Squirming Sofa Squatters

Last night, as part of his book tour, James Comey did a town hall-style event with Anderson Cooper on CNN. I didn’t watch it, but my husband did, so I heard bits and pieces as I was puttering around the kitchen. Comey rehashed the same rationales for interfering in the 2016 election that we’ve heard before. I didn’t buy it the first time, still don’t buy it now.

But the town hall veered off in an interesting direction when Cooper or someone in the audience asked Comey to share his impressions of Trump’s leadership style. Here’s CNN’s account of the exchange, with quotes:

Comey portrays Trump as someone who can never think about anything but himself, how he feels.

“His style of conversation was a series of assertions about great things he had done,” Comey said, describing one of his private meetings with Trump, in which he said the President made inappropriate demands for loyalty.

“The challenge I found was that they wash over you like a wave and even if you disagree, the waves keep coming.”

“But that is the style, it’s ‘I’m great, I’m great, I’m great,'” Comey said…

“I saw Presidents (George W.) Bush and (Barack) Obama both use humor effectively to relax, to put at ease, to try and get to the truth. I never saw President Trump laugh even in an almost hour-and-a-half hour long private dinner,” he said…

“His only reference point is internal — ‘what will bring me what I need, what will fill this hole in me — get me the affirmation I crave’ — that is deeply concerning…”

That certainly rings true — what Comey is describing is the behavior of a malignant narcissist. Actually, everything Comey says strikes me as the truth as he understands it — mendaciousness isn’t Comey’s sin; hubris is.

Anyhoo, this morning, Trump did a phone-in interview with the Fox & Friends crew. As John noted, Trump made news for blowing up the prior implausible excuse that he didn’t know Michael Cohen was representing him in the Stormy Daniels case.

But the interview was also noteworthy in that Trump came off as so unhinged that even the three dolts on the couch were talking to Trump in the soothing tones and with the calming hand gestures one might use if confined in a small space with a growling Rottweiler that had a mousetrap clamped to its nutsack.

And we know why: Trump told the sofa squatters he doesn’t watch CNN but admitted that he did watch the Comey town hall last night. That explains why he sounds so rattled and angry that even the sofa squatters squirmed — Comey completely nailed Trump, exposing the yawning chasm of insecurity and neediness at Trump’s core in front of the whole goddamned country. The clip below is a F&F-edited sample of Trump’s much longer rant:

Here’s a partial transcript for those who can’t or don’t want to watch — Trump’s rant below comes in response to Doocy’s softball — nay, T-ball — question about how Trump would grade his first year in office:

I’m fighting a battle against, uh, uh, a horrible group of deep-seated people, drain the swamp, that are coming up with all sorts of phony charges against me, and they’re not bringing up real charges against the other side. So, we have a phony deal going on, and it’s a cloud over my head. And I’ve been able to do, to really escape that cloud, because the message now, everyone knows, is a fix, okay, it’s a witch hunt. And they know that, and I’ve been able to message it. I would give myself an A+.

Nobody has done what I’ve been able to do, and I did it despite the fact that I had a phony cloud over my head. That doesn’t exist. [Blah blah blah Democrats Electoral College Deep State Crooked FBI McCabe wife campaign contributions McAuliffe blah blah blah]

Our Justice Department, which I try and stay away from but at some point I won’t. Our Justice Department, which should be looking at that kinda stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia, there is no collusion with me and Russia, and everyone knows it.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to describe that last paragraph as delivered in an angry shout, to the acute discomfort of the sofa squatters. It’s worth watching, IMO — you don’t even have to look at Trump’s ugly mug since he’s on the phone, and the body language and facial expressions of the nitwits on the couch are something to behold.

I had mostly negative feelings about Comey’s book tour, but if it rattles Trump this badly, maybe it’s a good thing.

