The Open Thread for January 2, 2018

Nick Ackerman, a former Watergate prosecutor, told MSNBC that the big issue in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is not whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia, but whether it conspired to steal emails from prominent figures in the Democratic Party.

Said Ackerman: “I think the big enchilada here is the conspiracy to break into the Democratic National Committee in violation of the federal computer crime law and to use those emails to help Donald Trump get elected. All of that is motive as to why Donald Trump and others were endeavoring to obstruct the investigation, and why Donald Trump told James Comey to let the investigation on Michael Flynn go. All of this is going to come together in 2018.”

Stan Collender: “This year’s spending and tax debate is going to be worse than last year’s, and 2017 was an absolute slum of a year as far as the federal budget is concerned.”

“From trying to discredit and dismantle the Congressional Budget Office, to ignoring the trillion dollar deficit increase projected by the Joint Committee on Taxation from the Trump Family and Friends Tax Cut, to misusing and abusing the congressional budget process, to coming close to 3 government shutdowns, to not even trying to enact any of the 12 regular 2018 appropriations by the start of the fiscal year, to enacting what may well be the most nonsensical and damaging tax policy in U.S. history, there was nothing about what the Republican House and Senate majorities and Trump administration did that had any redeeming value.”

“Democrats in high-cost, high-tax states are plotting ways to do what their states’ representatives in Congress could not: blunt the impact of the newly passed Republican tax overhaul,” the New York Times reports.

“Governors and legislative leaders in New York, California and other states are considering legal challenges to elements of the law that they say unfairly single out parts of the country. They are looking at ways of raising revenue that aren’t penalized by the new law. And they are considering changing their state tax codes to allow residents to take advantage of other federal tax breaks — in effect, restoring deductions that the tax law scaled back.”

Washington Post: “A Democrat hoping to run for president might have a strategy of tacking noticeably to the left — in an attempt to grab the attention and enthusiasm of the progressive activists most likely to work for her and vote in the primaries. And Gillibrand has been doing precisely that. She was the first senator to call for Al Franken (D-MN) to step down, has been criticizing Bill Clinton’s failure to resign over allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct, and was an early supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s ‘Medicare for all’ bill. Earlier in December, she called on President Trump to resign over numerous credible allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, to which Trump responded with an insult- and insinuation-laden tweet reaction.”

“But wait, there’s more — several actions piquing the interest of party activists. In Illinois, Gillibrand endorsed a progressive challenger to incumbent Democratic Rep. Daniel Lipinski — even before the challenger, Marie Newman, had filed petitions to run. Gillibrand has also taken notably progressive stands in the Senate. Along with Sanders (I-VT) and only four other Democrats, Gillibrand voted against the massive annual defense bill. And she unveiled a plan with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to ban states from passing ‘right-to-work’ laws, which enable workers in unionized shops to refuse to pay dues, a major conservative priority.”

“Even the strongest of Trump backers should think long and hard about a world without facts and common truths,” Axios reports.

“You might love his middle finger to the media. But even the strongest of Trump backers should think long and hard about a world without facts and common truths. His techniques — especially claiming bad or unwanted news is ‘fake news’ — are getting copied worldwide, just as evil actors like Russia are getting better at spreading misinformation.”

“Despots use fake news as a weapon: Leaders or state media in at least 15 countries have used the term ‘fake news’ to try to quell dissent or defuse questions about human rights violations.”

“In the U.S.: Within seconds of any major attack or shooting, fake news (real fake news: news that is actually false) starts circulating about the suspect and victims, forcing tech platforms to apologize for surfacing news from faulty sources — think Vegas shooting, Times Square subway bombing, etc.”

Think Progress: “On Christmas, Trump tweeted that he would be going ‘back to work’ the next day. Trump has since gone golfing for seven consecutive days, while the press pool ate pancakes at a local IHOP.”

“Fresh from interviewing former White House press secretary Sean Spicer over what he was doing on the fifth floor of Trump Tower on election night, Democrats now want to interview former RNC Chairman Reince Priebus,” Politico reports.

“Spicer’s presence that night has caused some unease among Republicans because the expiration of a 35-year-old settlement, or consent decree, barring the RNC from engaging in ballot security operations may depend on it. The fifth floor was the nerve center of then-candidate Donald Trump’s poll-watching operations.”

“The consent decree originated from the RNC’s voter intimidation efforts in New Jersey’s 1981 gubernatorial election. Republicans, some of whom were armed off-duty law enforcement officers wearing armbands, showed up at urban polling places and challenged voters. The display was blamed for suppressing the black vote, allowing Republican Tom Kean to squeak out an extremely narrow victory over Democrat Jim Florio.”

