The Open Thread for October 8, 2017

“The Republican Party has largely abandoned its platform of fiscal restraint, pivoting sharply in a way that could add trillions of dollars in federal debt over the next decade,” the Washington Post reports.

“Cutting spending to balance the budget was almost religion to the Republican Party for much of the past eight years. But all year long, despite their control of the White House and Congress, Republicans have not taken steps to balance the budget, to overhaul entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, or to arrest the growth of the country’s $20 trillion in debt.”

New York Times: “White House officials once debated a scorched-earth strategy of publicly criticizing and undercutting Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian efforts to disrupt last year’s election. Now, President Trump’s lawyers are pursuing a different course: cooperating with the special counsel in the hope that Mr. Mueller will declare in the coming months that Mr. Trump is not a target of the Russia inquiry.”

“The president’s legal team is working swiftly to respond to requests from Mr. Mueller for emails, documents and memos, and will make White House officials available for interviews. Once Mr. Mueller has combed through the evidence, Mr. Trump’s lawyers plan to ask him to affirm that Mr. Trump is not under investigation, either for colluding with Russian operatives or for trying to obstruct justice.”

After a week that saw more than 50 people killed in Las Vegas in a gun massacre, Saturday Night Live dropped its traditional cold open and instead had country singer Jason Aldean address the audience before performing a Tom Petty classic, renowned for its expression of indomitable, unwavering spirit.

“When America is at its best, our bond, and its spirit — it’s unbreakable,” Aldean said, adding, “We hurt for you, and we hurt with you.”

Politico: “In his first two frenetic months on the job, the retired four-star Marine general and former homeland security secretary has had minimal contact with the small club of people who have served as gatekeepers to a president before him.”

“That’s somewhat unusual. Most chiefs of staff — a position that has been described by people who have survived it as daily exercise in mimicking Edvard Munch’s painting ‘The Scream’ — have generally looked to others who have been through the fire as a resource.”

Washington Post: “Democrats have actually shifted more over the past two decades on many key social and philosophical issues, trending relatively quickly toward liberal positions as Republicans have changed more slightly. And the totality of it shows that Democratic voters are actually more polarized than Republicans are.  But look closely at that [above] graph, and you’ll notice that Democrats are actually more clustered toward the far left than Republicans are to the far right. The median Democrat is also closer to the extreme than the median Republican.”

President Donald Trump is sick and tired of the “anti-Trump” bend of late-night hosts and he went on a little Twitter rant against them on Saturday morning, claiming many are complaining about their political leanings. He also raised a question: “Should we get Equal Time?”  The answer to that is you already have it with Fox News and talk radio being completely dominated by conservatives.   And the other networks, CNN, ABC and MSNBC/NBC all bend over backwards to fellate conservatives at every opportunity so that they don’t appear biased.   If anyone needs equal time, it is liberals and the Democrats.

President Trump telephoned Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in an effort to revive health-care legislation, Axios reports.

“Although it’s not known what Trump proposed or how Schumer responded, word traveled fast among Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill.  The initial reaction among some Republicans was consternation, even though they didn’t know the upshot of the call.”

Said one well-wired Republican: “It codifies the Republicans’ failure on repeal/replace and shows the President can move without hesitation or ideological impediment to make a deal with the Democratss. It depresses the Republican base turnout in the midterms, as Trump voters are further disconnected from the Congressional wing.”

Trump confirmed Saturday morning that he called Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to explore whether Democrats “want to do a great HealthCare Bill,” Trump wrote on Twitter Saturday morning. The president made sure it was clear he has no idea what could happen next: “Who knows!”

Yeah, I am off the Biden bandwagon.

Back in February, President Donald Trump complained to newly-confirmed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about laws preventing U.S. companies from paying bribes to foreign officials, according to a new report in the New Yorker.  Trump complained that the laws “unfairly penalized” businesses in the U.S., according to the New Yorker.

Tillerson disagreed, however, per the New Yorker. A source with knowledge of the conversation told the New Yorker that Tillerson told the President “that America didn’t need to pay bribes—that we could bring the world up to our own standards.”

