The Open Thread for February 25, 2018

“The House Intelligence Committee released a redacted version of a Democrat-written memo rebutting GOP allegations that federal law enforcement agencies used politically-biased information to conduct surveillance on one of the president’s former campaign aides,” the Washington Post reports.

Politico: “The memo was meant as a counterweight to a GOP memo that Trump declassified three weeks earlier, claiming that FBI officials misled a secret court to obtain a warrant to spy on Trump camp foreign policy adviser Carter Page.”

“The memo reveals that the FBI has already launched investigations into members of the Trump team prior to receiving a dossier of allegations about Trump’s ties to the Kremlin, which the president has long derided as a fiction. The dossier was financed by the campaign of Hillary Clinton, leading Republicans to allege that the FBI’s Russia investigation was prompted in part by political opposition research.”

New York Times: “Democrats say their memo corrects key mischaracterizations and crucial omissions in the Republican document. While the Republican document focused on a single thread, Democrats said they tried to explain the whole tapestry of evidence against Mr. Page.”

Jonathan Chait: “More than a month ago, conservatives rose up in coordinated demands to ‘release the memo.’ The memo, supposedly, contained breathtaking evidence of corruption in the Justice Department. The agents of the Deep State had allegedly used a partisan memo to spy on the Trump campaign, hiding its provenance. Fox News and numerous Republicans insisted the memo gave President Trump all the cause he needed to fire Rod Rosenstein and rein in Robert Mueller.”

“Republicans managed to delay the publication of a rebuttal memo by House Democrats for several weeks. The motivation for the delay is obvious. The Democratic memo lays waste to every important accusation made by Devin Nunes. (Or, to put it more accurately, made by Trump, via Nunes.)”

Vox: “The Democratic rebuttal to the Nunes memo tears it apart.”

Wired:  “Mueller clearly knows where this investigation is going and is methodically building it brick by brick: His first wave of charges, against Manafort, Gates, and George Papadopoulos, established that the Trump campaign had been lying about its contacts with Russians; his second wave—the guilty plea by Michael Flynn—established that those lies extended to figures inside the White House; his third wave of charges, against the Internet Research Agency, establishes that there was a criminal conspiracy to help Trump and undermine Hillary Clinton. Any Americans who knowingly participated in that conspiracy will also, presumably, be vulnerable to prosecution.”

“None of the rest of us knows where this probe is heading, not even the targets of the investigation. Three times now Mueller—in the most watched investigation in history—has charged and gotten guilty pleas from people who weren’t even on our radar: Papadopoulos and Richard Pinedo, a Californian who pleaded guilty last Friday to unwittingly aiding the Russians with identity theft, as well as the aforementioned Dutch lawyer.”

“Tentative plans for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to make his first visit to the White House to meet with President Trump were scuttled this week after a testy call between the two leaders ended in an impasse over Trump’s promised border wall,” the Washington Post reports.

“Peña Nieto was eyeing an official trip to Washington this month or in early March, but called off the plan after Trump would not agree to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it would not fund construction of a border wall that the Mexican people widely consider offensive.”

EPA chief Scott Pruitt told the Christian Broadcasting Network that his religious convictions led him to conclude that America should use coal freely.  Said Pruitt: “The biblical world view with respect to these issues is that we have a responsibility to manage and cultivate, harvest the natural resources that we’ve been blessed with to truly bless our fellow mankind.”

Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff said he believes Jared Kushner will be indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, and would likely turn on President Trump, the HuffPost reports.  Said Wolff: “I think that there is a pretty good possibility at this point that Jared will be indicted. So the more direct question is will Trump throw his son-in-law under the bus, and then the corollary to that is, will his son-in-law throw his father-in-law under the bus? And I think the answer to both of those questions is ‘yes’.”

