Thursday, June 22, 2017

I Feel Good, Part 2

Numbers from Tuesday:

Karen Handel defeated Jon Ossoff in the Georgia 6th District by about 10,000 votes and nearly four percentage points. Republican "outside groups" spent $18 million smearing Ossoff as Pelosi's puppet and defending a congressional district where Republican candidates have won easily for decades. Eighteen million bucks for a 10,000-vote margin.

Also on Tuesday, an "obscure Democrat,"Archie Parnell, came within 3,000 votes of capturing a solidly Republican congressional district in South Carolina. Few observers expected that showing, and fourteen Democratic male babies born on Wednesday morning were promptly named Archie. And two female babies.

Nick Everhart, a Republican strategist in Ohio, warned fellow Republicans against chest-thumping and the complacency which often follows ego inflation. He reminded fellow Republicans that up to this point -- after just four special elections -- Republicans have been beating Democrats "only on solidly red turf."

“To pretend that there are not serious enthusiasm-gap issues with the G.O.P. base and, more crucially, independents fleeing, is missing the lessons that need to be learned before truly competitive seats are on the board,” Everhart said.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I Feel Good About the Special Congressional Elections

I've seen enough of fellow Dems beating up on the usual suspects for Ossoff's loss last night in the 6th District of Georgia ... blaming Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton herownself, and of course the young whippersnapper Jon Ossoff (whose greatest sin, other than all that money, IMO, was living outside the district). But enough of all that blame.

I feel good about the four special elections we've recently witnessed ... in Kansas, Montana, Georgia, and (also last night) in South Carolina for Mick Mulvaney's vacated seat (Archie Parnell did great, coming much closer than Ossoff in the most dismally Republican district you could ever deliberately draw).

All four Democrats lost, yes, but they lost in congressional districts the like of which Democrats will not have to win in 2018 to take back the House. Those four safe Republican districts -- and dozens of others like them -- will not have to be fought in and successfully challenged for Nancy Pelosi to become Speaker of the House again (and, yes, I wish for someone new in that role).

The closeness of those four races, with previously unknown Democratic candidates coming closer than any Democrat in years -- decades, in some cases -- provides a trend line that might sober up all the Trumpettes who've been celebrating Karen Handel's win in Georgia like it totally settles the issue of Trump's drain on the Republican Party.

But puff pastry gotta puff, forgetting how wholly fragile that particular baked good tends to be.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Headhunters in Search of Smaller Heads

On Trump's problems recruiting qualified candidates to fill top administration jobs:
“He just threw Jeff Sessions under the bus,” said Bill Valdez, a former senior Energy Department official who is now president of the Senior Executives Association, which represents 6,000 top federal leaders, referring to recent reports that the president is furious at the attorney general for recusing himself from the Russia investigation. “If you’re working with a boss who doesn’t have your back, you have no confidence in working with that individual.”
And this:
Republicans say they are turning down job offers to work for a chief executive whose volatile temperament makes them nervous. They are asking head-hunters if their reputations could suffer permanent damage, according to 27 people The Washington Post interviewed to assess what is becoming a debilitating factor in recruiting political appointees.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Will Ignorance Destroy Trump Before His Arrogance Does?

According to White House insiders who talked to reporters, Trump views Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein "less as executors of law than as salaried staff."

As "salaried staff," those guys should buckle to the CEO, should jump on command, should do the bidding of the emperor of ice cream before the ice cream melts in the political heat.

That in a nutshell is what's wrong with Trump -- the coupling of towering arrogance with a complete ignorance of how our government works -- that law enforcement is not the handmaiden of a bumptious executive but a check on executive power.

Whoever said that ignorance can't kill?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Congratulations, Mr. President! You're Now Under Investigation. It'll Be the Greatest Investigation Ever Undertaken By Mankind

At 6:22 p.m. yesterday, the Washington Post flashed the news -- confirmed by several anonymous sources -- that special counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating Trump for obstruction of justice. This information comes hard on the heels of that other leaked information that Trump wanted to fire Mueller.

At 6:55 a.m. this morning, Trump tweeted:
They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2017
The following response quickly appeared on Twitter:
Good question! If everything to do with the special counsel is mere fake news, why indeed appear constantly to cover it all up, deflect attention away from it, and fire a troublesome FBI director who refused to kiss the ring and pledge his loyalty?

