Documentation. Witnesses. Facts. Truth. That's what they're afraid of.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Daily Combover - May 31, 2017

On December 29, 2016 in one of his final acts as President, Barack Obama expelled 35 known Russian intelligence operatives and shut down two Russian spy compounds.

The New York Compound

Today the Fontange Fuhrer announced that he and Putin agreed on a deal. The US would be given the green light to construct a new embassy building in St. Petersberg and the Russians would be given back those two compounds.

This isn't the first awful deal Trump has made in the month of May. The Chickity China deal from mid-May may actually lead to more American deaths in the short run, but this one has the greater long term implications. For one, it signals that Trump is completely subservient to Putin and no longer hiding it. For another, it encourages other rogue nations to ramp up their espionage and cyber warfare against the United States. Recall that just two months ago, fearmongers were running stories about ISIS winning the cyber war.  That will actually become a reality if we start actively rewarding countries for attacking us.

Under Trump, the US is no longer the shining light that it used to be. Nobody wants to come here to visit. We are the laughingstock of the world in international circles. And rogue nations are no longer afraid of us. Heck, even third rate dictators like Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan are putting Trump in his place:

Note once again how well Trump gets along with dictators.
We can sum everything up with Trump's brief response to the closures last December:
In late December, after U.S. intelligence said there had been election meddling, and in response to the ongoing harassment in Moscow, Obama ordered the compounds closed and diplomats expelled. “We had no intention of ever giving them back,” a former senior Obama official said of the compounds.
Trump, then at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, appeared to disparage the Obama administration sanctions, telling reporters, “I think we ought to get on with our lives.”
The world just got a lot less safe.

Catch you on the flip side.

Is Pence Preparing for His Own 2020 Run?

That's what Politico is insinuating today:

Vice President Mike Pence is embarking on a cross-country summer campaign tour amid rising fears that the GOP, reeling from a barrage of Trump-fueled controversies, is headed for a midterm election disaster.
Pence is mapping out a schedule that will take him through several Midwestern battlegrounds and to traditionally conservative Southern states like Georgia, where an unexpectedly competitive June special-election runoff is alarming party strategists. The vice president will also attend a series of Republican Party events that will draw major donors and power brokers, where talk about 2018 is certain to be front and center.
The push comes at a time of growing consternation among senior Republicans who say the White House has given them little direction on midterm planning. Many complain that they do not even know who to contact about 2018 in an administration that has been consumed by chaos.
“He has an appetite to fight, so he's going to get out there and fight on the president's behalf,” said Nick Ayers, a longtime Pence strategist.
At the same time, the vice president’s increased electoral activity has stoked speculation that Pence is positioning himself for a post-Trump future in the party, something his advisers strenuously deny.
Pence has already formed a political action committee, the Great America Committee, enabling him to raise money for candidates who need help in 2018, an unusual move for a sitting vice president. And his upcoming effort to strengthen ties to the party’s rank and file and connect with key donors is likely to fuel the perception that Pence wants to fortify his position atop the party independent of his relationship to President Donald Trump.

My guess is that he's getting out there because Trump won't, or can't, potentially because he's retrenching angrily in the White House, potentially getting ready to lash out at his enemies:

Now he is, to put it mildly, on the ropes. His policy priorities are in a shambles, the courts are blocking his immigration “reforms,” and day by day he is being subjected to a regimen of leaks that are the political equivalent of death by a thousand cuts.
Men like Trump do not fade gently into their political night. Rather, with all nuance sacrificed in pursuit of their senescent need for the spotlight, they scrabble and scratch, lash out and fight. With no self-limiting or self-correcting moral gyroscope, they go down whatever paths they believe offer them the best chance of survival.

I actually think there's a chance he does fade away, but only because he either becomes to besieged or breaks down so much that he's not well enough to rampage through DC.

And I could be quite wrong about all of this; according to the Washington Post today, Pence is more popular than Trump.

Any of these scenarios -- Pence running, Pence having to cover for Trump, Trump cowering in the White House, or Trump lashing out all sound pretty good to me.

Something to Look Forward to for Next Week

FINALLY some interesting news today:

Ousted FBI Director James Comey plans to testify in public that President Donald Trump pressured him to quash the bureau’s investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser, CNN reported Wednesday afternoon, citing a “source close to the issue.”
Comey’s testimony could come as early as next week, but a date has not been finalized, according to CNN.

Whatever comes out of this will be #FakeNews, of course.

Earworm of the Afternoon -- It's Too Late

Joe Lieberman is the Hellmouth of America

Joe Lieberman was the quintessential Fox News Democrat in the 1990s and 2000s. He was absurdly self-righteous during the Clinton impeachment, he railed against hip-hop music (how silly does that look in retrospect?), he convinced Gore to give up in 2000, he was an avid Iraq War supporter, he betrayed the will of the Democratic electorate in 2006, and was responsible for derailing the public option in 2010.

And then, he goes to work for a law firm that represents Trump, which, aside from the fact that no Democrat will support him anymore, disqualifies him from becoming the FBI director.