Late Night Open Thread: Toxic Backlash (Second Time As Farce)

The 1980s I remember were a mean, dishonest decade. People of color, then women, then not-strictly-heterosexual people had fought during the previous many years to make inroads on the “natural” assumption of White Male Hegemony, and — with the help of scientifically-minded nerds — made enough progress that the White Men and the ones who parasitized loved them felt besieged. The 80s were a noisy, hypercolored backlash that did its best to assert that White Men were Capitalism (rich, powerful, entitled) and Capitalism was, in every way, the Best of all possible worlds…

The backlash was good for illicit drug distributors, weapons dealers, synthetic fabric manufacturers, megachurch christianist marketeers, and the tiny coterie of media people “celebrating” the greed-is-good Gordon Gekko / Oliver North sellers of junk finance and overpowered weaponry. But then all the bubbles popped, and those of us who preferred to live outside a media phantasy of the 50s (1950s, 1850s, 1650s, depending on whether we’re discussing sociology, economics, or philosophy) kept right on pushing forward.

I have to believe that the current Trump-centered unpleasantness is an idiot child’s recreation of the culture Lord Smallgloves remembers from the days when he was young and (comparatively) rich and fit and in his milieu. Catherine Rampell, in the Washington Post:

Ever since he unveiled it on the campaign trail, President Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” has prompted an obvious question: When exactly was this mythical period when America was last great?

At last we know the answer: the 1980s.

When it comes to aesthetics or general world outlook, the Greed Is Good decade was clearly Trump’s formative period.

Wanna look classy? Slather your residence in gold, spangle it with chandeliers. Wanna convince strangers that you’re important? Pretend to be on the cover of Time magazine, still the greatest honor a person can achieve…

But Trump’s ’80s ethos is more than merely cosmetic. It affects his, and his party’s, most significant policies as well.

Take the GOP economic agenda, which has not been updated in (at least) 30 years.

Supply-siders still run the show, championing tax cuts as a growth elixir while conveniently ignoring their track record. All Trump and his cronies seem to remember is that there was this one time when Ronald Reagan cut taxes, and then . . . the economy grew.

They seem to have missed the role that monetary policy and the business cycle played in that mid-’80s growth spurt. Not to mention all the other changes in tax rates over the past century, in both directions, that reveal no discernible relationship between tax levels and long-term growth…

Somehow the Party of Ideas stopped coming up with them circa, oh, 1987. The question is: Why?

Well, arguably, this is what happens when you’re no longer advised by experts, of any political persuasion.

One core function of social science research is to measure and document consequences of policies, both intended and unintended. And not surprisingly, it turns out we’ve learned a lot in the past few decades about drugs, crime, poverty, the economy, international relations and all manner of other issues.

Over several decades, Republicans have become increasingly hostile to expertise, a hostility that blossomed into outright denunciation last year. Rather than consulting people who’ve researched any of this stuff, or even read any of that research, Trump prefers to craft policy based on things he vaguely remembers reading, perhaps in a tabloid, some 30 years ago…

The backlash didn’t last back then (although it sure seemed like it was gonna go on forever) and it won’t last this time, either. Our job as the “Immoral Minority” (I still have my pinback, somewhere!) is to keep pushing forward, remembering that the caterpillar can’t return to its cocoon.

ETA: Speaking of toxic reminders of the 1980s…

Yesterday’s DACA Ruling

I miss the more sedate pace of yesteryear, when we might have chewed over a ruling on a president’s immigration-related order for several days. Too much goes by the boards in these evil times. But yesterday, the Trump admin did get a major rebuke from a Republican-appointed judge for tantrum-torpedoing the DACA program because Obama. Via Vox:

In a ruling released Tuesday night in the case NAACP v. Trump (combined with the case Trustees of Princeton University v. Trump), DC District Judge John Bates continued a streak of legal defeats the Trump administration has suffered in their attempts to end the DACA program.

Two federal judges had already issued preliminary injunctions against the administration, forcing the government to allow immigrants who already have work permits under DACA to apply for two-year renewals.

