Open Thread for December 11, 2017


Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said  she “has not yet decided whether she will back the final measure negotiated by House and Senate leaders,” Reuters reports.

“Collins’ vote was important since the Senate approved the bill by 51-49 vote after an 11th-hour scramble. With Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) voting against the bill, there is little margin for losing support.”

“If Collins and Corker vote against the final tax bill, leading to a 50-50 tie, Vice President Mike Pence would cast the winning vote. But if more than two Republican senators vote no, it would fail.”


Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R) “appeared on a conspiracy-driven radio show twice in 2011, where he told the hosts in an interview that getting rid of constitutional amendments after the Tenth Amendment would ‘eliminate many problems’ in the way the US government is structured,” CNN reports.

“Moore cited the 17th Amendment, which calls for the direct election of senators by voters rather than state legislatures… The host agreed with Moore, before turning his attention to the 14th Amendment, which was passed during the Reconstruction period following the Civil War and guaranteed citizenship and equal rights and protection to former slaves.”

Said Moore: “People also don’t understand, and being from the South I bet you get it, the 14th Amendment was only approved at the point of the gun.”


Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) said that his home state “deserves better” than to be represented by Senate candidate Roy Moore (R), Politico reports.

Said Shelby: “I’d rather see the Republican win, but I would hope that Republican would be a write-in. I couldn’t vote for Roy Moore. I didn’t vote for Roy Moore. But I wrote in a distinguished Republican name. I’d rather see another Republican in there and I’m going to stay with that story. I’m not going to vote for the Democrat, I didn’t vote for the Democrat or advocate for the Democrat. But I couldn’t vote for Roy Moore.”


Elizabeth Shackelford, who was seen as a rising star at the State Department, wrote a scathing resignation letter, “accusing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Trump administration of undercutting the State Department and damaging America’s influence in the world,” Foreign Policy reports.

Shackelford “wrote to Tillerson that she reluctantly had decided to quit because the administration had abandoned human rights as a priority and shown disdain for the State Department’s diplomatic work.”

“Her former colleagues said her departure — and the sentiments expressed in her letter — reflect a wider exodus of midcareer diplomats who have lost confidence in Tillerson’s management and the Trump administration’s approach toward diplomacy.”



New York Times: “The special Senate election here, to be decided Tuesday, has made for one wild and ugly campaign season. It was never going to be afternoon tea, but with the airing of allegations in November that Roy Moore, the Republican nominee, had hounded and molested teenage girls when he was in his 30s, the race tightened — and the dialogue went south.”

“Mr. Moore has gone about creating a real-life political science experiment, testing whether last year’s presidential campaign was an anomaly or whether voters remain just as willing to shrug off truth-stretching, multiple charges of sexual misconduct and incendiary speech.”

Politico: Roy Moore’s horror show.


Politico: “Confronting accusations that he harassed or molested teenage girls, Moore hasn’t held a public event since Tuesday, a decision that has perplexed some Republicans given the closeness of the race. Two Republicans briefed on Moore’s schedule before this weekend said he intended to spend Saturday in Philadelphia at the Army-Navy football game — a long-planned trip that the West Point grad had insisted he would still take this year despite the election.”

“One of those Republicans, who expressed concern about Moore’s absence, said that the planned trip was discussed with Moore’s campaign within the last few weeks and the candidate determined to go — case closed.”


“Senate Republicans have declared war on the American Bar Association,” Politico reports.

“Since 1953, the venerable legal organization has played a critical, behind-the-scenes role in assessing judicial nominees and their fitness to serve on the bench. But with the ABA emerging as a major stumbling block in President Trump’s effort to transform the courts, the GOP is accusing the nonpartisan group of holding a liberal slant and is seeking to sideline it.”

“The ABA has deemed at least four of Trump’s judicial nominees ‘not qualified’ — a high number, although other administrations had the ABA evaluate candidates privately before they were nominated. Democrats warn of dire consequences of ignoring the group’s evaluations. But Republicans are intent on a dramatic reshaping of the federal judiciary that could last for decades and so far, haven’t been persuaded by the ABA’s ratings.”



U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley told CBS News that the women who have accused President Trump of groping them without their consent “should be heard.”

Asked whether she considered the allegations a “settled issue” given last year’s election results, Haley responded: “You know, that’s for the people to decide. I know that he was elected. But, you know, women should always feel comfortable coming forward. And we should all be willing to listen to them.”


Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN that there is considerable evidence the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

Said Schiff: “We have all of these facts in chronology, you’d have to believe that these were all isolated incidents, not connected to each other — just doesn’t make rational sense… We do know this: the Russians offered help, the campaign accepted help, the Russians gave help and the president made full use of that help. That is pretty damning, whether it is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of conspiracy or not.”


Playbook: “Republicans are growing increasingly worried about the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th district. Former Republican Rep. Tim Murphy resigned after it became public that he suggested his mistress have an abortion. D.C. Republicans nominated Rick Saccone — a state lawmaker — to run, and Democrats have tapped Conor Lamb — a 34-year-old former federal prosecutor who was in the Marines.”

