Lordy

Lordy, I hope... well, a lot of things...

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Daily Combover - March 31, 2017


Today Trump signed two executive orders dealing with trade restrictions (orders 39 and 40). Essentially they empower the Executive Branch to collect duties from companies and governments that the Trump Regime denotes as selling below cost.

In economic terms, this is known as anti-dumping legislation. Essentially the theory of dumping plays out like this:
1. Country A has a thriving manufacturing industry.
2. Country B wants to take a slice of Country A's pie so they direct their companies to export goods to Country A that are similar to what A already manufactures.
3. To ensure that B's goods sell, Country B subsidizes its companies so they can sell below cost.
4. Eventually Country A's companies are no longer competitive so they either shut down or relocate to Country B where it is cheaper to produce.

Anti-dumping legislature creates a punishment mechanism so Country A can protect its own manufacturing industry by imposing a tariff on B so that its goods become more expensive. But tariffs always lead to counter-tariffs.

A great historical example is the Panic of 1837 and subsequent Depression that lasted well into the next decade.  A great driver of that was the extreme tariff placed on British goods (historically referred to as the Tariff of Abominations) that was followed up in the 1830s by British counter-tariffs (the Corn Laws). The global implications were immensely horrifying. Aside from the immediate increase in unemployment, the tariffs triggered an over-reliance on potatoes in the British Isles, particularly in Ireland. And in the 1840s, when a blight hit the potato crop, millions of Irish starved to death.

This is one example, but it's far from the only one.  In fact, as Bruce Bartlett wrote, throughout US economic history, evidence shows that our economy grew in spite of tariffs and not because of them.

As an economist, I'm constantly scratching my head wondering what exactly Trump could possibly be thinking. But I'm even more concerned that he doesn't have a single real economist in the White House that could advise him on the travesty that he will be creating when he imposes tariffs on Canada, Mexico, and China.  No developed country has imposed tariffs of this scale since globalization began.  The shock to the global economy has the potential to be worse than the Great Recession.
 If he really wants to help the American worker, he'll think about the longer run implications and keep his tiny hands off our economy.

Have a great weekend.

Catch you on the flipside.

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Little Lies


No Immunity for Flynn


This means Flynn had nothing to offer, that the Senate already has all they need, or that he's guilty of something so heinous they just couldn't give him immunity.

But he wouldn't ask for it preemptively if he didn't think he needed it.



The walls are seriously closing in on him...

Trump Gets All Up In That



A string of four Tweets since yesterday (really three, one is a two-parter):









Aside from the fact that they're all pretty bizarre in their own ways (I don't really understand what he means by "American companies must be prepared to look at other alteratives."), note that he uses the stilted phrasing "in that" twice in three statements. It's probably nothing of any significance, but it jumped out to me.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Late Night Track - Free Fallin


Open Thread -- #FlipFlynn Edition

Anyone have any interesting thoughts/predictions?

The Daily Combover - March 30, 2017

What's left to say that hasn't been said?

What a day! The Senate Intelligence Committee held its first hearings for #TrumpRussia and it was quite the spectacle.  The hero of the day award goes to Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) who showed us what the leader of an intelligence committee should be doing.  Bear in mind that back in January he was already calling for a full investigation. So we knew he'd ready if and when the Senate needed to be involved. It started with an ooh...
“Let me set the ground rules real quick,” Mr. Burr said before taking questions. “We’ll answer anything about the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation. We will not take questions on the House Intelligence Committee.”
...and ended with a bang:
President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn is reportedly willing to testify about the Trump campaign's ties to Russia in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
Flynn, who resigned as Trump's security adviser after just 24 days, has sent the request to both the FBI and the House and Senate intelligence committees, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The agencies have not yet taken Flynn up on his offer, according to officials with knowledge of the matter.
Interestingly, Roger Stone is also rumored to be seeking immunity. But...
So now, as we are always apt to do here at the Combover, let's look at Trump's response.

Well, it looks like Trump responded to the Senate Hearing by:
1. Ignoring it.
2. Lashing out against his last remaining ally -- The Freedom Caucus.

Your GOP leadership hard at work.

Catch you on the flip side.

Impeachment vs. the 25th Amendment

 


Back in late January, I wrote:

He really is off-the-hook crazy. It would be justified to remove him from office if it were possible, but the 25th Amendment solution that people keep talking about is unrealistic. This is the text of Section 4:
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
If I'm reading it correctly, using the 25th Amendment to remove a President from office is even more difficult than impeachment/conviction. We need 1/2 of the House to vote to impeach the President, and 2/3 of the Senate to convict. The 25th Amendment requires 2/3s of BOTH houses to remove the President.

