Open Thread: Repubs Shocked to Discover That Professional Vandal Has No Respect for Public Norms

It’s not so much that Trump’s office blew off Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, and their fellows… it’s that the best defenders available were a handful of guys like Gym ‘I saw *nuffink*!’ Jordan & Matt ‘What DWI?’ Gaetz. (Bonus laffs: Kevin ‘Sort out the Starbursts’ McCarthy is coordinating their efforts.) From Bloomberg, “Blindsided Trump Allies Urge Better Coordination on Impeachment”:

Frustrated that they didn’t get a heads-up that Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, would be prevented from appearing on Tuesday, a handful of GOP lawmakers went to the White House to discuss the issue with Trump and senior advisers, one of the people said.

In response, White House officials agreed to improve communication of their impeachment strategy with allies who are on the front lines, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing private conversations between Trump and the lawmakers.

The impromptu huddle highlights the risks of Trump’s vigorous but improvised self-defense against the impeachment inquiry House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced two weeks ago. While many Republicans, especially in the House, are anxious to defend the president, they could step into political danger if they’re caught off guard by Trump’s actions…

Among the lawmakers identified as meeting with Trump on Tuesday were Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Lee Zeldin of New York and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. Before heading to the White House, the group spoke with reporters outside the congressional offices where Sondland was supposed to testify…

But less than an hour before the testimony was to begin, Robert Luskin, the attorney representing the ambassador, informed the committees that the State Department instructed his client not to appear. Republicans got that information from news reports.

Jordan, who is the senior Republican on the Oversight and Reform Committee, expressed regret that the panels wouldn’t hear from Sondland on Tuesday. But he said he understands why the State Department blocked the deposition “based on the unfair and partisan process” he said Democrats are running…

House Republican are holding almost daily strategy sessions led by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to combat the Democratic impeachment effort. Tuesday’s episode was the latest in what some Republicans have complained is the less-than-tight coordination between the White House and Trump’s Republican defenders in Congress…

IMO, “vigorous but improvised self-defense” instead of ‘frantic public tantrum / breakdown’ is one of the better euphemisms we’ve seen this week, but of course it’s only Tuesday.

Open Thread: The NYTimes Longs for A Simpler Day…

When the Very Serious Media People could pretend that the Tea Party was a ‘grassroots uprising’ of good folks very concerned about ‘fiscal responsibility’. Positive side, such as it is: Pushback was swift, vociferous, and (to a degree) effective:

When Congress approved $320 billion in new spending this month as part of its latest budget deal, most Republicans in the Senate voted yes, prompting a lament from Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who was first elected in 2010 as a slash-and-burn fiscal conservative.

“The Tea Party is no more,” he said.

But Mr. Paul and others who have signed the Tea Party’s death certificate overlook one way it continues to define the country today. It ignited a revival of the politics of outrage and mistrust in government, breathing new life into the populist passions that continue to threaten the stability of both political parties. Even if the Tea Party’s ideas are dead, its attitude lives on.

“The energy that was with the Tea Party then was not even so much about fiscal discipline, but about holding Washington accountable for the promises it makes,” said Rory Cooper, a former aide to the Republican House leadership. As voters watched one promise after another go unfulfilled, he said, the anger eventually erupted in 2016 with Mr. Trump’s election. Voters said, in essence, “‘We don’t trust any of you, but we will trust this guy who makes every promise under the sun,’” Mr. Cooper said.

“Then what happened,” he added, “was they stopped caring about the promises.” …

IMO, the real reason for Jeremy Peters’ purported nostalgia was to set up a beat-sweetner for Mick ‘Acting Head of Everything’ Mulvaney:

Of the 87 new Republicans elected to the House in 2010 — the most sweeping repudiation of a president and his political party in generations — one who has risen higher than most is Mick Mulvaney, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff.
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Hello, 911? Hello…I’d Like To Report A Murder

I’m very much of the “what pisses off Republicans pleases me” crowd these days.  In that vein, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is my heroine:

It hasn’t sunk in yet for the political establishment — and by that I mean not just the electeds, but the whole infrastructure of consultants and wingnut welfare types and staffs and so on — and the elite political media ecosystem, that they are a day late and a dollar short in the face of those who simply don’t accept their asserted authority.

AOC and many more did not come to the arena to play.  She is no where near dumb enough to acquiesce to the pre-existing “rules”.  Those norms are intended both to constrain policy, but, as important, to channel political warfare into forms that favor incumbent power.

This is the one true lesson Donald Trump absorbed, and now others have learned:  don’t apologize. Attack.

Which is, of course, ever more vital when you are on the right side of history.

Image: Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, At the Moulin Rouge1890.

On a Lighter Note, Check Out This Obituary

And now, for some completely different things…

Thing the first: The Times ran, I kid you not, a delightful obituary yesterday.

Alan Abel, Hoaxer Extraordinaire, Is (on Good Authority) Dead at 94

Alan Abel, a professional hoaxer who for more than half a century gleefully hoodwinked the American public — not least of all by making himself the subject of an earnest news obituary in The New York Times in 1980 — apparently actually did die, on Friday, at his home in Southbury, Conn. He was 94.

I wonder how long they’d been working on that headline and lede?

Long before The Onion began printing farcical news articles[…] there was Alan Abel. A former jazz drummer and stand-up comic who was later a writer, campus lecturer and filmmaker, Mr. Abel was best known as a perennial public gadfly, a self-appointed calling that combined the verbal pyrotechnics of a 19th-century flimflam man with acute 20th-century media savvy.

He was, the news media conceded with a kind of irritated admiration, an American original in the mold of P. T. Barnum, a role model whom Mr. Abel reverently acknowledged.

Today, in the internet age, anyone can be a Nigerian prince. In Mr. Abel’s time, however, the hoaxer’s art — involving intricate planning, hiring actors, donning disguises, printing official-looking letterheads, staging news conferences and having the media swallow the story hook, line and sinker — entailed, for better or worse, a level of old-time craftsmanship whose like will almost certainly not be seen again.

I recommend reading the whole thing. It’s an engagingly-written look back on an interesting man’s life.

Thing the second, I made a sign-up form for the Minecraft whitelist, so, if that’s for you, yay.

What’s everybody doing to unwind tonight? I might watch teevee or keep working on that Vinge book.

Another Chemical Attack

It looks like Bashir al-Assad dropped another bunch of chemicals on civilians in East Ghouta again today. Horrible photos of the dead are circulating on Twitter. It’s not clear whether this was Sarin or chlorine, or Assad’s trademark mixture of the two. Early reports are that over 100 people have been killed.

It is exactly a year ago today that Donald Trump sent 59 cruise missiles into Syria to respond to a similar chemical attack.

There’s a continuing argument among strategists about deterrence. One side says that if you whack someone like Assad hard enough, he won’t do it again. The other says that Assad will choose to do what is best for him strategically and take his lumps if necessary, or take the chance that there won’t be retribution. I tend toward the second

It’s that argument that continues around Barack Obama’s “red line” for Syrian chemical weapons use. One side says that taking the deal to disarm Syria of most of its chemical weapons instead of whacking Assad led to the belief that Obama was soft, hence Putin’s incursion into Ukraine and all other evils since then. I think that putting aside a strike that would have killed more civilians and been far from taking out all the chemical warfare facilities in favor of peacefully removing most of the chemical weapons was a sign of good judgment.

And, contrary to some of what I’m seeing in response to Assad’s strike today, nobody expected that every single drop of chemical agent would be removed from Syria. But most of it was, and the facilities for making more disabled.