The Open Thread for October 6, 2017

“Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators met this past summer with the former British spy whose dossier on alleged Russian efforts to aid the Trump campaign spawned months of investigations that have hobbled the Trump administration,” CNN reports.

“Information from Christopher Steele, a former MI-6 officer, could help investigators determine whether contacts between people associated with the Trump campaign and suspected Russian operatives broke any laws.”

President Trump was “furious” after hearing the report that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called him a “moron,” NBC News reports, citing five unnamed senior administration officials.

White House chief of staff John Kelly abandoned plans to travel with him to Las Vegas in order to “manage the fallout.”

New York Times: “Republican leaders on Capitol Hill are making no attempt to mask their fear, predicting that failure to pass a tax overhaul in the coming months will lead to a wipeout in next year’s midterm elections. For the first time, some senators are contemplating whether their longstanding advantages could crumble amid a wave of primary challenges and other departures, putting their two-seat majority in jeopardy next year.”

“Particularly in the Senate, Republicans are increasingly mystified by their own grass roots, an electorate they thought they knew, and distressed that a wave of turnover in their ranks could fundamentally change the character of Congress. They fear that the inchoate populism that Mr. Trump personifies, and which Mr. Bannon is attempting to weaponize against incumbents, is on the march.”

“White House officials believe that chief of staff John Kelly’s personal cell phone was compromised, potentially as long ago as December,” Politico reports.

“The discovery raises concerns that hackers or foreign governments may have had access to data on Kelly’s phone while he was secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and after he joined the West Wing.”

An explosive cache of documents obtained by BuzzFeed News proves that Stephen Bannon sought to make Breitbart a platform for white nationalists, despite his comments last month that “there’s no room in American society” for neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, and the KKK.

“During the 2016 presidential campaign, under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart courted the alt-right — the insurgent, racist right-wing movement that helped sweep Donald Trump to power. The former White House chief strategist famously remarked that he wanted Breitbart to be ‘the platform for the alt-right.’”

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) has resigned effective October 21, according to a statement from Speaker Paul Ryan.

Cook Political Report: “This is very tough territory for Democrats. But it’s not impossible, and the combination of a pro-Democratic national climate and the fallout from Murphy’s ignominious personal behavior makes this special election potentially competitive.”

“President Trump plans to announce next week that he will ‘decertify’ the international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is not in the national interest of the United States and kicking the issue to a reluctant Congress,” the Washington Post reports.

“The move would mark the first step in a process that could eventually result in the resumption of U.S. sanctions against Iran, which would blow up a deal limiting Iran’s nuclear activities that the country reached in 2015 with the U.S. and five other nations.”

“Senate Republicans are running into internal resistance to their proposed repeal of the estate tax, making it a potential casualty of the trade-offs the GOP faces in its effort to overhaul the tax code,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The party’s leaders included estate-tax repeal in the tax-overhaul framework they released last week. But Sens. Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Susan Collins (R-ME) said this that week repeal isn’t necessary. Others say their desire to eliminate the tax must be balanced against other priorities.”

NBC Left Field: “A small town in southern Idaho that finds itself at the center of a fake news media storm. Earlier this month, it was revealed that an anti-refugee Facebook page — which organized an anti-refugee rally in Twin Falls — was operated not by locals, but by fake accounts based in Russia.”

“The National Rifle Association endorsed tighter restrictions on devices that allow a rifle to fire bullets as fast as a machine gun — a rare, if small, step for a group that for years has vehemently opposed any new gun controls,” the New York Times reports.

“Twelve of the rifles the Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock, had in a high-rise hotel suite when he opened fire on a crowd on Sunday were outfitted with ‘bump stocks,’ devices that allow a semiautomatic rifle to fire hundreds of rounds per minute, which may explain how he was able to shoot so quickly, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds of others. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has ruled that bump stocks do not violate laws that tightly limit ownership of machine guns, and some lawmakers have called for them to be banned.”

“Hackers working for the Russian government stole details of how the U.S. penetrates foreign computer networks and defends against cyberattacks after a National Security Agency contractor removed the highly classified material and put it on his home computer,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The hackers appear to have targeted the contractor after identifying the files through the contractor’s use of a popular antivirus software made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab.”

“The theft is considered by experts to be one of the most significant security breaches in recent years. It offers a glimpse into how the intelligence community thinks Russian intelligence exploits a widely available commercial software product to spy on the U.S. The incident occurred in 2015 but wasn’t discovered until spring of last year, said the people familiar with the matter.”

