Friday Evening Open Thread: “An Impossible Hand”

Further proof — as if we needed it — that the entire Republican party has abandoned all thought of governing in favor of merely obstructing.

What’s on the agenda as we start the much-needed weekend?

Late Night Oldies with Poor Sleep Hygiene Open Thread: ‘President’ Trump’s Big Vroom-Vroom TeeVee Show!!!

And he wouldn’t be in the White House if not for all those busy little GOP elves (and their Russian ‘assistants’). THANKS EVER SO FECKIN’ MUCH, REPUBS!

The producers of children’s television know the key to holding a distractible audience’s attention: interactivity…

It turns out you can apply the same formula to morning news. “Fox & Friends,” the three-hour wake-up program on Fox News, is an interactive magic mirror for Donald J. Trump.

President Trump is the show’s subject, its programmer, its publicist and its virtual fourth host. The stars offer him flattery, encouragement and advice. When he tweets, his words and image appear on a giant video wall. It’s the illusion of children’s TV — that your favorite show is as aware of you as you are of it — except that for Mr. Trump, it’s real.

In January the hosts, “Romper Room”–style, even pretended to be watching Potus, showing a video feed of the White House and asking him to flash the lights on and off if he was watching. (Producers added an effect of the lights flickering, a “TV trick” the hosts later acknowledged.)…

Suddenly, for no other reason than its No. 1 fan, it is the most powerful TV show in America. (It’s also easily the most-watched cable news morning show, averaging 1.6 million viewers in the year’s second quarter, following a post-Trump ratings boost.) Mr. Doocy and Mr. Kilmeade now offer strategic advice on health care legislation. Politicians use the show as a kind of virtual Oval Office pitch meeting. In turn, Mr. Trump’s live tweets set and reshape the show’s focus…

TV news has covered and worried presidents for decades, but it has never been as central to the mind-set of a president as it is to Mr. Trump: reality star, producer and cable-news junkie. But since his amour fou with CNN and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” has gone bad — he claims not to watch them anymore, yet somehow stays deeply familiar with them — he has favored “Fox & Friends,” which requites his love…

Diagraming the feedback loop between “Fox & Friends” and the president requires a very small bulletin board and maybe six inches of yarn. On July 11, the show aired a segment blaming Democrats for “obstructing” Mr. Trump’s nominees. At 6:42 a.m., it posted the segment on Twitter, and Mr. Trump retweeted it quickly. At 6:59, he tweeted… Ten minutes later, that tweet was on the “Fox & Friends” video wall, prompting the hosts to criticize the Democrats again.

“This is anti-American,” Mr. Kilmeade said.

“Well, it’s anti-Trump, ultimately,” Mr. Doocy said.

“Which is anti-American,” Mr. Kilmeade said…

When George Orwell predicted a 24/7 Big Brother video autocracy, he didn’t know it would be aimed at a four-year-old’s comprehension level. But this is America, land of FreeDUMB!

The Republican Conundrum

Amusing piece in the Hill about how the infrastructure bill is stuck:

The timing and fate of President Trump’s infrastructure plan may depend on whether the GOP enacts major tax reform — a task that could prove challenging amid the struggle to pass a healthcare bill.

Republicans are signaling that a massive rebuilding package, which has long been one of Trump’s top priorities, will most likely have to wait on the sidelines until lawmakers overhaul the tax code.

But with that process likely to be just as time-consuming and daunting as healthcare, infrastructure could be pushed to the back burner.

“I’d like to see infrastructure get done,” Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the Senate’s No. 3 Republican and chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told reporters Wednesday. “But I’ve always said, that in terms of how things are sequenced, it’s more likely that they would do tax reform first. And that might push infrastructure into sometime next year.”

First, let’s point out that infrastructure week was June 6th, six weeks ago, replete with all the pomp and circumstance including an official signing ceremony:

Two problems- he had no plan or bill, congress had passed nothing, and he was actually just signing a potemkin bill. Adding to that minor detail was the fact that Comey was testifying and it sucked all the oxygen out of the week.

