Today in the Annals Of Possibly Too-Low Standards

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Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, told the Post that Trump takes the intelligence briefings very seriously.

“A president who I think came into the office thinking he would focus on domestic issues — ‘make America great again’ — has learned that you inherit the world and its problems when you’re president of the United States,” Coats told the Post.

“One time he came in and said, ‘All right, what’s the bad news this morning?’ ” he continued. “You can see the weight of the burden on the shoulders of the president.”

The “one time he vaguely asked about things!” standard is not, traditionally, presidential.

Spicer and Trump: A One-Act Play About Taping James Comey

REPORTER: Moving on to the news of the week, did president Trump record his conversations with former FBI director Comey?
SPICER: I assume you’re referring to the tweet. And I’ve talked to the president—the president has nothing further to add.
REPORTER: Why did he say that? Why did he tweet that? What should we interpret from that?
SPICER: As I mentioned, the president has nothing further to add.
REPORTER: Are there recording devices in the Oval Office or the residence?
SPICER: As I said for the third time, there is nothing further to add on that.
REPORTER: Does he think it is appropriate to threaten someone like Mr. Comey not to speak?
SPICER: I don’t think that’s a threat. He simply stated a fact, the tweet speaks for itself. I’m moving on.
It is good to know that Spicer talked to the President (who, remember, is Donald Trump) before meeting with reporters. I am sure that was a good conversation.
SPICER walks into the Oval Office, sees no one is in it except for Mike Pence, grinning broadly, and walks into the annex, where POTUS TRUMP is watching 11 TVs. MNUCHIN is in the corner. 
SPICER: Hey boss, just thought I’d ask real quick before today’s press briefing about the Comey thing.
POTUS TRUMP: Tell them that what Don Lemon said was stupid. Tell them it was disgusting and also that a lot of people say my relationship with Xi is very very good. I think he really likes me, and so why are we talking about currency manipulation? I stopped it, ok?
MNUCHIN: You sure did!
SPICER: Yes, of course, we’ll make sure to get that all out. I can’t wait for Lemon to hear it!
(everyone gives each other thumbs-up for 45 seconds)
SPICER: OK, but, they are probably going to ask if there actually are, you know tapes?
POTUS TRUMP: Who’s talking about tapes? All I said was that there might be tapes, in quotes, and the quotes are very important but the Fake News is always like ‘oh, Trump said tapes’, but they never talk about the quotes, and they never mention Trump’s quotes.
SPICER: OK, so, there aren’t tapes then?
POTUS TRUMP: Who knows? I just said he better hope there aren’t, because if there are, he wouldn’t want to talk, because that wouldn’t be nice. It would be really nasty.
SPICER: So, it obviously wasn’t a threat. It’s just a fact that he should hope no one tapes him.
POTUS TRUMP: Of course it wasn’t a threat. He might say stuff, because he’s very disloyal, you know, and I am never the one who brought up loyalty, and now I hear, oh Tump, he wants loyalty, but I only want people who are loyal enough to fire people who aren’t. Tell them that. You look taller today. Did you see what Rosie said?
SPICER: About Comey?
POTUS TRUMP: No.
(11 minutes of silence)
Spicer: So, nothing furth–
POTUS TRUMP: That commercial didn’t have me in it!
SPICER (exits)

Reuters Exclusive: Trump Had Literally No Idea What Being President Was

 

Image result for trump the apprentice

This dummy thought this was the hardest job in the world. 

 

If you polled 100 million Americans, making sure you got a cross-sample of ages, genders, races, ethnicities, income levels, political beliefs, religions, professional affiliations, and all that, and asked them: “Which do you think is a harder job? Being a reality show celebrity who sometimes calls into Fox News to talk about himself, or being the President of the United States?”, the latter would win 100,000,000 to 0, with a margin of error of one fucking guy.

And sadly, that guy is the President.

President Donald Trump on Thursday reflected on his first 100 days in office with a wistful look at his life before the White House.

“I loved my previous life. I had so many things going,” Trump told Reuters in an interview. “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”

Well, live and learn! Or, live and destroy the necessary fundamentals of liberal democracy. Whatever.

“The Education of Donald Trump”: Politico Accidentally Shows Why Everything is Scary. (Bonus! The Most Newt Gingrich Quote Ever)

 

Image result for newt gingrich

“They might even impeach him! Who’s ever heard of such a thing!”

 

I don’t really have time to get into the fullness of how depressing and terrifying and bitterly funny this Politico article, “The Education of Donald Trump”, really is. It’s about how none of them knew that being President would be hard, and how it is especially hard because Trump doesn’t take the job seriously. It isn’t so much his education as how the people around him are learning how to manipulate him. I’ll just put in a few choice quotes.