His partner, Marc Kasowitz, is now defending Trump in the #TrumpRussia conflagration. He might just be a demon:

Kasowitz, a founding partner of the corporate law mega-firm Kasowitz, Benson and Torres LLP, is no stranger to high-profile, controversial cases.
He represented the tobacco company Liggett in years of legal wrangling with 22 state attorneys general that culminated in the company admitting for the first time that cigarettes are addictive, are marketed to minors, and increase the risk of cancer, and paying a settlement of hundreds of millions of dollars over multiple decades.
He defended the Port Authority of New York when victims of the 1993 terrorist bombing sued it for negligence. A New York appeals court upheld a jury verdict that the Port Authority was partially liable for the deaths and destruction because the agency knew about but chose to ignore “an extreme and potentially catastrophic vulnerability that would have been open and obvious to any terrorist who cared to investigate and exploit it.” That verdict was overturned in 2011, when the state’s high court agreed with Kasowitz that the Port Authority was protected by the “governmental immunity doctrine.”
Recently, Kasowitz defended ousted Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly against multiple claims of sexual harassment. At one point, someone on his legal team in that case accidentally forwarded emails to a Politico reporter detailing their strategy to portray the accusations as part of a left-wing conspiracy against O’Reilly.
But for all his other high profile cases and clients, Kasowitz on his law firm profile page first and foremost touts his representation of “President Donald J. Trump in a wide range of litigation matters for over 15 years.”
Over his years of service to Trump, Kasowitz has been repeatedly deployed to attack, threaten, and sue reporters and news media outlets.
In 2006, Kasowitz sued New York Times’ Timothy O’Brien for libel, demanding $5 billion in damages over O’Brien’s book TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald, which he said significantly underestimated the mogul’s net worth. “I did it to make his life miserable, which I’m happy about,” Trump later bragged.
Kasowitz employed some unorthodox and intimidating tactics in the case, including showing up at one of O’Brien’s book readings, O’Brien has recounted. The Trump team allegedly recorded the reading and what O’Brien described as “obvious plants” in the audience attempt to goad him into saying something incriminating. Not only was the case thrown out, because Kasowitz failed to prove O’Brien acted with malice, but Trump was forced to turn over scores of tax returns and other financial documents and undergo lengthy and revealing depositions in the process.
Kasowitz has also gone after New York Post investigative reporter Roddy Boyd, who has reported on many of the firm’s cases. Boyd told the Washington Post that Kasowitz personally threatened him with a lawsuit and unsuccessfully tried to subpoena his hard drive and reporting notes. 

He seems nice.

Covfefe is Dead, Long Live Covfefe

Early this morning, the original #covfefe Tweet was deleted. Luckily screenshots never disappear:

As we noted last night, it took Twitter by storm in the interim hours.

Luckily Trump does seem to have a sense of humor buried under all that orange:

Special Morning Open Thread -- #Covfefe Edition

#Covfefe about #Covfefe in the #Covfefes below.


So, this happened:

I swear that it's the only thing people are talking about on Twitter:

And my favorite:

This might even get better in the morning... as we all know Covfefe tends to. Spicer will fill us in:

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Late Night Track -- Dead Souls

The Daily Combover - May 30, 2017

The White House Blog is the official stream of information from the White House directly to the American people, bypassing the media filter. Oftentimes that means specific information is shared or not shared, and classified conversations are often truncated via a "readout" where a representative of the President summarizes some of the main points that were discussed in a specific conversation or meeting that may have included classified information.

As of late, the blog has been a little slow to update. As of the time I am writing this column (9:23 EDT), only two things were posted for today: an events calendar reporting that Trump's only event is lunch with Pence, and the transcript of today's 30-minute press briefing. So we're going to focus on the latter tonight:
2:11 P.M. EDT
MR. SPICER:  Good afternoon.  I hope you all had the opportunity to pay your respects to the yesterday on Memorial Day.
I don't know about you, but I always pay my respects to "the yesterday" everyday and not just on Memorial Day.
I want to begin by recapping the incredible, historic trip that the President and the First Lady have just concluded, because it truly was an extraordinary week for America and our people. 
Do tell!
In just nine days, the President traveled across Europe and the Middle East and interacted with nearly 100 foreign leaders. It was an unprecedented first trip abroad, just four months into this administration, and it shows how quickly and decisively the President is acting to strengthen alliances, to form new partnerships, and to rebuild America’s standing in the world. 
Unprecedented? Or Unpresidented?  As we've covered here and here on the blog last week, we are lucky Trump didn't cause any real damage on the trip -- and only because the rest of the G7 and NATO leaders were literally laughing at him. Just how bad was it? Not even his wife wanted any part of him:

We’ve never seen before at this point in a presidency such sweeping reassurance of American interest, and the inauguration of a foreign policy strategy designed to bring back the world from growing dangers and perpetual disasters brought on by years of failed leadership.
President Trump started in Saudi Arabia, beginning his first foreign trip as President in the nation that’s the custodian to the two holiest sites in the Islamic faith.  The President was greeted on the tarmac by the King of Saudi Arabia and received with incredible graciousness by the Kingdom and its leaders throughout his stay.
Oh that's what this was:
It's been over a week now. Does anyone have any clue what was going on here?

