The Open Thread for March 5, 2018

Josh Kraushaar: “Here’s how tricky things have gotten for Republicans: GOP outside groups have dramatically scaled back their ads promoting the party’s tax cut, with the messaging barely moving the needle in the district’s working-class confines. The latest round of advertisements focus on law-and-order issues, like immigration and crime. A new spot from the Paul Ryan-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC slams Lamb for supporting ‘amnesty to illegal immigrants’ because he ‘worked in the Obama administration.’ A National Republican Congressional Committee ad portrays Lamb as soft on crime because he negotiated a plea deal with a notorious drug kingpin during his tenure as a federal prosecutor. These culture-war ads are reminiscent of those run by Ed Gillespie in his failed Virginia gubernatorial campaign, and they carry the whiff of desperation.”

“Meanwhile, Republicans are sufficiently concerned about the energy from the Democratic base that CLF is distributing a mailer in suburban precincts of Allegheny County ‘thanking’ Lamb for supporting gun rights. It’s a cynical attempt to dampen Democratic enthusiasm for his campaign.”


A new Axios/Survey Monkey poll finds a large majority of Americans have little to no faith that the Trump administration will stop foreign governments from interfering in the 2018 midterm elections.

Josh Marshall:  “We are back in a round of stories about Trump allies being “worried” about President Trump’s mental state, stories of his raging at various enemies, ‘frustrated’ that his 2016 campaign is being investigated while Hillary Clinton’s is not. The organizational chaos in the White House, we’re led to believe, is both being driven by the President’s moods and in turn pushing him further into anger or agitated depression. Out of the blue he launches a trade war with major US allies to sate his need to attack and lash out. There’s a simpler explanation for all of this. The legal noose is tightening around the President, his family and top advisors. He is scared and angry.

Commentators often say the President doesn’t like being questioned; he’s angry that his appointees don’t defend him; he lashes out at different staff members whom he’s ‘frustrated’ with. In other words, people look for process explanations. This is all seems like psychologizing and over-explaining to avoid the most obvious explanation: he’s scared and looking for a way out. But he can’t seem to find one. It’s all escalating. And we’ve learned over the last week that President Trump’s racket with Russia may be only one facet of his family’s political corruption. The level of apparent corruption, interlaced with numerous constitutional landmines, is beyond our national experience.”

Former Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough told Meet the Press that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked a more robust response to Russian meddling in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election.  Said McDonough: “It took over three weeks to get that statement worked out. It was dramatically watered down.”  McDonough added that he knew it had been watered down at the request of McConnell.

“The Trump administration has adopted a new strategy for how it issues tens of millions of dollars in federal family-planning grants, giving preference to groups that stress abstinence and making it harder for Planned Parenthood to do business,” the AP reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told NBC News that the 13 Russians who have been indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller “do not represent the Russian state, the Russian authorities.” But he quickly added that he’ll “never, never” extradite them to the United States.  No worries.  But they’ll never leave Russia.  The minute they do, we nab them.

New York Times: “More than a dozen high-profile departures later — and amid tumult, scandal and an ever-unfolding investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia — Ms. Conway, 51, is one of the few remaining prominent aides from the campaign. In a White House with the highest turnover rates in decades, she has survived by knowing when to step back from the spotlight, keeping the president’s ear, focusing on a policy issue significant to the poor and working class, and maintaining an unflinching loyalty to President Trump even as she outmaneuvers rivals on the staff.”

“The public criticism hasn’t abated, but Ms. Conway’s skin is thicker than it used to be.”

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) told Fox News that Stephen Colbert’s jokes about him are a “danger” to the nation.  Said Nunes: “This is the danger that we have in this country. The left controls not only the universities in this country, but they also control Hollywood in this country, and the mainstream media, so conservatives in this country are under attack. They attack people who are trying to get to the truth.”

Nunes is referring to the sketch below:

Former Gov. Chris Christie (R) told ABC News that it’s time for Jared Kushner to leave the White House.  He said Kushner should follow the example set by a “noble” Hope Hicks, who announced her resignation as communications director last week.

Said Christie: “I think what the staff has to do is in fact what Hope Hicks I think did. I think Hope Hicks saw that between the Rob Porter situation and some of the other things that were going on, that she was becoming a distraction for the president and less of an asset in her mind, and she did the noble thing in my view, which was to say, you know what, if I’m not 100 percent an asset for the president, I’m going to back away.”

A grand jury subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller, seen by Jonathan Swan and sent to a witness indicates that many in President Trump’s known inner circle — and the president — are within the scope of his investigation.  The subpoena seeks “all communications — meaning emails, texts, handwritten notes, etc. — that this witness sent and received” to Carter Page, Corey Lewandowski, Donald J. Trump, Hope Hicks, Keith Schiller, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roger Stone and Steve Bannon.

Politico: “In his 14 months as president, Trump hasn’t yet followed his predecessors’ habit of dropping by local watering holes (even though he’s made no secret of his love for junk food) or public service events either at home or on the road. He hasn’t gone to a baseball game or stopped at a soup kitchen. On Saturday, he ventured out of the White House to attend the annual Gridiron Dinner, taking a baby step into Washington’s elite social scene. But his appearance at the white-tie event did little to bring him closer to ordinary Americans.”

“Trump promised the night of his victory to govern on behalf of ‘the forgotten men and women of our country.’ Yet as president, he rarely comes into contact with regular people except in the structured setting of the White House or during tightly orchestrated events set up by staff.”

Washington Post: “Heading into a new week, lawmakers still have no sense of what Trump truly wants on guns and other key agenda items — a pattern that leaders of both parties say has hindered their ability to move forward on knotty issues that could benefit from presidential leadership.”

“After more than a year of the Trump presidency, members of Congress have learned to brace themselves for unpredictable, confusing and often contradictory positions from the commander in chief on issues ranging from health care to immigration to gun rights.”

“As Russia’s virtual war against the United States continues unabated with the midterm elections approaching, the State Department has yet to spend any of the $120 million it has been allocated since late 2016 to counter foreign efforts to meddle in elections or sow distrust in democracy,” the Washington Post reports.

“As a result, not one of the 23 analysts working in the department’s Global Engagement Center — which has been tasked with countering Moscow’s disinformation campaign — speaks Russian, and a department hiring freeze has hindered efforts to recruit the computer experts needed to track the Russian efforts.”

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

2 comments on “The Open Thread for March 5, 2018

  1. ““The Trump administration has adopted a new strategy for how it issues tens of millions of dollars in federal family-planning grants, giving preference to groups that stress abstinence and making it harder for Planned Parenthood to do business,” the AP reports.”

    This is how we know it’s really about controlling women. Stressing abstinence means not educating people on birth control. We’ve seen this game before. ‘Cause if you really care about limiting abortion you’d be advocating for birth control at the top of your lungs. But they won’t, because this isn’t about abortion at all. This is about punishment. And it always has been.

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