Pre-Dawn Open Thread: Oh, Look, the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver Had A Town Hall!

I still haven’t been able to find any info on whether Trump decided to upstage Ryan with his Big Boy Great Game Adventure Speech, but would it be a surprise either way? Per Refinery29:

The Ryan town hall began 30 minutes later than originally planned to accommodate Trump’s nationwide address where he outlined a new strategy for troops in Afghanistan…

CNN extended invitations to people from Ryan’s district and selected the questions that were asked. That has led to criticism from Democrats who say the Republican Ryan has been hiding from Wisconsin voters since he hasn’t held a town hall open to everyone since October 2015.

Ryan’s Democratic challenger, Randy Bryce, said he did not receive a ticket to the event. Instead, he raised money to run a pair of television ads during the broadcast, including one where he poses three questions for Ryan to answer about health insurance, Trump, and equal pay legislation.
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Wednesday Evening Open Thread: Joke O’Keefe Strikes (Himself) Again!

Lest we forget — being a Republican means never learning anything from one’s mistakes. Jane Mayer, in the New Yorker, on a repeat offender:

James O’Keefe III, the conservative activist famous for undercover stings, has dedicated his life to exposing the “misconduct” of others. But he’s developed a side business in accidentally exposing his own. In the latest chapter of his strange career, the League of Conservation Voters, a national environmental-advocacy group, has filed a complaint against three individuals who infiltrated its operations, at least two of whom, the group alleges, “could be associated with” O’Keefe and have past ties to him. The group’s leaders recently began to suspect that they were being scammed, and decided to go to the authorities before O’Keefe or his alleged associates released any material on their own.

In a six-page letter of complaint sent to the California Department of Justice on Friday, the League of Conservation Voters, or L.C.V., asked the state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, to open a criminal investigation into the operatives for potential fraud, racketeering, unfair business practices, trespassing, invasion of privacy, and possible violation of the state’s two-way-consent eavesdropping laws. The environmental group filed the letter in California because the “imposters,” as it labelled the operatives, first made contact with the organization through its state branch in the San Francisco Bay Area. A spokesperson for the California Department of Justice declined to comment, as is its policy on potential criminal investigations.

O’Keefe, whom I reached by phone on Tuesday, said that he was unaware of the letter and otherwise declined to discuss the matter. “I don’t comment on investigations real or imagined, or work with mainstream reporters who operate in bad faith,” he told me. In 2016, I wrote an article for this magazine about O’Keefe’s bungled attempt to sting George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, a liberal nonprofit group that O’Keefe had targeted.

L.C.V.’s letter describes an elaborate, six-month-long scheme. It alleges that the three operatives created false personas—backed up with fake Facebook, LinkedIn, and e-mail accounts—under which they met with “dozens” of the group’s staffers, board members, and donors, and gained access to “confidential” information. According to the letter, “at least two” of the individuals, who are identified as Christian Hartsock and Daniel Sandini, have reportedly worked with O’Keefe in the past, though L.C.V.’s letter acknowledges that the group doesn’t know whether O’Keefe was directly involved in the sting or merely inspired a copycat operation. Hartsock and Sandini also have connections to Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s chief political adviser: they both received film credits in “Occupy Unmasked,” a 2012 documentary directed by Bannon. The film’s cast notes describe Hartsock as a longtime collaborator of O’Keefe’s and a “protégé” of Andrew Breitbart, the late founder of the right-wing Web site Breitbart News, which Bannon ran prior to joining Trump’s Presidential campaign last year. They also say that Sandini is “inspired by Andrew Breitbart and James O’Keefe.” The third individual named in the letter, Ann Vandersteel, is a conservative online commentator who has promoted conspiracy theories including “Pizzagate,” the election-season right-wing fantasy that claimed Hillary Clinton’s campaign was running a child-molestation ring in the basement of a Washington pizza parlor that, among other things, has no basement. (Hartsock declined to comment for this article, and attempts to reach Sandini and Vandersteel were unsuccessful.)…

According to the letter, the scheme began last December, when Hartsock approached L.C.V.’s Oakland, California, office pretending to be a man named Trent Maynard. He allegedly said that he represented a wealthy but politically inexperienced donor who had been motivated by Trump’s election to give to progressive causes. Hartsock presented a fake business card and mentioned that his donor friend wanted to be introduced to environmental leaders and elected officials. Soon after, L.C.V. staffers invited Hartsock to attend an Inauguration Day fundraiser for environmental groups, where he mingled with various progressive leaders…

The L.C.V. staff found some of Sandini’s behavior bizarre. At one L.C.V. event, he seemed inexplicably disappointed when he wasn’t able to present a pair of cufflinks to the California Senate’s president pro tempore, Kevin de León, after de León failed to show. The staff also noticed that he had a habit of leaving his cufflinks, and his phone, on tables during get-togethers, which, according to L.C.V.’s letter, “raises the possibility that we have been recorded without consent. We are deeply concerned that if surreptitious, unauthorized videos or recordings were made, these individuals could make deceptive edits to create unfair, malicious, and false impressions.”…

Beats looking for an honest job, I guess.
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Apart from casting a cold eye on all the little criminals, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Proud to Be A Democrat


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From Politico, “Democrats press GOP to scrutinize rise in white supremacy”:

Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee are asking panel Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) to examine racist fringe groups, including those that organized Saturday’s violent protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on the University of Virginia campus…

California Rep. Lou Correa, who sits on the Homeland panel, was the first Democrat to call for hearings.

