The Open Thread for July 27, 2017

DONALD TRUMP IS A BIGOTED MONSTER.  President Trump announced in a series of tweets a ban on transgender people in the U.S. military, the Washington Post reports.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

Politico: “House Republicans were planning to pass a spending bill stacked with his campaign promises, including money to build his border wall with Mexico.”

“But an internal House Republican fight over transgender troops was threatening to blow up the bill. And House GOP insiders feared they might not have the votes to pass the legislation because defense hawks wanted a ban on Pentagon-funded sex-change operations — something GOP leaders wouldn’t give them.”

“They turned to Trump, who didn’t hesitate. In the flash of a tweet, he announced that transgender troops would be banned altogether.”

Further, this is a nice little distraction piece for his opponents while a sop to his base.   A Trump administration official tells Jonathan Swan:  “This forces Democrats in Rust Belt states like Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, to take complete ownership of this issue. How will the blue collar voters in these states respond when senators up for re-election in 2018 like Debbie Stabenow are forced to make their opposition to this a key plank of their campaigns?

SESSIONS V. TRUMP.  Washington Post: “Another scenario is that Trump could make a recess appointment… Under that plan, Trump could choose an attorney general during the August recess who would serve until the end of the next Senate session, which would run to Jan. 3, 2019. That person would have the same authority as someone who is confirmed by the Senate.”

“For a week, some of President Trump’s top aides have tried to talk him down from his public campaign against Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Not only was it exposing tensions within the administration, it was stirring consternation with the conservative base and setting off a major revolt among Senate Republicans incensed over the treatment of a former colleague,” the New York Times reports.

“By Wednesday afternoon, just hours after the president’s latest broadside against the attorney general, several officials said they thought the storm had passed: Mr. Trump would let Mr. Sessions stay in office, at least for now.”

Washington Post: “President Trump has discussed with confidants and advisers in recent days the possibility of installing a new attorney general through a recess appointment if Jeff Sessions leaves the job, but he has been warned not to move to push him out because of the political and legal ramifications.”

TILLERSON OUT BY END OF YEAR.  “Frustration is mounting among leading foreign policy officials in President Donald Trump’s administration as they chafe at some policy and bureaucratic defeats and complain they lack independence to do their jobs,” Reuters reports.

“The clash between internationalists urging the traditional U.S. leadership role in the world and advocates of an ‘America First’ approach has worn down foreign policy and intelligence professionals inside the government.”

“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has told friends he will be lucky to last a year in his job, according to a friend, while two officials said national security adviser H.R. McMaster was frustrated by what he sees as disorganization and indiscipline on key policy issues inside the White House.”

TRUMP NOMINEE TIED TO RUSSIAN BANK.  “President Trump’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s criminal division, Brian Benczkowski, has disclosed to Congress that he previously represented Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s largest financial institutions, whose owners have ties to President Vladimir Putin,” the New York Times reports.

“Alfa Bank was at the center of scrutiny last year over potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia after computer experts discovered data suggesting a stream of communications between a server linked to the Trump Organization and a server linked to the bank. Reports about the mysterious data transmissions fueled speculation about a back channel.”

James Hohmann: “Benczkowski, who helped manage Trump’s transition team for the Justice Department, has signaled that he plans to be evasive when questioned about the specifics of his work for the Putin-linked bank.”

Josh Marshall says Trump’s actions on AG Sessions is all about obstruction.   “[T]he entirety of President Trump’s battle with Jeff Sessions is about obstructing the Russia probe. The anger began over his recusal (and grew as the consequences of that recusal became more apparent) and continues with the President’s desire to replace him with another Attorney General who will help him end the investigation or at least remove Robert Mueller from leading it. That is the only thing this is about.

In all other respects, Sessions is doing everything Trump could have asked for. Indeed, the near unanimity of conservative support for Sessions in this current battle is because Sessions is performing as a dream hard-right AG. He’s rolling back voting rights, turning back the very limited reforms of laws and policies behind mass incarceration, pushing a hard-right anti-immigrant agenda. Trump’s battle with Sessions is about obstruction. Nothing more, nothing less.”