Second, let’s note that the Republicans don’t really care about infrastructure. They just don’t. All they care about is cutting taxes for their rich buddies. That and winning elections. That’s ALL THEY CARE ABOUT. So the infrastructure bill simply is not a priority and won’t be. Ever.

The only reason they are still going on about health care is because Trump wants to replace Obama’s signature legislation and health care is where the money is at for tax cuts. That is it. They want to “reform” health care so they can get down to what they really like, which is cutting taxes for rich people. And if they can gut ACA and get a couple trillion for tax cuts, they can pretend to fiscally conservative because they are not “adding” to the deficit and debt.

But even if they don’t gut the ACA, they are going to try to cut taxes for their rich buddies. Because that is WHAT THEY DO and the ONLY THING THEY CARE ABOUT. Even if it raises the deficit and debt. They’ll just lie that growth will lead more tax revenues mumble babble Reagan laffer blah blah blah. It’s a fucking lie, of course, but lies don’t matter anymore because their base is a bunch of clueless numpties who just repeat what they are told.

So iffin’ they even actually get around to writing an honest to god infrastructure bill, it won’t amount to jack and shit because all of a sudden they will become fiscal conservatives and deficit hawks and we can’t add to the deficit even if it keeps bridges from crashing down. Because an infrastructure bill benefits everyone, and not just their rich buddies in the form a tax cut.

If Republicans wanted to really do something about infrastructure, there was a really good time to do that. When we were in the middle of an unemployment crisis and interest rates were almost negative. We could have borrowed trillions on the cheap, rebuilt our roads and airports and power grid and maybe even had enough left over to make sure the people of Flint, MI don’t have to drink bottled fucking water for the rest of their god damned lives. That actually might have led to a robust recovery, because you would be putting money into the hands of people who would spend it instead of addled old billionaires stashing it in whatever fucking derivatives the Wall Street boys are creating a bubble with right now.

The end.

Late Night Open Thread: Are We Sure Trump Doesn’t Drink?

Even by ‘narcissist who’s never been told no’ standards, this is… special. Last time a Republican president started saying stuff like this in public, he was suffering from encroaching Alzheimer’s (And, yes, I do remember Dubya’s losing battle with the English language, but I don’t remember him telling a reporter that he certainly hoped no judge would get their hands on the contents of Cheney’s man-sized safe.)

Of course, there’s a core of Trumplodytes who’ll be with him to the bitter end…

Open Thread: Trumpcare ‘Not Dead Yet’ (But It Smells Kinda Funny)

Who’s got a sturdy cudgel? Yes, the ongoing fight to protect Obamacare is serious, but watching the REPUBS IN DISARRAY! is delicious. Alice Ollstein, at TPM, “Trump’s Ham-Handed, Incoherent Health Care Message Leaves Senate Flailing“:

On Wednesday, [Trump] summoned all 52 Republican senators to the White House to try to browbeat them into passing some form of a health care bill. The president previewed his message for the lawmakers in an interview with televangelist Pat Robertson—saying he’ll be “very angry” if they can’t pass a bill—and in tweets Wednesday morning that made no case for the merits of the legislation or the difficult politics of curtailing the benefits of millions of people.

At the meeting, he threatened bill critic Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), asking as TV cameras rolled if he wants to “remain a senator,” and demanded the Senate stay in session through the summer recess until they “get it done” on health care…

Trump’s tin ear for Washington politics was on full display Monday night—the night Republican defectors drove the final nail into the coffin of the latest Obamacare repeal bill. The president hosted a group of senators at White House ostensibly to discuss health care over an elegant steak dinner, but did not invite any of the on-the-fence lawmakers he needed to convince to support the repeal effort. Instead, he dined with a group that already supported the bill, and according to the Washington Post, spent most of the evening recounting his recent trip to France…

“For seven years, Republicans have told the voters: ‘If you elect us, we’ll repeal Obamacare,’” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), carefully choosing his words as he walked through the Capitol’s underground tunnels surrounded by half a dozen reporters. “I think we will look like fools if we can’t deliver on that promise.”

