IMMIGRATION SHOW AND TELL. Jonathan Chait: “In the hope of proving he is not the semiliterate ignoramus numerous media have depicted him to be, Donald Trump held a televised meeting with members of Congress to discuss immigration. It was, the White House told a friendly reporter, the president’s very own idea.”
“In some, very superficial aspects, the stunt fulfilled Trump’s goals. He was depicted at a table, meeting with important people and talking politics while wearing a tie, as opposed to in bed with a cheeseburger watching cable-news hits. But looking even slightly below the surface imagery, the meeting instead confirmed the very idea Trump had set out to refute.”
Axios has highlights from the meeting.
Steve Bannon is out at Breitbart, the “killing machine” he built into a secret conduit for the extreme right: My story https://t.co/vwZsWl0xA1
— Joe Bernstein (@Bernstein) January 9, 2018
BANNON OUT. Stephen Bannon is stepping down from his post as executive chairman of Breitbart News, the New York Times reports. “Mr. Bannon’s departure, which was forced by a onetime financial patron, Rebekah Mercer, comes as Mr. Bannon remained unable to quell the furor over remarks attributed to him in a new book in which he questions President Trump’s mental fitness and disparages his elder son, Donald Trump Jr.”
Washington Post: “It leaves him with no evident platform to promote his views and no financial basis for his preferred candidates.” N BA source close to the White House to Jonathan Swan: “God, I can’t believe the whole movement just collapsed on this guy. He’s done.”
TRUMP TO ATTACK NORTH KOREA, THINKS THERE WILL BE NO RETALIATION. “As one sign of how fraught the confrontation with North Korea remains despite the tentative onset of diplomatic activity, consider this: U.S. officials are debating whether it’s possible to mount a limited military strike against North Korean sites without igniting an all-out war on the Korean Peninsula,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The idea is known as the ‘bloody nose’ strategy: React to some nuclear or missile test with a targeted strike against a North Korean facility to bloody Pyongyang’s nose and illustrate the high price the regime could pay for its behavior. The hope would be to make that point without inciting a full-bore reprisal by North Korea.”
“It’s an enormously risky idea, and there is a debate among Trump administration officials about whether it’s feasible. North Koreans have a vast array of artillery tubes pointed across the Demilitarized Zone at Seoul, the capital of South Korea, with which they could inflict thousands of casualties within minutes if they choose to unleash all-out barrage.”
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) January 9, 2018
GREAT! No DACA Deal, no Democratic votes for spending bill.
ARIZONA GOP PRIMARY IS SET. Joe Arpaio (R), “a close ally of President Trump and former sheriff known for his provocative approach to combating illegal immigration, is running for Senate in Arizona,” the Washington Examiner reports. “The 85-year-old Arpaio could shake up the late August Republican primary in a critical open-seat race to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ).”
Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) told her fellow Arizona Republican House colleagues that she plans to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Roll Call reports. Arizona Republic: “But McSally can expect opposition from some on the right, including a political-action committee aligned with the conservative Club for Growth, which warned recently that it would oppose her candidacy.”
REPUBLICANS DECIDE TO GO DOWN WITH TRUMP. Ron Brownstein: “Congressional Republicans spent last weekend huddling with President Trump at Camp David to frame their legislative agenda in 2018. But they have already placed the bets most likely to determine their fate in November’s midterm election, as a series of dramatic events late last week demonstrated.”
“The first has been to align more closely with Trump even as questions have mounted about both his basic fitness for the presidency and the potential legal exposure that he and his inner circle might face in the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller. The second has been to pursue a policy agenda, on issues from taxes to health care to the environment, aimed almost entirely at the preferences of their party’s conservative base, with strikingly few concessions to any voices or interests beyond their core coalition.”
Stephen Wolf: “On Dec. 20, the Census Bureau released its population estimates for 2017 for every state, detailing how many residents each state has gained or lost since the 2010 census. The firm Election Data Services has used these estimates to project how many congressional seats each state might gain or lose in the 2020 round of reapportionment, which assigns each state its share of the House’s 435 districts based on its population.”
MORE RACISM IN KANSAS. Kansas state Rep. Jim Alford (R) used racist logic to explain why he believes marijuana should remain illegal, the Garden City Telegram reports. Said Alford: “Marijuana is an entry drug into the higher drugs. What you really need to do is go back in the ’30s, when they outlawed all types of drugs in Kansas, across the United States. What was the reason why they did that?… I hate to say it, was that the African Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst off to those drugs just because of their character makeup, their genetics and that.”
THERE WILL BE NO 25TH AMENDMENT SOLUTION. Vanity Fair: “This is the palace-coup amendment of the Constitution. Chances of it being deployed against Donald Trump in his present state are close to zero, for two reasons. The first is that it’s almost impossible to execute, and it will destroy those who get behind it, even if they succeed (to say nothing of if they fail). The second is that an official palace coup against Trump is barely necessary, at this point. In many ways, it has already happened.”
“What can be easy for people to forget, because the White House is always a big deal, is this: Trump is a weak president. He has low approval ratings. He has little control over his own party. He has almost as little control over his own White House… Trump also spends less and less time in the office, according to Axios, often clocking in at 11 A.M. and out about five hours later. The rest of his day—what aides call ‘executive time’—is supposedly spent at home making calls and watching TV, which suggests that a lot of Americans are better prepared for the presidency than we’d known.