In his Houston Chronicle article, “Beto O’Rourke carries Texas Democrats’ hopes in 2018 run against Ted Cruz,” Kevin Diaz takes the measure of Rep. O’Rourke’s U.S. Senate campaign and observes, “Cruz’s evident ambition – seen in his first trip to Iowa, within months of being sworn in as a senator – will be central to O’Rourke’s case as he crisscrosses Texas trying to rally long-marginalized Democrats, independents, first-time voters, Latinos, the anti-Trump “resistance,” and anyone else who might have grown weary of post-Trump Republicanism.”

Strategists on both sides know that the backdrop for the U.S. Senate race in Texas – possibly one of the marquee races of the 2018 midterm elections – will be the push or pull of Trump, who bested Hillary Clinton in Texas by 9 percentage points…For O’Rourke, a Spanish nicknamed, fourth-generation Irish-American from El Paso, that is a source of hope. But first, the 45-year-old ex-punk-rocker with the toothy, Kennedyesque smile will have to prove it can be done – even as he eschews polls, Beltway consultants and, most importantly, political action committee money…O’Rourke could boast of 7,000 more individual donors than Cruz through the end of September, when their last financial reports were filed. But from a modern campaign perspective he will be fighting with one hand behind his back: Though he’s accepted campaign contributions from political action committees in the past, O’Rourke has sworn off PAC money in the race against Cruz.”

At The Atlantic, Clare Foran previews the next big special election: “The next closely-watched special election is set to take place in a conservative Pennsylvania House district that will test the Democratic Party’s appeal with white, working-class voters who now reliably vote Republican.

Democrat Conor Lamb will face off against Republican state Representative Rick Saccone on March 13 in a race to replace former Republican Representative Tim Murphy, a pro-life congressman who resigned earlier this year after reports surfaced that he had allegedly asked a woman with whom he had an affair to get an abortion…Democrats have not yet shown they can win congressional seats in the Rust Belt and industrial midwest states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, which flipped from blue to red in the last presidential election…“This gives Democrats an opportunity to go to the blue-collar, white voters that Trump won in 2016 and say, ‘Trump betrayed you. He said he was going to be a populist president, and fight for you, but all he’s done so far is favors for corporate America,’” said Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist and president of Bannon Communications Research, a Washington, D.C.-based political consulting firm.”

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

31 comments on “The Open Thread for January 2, 2018

  1. I’m sure the same people who think Hillary Clinton is a progressive champion will buy the same bill of goods now that Kirsten Gillibrand is peddling it. You know who you are.

  2. cassandram

    Orrin Hatch is finally retiring. Speculation is, of course, that Mitt Romney will run. Which can’t be true, because I heard there is a rule that twice-failed Presidential candidates are supposed to stay home, take up knitting and get out of politics.

  3. No, that only applies if their disapproval rating is 61%.

    • RSE (formerly fightingbluehen)

      I don’t know the circumstances or the exact process of picking this particular grand jury, but to get some overall perspective, the federal conviction rate is around 99%. That kind of success rate would make any totalitarian state envious…I don’t trust the system, so I guess I would have to question the process as well.

      • do you mean indictment rate? Grand Juries dont convict.
        Of course, leave it to a GOP bootlicker to assume what because someone is on trial, they are guilty.

        • RSE (formerly fightingbluehen)

          Maybe you should read it again, and this time put your thinking cap on, instead of the the old dunce cap.

          • Sorry for the outburst, the old FBH wouldn’t act that way. Anyway, that’s the point. Of course you are guilty, or at least you are 99% of the time.

            • Don’t know where you found your information, but it’s wrong.


              • It depends on how many years back the average includes. The conviction rate has been steadily rising since the 70’s.


                Disturbing snippet:

                “Although overall federal courts generate convictions at a remarkable rate, there were twenty federal judicial districts that had a 100% conviction rate in 2015. Not a
                single defendant was acquitted in:

                Colorado: 466 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                Delaware: 88 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                District of Columbia: 262 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                Illinois, Central: 346 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                Illinois, Northern: 898 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                Illinois, Southern: 412 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                Indiana, Northern: 266 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                Indiana, Southern: 386 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                New Hampshire, 154 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                North Carolina, Eastern: 529 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                North Carolina, Western: 791 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                Pennsylvania, Middle: 392 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                Pennsylvania, Western: 495 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                Tennessee, Eastern: 722 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                Texas, Eastern: 1,071 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                Vermont: 201 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                Washington, Western: 518 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                West Virginia, Southern: 301 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                Wisconsin, Eastern: 336 convictions, 0 acquittals.
                Wisconsin, Western: 98 convictions, 0 acquittals.”

