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Mixed feelings

Mixed feelings

by digby

Only 6% of people have them about Trump. Everyone else knows exactly how they feel about him. And most of them don't approve:

Public approval of President Donald Trump has dropped to its lowest level since his inauguration, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday, after Trump was accused of mishandling classified information and meddling with an FBI investigation.

The May 14-18 opinion poll found that 38 percent of adults approved of Trump while 56 percent disapproved. The remaining 6 percent had "mixed feelings."

 Here's how it looks:

This part is important because it impacts the way these GOP miscreants calculate their positions on big legislation and then 2018:

Among Republicans, 23 percent expressed disapproval of Trump in the latest poll, up from 16 percent in the same poll last week. The decline in support from Republicans appears to be a primary reason why Trump's overall approval rating is now at the lowest level since he took office.

I'm all for any legal method of removing Trump from office, whether resignation, 25th Amendment or impeachment. But it's very important that Democrats win elections and the American people repudiate this Republican party's descent into madness. It takes a while for that to happen. (And it doesn't last...)

Last time it took the monumental debacles of Katrina, Iraq and a worldwide economic meltdown to pry a small number of people away from their GOP identity to vote for Barack Obama. Let's hope they wise up a little bit sooner this time.


GOP leadership knew about Dana

GOP leadership knew about Dana

by digby

Dana Rohrabacher didn't keep his admiration for Vladimir Putin a secret. But apparently, the Russians thought he was quite the useful idiot. And the GOP leadership has known about it since 2012:

The F.B.I. warned a Republican congressman in 2012 that Russian spies were trying to recruit him, officials said, an example of how aggressively Russian agents have tried to influence Washington politics.

The congressman, Dana Rohrabacher of California, has been known for years as one of Moscow’s biggest defenders in Washington and as a vocal opponent of American economic sanctions against Russia. He claims to have lost a drunken arm-wrestling match with the current Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, in the 1990s. He is one of President Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill.

As a newly appointed special counsel investigates connections between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, the warning to Mr. Rohrabacher shows that the F.B.I. has for years viewed Russian spies, sometimes posing as diplomats, as having a hand in Washington.

Mr. Rohrabacher was drawn into the maelstrom this week when The Washington Post reported on an audio recording of Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House majority leader, saying last year, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” Mr. McCarthy said on Wednesday that he had made a joke that landed poorly.

But the F.B.I. has taken seriously the possibility that Russian spies would target American politicians. In a secure room at the Capitol, an F.B.I. agent told Mr. Rohrabacher in 2012 that Russian spies were trying to recruit him as an “agent of influence” — someone the Russian government might be able to use to steer Washington policy-making, former officials said.

Mr. Rohrabacher said in a telephone interview on Thursday that the meeting had focused on his contact with one member of the Russian Foreign Ministry, whom he recalled meeting on a trip to Moscow. “They were telling me he had something to do with some kind of Russian intelligence,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. He recalled the F.B.I. agent saying that Moscow “looked at me as someone who could be influenced.”

Law enforcement officials did not think that Mr. Rohrabacher was actively working with Russian intelligence, officials said, rather that he was being targeted as an unwitting player in a Russian effort to gain access in Washington, according to one former American official. The official said there was no evidence that Mr. Rohrabacher was ever paid by the Russians.

Also at the meeting were Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan, and according to one former official, Representative C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Democrat of Maryland. Mr. Rogers and Mr. Ruppersberger were the senior members of the House Intelligence Committee. In a brief telephone interview, Mr. Ruppersberger said that he recalled a meeting with Mr. Rogers and Mr. Rohrabacher, but did not remember that an F.B.I. agent was present. “Mike and I reminded Dana that Russia is our adversary,” he said.

Mr. Rogers, who has since retired from Congress, declined to comment.

Rogers was widely considered to be a top candidate for the FBI but his name seems to have slid down the list. He also served on Trump's transition team (and quit in December.)

So basically the Intelligence Committee knew about this. Rohrabacher continued to be Russia's greatest friend on Capitol Hill. And we know that the Republican leadership knew about this too because they were "joking" about it last year.

Obviously, there's nothing inherently wrong with someone being a Russophile. Lot's of people are. And I guess it's no big deal as long as Rohrabacher didn't have access to any information that could compromise national security. But if this affinity comes from a love of Putinesque strongman authoritarianism, it's concerning nonetheless.


Sometimes nothin’ is not a real cool hand by @BloggersRUs

Sometimes nothin' is not a real cool hand

by Tom Sullivan

The world is laughing at us, Donald Trump tells audiences. Long before he took to the campaign trail, he was obsessed with the notion that the world was laughing at our country, the USA, American leaders. Over 100 times in public statements going back as far as 1987, the Washington Post found. It is another of Trump's "tells." Every time he repeats it, one can't help but feel it is he who fears being laughed at.

