The Open Thread for March 11, 2018

New York Times: “For nearly two months, since the Wall Street Journal first revealed an October 2016 payment to Ms. Clifford (known on screen as Stormy Daniels), the story had subsisted on the margins of national consciousness — a consequence, it seemed, of both the daily Trumpian overload and a wide-scale confusion over what, exactly, the whole affair amounted to. Was it tragedy or farce? Serious or sideshow? Was it all of them, leaving us paralyzed by the choice?”

“Despite the unrelated tumult of this week — tariff policy, staff turnover, nuclear intrigue — the ordeal has begun showing signs of an elusive longevity, coaxed by a lawsuit filed by her lawyer and an acknowledgment from Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, that Mr. Trump’s side had pursued an arbitration proceeding against Ms. Clifford. The White House briefing room has been consumed by repeated questions about the payment.”

“Five and a half hours after testifying before a grand jury in the Russia probe, a former political adviser to Donald Trump told ABC News exclusively that he believes the investigation is ‘warranted.’”  Said Sam Nunberg: “No, I don’t think it’s a witch hunt. It’s warranted because there’s a lot there and that’s the sad truth.”

”Nunberg declined to say whether he’d be back in front of the special counsel’s attorneys or the grand jury. A source close to him said he is scheduled to testify five more times.”

“Let them call you racist. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor. Because every day, we get stronger and they get weaker.” — Former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon, quoted by ABC News, speaking to French far-right politicians.

New York Times: “At the State Department, where some diplomats quietly applauded Mr. Trump’s gamble, there was a fear that more hawkish aides in the White House might throw up further hurdles to the meeting. The White House, they said, has invested more in sanctions and military options than in diplomacy. Officials there have in the past expressed frustration about what they viewed as the Pentagon’s reluctance to provide options for a military strike on the North.”

“With all the potential traps and internal misgivings, some officials said they believed the chances of a meeting between the two leaders actually happening were less than 50 percent.”

“Mr. Trump’s decision stunned allies and his own advisers, not least Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, who was caught unaware while traveling in Africa when the president accepted Mr. Kim’s invitation.”

Well, because of that photo above, right now he has my vote in 2020.

“The White House is switching into campaign mode as it seeks to protect the GOP’s congressional majorities in 2018,” The Hill reports. “President Trump is gearing up for a fall blitz, with aides saying he plans to hit the campaign trail for Republican candidates four, five or even six days a week starting around Labor Day.”

President Trump “will get his much-anticipated military parade, but it will not include some of the biggest military hardware, according to a planning memo released late Friday by the Pentagon,” Politico reports. “The event, which will take place Nov. 11, will include troops from different branches, highlight the growing role of women in the armed forces and have a ‘heavy air component’ of modern and historic war planes, the memo says.”

“President Trump is in discussions with a veteran Washington lawyer who represented Bill Clinton during the impeachment process about joining the White House to help deal with the special counsel inquiry,” the New York Times reports.

“The lawyer, Emmet Flood, met with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office this past week to discuss the possibility… No final decision has been made.”

Key detail: “Mr. Flood would not replace Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer who since last summer has taken the lead role in dealing with the special counsel, Robert Mueller. But Mr. Cobb has told friends for weeks that he views his position as temporary and does not expect to remain in the job for much longer.”

“Two people close to the president said that the overture to Mr. Flood did not indicate any new concerns about the inquiry. Still, it appears, at the least, to be an acknowledgment that the investigation is unlikely to end anytime soon.”

“Some 1.6 million people tune in to Fox & Friends every morning, but when Kristian Saucier told the network why he believed he should be pardoned for his national-security-related felony conviction, he clearly had one very specific, very powerful fan of the show in mind: the viewer-in-chief,” the Washington Post reports.

“Less than a week after making that plea, Saucier had his pardon from a man who has uttered very similar words and happens to be the leader of the free world: President Trump.”

Washington Post: “Republicans and their outside allies have thrown almost everything at Conor Lamb, the 33-year-old Democrat who’s running against Rick Saccone, a Republican veteran of Pennsylvania’s state legislature. They tried to tar Lamb as a clone of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as a liberal who would raise their taxes and, lately, as a former federal prosecutor who was soft on illegal immigration.”

