Friday Evening Open Thread: All the Turkeys



Disappointment haunted all my dreams…

No, this is not a Doug! post, but I stole his song lyric-post title shtick because it fits my topic so perfectly. Ever since the unthinkable catastrophe of a Trump administration became our waking nightmare, I’ve dreamed of its end, preferably in disgrace and with the Republican Party in smoking ruins in its wake.

But I’ve tried to be a responsible dreamer. I avoid the high-fructose corn syrup confections some enemies of my enemy have been peddling for the last year in the form of promises that this next revelation will bring the entire Jenga treason tower down on the heads of the liars, cheaters, incompetents and thieves in this odious pigpen of an administration.

Well, despite it all, I’m becoming a believer. I understand what we’re up against. I remember the Ghost of Fitzmas past. But formidable obstacles aside, I’m becoming convinced Trump won’t serve out his first term.

The revelation that Don Jr. was colluding with WikiLeaks — and communicating with senior members of the campaign about it — is the latest straw. One of the people Junior emailed with WikiLeaks tidbits was Hope Hicks. I find that significant.

Beltway media types have long been mystified by Hicks’ role in the Trump organization, but I think it’s simple: She primarily functions as a human email interface for Trump. I’ve never believed Junior would take a crap without running it past the old man first, and the fact that Hicks was looped in proves it, as far as I’m concerned.

So, I am officially allowing myself to hope that indictments will roll in, people will flip, and Trump will react with such panic and madness that his presidency will end, one way or another, most likely with a huffy resignation. Sure, I could be wrong. But the staggering stupidity and amateurishness of nearly every actor in the Trump shit-show is an asset for justice.

Anyhoo, IF Trump goes down, that brings us to Mr. Pence, the Man Who Wasn’t There. I apologize for inflicting a Morning Joe clip on you, but this one does address Pence’s lying about the Russia scandal:

Steve Schmidt, from the clip:

“We don’t talk enough about Mike Pence… We don’t talk enough about the vice president’s nonstop lying… I think that over these months, the vice president has exposed himself as a titanic fraud… The truth of the matter is, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, 100% of the time, 100% of the people around this administration, when asked a question about Russia, the Russian involvement in this election, they lie about it. Not 99% of the time, not 99.9% of the time, 100% of the time.”

There’s no mystery about how Pence earned the nickname “Dense Pence” — he’s not a bright guy. But unless Mother rode around on Pence’s shoulders during the entire campaign and transition, with her thighs clamped over his ears, one hand covering his beady eyes and the other stopping his mouth, there’s just no way Pence didn’t know the Trump crew was ass-deep in Russians. He needs to go down too.

I’m guessing 15% or more of the responses to this post will be people telling me I’m an idiot for getting my hopes up. Maybe y’all are right, and feel free to piss on my parade. But I’m feeling more hopeful than I have in months.



Late Night Cartoon Villains Open Thread: “Media Mogul” Jared

Kushner told Time Warner executive Gary Ginsberg that CNN should fire the employees because they were so wrong in their analysis of how the election would turn out, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

A White House official said Kushner didn’t intend for the comment to be taken seriously and was only trying to make a point, according to the Journal, which reported that the remark “wasn’t taken lightly” inside Time Warner…

CNN and its parent company Time Warner were in the spotlight this week over reports that the Trump administration wanted CNN sold as a condition of a merger between AT&T and Time Warner.

Justice Department sources told The Hill and other outlets earlier this week that AT&T had offered to sell CNN from the combined company to get the merger approved by regulators. Other outlets reported that the Trump administration had demanded the sale.

Speculation among Wall Street insiders and people within the companies has risen over whether the administration’s feelings about CNN could be influencing the decision, the Journal reported…



The Vultures are Circling

Maddow did a segment last night on the destruction of the State Department. I know she drives some of y’all crazy with her long windup, but it’s worth watching. Skip to the six-minute mark to bypass the soup and seafood courses and dive right into the entree.

[Edited to remove video embed code because MSNBC interface fucking sucks — just click the link above to go to the shitty MSNBC site and watch the excellent content that deserves a better online home.]