A bill that would just repeal of the Affordable Care Act was voted down by the U.S. Senate, the New York Times reports.  “The vote underscored the bind that Republican leaders have found themselves in. Repealing the health law without an immediate replacement lacks crucial support among Republicans, but a more comprehensive measure that would have repealed major parts of the law with a ready replacement also came up short on Tuesday night.”

The New York Times has a good tally of the votes.  David Nather: “Leading conservative groups, including Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, are making today’s Senate vote on a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act a ‘key vote’ — meaning they’ll use it in the 2018 election to evaluate senators’ voting records.”

Jonathan Chait on the Skinny Repeal bill:  “It’s not clear whether the skinny bill would melt down the individual market altogether. There’s not much study of this as a stand-alone policy, mainly because it’s a terrible idea nobody has ever thought to propose, and Republicans came up with it just this week in a mad rush. The tax credits in Obamacare might create a stable-enough customer base. (Low-income consumers can get insurance for free, so they have no reason to skip out until they’re sick.) And some states, prodded by nervous insurers, might create a state-level mandate to replace the disappearing federal one. But it is clear that the skinny bill would damage the markets and increase premiums while advancing no coherent policy objective.”

President Trump’s “abrupt announcement” banning transgender people from the military “seemed to stun military leaders,” even though Trump said in a series of tweets that he consulted with “my generals and military experts,” BuzzFeed reports.

“At the Pentagon, the first of the three tweets raised fears that the president was getting ready to announce strikes on North Korea or some other military action. Many said they were left in suspense for nine minutes, the time between the first and second tweet. Only after the second tweet did military officials receive the news the president was announcing a personnel change on Twitter.”

The Department of Justice has identified a former business associate of ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort as an “upper-echelon associate of Russian organized crime,” NBC News reports.

“The declaration came in a 115-page filing as part of the government’s case against Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch who was once involved in a failed multimillion-dollar deal to buy New York’s Drake Hotel with Manafort, and an important player in the Ukrainian political party for which Manafort worked.

A new Economist/YouGov poll finds that Republicans favor having courts “shut down media outlets” for “biased or inaccurate” stories by a 45% to 20% margin, with 35% unsure.

James Hohmann: “It’s hard to overstate the degree to which White House officials and Senate GOP leaders just want to pass something — really, anything — to show the base that they are keeping their promise to roll back Obamacare. They would happily portray even most modest tweaks to the Affordable Care Act as major successes to save face. As far as they’re concerned, whatever gets passed will be the basis for negotiations with the House. So this is not even a final product.”

“Opening floor debate may be a Pyrrhic victory for the GOP: Democrats are going to force Republicans to cast some uncomfortable votes in the coming days as part of the freewheeling amendment process. Regardless of whether a bill ultimately passes, and how they try to spin it, every senator who voted for the motion to proceed just gave years of fodder to Democratic admakers. “

“Senators are planning to continue procedural moves to prevent the Senate from formally adjourning for recess next month in order to prevent President Trump from making recess appointments, when the chamber eventually adjourns through the Labor Day weekend,” CNN reports.

“Using the threat of a filibuster, Democrats plan to force the Senate to hold pro forma sessions — a practice both parties have carried out to block recess appointments from presidents of opposite party… Recess appointments let a president install nominees who normally must be confirmed by the Senate; their terms would run through the end of the ‘next session’ of the Senate, but the ‘pro forma’ sessions essentially means the Senate is never in recess.”

Paul Manafort “will meet with Senate investigators in the next 48 hours and has agreed to provide notes of the meeting at Trump Tower last year with a Russian lawyer,” Politico reports.

Axios: “Manafort took notes, but Kushner said the meeting was ‘a waste of our time’ and one he ‘did not recall at all’ until it came up in recent media reports and Trump Jr. said the meeting produced ‘no meaningful information.’”

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

40 comments on “The Open Thread for July 27, 2017

    Interview w Eric Cantor, who led charge against Obamacare — admits he never believed in promise that if repubs gained control of house and senate they could repeal it.