Two months later, I'm still pretty sure I read that correctly, though I'm not totally sure what to make of the text in bold -- what's another body like Congress? Is there a loophole? Anyway, today Booman wrote:

The people who are most acutely aware of Trump’s mental deficiencies and titanic character flaws are those who have to deal with him every day, and they’re the only ones who can conceivably go to a Republican Congress and convince them that it’s just not safe to leave Trump behind the wheel.
Trump’s tweets are only a small part of the problem, but they’ve already caused problems with allies like Australia, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom. His policies and offhand remarks have created unnecessary tensions in places as diverse as Taiwan and Iraq.
So, the solitary point here is that the 25th Amendment is an option and the members of Trump’s cabinet can’t pretend that they don’t have ability to do something to save the country. They have the tool they need, and if the majority of Trump’s cabinet ever goes to Congress and tells them that the president isn’t fit to serve, they’ll only be telling Congress what the Democrats, the Intelligence Community, our allies, and every newspaper editorial board in the country has been telling them.
If they were ever to take that step, they’d have massive support. And, I believe, if James Mattis and a majority of the cabinet went to the Republicans in Congress and said that Trump cannot continue to be our president, that they’d have to listen.
In any case, they’d be much more likely to respond to an invocation of the 25th Amendment than they would be to impeach and convict the president on their own initiative.

That's pretty much the polar opposite of my feeling on the matter. So, I let him know that on the Twitter machine and we had an exchange about it.



I dig Booman, and anything he writes deserves a lot of consideration. What he's essentially asserting is that it's more likely that about 80 House Republicans will, within a three week window, vote to remove Trump from office if half the Cabinet goes to the House and says that Trump's a nutbag, than 20 or so will do so in an indefinite period of time if, say James Comey and a bunch of intelligence officials or John McCain and a handful of Senators tell them he colluded with Russia to rig the election or pocketed hundreds of millions in a deal with China or Saudi Arabia. A difference of 60 or so Congresscritters. That could be right (and as I write this I haven't made a conclusion), but let's look at who makes up Trump's current cabinet:

  • VP Mike Pence
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
  • Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin
  • Secretary of Defense James Mattis
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions
  • Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke
  • Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue
  • Secretary of HUD Ben Carson
  • Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao
  • Secretary of Energy Rick Perry
  • Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin
  • Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly

There are also currently seven "Cabinet-level officials." I don't know if they'd count or not, but for simplicity's sake, let's say they don't.

So, you need Pence plus seven of the remaining 13. I'm not sure Pence turns on Trump, but looking at the rest, I think three are either unconditionally with Trump and/or Russia: Tillerson, Sessions, and Carson.

There are three that I think would definitely turn on him: Mattis, Shulkin, and Kelly.

That leaves a squishy seven, and four of those would need to join the defectors. How much weight would a group of, say, Mattis, Shulkin, Kelly, Perry, Chao, Mnuchin, and Zinke carry in the House? I'm not sure, but that's a key question.

Something else to keep in mind is that Trump is that Trump has apparatchiks throughout the government keeping tabs on the appointees. So if Cabinet officials begin to whisper about invoking the 25th, Trump and his loyalists will likely know before they send that initial letter to Congress.

 In 1926, the Supreme Court decided that the President can fire Cabinet officials he appoints:

In 1926, a similar law (though not dealing with Cabinet secretaries) was ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Myers v. United States, which affirmed the ability of the President to remove a Postmaster without Congressional approval. In reaching that decision, the Supreme Court stated in its majority opinion (though in dicta), "that the Tenure of Office Act of 1867, insofar as it attempted to prevent the President from removing executive officers who had been appointed by him by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, was invalid."

So Trump could theoretically dismiss a handful of the disloyal officials and leave them without the numbers necessary to go to Congress.

There is a hybrid option; if he fires a few Cabinet officials, it could alarm Congress enough to start the actual impeachment process.

After writing this, I continue to think that while impeachment/conviction is more likely than the 25th Amendment, both are possible, but both are by themselves unlikely. However, I generally feel like Atrios did in February:

Count me among those who don't really think that Trump will remain president for 4 years. I don't have a strong belief about exactly how/why he will leave office, it's just that I can weirdly see multiple plausible exit paths.

And, of course, with the Flynn news, each of these exit paths just became a bit more likely to happen.

Is Mike Flynn Missing a Shoe?