The President’s address to the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations was a historic turning point that people will be talking about for many years to come.  He did exactly as he promised in his inaugural address, united the civilized world in the fight against terrorism and extremism.  The President was very direct in calling on the leaders of the region to drive out the terrorists and the extremists from their midst, and to isolate the Iranian regime that supports so much of this violence. 
Not exactly.  What actually happened was the Trump family took a $100 million payout from the Saudi royal family and then gave the speech that Saudi Arabia wanted to hear. But I digress...
He let American allies know exactly what they can expect from us going forward -- what he called “a principled realism, rooted in common values and shared interests.”  He laid out the case in persuasive detail for why the Muslim world must take the lead in combatting radicalization.  And he concluded by saying that if those nations go forward “unified and determined to do what it takes to destroy the terror that threatens our world, then there is no limit to the great future our citizens will have.”
The President’s historic speech was met with near universal praise.  Former CIA Director Jim Woolsey called it “a courageous speech.”  Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said in The Washington Post that we have to look back decades to “find a comparably dramatic moment in the history of U.S. foreign policy.”  And former Democratic Representative Jane Harman said that she “loved the idea that he’s going to the fount of all three major religions.”
Newt was simply paying Trump back for Trump giving his third wife an ambassadorship to the Vatican. That made the Pope really happy:

Maybe not...
Countless Arab allies also praised the President’s leadership on this visit.  President Al-Sisi of Egypt said President Trump is “a unique personality that is capable of doing the impossible.”  The Saudi Foreign Minister said that “this is the beginning of a turning point in the relationship between the United States and the Arab and Islamic world.”
King Salman and other key allies also gave extraordinary praise -- extraordinary speeches at the summit, underscoring just how much President Trump has done to rally the world against terrorism. 
Translation: two despots that have overseen the imprisonment and murder of thousands of political dissidents heaped lavish praise on Trump.
We cannot overlook the significance of so many leaders of Muslim countries coming together to recognize the need to fight extremists.  This was a historic event in that regard alone. King Salman said he shares the President’s determination to “renounce extremism and work on countering terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.”  King Abdullah of Jordan agreed that “the grave challenges of terrorism and extremism… demands coordination and global action at every level.”  He stated that “We are all accountable for our commitment to fight radicalization in all of its forms.”
The visit also included historic economic development deals for the United States, totaling well over half a trillion dollars and the creation of tens of thousands of American jobs. These deals included an immediate $110 billion investment, which will grow to $350 billion over the next 10 years in defense cooperation from Saudi Arabia that will further enable Muslim troops to take on a greater role in further fighting terrorism. 
Buying surplus outdated weaponry is now considered an investment? The NRA rejoices.
The President also participated in the launch of a new task force to block terror funding in the Gulf, the opening of a new Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology, and more than 30 commercial deals that include companies like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, GE, Dow, Honeywell, Emerson, Alcoa and Cisco, among others, that will result in an additional $270 billion of Saudi investment in American businesses and American jobs.
So that's where we're expected to see the tens of thousands of new jobs? Those companies may in fact add some jobs, but there's no way that this particular deal alone leads to tens of thousands of new jobs at those companies.  There's a better chance of this deal being nullified by a US President finally calling Saudi Arabia out for state-sponsored terrorism than this deal leading to significant job creation.
The President then went to Israel, where he was received with incredible warmth.  He strengthened America’s unbreakable bonds with Israel, made the first-ever visit by a sitting American President to the Western Wall, and gave a highly praised address at the Israel Museum as part of a continuing effort to rally nations together in the fight against terrorism and common enemies.  
Have we figured out where he thought Israel was? Because he clearly thought he had left the Middle East.
The moving address spoke of a future in which “children around the world will be able to live without fear, to dream without limits, and to prosper without violence.”  He said, “I ask this land of promise to join me and fight our common enemies, to pursue our shared values, and to protect the dignity of every child of God.”
The President also visited Yad Vashem to memorialize the victims of the Holocaust and to pledge, Never Again.  
Really? Because Trump's note says otherwise:
Only a sick monster would call images of the Holocaust "so amazing."

The President Trump met with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas to advocate for a renewed push for peace -- which they both agreed they were prepared to work towards.  He also discussed with both leaders how to increase cooperation against terrorism.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said “for the first time in my life I see a real hope for change.”  And a correspondent in one of the leading Israel publications wrote that “In the short space of three days, Trump carried out a semi-revolution.” 
Technically that's correct because Israel announced that they will no longer share intel with the US after Trump leaked Israeli State secrets to the Russians.
From Israel, the President traveled to Rome, where he met with Pope Francis at the Vatican.  They had a very productive conversation about combatting ISIS and other terrorist groups, protecting religious liberty, and numerous other issues.  The President and the First Lady were incredibly honored by the visit.
Again, the Pope was just thrilled to be standing next to Trump.
The President then attended the NATO Summit in Brussels, where he boldly stood up for American taxpayers and our common defense by calling on the other NATO countries to pay their fair share on a speech delivered with the leaders of NATO’s -- of all of NATO’s countries, all present.  Hardworking Americans saw a leader representing them and their security on the international stage.  
The President also urged NATO to adapt the Alliance to more effectively combat terrorism.  Later in the meeting, the member states unanimously agreed on those two priorities, and the Secretary General was extremely complimentary of the President’s work to dramatically strengthen the Alliance by getting member states to increase their contributions. 
Finally, the President traveled to the G7 Summit in Sicily, where he and other leaders discussed how to better promote prosperity and security for each of their countries.  Those meetings were marked by outstanding success that we see reflected in the communiqué that was issued.  They include a strong statement that G7 nations will stand against unfair trade practices, and a commitment to fostering a true level playing field.  
The G7 leaders also endorsed the right of sovereign nations to control their borders, and endorsed in that communiqué the policy outlined by President Trump to seek resettlement of refugees as close as possible to their home countries so that they can be part of their eventual rebuilding.  This language on migration and refugees was a major shift in policy toward the position of the President.  
The G7 formally also condemned the use of chemical weapons.  And needless to say, the President’s leadership was critical in setting those priorities for action. 
One more reminder that everyone was laughing at Trump at NATO and the G7. Everyone.

