Sunday Evening Open Thread: Could Be Worse…

Lest we fall into the media trap of thinking it’s only us Democrats who must contend with nutballs, narcissists, and fanatical deadenders. Lyin’ Paul Ryan attempts to protect his own 2020 chances while not getting into the short-fingered vulgarian’s cross-hairs…

“When people go to the polls in November, they are not just picking a person … they’re also picking a path,” said Ryan, who spoke repeatedly of unity with the front-runner — while refusing to bet on a Trump victory this fall.

“I think this is a ‘we,’ not just one person,” he added. “I very much believe in a type and style of politics that may not be in vogue today but, I still think, nevertheless, is the right kind of politics.”

It was that core belief, he says, more than any rank political calculation, that led Ryan to say he was “just not ready” to back Trump in a shocker of a CNN interview on May 6. Standing in front of an idyllic waterfall, Ryan said he wanted to see “a standard-bearer that bears our standards” and called on Trump to rein in his worst impulses if he wanted Ryan’s support…

“You should ask him those questions,” said Ryan. “I’m not the person to be giving you the breakdown of Donald Trump. That’s not my job and responsibility.”…

Shorter Ryan: Hey, if Trump wins, I’ll be his biggest cheerleader. And if Trump loses, I’m young enough to wait out a Hillary Clinton presidency…
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Apart from more healthful exercise rolling our eyes, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Open Thread: Speak Softly, Punch Hard

As I may have said before, I {heart} my senior Senator! From that NPR interview:

Because Warren is a woman who holds the press at arm’s length, it might have seemed a touch ironic when Democratic Leader Harry Reid chose her to be the messenger for the progressive wing of the party. Warren stepped into that leadership position barely two years into her first term.

Reid said Warren is simply strategic about when to speak.

“She’s an effective messenger because, No. 1, she doesn’t talk very much,” said Reid. “I find — maybe I’m being judgmental — but I think when people talk too much, their message is lost. She doesn’t talk very much. But when she talks, people listen.”

Reid says even during internal caucus meetings, Warren is very quiet. She speaks up with her colleagues only in deliberate moments.

“People think she’s a big talker. She isn’t,” said Reid. “In our caucus, I have some people who raise their hands all the time. They want to be recognized. But not Elizabeth.”

And her supporters say that strategic use of her influence has made her a powerful validator in the caucus — someone who can breathe new life into a cause simply by jumping on, whether it’s Wall Street reform, expanding Social Security or reducing student debt…

She doesn’t just launch issues. Democrats say she can also launch candidates. Warren is one of the top fundraisers in her caucus. During the 2014 midterms, she raked in more than $6 million for Democratic Senate, House and gubernatorial candidates and party committees.

This election cycle, Warren’s Leadership PAC has given away about a quarter-million dollars; her office says that amount represents just a small portion of her overall fundraising efforts so far, which include fundraising events, campaign appearances and — most important — emails…



Saturday Morning Cartoon Character Open Thread

trump tinfoil hat ohman

(Jack Ohman via GoComics.com)
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Nominated for poltical headline of the week: Gawker, “Clown Recognize Clown”

Nominated for best Trump photo pick of the week: TPM, “Trump Camp Accidentally Emails Politico Its Plan To Hit Clinton On Whitewater”

Nominated for Snark of the Week (even in a week full of eminent contenders): Eric Levitz at NYMag:

We all know Martin Shkreli has his flaws. The former hedge-fund manager turned pharmaceutical CEO — turned exemplar of capitalism’s worst pathologies — tried to make malaria treatment into a luxury good. And he bought that Wu-Tang album. And his last name is easy to misspell.

But this is America, a land of second chances. And on Thursday night, Shkreli took a first step on the path to redemption. Recognizing that his own unpopularity is the most powerful weapon he possesses, everyone’s least favorite hedge-fund hipster delivered a devastating blow to Donald Trump’s candidacy…

Nominated for most predictable news story of the week: NYTimes, “Donald Trump’s Campaign Stumbles as It Tries to Go Big”

BISMARCK, N.D. — A constant stream of changes and scuffles are unsettling Donald J. Trump’s campaign team, including the abrupt dismissal this week of his national political director.

