Open Thread

The Open Thread for January 8, 2017

E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post says Trump probably won’t let Obama go quietly:

It’s already clear that Obama, leaving office at a young 55, intends to pursue something more than the quiet life. He is already laying down markers, meeting with members of his party in the House and Senate on Wednesday to plot strategies for defending Obamacare. He plans to deliver a farewell address next Tuesday.

Obama has also signaled that he wants to energize a new generation of Democrats and help rebuild a party that he will leave in less than optimal shape. Democrats control neither the House nor the Senate and have seen their share of governorships and state legislative seats decimated.

He is already lined up to work with Eric H. Holder Jr., his former attorney general, to help Democrats in gubernatorial and legislative races. Their goal is to fight Republican gerrymanders by influencing the drawing of congressional district boundaries after the 2020 Census.

And it would be good to see Obama visit Appalachia and the old factory towns and cities where Trump did well to connect with white working-class voters who have soured on progressive politics.  But Obama could be pushed toward a larger role if Trump proves to be as profound a threat as his opponents fear.


Greg Sargent explains at The Plum Line why “Democrats must do everything possible to resist Trump’s excesses. Here’s what that might look like.”  Sargent focuses on Democratic opposition to Trump’s proposed ‘Muslim registry,’ and supports pro-active legislative measures to prevent any “registry that is based on religion, national origin, nationality, or other classifications.” While most Republican members of congress are expected to oppose such measures, they have the virtue of forcing them to take a clear position. “Congressional Democrats will have to roll out concrete proposals wherever possible which, while doomed, will at least stand as alternatives,” writes Sargent. “One big question is whether they’ll find allies among constitutional conservatives and libertarians who are horrified by Trumpism’s threatened excesses — and one way to test that will be with proposals such as this one.”divider-light

While most Americans are aware that Hillary Clinton received nearly three million more votes for President than did Donald Trump, Kos shares a less well-known but even more striking statistic: “In the Senate, the 48 Democratic senators received a combined 78.4 million votes, to the 54.9 million votes earned by the 52 Republican senators. We don’t live in a real democracy, and Republicans have been able to game the system to their advantage.”


Here’s a very disturbing report at The Hill, explaining how the “GOP aims to rein in liberal cities.” As Reid Wilson explains, “After consolidating power in Washington, D.C., and state capitals under President-elect Donald Trump, Republicans are moving to prevent large cities dominated by Democrats from enacting sweeping liberal agendas…Republican state legislatures are planning so-called preemption laws, which prevent cities and counties from passing new measures governing everything from taxes to environmental regulations and social issues…The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council has offered five sample preemption bills on everything from local minimum wage hikes to rules governing genetically modified food and other agriculture products.” At stake are city laws addressing soda taxes, smoking bans, gun control, broadband access and a ranges of other concerns.


From Jen Hayden at Daily Kos: “Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (TN-07) thought she’d take the temperature of her constituents regarding the Affordable Care Act and it didn’t quite go as Blackburn planned. Turns out, people like having health insurance.” Blackburn tweeted “Do you support the repeal of Obamacare? RT if you do, and share what you want to see as the replacement.” The result from almost 8,000 responses: 84 percent said “No,” and 16 percent said “Yes.”


Politico: “A growing number of Donald Trump’s allies are rushing straight to K Street to cash in, despite the president-elect’s pledge to restrain the industry, and their prized connections could draw huge paydays. Legitimate ties to Trump and his inner circle are exceedingly rare – and coveted – in a lobbying industry where many established GOP players kept their distance from Trump, or defiantly opposed him, during the bitter primary. Bona fide Trump insiders can expect offers of at least $450,000 a year downtown, according to a person familiar with efforts to recruit them as lobbyists.”

Meanwhile, Politico notes the same is not true for Democrats, as thousands of Obama appointees join the hundreds of Clinton campaign staffers looking for employment: “There’s rarely been less demand for their services.”


Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tweets: “I just spoke to Donald Trump and he fully supports my plan to replace Obamacare the same day we repeal it. The time to act is now.”

Playbook: “This is becoming a thing and that’s an issue. Why? Because Republicans are nowhere close to being ready to replace the law. One of two things will need to happen: Republicans will have to wait to repeal the law until they come up with a replacement package, or someone will have to emerge with a replacement package now. There is peril in both approaches, obviously. If Republicans wait, they risk the ire of their constituents, who they have been telling they’ll repeal the law on day one. And if they rush a replacement, they hand Democrats a potent attack: Republicans rushed and rammed a health care plan down our throats quickly.”


“As Senate Republicans embark on a flurry of confirmation hearings this week, several of Donald J. Trump’s appointees have yet to complete the background checks and ethics clearances customarily required before the Senate begins to consider cabinet-level nominees,” the New York Times reports.


“Conservative author and television personality Monica Crowley, whom Donald Trump has tapped for a top national security communications role, plagiarized large sections of her 2012 book,” CNN reports.

