And shorty got low low low low

Trump’s approval rating is converging downwards towards the crazification factor. I’m sure Chuck Todd will swear that the base still loves him but the base just isn’t that large.

Chew on This Open Thread: April Ryan Is Not Trump’s African-American

Donald Trump tells us that he is the least racist person ever. I would say ‘Donald Trump believes he is the least racist person’, but I’m chary of putting ‘Trump’ and ‘belief’ in the same sentence.

April Ryan, incidentally, is not Donald Trump’s ‘girl’ either (in the Mad Men ‘my girl will set it up with your girl’ sense)…

Open Thread: Moving the Goalposts on Leaks, or Rearranging the Deckchairs on the Titanic?

There’s a portion of the Republican Party that’s been trying since the mid-1970s to get a “reset” on Watergate — people convinced that if not for one or two bad breaks, the American people would’ve totally understood that President Nixon only treated us like that because he loved us and knew better than we did what America really needed. The Iran-contra scandal didn’t satisfy those GOPers, because the international criminality involved was so brazen that it needed to be swept under whatever Persian rugs were available. The Cheney Regency wasn’t good, because Dubya was such a blatant fvck-up that everybody laughed at him. But time keeps passing, the original keepers of the flame are gone — President-Asterisk Trump is their last hope, dammit!!!

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John McCain is Upset!

So upset that he made a speech that didn’t mention Trump by name:

John McCain is increasingly mad as hell about President Trump. And on Friday, he went after Trump — hard.

During a speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, the Republican senator from Arizona delivered a pointed and striking point-by-point takedown of Trump’s worldview and brand of nationalism. McCain didn’t mention Trump’s name once, but he didn’t have to.

And even considering the two men’s up-and-down history and the terrible things Trump has said about McCain, it was a striking display from a senior leader of a party when it comes to a president of the same party.

That’s Aaron Blake, of “The Fix” at the Washington Post.  I subscribe to the Post, and I think Marty Baron’s news crew has been doing the best reporting on Trump of any US newspaper.  But “The Fix”, led by the execrable Chris Cillizza, is like the wedding announcements in the NY Times, the Oscar coverage of the LA Times, or the Mardi Gras coverage of the Times-Picayune: a regrettable, provincial placeholder that pays the bills generated by the real reporters.

If John McCain–an 80 year-old who has probably just started his last term in the Senate–lacks the moral courage to call out our Russian traitor President by name, then fuck him and the horse he rode in on. I honestly lack the imagination to understand why an 80 year-old patriot who suffered for our country wouldn’t be in the vanguard of those calling for an investigation of Trump’s ties to Russia.  What the hell does he have to lose?  After choosing Palin, leading the charge against Trump could be the move that rehabilitates his legacy.  Instead, we get this sniveling, indirect, cowardly horseshit.

Is it just me?

Or does this seem like something a paranoid, unhinged demagogue who doesn’t understand the role of the press in a free society would say?

Sweet fancy Moses!

I showed it to my husband (who doesn’t do the Twitter), and he thought it was a parody account. If only!

ETA: I mean what the actual FUCK? Enemy of the American people? Don’t we go to war with enemies? This is General Franco-level shit.

“Come live with me and be my love”

Blue jays have been swooping and screeching and carrying on in my side yard all day. Here’s a pair perched in the banana tree:

They have a nasty reputation, blue jays, but they’re lovely birds.

So glad today is Friday. This week has felt eternal. Got any big plans for the weekend?

I was thinking of joining the protests in Orlando outside Der Gropenfürher’s not-at-all-weirdly-fascist “rally” on Saturday. But some folks who don’t seem overly alarmist or kooky are warning that it might very well be a trap, that Trumpian goons might try to cause trouble to put the resistance in a bad light.

Honestly, I have no idea if that’s true or not. But it’s a good excuse to skip a dreadful trip on I-4 to Orlando and instead fulfill a long-standing ambition to ride the Beer Bus Brewery Tour all over Tampa with my sister.