In addition, the President also met with Prime Minister Abe of Japan.  The two agreed on the need for enhanced sanctions with respect to North Korea.
The President concluded his trip with an address to the service members and their family at Naval Air Station Sigonella, to thank them for their service on Memorial Day weekend and to deliver another strong message about the unity in the fight against terrorism.
Then, yesterday, President Trump spoke at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day services and visited the gravestones of many of our fallen heroes.
And yet he refused to comment on the murder of a US Army veteran by a Nazi in Portland.
This was an extraordinarily successful and historic nine-day trip the President took.  He accomplished the return of a strong America to international affairs, rallied civilized nations of the world against terrorism, took real steps towards peace in the Middle East, and renewed our alliances on the basis of both shared interest and shared burdens.  The trip sets the stage for a much more safe and more prosperous nation here at home and a more peaceful world for all. 
We’re back at home now, and the President and his Cabinet are moving full-steam ahead on the President’s agenda.  As the President noted this weekend, his plan for the most significant tax reform in decades continues to progress, led by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and NEC Director Cohn. 
While the President was away, the team here held several meetings with members and leadership.  In particular, Secretary Mnuchin met separately with the House Ways and Means Committee, Republican and Democrat members; the Freedom Caucus; and the Republican Study Committee.
The Vice President also discussed tax reform with multiple members and with leadership during his regular visits to Capitol Hill.
It's cool they think that $2 trillion tax cut has a chance of happening because it means they're too busy to commit any additional treasonous atrocities.
We’ll begin holding industry listening sessions next week, providing an opportunity for business leaders and job creators to give us their inputs on what reforms are necessary to allow us to grow jobs and the economy.
This morning, the President met with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Pruitt.  One of the topics that they discussed, of course, was the President’s upcoming decision on the Paris Climate Accords.  As I told you overseas, this is the subject that the President is spending a great deal of time on, and one that he spoke to the G7 members about during their meetings.  Ultimately he wants a fair deal for the American people and he will have an announcement coming on that shortly. 
Also today, the President’s Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer is having several meetings with representatives from the Vietnamese government, including the Prime Minister and the Trade Minister, ahead of tomorrow’s visit between the President and the Prime Minister.  The U.S. Trade Representative will have readouts on those meetings available for you this afternoon.  
Ambassador Lighthizer will also be speaking at the Chamber of Commerce gala this evening for the Vietnamese Prime Minister.  That speech should be available via the U.S. Chamber’s Facebook page.  During his speech, Ambassador Lighthizer will highlight the developments of our bilateral relationships with Vietnam over the past two decades while underscoring the work ahead in addressing the challenges presented by the recent sharp increase in our trade deficit with Vietnam.
As the President has made abundantly clear, trade deficits and unfair trade practices have disproportionately hit American workers.  Through a robust and varied trade agenda, this administration is strengthening our important relationships with partners like Vietnam by leveling the playing field with American -- for American businesses throughout the world. 
And with that, I’ll take your questions.
Rather than going through all the questions, I'll point you to this TPM article that summarizes the gist of the Q&A. And yes, almost every single question had to do with Trump's son-in-law and future prison bunkmate, Jared Kushner. I'll leave you with Spicer's closing comment and the unanswered questions that followed:
MR. SPICER:  I know.  So now you want to come back to that.  What I’m telling you is, is that the reason that the President is frustrated is because there’s a perpetuation of false narratives, a use of unnamed sources over and over again about things that are happening that don’t ultimately happen, and I think that is troubling.
Thank you guys very much.
Q    Sean, we reported on the counterterrorism center.
Q    Come on --
Q    Is Kushner fake news?
2:41 P.M. EDT
Catch you on the flip side. 

Earworm of the Afternoon -- 1921

Looks Like We're Getting Closer To the Pee-Pee Tape!

More of Chris Steele's Trump dossier (which is looking less dodgy by the day) appears to be coming true, and we're getting close to the urine-drenched bed... As least, it seems like there is, in fact, some form of kompromat on Trump:

Russian government officials discussed having potentially "derogatory" information about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and some of his top aides in conversations intercepted by US intelligence during the 2016 election, according to two former intelligence officials and a congressional source.
One source described the information as financial in nature and said the discussion centered on whether the Russians had leverage over Trump's inner circle. The source said the intercepted communications suggested to US intelligence that Russians believed "they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information."

Drip, drip, drip indeed.

A Man Who Is His Own Communications Director Has a Fool for a Boss

.. and it sounds like Trump's going to do just that. Trump's Communications Director, Mike Dubke, is taking my advice and resigning after only three months:

Immediate changes are planned for White House messaging, including:
  • Sean Spicer will stay as press secretary, but will do fewer on-camera briefings (although he's on-camera today at 2 p.m.)