He turned to his relationships with world leaders. “I have a terrific relationship with Xi,” he said, referring to the Chinese president, who Trump recently invited for a weekend visit at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

By all reports, they got along fine. Which is to be expected; only for Trump is not insulting a foreign leader the mark of a great relationship. But he won’t shut up about it. He mentions his great relationship with Xi once a day.  It’s like how he constantly brags about getting a Supreme Court nominee on the bench, when he has an open seat and a Senate majority. That’s literally the least you can do, you idiot.

Trump remains reliant as ever on his children and longtime friends for counsel. White House staff have learned to cater to the president’s image obsession by presenting decisions in terms of how they’ll play in the press. Among his first reads in the morning is still the New York Post.

I bet he still cuts out pages where he’s mentioned and sends them to friends, circling his name with his childlike hands. “They wrote about me again, Reince! I’m on the cover. Are you?”

As president, Trump has repeatedly reminded his audiences, both public and private, about his longshot electoral victory. That unexpected win gave him and his closest advisers the false sense that governing would be as easy to master as running a successful campaign turned out to be. It was a rookie mistake.

It’s not a rookie mistake; it’s an idiot mistake. Who would ever think that? How could any human think that?

As he sat in the Oval Office last week, Trump seemed to concede that even having risen to fame through real estate and entertainment, the presidency represented something very different.

Like with healthcare being complicated, this is something that no one knew.

Between Priebus and Vice President Mike Pence, who once served in House leadership, Trump thought he had the experts he needed and wouldn’t have to worry about Congress that much. But Priebus is a political insider, not a congressional one. And Pence, who was governor of Indiana before joining Trump’s ticket, has been absent from the Hill during the rise of the House Freedom Caucus, the ideological hardliners who delivered Trump the most stinging defeat of his young presidency.

Hey, not to belabor it, but these are things people knew in advance. Like, did you not know that Priebus has never had office? Leadership!

As Trump is beginning to better understand the challenges—and the limits—of the presidency, his aides are understanding better how to manage perhaps the most improvisational and free-wheeling president in history. “If you’re an adviser to him, your job is to help him at the margins,” said one Trump confidante. “To talk him out of doing crazy things.”

Maybe you shouldn’t have helped get a guy who does crazy things elected! That was something you cold have done that was a little nobler, Mr. Confidante. Or Mrs. This might actually be Ivanka.

But they’re learning. One key development: White House aides have figured out that it’s best not to present Trump with too many competing options when it comes to matters of policy or strategy. Instead, the way to win Trump over, they say, is to present him a single preferred course of action and then walk him through what the outcome could be – and especially how it will play in the press.

“You don’t walk in with a traditional presentation, like a binder or a PowerPoint. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t consume information that way,” said one senior administration official. “You go in and tell him the pros and cons, and what the media coverage is going to be like.”

This is literally saying that the President is a child who can’t handle making decisions, but if you tell him something will make Steve Doocey happy, he’ll do it. “He doesn’t consume information that way” is the polite way of saying “The President is a vastly unqualified idiot, and I mean that in every sense: there is nothing to qualify or ameliorate his idiocy, and he should not be President, and every day I work for him I am complicit in this disaster.” Granted, that’s a mouthful, but it is the whole story.

But the really prize isn’t really anything to do with Donald Trump. It is how Newt Gingrich, sycophant to the stars, justifies Trump having problems.

“I think he’s much more aware how complicated the world is,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who serves as an informal administration adviser. “This will all be more uphill than he thought it would be because I think he had the old-fashioned American idea that you run for office, you win, then people behave as though you won.”

Now, obviously, I didn’t hear Newt say this, but you can hear it. It’s a sneer against the liberals. He is obviously being sarcastic about “old-fashioned American idea”, and how it really shouldn’t be old-fashioned, but should be respected. Trump won, and the Democrats aren’t letting him do so. What happened to decency?

Newt Gingrich is saying this. Newt Gingrich. About Donald Trump. Donald Trump, whose political career started by literally saying for five years that Barack Obama wasn’t a US citizen and so an illegitimate President. And it wasn’t just Trump: Gingrich said this about him in 2010“What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?…This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president.” 

I guess he is saying that Obama was President, but it isn’t exactly behaving as though he won.

He’s saying this after the GOP did everything they could to obstruct the Obama administration, even nullifying his Constitutional duty to appoint a Supreme Court justice.

And, holy god, Newt Gingrich is talking about how no one is showing respect to the election results. Newt Gingrich impeached Bill Clinton over an affair. He shut down the government to try to force Clinton to do what he wanted. He had Congress investigate everything the Clintons had ever done. Again, just to be clear, he impeached a twice-elected President over an affair.