Judge Bates went further. His ruling would force the Trump administration to allow immigrants who qualify for DACA — by being between the ages of 15 and 31, having arrived in the US before 2007, being enrolled in school or having a degree, and not having a significant criminal record — to apply for work permits even if they never applied before September 2017.

Crucially, though, Bates’s ruling doesn’t go into effect for 90 days. In the meantime, the judge is giving the Trump administration a chance to redeem itself. If Trump’s Department of Homeland Security issues a new memo in the next 90 days that offers a stronger legal argument for ending DACA than the one it’s provided so far, it can avoid having to grant new DACA permits.

The ruling could end up reanimating DACA in full, against the administration’s wishes. Or it could give the administration a lifeline that will help it persuade appeals courts to overturn the defeats it’s already suffered. It all depends on what happens in the next 90 days.

I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know what the chances are the Trump people will come up with a rationale that will satisfy the judge. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ comments on the ruling today indicate that all they have so far is the racist bamboozle dance they’ve been doing all along. Via Politico:

Speaking at the White House press briefing, Sanders blasted the ruling as “extraordinarily broad and wrong on the law.”

“This ruling is good news for smuggling organizations and criminal networks and horrible news for our national security,” the Trump spokeswoman said.

Sanders argued that the decision “creates an incentive for more illegal immigrant youth to come here and causes them to expect similar judicial policies be applied to them.”

Unless the youthful drug mules in Huckabee Sanders’ imagination are capable of traveling back in time and arriving in the U.S. by 2007, they won’t qualify for DACA. She probably knows that. Or not. Anyway, she’s a liar, as is her boss.

American young people in DACA status are worth at least 10,000 spawn of Mike Huckabee and represent less than 1/10,000th of a national security threat than Trump’s unsecured phone. But you knew that.

Open thread.

IOKIYAR Open Thread: Mick Mulvaney, All-Too-Honest Grifter


Also yesterday:

In any other modern administration, Mulvaney would be gone by the time this post pops up (I’m writing it just after finishing the early-morning open thread). In *this* one, he’ll probably be given some special Trump-branded award for public service.

Mr. Mulvaney, who also runs the White House budget office, is a longtime critic of the Obama-era consumer bureau, including while serving in Congress. He was tapped by President Trump in November to temporarily run the bureau, in part because of his promise to sharply curtail it.

Since then, he has frozen all new investigations and slowed down existing inquiries by requiring employees to produce detailed justifications. He also sharply restricted the bureau’s access to bank data, arguing that its investigations created online security risks. And he has scaled back efforts to go after payday lenders, auto lenders and other financial services companies accused of preying on the vulnerable.

But he wants Congress to go further and has urged it to wrest funding of the independent watchdog from the Federal Reserve, a move that would give lawmakers — and those with access to them — more influence on the bureau’s actions. On Tuesday, he implored the financial services industry to help support the legislative changes he has requested…

The association, which invited Mr. Mulvaney to give the keynote address at its conference, strongly backs his efforts to consider the financial burdens on banks imposed by the bureau’s actions…

Read more

IOKIYAR Open Thread: Insecure Man Communicates Insecurely

Don’t worry, it’ll be a VERY SERIOUS IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE again once there’s a Democrat in the Oval Office! (Assuming we all live through the current occupancy, that is… )

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Culinary Ed for Jingoists

Tonight is the Trump Occupancy’s first official state dinner, and somebody managed to persuade Lord Smallgloves that if he wanted a well-done steak with ketchup, he could eat his own meal early. (And you thought you hated *your* job.) Because the guest of honor is French, and/or because the only Democrat on the guest list is Louisiana Governor Bel Edwards, a Cajun-influenced side dish is included on the menu.

Possibly because the thought of sheep always gets bloviating wingnuts amorphously aroused, Erik Son of Erik, Founder of Red State Trike Farce Strike Force and Professional Christianist, decided to take public offense. Mockery ensued!

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Russiagate Open Thread: When Even Andrea Mitchell Is Giving You Side-Eye…

Please proceed, Trump Official!…