Open thread!

Competency and conscience

I want to highlight two events from yesterday.  First James Joyner’s response to the mass resignation of the membership of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders:

And secondly, the decision by Admiral Harward to turn down the National Security Advisor position because he could not bring in his own staff:

Both of these moves in isolation make perfect sense. One is because the admiral thought he would not be able to do a job to his personal perception of acceptable competence without his ability to choose his own staff and the other is because clear moral lines were passed.

And the downside is exactly what James outlines. Acts of either professional competence or personal competence where integrity requires disassociation and resignation means the replacement will be far worse. Personal integrity of the competent and well meaning leads to governance by the Brietbart comment section, third raters and grifters.  We are getting the Provisional Coalition Authority on the Potomac where Heritage interns are overqualified compared to the other applicants who actively want the job.

For the career civil service folks as well as political appointees who are more conservative than my preference but are fundamentally competent, this is a nasty acid test of their personal beliefs.  Are their beliefs better served by remaining for fear of who replaces them, or to leave once a red line is crossed.  I don’t know what the right answer is for anyone, I just know that it is an acid test for integrity.

Immigrants Get the Job Done*

The AP reports that the Trump regime floated a proposal to activate 100K National Guard troops to round up undocumented immigrants.

The Trump administration is considering a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.

Four states that border on Mexico are included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the AP report was “100 percent not true” and “irresponsible.” ”There is no effort at all to utilize the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants,” he said.

The denial issued by the slab of Spam with eyes that Melissa McCarthy occasionally impersonates on SNL isn’t very convincing since the Trump regime, from its titular head on down, lie all the time. And AP has a memo.

Valued commenter Ajabu had an idea for a response to the so-called president’s constant fear-mongering about immigrants: a photo array featuring select immigrants and “real Americans.” He edited a ton of photos that illustrate the foolishness of Trump’s “ooga-booga” act. Here’s a sample:

Dennis Hastert, Real American

Khizr Khan, Immigrant

Ted Kaczynski, Real American

Albert Einstein, Immigrant

I think I’ll make this a recurring feature until I run out of photos from the cache Ajabu sent, rather than just publishing the whole array in one fell swoop. Sadly, I’m confident we’ll have many more opportunities to respond to scaremongering on immigration in the coming months.

*Yes, I know this is a line from “Hamilton.” I’m still not joining your stupid cult! :)

The Crazy Goes Back to Tax Cut Jeebus

I’ve now watched the Trump presser yesterday three times. Not because I am a masochist who enjoys inflicting as much pain as possible on himself, but because I don’t think I appreciated the full madness of it the first time. The surreality of it all just overloaded my senses and I really couldn’t take it in.

It was like the first time I went to New York City as a teenager. When I was 16, I left little old Bethany to head to upstate NY to live on a farmhouse with my friend Jason and his father Nick In Verbank, NY (east of Poughkeepsie, west of Millbrook). Jason’s parents were divorced, and his mom lived in Bethany and taught there, and he lived here and went to school here, and then in the summers we would go up there and get jobs. At any rate, I would go to the bus station in Wheeling with my big old backpack (the old kind with a frame) and a dufflebag filled with all my possessions for the summer, head up to NYC, and then I would navigate my way to the train to take me up to Poughkeepsie.

This was around 1986, and NYC was a markedly different place than it is now, and this was the first time I had ever been out on my own. I think prior to my trip to NYC, the most people I had ever seen in one place might have been a rock concert down in the old Wheeling Civic Center. To cut to the point, my senses were just overloaded the moment I got off the bus. Everything was bright, loud, moving, smelly, crazy. All I really remember is keeping my hand in my front pocket over my wallet and just trying to get to the train alive. It was chaos and just too much to take in, and it wasn’t until I had been to NYC about 4-5 times that I started to actually notice things and be able to really pay attention to what was going on, and even then I am sure I had just scratched the surface.