But listen to how aggrieved he is. How unfair the whole thing is. How victimized the Trump administration is by Democrats not recognizing his enormous mandate. There is no one, not even Ted Cruz, who is as self-righteously hypocritical and deeply unprincipled as Newt Gingrich. Mitch McConnell is cynical, but Newt actually believes this. He can say that and feel good about it.

This quote should be on Newt’s tombstone.

When You Elect Trash…

I hope Paul Ryan sees this picture burned on the insides of his eyelids every time he closes his eyes for the rest of his life. I hope this image–three horrible trashy clowns (or two; Kid Rock sucks, but is mostly fine, I guess)–is the very last thing Orrin Hatch sees before he dies, so he won’t be able to convince himself he served his country well. I hope that every Republican who pretends that they care more about the nation than their own partisan nonsense has to have this framed in place of every family photo.

Seriously, what a collection of undignified human garbage (except Kid Rock, who, again, sucks, but seems like Cicero compared to Sarah Palin and Ted Nugent). This is what Trump is doing to the White House, above and beyond his terrible policies and reckless idiocy. This is what happens when we elect a reality show ding-dong who is shunned by anyone with a hint of class or taste or grace. You get these dipshit numbnuts hee-hawing around the White House and mocking someone with more intelligence and decency in one finger than they have put together (and I include the POTUS in that equation).

And what did Nugent, who called Obama a “subhuman mongrel” and told Hillary Clinton to suck on his shotgun have to say?

“We were there for four hours, man!” Mr. Nugent, a 68-year-old Detroit native, said in a telephone interview on Thursday, using a four-letter expletive to signal his amazement at Mr. Trump’s willingness to spend so much time with his three casually dressed visitors.

Why are you amazed? Trump lives for the flattery of minor celebrities. It’s way more fun than being President. We elected an idiot; he’s at his happiest when surrounded by idiots.

During dinner, which ended with flaming baked alaska in honor of Ms. Palin — who stepped away from her job as governor of that state in 2009, after serving as Senator John McCain’s running mate the year before — the president and his guests engaged in a wide-ranging conversation that Mr. Nugent said included the following topics: “health, fitness, food, rock ’n’ roll, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, secure borders, the history of the United States, guns, bullets, bows and arrows, North Korea, Russia” and a half-dozen other issues.

Yeah, I’m sure it was the Algonquin Roundtable. The history of the United States? It was good until 2008 and now it is great again. Remember when we used to win? Liberals lost Vietnam! Who needs more bow and arrows? (To be fair, I’m sure that the guests could talk about guns and bullets and knives and bows and arrow-guns and knife-bullets with the eloquence of Seneca).

And fuck you for talking about Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, unless it was to apologize for crimes against the music they invented. “Cat Scratch Fever” sucks.

“President Trump’s invitation for dinner included bringing a couple of friends,” Ms. Palin wrote on her web page, which displayed behind-the-scenes snapshots with a grinning Mr. Trump.

“Asked why I invited Kid Rock and Ted Nugent, I joked, ‘Because Jesus was booked,’” she wrote.

I bet this idiot actually believe that this is as close as you can come on the earthly plane. If someone asked her 10 years ago who her dream dinner guests throughout all of history would be, she probably said Nugent, Kid Rock, and Trump. This was her goddamn dream come true.

And finally, the picture.

The encounter included a tour of the executive residence, a grip-and-grin session with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office and an impromptu snapshot — featuring a sneering Ms. Palin — in front of Mrs. Clinton’s official portrait as the three guests and their families left through the East Wing.

Mr. Nugent said one member of the group — he wouldn’t say who — asked the three to extend their middle fingers beneath the portrait. “I politely declined,” he said. “Let the juxtaposition speak for itself.”

Jared Kushner Is The Whole Absurdity

 

Pictured: Take Your Boss’s Daughter’s Husband to a War Zone Day.

 

It’s sometimes hard to really put your finger on what is the most absurd and nonsensical part of the Trump Administration, but then you hear about how Jared Kushner flew to Iraq, and you realize: this is it. The flgarant third-world absurdity, the little petty crime family nonsense, the reliance on pseudo-toughguy “loyalty” over even the most basic competence: it’s everything that’s cheap and flim-flammy about Trumpism in a skinny well-married package.

(Note: this isn’t about what’s cruel and evil in the Administration; that’s virtually everything else. The two are intertwined, but we’re just focusing on absurdity right now.)