Contrary to Adam Gopnik's account, it was not jokes from President Obama and Seth Meyers and the actual laughter at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner that launched his bid for the presidency. Trump considered running for president since the 1980s, perhaps once and for all to silence the laughing in his head. Now, as he embarks on his first foreign trip as president himself, that project is not going so well.


Those were just a few of the comments I heard in Berlin this week from senior European officials trying to make sense of the meltdown in Washington at just the moment when a politically imploding President Trump embarks on what he called “my big foreign trip” in this morning’s kickoff tweet.

Politico's Susan B. Glasser continues:
“People are less worried than they were six weeks ago, less afraid,” a senior German government official with extensive experience in the United States told me. “Now they see the clownish nature.” Or, as another German said on the sidelines of a meeting here devoted to taking stock of 70 years of U.S.-German relations, “People here think Trump is a laughingstock.”

“The dominant reaction to Trump right now is mockery,” Jacob Heilbrunn, the editor of the conservative journal the National Interest, told the meeting at the German Foreign Office here while moderating a panel on Trump’s foreign policy that dealt heavily on the difficulty of divining an actual policy amid the spectacle. Heilbrunn, whose publication hosted Trump’s inaugural foreign policy speech in Washington during last year’s campaign, used the ‘L’ word too. “The Trump administration is becoming an international laughingstock.” Michael Werz, a German expert from the liberal U.S. think tank Center for American Progress, agreed, adding he was struck by “how rapidly the American brand is depreciating over the last 20 weeks.”

For the man whose business is, primarily, his brand, the laughter is now real and not just in his head.

Foreign Policy reports, “NATO is scrambling to tailor its upcoming meeting to avoid taxing President Donald Trump’s notoriously short attention span. The alliance is telling heads of state to limit talks to 2 to 4 minutes at a time during the discussion ..." to Trump-proof the event:

“It’s kind of ridiculous how they are preparing to deal with Trump,” one source told FP. “It’s like they’re preparing to deal with a child — someone with a short attention span and mood who has no knowledge of NATO, no interest in in-depth policy issues, nothing. They’re freaking out.”
Trump may have nothing, but he nevertheless holds the presidency and his party controls the Congress and most state legislatures.

Der Spiegel describes the Trump presidency as "a vortex of scandals, chaos and lunacy." Mathieu von Rohr continues:

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the only goal of Trump's candidacy was the victory itself - demonstrating that he could win - rather than living up to his promises to his voters regarding health care reform or job creation. This is why Trump is obsessed with the critics he sees as trying to diminish his victory by reminding him that he didn't win a majority of the votes. This is why the investigation of Russian influence in the election makes Trump so angry. He sees it as an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of his triumph, something for which he believes he is not being praised enough.

Bloomberg reports that the joke is not on Trump alone:

This week, however, the Russian jokes at the expense of the U.S. got positively unpleasant. First, President Vladimir Putin offered to provide the U.S. Congress with a recording of Lavrov's conversation with Trump, in which the U.S. president allegedly revealed highly classified information (the word Putin used, zapis, cannot really be translated as "transcript", as the Kremlin later claimed). The suggestion, of course, was sheer mockery -- it's impossible to imagine the Congress making such a request of Putin, and U.S. legislators tried to answer Putin in kind, Senator Marco Rubio suggesting that if Putin sent the information by email, he "wouldn't click on the attachment."
It goes on. Short of dying in office or FBI indictment of the president's closest associates, this circus is not pulling up stakes anytime soon. Even though a recent poll finds Americans in favor of impeaching Trump 48-41, the GOP holds the reins in the congress, making impeachment highly unlikely. Their base won't stand for it. But the GOP is also running out of time to complete its 2018 mid-term calculation: Are we more at risk by running with Trump or by trying to distance ourselves? If the economy continues to chug along, Trump's base may stick with him however loud the laughter from foreign quarters, and maybe because of it.

The Denver Post reports:

John McKager “Mac” Stipanovich, a longtime GOP campaign operative in Florida, said he fears numerous other Republican losses in his state and around the country if the party cannot deliver on promises to repeal Obamacare and cut taxes.

“If after all of the talk, after all of the chest-thumping, we can’t get anything done, we may get clubbed like baby seals in 2018,” said Stipanovich, who was an early Trump critic.

After Trump did a fundraiser for Karen Handel, the GOP candidate running in the June 20 GA-06 special election against Democrat Jon Ossoff, Handel has distanced herself, the Denver Post reports. "During a fundraiser this week with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Trump’s name was not mentioned by either Handel or Ryan."

That clubbing and distancing is what Democrats are hoping for. Trump's Seinfeldian presidency about nothing is doomed to fail. But his failure is not Democrats' success. They'll need more than Trump backlash to win in 2018. And their track record with wishful thinking lately isn't impressive.

