This week in gaslighting…

Trump three days ago:

Trump this morning:

He’s just flat-out lying about what he said 72 hours ago — without even bothering to delete the tweet. There’s nothing remarkable about this sort of thing now. The president of the United States lies all the time. Ho hum.

In other news, the Senate Intelligence Committee just released thousands of pages of transcripts about the Trump-Russia investigation, mostly about the Trump Tower meeting, where Trump’s grotesque namesake spawn eagerly met with representatives of a hostile foreign power to gather dirt on Hillary Clinton. “If it’s what you say, I love it” should be inscribed on that shit-stain’s tombstone.

Another developing story out of North Carolina: schools are closed as teachers walk out to demand funding for education. Honestly, I’m finding these teacher strikes the most encouraging post-Trump political development since the Women’s March. The teachers are winning too, extracting concessions from skin-flint wingnut legislatures.

It’s almost as if people are realizing that slashing local government funding to lavish tax cuts on rich people hurts communities while failing to produce prosperity for all. Imagine that!

Totally gonna kill that nonexistent thing…

Today in WTF:

Also, Trump’s wife had surgery this morning and will be hospitalized for the rest of the week. About half an hour ago, Trump tweeted that he was headed over to visit her at Walter Reed.

Can you imagine the media meltdown if any other president had loafed around the White House live-tweeting Fox News all day while his wife went under the knife? Especially if said president was in the middle of a massive sex scandal?

I get that everyone pretty much assumes the Trumps hate each other’s guts and that we all knew he was a gross philanderer from way back. Still, it’s amazing how quickly the Beltway press acclimated themselves to these circumstances, and yet they struggle to adjust to the fact that the president is a mind-blowingly corrupt, incompetent liar.

They are still covering the JOB aspect of Trump’s presidency as if he were a normal president, but the personal life angle — they were able to skippidy-doo-dah right over that. Hmmm. Not sure if I should be grateful or annoyed. (About being spared media hand-wringing about the Trumps’ fucked up family dynamics, I mean.)

White Evangelicals Celebrate Opening of US Embassy in Jerusalem

Live shot of Trump-voting evangelical Christians celebrating the opening of the embassy:

The event in Jerusalem features corrupt plutocrats, pandering politicians, nepotism hires and bigoted preachers. Israeli security forces have killed more than 40 Palestinian protesters so far.

A religious scholar who escaped a Jesus Camp upbringing explains the significance of this move to evangelicals who believe in dispensational pre-millennialism here. An excerpt:

While that may sound benign (or perhaps nutty) to the theologically uninitiated, they are referring to the “prophecy” of the conversion of the Jews, the second coming of Jesus, the final judgment, and the end of the world — the events referred to as the biblical apocalypse.

I doubt that President Trump could explain dispensational pre-millennialism. I doubt he knows the term. But his evangelical supporters know it. Some of his advisers are probably whispering these prophecies in his ears. Trump might not really care how they interpret the Bible, but he cares that white evangelicals continue to stand with him. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem is one way to affirm his commitment to these evangelicals — reminding them that he, Donald J. Trump, is pressing biblical history forward to its conclusion and that he is God’s man in the unfolding of these last days.

I may not believe it — anymore, at least. You may not believe it. Donald Trump might not even truly believe it. But millions do. That matters. Not only for American politics, of course. For the peace of Jerusalem. And for peace for the rest of us as well.

I’m not sure that’s true anymore — that millions are motivated by this nonsense. In my opinion, what really matters is defeating the hate, greed and ignorance that underlie it. That’s the only thing that matters.

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Ignore the Random Noise, Pay Attention to the Through-Line


Lyin’ Ryan Is the Fig Leaf for Trump’s Racist Immigration Agenda

One of the few amusements the Trump Error affords is reading accounts of awful people getting dressed down by an even more awful person. From Greg Sargent at The Post:

The New York Times reports that Trump erupted in a rage at Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other Cabinet members over the alleged failure to make “progress towards sealing the border.” According to the Times, Trump also raged about the “continued failure of his administration to find a way to build a wall along the southern border.”

The Post adds more reporting, noting that Trump’s “blowup lasted more than 30 minutes.” His face “reddened” as he railed that Nielsen must “close down” the border and shouted: “We need to shut it down. We’re closed.”

Other outlets reported that Nielsen, who tried to explain the complexity of the border situation but was shouted down, “almost resigned” over Trump’s tirade, composing but not handing in a resignation letter.

Gary Cohn allegedly wrote but didn’t submit a resignation letter after Trump defended Nazis in Charlottesville. I guess the unsubmitted resignation letter is the cabinet/adviser version of “Ivanka privately opposes.”

In The Post, Sargent points out Paul Ryan’s towering hypocrisy on the immigration issue:

Vulnerable Republicans in the House are pushing a discharge petition that would force a vote on immigration bills, including two measures that would grant the dreamers legal status, one of them packaged with fortifications to border security. Seventeen Republicans have signed the petition, meaning that if organizers can get eight more, it would pass, since Dems will support it — forcing a full House vote on whether the dreamers will be protected or remain in limbo.

Ryan is trying to stop this from happening. He justifies this by claiming that there’s no sense in voting on measures protecting the dreamers that Trump would veto. As Ryan put it: “We actually would like to solve this problem, and that is why I think it’s important for us to come up with a solution that the president can support.”