A sense of paranoia is growing among his campaign staff members, including some who have told associates they believe that their Trump Tower offices in New York may be bugged, according to three people briefed on the conversations.

And there is confusion among his donors, who want to give money to a “super PAC” supporting Mr. Trump, but have received conflicting signals from top aides about which one to support.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump secured the Republican Party’s nomination for president, a remarkable achievement for a political newcomer. But inside his campaign, the limits of his managerial style — reliant on his gut and built around his unpredictable personality — are vividly on display, according to interviews with nearly a dozen Republicans inside and outside of the operation…

… [O]fficials in battleground states have complained for weeks that the Republican committee has not delivered the promised resources for field organizations. Mr. Trump has also been dismissive of data analytics, suggesting in interviews that his showmanship and rallies will continue to be effective. He has suggested that he will compete in new states, despite the scant resources he has devoted to the traditional Republican map so far. And he has been adamant to aides that he intends to try to compete in New York, which no Republican has captured since Ronald Reagan, and has held discussions about hiring an additional pollster for the state.

Despite his and his aides’ talk of unification, Mr. Trump himself has so far proved unable and unwilling to rally the entire party around his candidacy. On Tuesday, he deliberately attacked Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico — a Hispanic rising star and head of the Republican Governors Association — in her home state, saying she was “not doing the job.” And he hit Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, calling him a “choker” and mocking his gait, saying he walked “like a penguin.”…

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Apart from cheap laffs & tasty schadenfreude, what’s on the agenda for the day/weekend?



Thursday Evening Open Thread: Crowning Glory of the Ubermensch

I too can remember when Burt Reynolds slayed with that ‘I paid for it, so it’s my hair’ line… back on Johnny Carson’s show in the 1970s. Gawker performs a public service with its deeply researched investigative report on the possible roots of That Urine-Colored Thing on Donnie’s Head:

Is Donald Trump’s Hair a $60,000 Weave? A Gawker Investigation
A tipster who claimed knowledge of Trump’s hair recently came to Gawker with a potential solution to the enigma: Trump’s hair is not his own, costs tens of thousands of dollars for installation and upkeep, and comes from a man as mysterious as Trump is bombastic.

This solution that Trump, our tipster says, sought for his hair woes is a little-known, patented hair restoration treatment called a “microcylinder intervention.” It’s only performed by one clinic that we know of—Ivari International—where our source once sought treatment, and where he says he learned of Trump’s apparent patronage. What’s more, Ivari’s New York location was inside Trump Tower—on the private floor reserved for Donald Trump’s own office…

Srsly, this is good political work, because it’s much more likely to get under Deadbeat Donald’s extremely thin skin — and thereby damage his credibility with low-info voters — than respectable sercon reporting like TPM‘s “Trump Unites Generations Of White Nationalists”:

Tucked away in the woods of middle Tennessee’s Montgomery Bell State Park, 300 “white advocates” gathered over the weekend at the fourteenth American Renaissance conference to reflect on just how much fuel Trump has added to their movement this election cycle.

“I’ve never felt this sense of energy in our movement,” the conference host, Jared Taylor, said in his opening remarks. “I’ve never been more optimistic.”

For the conference, American Renaissance, a white nationalist publication, brought advocates for a white ethno-state together with Holocaust deniers, eugenicists and confederate sympathizers. American Renaissance and many of the groups the conference speakers are associated with are designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center…

Trump’s candidacy and the proliferation of white nationalist media online have put the old guard of white advocacy in touch with the new. At the conference, anti-immigrant, pro-Confederate old-timers rubbed shoulders with the young men of the “alt-right”—a loosely defined amalgam of isolationist white nationalists who crusade against political correctness and thrive on the Internet…

Repeat along with me: “It’s about ethics in gaming political journalism… “



Late Night B-Movie Open Thread: Giant Albino Amphibian vs. Zombie-Eyed Grannie Starver

Jim Newell, at Slate, on “the perfect running mate for Donald Trump”:

… Gingrich, in his trademark way of exuding unsubtlety in the execution of what he believes to be a stealth operation, is angling for the vice presidency even more aggressively than Trump is angling for the presidency. When Gingrich responded to a question about the inexperience of Trump’s foreign policy advisers by instructing Slate’s Isaac Chotiner to read both The Art of the Deal and The Art of the Comeback, such a shameless non sequitur could only be read as that day’s canned talking point in his campaign for the vice presidency. Gingrich was among the earliest bold-name political figures to liaise between Trump and official Republican Washington. Like Chris Christie, Gingrich may have realized that taking the plunge early with the party’s incoming standard-bearer was the best way to position himself for a sweet gig down the road—and perhaps persuade Trump to help retire lingering campaign debt.

