Schadenfreude Open Thread: The Bucket Brigade Arrives!

… and to put out the fires, per the Washington Post — the other Trump kids!:

Amid mounting questions at the White House about Russia, three prominent members of President Trump’s family — his sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and Eric’s wife, Lara — have ramped up their engagement with the Republican Party’s national political operation, having met privately with GOP leaders to share their concerns and outlook.

Their most recent effort came Thursday, when the president’s eldest sons and Lara Trump visited the Republican National Committee’s headquarters in Washington. Those three family members, who were invited by the RNC, stayed for about two hours, according to four people who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Their appearance at the RNC irked at least two prominent Republicans who were briefed on the session, who wondered whether it was appropriate for the president’s sons, who run the Trump family real estate business, to be highly involved in discussing the party’s strategy and resources.

But two other people familiar with the meeting said it was appropriate for the president’s sons and daughter-in-law, who all volunteered for Trump’s campaign, to huddle with Republican leaders and offer their perspective on what would be most helpful to President Trump ahead of the 2018 midterm elections and the 2020 presidential race…

A number of RNC figures and Trump allies also attended the Thursday meeting: RNC chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, RNC chief of staff Sara Armstrong, former Trump campaign digital strategist Brad Parscale, Trump campaign committee director Michael Glassner, and former White House deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh, who now advises a pro-Trump nonprofit group…

White House officials declined on Saturday to comment on the meeting.

Be more useful if Eric wasn’t wearing the bucket over his head, and Donald Jr wasn’t standing in his.

Ya gotta wonder how irked Sarah Palin must be, given all the abuse her family took, when the Palin clan grifting didn’t amount to more than a few thousand dollars in free swag and fancy accommodations. Sure, they can see Russia from their compound, but they never tried to sell the whole country off to Putin in return for propping up a bunch of dirty real-estate deals.



Open Thread: We’ll Always Have Paris Snark

Absolutely *not* fleeing the Titanic, per fellow WH cronies:

The decision for Priebus to return to the US was pre-planned, not spur-of-the-moment, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders and a second Trump adviser said.

“He was planning to come for the first stop and then head back for the budget roll out,” Sanders said.

The chaotic nature of this White House has prevented Trump’s team from doing much strategic planning, the second Trump adviser said. Leaving the trip early would give Priebus time to plan for the President’s return, the adviser said.

Some major issues are awaiting Trump back home, including the possible hiring of outside legal counsel in the Russia probe, the selection of a new FBI director, and the effort to pivot back to the President’s domestic agenda…

Yeah, like that’s any different than when Priebus was on the plane.

Reince’s job is to (try to) ram the oligarchs’ agenda through Congress, voters be damned. Trump’s agenda is to loot everything not nailed down, or that his thieving spawn can pry loose. No point in the GOP’s hand-chosen ‘Chief of Staff’ trying to keep them in line, as the Saudi portion of the trip has made abundantly clear.



Saturday Morning Open Thread: Light Breakfast Reading

Alexandra Petri, at the Washington Post“The president is not a child. He’s something worse:

We were wrong, it turns out. Anyone cannot be president. Anyone can be elected president (any man, that is), but not anyone can be president…

The Trump presidency is the discovery that what you thought was a man in a bear suit is just a bear. Suddenly the fact that he wouldn’t play by the rules makes total sense. It wasn’t that he refused to, that he was playing a long game. It was that he was a wild animal who eats fish and climbs trees, and English words were totally unintelligible to him. In retrospect, you should have suspected that after he just straight-up ate a guy. But at the time everyone cheered. It was good TV. Also, he was your bear.

Okay. So you have spent 200 years building a fragile snow globe, and now you have given it to a bear. The animal doesn’t care. You cannot even explain to him what the thing is. To him, all your words are just sounds. He looks at you when you are making them and he looks away when you are finished. You can only hope the bear becomes bored and sets the snow globe down and wanders off looking for food.

(Again, this is an insult to bears, who have fewer places to live than Trump and do not do so at the taxpayer’s expense.)…

He’s a human Failure to Read the User’s Manual…

Professor Krugman, “What’s the Matter With Republicans?“:

It has become painfully clear… that Republicans have no intention of exercising any real oversight over a president who is obviously emotionally unstable, seems to have cognitive issues and is doing a very good imitation of being an agent of a hostile foreign power.

They may make a few gestures toward accountability in the face of bad poll numbers, but there is not a hint that any important figures in the party care enough about the Constitution or the national interest to take a stand…

The Democratic Party is a coalition of interest groups, with some shared views but also a lot of conflicts, and politicians get ahead through their success in striking compromises and finding acceptable solutions.

The G.O.P., by contrast, is one branch of a monolithic structure, movement conservatism, with a rigid ideology — tax cuts for the rich above all else. Other branches of the structure include a captive media that parrots the party line every step of the way. Compare the coverage of recent political developments on Fox News with almost everywhere else; we’re talking North Korea levels of alternative reality.

