Rooting for Injuries Open Thread: NRA in Disarray!

Were I a better person, my first reaction might not have been “Root for injuries”. Per the NYTimes:

INDIANAPOLIS — Turmoil wracking the National Rifle Association is threatening to turn the group’s annual convention into outright civil war, as insurgents maneuver to oust Wayne LaPierre, the foremost voice of the American gun rights movement.

The confrontation pits Mr. LaPierre, the organization’s longtime chief executive, against its recently installed president, Oliver L. North, the central figure in the Reagan-era Iran-contra affair, who remains a hero to many on the right.

Behind it is a widening crisis involving a legal battle between the N.R.A. and its most influential contractor, Ackerman McQueen, amid renewed threats from regulators in New York, where the N.R.A. is chartered, to investigate the group’s tax-exempt status. With contributions lagging, the N.R.A. is also facing an increasingly well-financed gun rights movement, motivated by a string of mass shootings.

Mr. North asked Mr. LaPierre to resign on Wednesday, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times. He said he had also created a committee to review allegations of financial improprieties that threaten the N.R.A.’s status as a nonprofit organization.

But Mr. LaPierre, in a stinging letter sent on Thursday night to the N.R.A.’s board, accused Mr. North of threatening to leak damaging information about him and other N.R.A. executives unless he stepped down…

It is not clear whether Mr. North has the board support to oust Mr. LaPierre, who has led the N.R.A. for decades. Previously, the presidency has been a ceremonial position, though Mr. North, in documents reviewed by The Times, has asked for it to be a paid post. A key factor will be Chris Cox, who runs the N.R.A.’s Institute for Legislative Action and is effectively the group’s second-ranking official…

With the N.R.A.’s board due to meet on Monday, the crisis could come to a head soon…








Friday Morning Open Thread: I’m TIRED of These Morons & Grifters

Finally had a dry afternoon yesterday, so I could go out & start serious assessment of the various plants that did or did not survive the winter. It is going to take so much work to rip everything out and start over — I want to save as many of my favorite plants as I can, but I’ll have to dig them up one by one before carpet-bombing the myriad invansive weeds and vinca. And even though I’m not exactly looking forward to the task, at least it’s less discouraging than following the Oval Office Occupation and its various noxious pests…

From the Washington Post, “Stymied by aides, Trump sought out loyalist to curtail special counsel — and drew Mueller’s glare”:

President Trump was furious.

He had just learned that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation went beyond Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign and into the White House — and that Trump himself was now under scrutiny for his actions in office. The next day, he attempted to oust Mueller, only to be thwarted by his White House counsel, according to the special counsel’s report.

So Trump turned to the one person he could long count on to do his bidding: Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, described by senior White House advisers to investigators as a Trump “devotee.” In a private Oval Office meeting, the president dictated a message he wanted delivered to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions: that he needed to give a speech announcing he was limiting the scope of the investigation.

Trump’s efforts to enlist Lewandowski as a back channel to try to curtail the probe, detailed in 10 pages of Mueller’s 448-page report, provides a new window into how far the president went in trying to hold back the special counsel.
Read more








Social Media Open Thread: ‘President’ Grampa Has PROBLEMS!!! With You People…

In a statement, Twitter said the meeting — initiated by the president — focused on “protecting the health of the public conversation ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections and efforts underway to respond to the opioid crisis.” Twitter partners with the federal government on a program to encourage Americans to dispose of prescription drugs they no longer need to prevent against abuse.

In March, Trump accused Silicon Valley’s largest companies of harboring a “hatred” for “a certain group of people that happen to be in power, that happen to have won the election.” In doing so, Trump threatened potential regulation, telling reporters at a press conference that the government may “have to do something about it.”

Previously, Trump joined a chorus of Republicans in claiming that Twitter secretly limits the reach of conservatives, a tactic known as “shadow banning” that Twitter has vehemently denied. And the president regularly has raised fears about changes in his follower count. Twitter’s heightened crackdown against spam, however, long has affected both liberals and conservatives on the site.

In response, Twitter regularly has stressed its political neutrality. “Impartiality is our guiding principle,” Dorsey told lawmakers last year who grilled him over allegations that the site and its social-media peers exhibit bias against conservatives. Over the past year, Dorsey has sought to huddle with high-profile right-leaning pundits and political figures, hoping to assuage their concerns about censorship…

Dorsey long has faced pressure to curtail Trump’s tweets, as critics contend that the president regularly violates the site’s policies against harassment and abuse. Twitter has long maintained that it applies a different standard to prominent public figures, given that their comments — even offensive ones — remain in the public interest. But the company in March said it soon would adopt a new approach, labeling offensive tweets so users know why such content hasn’t been removed…


Read more








Open Thread: It’s All Fun & Games Until Pence Gets His Hands on the Rapture Nuclear Codes

It’s a delicious read, actually, if you’re not already surfeited. (Also: keep an eye on Don McGahn, aka Brutus):

By the time President Donald Trump had passed through the prime rib buffet at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday to sit for dinner with family and a top aide, the damning picture Robert Mueller’s report painted of his presidency had become clear…

Perhaps more angering to a leader who detests weakness — but doesn’t necessarily mind an amoral reputation — were the number of underlings shown ignoring his commands, privately scoffing at the “crazy sh**” he was requesting and working around him to avoid self-implication.