  • More briefings will be on-record but off-camera.

  • Trump is likely to travel more — at least once a week, some top officials hope.

  • Trump may take a few questions from the press when he's on the road, and will take more questions when he's appearing at photo ops with foreign leaders.
  • An official explained why Trump will do more of the talking for the White House: "He says things exactly the way he wants them to be said."
  • Translation: When he says it, he can't second-guess his staff.

He likes David Bossie and Corey Lewandowski because they're pugnacious in a way Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee-Sanders can't credibly be. This also means he's closing ranks. That really can't be good for him. He's already way short-staffed his administration and the number of people he feels he can trust to work for him is shrinking. This is following the "war room" model strategy that's been rumored for the last few days:
President Donald Trump has been aggressively working the phones since returning this weekend from his foreign trip, talking to friends and outside lawyers as he obsesses over the deepening investigations into his aides and Russia.
Two White House officials said Trump and some aides including Steve Bannon are becoming increasingly convinced that they are victims of a conspiracy against Trump's presidency, as evidenced by the number of leaks flowing out of government — that the crusade by the so-called “deep state” is a legitimate threat, not just fodder for right wing defenders.
Still, Trump and his aides are starting to take the probes more seriously, seeking to establish a communications team dedicated to dealing with questions around the probe and beefing up his legal representation. And they've become more rattled by the idea that they don't know where the scandals are headed and who may be ensnared next.
“The more people talk to him about it, the more he obsesses about it,” said one outside adviser who is close to the president. The White House did not respond to requests for comment as to how Trump was spending his day after returning from the nine-day foreign trip the night before. 

This is starting to feel like the final act of Macbeth, which is an analogy that author Anthony Cappo made, somewhat ironically, on the same fateful day the Comey letter put Trump into office:

This is the tragedy Trump threatens to play out now.  I used to fear a Trump presidency and all the destruction—both domestically and internationally—it would bring. Now I fear the aftermath of a Trump loss. His supporters seem to be in no mood to accept a losing electoral verdict, to acquiesce to the “rigged system.” And Trump is stoking the flames, threatening to keep the nation “in suspense” as to whether he is going to accept the election results. He seems perfectly ready to bring the whole “estate o’ th’ world” down with him. If Trump continues to question the legitimacy of the election, the consequences could be unpredictable. We could be in for a post-election full of sound and fury, and maybe worse.

Let's see... Giuliani, Bannon, and Kushner are the witches, Hillary is Duncan, Obama is basically Banquo's Ghost, Putin is Lady Macbeth, and Trump seems to be on the verge of going (even more) mad. And Birnam Wood (the intel community) is clearly moving towards the White House.

Who will be MacDuff? Is James Comey not of woman born? How about Angela Merkel?

Just please don't cast Pence or Ryan as Malcolm. I wouldn't buy tickets to  that show.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Daily Combover - May 29, 2017

Happy Memorial Day! Whether you celebrate Memorial Day, Remembrance Day, Anzac Day, or Armistice Day the meaning is the same. The day commemorates the fallen soldiers who died to protect your nation.

This is the 47th Memorial Day celebration in the United States which follows a little over a century of a similar holiday known as Decoration Day. As is tradition, the President gives a Memorial Day speech to honor the troops -- those currently or formerly engaged in wartime and peacetime activities.

This particular Memorial Day, the President's speech had a glaring omission. Three days prior, a Nazi stabbed several people to death on a train, killing two men that tried to interfere with him as he verbally abused some young Muslim women on the train. One of the dead was a 53-year old decorated army veteran, Ricky John Best, and the other was a 23-year old graduate student, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche.

For three days, Trump was silent. And yes, he was traveling in the air through a portion of that time but as Tony Posnanski pointed out:
The media backlash forced the White House to act. Official @potus Tweeter, Dan Scavino, wrote the following this morning:
And the media went along with it and said that Trump finally wrote the Tweet. Here at the Daily Combover, we know better. We know the Fontange Fuhrer is incapable of goodness and compassion. We don't conveniently forget that Trump's former golf caddie, Dan Scavino, is the @potus Tweeter. We also don't see a single message from Trump's official handle, @realdonaldtrump, talking about the latest victims of Nazi terrorism. Instead he gave us a trio of generic Memorial Day tweets:

Don't fall for the lies.

Catch you on the flip side.

Open Thread -- Memorial Day Edition

Just got home from my Memorial Day Weekend vacation. How was yours?

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Too Much

The Times Isn't Doing Any Better Today

Shockingly, the New York Times didn't change its ways in the 24 hours after I railed against them...

From DougJ at Balloon Juice:

Just now, the Times ran this ridiculous tongue bath of Kushner (via):
His preppy aesthetic, sotto voce style and preference for backstage maneuvering seemingly set him apart from his father-in-law — but the similarities outweigh the differences. Both men were reared in the freewheeling, ruthless world of real estate, and both possess an unshakable self-assurance that is both their greatest attribute and their direst vulnerability.
Mr. Kushner’s reported feeler to the Russians even as President Barack Obama remained in charge of American foreign policy was a trademark move by someone with a deep confidence in his own abilities that critics say borders on conceit, people close to him said. And it echoes his history of sailing forth into unknown territory, including buying a newspaper at age 25 and developing a data-analytics program that he has said helped deliver the presidency to his father-in-law.
He is intensely proud of his accomplishments in the private sector and has repeatedly suggested his tenure in Washington will hurt, not help, his brand and bottom line.
What is this about? Presumably it’s about cultivating Kushner and his people as surrogate, but, seriously…what the fuck? Other self-respecting papers don’t give their hand-jobs this publicly.