I think so, because I thought I heard one hit the ground. From the WSJ:

Mike Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, has told the Federal Bureau of Investigation and congressional officials investigating the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia that he is willing to be interviewed in exchange for a grant of immunity from prosecution, according to officials with knowledge of the matter.
As an adviser to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, and later one of Mr. Trump’s top aides in the White House, Mr. Flynn was privy to some of the most sensitive foreign-policy deliberations of the new administration and was directly involved in discussions about the possible lifting of sanctions on Russia imposed by the Obama administration.
He has made the offer to the FBI and the House and Senate intelligence committees though his lawyer but has so far found no takers, the officials said.

I wonder what they're waiting for? Proof that he's got something really valuable?

Ready your popcorn poppers; I think this is something big.

Twitter Reacts to the First Few Hours of the #SenateintelligenceCommittee

I've missed most of it so far but am now catching up through Twitter; the first day so far appears to be more eventful than I'd expected:
















And Matt Murphy sums up:

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Turn a Square


Update on This Week's Stories

It's been strange waking up the last few days, doing my morning rounds, and not finding bombshells or things that are *that* mockable.

Quickly checking in on the stories I've been following this week:

GOP splintering -- Just a half-assed Tweet this morning from Trump; someone must've roofied his AM Diet Coke:


I don't know what he thinks he's accomplishing, and I don't think he's even thinking about it. But at least from my perspective, half-assed lashing out is much less fun than lashing out with his (more than ample) full ass.



On Russia, it seems that the Senate is about to take the pile of shoes (what kind of shoes do they wear in Russia? I'm going with sneakers with Velcro) that  Devin Nunes has been hoarding and to prepare to drop them themselves, though nothing's happened yet.

In an hour-long appearance, committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice-Chair Mark Warner (D-VA) framed their probe as one of most ambitious investigative efforts ever taken on by a congressional committee. Burr, a 22-year veteran of Capitol Hill, framed the investigation as “one of the biggest” he’s seen in his tenure in Washington, D.C.
Warner concurred, saying, “When we started this, we saw the scope, what was involved, I said it was the most important thing I have ever taken on in my public life. I believe that more firmly now.”
Their solemn assurances to investigate the full scope of Russia’s involvement, to look into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian officials, and to produce a truly bipartisan report on their findings offered a stark contrast from the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation, led by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). The House’s probe came to a standstill this week over Nunes’ overly close relationship with the President, and he and ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) haven’t appeared together publicly in days.

The hearings are just getting started, and you can listen to them here. I'll be checking in on that throughout the day. Listening to the introduction, it seems like they're going to focus on Russian efforts to undermine elections, but not as much on Trump complicity, which, if it is the case, won't accomplish much -- I hope I'm wrong.

On Gorsuch and the nuclear option, I keep asking this question:


No real answers yet, but it seems Celeste P. is on the case:



More later...

UPDATE (3/30/2017, 10:34 AM): That's a little more like it... corresponding with the beginning of the hearings:

Late Night Track -- Just


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Daily Combover - March 29, 2017

It feels like we're on the precipice of learning something startling in the upcoming Senate investigations of #TrumpRussia. Until then, we're in a bit of a slow news cycle.

But that doesn't mean Trump's been quiet. Actually, he's had a pretty busy day. The biggest piece of news coming from the White House was the Executive Order on Opiate Addiction:
This sounds alarmingly like the "commission" set up in the Philippines which has killed 7,700 people in the last six months. But I'm probably overreacting. After all, it's not like Trump has no disdain for life or anything.

We, however, are going to spend some time looking at the other thing Trump was doing today, addressing a Women's Empowerment Panel.

Because nothing screams women's empowerment more than the Fontange Fuhrer.

