Open Thread

The Open Thread for February 24, 2017

A new CBS News poll finds President Trump’s overall job approval rating at 39%, with 51% of Americans disapproving and 10% who don’t have an opinion.  A new McClatchy-Marist poll finds that more than half of voters believe President Trump has done something illegal or unethical as he faces potential conflicts of interest by continuing to own his businesses while serving as president.  Even more voters – nearly six in 10 – say Trump’s conduct as president makes them feel embarrassed.  Further, the same Quinnipiac poll we quoted yesterday finds that President Trump’s policy agenda is not very popular with most American voters:

  • 62% to 31% are against reducing taxes across the board, even if it increases the deficit
  • 51% to 38% are against restarting the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines
  • 76% to 18% are against lowering taxes on the wealthy
  • 50% to 43% are against lowering taxes on businesses and corporations
  • 54% to 34% are against removing regulations on businesses and corporations
  • 63% to 27% are against removing specific regulations intended to combat climate change
  • 54% to 43% are against repealing the Affordable Care Act
  • 60% to 37% are against building the wall on the Mexican border, with 65% to 33% against the wall if the U.S. must pay for it

Said pollster Tim Malloy: “He rattled the rafters with bold calls for pipelines and tax cuts, a big wall and a new health care plan. But while his base may be eating it up, a broad portion of the electorate is telling President Trump there is a big difference between campaign bravado and an agenda that works for all Americans.”

“The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump’s associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign,” CNN reports.  “White House officials had sought the help of the bureau and other agencies investigating the Russia matter to say that the reports were wrong and that there had been no contacts.”

“The direct communications between the White House and the FBI were unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations.”

E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post understates the reality in—The next DNC chair will have a huge opportunity — and a huge burden:

The most striking aspect of the vast and swiftly organized movement against President Trump is how little it had to do with the Democratic Party. Whoever is elected to chair the Democratic National Committee this weekend should draw two conclusions from this, and they are in tension.

First, the anti-Trump effort, while broadly motivated by a progressive worldview, is diverse in both philosophy and experience. Trump incites antagonism from the center and the left. Those protesting him include citizens who have long been engaged in politics but also many recently drawn to activism by the sense of emergency this dreadful administration has created.

Second, Democratic leaders need to organize this discontent into a potent electoral force at a time when the very words “party” and “partisanship” are in disrepute, particularly among young Americans who are playing a key role in the insurrection. Democrats will not be up to what has become a historic responsibility if they indulge their tendencies toward heaping blame on the factions they oppose (“It’s Hillary’s fault” vs. “It’s Bernie’s fault”) or relishing the narcissism of small differences.

 

Well, here’s a telling moment of candor from Montana GOP Chairman Jeff Essman, as reported by Tom Lutey of The Billings Gazette: “In an email to party members, Jeff Essmann warned Republicans the mail-in election would “give the Democrats an inherent advantage in close elections due to their ability to organize large numbers of unpaid college students and members of public employee unions to gather ballots by going door to door….At issue is state Senate Bill 503, which would require a mail ballot election this spring when Montanans are likely to vote to replace U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, a Republican nominated by President Donald Trump to be Interior secretary. The Senate is expected to vote on Zinke’s confirmation next week. A special election would follow within 85 to 100 days.”

“The Air Force can’t account for $1 billion in savings that President Donald Trump said he’s negotiated for the program to develop, purchase and operate two new Boeing jets to serve as Air Force One,” Bloomberg reports.  Said Air Force spokesman Colonel Pat Ryder: “To my knowledge I have not been told that we have that information. I refer you to the White House.”

Charlie Cook: “So what could tip off House Re­pub­lic­ans to po­ten­tial losses in their fu­ture? The first thing might be a sit­ting pres­id­ent with low job-ap­prov­al rat­ings; after all, midterm elec­tions are usu­ally a ref­er­en­dum on the party hold­ing the White House.”

“A second clue that House Re­pub­lic­ans might be head­ing for trouble is any in­dic­a­tion that the op­pos­i­tion party’s base is more en­er­gized than the pres­id­ent’s party’s base. That’s the primary reas­on why the party hold­ing the White House tends to suf­fer midterm losses; the op­pos­i­tion party gets more torqued up than the pres­id­ent’s party. So how to meas­ure the en­ergy level? Per­haps by vit­ri­ol­ic town meet­ings and demon­stra­tions, with the rul­ing party’s mem­bers fa­cing protests when they go back home. Hmmm, that sounds fa­mil­i­ar.”

“An extraordinary alignment of ambition, opportunity and timing is raising the prospect that the Democratic Party in 2020 could have its biggest presidential field in a generation,” Politico reports.

“A sprawling roster of potential primary candidates is already surveying the political climate and reaching out to campaign consultants in stealthy meetings and calls, according to roughly a half-dozen party operatives familiar with the initial conversations.”

“At least a dozen senators are widely thought to be in the mix — including Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey’s Cory Booker, California’s Kamala Harris, Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, Oregon’s Jeff Merkley, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, Connecticut’s Chris Murphy, and both Minnesotans, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. But the depleted bench of Democratic governors is also stocked with possible White House hopefuls, expanding the list of credible presidential prospects to as many as two dozen.”

“In her 35 years as a therapist, Arlene Drake has never heard so many clients talking about the same issue. Week after week, they complain of panic attacks and insomnia because of President Trump. They’re too anxious to concentrate at work. One woman’s fear turned into intense, physical pain,” the Los Angeles Times reports.  “Therapists nationwide say they’ve been overwhelmed by the strong feelings triggered by one of the most divisive figures in modern political history.”

Washington Post: “This week’s congressional town halls have repeatedly found Republicans hedging their support for the new president’s agenda — and in many cases contradicting their past statements. Hostile questions put them on record criticizing some of the fights Trump has picked or pledging to protect policies such as the more popular elements of Obamacare. And voters got it all on tape, promising to keep hounding their lawmakers if they falter.”

The above is a huge story.  I couldn’t quote it without violating Fair Use since all of it is good.  Read it all.

During a town hall in Florida on Thursday freshman Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) called for President Donald Trump to release his tax returns following a question from an attendee. Donna Waters, a 56-year-old Pensacola resident, told Gaetz, “There are allegations that a hostile foreign country is committing acts of undeclared war by infiltrating the highest levels of our government,” according to CNN.

 

1 comment on “The Open Thread for February 24, 2017

  1. Great stuff today, DD… You’ve single-handedly assured that I get nothing accomplished this morning except reading long, critically-important news articles! Seriously, many thanks…

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