Saturday Open Thread

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39 Responses to Saturday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    Quick Takes: Grassley and Graham Are On Board With a Cover-Up
    A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

    by Nancy LeTourneau
    January 5, 2018

    * In case you were wondering whether Senate Republicans would do anything to hold this president accountable, you got an answer today.

    Two Republican senators have called for the investigation of Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who compiled a dossier on alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

    In a letter to the US justice department, Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham claimed there was reason to believe that Steele had misled US authorities over his contacts with journalists and called for him to be investigated.

    The letter, the first criminal referral from Congress since it started investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, comes at a time when Republicans are seeking to divert those investigations from scrutinising Donald Trump’s links to Russia to focus instead on whistleblowers, the FBI, and the special counsel investigating the issue, Robert Mueller.

  2. rikyrah says:

    The FBI is Cracking Under Pressure, and Time is Running Out
    by David Atkins January 6, 2018

    In the year since Donald Trump moved into the White House, one of the key questions was how long the institutions of American democracy would hold up if he tried to create an authoritarian state centered around himself. For a long time things seemed to be largely OK: the institutions of state were mostly able to resist Trump’s incursions into their necessary roles and perform their duties more or less as intended. Sure, Trump’s appointees were hyperpartisan in their deregulatory and corporate-friendly fervor, which often put them at odds with the purposes of the agencies they were in charge of. Yes, talented employees are leaving in droves and some key functions are going unfilled, and yes, agencies with authoritarian powers like ICE have been behaving cruelly and abominably with horrible consequences for those affected. But overall, American democracy itself has not been on the verge of unraveling. The president has found himself at least partially constrained by the courts in his racist immigration decrees; the Justice Department and FBI have been doing their duty in pursuing investigations into the President’s malfeasance; the states effectively scuttled Kris Kobach’s voter suppression commission; and the other agencies aren’t fully dysfunctional even if they are perverted in serving the interests of the rich and powerful rather than regular Americans.

    But all of that started to change this week. The seams are beginning to come apart, and the danger of autocracy is far nearer than it was just a few days ago. This, even as the publication of Michael Wolff’s new book shows just how dangerously unfit this president is even under normal circumstances.

    Republican Senators who began last year by pretending to want investigations into Russia’s interference in the election are now actively scuttling those investigations. Two Republican Senators, Charles Grassley of Iowa and Lindsey Graham, have now made a criminal referral to the FBI against Michael Steele, the longtime intelligence officer who provided information designed to expose Russia’s crimes and accomplices. This is nothing less than a coverup designed to muddy the waters, protect those truly guilty of collusion with Russia to undermine our democracy, and intimidate anyone else who might come forward in the future under similar circumstances. It’s particularly galling coming from Lindsey Graham who at one time was one of the president’s harshest critics, but is now serving as his political hit man even as Trump’s unfitness for office has never been clearer.

    Meanwhile, reports surfaced the FBI wilted some months ago after ongoing public pressure from Donald Trump to prosecute his political opponents for nonexistent crimes by reopening investigations into the Clinton Foundation and the Uranium One nothingburger. The investigations were halted due to lack of evidence of wrongdoing, but the mere fact that the FBI could be pressured into harassing the charity for purely political reasons is troubling.

    On the real collusion front, the integrity of the FBI’s investigation in Trump and his associates is being hampered by Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’ blatant attempts to acquire sensitive documents held close by the FBI, and to subpoena FBI officials whose public testimony would harm the investigation itself. Nunes is already widely suspected of having passed sensitive information to the White House and having lied about it, but he is being backed up in this coverup by Paul Ryan himself.

    If (like our illustrious president) video is more your thing than text, Rachel Maddow provided a good rundown of these and other disturbing developments on her show last night. It makes for disturbing viewing.

    It’s clear that the country has reached a dangerous inflection point. Republicans have decided en masse that their best chance at political survival is to hew closely to President Trump. But the president is so clearly unfit for office and in such obvious legal and ethical peril that they cannot protect him without violating basic principles of accountability and democracy.

  3. rikyrah says:

    I am the very model of a Very Stable Genius.
    I have a mighty button and no problems with my penius.
    I have no time for television, golf, or social media
    Since my brain is way way better than the best encyclopedia.— bob (@huntthesnark) January 6, 2018

    I like to tweet the lies of racist grievances historical
    When Russian ties are mentioned I deny them categorical
    I do not feel the sting of words because I am avenious
    I am the very model of a Very Stable Genius!— C. B. Wright (A Madman Unhing’d) (@ubersoft) January 6, 2018

  4. rikyrah says:

    The wheels are coming off the bus, day 4 – Never go full Fredo

    This is a combination self-care thread and “OH MY GOD WHAT DID TRUMP DO NOW??”

