Point & Mock Open Thread: “Palace Intrigue”


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Ancestral war cry: Confusion to our enemies!

The Trump-minions look pretty confused right now…

Lord of all the flies!

Meanwhile…



Russiagate Open Thread: The Minions Are Restless

And who could blame them? Not every member of the Trump administration looks forward to spending the rest of their days in some country with no extradition agreement:

The uneasy dynamic between the president and top aides has been exacerbated by the revelation this week of an extended dinner conversation between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the recent summit in Germany. The previously undisclosed conversation, which occurred a few hours after their official bilateral meeting, raised red flags with advisers already concerned by the president’s tendency to shun protocol and press ahead with outreach toward Russia, according to two U.S. officials and three top foreign officials…

The three foreign officials who have spoken with top Trump advisers described a disconnect, or “mixed signals,” between Trump and his team over Russia, highlighting a lack of a clear policy. U.S. officials echoed that sentiment, with one saying diplomats and intelligence officials were “dumbfounded” by the president’s approach, particularly given the evidence of Russia’s election meddling…

In a highly unusual move, McMaster did not attend the bilateral meeting with Putin. Only Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and a translator made up the U.S. side.

Meetings with such critical national security implications typically include a broader team, including the national security adviser and a regional specialist from the National Security Council — in this case, the head of the Russia directorate, a position recently filled by Russia expert Fiona Hill.

Foreign and U.S. officials said the Russians recommended that a note taker be present in the bare-bones official bilateral meeting. But Trump, who has repeatedly expressed concern over leaks, refused, instead relying on Tillerson to document the meeting. The session was scheduled for 30 minutes but stretched to more than two hours.

The White House did not respond to questions about Trump’s refusal to have a note taker for his meeting with Putin, or about whether McMaster communicated his concerns to the president…

White House officials said the public may never know what was discussed between Putin and Trump over dinner. But advisers past and present said that characterizing any conversation with Putin as casual would be a mistake.

“There are no meaningless conversations between presidents,” said Jeffrey Edmonds, the NSC’s former Russia director.

“That’s what is so divergent here,” he said. “Relations have been at an all-time low because of Russian meddling in our elections and so it’s hard to see how a meeting with President Putin for an hour during dinner isn’t important.”

Hard to imagine a non-hinky explanation for Trump’s behavior, even for those of us with excellent imaginations.



Thursday Morning Open Thread: If We Can Keep It…

(Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)
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Apart from staying alert for the next assault, what’s on the agenda for the day?

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No sooner than time, the Media Village Idiots’ Conventional Wisdom may be shifting, which is in our favor. Jonathan Lemire, at AP, “Analysis: Trump unlikely to avoid blame for health care loss”:

Trump took office armed with Republican control of both houses of Congress and an ambitious agenda that would begin with the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. Six months later, the collapse of the GOP plan was a sharp rebuke for the president, who was unable to cajole or threaten Republicans to stay in line and who exerted little of his diminished political capital to see through a promise that had been at the core of his party since Obamacare became law seven years ago.

The president’s disjointed support for the health care plan did little to persuade Republicans to support it, and the fact that his approval ratings had dropped below 40 percent didn’t help either.

Trump never held a news conference or delivered a major speech to sell the bill to the public. He never leveraged his popularity among rank-and-file Republican voters by barnstorming the districts of wavering GOP senators. And he never spearheaded a coherent communications strategy — beyond random tweets — to push for the plan…

Sounding almost like a bystander during his brief Oval Office remarks Tuesday, Trump six times expressed “disappointment” that the Republican effort had failed. And he insisted the fault rested with Democrats and suggested Obamacare should be left to fail on its own.

I’m not going to own it,” Trump insisted. “I can tell you that Republicans are not going to own it.”

Democrats blasted Trump’s blame game, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer saying his refusal to accept responsibility demonstrated “such a lack of leadership.”

“That is such a small and petty response,” Schumer said. “Because the president, he’s in charge. And to hurt millions of people because he’s angry he didn’t get his way is not being a leader.”