Let's dig into his 10 minute address:
3:50 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  What an amazing audience this is.  (Laughter.)  So many young faces that represent the future of leadership in our country.  So true.  Melania and I are deeply honored to join you.  And, Melania, thank you for being here.  (Applause.)  
So as you know, Melania is a very highly accomplished woman and really an inspiration to so many.  And she is doing some great job.  In fact, I shouldn’t say this, but her poll numbers went through the roof last week.  (Laughter.)  What was that all about?  Through the roof.  (Applause.)  She has to give us the secret, Mike, right?  (Laughter.)  Anyway, I appreciate it very much.  
Yes, Melania is above water at 56%, but that's still far below historical values for First Ladies. She's 23 points below Michelle Obama; 18 points below Laura Bush; and 11 points below Hillary Clinton when they were at this stage of their husband's presidency.
My Cabinet is full of really incredible women leaders.  Administrator Linda McMahon, who has been a friend of mine for a long time -- (applause) -- long time.  She’s done an incredible job in business, by the way.  Administrator Seema Verma, Secretary Betsy DeVos, and, of course, my good friend from South Carolina who is a very tough competitor, I want to tell you -- Nikki Haley, Ambassador.  She is doing fantastically well.  (Applause.)  And we’re also joined, of course, by Florida Attorney General, highly respected, Pam Bondi.  So I want to thank you, Pam.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  
As usual, Trump gives his shout-outs first. All the women tied to him through various layers of corruption. Are we missing anyone?
Elaine Chao, our Secretary of Transportation, who’s a real expert.  She was Secretary of Labor, but she said, I really wanted to be Secretary of Transportation.  That’s a real expertise, and she’s doing incredibly.  She would have been here, but she’s celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Department of Transportation right now as we speak.  And we’re going to work on infrastructure and we’re going to put up one of the big and great infrastructure bills of all time.  (Applause.)  We’re going to get our infrastructure fixed in our country, and we’re going to rebuild our country, and that’s what we need.  Lots of jobs, also.  (Applause.)
Oh right. McConnell's wife who got the job because McConnell was complicit on covering up #TrumpRussia.  Did I say 'was'? It's still happening!
And I want to thank Ford -- you saw their big announcement yesterday.  And so many others are announcing tremendous numbers of jobs.  (Applause.)  They’re not leaving our country anymore, folks.  They’re not leaving; they’re staying and they’re building right here.
Because nothing says women empowerment than lying to them about a 2-year old business announcement.
So we really have these incredibly strong and dedicated leaders, and they’re with me and they’re with us.  And I’m very happy about it.  And I want to thank you as being representative, very much, of our group.  Thank you all very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.) 
And I’m so proud that the White House and our administration is filled with so many women of such incredible talent.  This week, as we conclude Women’s History Month, we honor a great woman of American history.  Since the very beginning, women have driven -- and I mean each generation of Americans -- toward a more free and more prosperous future.
Oh no, please tell me he's not going to start talking about 'Fredericka' Douglass...
Among these patriots are women like the legendary Abigail Adams -- right? -- (applause) -- who, during the founding, urged her husband to remember the rights of women.  She was very much a pioneer in that way.  
We’ve been blessed with courageous heroes like Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery -- (applause) -- and went on to deliver hundreds of others to freedom, first on the Underground Railroad, and then as a spy for the Union Army.  She was very, very courageous, believe me.  (Applause.)  
No, believe me, you've said enough. Feel free to stop now.
And we’ve had leaders like Susan B. Anthony -- have you heard of Susan B. Anthony? -- (laughter) -- I’m shocked that you’ve heard of her -- who dreamed of a much more equal and fair future, an America where women themselves, as she said, “helped to make laws and elect the lawmakers.”  And that’s what’s happening more and more.  Tough competition out there, I want to tell you.  
Are you f***ing kidding me? "I'm shocked you've heard of her"? OK this is way worse than Frederick Douglass.

From the untamed frontiers of the Western Plains to the skyscrapers of Manhattan, American women in every generation have shown extraordinary grit, courage, and devotion.  Our present generation stands on the shoulders of these titans -- and that’s what they were and are -- titans.  Only by enlisting the full potential of women in our society will we be truly able to -- you have not heard this expression before -- make America great again.  (Laughter and applause.)  It’s a good expression.  (Applause.) 
He really thinks all women are complete morons, doesn't he?
Thank you.  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  It’s been a lot of fun.  (Laughter.)  And we didn’t get that one from Madison Avenue, right?  (Laughter.) 
Correction, he thinks all women are morons that are attracted to shiny things.
My administration will work every day to ensure that our economy is a place where women can work, succeed, and thrive like never before.  That includes fighting to make sure that all mothers and all families have access to affordable childcare.  (Applause.)  
Interesting because Trump's budget cuts childcare and after school programs.
We want every daughter in America to grow up in a country where she can believe in herself, believe in her future, and follow her heart and realize her dreams.  (Applause.) 
And we want a country that celebrates family, that celebrates community, and that creates a safe and loving home for every child -- every child.  That’s what we want.  (Applause.) 
Just not with a degree apparently.
Earlier this year, I met with a remarkable group of leaders.  They were women entrepreneurs from all across the country.  They started their businesses from absolutely nothing, and today have grown them into successful enterprises that employ hundreds -- and in certain cases, even thousands -- of people.  Just think of what our country could achieve if we unleashed the power of women entrepreneurs nationwide.  Think of that.  (Applause.)  
I might believe that one except that he had any mention of Equal Pay policies deleted from the White House webpage.
So, as a man, I stand before you as President.  But if I weren’t President, I wouldn’t be happy to hear that statement.  That would be a very scary statement to me because there’s no way we can compete with you.  (Laughter.)  So I would not be happy.  (Applause.)  Just wouldn’t be happy.  
He, of course, reminds them that as a man he gets to be President. Because a woman, even the most qualified presidential candidate in history, clearly is unfit for the job.