“The review of Crowley’s June 2012 book, What The (Bleep) Just Happened, found upwards of 50 examples of plagiarism from numerous sources, including the copying with minor changes of news articles, other columnists, think tanks, and Wikipedia.”


Matthew Pratt Guterl at The New Republic says Blue States Must Become Even Bluer:

Red states, in other words, are laboratories of anti-democracy—as many have been, in a way, since the days of slaveholding and Jim Crow. With the election of Donald Trump, it’s safe to say that most people’s lives will get worse in these states, and that the forces of intolerance and bigotry will grow stronger and even less cautious. But what about blue states?

Those of us who care about an equitable civil society, who believe in a just world, and who live in a proverbial blue state have an obligation to work locally to turn them into laboratories of something else: that diminished thing called hope. Optimism is retreating nationally and internationally. The nation as a whole seems no longer interested in celebrating any vision of equity, justice, and mutual respect. We need new symbols desperately. Blue states—especially those with democratic supermajorities and friendly neighbors, like Massachusetts and Rhode Island, California and Oregon—can be those symbols. And they can turn that symbolism into meaningful practice and policy.

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo is showing the way. Speaking last month at a prayer vigil for gun-violence victims, she said, “Tonight’s an opportunity to remember that hate and intolerance and violence have never been a part of what makes the state strong.” Raimondo insisted that Trump’s victory would not “erode our core beliefs,” but rather “provide a greater sense of urgency for the work that I do and for the values that we hold dear, to protect them even more because we realize we need to.”


Clio Chang at The New Republic says The New Democrats want their party back:

In an op-ed [Tuesday] in The Guardian, Al From, the architect of Bill Clinton’s New Democrat centrism and founder of the Democratic Leadership Council, put his foot down on the populist forces that have taken over American politics, arguing that “as reactionary populism continues to tap into the frustration of many voters, anger won’t improve our nation.”Instead, he called for Democrats to “rededicate ourselves to the core New Democrat principles—opportunity, responsibility, community—the first principles of the Democratic Party.”

If there is a wrong way to kick off 2017, it’s by listening to From.

Opportunity and responsibility are fine until they come at the expense of social security and equality. For example, during the Bill Clinton welfare reform era, the principle of “personal responsibility” was utilized to take cash benefits away from the poor. In return Clinton increased work-based tax credits, which From cites in his piece, like the EITC. And while such credits did indeed help millions of working families, they left the most precarious in our society, mainly women and children in deep poverty, worse off. It is these types of policies, along with other From-backed ideas like NAFTA and the 1994 crime bill, that have resulted in a lot of frustration and anger. Meanwhile, the myriad opportunities seemingly provided by the 90s dot-com boom didn’t lead to the kind of widespread advancement Democrats had imagined.

Bill Clinton used his political talents to speak to a eclectic coalition of voters, winning states that have now gone thoroughly red, like Arkansas and West Virginia. In an anti-establishment era, the challenge for Democrats going forward is to create a coalition of voters around a set of policies that will reduce economic and racial inequality—and that very much includes tapping into the populist groundswell.


Jason Sattler at USA Today writes a piece on liberal rich donors and funding a grassroots movement:

Yes, the left needs a movement that rivals the Tea Party movement’s passion, reach and influence. But rather than happening with the encouragement and funding of the party’s rich donors, it might have to happen in spite of them.

There are some models for this, including the genuinely spontaneous Black Lives Matter movement, the Fight for $15 effort birthed by the Service Employees International Union, and the Bernie Sanders campaign for president, which was able to marshal small donors and large crowds even with much of the Democratic Party’s establishment working against it.

The left needs something better than a Tea Party movement because the party base needs to drag its donors’ economic agenda toward the people and not the other way around. And in American politics, dragging is expensive.

True equality of opportunity that enshrines health care as a right and puts workers on equal footing with their bosses might not have the same obvious economic constituency as eliminating the inheritance tax. But there are more of us than there are of them. And that has to be worth something.


Robert Mann:

During almost 20 years working in the U.S. Senate, I learned how simple acts — a phone call, a letter, a face-to-face conversation — can influence a member of Congress. When I worked in Sen. John Breaux’s Baton Rouge office, we sometimes took 100-plus phone calls a day on an issue. That was a tiny fraction of the state’s population, but we let the Washington office know we were being inundated.  Those calls and letters turned heads and often made a difference.

Consider how public outrage this past week forced clueless House Republicans to drop plans to abolish the Office of Congressional Ethics. These Republicans surrendered quickly because they feared their constituents’ wrath.

For weeks, friends have asked me what they can do now that Donald Trump has won the White House. The answer I’ve arrived at: We should work to stop Congress from doing Trump’s bidding. That must be the priority of every committed progressive.


Ezra Klein on Trump’s “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” moment:

One of Trump’s top advisers just made repealing Obamacare much, much harder.


This raises one of the central unanswered questions about Donald Trump. We know he wants to repeal Obamacare. But why does he want to repeal it? And how much of a political price is he willing to pay to repeal it?




Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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