Open Thread: Some Men Just Want to Watch the World Burn

Sure, the caption claims that’s Arthur Laffer, of the infamous Laffer curve, but look at that demented grin!


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Apart from picking out theme songs for the Apocalypse Trump’s inaugural ball, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Post-Truth!

One of the meager joys of the PEOTUS-Asterisk’s upcoming term will be watching the establishment GOP’s gentleman-amateur liars get steamrolled by an experienced professional. Because once the troglodyte Trump voters realize that their White Man’s America is not actually being Made Great Again, it’s gonna be the “nice” Midwestern Ryan/Pence/Preibus fellas who look out their windows at the pitchfork-and-torch protesters — not the professional conman on the 24th floor of Trump Tower NYC…

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Apart from devoutly hoping the GOP comeupance arrives ASAP, what’s on the agenda for the day?



Open Thread: Pizzagate — You Can Fix Ignorant, But You Can’t Fix (Deliberately) Stupid

Pizzagate, possibly to become the textbook example of how inventing “fake news” can lead to “real, tragic consequences”. I’ve been ignoring it — I suspect a lot of us have — because it seems one of those wingnut-shit-dumps designed, like cholera, to spread its contagion further with every mention. But given that one of its deluded proponents has managed to push the argument from banned-on-reddit to national news outlets, I’m gonna recomend Gizmodo‘s “Pizzagaters Aren’t Giving This Shit Up“:

For months, 4chan and Reddit users have delved deep into the emails of John Podesta as they were released by Wikileaks and concluded that the emails contained coded language about a secret child-trafficking ring operating out of Comet Ping Pong, a Washington DC pizzeria—a ring ran by Podesta and former presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. The theory was known as “Pizzagate,” and until recently it was just another of the internet’s outlandish conspiracy theories. Two of pizzagate’s loudest mouthpieces have backed off their support after a man armed with a AR-15, a Colt. 38, and a shotgun entered the restaurant to “investigate.” And yet, pizzagate somehow trudges on, without them.

(Pizzagate has been debunked by Snopes and the New York Times, and one of its biggest communities—r/pizzagate—was booted off Reddit for the repeated release of personally identifiable information, as Gizmodo reported last week.)

Two of the most vocal (and visible) entities propping up pizzagate’s absurd claims were, predictably, arch-troll Mike Cernovich and the Alex Jones’ Infowars….

There have always been people on the fringes making unsubstantiated claims and then covering their asses, just as there have always been angry, confused people willing to believe and forgive them. And while connections have been drawn by other outlets to Welch’s associations as a possible motivation for entering an otherwise unassuming pizzeria with a small arms cache, the connection is unprovable. But, hopefully the risk of having emboldened a gunman might cause Cernovich, Jones, and their ilk to reconsider fueling the fires of internet conspiracies.

What we’ve all been learning during Trump’s ascendence, though, is that the fringes are closer than ever to the center of power in this country. Among the pizzagate truthers, as Politico reported yesterday, is Michael Flynn Jr., close adviser to his father Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn—Trump’s pick for national security adviser…

Maddison Welch has the excuse of being a petty-criminal substance abuser with nothing more pressing on his calendar than investigating the ‘basement sex tunnels’ in a building with no basement. But what’s Alex Jones’ excuse — or Lt-Gen Flynn’s? Lulz nothing matters?

George Orwell would’ve been so impressed! All human knowledge and history accessible at the click of a few buttons, and people are using it… to embed themselves, and each other, further and further in a matrix of unbreakable, shatterproof STUPID.



Monday Evening Open Thread: Good News from NC

Hat tip to commentor Timothy C. Per the NYTimes:

RALEIGH, N.C. — Ending an acrimonious stalemate that dragged on for nearly a month, Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, conceded in his bid for re-election here on Monday, clearing the way for the ascension of his challenger, the Democrat Roy Cooper, and giving the national Democratic Party a rare cause for celebration.

Mr. Cooper, the state attorney general, declared victory on election night, but Mr. McCrory’s allies lodged election challenges in dozens of North Carolina counties, enraging Democrats who accused Republicans of being sore losers, or worse, in one of 2016’s closest statewide races.

Most of the challenges proved to be of little consequence, however. And by Monday, as partial results of a recount of more than 90,000 votes that Republicans had demanded in Durham County showed no significant change in the results, Mr. McCrory — whose one term was buffeted by nationwide anger over a law he signed that curbed anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — had little choice but to admit defeat…

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Apart from taking our wins where we can, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Open Thread: Masque of the Red(state) Death

Somewhere Jay Gatsby is going, “Ugh, tacky. ” But not Politico! “Trump attends donor’s ‘Villains and Heroes’ party — as himself”:

President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday night attended a lavish costume party on Long Island hosted by his biggest donors, the Mercer family…

According to a Saturday evening pool report, Trump’s motorcade arrived at the party at 8:35 p.m. As Trump entered, dressed in a dark suit, overcoat and tie, he was asked who he was dressed as. Pointing at himself, the president-elect mouthed the word “Me.” Neither his wife, Melania Trump, nor Trump’s children attended. Top aide Steve Bannon and former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway attended, with Conway dressed as Super Woman, according to the pool report…

Although Trump during the campaign decried the influence of big donors, the Mercer family played a major role in his campaign and has wielded vast influence in his transition.

The family patriarch, hedge fund tycoon Robert Mercer, donated $2 million to a pro-Trump super PAC that came to be run by his daughter Rebekah Mercer, who controls the family’s political operations.

