Late Night Open Thread: All Fall Down

Every day, the Republican Party acts less like a political organization and more like a cult…



Open Thread: Things Are Progressing Not Necessarily to the Trump Administration’s Best Advantage

The great blogger Billmon used to remind us, when official sources tried to obfuscate the consequences of their own incompetence, that the Emperor in 1945 is supposed to have announced Japan’s unconditional surrender by saying something like “The situation has progressed not necessarily to our kingdom’s best advantage.”

The GOP, and its handmaidens in the management suites at the Grey Lady, are attempting a similar circumlocution. The NYTimes reporters are starting to edge towards the exits, though:

For days, a frustrated and simmering president fumed inside the West Wing residence about what aides said he saw as his staff’s inadequate defense and the ineffectiveness of his own tweets. Over the objections of some top advisers who wanted to steer him away from confrontation, Mr. Trump demanded to face the media, determined to reject the narrative that his administration is sinking into chaos, scandal and incompetence.

In a rowdy, free-for-all news conference hastily staged in the East Room, Mr. Trump attempted to deflect attention from news coverage about Russian intelligence, the resignation of his national security adviser, the defeat of his labor secretary nominee, and deepening questions about his ability to govern.

“I turn on the T.V., open the newspapers and I see stories of chaos,” Mr. Trump said as he attempted — with little discipline — to read from prepared remarks listing his accomplishments since being inaugurated one month ago. “Chaos. Yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.”…

For his supporters, the performance was certain to be energizing. Mr. Trump turned sober questions from journalists into, at times, mesmerizing television. He attempted to reassert his command of “dishonest” journalists at a time when the news media is questioning his capacity to lead. It all made the brooding boss feel better, people close to Mr. Trump said…

Still, it is unlikely that Mr. Trump’s 77-minute performance will divert much long-term attention from questions about his campaign’s relationship with Russia, or reassure wavering Republicans on Capitol Hill that their agenda is on track. Yet Mr. Trump’s close allies said he had met his more immediate goal of soothing himself with a sense of control over his own administration…

Even the NotSoLiberal Fox News!



Schadenfreude Open Thread: “Gliding Towards Nowhere”

From the NYTimes, “G.O.P.’s Grand Visions for Congress Now Look Like a Mirage“:

After moving to start rolling back the Affordable Care Act just days after President Trump was sworn in last month, Republican lawmakers and Mr. Trump have yet to deliver on any of the sweeping legislation they promised. Efforts to come up with a replacement for the health care law have been stymied by disagreements among Republicans about how to proceed. The same is true for a proposed overhaul of the tax code.

The large infrastructure bill that both Democrats and Mr. Trump were eager to pursue has barely been mentioned, other than a very general hearing to discuss well-documented needs for infrastructure improvements. Even a simple emergency spending bill that the Trump administration promised weeks ago — which was expected to include a proposal for his wall on the Mexican border — has not materialized, leaving appropriators idle and checking Twitter…

At this point in Barack Obama’s presidency, when Democrats controlled Washington, Congress had passed a stimulus bill totaling nearly $1 trillion to address the financial crisis, approved a measure preventing pay discrimination, expanded a children’s health insurance program, and begun laying the groundwork for major health care and financial regulation bills. President George W. Bush came into office with a congressional blueprint for his signature education act, No Child Left Behind…

The inactivity stems from a lack of clear policy guidance — and, just as often, contradictory messages — from the Trump administration, which does not appear to have spent the campaign and transition periods forming a legislative wish list. Democrats have also led efforts to slow the confirmation of nominees to Mr. Trump’s cabinet who might otherwise be leading the charge.

“When you spend a lot of time talking about policy and debating policy in the presidential campaign, it is far easier to be specific about legislation when you get into office,” said Austan Goolsbee, who served as the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Obama administration. “President Trump spent the campaign fleshing out nothing in detail, so it’s not really a surprise that they can’t even agree on priorities, much less on actual legislative detail.”….

Nobody loves a loser, ya luzers!



A BFD that passed amongst the chaos

In most strands of the multi-verse, the below would have sent the health wonk community ablaze. Instead in this strand, we spent all day yesterday talking about a proposed rule from CMS and generally shaking our head as our government continues to say “Hold my beer and watch this….”

But this is normally a BFD:

What does this mean?

Repeal and Replace or Repeal and Delay and Pray is dead. There is no coherent coalition of 218 and 51. The Republican Senate caucus can afford to lose two votes (assuming Democrats are healthy and have everyone show up). The 2016 ACA Repeal bill defunded Planned Parenthood and knocked out Medicaid Expansion. Either of those elements will cost the Republicans at least two votes. Combined, those two provisions probably cost the Republicans six to ten votes. That is a blocking coalition when combined with Democrats.

In the House, Speaker Ryan would like to pass anything with only Republican votes in order to not be hung out to dry like former Speaker Boehner (remember he has tough votes on the debt ceiling coming up). That means he needs 90% of his caucus on board with anything. The Republican House Freedom Caucus has enough members to deny Ryan a Republican only majority. The HFC is demanding a word for word replica of the 2016 bill.

This is a Big Biden Deal as the status quo bias works in our favor for the avalanche approach that I feared in November can’t get started. Long, boring committee meetings, calls to the CBO, wonks ripping apart a plan to help advocates find very sympathetic people to tell true stories with high emotional punch is where we’re going for anything more complicated than a technical correction bill or rebranding.



Open Thread: Trumpstuntin’ Status, Moving From SNAFU to FUBAR


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Meanwhile, in another part of the galaxy…



Late Night Scumbags Open Thread: If This Is History Repeating, Did It Have to Be Such A Lousy Farce?

The call logs and intercepted communications are part of a larger trove of information that the F.B.I. is sifting through as it investigates the links between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russian government, as well as the hacking of the D.N.C., according to federal law enforcement officials. As part of its inquiry, the F.B.I. has obtained banking and travel records and conducted interviews, the officials said….

The intercepted calls are different from the wiretapped conversations last year between Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, and Sergey I. Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States. In those calls, which led to Mr. Flynn’s resignation on Monday night, the two men discussed sanctions that the Obama administration imposed on Russia in December…

Given his short stay at the top, Mr. Flynn’s case might be quickly forgotten as an isolated episode if it did not raise other questions, particularly about what the president knew and when. Even more broadly, it underscores lingering uncertainty about the relationship between the Trump administration and Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia, a subject of great interest given American intelligence reports of Moscow’s intervention in last year’s elections in the United States.

As leaders of both parties said on Tuesday that they expected the Senate to investigate and probably even summon Mr. Flynn to testify, more details emerged about a drama that played out largely in secret inside a White House riven by competing power centers. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, revealed that Mr. Trump had known about concerns that Mr. Flynn lied for more than two weeks before demanding his resignation on Monday night. But Vice President Mike Pence was kept in the dark and did not learn that Mr. Flynn had misled him about his Russia contacts until reading news accounts late last week…

(Somewhere in Hell, dead Spiro Agnew weeps at the GOP’s reduction to the likes of ‘Mike Dense’.)

“The mountain has labored, and brought forth a mouse. But did it have to be a wall-eyed mouse in a clown suit?”



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Hearts & Flowers Brickbats

Potentially good news:

Ever-enjoyable jeering from the peanut gallery: