Open Thread

The Open Thread for April 16, 2017

“North Korea launched a ballistic missile Sunday morning from near its submarine base in Sinpo on its east coast, but the launch failed,”  the New York Times reports.

“The timing was a deep embarrassment for the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, because the missile appeared to have been launched to show off his daring as a fleet of American warships approached his country to deter provocations.”

“The missile blew up almost immediately, and the type of missile involved was still being assessed.”

“For decades now, the centerpole of conservative thought has been to oppose liberal thought. As a result, when put in a position to enact policies of their own, they have none. It’s like a drunk who has spent all night leaning against a lamppost for support. Take away the lamppost, and he collapses.   And again, the true source of that resentment isn’t political in the first place, which also means it cannot be addressed through politics. Its inspirations are demographic, generational, economic, technological and religious. It is also a reaction against a media culture that conservatives find increasingly antagonistic and dismissive, and often, I’ll admit, for very good reason.”

At least one federal prosecutor was willing to speak up about AG Sessions’ latest moves on immigration.

All federal prosecutors, Sessions said in his slow Alabama drawl, must now consider bringing cases against people suspected of the “transportation or harboring of aliens.” Those prosecutors must also look to bring more felony prosecutions against some immigrants who illegally enter the country more than once and should charge immigrants with document fraud—which includes using a made-up Social Security number—and aggravated identity theft when they can.

One veteran federal prosecutor told The Daily Beast these changes are a generating significant concern.

“It’s fucking horrifying,” the prosecutor said. “It’s totally horrifying and we’re all terrified about it, and we don’t know what to do.

Vanity Fair: “Unlike previous presidents, Trump has also neglected to appoint a professional staff with a high-level governing or White House background. This is due in part to ignorance. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, in his first meeting with Barack Obama, Trump seemed surprised by the scope of the president’s duties, and his aides seemed unaware that there wasn’t a permanent West Wing staff that he would simply inherit.”

“To get a sense of the current West Wing senior staff, I spoke with members of the administration, including some of those closest to the president, as well as with friends and former classmates of the senior team. Nearly all of them asked for anonymity in order to be able to speak freely. The West Wing right now is a place where the ground is always shifting. With the exception of two family members—Trump’s daughter Ivanka, an unpaid assistant to the president, and her husband, Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to the president—no one on Trump’s topmost White House staff has been with the new president for very long. That presents a sharp contrast with the teams around Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Trump’s staff is as unbridled as the president himself. His advisers came together almost by accident and by default. They exhibit loyalty to their boss in front of the camera, only to whisper about him (and about their rivals, often in vicious terms) when the camera is gone.”

Matt Yglesias on a new poll showing what Americans really think about taxes: the rich must pay more.

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Atlanta Journal Constitution: “Candidates and outside groups have spent nearly $14 million on an unending ad blitz in the race to replace Rep. Tom Price’s suburban Atlanta seat, and that tally that will surely grow in the final days before Tuesday’s nationally-watched vote.”

“An analysis of the advertising obtained by the AJC shows the biggest spender by far is Democrat Jon Ossoff, a former Congressional aide who is eyeing a historic upset in next week’s vote.”

The Washington Post says tourism to America has fallen off a cliff: “Demand for flights to the United States has fallen in nearly every country since January, ­according to Hopper, a travel-booking app that analyzes more than 10 billion daily airfare price quotes to derive its data. Searches for U.S. flights from China and Iraq have dropped 40 percent since Trump’s inauguration, while demand in Ireland and New Zealand is down about 35 percent. (One exception: Russia, where searches for flights to the United States have surged 60 percent since January.)”

“The result could be an estimated 4.3 million fewer people coming to the United States this year, resulting in $7.4 billion in lost revenue… Next year, the fallout is expected to be even larger, with 6.3 million fewer tourists and $10.8 billion in losses. Miami is expected to be hit hardest, followed by San Francisco and New York.”

Trump is demanding to ride in the Queen’s gold plated carriage down the mall towards Buckingham Palace.   “Donald Trump waving from the Queen’s royal carriage is not a scenario many would have foreseen a year ago, but it has become a very real prospect, forcing security services to plan an unprecedented lockdown,” the Times of London reports.  “The White House has made clear it regards the carriage procession down the Mall as an essential element of the itinerary for the visit currently planned for the second week of October… Security sources have warned, however, that the procession will require a ‘monster’ security operation, far greater than for any recent state visit.”

President Trump’s lawyers in a Friday afternoon federal court filing “argued that he cannot be sued for inciting his supporters to hurt protesters because, as the president, he is immune from civil lawsuits,” Politico reports.  Someone might want to remind the President that the Supreme Court has declared in Clinton v. Jones that the President is not immune from civil lawsuits that do not involve his official duties as President.  For Clinton, he was sexually harassing Paula Jones when he was Governor of Arkansas. Trump can be sued for any number of things he has done prior to becoming President.

“The lawsuit was brought by three protesters who allege they were roughed up and ejected by Trump supporters from a March 2016 campaign rally in Louisville, Kentucky, after Trump barked from the stage ‘get ’em out of here!’”

“I’ve spoken to him, but he has not spoken to me. I say hello to Mitch every chance I get, and he turns his head.” — Sen. Elizabeth Waren (D-MA), quoted by the Boston Globe, noting how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has given her the cold shoulder.

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post on the Trump Piviot: Make the plutocrats happy. Keep feeding his voters nativism.

Everyone in Washington is struggling to make sense of Donald Trump’s reversals on multiple issues. The Post reports that “establishment” Republicans are relieved to see him governing more as one of them, as evidenced by his new support for NATO and the Export-Import Bank. Meanwhile, the rising influence of Goldman Sachs banker Gary Cohn inside the administration has some discerning a more “moderate” and “centrist” Trump on various issues, such as our posture on trade with China, and others seeing the emergence of a “pragmatic” Trump.

But please — let’s not forget two really important storylines that continue to mark the Trump presidency, both of which are damaging the country. First, for all the talk about how Trump is backing off of Stephen K. Bannon’s “economic nationalism,” Trump remains fully committed to the policies that embody the nativist and xenophobic side of his nationalism. Second, for all the chatter about how Trump is suddenly getting more conventional, his serial shredding of our norms on ethics and transparency continues to run rampant

New York Times: “Both have seats at the table at any meeting they choose to attend, join lunches with foreign leaders and enjoy ‘walk-in privileges’ to the Oval Office. And with the marginalization of Stephen K. Bannon, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have emerged as President Trump’s most important advisers, at least for now.”

“More openly than any president before him, Mr. Trump is running his West Wing like a family business, and as he has soured on Mr. Bannon, his combative chief strategist, he has turned to his daughter and son-in-law. Their ascendance has some conservative supporters fretting about the rising influence of the urbane young New Yorkers, as some moderates and liberals swallow concerns about nepotism in the hope that the couple will temper the temperamental president.”

President Trump “is populating the White House and federal agencies with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who in many cases are helping to craft new policies for the same industries in which they recently earned a paycheck,” the New York Times reports.

“The potential conflicts are arising across the executive branch, according to an analysis of recently released financial disclosures, lobbying records and interviews with current and former ethics officials by The New York Times in collaboration with ProPublica.”

6 comments on “The Open Thread for April 16, 2017

  1. Jeff Sessions now threatens cold and swift deportation for the illegals and those that harbor them. I’ll take any wager that this will not include the conservatives that employ them. The farmers, restaurants, construction companies and landscapers will pay no price, face no charges and continue as they have been free of any penalty.

    • I hear this frequently from people who are anti-immigrant but want to sound as if they’re progressive about it.

      • How nice for you little man. Sorry if common sense offends you.

        • What does common sense have to do with it? Are you anti-immigrant or not?

      • Excluding businesses from the discussion of immigration baffles me. And, when it comes to immigration, that’s the key to Republican hypocrisy. They don’t have a problem with businesses who hire undocumented workers… just the workers. If they were serious about this then penalties for businesses would be right up there with the workers these businesses hire.

  2. I like the photo of L’il Dumpling. And you thought Trump had short fingers!

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