That’s how I felt watching the press conference yesterday, and why I had to watch it so many times to fully appreciate the crazy on display. The third time I was watching it, I was also reading the local (somewhatish) newspaper, the Charleston Gazette Mail, and came across this story:

Poor roads cost the average Charleston driver $1,357 a year in additional expenses, according to the latest TRIP report on West Virginia roads.

Statewide, deficient roads cost West Virginia drivers $1.4 billion a year for additional vehicle repair and maintenance costs, crashes where road deficiencies are a contributing factor, and lost time and fuel from traffic congestion, the report from the national transportation association concludes.

“The quality of life of state residents, visitors and businesses is significantly affected by the quality of the state’s road and bridge network,” Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director, said during a news conference Thursday to release the latest report on state roads.

In what has become something of a tradition during legislative sessions, the TRIP report outlines the costs of deficient roads and bridges on the state’s economy and quality of life. The release of the report frequently coincides with the annual West Virginians for Better Transportation rally at the Capitol, scheduled this year for Friday morning.

In past years, the call for additional funding for highway construction and maintenance has gone unheeded, but the advocates this year have an ally in Gov. Jim Justice, who wants to sell $2.8 billion in road bonds to build and upgrade West Virginia’s highways.

On Thursday, Justice administration Transportation Secretary Tom Smith called the TRIP report “alarming.”

“Roads are getting worse. Bridges are getting worse,” he said. “It really makes the point Governor Justice has asked us to make.”

In his State of the State address, Justice proposed the massive highways construction program through bond sales that would be financed through a $20 increase in the annual license plate renewal fee, a 10-cent a gallon increase in the state gasoline tax (estimated to cost average drivers about $130 a year), and a $1 increase in tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike.

Justice called the proposal the “800-pound gorilla” of his legislative agenda, saying it will create 48,000 jobs and cause an explosion in growth for the state’s tourism industry.

Smith said Thursday it is important to invest now in upgrading highways, paraphrasing Justice by saying, “The longer you wait, the behinder you get.”

Taking care of roads is the most basic of government services. It’s quite literally one of the lowest level responsibilities that the government has, but the state of West Virginia, much like the rest of the nation, can’t even fucking do that because we have gone quite literally insane. And this insanity goes back to tax cut Jeebus, our lord and savior, the deal the Republicans made with the devil years ago to keep together the racists, the godbotherers, the war hawks, the nihilists, the glibertarians, and the uninformed. From the trickled down words of Saint Ronnie of the Alzheimers, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem.”

In 2012, Garry Wills wrote a splendid piece called “Our Moloch” about the deference and sacrifices we make to our blood God, the gun. I’d argue that there is a higher power, one that even “Our Moloch” serves, and that is tax cut Jeebus. That’s how we found ourselves where we are now- where even Democrats dance around the concept of raising taxes to pay for basic services and a cheeto dusted lunatic rants incoherently on national tv in front of the world and a solid portion of the Republican party says nothing and goes along with it. That’s why Republicans are so dead set on killing ACA. It’s why they want to gut social security and medicare. Tax Cut Jeebus demands it, and so it must be done

But it makes me feel better each time it begins

First of all, to answer Dave’s question, yes, it’s worth engaging with journalists, especially those who clearly take the time to seek out good, non-establishment sources.

Now, onto what may destroy this country. K-Thug today quite rightly calls out the Republican moral midgets in Congress for bowing down before Dear Leader. I’ve been wondering for a while: what would reasonable Republican Congressional criticism of Trump even sound like? I take it for granted that they’re all crazy assholes, but even crazy assholes might have some respect for reality and truth. Yes, McCain and Huckleberry Hound like to get off the occasional anti-Trump one-liner before voting for whatever hack Russian double agent Trump has nominated for the cabinet, but they never attempt to give an honest account of just what’s so fucked up about Trump. So I was surprised to see this from Mark Sanford, of all people:

I ask Sanford, in our early February interview, whether it’s fair to say Trump doesn’t impress him. “Yeah, that’s accurate,” he tells me. “Because at some level he represents the antithesis, or the undoing, of everything I thought I knew about politics, preparation and life.”