  2. cassandram

    Who is it again who needs to stop pushing social issues? Because if I understand the posture, we are supposed to ignore this assault on transgendered people (plus the new position of the DoJ to not include gay people as having civil rights) just in case there is some economic train to jump on.

    • No, you don’t understand the posture.

      However, I would point out that the Pentagon says there is no change in policy. The point about this is that they know how to get you to jump.

      • cassandram

        And I shouldn’t be jumping why? This asshole is working on making demonizing us all. Literally trying to get back to the mid part of the last century when the only people you had to respect were the white ones. Which is most like why you don’t give a shit.

        • Where did I say I didn’t give a shit? I was responding to your claim that, because I care more about fixing the economy, I must not care about this.

          You really don’t see how your knee-jerk either/or reaction helps them rather than us? I think you do.

          • cassandram

            14 or 15K people thrown out of the armed forces because they are trans *is* an economic issue. People will lose their jobs and current health care, entire organizations will be thrown into disarray and this provides a model for people in the civilian world to further demonize and discriminate against trans people in the marketplace. For trans people this is not either/or. A society that is allowed to discriminate against them, demonize them and exclude them from the marketplace means that these folks have to fight to maintain some economic security with no protections. The *only* people that “either/or” is even meaningful is for white men.

            • you’re preaching to the choir. If you really think the likes of Alby or myself are the ones standing in the way, you’re in for a bad time when the actual problem shows up.

              • cassandram

                If you were one of the targets of this bullshit you would be pretty clear that the actual problem has shown up.

                • Agreed. I completely understand why white people think income inequality is the most important issue. It’s what affects them. That makes sense. What I don’t understand is why they don’t get why social issues are economic issues to minority groups and why we need to not be distracted by them.

                  I have always supported fighting against income inequality. What I can’t support is ignoring/downplaying minority groups struggles in an attempt to win over a group we don’t win at the risk of losing our base.

                  Not to mention… that strategy doesn’t stand a chance on hell of working. First, because Republicans are always going to go after black/brown people, the LGBT community, women, Muslims, etc. so I’m not seeing how we avoid the discussion. Is the plan to abstain from that discussion? To just say, “we’re not going to comment on the transgender military ban because we have more important issues to address”? How does that work? I guess it works if no one discusses these issues, but what are the odds of the GOP doing that? Answer: Zero.

                  • Again, it’s only people on your side who insist that this is either/or. I never said we should ignore this. CASSANDRA said that we said we should ignore this. We didn’t, and I intend to point it out. That is all.

                    You folks want to stake out your positions, fine, but do it without using us as straw men.

                    Again, you’ll notice that there is no actual change in policy. He did this to get you to jump in outrage, and it worked. What you fail to learn is that your jumping is being used by the other side to paint us all as crazy.

                    • The idea that certain progressives haven’t been blaming identity politics (political correctness) is false. That’s the debate and it’s not only on one side.

                    • If you’ll notice, I have laid out how this is used against us. Your outrage has been weaponized against you. Failure to change tactics is the obvious solution.

                      You are attacking us because we refuse to indulge in outrage at provocations that were clearly intended to cause outrage. Your Skinnerian responses satisfy your soul but do not help your cause.

      • I can jump on many fronts. I am jumping on many fronts. But what is the one thing we’re supposed to jump on? Health Care? Sessions? Government Institutions being gutted? Economic policy? Russia? Minority group rights being attacked/taken away? Voter suppression? The environment? Freedom of the press? Something else?

        We need to fight on every front. Because there actually are multiple fights going on. Don’t fight on all fronts at our own peril. Trump and Republicans desperately need a win, and right now all eyes are on health care. But there’s more going on than that and they’re more than willing to win on other fronts whether that passes or not. Hell, they’ve already done huge damage to the environment, but not everyone cares or understands that.

        Fighting over whether to call out Trump and the GOP over what he did to our transgender soldiers is important. And we can take our stand on that while still fighting against all the other issues.

        Personally, I think everything this administration does is an attempt to bury the Russia story. That said, hurting people as a distraction is still hurting people. I’ll always fight back against that.