The WashPost scoop linked above also reports that investigators have been looking "for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates." Hasn't it always been about money with the guy at the top, and presumably his associates too? Many dots would appear to connect Trump to Russian oligarch money, which would be the main reason IMO to "collude" with Russians. Piles of cash!

I believe Robert Mueller is following the money as well as the obstruction. When a president reacts to any mention of Russia's interference like a man who's just felt a hot branding iron next to his thigh -- that's suspicious.
"You're the greatest thing that's ever happened,
and everything you do is intentional!"

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Trump and the "Possibility of Being Fired"

White House leakers have been talking again, and what we learn (via Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman, and Julie Hirschfeld Davis) is that Trump really did want to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, but White House chief of staff Reince Preibus and White House counsel Donald McGahn talked him out of it.

Doug Mills, New York Times
Jared Kushner, who had taken the lead in getting FBI director James Comey fired, was noticeably quiet about the firing of Mueller, since his bright idea about firing Comey had backfired and ballooned into the appointment of Mueller.

Trump is in a rage about Mueller. The gold drapes in the Oval Office have turned turd-brown, and everything the president puts in his mouth tastes like used dental floss.

Trump's BFF Christopher Ruddy made the president's intention of firing Mueller public Monday night in a television interview. Ruddy is now saying that he did that in order to prevent Mr. Trump from "making a rash decision." For which Ruddy is now on the outs with Dear Leader:
“Ruddy is nothing more than a journalist who doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” said Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, echoing the president’s sentiments, according to West Wing aides.
Ruddy is CEO of Newsmax Media.

Yesterday, during a noon-time meeting at the White House with Republican members of Congress, Trump was asked by reporters if he supported Mueller, and he refused to answer. Then this:
The president was pleased by the ambiguity of his position on Mr. Mueller, and thinks the possibility of being fired will focus the veteran prosecutor on delivering what the president desires most: a blanket public exoneration.
Trump apparently thinks that he's successfully intimidating Mueller. He also apparently thinks that toadies who praise him to his face on cue are being sincere. Any man this stupid should not have access to the nuclear codes.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

"Stroke My Monkey! Stroke It!"

Doug Mills, New York Times
"Beware" -- my mother always said -- "beware the man who can't be embarrassed."

There they were yesterday, the unembarrass-able men (and a very few women) of Trump's cabinet, reciting their pre-written words of adulation and fawning praise for Donald Trump, one by one and very obediently, like craven underlings in Kim Jong-un's palace guard.

Good God! Trump demanded the ritual ass-kissing, and he got his ass royally kissed. According to eye-witness Julie Hirschfeld Davis, "the president went around the table asking for a statement from each cabinet member. One by one, they said their names and — as if working to outdo one another — paid homage to Mr. Trump, describing how honored they were to serve in his administration."

Only Defense Secretary Jim Mattis diverged from the approved script. He praised the troops rather than Trump. Trump was "stern-faced" with Mattis, whereas in response to all the other fawning lickspittles, Trump "sat smiling, nodding his approval." “Thank you, Mick,” he told Mick Mulvaney, his budget director. “Good job,” he told Scott Pruitt, his E.P.A. chief. “Very good, Daniel,” he said to Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence. And so on.

This scene of gross ego-stroking reminds me of Shakespeare's King Lear's demanding to know which of his three daughters loves him most in Act I Scene 1. How did that work out for him during the rest of the play?

Senate Republicans Risk Getting All Up in Trump's Grille Over Russia Sanctions

Set to go to a vote this week in the US Senate -- new sanctions on Russia, particularly sanctions based on Russian interference in our election, and there's even a stinger in the tail aimed squarely at the man in the White House: The bill contains a provision that the president cannot scale back sanctions without going through Congress first.

When asked if Trump is on board with this proposal, Foreign Relations Committee Chair Senator Bob Corker "hesitated," noting: “I have to believe that the administration has to at least strongly consider supporting this.”

And anyway, Corker added, "he was sure the measure could receive a veto-proof level of support in the Senate."

Whoa! A Republican senator -- from Tennessee! -- throwing down a veiled dare to the Republican president about veto-proof majorities for punishing Russia. I believe the ground just started sliding.