And this monolithic structure — lavishly supported by a small number of very, very wealthy families — rewards, indeed insists on, absolute fealty. Furthermore, the structure has been in place for a long time: It has been 36 years since Reagan was elected, 22 years since the Gingrich takeover of Congress. What this means is that nearly all Republicans in today’s Congress are apparatchiks, political creatures with no higher principle beyond party loyalty…

In a perverse way, we should count ourselves lucky that Trump is as terrible as he is. Think of what it has taken to get us to this point — his Twitter addiction, his bizarre loyalty to Flynn and affection for Putin, the raw exploitation of his office to enrich his family, the business dealings, whatever they were, he’s evidently trying to cover up by refusing to release his taxes.

The point is that given the character of the Republican Party, we’d be well on the way to autocracy if the man in the White House had even slightly more self-control. Trump may have done himself in; but it can still happen here.

Apart from waiting for the next shoe(s) to fall, what’s on the agenda for the day?



Thursday Morning Open Thread: Patchworking

A longish read [warning: autoplay], but rich in entertainment value:

Advisers planning Trump’s first foreign trip, which begins Friday, canceled scheduled briefings on the matter to avoid having reporters milling about the West Wing. Vice President Mike Pence roared away in his motorcade.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s senior counselor who had been scheduled for an appearance on Fox News, abruptly canceled.

“It does seem a little chaotic over there, I gotta be honest with you,” said her would-be interviewer Tucker Carlson, a frank admission from a host who regularly defends the administration.

Into the night, the White House struggled to contain its frustration. Senior advisers told junior aides to focus on their work and compartmentalize the latest round of drama, which now the West Wing has even less control over.

The President and those around him saw again Wednesday night the limits of his own executive authority, a feeling presidents before him have bemoaned and he has witnessed multiple times in his four months in office.

One aide described the mood in two words: “Chaotically dark.”…

I think we can all agree with the following tweet:

What’s on the agenda as we buckle up for another day?
***********


===========

Golden oldie, newly relevant:



Tuesday Night Open Thread: Running the Country Like One of His Companies

Sticking his name on the facade in gilt letters, letting his cronies loot whatever they can pry loose, and preparing to walk away from his creditors. John Cassidy, in the New Yorker:

Donald Trump has built his political career on his reputation as a successful businessman, so it seems fair to assess his recent performance as President as if he were a C.E.O. running U.S.A., Inc. The report card isn’t pretty. Indeed, if Trump were the chief executive of a public company, the firm’s non-executive directors probably would have been huddled in a crisis meeting on Tuesday morning, deciding whether to issue him a pink slip…

Perhaps the most worrying sign for Trump came from U.S.A., Inc.,’s corporate headquarters, in Washington, D.C., where Paul Ryan, the company’s head of product development, who is widely regarded as a key Trump ally, expressed concern about the latest turn of events. While not referring to Trump directly, Ryan said in a statement that “protecting our company’s secrets is paramount.”

To be sure, I am stretching the corporate analogy here—Ryan said “our country’s secrets,” not “our company’s secrets”—but it brings out an important point. Most major corporations wouldn’t put up with Trump-like behavior. They have well-established rules and procedures for dealing with a C.E.O. who has gone rogue. If a firm’s board of directors sees the boss acting erratically and seriously undermining the firm’s long-term interests, it can step in and find a replacement. (At the very least, it can issue a reprimand and launch an internal inquiry to find out what has gone wrong.)

Politics doesn’t work like that, of course. More than sixty million Americans voted for Trump, and removing him from office would be a monumental undertaking. In light of Trump’s disclosures of classified information to Russia, some legal experts argued on Monday night that Congress could impeach him for violating his oath of office, in which he pledged to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States”—but that seems a long way off. Despite the latest statements from Ryan, Corker, and others, the G.O.P.’s leaders have come nowhere close to publicly supporting such a move…

THANKS EVER SO MUCH, REPUBS!



Another Croggle-Worthy* Read: “Donald Trump After Hours”

*croggle: (dated, fandom slang) To shock so much as to cause brief paralysis; to stun; to startle.

Thing is: HE THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA. Kanye West, Ryan Seacrest, watch and admire me, bigly!

Michael Scherer and Zeke J. Miller, at TIME, with a great subhead: “From where the 45th President works, eats and sleeps, everything is going just great. Now if only everyone else would see it that way“:

In a few minutes, President Donald Trump will release a new set of tweets, flooding social-media accounts with his unique brand of digital smelling salts—words that will jolt his supporters and provoke his adversaries.