Foreign Policy ran a piece earlier this week that also highlighted the alarm signals sent by senior diplomats, including current American Foreign Service Association President Barbara Stephenson:

“Our leadership ranks are being depleted at a dizzying speed,” Barbara Stephenson, a former U.S. ambassador to Panama and current president of the American Foreign Service Association, the union for foreign service officers, wrote in a letter for the December 2017 issue of the Foreign Service Journal.

Scores of senior diplomats, including 60 percent of career ambassadors, have left the department since the beginning of the year, when President Donald Trump took office, according to the letter. There are 74 top posts at State that remain vacant with no announced nominee…

Morale at the State Department is crumbling, as Foreign Policy reported in July, amid an ongoing effort by the Trump administration to sideline the traditional motor of U.S. diplomacy. At a meeting last week, White House national security advisor H.R. McMaster appeared to justify the assault on State Department staffing by saying that some officials there did not support the president’s agenda, according to Reuters.

In a Nov. 2 interview, Trump responded to a question about unfilled positions at the State Department by stating, “I’m the only one that matters.”

Yesterday, I noted that Trump is making a fool of himself on his Asia trip. As Maddow noted, during the campaign, Trump blustered about China “raping” the U.S. through imbalances, currency manipulation, etc. Yesterday, he could barely detach his lips from Xi Jinping’s buttocks. His bellicose campaign rhetoric was embarrassing, but Trump’s deference is humiliating.

Also, it turns out that being a serial liar and backstabber has diplomatic consequences. Trump is finding no takers in sideline efforts to forge bilateral trade agreements. And why would anyone want to make a deal with him? World leadership has shifted to other players.

But back to the question Stephenson asked and Maddow highlighted: It’s time to ask why the State Department is being gutted. Who benefits when the U.S. abdicates its role as a world leader? Why is the man who received an Order of Friendship medal from Vladimir Putin taking a sledgehammer to State?

Funny how all this incompetence just coincidentally benefits the world’s most powerful authoritarians, chiefly Putin. It looks less like a clown show and more like a flock of vulture capitalists stripping a distressed enterprise down for parts.



The makings of an awkward family Thanksgiving…

CNN a short while ago:

(CNN)Jared Kushner has turned over documents in recent weeks to special counsel Robert Mueller as investigators have begun asking in witness interviews about Kushner’s role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey, CNN has learned.

Mueller’s investigators have expressed interest in Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser, as part of its probe into Russian meddling, including potential obstruction of justice in Comey’s firing, sources familiar with the matter said.
Their questions about Kushner signal that Mueller’s investigators are reaching the President’s inner circle and have extended beyond the 2016 campaign to actions taken at the White House by high-level officials. It is not clear how Kushner’s advice to the President might relate to the overall Russia investigation or potential obstruction of justice.

Could investigators be spelunking for anything other than obstruction of justice if they’re looking into the circumstances of Comey’s firing? Of course, Trump’s conveniently on video blurting out a confession to Lester Holt. Maybe they’ll nail Jared for obstruction too?

From Vanity Fair yesterday:

“Here’s what Manafort’s indictment tells me: Mueller is going to go over every financial dealing of Jared Kushner and the Trump Organization,” said former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg. “Trump is at 33 percent in Gallup. You can’t go any lower. He’s fucked.”

[snip]

According to two sources, Trump has complained to advisers about his legal team for letting the Mueller probe progress this far. Speaking to Steve Bannon on Tuesday, Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in decisions, specifically the firings of Mike Flynn and James Comey, that led to Mueller’s appointment, according to a source briefed on the call. When Roger Stone recently told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice, Trump agreed, according to someone familiar with the conversation. “Jared is the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history,” Nunberg said. “I’m only saying publicly what everyone says behind the scenes at Fox News, in conservative media, and the Senate and Congress.”

Trump could try to slide several pardons under cover of the traditional commutation of sentence for the White House turkeys. Would be pretty weird if Jared ended up in a petting zoo.



Interesting Fella, That Papadopoulos Kid…

Supplementary to Adam’s latest post…


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Sunday Evening Open Thread: Saying the Quiet Parts Out Loud


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Even the Most Racist Guy in Congress can’t avoid the Trump Reverse-Midas touch. The Sun-King joke is waaaaaay off-brand for Steve “Pig Muck” King, who was campaigning on an I love the poorly educated, they’re my base! platform back when DJ’s daddy was still an aspiring reality-show host.

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Apart from pointing & jeering, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up the weekend?