The Open Thread for January 8, 2018

Stan Collender: “First, the Trump White House almost certainly was trying to move the discussion away from everything having to do with “Fire and Fury.” Second, it clearly was making an emotional appeal to Trump voters to demonstrate the president is still fighting for what he promised during the 2016 campaign.”

“That makes funding for the wall the kind of emotional issue that greatly increases the chances of Trump vetoing any 2018 funding bill — including another short term CR — and shutting the government if it doesn’t provide what he wants.”

“And because emotional issues are so hard to resolve, it could also mean that a shutdown could last weeks rather than days.”

President Trump continued to express his dismay with a blockbuster new book that portrays a commander-in-chief who is mentally unstable, Politico reports.

Said Trump: “I’ve had to put up with the Fake News from the first day I announced that I would be running for President. Now I have to put up with a Fake Book, written by a totally discredited author.”

Meanwhile, battered by the backlash from Michael Wolff’s book, Steve Bannon is trying to make amends with the Trump family, providing a statement to Axios that expresses “regret” to President Trump and praises his son, Donald Trump Jr.

Jonathan Swan: “President Trump has been working the phones over the past several days telling allies they need to choose between him and former adviser Steve Bannon. For almost everyone it’s been an easy choice: Trump.”

“The White House has been encouraging its surrogates to go on TV and tear into Bannon; Trump has enjoyed the spectacle and the White House has kept close tabs on these performances. Hence the re-emergence of Anthony Scaramucci, who did a victory lap on TV this week ripping Bannon apart.”

Billionaire Tom Steyer told KQED that he bought 535 copies of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Furyto be hand-delivered to every lawmaker on Capitol Hill.

Haroon Ullah: “Last year, Russia and its allies engineered a rift between truth and lies, fact and fake news, humans and bots – and the bots are winning. They’re winning because social-media firms profit from all traffic – whatever the source – and governments are simply too slow to counter this threat.”

“Russian disinformation – like its more overt Islamic State cousin – is designed to fuel animosities and exploit existing cleavages. The people behind it are not only hate-filled but also experts on audience segmentation. Although diametrically opposed to each other on social, ethnic, political and religious grounds, Russia and the Islamic State are ironically employing the very same techniques to further their respective agendas.”

“This battlefield – social media and the dark web – is the least understood piece of a new conflict. In essence, both the Russians and the Islamic State have weaponized information. The online ecosystem and their disaggregated strategy have kept them one step ahead of adversaries.”

Boston Globe: “One American politician is currently dominating the cultural landscape, from social media to late-night television. His poll numbers look great, his Twitter posts are often among the most read in the world, and with every utterance, his impassioned base of supporters reacts with a fervor more typical for celebrities than former civil servants.”

“Meet Barack Obama.”

“The former president left office last January with favorable approval ratings, but historians, former staffers, and political observers now say his societal standing has reached a new echelon — and it’s partly due to his successor.”

David Atkins: “Conservatives love Donald Trump because he is one of them: an angry and delusional old man completely under the spell of right wing media. For all Trump’s golden toilets and ostentatious displays of crude dictator chic, fellow Fox News cult members recognize him as a fellow traveler sharing their very same obsessions. Trump watches hours and hours of Fox News every day, calls up Rupert Murdoch for advice and uses twitter to directly respond to and promote its programming.

And Fox News has returned the favor: it obsequiously praises Trump at all hours of the day, reveling in his attention and giving him suggested talking points for the day in a symbiotic relationship. Congressional Republicans, for their part, like having a president who puts no policy pressure on them and will essentially sign whatever they give him. But the stage direction is coming from Fox.

Fox News has frequently been described as state-run media–the communications arm of the Republican Party. But that’s not entirely true. The Republican Party is actually the legislative arm of Fox News.  If Fox News gave the directive to its hosts to suggest that the president had already made the country great again in the ways that matter, and that an appreciative nation would be happy to allow him to return to private life and let Mike Pence take over the duties, most of its audience would nod willingly. The president (who never wanted this job in the first place) would be grateful for the opportunity to escape his daily hell. Americans of all stripes could breathe just a bit easier.  But Fox News stands to gain too much from the symbiosis with its captured president. Each part of the conservative infrastructure is in competition with the others to keep ratcheting up the crazy.”