One of the business owners I met, Lisa Phillips, used to be homeless.  She now is the owner of an event-planning company, and she trains homeless youth in Baltimore for good-paying jobs.  Lisa had a message for all of us.  As she put it, "This is a country of chances…if you're willing to work hard, you'll get the chance."  And she means it, and she’s become very successful.  She’s terrific. 
Lisa is right -- but we have to fight to ensure that more people have the chance to succeed.  To do that, we must believe in each other, and we must dare to dream of a better, brighter, and more prosperous future for all of our citizens.  We have no choice.  That’s what we have to do.
Lisa is lucky she was able to take advantage of HUD funding to help her get a home and a job. This generation of down-on-their-luck homeless will have no such assistance.
And to be honest, whether you’re a woman or whether you’re a man, you have that same dream:  You want to be able to dream.  You just have a big advantage over us.  (Laughter.)  You know why?  Right there.  (Applause.)  There’s a lot of truth to that, Mike, right?
Translation: Stop complaining when I grab your pussies. I get to dream as well.
That's what I want for each and every one, and each and every one of our daughters and our granddaughters.  And I know, together, we will get there.  I want every young person in the audience today, and watching from home -- and they’re all over the place; those cameras are all over -- (laughter) -- to know that the future truly belongs to you.  We are Americans, and we will not stop until we have achieved our dreams.  
I want to thank you very much for being here.  It’s my great honor, I will tell you, to be here.  In fact, Melania said, this is something I just have to be at.  She feels so strongly about it.  She feels so strongly about it.  (Applause.) 
So this was Melania's fault? Those approval numbers may start falling again after all...
So thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  
END 
4:00 P.M. EDT  

Catch you on the flip side.

Open Thread, Slow News Day Addition

I'm kind of feeling like this about the internet today:


I think I've been spoiled by all of the excitement lately...

There are things happening, but nothing that I'm going to write about at length. But you might! Brexit, Tom Price, gutting of environmental protections and labor rights, and of course, Trump falling to a 35% approval rating.

Got something to say about any of those things or anything else? Drop it in the comments.

P.S.: I've removed comment moderation for now; don't make me regret it!

Earworm of the Afternoon -- I'm Down


The Bob Cesca Show, 3/28/2017 -- Bulbous Forehead

Yesterday I said:

Anyway, with healthcare off the table, the three things to keep an eye on this week are:
 
  • Russia (with a bullet!)

  • Republican infighting

  • Republican wavering on the nuclear option

Not a lot to update you on on any of these fronts, so go listen to Bob Cesca and Kimberley Johnson instead. Lots of talk about Russia, and a super long Post Mortem Show (pay the $5/mo, it's worth it).

Listen to the podcast here.

Late Night Track -- Little Whirl


An Inconvenient Sequel -- Trailer

I hadn't heard about this, but it came on during The Daily Show and apparently this trailer just came out.



I'd take it more seriously if Gore weren't fat...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Daily Combover - March 28, 2017

While I was writing yesterday's Combover, Trump realized he left his phone in the plane he took back from his 13th golf vacation.  And as the Combover went up, Trump took to Twitter to remind us that he understands nothing about anything. As Jason pointed out last night, Twitter hit back.

But Trump wasn't done last night. The Tweet storm continued throughout the day today. Let's review:
Obviously any time Trump trumps up a trumped up business report about job creation, he's full of shit. Ford planned the expansion back in 2015 -- before Trump had even declared his intention to run for President.
We all know he gets all of his news from Breitbart, Drudge, and Fox & Friends. And generally his misinformed Tweets are regurgitations of said "news." This morning it was going to be a busy day of destroying the environment so he had to turn off the TV and head to the showers a little early this morning.

After his shower, makeup, and hair application, Trump had his morning Trump Coffee and picked up a copy of his friend Rupert's paper. Lo and Behold, Rupert Murdoch attacked the NY Times. Nobody saw that coming, did they?
Later it was time to actually get to work. Trump heard the police were on their way to the White House and got nervous for a minute but then remembered that it was just the National Fraternal Order of Police coming for a photo op, not coming to arrest him.
Speaking of work:
Trump plans to roll back all of President Barack Obama's environmental regulations to "revive" the coal industry. In our latest installment of Republicans-can't-understand-graphs, we present to you, Coal Mining Employment over the last 30 years:


See that giant dip in the 1980s? Saint Ronnie of Reagan presided over that dip. In fact, by the time President Clinton took over from the Reagan-Bush presidencies, Coal had lost 100,000 jobs thanks to Republican union busting. Under Obama? 30,000 jobs were lost.