The Democratic base appears energized and prepared for to fight. Whether they will actually turn out for midterm elections is anybody's guess. (Famously, they don't.) With the Russia investigation dominating the news and daily scandals from the White House, it is not just Trump's agenda that is being lost in the shuffle. Whether or not they have anything substantive (or at least, inspiring) to offer, anti-Trumpism is the only message seeing the light of day, and that is a whole lot of nothin'. "Sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand," Paul Newman said famously on film. That didn't work out too well either.


Former Bush Speechwriters Say The Darnedest Things


Sunday Night Soother

Sunday Night Soother

by digby

To center yourself for this coming week:

How the ducklings got onto a 6th floor balcony of a Library of Congress building is a mystery.

But the dozen baby ducks and their mother were rescued Tuesday afternoon with the help of the U.S. Capitol Police. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden posted a picture of the ducklings on Twitter.

On Tuesday, around 4 p.m., a Library of Congress staffer noticed the ducklings and their mother go past a window of the 6th floor balcony of the James Madison Memorial Building, which is one of the library’s facilities, said Gail Osterberg, the library’s director of communications.

There is no water around, so it seemed a bit “out of the ordinary,” said Osterberg.

The staffer went to the librarian’s office and got the chief of staff who has access to the balcony. The two went out on the balcony and saw the ducklings and their mother. The birds were trying to get over the walls of the balcony but couldn’t, Osterberg said.

“Clearly it was not a safe environment for them,” Osterberg said.

U.S. Capitol Police was called. Officers and others were able to safely coax the ducks into two boxes, Osterberg said.

She said they did not find a nest in the balcony area, but staffers believe the mother duck flew up there and gave birth in some nearby shrubbery.

“She flew up there and had her babies in some bushes, overlooking the Capitol,” Osterberg said. “It is a very nice, peaceful spot. Away from the hustle, bustle.

“And then she was trying to figure out what to do from there.”

In yet another duck story, a Republican asshole bitched about some little ramps that were built for baby ducks at the Washington Mall

The heartless creep didn't know the story, of course. Not that he would care if he did:

The office of the Architect of the U.S. Capitol released a statement this week saying four “broods” ― or families ― of ducks live in the pool, including their newly hatched ducklings. The two ramps were installed as part of a collaboration with City Wildlife, a local nonprofit. The group’s president, Anne Lewis, told The New York Times that the ducklings could die without the ramps. 
“Ducklings get into the water ― often helped there by visitors ― and then can’t get out because of the high curb at the water’s edge,” Lewis told the newspaper. “They will drown from exhaustion or die of starvation unless they have a way to get out of the water.” 
It seems to have worked. The ducklings, who have become social media sensations, are already using the ramps:


Friday Night Soother

Friday Night Soother

by digby

Because you need a baby seal pup tonight like you've never needed one before:

A man captured a video of a incredibly precious baby elephant seal encounter on the island of South Georgia in Antarctic waters.

The man was sitting on the ground filming wildlife when the seal pup approached him with a darling expression on his face and nuzzled his feet, apparently attempting to suckle his boot.

The man said the local seal pups were recently weaned by their mothers, and it takes time for them to adjust.

“If you just sit down, they will slowly approach and try to suckle anything and everything—boots, face, hands, camera, tripod,” the uploader wrote.

“Interestingly, if they survive into adulthood, they will become the largest seal on the planet. I had to physically push it off my lap, laughing the whole time.”

Here is another close encounter with a charming elephant seal pup.


Professional Left Podcast #389

"Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance." 
-- Sun Tzu


The Professional Left is "sponsored" by...

...and, of course, listeners like you!


A Response Checklist

A Response Checklist

by digby

Via Rick Perlstein, advice for Trump supporters from beyond the grave:


QOTD: Joe Lieberman

QOTD: Joe Lieberman

by digby

Your front runner for FBI Director, ladies and gentlemen:

"To me, The New York Times has committed at least an act of bad citizenship, and whether they have committed a crime, I think that bears a very intensive inquiry by the Justice Department."

I think we can see why Trump likes him so much. Lieberman hates the first amendment almost as much as he does.

There is no longer any question why he fired Comey

There is no longer any question why he fired Comey

by digby

It's done. This is it:

President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”

The conversation, during a May 10 meeting — the day after he fired Mr. Comey — reinforces the notion that Mr. Trump dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives. Mr. Trump said as much in one televised interview, but the White House has offered changing justifications for the firing.

The White House document that contained Mr. Trump’s comments was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office and has been circulated as the official account of the meeting. One official read quotations to The Times, and a second official confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion.

I'm sure the Russians were relieved to hear that.

Think about that for a minute. He said that directly to the Russian ambassador and the foreign minister. He was basically telling them that he'd taken care of their little problem.


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