Trump basks in what normals might consider uncomfortable levels of flattery, and so, by several accounts—including Trump’s own mouth—Gingrich has successfully implanted himself on his new master’s veep shortlist. Though Gingrich has said Trump would need “psychiatric help” if the presumptive nominee were to select him as his running mate, he definitely will not rule himself out. The former speaker of the House is now a ubiquitous force in the Trump effort, selling him in the media and advising him on policy and politics…

For all of his put-on suck-uppery, Gingrich is one of the few people on Earth who can understand what it’s like to be in Trump’s shoes. Gingrich, over a more gradual period of time and climaxing in the 1994 elections, blew up an existing political era—that of the Democrats’ supposedly permanent House majority. He knows what it is to have the world looking in horror at you for shattering their reality, much as they’re looking at Trump now. He can brief Trump about how to weather this and, should Gingrich cave to the sort of introspection that neither he nor his tutee are known for but which may exist somewhere deep inside, teach him from his own mistakes….

I’m old enough to remember The Rain Reign of Speaker Newt, and this is good news for Democrats. The Newt’s thin skin and enormous ego are indeed very reminiscent of a certain short-fingered vulgarian, and Gingrich’s inability to keep his eye on the prize (or his pecker in his pants) were largely responsible for the implosion of the GOP’s ‘new permanent majority’ twenty years ago. Putting him under the lights with Deadbeat Donald over the next five months would mean taking bets on which of the two would throw a total pants-soiling hissy-fit first… and whether it would be directed at the other half of the ticket. Read more



Wednesday Evening Open Thread: Hostile (to Reality) Takeover

It’d be funnier if Deadbeat Donald didn’t have a minimum 40% (very) base vote for the taking…

Psychological research suggests that people, in general, suffer from what has become known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. They have little insight about the cracks and holes in their expertise. In studies in my research lab, people with severe gaps in knowledge and expertise typically fail to recognize how little they know and how badly they perform. To sum it up, the knowledge and intelligence that are required to be good at a task are often the same qualities needed to recognize that one is not good at that task—and if one lacks such knowledge and intelligence, one remains ignorant that one is not good at that task. This includes political judgment…

This syndrome may well be the key to the Trump voter—and perhaps even to the man himself. Trump has served up numerous illustrative examples of the effect as he continues his confident audition to be leader of the free world even as he seems to lack crucial information about the job. In a December debate he appeared ignorant of what the nuclear triad is. Elsewhere, he has mused that Japan and South Korea should develop their own nuclear weapons—casually reversing decades of U.S. foreign policy.

Many commentators have pointed to these confident missteps as products of Trump’s alleged narcissism and egotism. My take would be that it’s the other way around. Not seeing the mistakes for what they are allows any potential narcissism and egotism to expand unchecked…

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Apart from acknowledging that too many of our fellow citizens think Idiocracy was a documentary (or an instruction manual), what’s on the agenda for the evening?



“Small, Insecure Money-Grubber”

Senator Elizabeth Warren takes a break from skewering Donald Trump on Twitter to eviscerate him in long form via a speech yesterday:

Words like “small” and “insecure” get under Trump’s skin because they contradict the grandiose image of himself Trump markets so industriously. But I like what Warren has done with “money-grubber” angle here to frame Trump’s conduct as a vulture real estate developer eager to pick clean the bones of regular folks who lost their homes.

Trump has carefully crafted a brand as a fabulously wealthy, self-made winner, and Warren paints him as a rich man’s heir who grew up to be a twisted greedhead like Mr. Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It’s a brilliant way to turn an opponent’s strength into a weakness, and I hope Senator Warren keeps it up from now to November.

[H/T: TPM]