    As we all know by now, Donald Trump went full Fredo this morning, tweeting out that not only was he smart, but a “stable genius”. Of course, as of this writing, “Fredo” is trending on Twitter.

    The Michael Wolff tome has savaged Trump and his self-image. Say what you want about Wolff, but what he did was brilliant. He told regime members, including Trump, what they wanted to hear in order to gain access, and then destroyed them. He turned their ridiculous self-regard back on themselves. And he has reduced Trump to doing a pathetic Fredo Corleone impersonation on Twitter do defend his nous. As we all know, his claim to fame was his alpha-male image. Nothing punctures that more than pathetic whining.

  5. rikyrah says:

    New Trump US attorney appointments raise questions
    Matt Alexrod, former senior Justice Department official, talks with Rachel Maddow about the peculiarities in the way the Trump administration has appointed some replacement U.S. attorneys.

  6. rikyrah says:

    @tobie: Matthew Yglesias‏Verified account @ mattyglesias
    Doing a retreat with your party’s congressional leadership makes sense.

    Doing a retreat with your national security cabinet also makes sense.

    Doing a retreat with your party’s congressional leadership AND your national security cabinet is very odd.

  7. rikyrah says:

    he is so funny

    “I am a very stable genius” is the way people talk on the way to the funny farm, not the Situation Room. Or so it was a year ago.

    — Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) January 6, 2018

  8. rikyrah says:

    It appear, per pooler @Jordanfabian, Trump and GOP leaders watched “The Greatest Showman” at Camp David last night. Per, IMDB, the movie “celebrates the birth of show business, and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation”— David Nakamura (@DavidNakamura) January 6, 2018

  9. rikyrah says:

    JUST IN: Twitter statement on world leaders’ use of Twitter:
    “Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets, would hide important information people should be able to see and debate.”— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 5, 2018

  10. rikyrah says:

    From March 2017 through July 2017, Ivanka Trump made between $1 million and $5 million from her business, per her federal filing, VF reports.

    — Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 6, 2018

  11. rikyrah says:

    NEW: America can now make sure low income kids have insurance for less than $18 per kid.

    That’s 9 million kids for $160 million per year according to the new CBO report.

    That’s less than the tax cut for a single multinational company.

    — Andy Slavitt (@ASlavitt) January 5, 2018

  12. rikyrah says:

    More than 200,000 Puerto Ricans arrived in Florida since Trump and his regime botched hurricane relief.
    These are American citizens.
    In Florida.
    Which means they can vote.
    But only if they’re registered.
    306 Days until the mid-terms.

    — Steve Marmel (@Marmel) January 4, 2018

  13. rikyrah says:

    Since the moment Dolt45 was ‘elected’

    They were desperate to make it about anything other than race.

    Economic Anxiety, remember?

    Well, Archie Bunker voted for Hillary Clinton.

    It was Archie’s BOSS and his WHITE WIFE that voted for Dolt45.

    As I’ve said for awhile..

    What burns them is that their vessel for White Supremacy is not just a national, but INTERNATIONAL embarrassment.

    What burns them is that non-Whites REFUSE to take any responsibility for this.
    AND…that we have ‘ the audacity’, at every turn, to purse our lips and remind THEM that WE didn’t do this.

    They were so desperate to prove that the Black Man in the White House wasn’t all that good, that they turned around and voted in this imbecile, whose every step only accentuates just how fabulous 44 was.

    The MSM was desperate because they wanted to paper over their professional malpractice in 2016..but, a) we keep on coming with receipts, b) we have no intention of ‘ turning the page’, and c) their desperation for the ‘pivot’, which would prove that their malpractice wasn’t all that bad.

    I’ve said for awhile..
    This isn’t 2000.
    This isn’t even 2004, after Shrub lied us into two wars.

    This is on a whole other level, and our side isn’t interested in forgiveness or understanding.

    The TREASON is what makes this different.

    • Liza says:

      Well said, Rikyrah.

      I keep thinking about where we were one year ago, dreading Trump’s inauguration, dreading the inevitable, while MSM and other Trump supporters peddled that “give him a chance” and “maybe he will step up and become presidential” fantasy.

      I’m grinding my teeth just thinking about it.

    • Ametia says:

      I can’t CO-SIGN this Commentary enough, Rikyrah.💁🏽👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾

  14. rikyrah says:

    I’m hoping many of those good folks displaced from #PuertoRico move to Georgia and #RegisterToVote and/or #RunforSomething 🌊

    — Dudette (@Dudette9t9) January 6, 2018

    307,000 Puerto Rican’s newly in Florida since Hurricane Maria. That’s a 1.5% increase in the state’s population (!)

