Open Thread: Gimme Sanctuary

Cue the Malevolent Leprechaun, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III :


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Open Thread: Trump & Russia – Fair Summary, So Far?



Late Night Open Thread: Pauli Boy (Weak & Nasty, But So Cleverly Marketed)

What I wanna know — when did “wonk” become a synonym for “soulless ideologue”? Or is that just one of those IOKIYAR exemptions?
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Jared Kushner’s “SWAT Team”: Early Contender for Dumbest Idea of the Week

I admit that’s a high bar in these turbulent days, but this new Trumpstunt is such a shining stinking exemplar of every half-bright, wholly-dishonest sackful of grift and self-deception that I’m not sure it won’t have been declared inoperative by the time this is scheduled to show up on the front page. From the Washington Post:

President Trump plans to unveil a new White House office on Monday with sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises — such as reforming care for veterans and fighting opioid addiction — by harvesting ideas from the business world and, potentially, privatizing some government functions.

The White House Office of American Innovation, to be led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will operate as its own nimble power center within the West Wing and will report directly to Trump. Viewed internally as a SWAT team of strategic consultants, the office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington, float above the daily political grind and create a lasting legacy for a president still searching for signature achievements…

In a White House riven at times by disorder and competing factions, the innovation office represents an expansion of Kushner’s already far-reaching influence. The 36-year-old former real estate and media executive will continue to wear many hats, driving foreign and domestic policy as well as decisions on presidential personnel. He also is a shadow diplomat, serving as Trump’s lead adviser on relations with China, Mexico, Canada and the Middle East.

The work of White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon has drawn considerable attention, especially after his call for the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” But Bannon will have no formal role in the innovation office, which Trump advisers described as an incubator of sleek transformation as opposed to deconstruction…

Bannon’s a mucker and a mean drunk, but he’s not dumb or vicious enough to let his name be associated with this disaster-in-the-making. Take it away, internets!…



Late Night Open Thread: Nazi Pajama Games

The Repubs have soooo much respect for our military, they want to use it as a dumpster for all the fantasists and grifters who aren’t sharp enough for the business grifts:

Mattis was widely embraced on both sides of the aisle when President Donald Trump nominated him. Republicans and Democrats alike expressed hope that the retired four-star general would be a moderating force on the volatile commander in chief.

But Republican lawmakers and senior congressional aides said in recent interviews they’re running out of patience with Mattis’ staffing decisions, which have disappointed Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee hoping to see their ideological allies elevated to senior levels in the Defense Department. Others are grumbling about Mattis’ refusal to advocate a bigger increase in the defense budget, which defense hawks believe was gutted disastrously under President Barack Obama.

“He certainly has got a tough job, but it sometimes feels like he forgets that we won the election,” said one aide to a GOP senator on the Armed Services Committee, who declined to speak on the record for fear of publicly alienating the defense secretary.

“We’ve waited eight years for this, to be able to fill these posts with Republicans,” said another top GOP Hill staffer. “We know Trump isn’t part of the establishment and that it’s going to be a bit different, but it should go without saying that a Republican administration is expected to staff federal agencies with Republicans.”…

Defense Department veterans say the White House has put Mattis in a nearly impossible position given that a large swath of the Republican foreign-policy establishment was openly critical of Trump during the campaign. Some say that has left Mattis with little choice but to turn to Democrats and to those without a political background to fill senior posts.

“In picking Mattis, the president got someone who had bipartisan credibility and was seen as a tough national security official who wasn’t going to toe the White House or the GOP line,” said Jeremy Bash, a former Pentagon spokesman under Secretary Leon Panetta. “Independence is an important attribute in a SecDef. But when you get that, you get frustration from the political folks. When you’re not coming out of the establishment, you have the credibility to do bipartisan things. You’re just going to take incoming from Democrats and from Republicans from time to time.”…

There’s also a longwinded story about Mattis paying insufficient attention to Senators Cotton and Cruz and their Very Serious Military Theorists cosplay, and a sidebar that he’s not sympathetic to re-introducing GOP grifters into Pentagon budget planning.

… Others said it’s crucial that Mattis embrace the reality of navigating the Hill. “Everybody thinks very highly of him, but he doesn’t have any political sense, and he doesn’t think he needs any political sense,” said one former Bush administration Defense Department official. “But it’s quintessentially a political job.”

We don’t want capable people with experience! We want cushy berths for our grifters and ideologues!

Bonus watching, another Trump ‘terrorism expert’ gets Bee-burned..



Open SCOTUS Thread: More Good News (If We Can Keep It Up)

The NYTimes:

While a parade of witnesses spoke in the committee room, Mr. Schumer went to the Senate floor and announced that he and other Democrats would refuse to permit an up-or-down vote on President Trump’s nominee. The Senate’s “cloture” rule requires a supermajority of 60 votes to overcome such a filibuster.

“After careful deliberation I have concluded that I cannot support Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court,” Mr. Schumer said. “His nomination will have a cloture vote. He will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation. My vote will be no, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”

If at least 41 of the chamber’s 48 Democrats stick together in the filibuster, it would force the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, to decide whether to try to change the rules of the chamber and approve Judge Gorsuch with a simple majority. Mr. Trump has urged Mr. McConnell to take that step if necessary.

Mr. McConnell has said he wants the Senate to confirm Judge Gorsuch to fill the vacancy, which was created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia a year ago, before departing for a scheduled recess on April 7….



Thursday Morning Open Thread: Some Dare Call It Treason

As perceived by the ex-CIA, #NeverTrump candidate in 2016:

There’s an old political story about LBJ deciding not to run for reelection once the major news media started reporting unvarnished details about the ongoing war in Vietnam: “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” Trump has only been in office for two months, but he’s already lost at least two Very Serious Media Voices. Thomas Friedman, aka ‘the Moustache of Understanding’:

The last time our country faced such a cancer on the presidency, the Republican Party’s leadership stood up and put country before party to get to the truth. But today’s G.O.P. is a pale imitation of that party. With a few exceptions, it has declared moral bankruptcy and abdicated its responsibility to draw any red lines for President Trump…

If you say and do nothing when the nation’s leader smears his predecessor — and then maintains his fantasy as fact — not only will he never have the credibility to call on any other country to uphold the highest standards for rule of law, democracy and human rights, but neither will all of you. We will become a lesser country and the world a more dangerous place.

Friedman’s fellow NYTimesman Nick Kristof:

The greatest political scandal in American history was not Aaron Burr’s shooting of Alexander Hamilton, and perhaps wasn’t even Watergate. Rather it may have been Richard Nixon’s secret efforts in 1968 to sabotage a U.S. diplomatic effort to end the Vietnam War.

Nixon’s initiative, long rumored but confirmed only a few months ago, was meant to improve his election chances that year. After Nixon won, the war dragged on and cost thousands of additional American and Vietnamese lives; it’s hard to see his behavior as anything but treason.

Now the F.B.I. confirms that we have had an investigation underway for eight months into whether another presidential campaign colluded with a foreign power so as to win an election. To me, that, too, would amount to treason…
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