“Yesterday’s horrific acts against innocent Americans were clear acts of terrorism,” he said. “Our country has a homegrown terrorism problem we refuse to address. That ends now. We must hold hearings and finally address that terrorism inflicted by white supremacy extremists is destroying our country.”

A spokesman for Homeland ranking member Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) confirmed to POLITICO that committee Democrats were organizing to increase pressure on the panel to schedule hearings on white supremacist terrorism.

Homeland Democrats have already called for such hearings twice this year to no avail. A spokesperson for McCaul did not respond to request for comment.

The issue is going beyond the committee. Top House Democrats will discuss the matter during a leadership call and Democratic caucus conference call scheduled for Tuesday, according to a senior Democratic source. House Judiciary Democrats likewise held a call and are coordinating efforts to ramp up pressure on Republicans to address the growing threat…



Late Night Open Thread: Godwin’s Other Law



Remember: “Charlottesville Was Always Coming Because of Choices the Republican Party Has Made”

(KAConway/Jennifer Palmieri)
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Mr. Charles P. Pierce, at Esquire, is a wise man:

[W]hen anybody, especially the president*, talks about what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, from the Citronella Putsch on Friday night, to the violence on Saturday morning, to the graphic fulfillment of the philosophy behind these lunatic laws on Saturday afternoon, tells you that what happened in Virginia has anything to do with “polarization,” or that it is a problem equally shared by Both Sides, that person is trying preemptively to pick history’s pockets.

Every Republican who ever played footsie with the militias out west owns this bloodshed.

Every Republican who ever spoke to, or was honored by, the Council of Conservative Citizens and/or the League of the South owns this bloodshed.

Every Republican administration that ever went out of its way to hire Pat Buchanan, and every TV executive who ever cut him a check, and every Republican who voted for him in 1992, and everyone who ever has pretended his views differed substantially from the ones in the streets this weekend, owns this bloodshed…

Anyone who followed the presidential campaign saw this coming. Frankly, I’m surprised there wasn’t more of it. Every Trump rally came with an implied promise of some kind of violence. Sometimes, the promise was fulfilled. Sometimes it wasn’t. But it was the dark energy behind that whole campaign. For all the relentless chin-stroking about the economically anxious and forgotten white working class, and for all the prayerful coverage of Donald Trump’s “populist” appeal, there was no question what was driving events on the Republican side.

If they merely wanted change, they had 16 other Republican candidates to choose from. But that wasn’t what got them out to the rallies, to bathe in that dark energy and chant their imprecations. That wasn’t what got them to the polls in droves. The inside voice, carefully honed by four decades of practice, had gone silent in favor of saying out loud all the spells and incantations that had worked their magic ever since Harry Dent had written the original book of spells and handed it to Richard Nixon…
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Monday Morning Open Thread: It’s Always White Nationalism Week At the Trump White House!

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)
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This is from the beginning of August, but I didn’t get a chance to link it earlier because there’s always so much damned news. Paul Waldman, in The Week, “It’s white nationalism week in the Trump administration”:

The power of Trump’s campaign for so many of his voters was that it wasn’t couched in euphemism and it didn’t apologize for its appeal to racial, ethnic, and religious identity. His most ardent supporters thrilled to the permission Trump gave them to cast off the chains of “political correctness” and tell people what they really thought of them — immigrants, Muslims, African-Americans, women, all of them.

What do you think “Make America Great Again” was supposed to mean? It promised a return to a time when our country was less diverse and no one questioned a hierarchy that placed white men at the top (today, of course, the hierarchy still exists, but people question it all the time). Many of those white men feel like they’ve lost something over the years, particularly if their economic prospects are limited. For them, the idea of turning back the clock so they wouldn’t have to read signs in Spanish or be polite to people they consider their lessers was nothing short of intoxicating…

While President Trump may never have had any deep thoughts about his role in a clash of civilizations, he knows what whips up his crowds. And his impulses always run toward antipathy for people not like him — even, in his more vulgar moments, toward advocacy for violence, whether it’s telling his supporters to “knock the hell” out of protesters or suggesting that what America needs is more police brutality.

“See, in the good old days this doesn’t happen,” Trump said when protesters interrupted him at a campaign rally, “because they used to treat them very, very rough. And when they protested once, you know, they would not do it again so easily.” Everyone cheered. He promised his supporters a return to those good old days, and that’s what he’s trying to give them. They can look at Washington and know that non-white people and immigrants aren’t going to be treated with kid gloves anymore. It may not put food on their tables or solve the problems in their communities, but it might be enough to convince them that America is becoming great again. And that’s all Trump needs.

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Apart from rededicating ourselves to a long battle, what’s on the agenda as we start the new week?



Chill Pre-Dawn Open Thread: At Least You Don’t Have This Guy’s Job

The WSJ‘s foreign correspondent in Seoul…

Threatening nuclear war — again. Why does it always have to be nuclear war?
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