Matt Bai: “It was only a matter of time before governments got around to manipulating social media platforms to their own ends, distorting the wisdom of the crowd with the agenda of a cabal. It is what they do and have always done.”

“I don’t think it’s reasonable or wise to ask tech companies to be the societal arbiters of truth… But ultimately, it’s not too much to demand that our most innovative companies slam the back door on governments and political infiltrators who would like nothing more than to destroy our faith in a free society. And if that means abandoning closely held tenets, like the sanctity of anonymity online, or the aversion to gatekeepers who exercise judgment, then so be it.”

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

10 comments on “The Open Thread for October 6, 2017

  1. The story about the Idaho town and the anti-refugee rally made up by Russia tells you everything you need to know about Trump supporters. If you haven’t watched the video DD linked to, go watch it now. Facts don’t matter to this group. Nothing penetrates their mindset. And when pressed to support their “claims” they cannot do it. And not being able to support their claims doesn’t matter to them one bit. They know they’re right. Nothing will sway them.

    The reason nothing will sway them is because they already believed that Muslims are terrorists, black and brown people are criminals, LGBTQ people are corrupt, feminists are evil, etc.. Russia didn’t create anything. It targeted what already existed – racism, bigotry, misogyny. That’s why Russia was so successful. They only tapped into a full keg.

    No wonder the GOP is worried. They either have to keep catering to blatant ignorance and prejudice or lose a primary to someone further to the right. Hello? Roy Moore.

    Trump and his supporters become furious at being called morons. That should be part of the strategy against him (without using the word moron, obviously). He’s fine with being called a racist, bigot and misogynist – those labels actually help him. His base is fine with those labels, too. But question their intelligence and BOOM! he and his supporters lose it.

    There’s no winning over these people, btw. No wooing or courting will work with them. No policy will entice them. Those that still support Trump aren’t suddenly going to change their minds and vote for Dems if only we had the “right” message.

    • cassandram

      Which is the monster they created, right? Pander to what they think they know and never ask for any aspirational buy-in. If you haven’t read the Buzzfeed article on the alt-right as marketed by Breitbart, it is a part of the same story. Build a coalition built on disinformation and the rage of white people.

      • As a longtime fan of Weekly World News, I would argue we’ve had disinformation for a long time. It’s the white rage that has increased, along with white ignorance — a product, I would argue, of increasing attendance at white-flight charter schools across the country.

        • cassandram

          Not many people voted for candidates because Bat Boy told them to. Fox News and the rise of right-wing media is part of what broke it. And the fact that EVERYONE rushed (and still rushes) to validate Fox news just helps the deluded stay deluded.

          • No, not Bat Boy — the Alien! He endorsed every winning candidate from Bill Clinton on! And all the losing ones, too!

    • Well said and much too true.

  2. Small minds tend to remain closed and bitterly resent any attempt to make them explain themselves, as noted they “know” their right and logic or graphic proof matter not. At the U. of Delaware I learned not to argue but to discuss the issues, note to the ivory tower, discussion is only possible with two willing participants. As for Russian meddling in the 2016 election it has now taken on the properties of global warming, responses from the right being it’s a hoax or a Democratic scheme, take you pick. On even casual observation the ever increasing amount of Republicans known to have contact with the Russians just keeps growing and going. Mueller is in no hurry and knows that the wheels of justice turn slow but exceeding fine, it will take time but I suspect he will find the devil in the details at which point temples will fall and heads will roll. But don’t hold your breath, it took a long time to topple Nixon as well.

    • Well said and all too true.

    • cassandram

      responses from the right being it’s a hoax or a Democratic scheme, take you pick.

      This response to the Russian meddling also comes from the “Far Left” too. Who too often see it as unnecessary drama in the way of their Everything is Hillary’s fault issues.

      • It’s also due in part to their longstanding mistrust of the CIA/intelligence community and its demonization of Russia. Not saying they’re right (though trusting the intelligence community is always risky), but I think that’s also part of their motivation. Also not saying Hillary hatred doesn’t play a bigger role, just that they have more than one reason to resist the obvious.

        Myself, I’m starting to notice the lack of interest in determining whether actual vote totals were hacked. That feeling we all have that something’s not right, that there couldn’t have been that many voters who broke for Trump — maybe that feeling is well-founded.

        The Republican insiders are acting strangely disinterested in Russian election meddling, and I don’t think it’s only because they won. It could well be it’s because they know something more than we do. Remember what Paul Ryan said when that dope Kevin McCarthy blurted out that he thought Rohrabacher and Trump were on the Russian payroll — this stays here. What must Republican insiders know if even McCarthy figured that much out?

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