The Open Thread for August 6, 2017

“Investigators working for the special counsel, Robert Mueller, recently asked the White House for documents related to the former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and have questioned witnesses about whether he was secretly paid by the Turkish government during the final months of the presidential campaign,” the New York Times reports.

“Though not a formal subpoena, the document request is the first known instance of Mr. Mueller’s team asking the White House to hand over records.”

A new Pew Research survey finds that 42% of Republican voters say their side has been winning more on the important issues, while 46% say their side has been losing.

A new RRH Elections poll in Alabama shows former State Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore (R) edging appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R), 31% to 29%, with Rep. Mo Brooks (R) in third with 18%.  The top two finishers will compete in a runoff.

new memo from GOP consultant Firehouse Strategies explains that President Trump’s base of support in four key states — Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — has shrunk from 35% of likely midterm voters who have a “strongly favorable” view of him in April to just 29% today.  Much of that erosion is among Republicans: Strongly favorable views among GOP voters dropped from 54% to 45%, while unfavorable views increased from 21% to 28%.

Nearly half of voters (48%) believe Trump lies intentionally to mislead people, up from 43% in April.  Just 27% say Trump has been successful, down from 34% in April.  There’s been a a 7% and 9% jump in the percentage of respondents saying they will not vote for current GOP office holders if they cannot repeal Obamacare and revamp the tax code, respectively.


New York Times: “After six months in office, Mr. Trump has crossed so many lines, discarded so many conventions, said and done so many things that other presidents would not have, that he has radically shifted the understanding of what is standard in the White House. He has moved the bar for outrage. He has a taste for provocation and relishes challenging Washington taboos. If the propriety police tut tut, he shows no sign of concern.”

“After all, this is a president who refused to release his tax returns or divest from his private businesses, who put his son-in-law and daughter on the White House staff, who accused his predecessor of illegally tapping his phones without proof, who fired the F.B.I. director leading an investigation into the president’s associates and who has now undercut his ‘beleaguered’ attorney general in public. When he talked politics, jabbed the news media and told stories about Manhattan cocktail parties before tens of thousands of children at the nonpartisan National Scout Jamboree here in West Virginia on Monday, it was hardly surprising.”

Jonathan Chait: “Barring resignation or removal from office — which would require the vote of a House majority plus two-thirds of the Senate — we are stuck with a delegitimized president serving out the remaining seven-eighths of his term. Politically gridlocked presidencies have become normal, but for the office to be occupied by a man whose own party elites doubt his functional competence and even loyalty is, to borrow a term, unpresidented. Trump’s obsession with humiliation and dominance has left him ill-prepared to cope with high-profile failure. He seems unlikely to content himself with quiet, incremental bureaucratic reform.”

“And yet it is difficult to see what Trump can do to reverse the situation. His next major domestic-agenda item, a regressive tax cut, is highly unpopular. He has inherited peace and prosperity. Nobody in the administration has been indicted. It is far easier to imagine conditions changing for the worse than the better.”

Washington Post: “In a disorderly West Wing in which decisions are evaluated not by ideology but by their impact on the Trump brand and their fealty to the president’s campaign-trail promises, McMaster has struggled to become a dominant foreign policy force… Among his biggest challenges was holding the attention of the president… Trump had little time for in-depth briefings on Afghanistan’s history, its complicated politics or its seemingly endless civil war.”

“Even a single page of bullet points on the country seemed to tax the president’s attention span on the subject.”

Said one Trump confidant: “I call the president the two-minute man. The president has patience for a half-page.”

White House aide Stephen Miller is under consideration for White House communications director, Mike Allenreports.

“The effort to find a Mooch successor is still in the name-gathering process, and Miller is not the top contender… But Steve Bannon likes the idea of Miller for the job, and Miller was the hero of the West Wing after he attacked CNN’s Jim Acosta as a ‘cosmopolitan’ for his views on immigration.”

“The super-key point: Trump cares primarily about how people perform on TV. He’s totally uninterested in the behind-the-scenes, unglamorous planning work of a comms director.”

President Trump’s first term “is ostensibly just warming up, but luminaries in his own party have begun what amounts to a shadow campaign for 2020 — as if the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue weren’t involved,” the New York Times reports.

“The would-be candidates are cultivating some of the party’s most prominent donors, courting conservative interest groups and carefully enhancing their profiles. Mr. Trump has given no indication that he will decline to seek a second term.”

“But the sheer disarray surrounding this presidency, the intensifying investigation by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and the plain uncertainty about what Mr. Trump will do in the next week, let alone in the next election, have prompted Republican officeholders to take political steps that are unheard-of so soon into a new administration.”

TNR’s Clio Chang has a tough question for Dems: “Where Are the Single-Payer Wonks? The political momentum on the left for Medicare-for-All is gaining steam. But the policy is lagging behind.” Chang writes “Among Democrats, support for single-payer has increased by 19 percentage points over the past three years. And for the first time in history, a majority of Democrats in the House have signed on as co-sponsors to Representative John Conyers’s Medicare-for-All bill…But it’s hard to deny that single-payer is an area where progressive politics has outstripped policy. Conyers’s bill is largely seen as a symbolic piece of legislation, and not only because Democrats would first have to win back Congress and the White House to even begin passing it. As Joshua Holland wrote on Wednesday in The Nation, the momentum for single-payer is “tempered by the fact that the activist left, which has a ton of energy at the moment, has for the most part failed to grapple with the difficulties of transitioning to a single-payer system…As Harold Pollack, a health policy researcher at the University of Chicago, told Holland, “There has not yet been a detailed, single-payer bill that’s laid out the transitional issues about how to get from here to there…”

Ann Jones probes a related question at The Nation, “Is State-Level Single Payer Within Reach? Scandinavian-style health care is part of at least one candidate’s platform for 2018.” Jones argues that “applying Medicare for All at the state level should be easier. And of all the states, only eight have a population greater than that of Scandinavia’s biggest country, Sweden (9 million), while 30 states have fewer residents, most far fewer, than either Denmark (5.5 million) or Norway (5.3 million). In short, the most popular argument against single-payer health care for the nation—the contention that we’re way too big for such a system—simply vanishes if you start at the state level.” Despite formidabe obstacles, “a single program launched by a single state is better than none. And it just might work. If it does, states can look to the Scandinavian toolbox for other projects. What’s more, a good idea in one state may prove contagious…”

President Trump’s National Security Adviser General H. R. McMaster “is being targeted in recent days by a far-right campaign that is accusing him, simultaneously, of being controlled by rich Jews and of harming the state of Israel,” Haaretz reports.

“The campaign is coming from media outlets and writers affiliated with Steve Bannon, President Trump’s senior political adviser, who has been accused in the past of making anti-Semitic comments.”

“The campaign against McMaster intensified after he fired a number of mid-level officials from the National Security Council, who were considered loyal to Bannon and to the former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.”

The Hill: Trump defends McMcMaster in the wake of criticism on the right.

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

1 comment on “The Open Thread for August 6, 2017

  1. As predicted the “Freedom Caucus” seems poised to throw a wrench into getting a “clean” debt ceiling bill, seems they think they have all the power now. HA! Suspect the wrath of both parties will fall upon their ultra far right little heads. Also noted, Trump is virtually a lame duck at six months in. I see it as a good one for our side, he’s a one man blockade of Republican bills and drags them thru the mud on a daily basis. His support is eroding, but just wait until he drops the ball on his first real crises. Running out of chocolate cake and ice cream pales by comparison.

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