Jonathan Swan: “Two days before President Trump gave his unchained, campaign-style speech at CPAC, he had a secret visitor in the Oval Office. You didn’t see it on the president’s schedule, and the news hasn’t leaked out until now, but Trump’s first campaign manager Corey Lewandowski met with the president and Chief of Staff John Kelly in the Oval Office early afternoon on Wednesday.”

“Lewandowski often tells Trump that he’s the best campaigner in the world and he should be out there, unscripted and off the Teleprompter, letting rip like he did on the campaign trail. Kelly and others inside the White House would rather Trump focus on governing and stick to his prepared remarks.”

Perry Bacon on why Trump is not taking Democrats up on their offer to pay for the wall: So why didn’t Trump take the victory on the wall and accept citizenship for DACA recipients, pocketing a win for his base (the wall) but also taking a position backed by most voters (DACA)? I think it’s because the backlash to extending citizenship to nearly 2 million people was potentially greater than the upside of getting the wall built.

First, it’s not clear that Trump will face a backlash if the wall isn’t built. Some Trump allies have said that his supporters took the candidate’s rhetoric about the wall and other issues during the 2016 campaign “seriously, but not literally.” Indeed, in interviews with Republican voters, I’ve found that many interpreted Trump’s push for a border wall more as a pledge that he would take conservative stands on immigration than as a promise for the creation of a Great Wall of China-style structure.

Some polls show that Trump voters did expect a real wall, but here’s what’s even clearer: Among Republicans, Trump is more popular than the wall. Trump is edging close to a 90 percent approval rating from members of his party in some surveys. In contrast, support for the wall among Republicans is often in the high 60s and 70s, with about a quarter of Republicans opposing it.

Second, Trump could face a backlash if he were to sign a bill granting citizenship to a large group of undocumented immigrants. Important forces in the Republican Party — many in the anti-establishment wing — are strongly opposed to the DACA citizenship proposals, including political groups like Heritage Action, media figures at outlets such as Fox News and Breitbart, deeply conservative members of Congress like Sen. Ted Cruz and conservative activists such as Corey Stewart, who served a stint as a co-chair of Trump’s 2016 campaign in Virginia.

Had Trump pushed hard for passage of a bill that included a DACA provision along with the wall, I think these oppositional forces would have mobilized against those proposals and moved the broader GOP electorate against them, too.”

“The glitches in the new tax law are starting to pile up,” Politico reports.

“Republicans would like to address the problems as soon as next month, as part of legislation needed to fund the government. But to do that, they’ll need assistance from Democrats, and it’s unclear they are in any mood to help. They were shut out of the process of writing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and may be looking for payback after Republicans steadfastly refused to allow them to fix hitches in the Affordable Care Act.”

“Some Democrats say they will want to widely reopen the law, as part of any effort to clean up the legislative miscues.”

National Review writer Mona Charen “was escorted out of the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday after slamming President Trump and conservatives for behaving like ‘hypocrites’ when it comes to women’s issues,” the Washington Examiner reports.  Said Charen: “I’m disappointed in people on our side for being hypocrites about sexual harassers and abusers of women who are in our party, who are sitting in the White House, who brag about their extramarital affairs, who brag about mistreating women.”

According to the Weekly Standard, she added: “This is the party that endorsed the Roy Moore for the Senate in the state of Alabama, even though he was a credibly-accused child molester. You cannot claim that you stand for women and be all right with that.”

“Charen’s comments were met with heavy boos inside the conference hall, and she was later spotted leaving the conference with a three-person security detail.”

Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) fundraising lagged far behind challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) during the first six weeks of 2018, the Dallas Morning News reports.  Cruz raised $800,000 through Feb. 14. That’s well below O’Rourke’s $2.3 million haul.

FiveThirtyEight: “According to qualitative assessments by nonpartisan handicappers — Cook Political ReportSabato’s Crystal Ball and Inside Elections, — only eight GOP-held governorships are completely safe in 2018. That leaves 18 Republican-held governorships in some degree of danger.”

