The Open Thread for February 8, 2018

“Senate leaders have reached an agreement on a two-year budget deal, adding billions of dollars in federal spending,” the Washington Post reports.  The measure, aides said, contains almost $90 billion in overdue disaster aid and an increase in the government borrowing cap that would prevent a first-ever U.S. government default on its obligations. The deal would set federal spending for the next two years, boosting both defense and non-defense spending by a combined $300 billion. It also provides funding to battle the opioid addiction crisis and for natural disaster recovery, and extends funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for another four years, on top of the six years CHIP was already extended for in last month’s Continuing Resolution.

TPM: “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) entered the third hour of a House floor speech demanding action on immigration reform to protect recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program from facing possible deportation. McConnell has agreed to an open debate on immigration, but it’s far from clear what deal the Senate might reach — and whether that would be palatable to President Trump and House Republicans.”

Pelosi announced that she and many Democrats would not support this budget caps deal until Ryan commits to allowing an immigration bill, open to amendments, on the floor. “This morning, we took a measure of our Caucus because the package does nothing to advance bipartisan legislation to protect ‘Dreamers’ in the House,” Pelosi said. “Without a commitment from Speaker Ryan, comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell, this package does not have my support.”

Meanwhile, “House conservatives revolted against a massive bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling and bust spending caps, complaining that the GOP could no longer lay claim to being the party of fiscal responsibility,” The Hill reports.  Said Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL): “I’m not only a ‘no.’ I’m a ‘hell no.’”

The U.S. official in charge of protecting American elections from hacking told NBC News that the Russians successfully penetrated the voter registration rolls of several U.S. states prior to the 2016 presidential election.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Fox News that Russia is already trying to interfere in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. But he said there are few ways to stop it.

Said Tillerson: “The point is, if it’s their intention to interfere, they are going to find ways to do that. We can take steps, but this is something that, once they decide they are going to do it, it’s very difficult to preempt it.”

President Trump usually wears a bright red “Make American Great Again” hat for these occasions, but Ashley Feinberg noticed that he was totally unprepared for gusts of wind as he boarded Air Force One last Friday.

Jonathan Chait: “It may seem cheap and low to mock Trump’s absurd efforts to conceal his hair loss. But Trump is a man obsessed with image in ways that go beyond the normal human concern with looking presentable. Image is Trump’s moral code. He dismisses his political rivals for being short… Trump’s absurd hair is of a piece with his lifelong attempt to market himself as a brilliant deal-maker and stable genius. So yes, it is okay to laugh when the ruse is exposed.”

“A Democratic group backed by former President Obama intends to pour millions of dollars into an eclectic array of elections in a dozen states, in an effort to block Republicans from single-handedly drawing congressional maps after 2020,” the New York Times reports.  “The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, formed last year under the leadership of Eric Holder, the former attorney general, has settled on a strategy to contest a combination of governorships, legislative seats and more obscure state offices to chip away at Republicans’ sweeping control of the redistricting process.”

“One year into the Trump presidency, the nation’s 22 Democratic state attorneys general — including ambitious up-and-comers like New York’s Eric Schneiderman, California’s Xavier Becerra and Massachusetts’ Maura Healey — have emerged as the shock troops of the Democratic resistance,” Politico reports.

“Democratic state attorneys general are bringing a growing string of lawsuits, complaints and other actions against the Trump administration on immigration, education policy, net neutrality, marijuana enforcement, offshore oil and gas drilling and more – and there’s no end in sight.”

“It’s a new look for Democratic state prosecutors, but it’s hardly a novel idea: The Democrats’ strategy is borne in part of a calculated decision to coordinate closely and emulate the way their Republican counterparts relentlessly battled the Obama administration over climate regulations, Obamacare and more.”

“Joe Biden has started recruiting top donors for his PAC’s finance committee — but some of them are resisting signing on, wary that he’ll decide again not to pull the trigger on a presidential bid and that their money might be better spent elsewhere,” Politico reports.

“They want to see clear moves that his own campaign is underway before writing him more checks. That’s not coming anytime soon: though Biden has mapped out ambitious plans to help Democrats running in this year’s midterms, he hasn’t set a timeline for deciding on a 2020 bid, let alone decided to run, according to four people who’ve spoken with him.”