And so we end the evening exactly how we started the day, with Trump parroting Kilmeade and Doocy:
I'd respond, but Tara Golshan already took care of it for Vox.
However, as Politifact reported, the accusations against Clinton have been deemed “mostly false,” as Clinton “didn’t have the power to approve or reject the deal” and led one of nine agencies that signed off on the deal.
Meanwhile, there are already four separate scandals involving Trump and Russia that arose because of the 2016 election: the resignation of Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser, after he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his communications with the Russian ambassador to the US; the Russian hack of the DNC; a largely unsubstantiated dossier of Trump’s ties to Russia, which circulated the upper echelons of government; and Attorney General Jeff Sessions recusal from all further Trump-Russia investigations, after it became apparent that he had misled the Senate during confirmation hearings over his meetings with the Russian ambassador.
Last week, FBI Director James Comey confirmed it was investigating whether the president’s campaign or associates coordinated with Russia to interfere with the 2016 election.
Trump has denied every allegation connecting his political operation with the Russian government. On Monday, the White House confirmed Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner would testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee over the allegations.
Yeah, the Ramsay Bolton of the Trump Regime is headed to speak to the Senate. He's trustworthy, right?
Don't worry Fat Walda, Jared Bolton loves his baby brother.

Catch you on the flip side.

What Do You Mean "We," Nuno Sabe?

Devin Nunes is the gift that keeps on giving...



From the article:

U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said on Tuesday he will not divulge - even to other members of his panel - who gave him intelligence reports that indicated President Donald Trump and his associates may have been ensnared in incidental intelligence collection.
Asked by a Fox News reporter whether he would inform the other committee members about who gave him the reports he viewed on the White House grounds last week, Nunes said: "We will never reveal those sources and methods."

So if he's not talking about the other committee members, who is the "we?" Did he just give away that he's colluding with the White House but not cooperating with his own committee?

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Gold Star for Robot Boy


What I'm Following This Week

I'm pretty much getting started with my week today after a few days of travel.

Aside from Russia, I was tracking two big issues last week, and both came to a close or halt by the end of the day Friday.

The first, of course, was the Republicans' attempt to repeal Obamacare, and we all know how that ended.

The second was the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Judge Neal Gorsuch. A week ago, it seemed that he was a shoo-in for confirmation, likely through the Senate Republicans eliminating the filibuster for Supreme Court Justices. But after a week of being stonewalled and also beginning to remember what it's like to win, the Dems not only appear to have pulled together enough votes to filibuster, they've also managed to delay the vote by a week, which buys time to try to convince the three Republicans they'd need to vote against invoking the "nuclear option" (getting rid of the Supreme Court filibuster for good), when the filibuster has served conservatives well for so long, particularly under Obama. "Going nuclear" wouldn't remove the filibuster for everything, but at Republicans have to realize that they may find themselves in the minority again sooner than they'd expected. Now, most probably see that and think they have to take advantage now, getting a 49 year old ultraconservative judge on the court for the next 30-40 years, but perhaps three or four might think of it as giving Democratic Presidents an easy path to confirming liberal judges for years to come? Booman posted a good summary this weekend about a way the Democrats might be able to force a compromise with Republicans on this:

In other words, they can’t hold their caucus together for four years on a plan to leave a seat indefinitely vacant on the Supreme Court. They’re going to have to concede Trump’s right and his obligation to fill the seat. But they do have the leverage to insist that they are consulted on who that judge will be and that the judge is widely acceptable within their caucus. The Democrats’ strategy should be aimed at protecting the American people and particularly their base of supporters, and they have to use all the power they have to do it. That means they filibuster Gorsuch and they stand united. But it also means that they go to Trump and say that they’re not going to leave the seat vacant until 2019 provided that they all come to an agreement on a more acceptable candidate for the position.
The Republicans will keep saying that if Gorsuch is not acceptable then no one will be acceptable, and that this justifies changing the rules. The Democrats have to cut that avenue of argument off at the pass, and if they’re sincere about it they may be able to convince three Republican senators not to blow up the filibuster rule.