Rebekah Mercer played a pivotal role in persuading Trump to bring on three close allies of hers to run the campaign — incoming White House senior counselor Bannon and top campaign officials Conway and David Bossie…

The Mercers have hosted the party at their estate on Long Island’s North Shore around the holidays in each of the past several years.

It’s become an increasingly hot ticket as the Mercers have become bigger players in conservative politics.

Robert Mercer and his youngest daughter, Heather Sue Mercer, are competitive poker players, and past years’ parties have featured blackjack and poker tables. The Mercers supply chips — free of charge — that can be redeemed at the end of the night for lavish prizes such as gold Rolexes, according to people who have attended.

Staff and security at the event were dressed as Hell’s Angels and retro Salvation Army members, according to the pool report.

So, I guess this was a sort of coming-out party for Rebekah Mercer, as the new generation of bloated plutocrat parasitizing our commonwealth.

Maybe the best outcome the rest of us can hope for is that Ms. “But She’s the Smart One” comes to blows with “Daddy’s Little Princess” before the Trump Kakistocracy can embed itself too deeply in the national hide. Because I suspect those two have as many issues to work out as their more-famous-for-now daddies…



Thursday Evening Open Thread: Tim’s Right About Medicare

From the article:

… “We say to our Republicans that want to privatize Medicare, go try it, make our day,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the incoming Democratic leader, mustering his best Clint Eastwood/Ronald Reagan impersonation.

Since 1995 — when the newly installed speaker, Newt Gingrich, famously proposed $270 billion in cuts to Medicare and declared the program would “wither on the vine” because of the appeal of Republican-crafted free-market options — Democrats have seen the exceedingly popular but financially strained program as a winning wedge issue…

Now Democrats intend to capitalize on it again, beginning with their approach to the nomination of Representative Tom Price, Republican of Georgia, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

Mr. Price is not only a leading proponent of repealing the Obama-era health care law, but he has embraced Republican efforts to move future Medicare users into private insurance programs and raise the eligibility age. He told reporters shortly after the Nov. 8 election that he anticipated Republicans would embark on a substantial Medicare overhaul within the first six to eight months of Donald J. Trump’s presidency.

Senate Democrats intend to press Mr. Price on this subject during his confirmation hearings. They see a wide opening for political gain, given the 57 million older Americans who rely on Medicare — including many white Midwesterners with financial worries who voted for Mr. Trump.

“Good luck to selling that to the voters in Indiana and Ohio that were Democrats and voted for Trump this time,” Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, said about a Medicare revamp. “They’re going to be fleeing quickly, right?”

A Medicare fight is also a potential political lifeline for Democrats in red states who could be in very tough contests in 2018. Ten Senate Democrats face re-election in states carried by Mr. Trump. One of them, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, has already made it clear that he will brook no overhaul of Medicare and that he intends to vote against Mr. Price’s nomination to the health care agency…

Democrats also noted that Mr. Trump did not campaign on the idea of tinkering with Medicare or its companion entitlement program, Social Security. In fact, his statements about those two cornerstones of American retirement security were that he would not cut them. That difference raises the prospect of a clash with congressional Republicans — particularly House Republicans led by Speaker Paul D. Ryan — who have long pushed for Medicare changes and championed them in House budgets…

So, with a little luck & a lot of skill, we can protect Medicare, scare a bunch of venal Repubs, ding up a particularly bad cabinet member wannabe, drive a wedge between the upcoming President-with-an-asterisk and his GOP ‘partners’, and keep voters’ attention focused for the 2018 elections. Sounds worth some phone calls to me!
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Apart from fighting the good fight, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Thursday Morning Open Thread: PEOTUS Trump, Fraud-in-Chief

Looks like the Washington Post may have decided the nation needs a Paper of Opposition, since the NYTimes is determined to control the Kneepads Brigade. Phillip Bump, “Trump will be the first modern president to get less than half of the vote in both the primary and general”:

Trump always likes to say that he received more votes than any previous Republican nominee, which is accurate, but it’s also accurate that a record was set for most votes cast for candidates other than the eventual nominee.

Using data from U.S. Election Atlas and the Congressional Quarterly Guide to Elections, we can plot contests since 1972 (after the reforms that followed the 1968 process) and demonstrate that only five times have major-party nominees earned less than 50 percent of the vote in both the primary and the general — and only once, this year, has that person ended up winning the presidency…

Update: Since someone on Twitter asked, the other four people to get under 50 percent in each contest were John McCain (2008), Michael Dukakis (1988), Walter Mondale (1984) and George McGovern (1972).

Interestingly, both of the last two losing candidates got more of the vote in the general election than did Trump. Trump earned about 46.3 percent of the vote (though ballots are still being counted) to Mitt Romney’s 47.2. (Romney also did better than Trump in nearly half the states.) Hillary Clinton, of course, beat Trump in the popular vote this year, which is where this whole thing started…

More Republicans voted for someone besides Trump than voted for him in the primary, but he won. More Americans voted for Trump’s opponent in the general, but he won.

Had we been saying this about Clinton, I think it’s safe to guess the word Trump would have used to describe her victory: Rigged.

Trump, as is his wont, found the right loopholes to stake his claim to a chunk of an aging, damaged institution (the GOP, in this case) — which he will now, predictably, loot and discard.

But let’s keep reminding him that his “landslide” is really just a Mondale/McGovern/Dukakis/McCain – level #FAIL, artificially inflated into the semblance of a victory by years of Republican vote-suppression, gerrymandering, foreign interference, and warring factions within the national security state. He has no mandate, and neither do the professional GOP asset-strippers like Paul Ryan, who are planning to use Trump as their catspaw.

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Apart from congratulating the pollsters for their accuracy (FWIW), what’s on the agenda for the day?