But this is utter nonsense, because there isn’t any deal that Trump is willing to support that can pass Congress… Ryan is trying to prevent a vote to protect the dreamers precisely because such a measure could pass the House… A deal protecting the dreamers in exchange for border security would probably pass the House by a comfortable margin, and it might pass the Senate — after all, passage in the House would bring tremendous pressure on moderate Republican senators — especially if the White House didn’t actively lobby against it.

But Trump will not accept any deal to protect the dreamers, even though it could very likely pass both chambers, unless it also contains deep cuts to legal immigration. So if the House passed it, the White House would lobby the Senate against it, and if that failed, Trump would then have to veto it. Either of those would look horrible, because after House passage, suddenly protections for the dreamers would appear in reach. This is the spectacle that Ryan is trying to avert — all to protect Trump from having his true priorities revealed in all their ugly glory.

Ryan no longer has to worry about reelection or hanging onto the speaker’s gavel, but he’s willing to hold a fig leaf over Trump’s ugly bits. Why? Because the Republican Party hopes to stock the courts with more fanatics, enable corporations to pollute and despoil without regulatory oversight and slash programs and policies that benefit the vulnerable, and while Trump is a big, fat, embarrassing, racist baby-man, he’ll happily sign that shit if they call it a “win” for him.

Oh well. At least we won’t be subjected to paeans about Ryan’s wonkishness, fiscal rectitude and principled conservatism much longer since he’s gonna cut and run after this term expires. That day can’t come soon enough.

Pence in Suspense

Dense Pence, who will never be asked to bring the potato salad to the Mensa picnic, declines to follow Trump’s lead and dismiss the Mueller investigation as a “hoax,” but “respectfully” requests that Mueller’s team wrap it up for “the good of the country.”

In your dreams, you beady-eyed, hypocritical, Bible-humping traitor. “Woke” George Will in The Post:

Donald Trump, with his feral cunning, knew. The oleaginous Mike Pence, with his talent for toadyism and appetite for obsequiousness, could, Trump knew, become America’s most repulsive public figure. And Pence, who has reached this pinnacle by dethroning his benefactor, is augmenting the public stock of useful knowledge. Because his is the authentic voice of today’s lickspittle Republican Party, he clarifies this year’s elections: Vote Republican to ratify groveling as governing.

Not sure I concur with Will’s assertion that Pence has eclipsed Trump in sheer repulsiveness, but Will makes a good point about what Pence’s servility says about today’s Republican Party.

Anyhoo, as we should always remember when Pence emerges from an undisclosed location to burble about the investigation, Manafort, whose every move was designed to extract money from Russian oligarchs, urged Trump to choose Pence as VP, and Pence oversaw the transition, in which an unregistered foreign agent who has since acknowledged lying to the FBI was installed as National Security Adviser — in the face of warnings from the acting AG. Pence is every bit as dirty as Trump.

It’s also worth putting the Mueller investigation in context:

Benghazi, 4 years, 0 indictments

Clinton emails, 2 years, 0 indictments

Russia collusion, 14 months, 23 indictments

Scoreboard, mofos. And tickety-fucking-tock.

The New Woodward and Bernstein

It’s far too early to write the history of RussiaGate / Stupid Watergate / TreasonGate (or whatever you want to call our long national nightmare). It’s still possible that the bad guys will win, and then they get to write the history.

But it’s not too early to recognize who’s playing the Woodward and Bernstein roles in our unfolding national crime drama, and it ain’t Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush. It’s a snarky adult film actress and her dishy lawyer.

In the early morning thread, Kay made the following observations:

It’s true – she’s not a whiner, that Stormy. She knew the assholes would fight her every step of the way. She expected nothing better from these people. Because she knows them.

We do a lot of worshiping of brave whistleblowers in this country and for some reason that hasn’t been applied to this porn actress. It should be. She’s up against some powerful people, and they’re mean as snakes. I believe the Trump thugs threatened her in a parking lot and I would bet 100 dollars she’s not the only one. I mean, Jesus. Just looking at the Russian dissidents who have “accidents” is scary. This is Trump’s scummy crew.

Would Stormy be treated differently if she were some upper manager who worked for Trump Criminal Enterprises Inc and blew the whistle on Cohen? Yes. So, why? They had a business relationship with Stormy. This wasn’t a romance.

It’s snobbery. She’s not a Edward Snowden figure because of the business she’s in and because of how she looks. She never would have gotten anywhere without a really aggressive and telegenic (and male) lawyer. The rest of the women who accused Trump were ignored.

Truth. As some wag on Twitter (I think) said, if the tag team of Daniels-Avenatti helps bring Trump down, statues of the pair should replace all the Confederate garbage polluting town squares across the South. It’s indisputably heroic, ridding your country of an incompetent clown (who’s in thrall to a foreign despot) and his corrupt crew.

But will Avenatti — and especially Stormy Daniels — get the hero treatment? Nah. Think about how not only Snowden but also Assange were/are lionized as truth-tellers who brought government perfidy to light. Their supporters would bristle at the suggestion that Stormy Daniels belongs in the Heroes of the Republic pantheon.

Assange and Snowden are described as “radical transparency” advocates, and I suspect their supporters would sneer at Stormy as a self-promoter (if they were feeling polite). The truth is, Assange and Snowden are a pair of self-promoting drama llamas, and any good they did was incidental to actions in service of their giant egos.

I find Stormy Daniels’ lack of guile about her purposes refreshing, to be honest. Same goes for Avenatti. They aren’t out there claiming to be selfless heroes, but if they succeed in helping to bring Trump down, they’re heroes all the same.

PS: Article 2, Section 4 of the United States Constitution:

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Just saying.