Sanford swears he has nothing personal against the new president; in fact, he’s heard good things about him personally from several mutual acquaintances. But, he says, he can’t “look the other way” as Trump peddles false information to suit his political aims.

“I believe in a war of ideas … and I tell the staff all the time: Look, we’re in the business of crafting and refining our arguments that are hopefully based on the truth,” he adds. “Truth matters. Not hyperbole, not wild suggestion, but actual truth.”

I hate the whole hunt for a reasonable Republican game people like to play, so I don’t want to make it sound like Mark Sanford is a great guy, but he’s saying what every non-brain dead Republican in Congress (I think there’s at least a few dozen in this category) should be saying, that Trump’s detachment from reality is simply not acceptable. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s probably the politically smart thing to do for the medium-to-long term.

But so far no one’s doing it besides Sanford. He must have done a lot of good thinking out there on the Appalachian Trail.

A question for Doug J

Yesterday, Politico highlighted my post on the distributional impacts of expanding actuarial bands. I like that piece a lot. It gets into the weeds very quickly on a relevant policy discussion and illuminates some of the trade-offs and quirks of the structure.

Politico highlights a couple of writers a day. These links and names get blasted to their morning e-mail list which is heavily DC focused with political and policy implementation power as well as narrative setting power.

From yesterday’s list everyone except for the Weekly Standard is a good factual value. I learn something from those other writers when I read them.

So my question to Doug is does this engagement make sense? Is it better for people with very high leverage and influence to read me layout complex policy options with my set of priors or to read someone who is either not aware of the distributional consequences of this policy change or whose value structure and/or paycheck renders those considerations irrelevant?

If we’re going to have a system of fairly tightly clustered policy and political professionals we will have narrowly tailored publications that sets the minimum standard of being well enough informed with background knowledge of major events for that cluster. I think we will always have specific political/policy niche publications as every other tight cluster has their own publication (Cat Fanciers Daily, FantasyFootball has an entire industry of rapid update publications, Transportation planners have their own publications, marketing professionals have multiple publication channels that cater to their need. ) So in my opinion, engagement is better than passive rejection even as engagement comes from an almost top-10,000 political blog with lots of puppy pictures.  Politico and Axios both have policy dissemination channels which are solid and highly influential.  Liberal engagement in that channel adds value to the conversation and slightly shifts it in our direction.

I want to hear your opinion on this.

Friday Morning Open Thread: Soldier On

On a lighter note (h/t commentor scav), possibly the most Scottish solution ever to help ‘harder-to-adopt’ dogs find new homes:

Jumpers [translation: sweaters] are being knitted for “discriminated-against” dogs that an animal welfare charity finds among the hardest to rehome…

Scottish Women’s Institute groups, including those in Aberdeenshire, have been knitting the eye-catching jumpers. The knitting effort forms part of celebrations marking 100 years of the SWI.

The SSPCA describes the problem of rehoming dark-coated dogs as Black Dog Syndrome.

The charity said that, in photographs, the dogs’ features and personalities do not show up as they do for dogs with lighter coats.

SSPCA superintendent Sharon Comrie said: “This syndrome really does affect the adoption of animals in our care and, through no fault of their own, black dogs are almost always the last to find new homes.

“It’s a really creative idea to knit coloured jackets to show these dogs off to their best advantage.

“Knowing that the SWI has members in every part of Scotland, many of whom are extremely dextrous when it comes to traditional crafts, means that we’ll hopefully be able to help animals in the nine rescue and rehoming centres we operate in Scotland.”…

You should definitely click the link, because the models are adorable. Given how popular knitting has become here in America… if a shelter were to photograph its black dogs wearing… hmm… pussycat hats?

(And speaking of the Women’s Institute, Calendar Girls is a delightful little diversion if you’re looking for something to distract you this weekend.)