Stuart Rothenberg: “It’s always tempting to tell incumbents of an unpopular president’s party to criticize their own party leader as a way to survive a midterm wave. But that strategy rarely works in competitive congressional districts when the political environment is as bad as it is for Republicans today.”

“Repeatedly criticizing your own party’s president undermines him, makes his party look divided and ineffective, and risks alienating the party’s grass roots, many of whom still support him.”

“At the same time, appearing to be an apologist for an unpopular president, particularly one as unhinged as Trump, also isn’t a winning strategy for most vulnerable Republicans.”

Josh Kraushaar: “There are a whole lot of Republican slackers in the House, representing GOP-friendly districts that will be vulnerable in a down year for the party. There doesn’t need to be a Democratic tsunami to win some of these seats. All it takes are unprepared Republican members, overconfident about their reelection prospects and ideologically cocooned in their hard-right caucus.”

“Here’s how vulnerable many of these members are: Of the 23 Republicans representing seats that the Cook Political Report rates as “likely Republican,” 12 were outraised by at least one Democratic challenger in the most recent fundraising quarter. By contrast, only one Democratic member in the same “likely Democratic” position was outraised by a GOP challenger.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune: “For Republicans, the night offered a clear warning: Low turnout showed the risk of an enthusiasm gap — a potential complacency born of the party’s control of the White House and Congress. With all precincts reporting, almost 11,000 Republicans had participated in the caucus, barely more than half the 20,000 who showed up 2010 and well less than the 14,000 in 2014.”

“On the DFL side, turnout was on its way to 30,000, more than the 22,500 who turned out in 2010, the last time there was an open governor’s race.”

Greg Sargent: “Here’s where we are today: President Trump’s allies fear that refusing an interview with the special counsel, as his lawyers want, could trigger a destructive showdown that could go all the way to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the White House is still mulling whether to release Rep. Adam Schiff’s rebuttal to the Nunes memo — which means suppressing it remains a real possibility.”

“Both are a reminder that, generally speaking, it remains unknown just how far Trump will go to evade accountability. And that’s why you should pay attention to the argument under way among center-right writers over just how much damage Trump is doing and just how complicit the GOP is in enabling that damage.”

Vanity Fair: “Trump has recently told advisers he wants a ‘killer’ to steer the White House’s response to Robert Mueller’s investigation and craft a midterm election message for him to stump on this fall. For Trump, there’s a growing urgency to fill the role. His efforts to stymie Mueller’s probe have so far failed, and the specter of impeachment looms if Democrats win back the House in November. Ivanka, who’s been frustrated with Chief of Staff John Kelly, has told her father that he needs people around him that will put his interests above their own.”

“The president’s top choice for the strategist position is Jason Miller, who served as communications director for Trump’s presidential campaign.”

Said an outside adviser: “He wants a killer, and Jason is a killer.”

Miller withdrew from consideration of a White House post after it was revealed during the transition that he had an extramarital affair during the campaign with former Trump aide A.J. Delgado.

Text messages from 2016 show preparation to brief President Obama about Russia’s interference in that year’s election, not, as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) suggested, meddling by the then-president in the federal Hillary Clinton email investigation, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Republicans and the president himself have cited the messages as evidence that the Russian probe amounts to a wider plot to undermine him.”

Earlier, Trump had tweeted: “New FBI texts are bombshells!”

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

4 comments on “The Open Thread for February 8, 2018

    • Well, the Russians just might be interested in an agreement to keep the US navy out of the Black Sea and the Russian navy out of the Gulf of Mexico.

      I’d be okay with that. How about you?

  1. Find it hard to believe there is nothing to be done about Russian hacking of elections, that’s like declaring there’s not way to defend the nation in the modern age. Bull shite. There must be a way to thwart the Russians, the Trump regime just doesn’t care to do it or admit the problem. Noticed the daily “bombshell” from Trump and his evil henchman is being ignored to a large extent, also notice the Republican obsession with all things email with the new target being FBI emails (sorry Hilary, they’ll get back to you later). At this point the email game is not only a dead horse but a savagely mutilated one that stinks to the proverbial high heaven. And on a lighter Hows About That Stock Market?

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