Late Night GOP Stupidity Open Thread: Economic Easing (Out the Side Door)

Prospective Federal Reserve Board member Stephen Moore may be forced, nay compelled, to sacrifice his own career dreams for the sake of his deep loyalty to The Party. (Mostly because it looks like he can’t count on enough votes from his fellow Republicans to sail through his confirmation.) Per The Hill:

Stephen Moore, President Trump’s controversial pick for the Federal Reserve Board, said Wednesday that he is “totally committed” to seeing the process through, but would bow out if he became a political liability to Republicans.

In a Thursday interview with The Wall Street Journal, the conservative economist and commentator said he would stick with the vetting process for a formal nomination unless it could damage the GOP’s standing in the 2020 election.

“I’m totally committed to it as long as the White House is totally committed to it,” Moore told the Journal, ceding that he would drop out, “if something I said or something I’ve done becomes a political problem.”…

Trump floated Moore, an adviser to his 2016 presidential campaign, for a spot on the Fed board last month, but has not yet formally nominated him…

While Moore has been a figure in Washington conservative circles for decades, several Republican senators expressed concerns about his close ties to Trump, who has repeatedly and harshly criticized the Fed for almost a year.

Moore has also been fiercely critical of the Fed and reportedly won Trump’s blessing for an appointment with an opinion piece blasting the independent central bank.

Moore has also come under scrutiny for old columns he authored opposing the presence of women in sports or sportscasting, which he said Wednesday that he regretted…

Stephen Moore has built a long career in and around conservative politics by repeatedly advocating for the government to cut taxes. He is not great at it, but it is a quirk of that job that he doesn’t really have to be great at it, or even good at it. He just needs to do exactly what’s expected of him, always. Moore’s first foray into actual politics didn’t end well—he co-founded the Club For Growth in 1999 with the aim of electing Republicans who would pledge to cut taxes, but mismanaged the organization such that it was forced to pay a $350,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission in 2004. He was forced out that same year, and has spent most of his time doing his Libertarian Teddy Ruxpin duties in various sinecures ever since.

Donald Trump wants to appoint Moore to the Federal Reserve Board because he’s seen Moore on TV—he’s on TV a lot, generally being “wrong all the time, about pretty basic things,” in the words of the Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell—and because Moore has spent the entirety of Trump’s administration flattering Trump in impossibly goofy ways
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Hillary Clinton: It’s the National Security Threat, Stupid

Clinton published a must-read op-ed in Le Post this afternoon. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Our election was corrupted, our democracy assaulted, our sovereignty and security violated. This is the definitive conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report. It documents a serious crime against the American people.

The debate about how to respond to Russia’s “sweeping and systemic” attack — and how to hold President Trump accountable for obstructing the investigation and possibly breaking the law — has been reduced to a false choice: immediate impeachment or nothing. History suggests there’s a better way to think about the choices ahead.

Obviously, this is personal for me, and some may say that I’m not the right messenger. But my perspective is not just that of a former candidate and target of the Russian plot. I am also a former senator and secretary of state who served during much of Vladi­mir Putin’s ascent, sat across the table from him and knows firsthand that he seeks to weaken our country.

Clinton urges Congress to hold hearings on the Mueller report findings, not jump straight into holding a vote on impeachment, citing the Watergate inquiry as a model. She notes that during Watergate, a Senate select committee held hearings that added to the facts of the case before an impeachment inquiry began and suggests that a committee could do something similar now by calling Mueller and McGahn to testify. Clinton doesn’t spell this out, exactly, but this would all have to be on the House side since the Republican-controlled Senate has demonstrated that it will do nothing.

Clinton calls out Trump in deservedly savage terms:

We have to get this right. The Mueller report isn’t just a reckoning about our recent history; it’s a warning about the future. Unless checked, the Russians will interfere again in 2020, and possibly other adversaries, such as China or North Korea, will as well. This is an urgent threat. Nobody but Americans should be able to decide America’s future. And, unless he’s held accountable, the president may show even more disregard for the laws of the land and the obligations of his office. He will likely redouble his efforts to advance Putin’s agenda, including rolling back sanctions, weakening NATO and undermining the European Union.

Clinton emphasizes a key point that Trump and the Republicans are determined to ignore: the Mueller report isn’t only or even primarily about Trump. It’s about an attack on our democracy by a hostile foreign power, and the report establishes that the attack happened unequivocally. That requires action. By making it solely about Trump and crowing about his supposed “exoneration,” Trump and the Republicans are derelict in their duty to protect the country.

Clinton is right, of course. But given that just today Trump signaled refusal to cooperate with any oversight at all because NO COLLUSION HOAX WITCH HUNT I WON, with the full support of his Republican toadies in Congress, impeachment might truly be the only way forward. Greg Sargent explains, outlining how stonewalling on requests for tax returns, urging former and current administration officials to disregard subpoenas and requests for committee appearances, etc., might force Democrats to use an impeachment inquiry to get anywhere at all:

Trump, in a new interview with The Post, just made it overwhelmingly clear that he will henceforth treat the House and its reasonable oversight efforts as fundamentally illegitimate.

“There is no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress where it’s very partisan — obviously very partisan,” Trump said, referring to the latest round of oversight requests House Democrats have made…

Perhaps Trump views an impeachment inquiry as a less bad outcome than releasing his tax returns. Or perhaps he hopes to run out the clock, gambling that Democrats won’t have the guts to pull the trigger.