                • Your own source disagrees with you. The “conviction” rate it applies is to guilty pleas as well, which is the situation with more than 96% of persons charged. What that fails to note is that the charges are almost always reduced in such cases.

                  In short, horseshit. The actual rate of convictions for those who go to trial is about 93%. It’s right there in your source.

                  So, with all due respect, your hobby horse is broken.

              • And a very interesting source yours is, too. It’s devoted to wrongful convictions, yet virtually EVERY CASE IS A WHITE PERSON!

                Jesus Christ, but you people just can’t help show your colors, can you?

            • Also, the population of Washington, DC, is 49% black, 45% white. Why WOULDN’T a DC grand jury have lots of African-Americans on it?

              And Ben is correct: a Grand Jury doesn’t convict, it indicts.

              As for your trust in the system, what a typical thing for a conservative to say. You trust it fine when it puts blacks in prison, though, I’ll bet.

              • Damn, you too? Read my first comment again. I never said or even remotely inferred that a grand jury convicts.

                BTW, I’m not that conservative, and I never have trusted the system. I’ve been a victim of the system…Have you?

                • Given that it is a grand jury, why are you even talking about convictions then? I only pointed it out because your comments don’t indicate working familiarity with the justice system. Indeed, one wonders why you were moved to comment at all.

                  And sorry, but being a victim does not give you credentials in this field, any more than being a sex abuse survivor gives one special rights to be heard.

                  Still wondering, though, why you were drawn to a whites-being-oppressed site full of whining in the first place.

                  • You’re being intellectually dishonest, so I guess I’m done…You just keep on throwing your twisted accusations and selective praise of the Feds around. You’ll be fine.

                    • How am I being intellectually dishonest? Twisted accusations? Go look at the link you provided. Pretty amazing for a web site about wrongful convictions to be devoid of people of color. In a different country it would be hard to fathom.

                      Please indicate where I “praised the Feds” rather than corrected your errors of fact.

                    • 1. “How am I being intellectually dishonest?”
                      My first comment was clear, yet you continue to falsely represent it by insinuating that I inferred that a grand jury “convicts”.

                      2. “Twisted accusations?”
                      a. “You trust it fine when it puts blacks in prison, though, I’ll bet.”
                      b. “Jesus Christ, but you people just can’t help show your colors, can you?”

                      3. “Go look at the link you provided.”, “whites-being-oppressed site”
                      You seem to default to WIKI, so, here is what WIKI says about the web site I linked to:

  4. @cassandra: Mitt isn’t running nationally. I’m sure Hillary could find a suitable environment to run in if she were interested in the Senate. Perhaps she could primary Kirsten Gillibrand.

    • cassandram

      Am quite aware where Mitt would be running. Am quite aware that HRC is not running. You brought up the approval rating, yes? It needs to be apples to apples, so if HRC’s national ratings are low and qualify her to bow out (even though she is not running), that ought to be the same for Mitt using the same criteria.

      • If it’s apples to apples, you shouldn’t use a Republican primary voter poll as your evidence.

        Beyond that, though, I was just responding to your snark with my own. If you want a serious response, make a serious comment.

        • cassandram

          I did note that it was the best data available. And i’ll accept your apology and thank you for putting the misogyny on display first.

    • i love the idea of Romney running for senate.
      It’s either him or another Roy Moore type… Plus it carries the added bonus of pissing off RSE’s master and dear leader.

      • on that note, Clinton SHOULD primary Gillibrand. It would pull the seat to the left, allow her to gain (even) more government experience for her inevitable 2020 run and BEST OF ALL…. Can you imagine the rage stroke Dumpy would have if she was leading senate inquiries against Fredo and Other Fredo?

        • HRC, a TPP enthusiast (before she wasn’t), Walmart director, habitual Iraq war funder, despoiler of Libya and Honduras. How’s she ever gonna “pull to the left” ?

          • That’s why I proposed she run against Gillibrand, another politician whose values are for sale … oops, I mean, she tailors her views to fit her constituency. That’s her defense for the fact that her values are for sale.

          • if you werent a bot, you would have picked up the half sarcasm, as well as the dig at Gillibrand’s liberal cred. but no. you’re a bot and your answers are always the same variation of “clinton bad, trump .. idk fam lol bernie 4ever!”

      • cassandram

        Romney might piss off Dear Leader, but if he should win, I wouldn’t expect him to do anything but endorse the Party Line. These folks don’t mind breaking the government and letting their friends cash out — they just wish the GRIFTUS was less grifty.

        • I agree completely, but he’s gonna be way better than whatever Bannon-endorsed fuckwad comes along.

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