        • Every one of those fronts can be fought at once by fighting repukes. They have done us a solid by making themselves the enemy of everything good. There are still villains in the Dem party. But you dont have to make anyone feel slighted by prioritizing one cause over another (a chronic problem with progressives) if your enemy is your enemy on all issues. That is the GOP.

        • you’re absolutely right that it is all to distract from the Russia stroy.. but do be careful how one says that.
          I accidentally used the term “distraction” and got admonished for suggestion Trans rights are a distraction. They are not. They are not. Trans rights are not a distraction…. and Team Dump KNOWS this is an issue. They know they can cause infighting by singling out one group to shit on.. WHILE shitting on everyone else, then suggesting that “liberals only want to talk about ______ while REAL Americans are focused on ___________” it’s their game. They are horrifyingly good at it. We cant fall into their trap.

          • And part of their game is having liberals fighting liberals over what “really” matters. That needs to stop. For $%*#’s sake! We’re adults – capable of focusing on more than one thing at a time.

        • I agree. My response was to Cassandra’s clearly provocative statement. I didn’t want to disappoint her.

    • A handful of whiny ass Bernie-bros don’t equal an official posture. I think the complaint was with Conservadems who play along with important social advancements, but keep people of all races/orientations/genders under the thumb of big business.

      5 bucks says you will respond to that as if i said “all lives matter”… it’s ok. that’s what you do. 🙂

      • I don’t think you’re saying that. I do think that the income inequality fight was lost the second Trump was elected. With everything going on that issue has vanished, which is a shame. Trump governs like he campaigned – by sucking all the oxygen out of the room. One of the most dangerous things happening right now is how people have abandoned facts in favor of fiction. Trump says we’re winning and people believe it. I have no idea how to counter that. How do you counter the vast majority of Trump voters who truly believe he won the popular vote?

        I also have a problem with people (not you, Ben) not fighting on all fronts in an all out war. Especially when certain groups of people are directly under attack. I have a problem when people who aren’t personally impacted by laws/bills tell people who are that that’s a distraction. That’s quite a luxury.

        People think that racism took a hit when Obama was elected. It didn’t. It had new life breathed into it and is stronger than ever.

        • Perhaps you didn’t notice, but even Republicans have pushed back on this. Cassandra’s implication was that because some people care about economic issues, this happened.

          News alert: This happened because he wanted to hurt liberals in general, and knew that by attacking trans people specifically he’d get what he was after. Our outrage is breast milk to his base.

        • I totally agree. I take issue with folks. not you.. who conflate a statement like “true income equality means closing the gender and race wage gaps as well” with some variant of “all lives matter”

          Of COURSE as a cishet white guy I am more privileged than most….. but i’ll go just as bankrupt and be just as hungry if I lose my job as anyone else.
          The fight for Trans rights, reproductive rights, horribly unbalanced rates of incarceration are all more important and more pressing than figuring out what to do with unemployed coal miners, but it is still important to figure out what to do with them. They are still people who need to feed their families.

          What is the harm in at least making them FEEL like they are prioritized. You’re never gonna get an old white man in WV to accept that there are more than 2 genders. Give up on that mission… what you CAN get him to do is vote for someone who wont go after those people and will instead make sure all Americans can earn a living and see a doctor.
          What is the harm in appealing to their selfish interests as long as you arent appealing to their hatred? That is 100% my privilege talking, but if there is an answer that doesnt include a swipe at my reading comprehension or character 😉 id love to hear it. I want to be better.

          • Running out for a meeting! I’ll get back to you on this!

          • I don’t think anyone is trying to get old white men in WV to accept more than 2 genders. That’s a Republican talking point.

            To the point being made… Should we ignore/not respond to Trump’s tweeted policies? Does it mean that we should support BLM, Muslims, etc. in silence so as not to lose the white vote? Not sure how that works.

            This is where I always get confused by what is being said. We know Republicans go hard (in very tangible ways – whole lotta laws out there) against civil rights. Is our answer to just ignore their actions so we don’t offend white voters who are offended over… ??? It sounds like telling Dems to act more like Republicans. I’d suggest building up our base is the way to go.

