Saturday Morning Open Thread: Sorrows of the Young Minions

Count on Politico to find the real victims this week. “Young Trumpies Hit D.C.… And D.C. hits them right back”

.. There’s always tension when administrations change in Washington; a new cast of characters arrives, and an influx of appointees, lobbyists and hangers-on have to stake out their own ground. But the era of Donald Trump is—as in so many respects—different.

Washington is a hipper city now than it’s ever been, a place where staffers, especially young staffers who want to drink and date and live normal millennial lives, would want to live. The problem is, if you work for Trump, it’s also more hostile territory than it’s ever been. The president campaigned against the very idea of “Washington,” slammed cities as “war zones” and ran a racially charged campaign whose coded messages weren’t lost on the diverse, Democratic-leaning residents of D.C.’s buzzing neighborhoods. The bar-filled areas that became synonymous with young Washington in the Obama era—Columbia Heights, Shaw, U Street, H Street—are full of anti-Trump T-shirts and street art. Even old Republican redoubts like Spring Valley in upper Northwest aren’t very Trump-friendly.

So, what’s a young Trumpie to do? Many still do live in D.C., and to understand what their lives here are like, we interviewed more than 30 millennial staffers from the Trump White House and across the administration, both current and former (many have already left), as well as a smattering of their friends and outside observers. Nearly all spoke on the condition of anonymity, to talk candidly about their personal lives or because they were not authorized by their bosses to comment. They told us their horror stories about being heckled on the street and their struggles to get a date. Unlike their predecessors, who made their mark on the city’s social scene, they largely keep to themselves, more likely to hop between intimate apartment gatherings than to hit the town. “Instead of folks looking outward,” explains one young White House aide, “more folks look inward.”

Faced with open antagonism, Trump’s millennials over the past year and a half have quietly settled on the margins: a stretch of Washington that spans from the Wharf—a shiny new development three blocks south of the National Mall—southeast along the Waterfront and into Navy Yard, on the banks of the Anacostia River. It’s a string of neighborhoods that peer out over the water, separated from most of the city by an interstate, and facing away from official Washington. It’s a bubble within the Washington bubble: Here, young Trump staffers mix largely with each other and enjoy the view from their rooftop pools, where they can feel far away from the District’s locals and the rest of its political class…

A resolutely generic bubble… sounds Trump-tastic!

Strictly the white-bread cover version…

(nothing against Jimmy Buffett, but Sam Cooke he ain’t).

Breaking News (Woop Woop)

Some breaking news on the immigration front:

The Post:

Trump administration will stop prosecuting migrant parents who cross the border illegally with children, official says

The dramatic about-face comes just one day after President Trump signed an executive order ending his administration’s widely denounced practice of separating families apprehended at the Mexico border.

Trump’s order said the government would maintain a “zero tolerance” policy toward those who break the law, but a senior U.S. official, when asked to explain how the federal government would change enforcement practices, told The Washington Post that Border Patrol agents have been instructed to stop sending parents with children to federal courthouses for prosecution.

“We’re suspending prosecutions of adults who are members of family units until ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) can accelerate resource capability to allow us to maintain custody,” the official said.

Sounds like they got out over their skis and simply don’t have the capacity to intern entire families yet, so they’ll go back to the Obama-era status quo until they do. Imagine the headlines at Fox News, WSJ, etc., if Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton had suffered an embarrassing reversal on a signature policy, crapped out a face-saving EO to fix it, then had to scrap that 12 hours later, even temporarily. The mind reels.

Also, the Third Lady is making a “surprise visit” to one of her odious husband’s shameful stolen child incarceration centers to see “what’s real,” according to CNN:

McAllen, Texas (CNN)First lady Melania Trump touched down in McAllen, Texas, Thursday making a publicly unannounced and hastily planned trip to get a first-hand look at the crisis affecting immigrant families at the US border.

In doing so, she becomes the first Trump family member to personally witness the situation that has captured the country’s attention over the past several weeks.

“She wants to see what’s real,” said the first lady’s spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told CNN during a 10-minute press briefing en route to Texas. “She wanted to see as close to what she had been seeing on TV. She wants to see a realistic view of what’s happening.”

