The Open Thread for February 16, 2018

TRUMP BLAMES THE VICTIMS.   Instead of embracing background checks, banning the AR-15 and other semi automatic weapons, and banning gun purchase and possession by the mentally ill, Donald Trump chose to blame the victims of yesterday’s school shooting  in the tweet above for not doing more to stop themselves from being shot by a white supremacist with violent tendencies.  It should be noted that, as the Trump and his Republicans now try to focus on blaming mental illness rather than the easy access to military grade weapons, that Trump and his Republicans made it easier last year for the mentally ill to get guns.  The bastards’ hands are dripping with blood.

Politico: “The White House was slow to immediately respond to the Parkland school shooting… The hesitance followed a week in which the president did nothing to calm the furor surrounding the revelation that a former top aide was allowed to keep working in the West Wing and handling sensitive information without a full security clearance because of his past domestic abuse.”

“In both cases, the president seemed to hang back behind staff decisions rather than taking decisive action to look engaged and involved. The response underscored the extent to which this White House, which is eternally thrust into dramas—many of Trump’s own making—remains rudderless in a crisis and curiously flat-footed when true emergencies like the Florida shooting arise.”

ALL SENATE IMMIGRATION BILLS FAIL IN THE SENATE.   “The Republican-led Senate on Thursday blocked both President Trump’s immigration plan and a bipartisan alternative, a failure that cast doubt on whether Congress will ever resolve the fate of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants,” the Washington Post reports.

“The failed votes could plunge the nation’s immigration system into further crisis, as millions of ‘dreamers’ are set to lose legal protections when the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is set to end on March 5. Federal court challenges continue, meaning the program may continue under legal limbo until June.”

Trump’s immigration plan got 39 votes. The other three plans got 52, 54, and 54 votes,  despite the president’s veto threats.  So if you are a Dreamer, or a DACA recipient, your last hope is the courts.   President Trump and his Republicans desperately want and will try to deport you unless the appellate courts and/or the Supreme Court enforces the protections granted by President Obama.  Meanwhile, this marks the end of the Wall, the end of any increased border security, and the end of any liberal or conservative immigration reform for the next decade.  The Republican refusal to protect Dreamers has poisoned the well.

NEARLY THE ENTIRE WHITE HOUSE STAFF LACKS PERMANENT SECURITY CLEARANCES.   “More than 130 political appointees working in the Executive Office of the President did not have permanent security clearances as of November 2017, including the president’s daughter, son-in-law and his top legal counsel,” according to NBC News.

“Of those appointees working with interim clearances, 47 of them are in positions that report directly to President Donald Trump. About a quarter of all political appointees in the executive office are working with some form of interim security clearance.”

SOUNDS LIKE THE QUESTION IS WHEN KELLY GOES, NOT IF.  Vanity Fair: “In recent days, Trump has floated names like White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and longtime friend Tom Barrack, a real estate developer… The situation remains fluid. Last night, for instance, three Republicans told me that Trump had offered the job to Gary Cohn. But in a conversation with Sean Hannity yesterday, Trump said he had not chosen Cohn… Trump has also discussed House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy…. In the past, McCarthy has expressed interest in being chief… But people who have recently spoken to McCarthy say he’s lost interest.”

“Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have aggressively pushed for Cohn, sources said. They’ve also been advocates for David Urban, the lobbyist and political strategist who helped steer Trump’s win in Pennsylvania… Meanwhile, Hannity is part of a faction pushing Wayne Berman, a senior adviser to private-equity giant Blackstone… People close to Steve Bannon have been advocating for House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows.”

A CURSE OF RICHES.  David Wasserman: “Republicans’ biggest structural advantages in the House – think geography, incumbency and money — have been weakening all cycle. Pennsylvania’s GOP map just got thrown out, at least 32 Republicans aren’t seeking reelection, and over three dozen GOP incumbents were out-raised by Democrats in the final quarter of 2017 — including GOP Rep. Steve Knight (CA-25), whom Hill out-raised. In the past, these kinds of trends have foreshadowed wave elections.”

“But as primary season approaches, the explosion of candidate and donor interest on the Democratic side has a caveat: in a lot of races, Democrats suddenly have more well-funded hopefuls than they know what to do with.”

“So, are these congested Democratic primaries a blessing or a curse? The answer: it depends on the situation, but overall, Republicans shouldn’t count on them to save their majority.”