What else is on the agenda as we wrap up another long week?

Open Thread: Things Are Progressing Not Necessarily to the Trump Administration’s Best Advantage

The great blogger Billmon used to remind us, when official sources tried to obfuscate the consequences of their own incompetence, that the Emperor in 1945 is supposed to have announced Japan’s unconditional surrender by saying something like “The situation has progressed not necessarily to our kingdom’s best advantage.”

The GOP, and its handmaidens in the management suites at the Grey Lady, are attempting a similar circumlocution. The NYTimes reporters are starting to edge towards the exits, though:

For days, a frustrated and simmering president fumed inside the West Wing residence about what aides said he saw as his staff’s inadequate defense and the ineffectiveness of his own tweets. Over the objections of some top advisers who wanted to steer him away from confrontation, Mr. Trump demanded to face the media, determined to reject the narrative that his administration is sinking into chaos, scandal and incompetence.

In a rowdy, free-for-all news conference hastily staged in the East Room, Mr. Trump attempted to deflect attention from news coverage about Russian intelligence, the resignation of his national security adviser, the defeat of his labor secretary nominee, and deepening questions about his ability to govern.

“I turn on the T.V., open the newspapers and I see stories of chaos,” Mr. Trump said as he attempted — with little discipline — to read from prepared remarks listing his accomplishments since being inaugurated one month ago. “Chaos. Yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.”…

For his supporters, the performance was certain to be energizing. Mr. Trump turned sober questions from journalists into, at times, mesmerizing television. He attempted to reassert his command of “dishonest” journalists at a time when the news media is questioning his capacity to lead. It all made the brooding boss feel better, people close to Mr. Trump said…

Still, it is unlikely that Mr. Trump’s 77-minute performance will divert much long-term attention from questions about his campaign’s relationship with Russia, or reassure wavering Republicans on Capitol Hill that their agenda is on track. Yet Mr. Trump’s close allies said he had met his more immediate goal of soothing himself with a sense of control over his own administration…

Even the NotSoLiberal Fox News!

Early Morning Open Thread: Trump’s Insane Presser, Foreign Affairs Section

Gonna be harping on this for a while yet, cuz there’s a lot to pick apart…

(Why it matters that the reporter was Haredim)

Self-described “Former independent presidential candidate, CIA operative”:

Meanwhile, out in the real world…

Late Night LOL NOTHING MATTERS Open Thread: “Not Naked! Alternatively Clothed!”

Politico (of course) reports that some people liked the President-Asterisk’s performance:

It was Trump’s decision to hold such an extended news conference and it was made Thursday morning, according to a White House aide briefed on the matter. After weeks of getting pounded by the media — something the president has privately and publicly fumed about — he made it clear to advisers that he wanted to speak in an unfiltered way…

One person close to Trump said he showed an “unusually long” attention span they hadn’t seen often in the White House. And two sources close to the president said he was happy with his performance — and that he felt he was seizing back control of a narrative of his presidency he had lost.

The reviews outside the White House were more mixed. “The guy up there seems crazy,” said one senior GOP aide. “I’ve thought that the whole time.”

The aide acknowledged, though, that the audience wasn’t necessarily Washington. “But how does this play outside the Beltway? It might play pretty well. I can’t say if he killed it or if he was terrible. I just know I was watching the whole time, the whole hour and 20 minutes,” the aide said.

“We were all riveted. Were you not? Have you ever seen a press conference like that from a president?…

The president said he wasn’t “ranting and raving” even as he ranted and raved. “Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars,” he said, without specifying what drug or what candy bar. He said “80 percent” of a court’s rulings were overturned and admitted there was no proof for the number, saying that he heard the number somewhere.

He torched the intelligence community for leaking damaging information about his administration and said the reporting was “fake” from the news media. “The leaks are absolutely real,” he said, complaining about them. Seconds later, he said: “The news is fake.” It was difficult to understand how both could be true…

There are other audiences…

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