The article implies this was the Third Lady’s proactive decision rather than something orchestrated by Trump’s White House minions:

Acting or commenting from the sidelines apparently was not enough for Trump, who fewer 48 hours ago informed her staff — and her husband, the President of the United States — that she had decided she needed to see for herself the family intake and unaccompanied children facilities.

Yeah, right. I suppose she could surprise us, but this is the woman who backed up her pig-husband’s racist birther lies, attacked fellow immigrants for behavior she herself engaged in and excused Trump’s many sexual assaults by calling his accusers liars, so my expectations are subterranean.

Looks like the GOP immigration bills – both shitty and even shittier – are going down. No surprise there.

And finally, The New York Post reports that evil Trump aide Stephen Miller was heckled in a DC-area Mexican restaurant a few days ago – before DHS ghoul Nielsen suffered a similar fate:

White House adviser Stephen Miller was accosted at a Mexican restaurant by a patron calling him a “fascist” — two nights before Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was hounded out of another south-of-the-border eatery, sources told The Post…

“Hey look guys, whoever thought we’d be in a restaurant with a real-life fascist begging [for] money for new cages?” another customer at the Mezcal joint snarled at Miller, according to a source who saw the encounter.

Miller didn’t respond and scurried away, the witness said.

“Scurried away” — that’s perfect. It’s small potatoes in the scheme of things, but I relish seeing any evidence that these bastards are paying for their atrocious behavior. Power centers being what they are, social costs are likely all we’ll ever extract from the Trumps and their evil cabal, so I want those costs to be maximized, including, at the very least, a life of ordering take-out food under fake names.

Open thread.

From Russia with Schadenfreude

I’m old enough to remember the ghastly Ronald Reagan presidency, though I was too young to give a shit about politics in those days. One thing I do remember was how Reagan praised the heroic “freedom fighters” of Afghanistan with gooey lumps of quavering jingoism and piety that were likely fresh from the pen of a then-youthful Peggy Noonan.

This was when the US helped bleed out the USSR by supplying arms and support to religious fanatics in Afghanistan, including Osama bin Laden, who eventually drove the Soviets out after massive casualties. Then came the blow-back.

And now, as the US marks more than a decade and a half of post-9/11 futility in Afghanistan, it appears the boot is on the other foot. From The Post:

A senior U.S. military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence on the issue, said the Russians have increased their supply of equipment and small arms to the Taliban over the past 18 months. The official said the Russians have been sending weapons, including medium and heavy machine guns, to the Taliban under the guise that the materiel would be used to fight the Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan. Instead, the official said, the weapons were showing up in some of Afghanistan’s southern provinces, including Helmand and Kandahar — both areas with little Islamic State presence.

Interesting that the Russians felt emboldened to increase their support to the Taliban over the past 18 months.

The US currently maintains nothing like the force the Soviets once had in Afghanistan; there are fewer than 10K troops there now. The Post article notes that US officials describe the current situation as a “stalemate,” but it’s mostly Afghans in the meat grinder instead of Americans.

If we’re a hollowed out, debt-ridden, exhausted empire, that’s mostly thanks to George W. Bush’s dumbfuckery, not Putin or Trump’s. But the article also notes DefSec Mattis is still deciding whether to ask Trump for more troops.

Maybe the Russian arms are a not-so-subtle signal to Trump to get the US out of Afghanistan so Russia can bring that country more fully under its influence, not as a communist state this time but as a territory to be exploited by the transglobal gangster state Putin rules.

Such a move would have to be a personal triumph for Putin in his revanche project, and he can make his wishes known to his lackey Trump in person next month when they meet, possibly in Vienna.

Personally, I wish the US had declared victory and left Afghanistan the day after the SEALs offed bin Laden, if not sooner. I’d rather they reallocated military spending to resettle refugees and provide assistance to Afghanistan as part of a global economic development effort instead of pouring it down the warlord rat hole. But no one asked me.

Anyhoo, it’ll be interesting to see which strings Putin pulls in Central Asia. He must be the most self-satisfied autocrat on earth right about now.

Dreaded Calls (Open Thread)

The more we learn about Trump’s immigration walk-back, the worse it looks. Though it has provisions to intern entire families indefinitely, etc., it doesn’t even address reuniting the 2,342 kids US officials already stole from parents at the border under Trump’s zero tolerance policy. We need to keep the pressure on to make sure those children are returned to their families.

