Saturday Morning Open Thread: “I Thought It Would Be Easier”

THANKS, REPUBLICANS!

Lazy weekend morning, time for the BJ hive mind to ‘enjoy’ the full panoply of this week’s Worst Interview(s) Ever…

More than five months after his victory and two days shy of the 100-day mark of his presidency, the election is still on Trump’s mind. Midway through a discussion about Chinese President Xi Jinping, the president paused to hand out copies of what he said were the latest figures from the 2016 electoral map.

“Here, you can take that, that’s the final map of the numbers,” the Republican president said from his desk in the Oval Office, handing out maps of the United States with areas he won marked in red. “It’s pretty good, right? The red is obviously us.”

He had copies for each of the three Reuters reporters in the room…

He frequently turns to outside friends and former business colleagues for advice and positive reinforcement. Senior aides say they are resigned to it.

The president has been at loggerheads with many news organizations since his election campaign and decided not to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in Washington on Saturday because he felt he had been treated unfairly by the media.

“I would come next year, absolutely,” Trump said when asked whether he would attend in the future…

And it gets… “better”!…



Late Night Foreign Intrigue Open Thread: In Like (Mike) Flynn

Earlier today, per Politico:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday that his recusal from Justice Department investigations into the 2016 campaign for president will extend into inquiries into the activities of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, under fire for his ties to foreign governments.

“My recusal deals with the campaign issues,” Sessions told NBC’s “Today” show. “But I would expect not to be involved in this one.”…

Flynn, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency who served briefly as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, has been the subject of scrutiny in recent weeks amid reports surrounding lobbying work he did for the Turkish government and a paid speech he delivered at an event for RT, a propaganda arm of the Russian government.

Sessions, too, has been tied to Russia: The attorney general recused himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian interference in last year’s election amid reports that he had met on multiple occasions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the campaign even though he had testified during his Senate confirmation hearing that he had not interacted with Russian officials…

… [W]hile the FBI has acknowledged that it is investigating Russian interference in last year’s election as well as possible ties between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Kremlin, Sessions said he was unaware of any specific investigation into Flynn.

“I really don’t know whether there’s an investigation or should be,” Sessions said. “And we don’t confirm investigations of – you know, in the Department of Justice.”

Why, Ah barely even *met* that Yankee fella, Flynn or whatevah. Why should mah good name be linked to his?…



Wednesday Evening Open Thread: Wheels Within Wheels

I was gonna use the ‘Not Normal’ tag… but after Nixon’s phlebitis and Reagan’s Alzheimers, “too ill to pay for his crimes, no point in examining things so closely” really *is* GOP-normal, isn’t it?

Apart from watching (probable) traitors scrabble after excuses, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Empowerful

Via TPM, Axios, the landing pad for Politico rejects, transcribed Ivanka Trump’s latest women’s empowerment scheme:

I’m sure this is fine. It’s not like a fund that leverages political connections at the highest levels to buttonhole the rich and powerful worldwide would be seen as problematic during a political campaign — much less when operated from the White House by the president’s daughter, business partner and official adviser.

Crispy Cajun-fried Jeebus, I sure hope Hillary Clinton has a well-developed capacity for ironic amusement.



Surely the Germans have a word for this…

I’ve long thought we’d be better off if the entire Beltway media contingent were summarily converted to Walmart greeters and their papers’ foreign correspondents recalled to replace them, then instructed to cover domestic politics as if still writing dispatches from a foreign capital.

That view was reinforced this morning by the spectacle of the German media politely covering Ivanka Trump like the presumptuous banana republic princess she is, something American infotainment personalities have repeatedly failed to do. Via Politico:

BERLIN — Ivanka Trump arrived in Berlin Tuesday morning armed with facts and figures to recite at what was expected to be a high-brow international summit to discuss women entrepreneurship, alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But on her first international trip as an official representative of the United States, the first daughter was put on the spot about her father’s attitudes toward women, booed and hissed at by the crowd, and grilled by the moderator about what, exactly, her role is in President Donald Trump’s administration.

“You’re the first daughter of the United States, and you’re also an assistant to the president,” the moderator, WirtschaftsWoche editor-in-chief Miriam Meckel, said. “The German audience is not that familiar with the concept of a first daughter. I’d like to ask you, what is your role, and who are you representing, your father as president of the United States, the American people, or your business?”

“Certainly not the latter,” Ivanka Trump said. “I’m rather unfamiliar with this role as well…It has been a little under 100 days and it has just been a remarkable and incredible journey.”

We’re all unfamiliar with the role because it shouldn’t exist, not outside a tin-horn kleptocracy. But while Trump’s sole non-fluff response about her role was to explicitly deny that she represents her business, the only tangible results she’s achieved in “office” have accrued to her brand. She’s done exactly nothing to “moderate” her lunatic father or advance the vague objectives she supposedly champions, i.e., empowering women and families.

Ivanka Trump, who was deeply involved with her father’s campaign and has been instrumental in his administration in the first three months in office, positioned herself as someone who is still in humbling listening tour mode. “I’m striving to think about how best to empower women in the economy,” she said, at one point calling herself a feminist. “I have no doubt that coming out of this trip I’ll be more informed.”