But that message is unlikely to resonate with the moderate senators opposing the legislation who have repeatedly promised to protect their constituents’ Medicaid benefits and advocate for people with pre-existing conditions.

“Any time you’re over at the White House and the president is talking to you about his opinions, it can provide a pretty strong case,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) acknowledged. “But,” she added with a laugh, “we have our strong opinions too.”

Hmmm… piss off their voters, or Ted Cruz? How tough a choice is that?

From Moscow to Mars

Nothing to see here:

Members of the team of Russians who secured a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner also attempted to stage a show trial of anti-Putin campaigner Bill Browder on Capitol Hill.

The trial, which would have come in the form of a congressional hearing, was scheduled for mid-June 2016 by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), a long-standing Russia ally who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe. During the hearing, Rohrabacher had planned to confront Browder with a feature-length pro-Kremlin propaganda movie that viciously attacks him—as well as at least two witnesses linked to the Russian authorities, including lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Ultimately, the hearing was canceled when senior Republicans intervened and agreed to allow a hearing on Russia at the full committee level with a Moscow-sympathetic witness, according to multiple congressional aides.

An email reviewed by The Daily Beast shows that before that June 14 hearing, Rohrabacher’s staff received pro-Kremlin briefings against Browder, once Russia’s biggest foreign investor, and his tax attorney Sergei Magnitsky from a lawyer who was working with Veselnitskaya.

The only thing surprising is that Russia chose someone as incompetent as Rohrabacher, who is a first class lunatic:

On Thursday, the space subcommittee of the House Science Committee held a hearing to look into NASA’s forthcoming big-ticket planetary exploration missions. Those missions include a Mars 2020 rover, a Europa flyby mission, and potentially a follow-up lander to the Jovian moon Europa.

The hearing was respectable, with on-point witnesses and mostly incisive questions. That is, until California Republican Dana Rohrabacher had his turn at the microphone. After asking a reasonable, if rambling, question about NASA’s plans for a Mars sample return mission and the kind of fuel used by spacecraft, Rohrabacher got down to business.

He asked, “You have indicated that Mars was totally different thousands of years ago. Is it possible that there was a civilization on Mars thousands of years ago?”

The job of answering this question fell to Kenneth Farley, a project scientist on the Mars 2020 rover mission and a professor of geochemistry at California Institute of Technology. He calmly answered, “So the evidence is that Mars was different billions of years ago. Not thousands of years ago.”

“Well, yes,” Rohrabacher says. As if duh, of course he knew that.

“And, umm, there would be, there’s no evidence that, uhh, I’m aware of,” Farley continued, gamely trying to answer the question.

We are so fucked.

“For hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee”

We’ve had months to get used to a nuclear-armed Twitter troll rage-tweeting from the White House, but it still seems surreal:

The latest plan is that the Republicans will fix their historically unpopular, demonstrably shitty bill over burnt steak and ketchup at the White House this afternoon. That’s pretty fucking delusional, but no more so than this:

The “Dems scream death as OCare dies!” bit though, that’s just…weird. Trump’s incoherent rants about Obamacare have always oddly personified the law. For months now, Trump has been spitting out the words “Obamacare is DEAD,” like a pimply rube in a cheap horror flick who prematurely claims to have vanquished the monster.

It’s damn sure not because Trump disagrees with the law’s provisions, which he could not enumerate on a bet. Trump hates “Obamacare” because it’s a reminder of President Obama, whose very existence as an accomplished, beloved, self-made and knowledgeable man is an intolerable injury to Trump’s fragile ego.

Trump can’t obliterate the man himself, so he’s pursuing the namesake law with the obsessiveness of a Captain Ahab, minus the bravery and with twice the hubris. If Trump has to sacrifice the political lives of Republican elected officials and sink the GOP for another opportunity to harpoon Obamacare, so be it.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer crew. We must stand ready to toss additional anvils to the swimmers as needed.