The Open Thread for December 29, 2017

President Trump told the New York Times that he had absolute control over the Justice Department and that special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe should wrap up quickly because it is making the country look “very bad.”   Said Trump: “There’s been no collusion. But I think he’s going to be fair.”

He added: “It makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position. So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.”

It makes you look bad, because it makes you look like a criminal money launderer and a traitor destined for hanging.   It makes America look good in that we have the rule of law and that no man, no matter how powerful, is immune from the rule of law.

Joy Reid has some thoughts.  Read this thread:

Roy Moore, the first Republican to lose a U.S. Senate race in Alabama in 25 years, moved to block state officials from certifying the victory of his Democratic rival on Thursday afternoon because of “systematic voter fraud,” the New York Times reports.  However, his motion for a temporary restraining order was quickly denied by the Circuit Court of Alabama.

Politico notes that Moore has continued to fundraise by asking donors to contribute to his “election integrity fund,” pledging to pursue “voter fraud and other irregularities at polling locations throughout the state.”  Meanwhile, The Hill reports Moore “says he completed a lie detector test after the Alabama Senate election concluded to prove the allegations of sexual misconduct are untrue.”

Jonathan Swan: “There’s an operational reshuffle coming at the top level of the White House. Senior Trump administration official Johnny DeStefano is set to assume greater responsibilities and influence, including overseeing the beleaguered White House political operation.”

“Two sources with direct knowledge of the internal deliberations say DeStefano is expected to assume most of deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn’s responsibilities. Dearborn is expected to leave the White House sometime in the new year.”

Howard Dean told MSNBC that older members of the Democratic Party need “to get the hell out of the way and have somebody who is 50 running the country.”  Said Dean: “I think my generation needs to get the hell out of politics. Start coaching and start moving up this next generation who are more … fiscally sane. Neither Republicans or Democrats can claim they are fiscally responsible anymore.”

Not sure what we means with that last sentence.  Democratic fiscal policy not only saved this country from a depression after Republican policy led us into one, but we also cut the budget deficit by two thirds over eight years while at the same time stimulating the economy and establishing affordable healthcare.  Sounds like we have a very sane and responsible fiscal policy.  But he is right on his first point.  Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden should stand down in favor of Joe Kennedy, Seth Moulton, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gilliband.  Time or a new generation.


“After living in Washington for nearly a year, President Trump has yet to enjoy a single non-working meal at a restaurant that doesn’t pay him rent. He hasn’t taken in a performance at the Kennedy Center; hasn’t been to a sporting event; hasn’t toured most of the sights,” the AP reports. “It’s one of the peculiarities of the Trump presidency and one of a long list of ways in which he’s changing the office, as well as its relationship with Washington.”

CNN: “One congressman is a low-key member of a political dynasty who is strategically inserting himself into policy debates and laying out what he thinks Democrats still need to learn. The other is a retired Marine and combat veteran who has tangled with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and has already logged a high-profile trip to Iowa more than three years ahead of the next presidential caucus.”

“Massachusetts Reps. Joe Kennedy III and Seth Moulton take different approaches to their work in Washington. But as Democrats focus on retaking the House next year, these lawmakers in their late 30s are getting a fresh look as potential future leaders in a party where many in the senior ranks are well into their 70s.”

Former acting CIA director Michael Morell and former Republican congressman and chair of the Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers have penned an op-ed urging action on Russia’s attacks:  “[T]he United States has failed to establish deterrence in the aftermath of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. We know we failed because Russia continues to aggressively employ the most significant aspect of its 2016 tool kit: the use of social media as a platform to disseminate propaganda designed to weaken our nation.

There is a perception among the media and general public that Russia ended its social-media operations following last year’s election and that we need worry only about future elections. But that perception is wrong. Russia’s information operations in the United States continued after the election and they continue to this day.

Paul Krugman’s analysis of 2017:  “Many of us came into 2017 expecting the worst. And in many ways, the worst is what we got.  Donald Trump has been every bit as horrible as one might have expected; he continues, day after day, to prove himself utterly unfit for office, morally and intellectually. And the Republican Party — including so-called moderates — turns out, if anything, to be even worse than one might have expected. At this point it’s evidently composed entirely of cynical apparatchiks, willing to sell out every principle — and every shred of their own dignity — as long as their donors get big tax cuts.

Meanwhile, conservative media have given up even the pretense of doing real reporting, and become blatant organs of ruling-party propaganda. Yet I’m ending this year with a feeling of hope, because tens of millions of Americans have risen to the occasion. The U.S. may yet become another Turkey or Hungary — a state that preserves the forms of democracy but has become an authoritarian regime in practice. But it won’t happen as easily or as quickly as many of us had feared.”

Robert Schlesinger of US News says so long 2017, you won’t be missed.


“That the other party is manifest incompetence at fully implementing its agenda is cold comfort in the face of the Democrats’ generalized powerlessness. And that fact of being shut out of control of all three branches of government (made all the more galling by the fact that Clinton got 3 million more votes last year than Trump) may spur Democrats to start adopting destructive Republican tactics. So Democrats have at least toyed with the idea of shutting the government down in order to maximize their leverage on things like immigration policy.

This is not to say that 2017 has been without good moments or glimmers of hope for the future. Moore lost and the Obamacare-repeal movement proved itself politically poisonous. And the #MeToo moment is spurring a much-needed and long overdo round of discussion and national self-reflection about how men abuse their power in relation to the women with whom they work. (Brace yourself for the backlash, though, which you could see when Trump basically accused New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of being a prostitute.)

And 2018 could further temper shambling Trumpism: The Republican margin in the Senate will be down to 51 seats; and the 2018 midterm elections hold out the possibility of giving Democrats the power to put a real check on Trump’s depredations. But November is an awfully long way away. Nevertheless the new year impends and brings with it fresh potential for positive change. Welcome 2018, you can’t get here fast enough.”

Kevin Drum provides a pretty good rundown on what Trump did and didn’t accomplish in his first year.

Trump Accomplishments: Regulatory rollbacks, Paris treaty, Judges, Tax bill, Individual mandate, Moving American embassy to Jerusalem

Trump Failures (so far, at least): The wall, Repealing Obamacare, Immigration order, Infrastructure, Deficit reduction, Blue-collar jobs, NAFTA

No Trump Influence: Economy, War against ISIS

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

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