It remains to be seen just how many Republicans will actually make a deal with Democrats at this point. Just like with the AHCA, it might be better to try to encourage the Republicans to form a circular firing squad and see if infighting can keep the filibuster in place. If not, what Booman is proposing is probably the best we can do, but I literally cannot visualize a civil exchange between Donald Trump and Democratic leadership at this point with Trump continuing to flail in anger, like this Pizzagate-adjacent gem this morning:


Can Trump and the Republicans really deal with the Democrats while they're working their butts off to spin away the Russian collusion allegations?

MSNBC's Kasie Hunt catches us up on that story:


Nunes is puffing his shirt today,

"I’m sure that the Democrats do want me to quit, because they know that I’m quite effective at getting to the bottom of things," Nunes told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly when asked about calls for his recusal. 
 
but I think that indicates him feeling like the walls are closing in, between the false bravado and the fact that his body language really doesn't match his bluster.
 


Just a feeling. Anyway, with healthcare off the table, the three things to keep an eye on this week are:
 
  • Russia (with a bullet!)
  • Republican infighting
  • Republican wavering on the nuclear option

Something big will drop on at least one of those fronts this week.

Late Night Track -- What I Do


Monday, March 27, 2017

Twitter Hits Nero Back









But the best point tonight comes from Atrios's site:

For a little while (about 2 weeks) it was like WHAT IF PRESIDENT TRUMP SAYS SOMETHING MEAN ABOUT YOUR COMPANY or whatever. Now we all just point and laugh.

I strongly prefer the latter.

Nero Takes to the Twitter Again

This is what I picture the White House looks like right now...











What on earth was on Fox News tonight?

The Daily Combover - March 27, 2017


With the word allegation no longer necessary when paired with words like corruption, scandal, disfunction, Putinphile, golden showers, etc. Trump's approval continues to fall.  Today it hit a Trump-record low of 36%.  We are nearing President George W. Bush 25% territory. Recall that the last Midterm election (2006) held in which the sitting President (Bush) was under 40%, despite the long odds against them, the Democrats swept to power.

Trump's response to all that losing? Tap convicted felon Charles Kushner's son, Jared, to run the government "like a company." Aside from the obvious -- that the country is about to be run by an unelected 35-year old dillettante married to Trump's daughter, the entire country now hinges upon Kushner's ability to lead. Let's review Jared's corporate experience:



1. In 2006, at the age of 25, Jared took some $10 million of his father's dirty money and purchased the New York Observer, a thriving cultural icon in New York.

2. He attempted to turn it into a national media platform by pushing out the editorial staff and then eventually dropping "New York" from the title, leaving it as the Observer.

3. After a decade of mismanagement and financial losses, the Observer ceased to print and switched to a fully digital format.

4. That's about it.

Kushner, like his corrupt felon of a father, has made several property deals over the last decade. Including a recent deal with Chinese investors for $400 million (far greater than market value) following Trump ceasing his critique of Chinese currency manipulation.

So there you have it, son-of-a-felon-convicted-for-bribery-money-laundering-and-corruption, Jared Kushner is bringing his family's lessons in crime to the White House to do a job that the Chicago Tribune describes as a "new job he likely doesn't understand."

Impeachment can't come soon enough.

Catch you on the flip side.

Trump's Plan B




It appears that if Trump can't destroy this country through legislation, he's going to try to do it through nepotis executive order.

Trump is apparently convinced there’s only one reason why the Republican health insurance debacle debac’d. It’s not because there was a group of Republicans who are so entrenched in saying “no” that they forgot there was another response. It’s not because the entire Republican Party has been put in place with the purpose of making government fail (and they’re darn good at it) not writing legislation that can pass.
No, sweet Republican harmony failed to settle over DC because the Great Dealmaker’s dealmaker chose to spend last week carving slopes in Colorado. Now that Kushner has come in from the cold, Trump will get him to rearrange all the deck chairs in his regime without having to talk to Congress at all.

This should scare the heebie-jeebies out of me, but it doesn't as much as it would've two months ago. This feels like a Hail Mary pass, and not only do those not succeed often when you have a good quarterback, in this case the quarterback has a noodle arm, has his cleats untied, is wearing his helmet backwards, and as a bonus, has a terrible history with football.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Between the Lines



I like it when we talk about love

I like it when you talk about love
You always were my favorite drug
Even when we used to take drugs

BA-DA-BA-BA-BA...

... I'm lovin' it!



This war between Trump and, well, everyone, is escalating quickly:


So, since Friday afternoon, Trump has blamed the Democrats, Paul Ryan (and, by extension, Republican Congressional leadership), the Club for Growth, and the Heritage Foundation. He's not leaving himself with very many allies.