But she was booed and hissed at by the majority-women audience at the conference when she lauded her father for supporting paid leave policies. “I’m very proud of my father’s advocacy,” she said, calling him “a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive.”

The Politico account overdramatizes the reaction (shocking, I know) — it was more of a collective groan at the absurdity of framing the grotesque orange pussy-grabber as an advocate rather than actual booing and hissing (at least on the audio I heard). When asked to respond to the audience reaction, where the elder Trump would have screeched “FAKE NEWS,” Ivanka replied with a more modulated, polysyllabic version of that non-response:

“I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media, that’s been perpetuated,” she said, drawing laughs from the audience.

Good for them, because laughter is an appropriate response to that ridiculous deflection. But Ivanka, still determined to pass her gross old fart-sack of a father off as pro-woman, barfed up the following treacle:

“As a daughter, I can speak on a very personal level. I grew up in a house where there were no barriers to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and tenacity. That’s not an easy thing to do, he provided that for us. There was no difference [between Trump’s treatment of her and her brothers].

Well, Trump didn’t repeatedly imply that he’d like to shag the sons, so that’s at least one difference. But again, the overweening entitlement and self-regard. This isn’t a person who was born on third base and thinks she hit a triple. This is someone who was born in the Diamond Suite in the clubhouse and thinks she won the World Series.

Still, even people who should know better will go on assuming the shitgibbon’s chief enabler is a good influence and deserves credit for curbing the worst of her vile shit-stain of a father’s excesses. Jon Oliver dispatched this myth ably late last week:

The most telling tidbit was a quote from Ivanka’s book, “The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life,” which flat-out telegraphs her current role in the Trump shit-show:

Perception is more important that reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true. This doesn’t mean you should be duplicitous or deceitful, but don’t go out of your way to correct a false assumption if it plays to your advantage.

As Oliver says, the apple didn’t fall very far from the orange. And the word I was looking for up top is “Scheiße,” which I imagine in thought-bubbles over the heads of the accomplished women who had to share a stage with this vapid dilettante. It’s just so embarrassing.



Late Night Creepshow Open Thread: Whither Bannon?

(Matt Davies via GoComics.com)

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Now that Steve Bannon is (theoretically) in eclipse — Vanity Fair even found a handful of former loyalists willing to be quoted denying their dark lord before cockcrow — his true disciples are debating what he might’ve done differently in the civil war against the Kushner/Cohn/Mnuchin globalist oligarchs. Olivia Nuzzi, professional sharpshooter, reports for NYMag: “The Alt-Right Is Debating Whether Bannon Needs a Better Press Strategy“:

Now that Steve Bannon has been temporarily or permanently sidelined by President Donald Trump, his nationalist allies — people who formerly identified as “alt-right,” but now reject that label as it has become synonymous with white supremacy — are debating what their man in the White House did wrong and what he might do to salvage the situation. One of the key questions up for debate is whether Bannon should have made better use of ideologically sympathetic media outlets — when he ran Breitbart News, he described it as “the platform” for the alt-right — to get out his side of the story.

The chief strategist to the president might have done better job of holding onto power, the thinking goes, if he were talking to those who want what he wants and have the benefit of seeing things the way they appear outside of the bubble of his “war room,” the name Bannon’s given his West Wing office…

In some ways, the question of whether Bannon should be cultivating more allies in the press is part of a larger debate over his operating style in the White House — which is to operate in isolation. “I’m not doing this to have friends,” he told me. “I don’t socialize a lot, I don’t bring people into my life. This is like being in the Navy, this is like a duty. I don’t enjoy this every day. This is not living; this is a kind of existence.”

Though he brought into the White House some of his own staff — Julia Hahn from Breitbart; Andrew Surabian from the Tea Party Express and Alexandra Preate, his personal flack — he has spent little political capital fighting for high-level strategists with whom he could align in ideological disputes…

Perhaps coincidentally, questions are being raised about the oft-told tale that Bannon made $32 million on a canny Seinfeld deal. It wouldn’t really matter, at this point, whether he made his grubstake off the Hollywood version of a scratch ticket… except that the alternative would cast his political success as entirely the product of semi-legitimate Robert & Rebekah Mercer money. Not a good look for a self-styled swashbuckling free spirit, at the very least.

But then, Bannon’s expulsion from Mar-a-Lago Eden would be a loss to Media Village Idiots far more “respectable” than the Pepe kkkrew… even those at the Grey Lady…



US State Department pimping Trump-branded property

I would have taken this for an “Airbnb for the Affluent Asshole” listing, except it’s published on the official US Embassy & Consulates in the United Kingdom page:

The US Ambassador to the Court of St. James didn’t develop this promotional content; it’s from ShareAmerica:

ShareAmerica is the U.S. Department of State’s platform for sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics like democracy, freedom of expression, innovation, entrepreneurship, education, and the role of civil society.

The ShareAmerica team is part of the Bureau of International Information Programs, which works with U.S. embassies and consulates in more than 140 countries to engage with people around the globe on U.S. foreign policy and American society.

So, to recap, the US State Department is disseminating content worldwide on behalf of Trump’s for-profit private club, which doubled its annual membership fee to $200K after the election.

These Trump assholes are absolutely shameless. It’ll be a miracle if they don’t cart off the silverware and rip the copper wiring out of the White House walls when compelled to vacate government housing.

Open thread!