“In this sense, a palace coup may already be an episode in the rearview mirror—something that happened slowly and unofficially as Trump squandered his capital and aggravated every problem he faced. Today, with Robert Mueller investigating the White House, most Republicans, less by design than by accident, may have Trump where they want him.”
Trump's Russia ambassador says U.S.-Russia relations are "done" if Kremlin meddles in the 2018 elections https://t.co/W7Vaojpm5s
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) January 9, 2018
Huntsman should probably tell his boss that. My preference would be, if Russia interferes, to destroy the Kerch Strait Bridge. Or maybe freeze all Russian money everywhere and deposit it into the US Treasury.
TRUMP TO CONSIDER DOMESTIC ABUSER FOR ADMINISTRATION POST. Politico: “Spotted at the White House recently: Andrew Puzder, President Trump’s first pick for labor secretary, who dropped out of the confirmation process in February amid allegations of domestic abuse.” Now, the White House is considering Puzder for a yet-to-be-determined slot in the administration… t’s not clear what role Puzder might take, these people said, though it would have to be a non-Senate-confirmed slot given his withdrawal as labor secretary.”
THE LAST GASP OF THE PANICKED WHITE MALE. David Atkins: Trumpism [….] is […] about mostly conservative, mostly white, mostly male panic–both over their declining status vis-a-vis women and minorities, and their declining economic status in rural areas and former factory towns vis-a-vis urban areas and white-collar jobs. […] They [Republicans] know it cannot continue. The electoral college cannot save them forever, gerrymandering cannot save them forever, billionaire-funded advertising cannot save them forever, and not even the echo chamber of conservative media can save them forever. These are just temporary stop gaps against a rising demographic and ideological tide of millennials, women, people of color and the college educated.
But that’s what makes Republicans so particularly dangerous right now. A cornered animal is a dangerous one. They know their goose is cooked within the decade or sooner, and Donald Trump won them the White House in a fluke. The original game plan was to see Hillary Clinton elected with a divided government, blame all the problems on her administration, and count on a Republican resurgence in 2020. After all, no party tends to hold the White House more than three terms in a row.
But now they have Trump, and Democrats seem poised to storm back in 2018 and 2020. Trump would clearly prefer a dictatorship for himself, and Republicans seem totally willing to help him put one in place. They know their window is short and limited. Which means the next few years will be a trial by fire for our institutions as Republicans find themselves tempted to help Trump permanently subvert the electoral accountability they know is coming.”
Democrats move to offense on health care – big ideas coming https://t.co/S7xh71NaLa
— Topher Spiro (@TopherSpiro) January 8, 2018
MITT ROMNEY WAS TREATED FOR PROSTATE CANCER. “Mitt Romney — who is said to be eyeing a bid for U.S. Senate from Utah — was treated last summer for prostate cancer,” NBC News reports. “Romney’s treatment, which involved surgery at the University of California-Irvine Medical Center, was successful, and he has a good prognosis.”
CONSERVATIVES SEEK TO WOO HURRICANE REFUGEES AFTER SCREWING THEM. GOOD LUCK. “A massive influx of Puerto Rico residents displaced by recent hurricanes is transforming communities in Florida and other states, and a conservative group is moving quickly to woo them ahead of the midterm elections,” the Washington Post reports. “Residents of Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens who can participate in presidential primaries but cannot cast a vote for president — unless they move to the mainland and register to vote. With hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans leaving the island, they are poised to transform several communities in Florida and bolster fledgling island communities in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas, while adding to their already large numbers in New Jersey, New York and parts of New England.”
A conservative columnist admits it: "We were wrong about stop-and-frisk" https://t.co/Qz20XDPtcD
— Vox (@voxdotcom) January 8, 2018
RNC CONSENT DECREE HAS ENDED. A federal district court has ended a consent decree in place since 1981 against the Republican National Committee against so-called “ballot security” measures which seemed aimed at suppressing minority voter turnout. Rick Hasen: “With the consent decree gone, the RNC will for the first time in 35 years be free to begin anew efforts to spur purges of voter rolls and take potentially suppressive ballot security measures in the name of preventing voter fraud.”
ANTI-CHOICE ACTIVISTS KILL OBAMACARE FIX: “A bipartisan effort to stabilize the U.S. health-insurance markets collapsed last month after anti-abortion groups appealed directly to Vice President Mike Pence at the 11th hour,” the Daily Beast reports. “Amid opposition from conservatives in the House of Representatives, a group of pro-life activists met with Pence to lobby the Trump administration against supporting a health-insurance market-stabilization bill on the grounds that it does not contain sufficient language on abortion restrictions.”
This is such important work. I’ve long said that school attendance zone lines are as heavily gerrymandered as electoral districts. https://t.co/c3WDNwEwvE
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) January 9, 2018
GOP FAILURE IN NEW YORK. Politico: “Two potential candidates for New York governor against incumbent Andrew Cuomo have dropped out in the past week. No candidate against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has gotten beyond the whisper phase. There’s still no challenger to the state attorney general or comptroller. In President Donald Trump’s home state, the New York Republican Party is on the verge of disaster. It has so far come up dry in its efforts to put together a top-tier 2018 statewide ticket — a budding failure with implications that could ripple beyond state borders.”
WHITE HOUSE WORRIED ABOUT TRUMP FINANCES. Author Michael Wolff said people in the White House believe that if special counsel Robert Mueller looks into President Trump’s finances in the Russia probe, the president is “sunk,” The Hill reports. Said Wolff: “People don’t think in the White House — don’t think that he colluded with Russia. They do think that if the investigation goes near his finances, he’s sunk.”