The New York Times Editorial “Florida’s 1.5 Million Missing Voters” notes that “Felon disenfranchisement is a destructive, pointless policy that hurts not only individuals barred from the ballot box, but American democracy at large. Its post-Civil War versions are explicitly racist, and its modern-day rationales are thin to nonexistent. It can make all the difference in places like Florida, which didn’t stop being competitive in 2000; the state remains a major presidential battleground, and victories for both parties in state and local elections are often narrow…That could all change if a proposed constitutional amendment gets enough signatures to be placed on the ballot in November and wins enough support. The initiative would automatically restore voting rights to the vast majority of Floridians who have completed their sentence for a felony conviction, including any term of parole or probation.”

President Trump’s administration “is preparing to unveil an aggressive trade crackdown in the coming weeks that is likely to include new tariffs aimed at countering China’s and other economic competitors’ alleged unfair trade practices,” Politico reports.

“Trump is tentatively scheduled to meet with Cabinet secretaries and senior advisers as soon as this week to begin finalizing decisions on a slew of pending trade fights involving everything from imports of steel and solar panels to Chinese policies regarding intellectual property, according to one of the administration officials.”

Josh Nanberg, president of Ampersand Strategies, offers this preview of this year’s elections in his article,“Consultant Predictions 2018” at Campaigns & Elections: “First, Democrats will reject the idea that we need a ‘national message,’ and instead build majorities one district at a time. Candidates who fit their districts and run to represent their constituents will see successes in surprising places by being true to their values and focusing on issues that resonate locally. Those who focus their campaigns exclusively on President Trump’s tweets, the Russia investigation, or other issues that don’t address voters’ real concerns about their families, their finances and their futures will have trouble breaking through the noise…Second, our candidates are going to look different this year. They’ll have different cultural and professional backgrounds. They’ll be new to politics.”

A nugget from Theo Anderson’s post “Move Over, Corporate Democrats, A New Wave of Left Populists Is on the Rise” from In These Times: “People’s Action, a network of progressive and community organizing groups, has recently begun offering support and trainings for political candidates. As of November 2017, 70 of its members planned to run for office at all levels in 2018. People’s Action is particularly focused on increasing the progressive cohorts in 14 statehouses. Brand New Congress (BNC) and Justice Democrats (JD), both founded in the past two years and devoted to federal races, have recruited and are training and supporting dozens of candidates for the House and Senate. Like the other organizations that make up this infrastructure, JD and BNC are intentional about cultivating a diverse slate…JD and BNC are distinguished from the other groups by their exclusive focus on Congress. They envision their work in terms of building a unified bloc of progressive votes that will transform the institution in a relatively short timeframe. Both will likely endorse between 30 and 50 candidates in the 2018 cycle (many of them cross-endorsed).”

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

7 comments on “The Open Thread for January 8, 2018

  1. Have you called Carper and Coons and reminded them that were disgusted, but not surprised, by their failure to support net neutrality? As noted the push is on to replace and remove corporatist Dems, everywhere but here that is. As for a mental exam for Trump the test for dementia consists of ten easy questions, usually evaluated by a neurologist. Would suggest Trump’s actions are going to bring this issue to the fore. Note to Bernie Bots and people talking about Joe Biden, would suggest Americans are going to have had more than enough of presidential candidates in their seventies (and pushing eighty!) after Trump. If you have not seen the interview with Miller it’s painful but revealing, if anything Tapper let him go on far too long. Finally disappointed in Evil Steve Bannon, instead of doubling down and threatening divine retribution he whines and begs for mercy. Sad, just sad and yes he looks like a drunken bum.

    • Net Neutrality is a really easy “punch left” issue for corpradems like Carper and Coons (we have to stop giving white men credit for doing the bare minimum) They can be on the right side of social issues, they can even pretend to not like the McConnell/Trump economic agenda…. and get a total pass for helping rob everyone blind, because they do it dressed in blue.
      Even though it enjoys support from a vast majority of the electorate, it will get shunted to the “we have other more important things to worry about” category, not realizing that a censored internet is on the way.

      • cassandram

        It looks as though neither of our Senators sign on to bills unless there is a GOP sponsor too. I could be really wrong on this but can’t remember the last time they signed on to something because it was right or because they had real constituents who wanted it.

  2. Why would Trump collude with the Russians to throw an election that he apparently didn’t want to win, according to this guy Wolff, who the media is parading around?…Maybe Trump really is crazy.

  3. cassandram

    Executive Time.

    Everybody who went to work today and asked for this arrangement, raise your hand.

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