracy.

Their takeaway from this Rice memo is that it is evidence that the Obama team was out to frame Trump for collusion with Russia and to cover their tracks by asserting on the record that the investigation had been handled “by the book.” Here’s a representative sample of how the memo is being treated from a Fox & Friends segment this morning — one of four so far today on this topic:

Forget the Fox News audience for a moment. (Actually, forget them forever; they’re unreachable, so fuck ’em.) The danger here — for Trump and his enablers — is that the feedback loop hasn’t just ensnared rage-grandpas lolling on recliners nationwide. Chuck Grassley caused the memo to be released, complete with the damning contemporaneous account of the Obama team’s suspicions about Trump’s inner circle, because Grassley thinks it’s such a red-hot gotcha.

Lindsey Graham appeared on a later Fox & Friends segment to reinforce that message. And if he’s not live-tweeting Fox & Friends already, Trump will eventually get around to advancing the same narrative, probably in gloating tweets in which he refers to himself in the third person and in scare quotes.

Grassley, Nunes, Graham — and Trump — have become so caught up in preaching to the choir that they’ve forgotten it’s not just the congregation who hears them. This was evident in their attempt to make Carter Page a national security overreach martyr, and it’s even more evident with the Rice memo.

Not content to crow about it on Fox News, Grassley indignantly issued a letter to Ms. Rice demanding answers to a string of questions about the memo. Grassley may get more of an answer than he expects.

Immigration: Heads or Tails

Trump’s minions have announced that it’s “Infrastructure Week” again and released a delusional budget, which can only mean that a scandal is about to erupt that will kick all policy discussions clear outta the news cycle (my preferred option), or the immigration debate will move forward in some material way that will enrage all parties and make talk of infrastructure impossible. The latter seems more likely.

To recap, here are the “four pillars” Trump laid out after flipping and flopping like a beached large-mouth bass prior to the first shut-down:

1. A path to citizenship for 1.8M DREAMers
2. A border wall with Mexico and increased funding for Border Patrol
3. Ending the diversity visa lottery
4. Banning US citizens from sponsoring their adult children, parents, and siblings for green cards

To filter the issue through the lens of the Last Honest Man’s View From Nowhere, here’s Politico reporter Marc Caputo’s take on the current standings, in response to polling that shows the majority of Americans oppose Trump’s immigration proposal:

Interesting how that works, huh? Trump don’t give a fuck what the country thinks about immigration. Republicans control all three branches of government. So, are Democrats just going to stand idly by while DREAMers get deported?

But as maddening as that framing is, there’s truth to it because Americans may oppose Trump’s hard line on immigration, but not enough to make him and the GOP pay for it, at least not in the short term. On a visceral level, if not numerically, the GOP base understands that significantly curtailing LEGAL immigration will keep the country whiter, longer.

Non-MAGAt Americans may not be on board with the last-ditch effort to extend the white majority — just as they’re not on board with allowing the NRA to run domestic firearms policy — but, as in the gun safety case, they don’t seem to care enough to make immigration a major priority. I think we found that out during the first shut-down.

So, what to do? I can’t be objective about the DREAMer issue because it affects a family member. But my preference is for the Democrats to try to negotiate concessions on the “four pillars” — they should shoot for a better deal for DREAMers and try to expand the cruel family unification restrictions proposed by Trump, bringing them more in line with the immigration policies that built this country.

But if they can’t get anything, I hope they concede and protect the DREAMers. I firmly believe it will hurt the country if the GOP gets its way, but we’re screwed in the short term with these clowns in the driver’s seat regardless. Might as well try to salvage something positive, then work to repair the damage once Trump is ousted.

What do you think?