Well, Doug, some people are into that sort of thing...

But I don't, NYT, so can you please stop before I call the authorities?

What I'm Following This Week -- Week of 5/29/2017

This week might be a slow blogging week; I'm going to be on the move a lot.

  • Trump's infrastructure plan: It's going to be a total sop to corporations and will accomplish little good for the people. Will the Democrats take it seriously?
  • #TrumpRussia: What's going on with the War Room Trump is supposedly assembling? Does the abundance of Twitter blocking his account did last night having something to do with it? Also, what happens with Kushner?
  • Will there be more fallout from Trump's time in Europe?
  • What's up with the fugue state video?
  • Will we see more of Hillary? I was glad to see her last week and I'm looking forward to seeing what she does next.

Have a week, people.

Non Sequitur

In the last hour, Trump (or presumably a staffer, because it's plain writing) fired off three tweets about Memorial Day. But in the middle, he tweeted this:

"but China is trying hard!" I don't know what he even means, but it seems to me that, per what we've heard about discussions with his lawyers, they're trying to get him to cut out his tweeting, so they're doing it for him, but he's still jumping in with his nonsensical crap. That's not a dam that's gonna hold.

TGC Digest -- Week of 5/22/2017

What you may have missed on TGC this week:


The Daily Combover - May 22, 2017 -- The symbolism of Trump's time in the Middle East.


More #TrumpRussia Testimony -- Not very good news for Trump.

Contacts and Interactions -- Trey Gowdy didn't think the John Brennan testimony was significant. Spoiler: It was.

The Daily Combover - May 23, 2017 -- Ari tells us what Trump's aspirational budget would actually cut. It's a lot. A WHOLE lot.


A Failed Exorcism --Seems like the Pope would've rather had anyone visit other than Trump.

What a Monster! -- Hillary is clearly the mom of Satan.

The Daily Combover - May 24, 2017 -- Trump and Duterte are buddies!



Just Plain Embarrassing -- The election results are all Trump has to hang his hat on with his really small hands.

Body Slam Greg Gianforte -- The Republicans defend Gianforte, because they're terrible people.

The Daily Combover - May 25, 2017 -- Jesus, Trump's trip was terrible!


Trump's Playing with Fire -- I made a prediction that came through in like eight hours.

The Daily Combover - May 26, 2017 -- Trump really was a laughingstock in Europe.

Not Going to Make an "I Went to Jared" Crack -- OK, I basically did. But how can you not? Dude's in deep crap.

#HRC46 -- #ImStillWithHer, goddammit. That's the Hill I'm going to die on.



In Which I Advise Trump's Advisors -- This one was fun to write. And also, probably, good advice!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Late Night Track -- Pigs (Three Different Ones)

Roger Waters - Pigs (Three Different Ones) (US... by chongsavell

Hmmm... doesn't seem to like Donald Trump all that much.

Has The NYT Forfeited Its Place As the Paper of Record?

I'm not going to entirely rehash my disdain for the New York Times; I've done it enough. But I found some irony in an article the NYT published today about what the press is facing:

Am I saying we shouldn't bail out the NYT if it and its reporters need defending against the creeping anti-media, proto-fascist attacks? Of course we should. My point is that once their asses are out of the fire, we should stop pretending they should be treated like they belong on the front lines. They're the boy who didn't cry wolf when there was a pack of them bearing down on the village.

The Times should've realized that freedom of the press was in peril from the minute Trump won the nomination, if not quite a bit before, and sounded the alarm at that point. But they didn't. This is a true story from my time volunteering for Clinton, along with a lesson the Times didn't learn after the election:

But the level of obsequiousness it takes for someone [Times reporter Maggie] Haberman who Trump referred to by name as a "third-rate reporter" and about whom a friend of hers told me a month or so that she worried for her safety because of the things Trump said regarding her to open with a polite, "I’d like to thank you for being here" is just mind-boggling. Historians will need to coin a special term for that sort of treatment as they conduct a post-mortem on this era.

With the exception of the Washington Post (probably because Trump banned them from his appearances for a while), most of the rest of the mainstream press wasn't that much better than the Times during the election, particularly CNN and its inclusion of Trump surrogates that did nothing but lie being mostly held in the same esteem as those telling the truth.

Most of the major publications that I follow have learned some lessons from the 2016 election.

CNN has done a good jo for making up for their sins. They often appear to have Trump surrogates on just to ridicule them. Conservatives don't appear to get an equal number of slots on their panels anymore, and it's made the news much more informative.

MSNBC is a mixed bag -- they've got Reid, Hayes, and Maddow still going strong, but don't seem to be committed to those sorts of voices, no matter how popular they are.

And the Washington Post has been excellent; I in fact subscribed to them last week, and I haven't paid for access to a traditional news publication in at least 15 years.