CLOSE RACE IN THE NEXT SPECIAL ELECTION.  A new Monmouth poll in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district finds Rick Saccone (R) with a small advantage over Conor Lamb (D).  Using a turnout model similar to voting patterns seen in other special elections over the past year, Saccone leads by 49% to 46%.  A historical turnout model, based on lower turnout than the 2014 midterm, gives Saccone a larger 50% to 45% lead. A model with higher turnout overall, similar to a presidential election, gives Saccone a 48% to 44% advantage.

President Trump won the district in 2016 by 20 percentage points.  Also interesting: 48% say they support “what President Trump is doing,” while 47% opposed him.

BANNON AND GATES FLIP? Steve Bannon was interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller over multiple days this week, NBC News reports.  “Bannon spent a total of some 20 hours in conversations with the team led by Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia as well as other issues that have arisen around the probe.”

“Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, indicating he’s poised to cooperate in the investigation,” CNN reports.  “Gates has already spoken to Mueller’s team about his case and has been in plea negotiations for about a month. He’s had what criminal lawyers call a ‘Queen for a Day’ interview, in which a defendant answers any questions from the prosecutors’ team, including about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed.”

“Once a plea deal is in place, Gates would become the third known cooperator in Mueller’s sprawling probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.”

TRUMP’S SCIENTIFIC ADVISOR IS A 31 YEAR OLD NONSCIENTIST. Scientific American: “A job that’s been held by some of the nation’s top scientists is now occupied by a 31-year-old politics major from Princeton University.”

“More than a year into his term, Trump hasn’t identified a potential nominee for the key position held by prominent scientists in Republican and Democratic administrations alike… That means the job falls to Michael Kratsios, the deputy assistant in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. At least for now. Kratsios graduated from Princeton in 2008 with a political science degree and a focus on Hellenic studies.”

GOP PANICS AND LOOKS FOR NEW CANDIDATES. “Republicans worried about holding on to their Senate majority are trying to convince three lawmakers to reconsider their decisions and run for the upper chamber,” The Hill reports. “Reps. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Ann Wagner (R-MO) are being encouraged to launch Senate bids after initially passing on those races, while Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) is hearing calls to put off his retirement and run for reelection.”

“The last-minute maneuvering suggests the GOP primary fields may not be settled just eight months before the November midterm elections and highlights an increasing nervousness among Republicans that their Senate majority — once seen as nearly invincible  — may be at risk.”

JFK, REAGAN, OBAMA AND CLINTON TOP LISTS OF BEST PRESIDENTS. A new University of Virginia Center for Politics/Ipsos poll finds Americans rate John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan as the best of most recent presidents.  Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, the two most recent Democratic presidents, round out the top four, while the current president, Donald Trump, finds himself near the bottom of the ratings.

Meanwhile, a new Gallup survey finds 63% of Americans in hindsight say they approve of the way Barack Obama handled his job.  “Gallup’s first measure of Obama’s retrospective job approval rating places him behind only John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan among the 10 most recent presidents. Richard Nixon is rated worst today for how he handled his job, with 28% approving.”

YARD SIGNS DON’T VOTE, BUT THEY DO WORK.  Wade Perry, the manager of Doug Jones’ (D) longshot U.S. Senate campaign in Alabama, told McClatchy that “before Jones even won his own primary, and hatched a plan with campaign chairman Giles Perkins. Their realization: the campaign needed to show Republican voters — some of whom hadn’t voted for a Democrat in decades — that it would be OK to support one this time around.”

“And what better way, they thought, than letting the average Alabamian see rows of Jones signs in their neighbors’ yards?”

“Perry himself can scarcely believe he’s talking about them seriously… But the man who managed the most stunning upset in recent Democratic political history has a larger — and much more important — point he wants to make; his party must be willing to try something different with their politics and campaigns, especially as it prepares to compete this November in a litany of Republican-rich areas.”

Sure a sign as any that they are running in 2020.

TRUMP’S HABITS ARE CONTAGIOUS. Mike Allen: “All habits, good and bad — in all organizations, big and small — flow down fast from the top. This dynamic is particularly true in the White House, and unmistakably true in this Trump White House.”

“Trump’s lifelong habits — to improvise, to attack, to deny the undeniable, to leak — spread fast through the White House, metastasized in the agencies, and infected Republicans in Congress.  They are Republican habits now.”

Said one White House official: “It’s the Donald Trump culture. It’s every man for himself — do what’s best for me, not for the organization.”