Nearly a dozen senior aides stand in the Oval Office, crowding behind couches or near door-length windows. This is the way he likes to work, more often than not: in a crowd. He sits behind his desk finishing the tasks of the day, which have included watching new Senate testimony about Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election, by signing orders in red folders with a black Sharpie.

When he held the job, Barack Obama tended to treat the Oval Office like a sanctum sanctorum, accessible only for a small circle of advisers to break its silence on a tightly regulated schedule. For Trump, the room functions as something like a royal court or meeting hall, with open doors that senior aides and ­distinguished visitors flock through when he is in the building…

And the stream of visitors is constant. Just a few hours earlier, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster had stopped by with a foreign military delegation. Vice President Mike Pence brought by the Prime Minister of Georgia unscheduled for a photo. The New England ­Patriots got to take pictures behind the desk recently, and the President says the billionaire Ronald Lauder, a great collector of art, went crazy when he saw the painting of George Washington above the fireplace. “Never had people,” Trump likes to say of Obama’s use of the space. “I use the room. I use it a lot. I had the biggest people in the country here.”…

The powers of the presidency are vast, but Trump has discovered in these first months in office that they do not include­ much influence over how his words and actions are consumed by the American people. Among the many frustrations, none seems to burn quite as much as the disrespect he feels he has received from the press, which has steadily failed to reflect his version of reality. The story he wants told is not the one the nation reads and sees…
 
“The truth is, I got a raw deal,” he says later in the evening, the frustration unmistakable for a man who has spent so much of his life grading himself by headlines. The détente with the press after the election that he had hoped for never came. “It’s gotten worse,” he says. “It’s one of the things that surprises me.”

To cope with this new reality, the President says he is trying a mindfulness trick: he has tried to tune out the bad news about himself. “I’ve been able to do something that I never thought I had the ability to do. I’ve been able not to watch or read things that aren’t pleasant,” he will say later in the night, listing off the networks he tries to tune out and the newspapers he struggles to skim. Of course, as his public outbursts indicate, he does not always succeed, but he says he no longer feels a need to know everything said about him. “In terms of your own self, it’s a very, very good thing,” he says. “The equilibrium is much better.”

The following day, the news of the Senate hearings will once again fail to comport with the meaning he derived from his TiVo. The focus instead will be on Yates’ description of how she warned the White House about the apparent duplicity of Trump’s first National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, who misled the Vice President about his contacts with Russia. Flynn is now facing an investigation into foreign payments that officials say he failed to report.

Trump can’t do anything about that, for the most part. But he can still tweet. So now he walks out of his dining room, followed by the same substantial entourage of senior aides. Back in the Oval Office, he checks in with his waiting staff. “Did you get that stuff out?” the President asks of the tweets he had prepared. “The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax,” one reads, “when will the taxpayer funded charade end?” Dan Scavino, his social-media director, is sitting on the couch. “Yes, sir. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. It’s everywhere,” he says….

The waiters know well Trump’s personal preferences. As he settles down, they bring him a Diet Coke, while the rest of us are served water, with the Vice President sitting at one end of the table. With the salad course, Trump is served what appears to be Thousand Island dressing instead of the creamy vinaigrette for his guests. When the chicken arrives, he is the only one given an extra dish of sauce. At the dessert course, he gets two scoops of vanilla ice cream with his chocolate cream pie, instead of the single scoop for everyone else. The tastes of Pence are also tended to. Instead of the pie, he gets a fruit plate…

This is the part of the job that he has clearly come to enjoy, playing businessman for the American people. He brags about the close relationships he believes he has formed with foreign leaders, complimenting Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel on inviting his daughter Ivanka to speak overseas. He boasts of convincing Egypt’s leader, General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, to release several political prisoners, including an American­. He even runs through the many ways he has revised the rules of engagement in the war on the Islamic State. “They keep coming to me, at weird times too,” he says of requests for approval for drone strikes and Special Forces raids in his earliest days in office…

When asked directly if he feels his Administration has been too combative, he makes a brief allowance. “It could be my fault,” he says. “I don’t want to necessarily blame, but there’s a great meanness out there that I’m surprised at.” The inner conflict is clearly evident. This is the same man who just a couple hours earlier had joked about former federal officials choking “like dogs.”

One senior White House official recently outlined the three rules of Trump for a group of reporters: When you’re right, you fight. Controversy elevates message. And never apologize. All of these rules have survived his time in office, if in slightly more modest forms. After bringing new levels of combativeness to the political process, “the only way you survive is to be combative,” Trump says now. “I’ll read stories in the New York Times that are so one-sided. Hey, I know when I am successful. I know victory.”….

HE IS THE WORLD’S BIGGEST CELEBRITY, PEOPLE! (Why does everyone laugh at his mighty sword?… )



Thursday Evening Open Thread: “This Is Fine… ” GOP Mutters to Itself

Evergreen truth:

Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, what’s on the agenda for the evening?
***********