If so, that creates a torturous dilemma. Democrats themselves say the full truth must be pursued, for the sake of the country. But if Trump blocks them from doing that, it would seem to force their hand and require an impeachment inquiry.

Clinton’s op-ed is a timely reminder that the stakes are much higher than the orange fart cloud’s presidency. Perhaps the House Democrats’ first move should be to get Mueller’s testimony about the true purpose of the report and underscore the national security implications, then proceed from there within that framing, explicitly pursuing impeachment if that’s the only way to get at the facts.

The op-ed also brushes back the notion voiced by some Democrats that we should close the book on the Mueller report and focus on removing Trump via the ballot box in 2020. What ballot box, if Putin or someone else decides to diddle our election again? Anyone who urges Democrats to move on has lost the plot — it’s not only about Trump, though holding a lawless president accountable is a Congressional duty; it’s the national security threat, stupid.

Social Media Open Thread: ‘President’ Grampa Has PROBLEMS!!! With You People…

In a statement, Twitter said the meeting — initiated by the president — focused on “protecting the health of the public conversation ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections and efforts underway to respond to the opioid crisis.” Twitter partners with the federal government on a program to encourage Americans to dispose of prescription drugs they no longer need to prevent against abuse.

In March, Trump accused Silicon Valley’s largest companies of harboring a “hatred” for “a certain group of people that happen to be in power, that happen to have won the election.” In doing so, Trump threatened potential regulation, telling reporters at a press conference that the government may “have to do something about it.”

Previously, Trump joined a chorus of Republicans in claiming that Twitter secretly limits the reach of conservatives, a tactic known as “shadow banning” that Twitter has vehemently denied. And the president regularly has raised fears about changes in his follower count. Twitter’s heightened crackdown against spam, however, long has affected both liberals and conservatives on the site.

In response, Twitter regularly has stressed its political neutrality. “Impartiality is our guiding principle,” Dorsey told lawmakers last year who grilled him over allegations that the site and its social-media peers exhibit bias against conservatives. Over the past year, Dorsey has sought to huddle with high-profile right-leaning pundits and political figures, hoping to assuage their concerns about censorship…

Dorsey long has faced pressure to curtail Trump’s tweets, as critics contend that the president regularly violates the site’s policies against harassment and abuse. Twitter has long maintained that it applies a different standard to prominent public figures, given that their comments — even offensive ones — remain in the public interest. But the company in March said it soon would adopt a new approach, labeling offensive tweets so users know why such content hasn’t been removed…

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Breaking from Le Post:

House panel moves to hold former White House official in contempt after he obeys Trump administration’s instruction not to testify

The House Oversight Committee moved Tuesday to hold a former White House personnel security director in contempt of Congress for failing to appear at a hearing investigating alleged lapses in White House security clearance procedures.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said he would consult with the House counsel and members of the panel about scheduling a vote on contempt for former White House personnel security director Carl Kline. At the instruction of the White House, Kline failed to show up for scheduled testimony on security clearances.

The move marks a dramatic escalation of tensions between Congress and the Trump White House, which is increasingly resisting requests for information from Capitol Hill.

“The White House and Mr. Kline now stand in open defiance of a duly authorized congressional subpoena with no assertion of any privilege of any kind by President Trump,” Cummings said in a statement. “Based on these actions, it appears that the President believes that the Constitution does not apply to his White House, that he may order officials at will to violate their legal obligations, and that he may obstruct attempts by Congress to conduct oversight.”

Anyone know what happens next? I’m not sure how the House proceeds after a contempt vote. Hopefully it’s not referred to the DOJ, which is now headed by a Trump toady who has even less grounding in institutional ethics than Jeff Sessions.

PS: While the debate rages about whether or not to open impeachment proceedings against Trump, can we all agree to start impeaching William Barr, maybe as a trial run? Having now read the Mueller report, I can see more clearly than ever what a lying hack that guy is.

Petty and Small (Open Thread)

I wish every eligible voter in America were granted a week of paid leave on the condition that they’d use that time to read the Mueller report. I’m only half way through it, but I feel sure that if everyone read the report, 73% of us would rise as one and demand that Trump and his sycophants be ejected from government housing.

I’m not even talking about the criminality. It’s all just so…juvenile. Here’s one teeny-tiny example via the sworn testimony of Chris Christie, who described having lunch with Trump while the administration was attempting to contain the fallout from Michael Flynn’s firing. Here’s Trump’s genius plan to co-opt James Comey into the cult so the FBI would back off on investigating Flynn:

Christie felt it was beneath his dignity to make such a call and was embarrassed to put Comey in the position of receiving such a call. We’re talking Chris “McDonald’s Go-Fer” Christie and James “Last Honest Man” Comey, who is such a showboat that the job of FBI director wasn’t big enough for him, so he invented a brand new job and then failed spectacularly at that! (H/T: Kay)

This is just one example. There’s also Jared taking a call from Flynn (who comes off as a gigantic, lying crybaby, BTW) and assuring Flynn that Trump still “respects” him and will soon tweet positively about him, to which Trump nods assent like a monarch distributing a knighthood.

There are scads of scenes like that so far, and I haven’t gotten into the obstructiony bits yet, which are likely to be even worse. Honest to dog, I’ve driven van-loads of 11-year-old girls who were more dignified and discreet. It’s just embarrassing.