New York Times: “It started as a scrappy grass-roots protest movement against President Trump, but now the so-called resistance is attracting six- and seven-figure checks from major liberal donors, posing an insurgent challenge to some of the left’s most venerable institutions — and the Democratic Party itself.”

“The jockeying between groups, donors and operatives for cash and turf is occurring mostly behind the scenes. But it has grown acrimonious at times, with upstarts complaining they are being boxed out by a liberal establishment that they say enables the sort of Democratic timidity that paved the way for the Trump presidency.”

“The tug of war — more than the lingering squabbles between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont — foreshadows a once-in-a-generation reorganization of the American left that could dictate the tactics and ideology of the Democratic Party for years to come.”

Short answer: No.  She was and is the best legislative leader the Democrats have had in generations.

Jeffrey Toobin: “The secret to advocacy before the contemporary Supreme Court is no secret: it’s all about pandering to Justice Anthony Kennedy. With the other eight Justices evenly split between liberals and conservatives, lawyers in controversial cases spend most of their energy indulging the idiosyncratic passions of the rangy Californian who sits beside the Chief Justice.”

“That means, for the most part, talking about the First Amendment. In his thirty years on the bench, Kennedy has displayed an almost Pavlovian receptivity to claims of infringement on the freedom of speech.”

Associated Press: “The anxious counsel from his aides as Trump prepared to react to the largest mass shooting in U.S. history was a reminder of Trump’s troubled track record in such moments. Trump has often had difficulty embracing a central role of the American presidency: consoling people dealing with intense grief, regardless of their political affiliation or support for the White House’s agenda. It’s a quality that is rarely debated or analyzed on the campaign trail, yet one that can shape the way Americans view the success of their president.”

“Trump’s challenges with empathy were on full display this week, as he responded to two disasters at once with very different results. Trump ultimately stuck to the script in Las Vegas, avoiding controversy and assuming the role of national healer. It was a measured response that stood in stark contrast to his uneven response to the hurricane in Puerto Rico, which saw Trump lash out at the mayor of San Juan, urge officials to say positive things about his administration and throw rolls of paper towels into the crowd at a relief center like he was tossing T-shirts at a sporting event.”

The President was “sundowning” again.

Trump campaign operative Brad Parscale told CBS News that Facebook was the crucial tool that helped elect Donald Trump: “Twitter is how Trump talked to the people, Facebook was going to be how he won.”

“Parscale says the campaign would average 50-60,000 different ad versions every day, some days peaking at 100,000 separate iterations – changing design, colors, backgrounds and words – all in an effort to refine ads and engage users.”

Also interesting: “Parscale received help utilizing Facebook’s technology from Facebook employees provided by the company who showed up for work to his office multiple days a week.”

“Congressional leaders fear President Trump’s staff are exploiting the president’s busy schedule to push their own agenda and undermine his pledge to protect Dreamers,” McClatchy reports.

“According to four political operatives working closely with Republicans, leaders in both the House and Senate characterized some of the White House’s demands, which have yet to go public, as ‘poison pills,’ saying they are impossible to achieve and that the White House staffers’ intent is to scuttle the deal for political gain.”

Oh, and the Nazis are back:

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

2 comments on “The Open Thread for October 8, 2017

  1. I’m off the Biden Bandwagon as well, time for Joe to go home and preferably take the corporatist DINOS with him. Notice the Dem base has a more than enough of the Wall St. worshippers passing as Dems, I know I have. Neither do I believe the WaPo about Dems clustered to the far left, if so it’s because the Republicans have moved parts of the nation to the far right and what was once the center now appears as far left. Finally “Sundowning”, it’s a term I know all too well. It refers to the late afternoon/early evening period when dementia patients are most prone to hallucinations, sometimes they get violent. Think 6 p.m., not 3 a.m.

  2. cassandram

    The Editors of Esquire gave a sharp response to this late night equal time business, by reminding 45 that Reagan repealed the Fairness Doctrine so that wingnuts could build their alternative universe.

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