            • then communication is the problem. We need votes. We need wins. Dems rightly spent political capital making gains on social issues. History will remember them well for it.
              Im not suggesting any of the things you’re saying we shouldnt do. I agree that politicians shouldn’t act like republicans… but the sure dont sound like democrats on economic issues.
              What i AM saying is, there HAS to be a way to refuse to yield ground on social issues, while at the same time, appealing to the economic interests of the people who dont care about them. I would even go so far as to say there is a case to be made to midwester whites that police violence effects them too..
              . but, like Clinton said “you dont change hearts, you change laws”. That is probably one of my favorite things she ever said. It was brutally honest and it was dead-on accurate.
              You, I know, are well aware that it doesnt matter how hard a stand politicians make on civil rights if they lose the election. Win the way we need to win… however it is… then govern in an honorable way. It’s how Dump won (the first part anyway). He doesnt give a fly shit about the people who gave him Ohio and PA…. but he made them FEEL like he did. that is what Dems need to do. If they can feel like they are the priority, who cares if they actually are after the election?

            • Depending on which part of the base you are talking about, they feel ignored. Most establishment dems chase the center. If you are talking to the Dem economic base (which, i honestly dont know what that is) many of those who would be amenable to pro-labor feel left out by globalization and are easy targets for xenophobic brain washing. They’re dumb. they can be turned.
              I want this Single Payer stunt to blow up in the GOP’s face. Every single democrat needs to vote for it. Get on record being pro-american.
              they wont.

            • “I don’t think anyone is trying to get old white men in WV to accept more than 2 genders. That’s a Republican talking point.”

              Yes. An incredibly effective one. Why you think Republican talking points don’t work is an interesting question. Pointing out that they’re talking points doesn’t change that equation.

              • Flesh this out for me. If we stop fighting actual discriminatory legislation then the GOP won’t use their talking points? Is the idea for us to pretend we don’t care about abortion laws, police shootings, LGBT issues, immigration, etc.? I don’t think that’s what you’re saying, but if the goal is to take away the GOP talking points about identity politics then how exactly is that achieved?

                • Some may think that.
                  I dont get from Alby’s comments that he is suggesting anyone stop fighting anything. Just to step up the fight in other areas.
                  But speaking for myself, Im not saying that either. I wont argue on behalf of other people… certainly not argue a position we both disagree with…. That is, the one you point out comes from some on the left. Those people are wrong, but there are more than just 2 opinions.
                  For my part, If talking about (for example) green energy manufacturing jobs to a whole room of white, waspy Ohioans resonates with them, why not talk about that most?…. to THEM. They care about themselves more than they care about others.. which is shitty and human. Play to their wants, not their hate.

                  Do you think Democrats will actually pivot on social issues? Do you think that a Dem politicians would side with the Right just because they didnt give the same social-issue based stump speech? ( I think “some” in the Dem side do think that, given the insane charges of sexism and racism leveled at Sanders)
                  If they win, no matter how they win, rights are safe .. (to reiterate, IF dems win)
                  But if they lose, it wont matter what the message was. The outcome will be bad.

                  • Shit-head’s failed ban on Trans service members is a great opportunity.

                    Here’s a “talking point” thingy I came up with to illustrate how Dems can continue to support targeted groups, WHICH THEY SHOULD DO, while making a play for the Fly-over folks who dont care about those issues (although they should)

                    “Trump and the republicans want to re-fight old social issue battles and discriminate and target our brave soldiers. Dems, on the other hand want to move past these out-dated culture wars and focus on getting American manufacturers back to work by investing in renewable energy”

                    • That’s a pretty good talking point! But I still wonder how we move past culture wars (that aren’t out-dated) when every day Republicans put (or try to put) new laws on the books.

                      I get we can ignore general bigoted, racist, misogynistic statements, but how do we ignore actual bills/laws? And if we counter those bills/laws then the talking point still exists.

                      And I’ve always said we could expand our agenda, but if you’ve read all the past comments from others over the past 8 months or so you have to admit that the push back on civil rights isn’t something I just imagined. In fact, you can go back to comments from the winter of 2016 and read the debate.