But the Times? Still blowing it. Their parroting the clearly untrue party line about Kushner is irresponsible:

The Times was not able to report the detail about using Russian secure communications facilities for the secret channel but neither did it dispute that part of the story. The key detail in the Times story is an alternative version of why Kushner and Flynn were trying to do this.
It is unclear who first proposed the communications channel, but the people familiar with the meeting said the idea was to have Mr. Flynn speak directly with a senior military official in Moscow to discuss Syria and other security issues. The communications channel was never set up, the people said.
The three people were not authorized to discuss the December meeting and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The White House declined to comment on Friday night.
If this explanation were proposed by anyone else I would say it was absurd on its face. But it comes under the bylines of three of the Times’ best reporters. Is this credible?
I would say it is not a credible explanation, at least if by that we mean an explanation of some legitimate activity.

The NYT has had some issues with being "incredible" (in the negative sense) in the past. What I'm wondering is just how many times they can do that while stiff being the first place millions of people, including lots of liberals and moderates, look to for news.

Scott Lemieux cites a piece by Daniel Davies from the Iraq War period concerning credibility in media and government:

There’s nothing wrong with reporters printing the administration line, per se, but given that these people lie about everything unless a claim can be corroborated it really needs to be approached with a great deal of skepticism, skepticism that is notably lacking in the story. Davies is again relevant here:
Fibbers’ forecasts are worthless. Case after miserable case after bloody case we went through, I tell you, all of which had this moral. Not only that people who want a project will tend to make innacurate projections about the possible outcomes of that project, but about the futility of attempts to “shade” downward a fundamentally dishonest set of predictions. If you have doubts about the integrity of a forecaster, you can’t use their forecasts at all. Not even as a “starting point”. By the way, I would just love to get hold of a few of the quantitative numbers from documents prepared to support the war and give them a quick run through Benford’s Law.
Application to Iraq This was how I decided that it was worth staking a bit of credibility on the strong claim that absolutely no material WMD capacity would be found, rather than “some” or “some but not enough to justify a war” or even “some derisory but not immaterial capacity, like a few mobile biological weapons labs”. My reasoning was that Powell, Bush, Straw, etc, were clearly making false claims and therefore ought to be discounted completely, and that there were actually very few people who knew a bit about Iraq but were not fatally compromised in this manner who were making the WMD claim. Meanwhile, there were people like Scott Ritter and Andrew Wilkie who, whatever other faults they might or might not have had, did not appear to have told any provable lies on this subject and were therefore not compromised.

The Times really is a Jekyll and Hyde publication. They break some of the most important stories in the world, and yet they've helped Republicans cover up bombshells and attacked Democrats for no good reason. I have some theories as to why, but it's safe to say that they're not coming at the news from the right perspective when we see ads like this:

Why should the paper want to be part of the story? When that happens, we get crap like this which, in this case, resulted in the election of the exact person who would be extremely dangerous to their existence and to the safety of their reporters.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Josh Marshall, the publisher of Talking Points Memo (which is essentially the "paper" of record for this shitty blog as far as I'm concerned), is downright bashful about a small opportunity to say that he waded into history, and it's rather endearing... I would not use the word "endearing" to describe the Times at all.. Except for maybe Paul Krugman; he just looks like a teddy bear!

Open Thread -- #TheResistance #FollowParty Hangover Edition

Well, I don't know what we did last night, but you woke up next to us this morning, so you might as well stick around and go back for seconds...

New bedfellows from #TheResistance, tell us about yourselves in the comments!


Earworm of the Afternoon -- Sick Again

Another Sunday Morning, Another Incoherent Tweetstorm

Now that he's back Stateside, Trump's phone is off of roaming and he's making up for lost time this morning:

Of course we know if wasn't a big win.  It was much more of a Pyrrhic victory, winning by single digits in a state you normally win by 20+ ain't great. Plus Trump's essentially endorsing the beating of a reporter, like the good little tinpot dictator wannabe he is.

It was barely talked about until about a week before the election, and it's continuing to be talked about as a reasonably good sign for the Dems. By the way, let's see what he's got to say on June 7th; I think Jon Ossoff is going to win the special election on GA-06.

Here's a one-off about his trip to Europe:

The leader of the free world disagrees, Donald:

After attending a G-7 summit in which President Donald Trump split from other world leaders on issues of climate change, trade, and refugees, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her country that Germany could no longer rely on the US and UK for help.
“The times in which we could completely rely on others are on the way out. I’ve experienced that in the last few days," she said Sunday at an election rally in Southern Germany.
“We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands."

She also likes Emmanuel more than she likes you:

Merkel added that she hopes Germany's relationship with France will strengthen and flourish under new French President Emmanuel Macron, who is staunchly pro-European.

If you were hoping to alienate Western Europe, you did a really nice job. And Germany still likes the black guy and hates you:

And now that you're home, you've gotta figure out how do deal with the shitshow you left back in Washington:

Is this the strategy coming from your "war room?" Good luck with that..

All in all, I'm inclined to agree with Bill Kristol (yikes!):

He's shaking in his jackboots

The Professional Left Podcast, 5/26/2017 -- Hey NATO, Why Don't You Keep Him?

I just absolutely loved a point the Blue Gal made about Barack Obama's standing in the eyes of America and the world... it's a thought I'd been swishing around in my head for a while that I couldn't put words to, and she did. Kudos, BG!