This isn’t to say that Kushner isn’t, like, smart. He’s not the dopey son who is suddenly made Lord High General of the People’s Glorious Armed Forces. But, relative to the insane position he’s been given, it isn’t too far off. Kushner, as Daniel Drezner points out, is in charge of:

  • Relations with Mexico, which are a diplomatic minefield, considering his boss/father-in-law based his entire campaign around demonizing Mexico and saying he’d make them pay for his idiot wall.
  • Relations with Canada, which, ok.
  • Peace in the Middle East. This means Israel/Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and the whole Sunni v Shia thing. It’s pretty complex!
  • Solving the opioid crisis, because I’m sure he really gets the white working class. He’s relatable.
  • Fixing the VA. I don’t know, maybe a good businessman can do something good. I doubt that he has the chops for it, but I’ll cut him some slack.
  • Improving the way the government works, which means turning it into a business, which: stupid, and not innovative. People have been saying that for centuries.

This whole thing is madness. Even if he is smart, there’s no way one person could do any of this, much less all of it. Especially because he hasn’t been able to build a staff, mostly because Trump doesn’t want too many people involved. It’s a family business.

And that’s the heart of how malignantly stupid this administration is. The thinking here literally boiled down to “Hey, that kid who married my daughter is bright, and he’s stuck by me. He can probably fix the world by himself.”

Politico on Saturday ran a long piece about how resentful senior White House staff are of Kushner, equal parts annoyance and jealousy. He’s prone to popping into every meeting, acting as Trump’s eyes and ear and hatchet man, and running things like…well, like Trump would. But one wants to ask these staffers: what did you expect? It’s a White House run by Donald Trump, reality show idiot.

But not all is well, as these amazing parts demonstrate.

Kushner’s boosters see him as “a visionary” who is bringing to government a disruptive Silicon Valley mindset that helped him succeed in the technology and real estate industries, as well as on Trump’s unconventional presidential campaign.

It’s always important to remember that “disruptive Silicon Valley mindset” is what dumb people say when they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Others are more concerned about what Kushner hasn’t done. One pro-Israel operative who works with the administration said “there were high hopes” that Kushner — an Orthodox Jew and the grandson of Holocaust survivors, whose only picture in his office is of his grandparents — “was a guy who really understood our community” when Trump tapped him as a point person on the Middle East.

What? Why would you think that? Because he’s Jewish? Maybe he “understands your community”, but so do tens of thousands of people, very few of whom have any capability at running a government or, you know, bringing peace to the Middle East.

But, the operative said, those hopes mostly have been supplanted by “deep concern that Jared is not the person we thought he was — that this guy who is supposed to be good at everything is totally out of his depth.”

Why was he supposed to be good at everything? Because he was born rich and got richer? Who are these people?

But if you really want the straight hit on how gross and stupid these people are, get a load of these two paragraphs.

Influential Jewish Republicans including the mega-donor casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson lobbied Kushner to convince Trump to appoint prominent neoconservative foreign policy hand Elliott Abrams as the No. 2 official in Foggy Bottom and to remove Michael Ratney, a State Department official who previously served as U.S. consul in Jerusalem under Obama, from his role handling Middle East affairs.

Kushner was non-committal about Ratney, according to two sources familiar with the lobbying. But Kushner did go to bat for Abrams, only to have Trump veto the appointment because Abrams had criticized Trump during the campaign and was opposed by Bannon. Nonetheless, Adelson, who has spoken repeatedly by phone with Kushner, was disappointed with Kushner’s inability or unwillingness to deliver on the personnel recommendations, as well as the stasis on the embassy, said three Jewish Republicans active in Israel causes.

This is amazing and beautiful and perfect. A terrible, terrible person tried to get Kushner to install a horrible war criminal in State, but was stopped by a bitter white supranationalist on the grounds that the war criminal wasn’t loyal enough. Does anything demonstrate the twisted web of America’s worst people any better?

Well, maybe: Diamond Mark Perrone tipped me off to a long piece on Jeff Zucker, which included this perfect morsel.

Zucker had breakfast with Kushner a few weeks later in Manhattan. Kushner wanted to know why CNN still hadn’t fired anti-Trump commentators like (Van) Jones and Ana Navarro, who said on CNN in October that every Republican would have to answer the question of what they did the day they saw a tape of “this man boasting about grabbing a woman’s pussy.”… Zucker tried to explain that even though Trump won, the network still needed what he described as “a diversity of opinion.”

So enough of the “Kushner is the moderate” or “Kushner is the voice of reason”. He’s a very small cosseted rich dude who married into an even richer family and rode a tide of white nationalism into power. He uses that to try to silence “enemies”, because he thinks that some wealthy simulacrum of omerta is proof of character. They are playacting as a competent administration, playacting as tough guys, and playacting at solving problems.

Kushner is no different. His portfolio is the biggest joke of all. He’s as bad as his odious father-in-law, thinking that being born rich means you can do anything. It’s the idea that if you just leave it to us, it’ll be solved. That’s our government right now. Whatever isn’t truly evil and cruel about is absurd. That the absurdity has real consequences for people who aren’t them only sharpens the cruelty.