The conservative House Freedom Caucus defied him and ignored his Twitter threats. The two senators who withdrew their support Monday night, effectively killing the bill, didn’t even give the White House a heads-up before announcing their decisions. And even though Trump allies have threatened to aid primary challengers to a pair of on-the-fence senators — Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada — the Republicans did not cave, potentially setting a worrisome precedent for the White House as it tries to move ahead with the rest of its stalled agenda…



Open Thread: Trumpcare ‘Not Dead Yet’ (But It Smells Kinda Funny)

Who’s got a sturdy cudgel? Yes, the ongoing fight to protect Obamacare is serious, but watching the REPUBS IN DISARRAY! is delicious. Alice Ollstein, at TPM, “Trump’s Ham-Handed, Incoherent Health Care Message Leaves Senate Flailing“:

On Wednesday, [Trump] summoned all 52 Republican senators to the White House to try to browbeat them into passing some form of a health care bill. The president previewed his message for the lawmakers in an interview with televangelist Pat Robertson—saying he’ll be “very angry” if they can’t pass a bill—and in tweets Wednesday morning that made no case for the merits of the legislation or the difficult politics of curtailing the benefits of millions of people.

At the meeting, he threatened bill critic Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), asking as TV cameras rolled if he wants to “remain a senator,” and demanded the Senate stay in session through the summer recess until they “get it done” on health care…

Trump’s tin ear for Washington politics was on full display Monday night—the night Republican defectors drove the final nail into the coffin of the latest Obamacare repeal bill. The president hosted a group of senators at White House ostensibly to discuss health care over an elegant steak dinner, but did not invite any of the on-the-fence lawmakers he needed to convince to support the repeal effort. Instead, he dined with a group that already supported the bill, and according to the Washington Post, spent most of the evening recounting his recent trip to France…

“For seven years, Republicans have told the voters: ‘If you elect us, we’ll repeal Obamacare,’” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), carefully choosing his words as he walked through the Capitol’s underground tunnels surrounded by half a dozen reporters. “I think we will look like fools if we can’t deliver on that promise.”

But that message is unlikely to resonate with the moderate senators opposing the legislation who have repeatedly promised to protect their constituents’ Medicaid benefits and advocate for people with pre-existing conditions.

“Any time you’re over at the White House and the president is talking to you about his opinions, it can provide a pretty strong case,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) acknowledged. “But,” she added with a laugh, “we have our strong opinions too.”

Hmmm… piss off their voters, or Ted Cruz? How tough a choice is that?



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: An Experiment

Since there has been some grousing that I’m scheduling these EMOTs too late now — and since FYWP is giving poor Alain fits anyway — I’m gonna try posting this before the daily ‘On the Road’ feature. Let’s see if you experts can actually keep up with two posts in real time…

Apart from cheap snark (yes, I deserve it, though not as much as the Repubs), what’s on the agenda for the day?
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Open Thread: Mitch McConnell, Master of… Disaster

Impeach Earl Warren! always did fire up the base — back in the 1960s. Those voters can’t all have died of old age yet, right?

(Ah, yes, the John Birch Society, of which the Kochs’ father was a founding member.)


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Open Thread: NOT HIS FAULT! (Nothing Ever Is)

Your “president”, Republicans! Worthy of a Qaddafi or a Mobute…

A disturbing scene unfolded at the White House on Monday afternoon. A hook-and-ladder firetruck and a utility bucket truck pulled up to the South Portico and extended their rescue arms in the vicinity of the Truman Balcony…

… The Trump White House had invited the makers of the trucks — and manufacturers of all stripes — to bring their wares to Washington to show that Trump was making good on his promise to revive manufacturing jobs in America.

The president admired baseball bats and golf clubs, tried on a Stetson, asserted that the representative from an Omaha beef producer “wanted to kiss me so badly,” gave a thumbs-up from the driver’s seat of the firetruck and admired a Sikorsky helicopter. “I have three of them,” this champion of the little guy reported. Trump, whose businesses fill hotel rooms with mostly imported goods and whose daughter manufactures her clothing line entirely overseas, proclaimed this “Made in America” week.

That Trump would attempt to give the impression that he is leading a manufacturing revival makes sense: In the otherwise dismal new Washington Post-ABC poll, Trump’s handling of the economy is the only area in which he is viewed favorably by the public, by a narrow 43 percent to 41 percent.

But if Americans were to discover Trump can’t make good on his promise to lead a resurgence in manufacturing jobs— then, well, it might be time for him to call in a five-alarm blaze and ride that hook-and-ladder into exile at Mar-a-Lago…