Now, those close to him say Trump is newly furious at the people — most of whom no longer work for him — whose extensive interviews with the special counsel’s office created the epic depiction of an unscrupulous and chaotic White House. And he’s seeking assurances from those who remain that his orders are being treated like those of a president, and not like suggestions from an intemperate but misguided supervisor…

It was a sharp turn away from his earlier statements, which welcomed the report’s findings on collusion and falsely claimed total exoneration. Hours before his Mar-a-Lago dinner, Trump insisted to a crowd on the tarmac in Florida the dark days of Mueller’s special counsel investigation had ended.

“Game over, folks,” he said over the sounds of a busy airport. “Now, it’s back to work.”

It’s hard to tell, however, what Trump intends to head back to. Mueller’s probe and Trump’s constant focus on it have been the backdrop for all but a few months of the presidency, often diminishing whatever policy efforts have been orchestrated by officials or Republican lawmakers. The report depicts a President who for two years has been largely consumed by the Russia investigation, intent on short-circuiting it but repeatedly stymied in his efforts by aides…

What is clear is many of those who avoided carrying out Trump’s demands related to Mueller’s probe — often, it seemed, in a bid to protect themselves from criminal wrongdoing — are no longer employed by the White House. Instead, the aides who now surround the President appear less willing to write him off and more likely to encourage him to follow his gut.
Read more








Excellent Reads: The Washington Post Takes Much-Deserved Victory Lap

Book critic Carlos Lozada:

The Mueller report is that rare Washington tell-all that surpasses its pre-publication hype.

Sure, it is a little longer than necessary. Too many footnotes and distracting redactions. The writing is often flat, and the first half of the book drags, covering plenty of terrain that has been described elsewhere. The story shifts abruptly between riveting insider tales and dense legalisms. Its protagonist doesn’t really come alive until halfway through, once Volume I (on Russian interference) gives way to Volume II (on obstruction of justice). The title — far too prosaic, really — feels like a missed opportunity. And it hardly helps that the book’s earliest reviewer, Attorney General William Barr, seems to have willfully misunderstood the point of it; he probably should not have been assigned to review it at all.

Yet as an authoritative account, the Mueller report is the best book by far on the workings of the Trump presidency. It was delivered to the attorney general but is also written for history. The book reveals the president in all his impulsiveness, insecurity and growing disregard for rules and norms; White House aides alternating between deference to the man and defiance of his “crazy s—” requests; and a campaign team too inept to realize, or too reckless to care, when they might have been bending the law. And special counsel Robert Mueller has it all under oath, on the record, along with interviews and contemporaneous notes backing it up. No need for a “Note on Use of Anonymous Sources” disclaimer. Mueller doesn’t just have receipts — he seems to know what almost everyone wanted to buy.

Befitting a best-selling work of political nonfiction — less than 24 hours after the report went online Thursday, paperback versions took the top two spots in Amazon’s new-release sales ranking — the Mueller report has its miniseries-ready signature moments. There is the obligatory expletive for the ages, when President Trump learns that Mueller has been appointed as special counsel. “This is the end of my presidency,” he moans. “I’m fucked.” There is the embarrassing contradiction from the president’s press secretary, Sarah Sanders, who told reporters that countless FBI employees loved the firing of director James Comey but then admits to investigators that she’d made it up. (Though, in truth, it’s only embarrassing if Sanders maintains any residual capacity for said emotion.) There’s the contrast between the president’s public bluster, evident in his Twitter rants, and his private diffidence, embodied in Trump’s lawyerly written responses to Mueller’s queries, full of “I do not recall” and “I have no recollection.”…

.
Columnist Anne Applebaum, “Trump is not vindicated. But I am”:

But not only me: Everyone who began writing about the weird connections between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government in the spring and summer of 2016, is vindicated: Sarah Kendzior, Josh Rogin and Franklin Foer, for example. But, of course, there were many more. As it turns out, the Russian attempts to assist the Trump campaign were deep and broad, and those who described them, even if tentatively at first, were right to do so…
Read more