Open Thread: Report from Ground Zero








Open Thread: Trump Tries to Steal Independence Day

Literally, steal from the Park Service (not to mention the military). Per the Washington Post:

The National Park Service is diverting nearly $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees primarily intended to improve parks across the country to cover costs associated with President Trump’s Independence Day celebration Thursday on the Mall, according to two individuals familiar with the arrangement…

The diverted park fees represent just a fraction of the extra costs the government faces as a result of the event, which will include displays of military hardware, flyovers by an array of jets including Air Force One, the deployment of tanks on the Mall and an extended pyrotechnics show. By comparison, according to former Park Service deputy director Denis P. Galvin, the entire Fourth of July celebration on the Mall typically costs the agency about $2 million.

For Trump’s planned speech at the Lincoln Memorial, the White House is distributing VIP tickets to Republican donors and political appointees, prompting objections from Democratic lawmakers who argue that the president has turned the annual celebration into a campaign-like event.

The Republican National Committee and Trump’s reelection campaign confirmed Tuesday that they had received passes they were handing out for the event.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” Sen. Tom Udall (N.M.), the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the interior, environment and related agencies, said in a phone interview. “No ticketed political event should be paid for with taxpayer dollars.”…

By tapping entrance fees to cover the presidential event, Interior is siphoning money that is typically used to enhance the visitor experience either on the Mall or at smaller parks across the country, with projects ranging from road and bridge repair to habitat restoration. The transfer amounts to nearly 5 percent of the funds that less-profitable parks used last year for upgrades, according to budget documents.

“This is a breach of trust with the public,” Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association, said in an email. “The public pays parks fees to fix national parks and for educational programs, not the president’s parade.”…

The “Salute to America” marks the culmination of Trump’s two-year quest to mount a military-style extravaganza inspired by his visit to a Bastille Day celebration in Paris in 2017. His previous efforts to stage a Veterans Day military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in 2018 were scuttled after estimated costs ballooned to the tens of millions of dollars…

Jon Chait, NYMag“Trump Is Packing the July 4 Fireworks Because He’s Afraid of Getting Booed”:

The Fourth of July celebration exposes Trump to the sort of crowd from which he has been traditionally insulated. The event is held in Washington, which (along with its surrounding suburbs) is heavily Democratic. It is also drawing protesters who will fly the famous Baby Trump blimp. Trump is also alienating nonpolitical attendees who might resent him turning a hallowed ritual that is a traditional venue for unity and a respite from politics into another divisive spectacle.

Trump’s efforts to control the rally should be seen in the context of his fear that the crowd will boo him. He is advertising the event on his Twitter feed, cordoning off the immediate area around his speech for ticket holders, and giving tickets away to Republican donors…

Trump has spent his presidency representing his supporters, without even bothering with the pretense of representing the majority that voted against him. He is attempting to conscript patriotic rituals into this effort. He deserves the reception he fears: loud, merciless boos.








Monday Morning Open Thread: Here We Go Again

This used to be one of the slowest weeks of the news year, when reporters and political cartoonists could go on vacation with little fear of missing a big story. I’d like to go back to those halcyon days, thank you!
 

Mangy Jay phrases it well:








Early Morning Sundae Sermons Open Thread

This is true! Spare a single tiny tear for the professional Panglossians, paid by Our Betters to remind all ‘sensible’ readers that well-groomed center-right white men with the correct credentials are obviously the best people to lead us, that’s just science. The Oval Office Occupant has been almost as much a disaster for their quiet careers as he is for the rest of the world… a sloppy, shambling, semi-literate professional faker who continually demonstrates not only his own unfitness, but the general shoddiness of the Panglossians. One tear, maybe a swift kick, and move on without them.

When you’re a privileged white dude, not getting first chair (and right of refusal) feels like a demotion…


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Dank Grey Pre-Dawn Open Thread: “Vetting” for What They Considered Important

Axios got their hands on a bunch of the Trump transition team’s “vetting” documents, which they decided to report on a summer Sunday evening because LOL nothing matters — and besides, who can tell what hot topic will be breaking by Monday morning?

Nearly 100 internal Trump transition vetting documents leaked to “Axios on HBO” identify a host of “red flags” about officials who went on to get some of the most powerful jobs in the U.S. government.

Why it matters: The massive trove, and the story behind it, sheds light on the slap-dash way President Trump filled his cabinet and administration, and foreshadowed future scandals that beset his government…

Behind the scenes: In the chaotic weeks after Trump’s surprise election victory, Trump fired Chris Christie as the head of his transition. The team that took over — which V.P. Mike Pence helmed — outsourced the political vetting of would-be top officials to the Republican National Committee…

– President-elect Trump reviewed many of these documents at Trump Tower and Bedminster before his interviews, according to a source who saw him eyeball them.

– Traditionally, any would-be top official faces three types of vetting: an FBI background check, a scrub for financial conflicts of interest from the Office of Government Ethics, and a deep dive from the president-elect’s political team, which veteran Washington lawyers often handle…

– The documents show what Trump’s vetting shop worried about in assessing candidates for the most important jobs in government…

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