    — Will Jordan (@williamjordann) January 6, 2018

  15. rikyrah says:

    Republicans, compliant FBI make progress undermining Russia probe
    Rachel Maddow looks at how Republican interest in investigating Russia’s intrusion in the 2016 election has turned over the course of the past year to an interest in undermining that investigation, and how the FBI has become more compliant as Trump and Republicans have stepped up attacks.

  16. rikyrah says:

    James Fallows, in the Atlantic, “It’s Been An Open Secret”:

    … Based on the excerpts now available, Fire and Fury presents a man in the White House who is profoundly ignorant of politics, policy, and anything resembling the substance of perhaps the world’s most demanding job. He is temperamentally unstable. Most of what he says in public is at odds with provable fact, from “biggest inaugural crowd in history” onward. Whether he is aware of it or not, much of what he asserts is a lie. His functional vocabulary is markedly smaller than it was 20 years ago; the oldest person ever to begin service in the White House, he is increasingly prone to repeat anecdotes and phrases. He is aswirl in foreign and financial complications. He has ignored countless norms of modern governance, from the expectation of financial disclosure to the importance of remaining separate from law-enforcement activities. He relies on immediate family members to an unusual degree; he has an exceptionally thin roster of experienced advisers and assistants; his White House staff operations have more in common with an episode of The Apprentice than with any real-world counterpart. He has a shallower reserve of historical or functional information than previous presidents, and a more restricted supply of ongoing information than many citizens. He views all events through the prism of whether they make him look strong and famous, and thus he is laughably susceptible to flattering treatment from the likes of Putin and Xi Jinping abroad or courtiers at home.

    And, as Wolff emphasizes, everyone around him considers him unfit for the duties of this office…

    Who is also in on this open secret? Virtually everyone in a position to do something about it, which at the moment means members of the Republican majority in Congress.

    They know what is wrong with Donald Trump. They know why it’s dangerous. They understand—or most of them do—the damage he can do to a system of governance that relies to a surprising degree on norms rather than rules, and whose vulnerability has been newly exposed. They know—or should—about the ways Trump’s vanity and avarice are harming American interests relative to competitors like Russia and China, and partners and allies in North America, Europe, and the Pacific…

    They know. They could act. And they don’t. The failure of responsibility starts with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, but it doesn’t end with them. Every member of a bloc-voting majority shares responsibility for not acting on their version of the open secret. “Independent” Republicans like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski share it. “Thoughtful” ones, like Ben Sasse and Jeff Flake. Those (in addition to Flake) who have nothing to lose electorally, from Bob Corker to Orrin Hatch. When they vote as a majority against strong investigations, against subpoenas, against requirements for financial disclosure, and most of all against protecting Robert Mueller and his investigation, they share complicity in the open secret.

  17. rikyrah says:

    I liked this article on Wolff:

    Michael Wolff Did What Every Other White House Reporter Is Too Cowardly to Do

    I’m gonna begin this post with the same disclaimer that needs to come with every post about Michael Wolff, which is that Wolff is a fart-sniffer whose credibility is often suspect and who represents the absolute worst of New York media-cocktail-circuit inbreeding. But in a way, it’s fitting that our least reliable president could finally find himself undone at the hands of one of our least reliable journalists.

    All of Wolff’s excerpts from Fire & Fury so far (the book was rushed into stores today) read like jayvee fan fiction. They read like a pilot that Steve Bannon himself wrote, pitched to Hollywood, and had rejected 17 times over. They read, in short, like bullshit. And yet…Wolff has audio. He’s got hours upon hours of audio. Not only that, but the book has already caused legitimate upheaval in the administration, opened a permanent rift between President Trump and Bannon, AND it confirms what we have all always known to be true: that the president severely lacks the cognitive ability to do this job, and that he is surrounded at all times by a cadre of enablers, dunces, and outright thieves. As much as I wanna discredit Wolff, he got receipts and, more important, he used them. Wolff got it all. Wolff nailed them.

    And look how he did it. He did it by sleazily ingratiating himself with the White House, gaining access, hosting weird private dinners, and then taking full advantage of the administration’s basic lack of knowledge about how reporting works. Some of the officials Wolff got on tape claim to be unaware that they were on the record. Wolff denies this, but he’s very much up front in the book’s intro about the fact that he was able to exploit the incredible “lack of experience” on display here. In other words, Wolff got his book by playing a bunch of naive dopes.

    Thank God for that. Wolff has spent this week thoroughly exploiting Trump and his minions the same way they’ve exploited the cluelessness of others. And he pulled it off because, at long last, there was a reporter out there willing to toss decorum aside and burn bridges the same way Trump does.

    • Ametia says:

      Yes, and as Eliihaas pointed out the beltway Hoo haws crowd who mngle & jingle with he clown behind closed doors are no in it to serve American citizens.

  18. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning Everyone 😄😄😄

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