Meanwhile, Paul Ryan is using the occasion to try to pass one of two terrible immigration bills today. The two Republican bills can best be described as “a shitty bill” and “an even more shitty bill.” Both would cut legal immigration and fund Trump’s racist vanity wall without providing a clean path to citizenship for American kids in DACA status.

It looks like the Freedom Caucus nutbags may tank the “moderate” shitty bill since it’s not mean enough to suit them. But it’s probably a good idea to call your rep and make your voice heard on the issue anyway.

That means I have to call the office of Trump butt-plug Vern Buchanan, the grifty meathead who represents me in Congress. Not looking forward to it, but I want the corrupt cockwaffle to hear the footsteps coming for him in November, if nothing else.

Lots going on today, but I’m super busy, so open thread!

A climb-down, maybe?

Turns out that despite all the screeching about Trump’s child gulag directive being the regrettably unavoidable result of a “Democrat law,” Trump now figures he can obliterate it with an executive action — which is exactly how it started:

Who knows. It’s state TV, but they could be wrong. The baby jail issue is a disaster for Republicans, but Trump doesn’t give a shit about them. There must be a face-saving proviso — something that the lumpy bag of tinted epidermis-encased fat and trapped farts can claim as a “win.” Just trying to imagine what that might look like (the “win,” not the “lumpy bag,” etc., which is all too in evidence).

Another Failed Trump Brand

Trump Casinos.
Trump Steaks.
Trump Airlines.
Trump Vodka.
Trump Mortgage.
Trump Magazine.
Trump Ice.
Trump University.

What do all of these Trump-branded things all have in common? They all went belly up. Kaput. Deceased. Bereft of life, they’ve joined the bleedin’ choir invisible.

If tens of millions of our fellow citizens weren’t such goddamned idiots, this record of scammy failures would have vaporized Trump’s “successful businessman” image, which seems to be the only thing Trump has expended a lot of effort to build. But, people are dumb and gullible, especially when reality collides with a carefully cultivated TV image, so here we are.

But 18 or so months into this dystopian hellscape, there’s just no excuse for a seasoned political analyst to express faith in another fraudulent Trump brand: the alleged moderating influence of Ivanka Trump. Yet Karen Tumulty does just that in a Post opinion column:

Melania Trump weighs in on her husband’s cruel policy. Where are you, Ivanka?

The first lady’s decision to step into the debate makes the silence of another Trump family member all the more telling. Where is Ivanka Trump, who is actually an official adviser to her father — and the one who claims that family issues are her portfolio?

All those photos of crying children don’t look so great on Instagram. Still, Ivanka, there is time to step up. You can do it. Be best.

Seriously? Give me a fucking break.

Now, as I said a couple of days ago, I think the Trump people have trod on their own dicks by going all-in on child-snatching. The practice is so morally repugnant that even reliable toadies like Franklin Graham publicly object to the policy, and Trump’s usual lie-and-deflect strategy doesn’t seem to be resonating outside the Fox News bubble.

Meanwhile, the images of crying parents and brown kids in cages have generated such enthusiasm in Trump’s white supremacist base that it will be difficult to walk the policy back without angering the most devoted cultists. It’s possible the abnormal brain trust in the White House is discussing a face-saving climb-down this very moment, possibly even one involving Ivanka.

But even if Sarah Huckabee-Sanders trots Ivanka Trump out at today’s news briefing to announce an end to the old man’s child kidnappings (spoiler: not gonna happen — Shitler is doubling down on Twitter right now), it would be yet another scam. Ivanka’s supposed influence on her monstrous father is just another Trump-branded fraud, and anyone who seriously looks to that empty-headed non-entity for moral leadership is a moron.

Immigration Endgame

As you know, the Trump administration enacted a monstrous policy to separate children from parents at the southern border. Yesterday, the AP reported that about 2,000 children were stolen from their parents in the last six weeks. Camps — for children!are in the works.

But while the thought of putting brown children in kiddie jails may make MAGAchuds somewhat less flaccid, this cruel policy isn’t popular outside the base. Even the usually supine White House press corps roused itself to drag Sarah Huckabee-Sanders over it this week. Even preening fraud and avid Trump butt-plug Franklin Graham managed to condemn it. Read more