Listen to the whole thing here.

A Billboard Put Up By #TheResistance?

Apparently, this has gone up on I-95 North near Richmond, VA sometime in the last month or so:

I'd really love to know who did it, but the photo here is too blurry. It's brilliant.

Late Night Track -- Whipping Post

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Open Thread -- RIP, Zbigniew Brzezinski Edition

Pour one out for the Notorious Z.B.I.G.. Dude saved the world. Probably made killer pierogis too, just like my Polish grandpa. Got any reflections about him?

Earworm of the Afternoon -- She Don't Use Jelly

I really like the original version of this song, but this cover is priceless:

Saturday Long Read -- Hillary Clinton Is Furious. And Resigned. And Funny. And Worried.

I continue to be really upset with pundits who waste ink and make noise around a caricature of Hillary Clinton. I think this (from the great @HillaryWarnedUs) encapsulates my feelings really well:

I was really pleased yesterday to read a profile of Hillary from New York Magazine's Rebecca Traister. The opening:

When I walk into the Chappaqua dining room in which Hillary Clinton is spending her days working on her new book, I am greeted by a vision from the past. Wearing no makeup and giant Coke-bottle glasses, dressed in a gray mock-turtleneck and black zip sweatshirt, Hillary looks less Clinton and more Rodham than I have ever seen her outside of college photographs. It’s the glasses, probably, that work to make her face look rounder, or maybe just the bareness of her skin. She looks not like the woman who’s familiar from television, from newspapers, from America of the past 25 years, but like the 69-year-old version of the young woman who came to the national stage with a wackadoodle Wellesley commencement speech in 1969. With no more races to run and no more voters to woo with fancy hair, Clinton appears now as she might have if she’d aged in nature and not in the crucible of American politics. Still, this is not Hillary of the woods. She is reemerging, giving speeches and interviews. It’s clear that she is making an active choice to remain a public figure.

Take the time to read the whole thing; I plan to break this article down a bit more during the week. You're not going to hear much more from me today, as I'm on the road, so I'm leaving y'all with homework!

In Which I Advise Trump's Advisors

I think I may have touched on this story a couple of days ago, but I wanted to point something out to the members of Trump's brain (I use the word loosely) trust that are purportedly assembling a "war room" to combat negative messaging about the White House, particularly about #TrumpRussia:

Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to Trump, will be involved in the new strategic messaging operation, as will Steve Bannon, another top adviser who specializes in managing Trump’s populist appeal and shaping his political image, the sources said. Bannon and Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, have been laying the groundwork for the plan this week, they added.
On Thursday, NBC News and the Washington Post reported that Kushner, who held several meetings with Russian officials following the election, is a focus of the probe, making him the first current White House official to be caught up in it, although Kushner, who is Trump’s son-in-law, has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, is also expected to be part of the effort. Lewandowski, who has been seen in the White House recently, could join the administration as early as next week, a source close to him said. 

First of all, we all know that the second paragraph was proven wrong just two hours after this article hit the internet.

Second, Jared, Steve, Reince, and Corey, please let me level with you. You're not exactly a dream team. In fact, you really suck at most of this stuff. From the same article:

Lewandowski was fired by Trump in June 2016 over concerns that he was not experienced enough to oversee the general election fight against Democrat Hillary Clinton, but has remained a trusted adviser to Trump and a steadfast defender of the president on news programs.

Your only positive quality, apparently, is a slavish loyalty to a wannabe C-list autocrat. Unending subjectivity ain't a wonderful quality in a strategist.

Mr. Bannon, you lucked into some money and you appear to know how to appeal to neo-Nazis and other deplorables, but that's not the audience you need to convince right now. Other than that, your main talent is being a fat slob. (Steve M. at No More Mister Nice blog has more to say about this).

Reince, other than having a strange name that autocorrect appears to mangle in glorious ways, I've always known you as a halfwitted day drunk who somehow manages to sort of function thanks to some deep-pocketed donors bolstering your party's operations.

And Jared, just what the fuck are you supposed to be?

You think you're hot shit because Daddy Vladdy scooped you up in his talons and deposited you on the top of the mountain, but you have no idea how to climb down without skewering your dumb asses on the rocks below. I guess my advice isn't really to the four of you; you're stuck up there waiting for a few more leaks before the authorities bring their chopper and fly you straight to Leavenworth (or the rich white dudes' equivalent), no matter what you do, so have fun jerking each other off to entertain yourselves while you wait.

But to everyone who works under these guys, unless you've been secretly given immunity by the FBI because you're one of the leakers from inside the White House, jump off that sinking vessel quickly. Those four winners-so-much-your-heads-spinners are armed with cannons that they're most likely going to end up firing through each other and into the engine room of the ship:

Take every mention of this job out of your bio and your resume; I guarantee it'll look better to have a six month gap where it looks like you were unemployed than to have the urine-soaked regime associated with your names. Better yet, maybe you should legally change your names, just in case. Can't be too careful when it comes to being tied to the biggest clusterfuck that ever clustered or fucked.

There's a solid chance that this whole affair ends badly for everyone, but a near-lock guarantee that it'll end badly for any remaining residents of Trumpville. So please, do yourself a favor and leave before you're condemned to living under a bridge, or working at Fox News, which is pretty much the same thing these days.