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

15 comments on “The Open Thread for February 16, 2018

  1. cassandram

    Preet Bharara wants us to know that all of Mueller’s team has the requisite security clearances.

  2. cassandram

    I’ve been listening to GOP deflections on guns all morning. The takeaway? The GOP has put a price on the heads of your children and the NRA is more than willing to pay it.

    • The only thing that gives me hope is the kids. Never have I heard the NRA called out like this. They are even openly mocking “thoughts and prayers”.

      There’s something building here. Not sure if it will keep building, but the rate of these mass shootings are definitely fueling momentum.

      2Aers, Republicans and the NRA keep whining about people trying to take their guns away without realizing they are putting themselves on that track by refusing to support the most basic gun regulations. Despite what these people think the 2nd Amendment doesn’t carry more weight than any other amendment, and if they keep pushing, without giving an inch, their nightmare fantasy might come true. Incremental change can go a long way towards slowing the pendulum swing. But keep doing nothing, guys, besides blaming victims and shrugging your shoulders over dead children. That should work out well for you. If your nightmare scenario of gun confiscation comes true, may I suggest looking in a mirror? You guys have accomplished what gun control activists wished for – you are creating gun control advocates faster than we ever could.

      There’s also no reason for anyone to own an AR-15 (or similar weapon) other than “I want one!” In fact, if you want one or own one that disqualifies you from being a responsible gun owner, imo. The only purpose for owning this gun is to kill a lot of people quickly, or as a Viagra substitute. If you claim it’s for hunting, you need to pick another hobby, because you obviously suck at that one.

      • There are 150+ semi-automatics. On top of that there are ways to make guns automatic. So, what ever legislation there is, it has to encompass all of that. Not just the AR-15. And what do you do about the guns that are already out there?

        • What about the guns already out there?

          • what do you do about the Semi-automatic guns that are already out there? Sorry, should have been more specific, Ben.

            • You can do a buy-back. Then you stop selling them and adding to people’s arsenals. If they’re banned, then if you’re found with one, you’re arrested.

              This argument sounds like: What do we do about opioids since they’re already out there? What do we do about speeders since they’re already out there. What do we do about burglars since they’re already out there. This thought process can be applied to any crime/regulation. Why have laws at all since some people will break them.?

              No law/restriction/registration will eliminate all these guns. We seem to completely understand this when it comes to everything else. We need to stop making guns the exception.

              • Pandora, your being very defense. I asked a simple legitimate question. Something that will come up and needs to be addressed.

                • That question has been put forth a gazillion times. It’s used as an excuse to do nothing. We hear this question every single time this issue is discussed.

                  Also, no tone policing.

  3. Booker is making the right moves (to the left), but the Zuck/Christie debacle with the Newark Public schools… and his lack of owning it… is a still a problem.
    Not a BIG one, but it is the difference between supporting out of a duty to defeat Trump, and enthusiastically supporting because I like him as a candidate. I would also like to see him donate the sum of what he got from the Kushners to homeless shelters, since they are the kind of Real-estate types who drive people into the street. It’d be a show, sure, but it’s an important gesture.
    Unfair as it is, whoever runs against Trump will be held to an infinitely higher standard and we cant change that. We can only adapt to it and make it our weapon.

    Gillibrand/Booker could be an interesting ticket, but is it “Too East Coast”? … Again, Yeah, Trump is from New York, but his shithead followers can be made to think he’s from Texas with one little burp from Hannity.

    For the sake of all that is good, Sanders and Warren need to stay in the senate. Establishment Dems will never accept Sanders into the leadership, but crusty spineless fucks like Schumer, Coons, and Carper (is DL going to Endorse Kerri Harris?… not telling you what to do, just asking) have to be replaced. I think if this wave actually happens, by 2021, Warren could be senate majority leader.

    • Delaware Dem

      We are going to sit down and interview Keri Evelyn Harris in the near future. An endorsement is a real possibility. Speaking for myself here, but it is time for Carper to go.

  4. Noticed we’ve entered Phase Two of the NRA’s post gun slaughter strategy, it’s marked by the return of the trolls and bots trying to widen the divisions of Americans. Their all over Facebook and the political sites today with comments like “well Obama had 8 years and did nothing!” as well as the usual NRA mantras that we all love so much. Round Three is far right pundits and red state politicians trying to minimize the impact, I’ve already seen a few and this time around their attacking the FBI as well. Should be noted that the shootings are coming faster and deadlier than in the past. Makes me remember nobody thought Big Tobacco could be taken down either.

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