We're getting close to an isolated Trump at Mar-a-Lago storing his own piss in jars, not because of germophobia, like Howard Hughes, but to remind himself of his glory days in Moscow.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Proxy War!!!


 
I don't expect to see these guys next to each other again anytime soon...


I asked this on Twitter earlier today:



For the record, I was going to take the "over" on three days. However:


And what did future Supreme Court nominee "Judge" Jeanine Pirro have to say at 9 PM?


Essentially, "GTFO, Paul Ryan."

I guess I should've taken the "under."

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Waterloo


"We’re Going to Be Living with Obamacare for the Foreseeable Future"



I'm really surprised to be able to use that title today (thank you, not-long-for-being-Speaker Ryan). It all felt like a whirlwind, and it was an incredible group effort. The people of America are somehow saving America:

“It was the town halls, and the stories, that convinced me that people might actually stop this bill,” said Tom Perriello, a former Democratic congressman now running an insurgent campaign for governor of Virginia, with his career-ending vote for the ACA front and center.
The outsider approach to lobbying grew from there, in ways that quickly came to worry Republicans. Indivisible-affiliated groups advertised congressional town halls and flooded them. Like the Jan. 14 rallies, the town hall tactic mirrored what the tea party movement did in 2009. Like the Democrats of that year, many Republicans responded glibly, blaming out-of-state (or district) rabble-rousers and searching for the invisible hand of George Soros.

The fact that so many people participated in this process makes it feel extra good.

About ten days ago, I wrote the following:

Back to Obamacare, the Republicans really shot themselves in the foot by not having a repeal bill ready to go in January, they gave enough time for the public to become aware of the Republicans' true intentions and to focus on what's actually in the bill now, and also for Congressional Republicans to fear for their electoral lives as a consequence of a repeal.
I'm not ready to gloat; in fact, no matter what happens, I don't see myself gloating much until November 2018, at best. But it is very fair to say that Jim DeMint wasn't that far off -- Obamacare might prove to be someone's Waterloo, but it won't be Obama's.:

OK, I'm ready to gloat just a little.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Daily Combover - March 24, 2017

Trump wants you to know how disappointed he is in you. It's your fault dear readers. You should have pushed the Democrats to vote for the AHCA. It was obviously an improvement over the ACA and was far too liberal for the GOP. It was only kicking 14 to 52 million people off of their health insurance. That isn't even close to eliminating healthcare. But those Democrats will be on their knees crawling back to Dear Leader soon enough, begging, "Please Mr. Trump, save us from the ACA."



I, for one, am surprised the GOP collapsed so quickly. We knew they would have challenges governing, but they had innumerable dress rehearsals of repealing the ACA.

Trump, on the other hand, doesn't seem to care. He's too busy congratulating Charter for only announcing to cut 4,800 of TWC's 24,800 jobs during the merger:

Could the news get any better for Trump?

Woo hoo!!! $8 billion for 35 jobs!

Wait a second... Wouldn't it be a lot cheaper to just write each of those 35 people a check for $1.4 million (their expected lifetime earnings)?

Oh right, but then the Trump family would have never gotten that Russian steel payoff.

The weekend can't come soon enough for the Fontange Fuhrer.

Catch you on the flipside.

NANCY SMASH (and JUMP)!

We can feel legitimately good today. I'm going to try to leave this in lieu of posting for the next few hours...


It's on loop, both on this site and in my head!

Bonus Earworm of the Afternoon -- I Feel Fine

We're going to be fighting and fighting and fighting for a long time, but I have to say I currently feel better than I ever expected to before November 2018. So....

Goodbye, AHCA!

Don't let the door hit you...



From WaPo:

House Republican leaders abruptly pulled a Republican rewrite of the nation’s health-care system from consideration on Friday, a dramatic acknowledgment that they are so far unable to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“We just pulled it,” President Trump told the Washington Post in a telephone interview.
The decision came a day after President Trump delivered an ultimatum to lawmakers — and represented multiple failures for the new president and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).
The decision means the Affordable Care Act remains in place, at least for now, and a major GOP campaign promise goes unfulfilled. It also casts doubt on the GOP’s ability to govern and to advance other high-stakes agenda items, including tax reform and infrastructure spending. Ryan is still without a signature achievement as speaker — and the defeat undermines Trump’s image as a skilled dealmaker willing to strike compromises to push his agenda forward.

Time to sit back and watch the circular firing squad. There's no way Trump doesn't blame Ryan for this. He might even lose his speakership, and really has no heir apparent.

What happens beyond that fight is a mystery to me...