                      It would be great if we could come up with a solution that doesn’t alienate anyone.

                • No, the idea is to stop baiting the people you need but disagree with by saying things like, “Because if I understand the posture, we are supposed to ignore this assault on transgendered people (plus the new position of the DoJ to not include gay people as having civil rights) just in case there is some economic train to jump on.”

                  This is a willful misreading of the “posture,” which is what I pointed out.

                  Beyond that, I am pointing out that our “disagreement” is no such thing. What we’re talking about is at its core media management.
                  The media, egged on by RW propaganda media, distorts the social justice message into a caricature liberal who supposedly “only cares about which bathroom people use.”

                  That this issue surfaced like a breaching humpback whale just before the election was no accident. The for-profit media, capitalism’s biggest cheerleader, doesn’t want us talking about economic issues. Sanders’ serious issues were ignored while the media focused on “free college” and the “irony” of a septuagenarian appealing to youth. Trump’s economic message — the one his soft support reacted to — also was ignored in favor of shock at his blatant xenophobia, homophobia and misogyny. You’ll notice that the Trump Show was promoted exactly like every show with a dysfunctional anti-hero at its core — “you won’t believe what Walter White/Tony Soprano does in this week’s show!” Transgression as entertainment.

                  When people talk about “political correctness,” they don’t realize they are reacting to media overplay of individual cases of raw bigotry. Thousands of ugly moments occur every day in this country; we get to see a few of them every day them from afar thanks to phone cams. Liberal web sites know such stories are catnip for people outraged by injustice so they have a few almost every day (you used to see Sarah Palin stories for years because she perennially angered liberals; Anne Coulter, same story).

                  The media sucks you into their game by manipulating your emotions. If you don’t clear your cookies you can see this in action in the row of clickbait ads at the bottom of every web article.

                  In summation, your laudable moral outrage about these injustices is being used to portray liberals as hateful weirdos who can only be stopped by electing Republicans. That’s not your fault, and I was wrong to blame you for it. They use your morality to their evil ends.

                  I also understand that, from Cassandra’s perspective, it’s important to fight for universal inclusion, because in the past every socializing movement has joined capitalists in trying to restrict inclusion to a favored group.

                  I AM ON YOUR TEAM. I agree we must fight on all fronts. My comments boil down to a warning to curb your outrage just a bit, if only because getting you outraged is their goal. I share your outrage, even if I don’t voice it, in part because I won’t give them the satisfaction.

                  Read Cassandra’s sentence again. If that was not intended to generate a response, I misread it.

  3. anonymous redux

    not saying I disagree with what’s being said here, but this posting on transgendered soldiers is getting more response than postings here usually get. it’s a topic that excites the liberal base, so, yes, be careful it doesn’t become a distraction.

    • it’s his willingness to cast aside service members whom he deems a burden. Today it’s Trans people. Tomorrow, gay soldiers are a problem. Then it’s the injured.

  4. anonymous redux

    yes, I see how it is a first step toward that goal. but he’s moving toward fascism on many fronts.

    • so there needs to be extreme resistance on all those fronts. Dont let this pig fucker get a toe-hold anywhere. Dont confuse number of comments on a blog for level of outrage.

  5. anonymous redux

    the good news is that it looks like this is going to bite that pig fucker in the ass.

    • if you are still holding out hope that any of his BS will come back to bite him, I have a resort in Palm Beach to sell you.

  6. anonymous redux

    don’t be such a whiner. don’t worry, we’ll fight trump for you.

  7. Starting a new thread!

    Alby says:

    “If you’ll notice, I have laid out how this is used against us. Your outrage has been weaponized against you. Failure to change tactics is the obvious solution.

    You are attacking us because we refuse to indulge in outrage at provocations that were clearly intended to cause outrage. Your Skinnerian responses satisfy your soul but do not help your cause.”

    And if you’ll notice, I have asked how to change tactics. What would that look like? Explain exactly what your plan is when Republican are writing, and passing, laws against marginalized groups.

    • I’m sorry, I posted that long item before I read all the way to the bottom of the thread. This comment system, with replies to comments below those comments, still confuses me (not hard to do).

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