Actor Michael Ian Black at The New York Times:  “I used to have this one-liner: “If you want to emasculate a guy friend, when you’re at a restaurant, ask him everything that he’s going to order, and then when the waitress comes … order for him.” It’s funny because it shouldn’t be that easy to rob a man of his masculinity — but it is.

Last week, 17 people, most of them teenagers, were shot dead at a Florida school. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School now joins the ranks of Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Columbine and too many other sites of American carnage. What do these shootings have in common? Guns, yes. But also, boys. Girls aren’t pulling the triggers. It’s boys. It’s almost always boys.

America’s boys are broken. And it’s killing us.

The brokenness of the country’s boys stands in contrast to its girls, who still face an abundance of obstacles but go into the world increasingly well equipped to take them on.”

Katha Pollitt at The Nation: “I was all set to write a column about the paralysis of progressives around guns: how even the ghastliest school shootings rouse few of us to more than hand-wringing and despair. After each massacre, I was planning to say, we go through the motions, writing letters to the editor, making donations to gun-control groups and politicians who promise to fight to stem the tide, but, except for the most dedicated activists, our involvement is pretty small-bore and low-key. The Million Mom March was the last major national mobilization, and that was back in 2000. A majority of Americans support gun control, but the passion—and the money, and Congress—is with the National Rifle Association.

The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, aren’t having any of that. Survivors of a horrific rampage by Nikolas Cruz, a former fellow student who murdered 17 and wounded more than a dozen, they’re speaking out—screaming out—in a way we haven’t seen before, confronting the politicians who have failed them. […]

Maybe the kids will save us in the end—and not a moment too soon. Because too many of us well-meaning liberal/progressive adults have been cowed by the gun lobby. We’ve resigned ourselves to quasi-defeat and accepted the NRA’s framing, the mythological sanctity of “gun rights.” So we speak of “responsible” gun owners. Proud rural folk taught to shoot by Granddad. “Commonsense” gun laws. Respect for the Second Amendment. We say, “We don’t want to take away anyone’s guns.”

E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post asks “Why is only one side in the gun culture war required to show respect?”

You have perhaps heard the joke about the liberal who is so open-minded that he can’t even take his own side in an argument. What’s less funny is that on gun control, liberals (and their many allies who are moderate, conservative and nonideological) have been told for years that if they do take their own side in the argument, they will only hurt their cause.

Supporters of even modest restrictions on firearms are regularly instructed that their ardent advocacy turns off Americans in rural areas and small towns. Those in favor of reforming our firearms laws are scolded as horrific elitists who disrespect a valued way of life.

And as the mass killings continue, we are urged to be patient and to spend our time listening earnestly to the views of those who see even a smidgen of action to limit access to guns as the first step toward confiscation. Our task is not to fight for laws to protect innocents, but to demonstrate that we really, honestly, truly, cross-our-hearts, positively love gun owners and wouldn’t for an instant think anything ill of them.

What is odd is that those with extreme pro-gun views — those pushing for new laws to allow people to carry just about anytime, anywhere — are never called upon to model similar empathy toward children killed, the mourning parents left behind, people in urban neighborhoods suffering from violence, or the majority of Americans who don’t own guns.”

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

3 comments on “The Open Thread for February 25, 2018

  1. cassandram

    And how interesting is this: California Democrats decline to endorse Feinstein

    Her primary opponent Kevin de León did not get the endorsement either (there is a 60% threshold vote to get the Party endorsement). Heartening that the Dems aren’t letting her have a cake walk here.

  2. Michael Steele. Sorta shocked he doesn’t know what his party thinks of him.

  3. Find it hard to believe Steele was that dense, he was an obvious token and harsh criticism rained upon him on a daily basis. Might I add Go Beto O’Rourke! It’s still a bit of a long shot but if he takes down Evil Ted Cruz it’s reason to stand up and cheer.

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