Open Thread: The Noble Professor Is SHRILL!

(Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)
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Credit where due: The NYTimes is where most of us who aren’t econ majors first heard about Paul Krugman. “Judas, Tax Cuts and the Great Betrayal”:

The denarius, ancient Rome’s silver coin, was supposedly the daily wage of a manual worker. If so, the tax cuts that the richest 1 percent of Americans will receive if the Affordable Care Act is repealed — tax cuts that are, obviously, the real reason for repeal — would amount to the equivalent of around 500 pieces of silver each year.

What inspired this calculation? The spectacle of Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, defending Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey.

Everyone understands that Mr. Comey was fired not because of his misdeeds during the campaign — misdeeds that helped put Trump in the White House — but because his probe of Russian connections with the Trump campaign was accelerating and, presumably, getting too close to home. So this looks very much like the use of presidential power to cover up possible foreign subversion of the U.S. government.

And the two leading Republicans in Congress are apparently O.K. with that cover-up, because the Trump ascendancy is giving them the chance to do what they always wanted, namely, take health insurance away from millions of Americans while slashing taxes on the wealthy.

So you can see why I find myself thinking of Judas.

For generations, Republicans have impugned their opponents’ patriotism. During the Cold War, they claimed that Democrats were soft on Communism; after 9/11, that they were soft on terrorism.

But now we have what may be the real thing: circumstantial evidence that a hostile foreign power may have colluded with a U.S. presidential campaign, and may retain undue influence at the highest levels of our government. And all those self-proclaimed patriots have gone silent, or worse…








Friday Morning Open Thread: All the President’s [Expletive Deleted]

A little retro humor, for my fellow olds.

Apart from waiting for the Friday Damages Dump, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up another hectic week?
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If somebody should happen to be considering a 2020 presidential run, this would be a good start…








Open Thread: “They Lie”, You Say?…

Sooooo unlike our very own Republican Party…

Probably would’ve been enough just to tell the President-Asterisk that you-know-who refused Putin’s request…

The meeting was Lavrov’s first in the White House since 2013—and came after several years of the Obama administration’s flat-out refusal to grant him an Oval Office audience, two former senior White House officials told me. “The Russians were begging us for years to do that,” one of the former officials said. “They were constantly pushing for it and we were constantly saying no.”…

Russia’s longest-serving foreign minister of the post-Cold War era, Lavrov has worked alongside Putin since 2004 with a single-minded goal: to make Russia great again—and all the better if he could do so at America’s expense. So, for Lavrov and Putin, the scene was more than just a bizarre moment of Washington political theater in which they played walk-on roles. It was vindication, proof that their tilt toward Trump after years of tense dealings with two successive American presidents could yet pay off.

In some key respects, this already is a down payment on the Russian reset Trump promised on the campaign trail. Or at least an appearance-laden first step toward the renewed relations and potential grand bargain with Putin that Trump has never disavowed even as the politics of doing a deal with Russia have gotten dicier amid the political furor here in Washington over the Russiagate investigation of team Trump that Comey was overseeing…

On a personal level, Lavrov is universally disliked among U.S. diplomats. “He’s a complete asshole,” a top Bush official told me for that Foreign Policy profile. Added a top Obama official in a conversation Wednesday: “He’s a nasty SOB. He would be relentlessly berating and browbeating and sarcastic and nasty. His job was to berate and beat and harass us and Secretary Kerry into conceding the Russian view. It wasn’t defeating America; it was that Russia can’t win if it has to compromise at all.”.

And many of these same officials believe that gives Lavrov—who went out of his way at a news conference Wednesday to praise Trump as a “businessman” who wants to get deals done—an advantage in negotiating with Trump at a time when there is little clear about his foreign policy except that he wants to cut deals that are proving frustratingly elusive on other fronts.

“I don’t see him as zero-sum and suspicious of and averse to the West as Putin is,” said another former Obama official who sat in many meetings in recent years with Lavrov. “He believes more in at least tactical cooperation, at least in a broader context of strategic nonalignment. I think he did actually look for opportunities. I also think he plays to his bosses. So the extent to which he’s acerbic and nasty—that’s partly his personality and partly what he believes Putin and actual powers that be want to hear.”…

Ego-drunk, overconfident amateurs got played by the professionals. Hey, GOP, remember the old proverb: If you look around the poker table and can’t pick out the mark… it’s you.