“The district is solidly Republican, but Republicans watching the race take shape are worried they’ll have to spend money to boost Saccone. The election is in March, and it will certainly be seen as a harbinger for the midterms.”



Special counsel Robert Mueller “is trying to piece together what transpired inside the White House over a critical 18-day period that began when senior officials were told that National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was susceptible to blackmail by Russia,” NBC News reports.

“The questions about what happened between Jan. 26 and Flynn’s firing on Feb. 13 appear to relate to possible obstruction of justice by President Trump.”

“Multiple sources say that during interviews, Mueller’s investigators have asked witnesses, including White House Counsel Don McGahn and others who have worked in the West Wing, to go through each day that Flynn remained as national security adviser and describe in detail what they knew was happening inside the White House as it related to Flynn.”

Politico: “As special Russia counsel Robert Mueller wraps up interviews with senior current and former White House staff, one name has been conspicuously absent from public chatter surrounding the probe: Steve Bannon.”


“The GOP tax plan on the cusp of becoming law diverges wildly from the promises President Trump and top advisers said they would deliver for the middle class — an evolution that shows how traditional Republican orthodoxy swamped Trump’s distinctive brand of economic populism as it moved through Washington,” the Washington Post reports.

“The bill was supposed to deliver benefits predominantly to average working families, not corporations, with a 35 percent tax cut Trump proposed on the campaign trail as part of the ‘Middle Class Tax Relief and Simplification Act.’… But the final product is looking much different, the result of a partisan policymaking process that largely took place behind closed doors, faced intense pressure from corporate lobbyists and ultimately fell in line with GOP wish lists.”


New York Times: “Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, has said the Trump administration’s high-profile regulatory rollback does not mean a free pass for violators of environmental laws. But as the Trump administration moves from one attention-grabbing headline to the next, it has taken a significant but less-noticed turn in the enforcement of federal pollution laws.”

“An analysis of enforcement data by The New York Times shows that the administration has adopted a more lenient approach than the previous two administrations — Democratic and Republican — toward polluters like those in East Liverpool.”



Emily Yoffe: “In the past few weeks, a number of accused men have disappeared Soviet-style from public life, with the work of some—Louis C.K. and Garrison Keillor, for example—withdrawn from distribution. There has been discussion about whether everyone accused deserves a professional death penalty, or whether there should be a scale of punishment. After all, the violations run the gamut from multiple allegations of rape to unwanted touching. But in a statement on Facebook calling for Franken’s resignation, New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand came out against making such distinctions.”

“Do we really want to create workplace policies where any perceived wrong of a sexual nature leads to possibly career-ending sanctions?”

“The movement to stop sexual harassment in the workplace will eventually move past this moment of shocking allegations against famous men, and should soon focus on the many nonfamous people in quotidian circumstances. But top news organizations are not likely to provide as much due diligence about those cases. No doubt many disputes will more resemble those on campus, in that the charges will be about ambiguous situations for which there is little evidence. This amazing moment has a chance to be truly transformative. But it could also go off track if all accusations are taken on faith, if due process is seen as an impediment rather than a requirement and an underpinning of justice, and if men and women grow wary of each other in the workplace. As Laura Kipnis, a feminist professor at Northwestern, writes in her book, Unwanted Advances, ‘I can think of no better way to subjugate women than to convince us that assault is around every corner.’”


“As of December 7 there were 369 women running or planning to run for Congress in 2018, according to Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, which would be the most women House candidates ever,” Axios reports.

“The number is subject to change, as the filing deadlines for most states are months away.”

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

3 comments on “Open Thread for December 11, 2017

  1. The “discussion about whether everyone accused deserves a professional death penalty, or whether there should be a scale of punishment” is important. I do think there should be a scale. Right now, we’re placing harassers in the same box as assaulters. Even worse, child molester, Roy Moore, has wormed his way into that box. That’s wrong.

    There are degrees, and we seem to be lumping harassment and assault together. They are very different – As different as lewd comments and putting your hands on someone without their permission. Both are wrong. Both need to stop, but treating them exactly the same way will create a backlash that’s beginning to strike me as deliberate. Dilution through expansion.

    A month ago I wrote in a post: “I do not know a single woman surprised by #MeToo stories. Not one. And as these stories continue to pour out a knot has been tightening in my stomach. I’m waiting for the tipping point; the point at which the narrative changes.” We’re beginning to see this happen. We’re seeing women blamed for taking out men we like. We’re seeing everyday men paint this as a problem of rich and powerful men – a narrative that is 100% wrong – since wealth and power are situational.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see this changing. The script’s been written, and it always included a narrative change.

    • cassandram

      The 3 strikes laws put in place for the so called drug war are now seen as a too blunt instrument — no longer concerned with justice, but some crazy revenge fantasy. So people who get caught stealing from mailboxes are treated the same as people who kill other people. There is in law a concept of proportionality — where the punishment for a crime should mostly be in line with the severity of the crime. I don’t think that everything should be career ending. Some should. We should be talking about how to encourage the men who can to change and shutting down those who won’t or who are predatory.

      • Exactly!

        And what’s getting lost in all this is an actual discussion on sexual harassment and assault.

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