“But those messages have not done the damage Republicans had been hoping for — Lamb and Saccone are running neck and neck. It should have been a cakewalk in a House district President Trump won by 20 percentage points in 2016.”

“President Trump is strongly considering Christopher Liddell, a White House official who was an executive at Microsoft and General Motors, to succeed his departing top economic adviser, Gary Cohn,” the New York Times reports.  “Mr. Trump has not made a firm decision, those briefed on the process said. But Mr. Liddell, the White House’s director of strategic initiatives, is currently seen as a front-runner to replace Mr. Cohn as the director of the National Economic Council.”

Paul Krugman on Trump’s trade war: “It’s true that trade deficits can be a problem when the economy is depressed and unemployment is high. That’s why I, like many other economists, wanted us to take a tougher stance on Chinese currency policy back in 2010, when we had around 9 percent unemployment. But the case for worrying about trade deficits, like the case for running budget deficits, has largely evaporated now that unemployment is back to 4 percent…”

“So we can’t “win” a trade war…A cycle of retaliation would shrink overall world trade, making the world as a whole, America very much included, poorer. Perhaps even more important in the near term, it would be highly disruptive…..Never mind the net loss of jobs from a full-scale trade war, which would in the end probably be a relatively small number. The point instead is that the gross job losses would be huge, as millions of workers would be forced to change jobs, move to new places, and more. And many of them would suffer losses on the way that they would never get back. Oh, and companies on the losing end would lose trillions in stock value. So the idea that a trade war would be “good” and “easy to win” is surpassingly stupid.”

“The biggest threat to Democrats in the 2018 election may be the risk of repeating their biggest mistake in the 2016 election,” Ronald Brownstein explains at The Atlantic. “That mistake was Hillary Clinton’s decision to focus almost all of her effort on convincing voters that Donald Trump did not share their values, while failing to effectively challenge his promise that he would represent their economic interests.

“That failure helped Trump win despite exit polls showing about three-fifths of voters doubted he had the experience or temperament to succeed as president…The comparable risk for Democrats this year is that they will be caught in an endless succession of Trump-centered battles—both cultural (guns, immigration) and personal (Russia, White House chaos)—and fail to effectively challenge the GOP claim that its tax-cut plan is benefiting average families. Republicans expect that if voters believe the party is putting more money in their pockets, even many people recoiling from Trump’s performance will still vote to maintain GOP control of Congress.”

Eugene Robinson says Stormy Daniels beat Trump at his own game:  “The Daniels affair is of more than just prurient interest: It would appear that Trump may have violated federal campaign law by failing to disclose the payment on his reporting forms. […]

The personal lawyer of Donald Trump, days before the election, paid $130,000 to apparently buy the silence of a porn star. Said porn star credibly describes an affair she had with the president and the ham-fisted attempts by his lawyer to keep her from talking about it. All of this unquestionably speaks volumes about the president’s character and morals.

Republicans who regarded Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky as the end of civilization as we know it are serenely untroubled. Evangelical Christians who rail against sin and cloak themselves in piety offer nothing but a worldly, almost Gallic shrug. Daniels has taught us much about their character and morals, too.”

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

5 comments on “The Open Thread for March 11, 2018

  1. Mitch Crane

    Ed Kilgore is wrong about Joe Biden’s swearing in to the US Senate in 1973. He was not sworn in by Vice President Spiro Agnew. He was sworn in by the Secretary of the Senate in his sons’ hospital room in Wilmington. He was also only 29 when elected and 30 when sworn in-making him decades younger then others sworn in that year.

  2. As noted by a great many the Stormy Daniels affair would have sank almost any politician other than Trump, perhaps because he’s a reality show host but more likely because the mouth breathers he has in thrall don’t care, those adorable Evangelicals in particular. The legal battle will be interesting to watch, especially as Daniels reports it’s been very good for “business”. Will be interesting to see how Lamb vs. Saccone plays out, if Lamb triumphs it will send a collective shiver down the near none existent spine of every Republican everywhere, and even better knock the legs out from under Trump.

    • Will also send chills down the spines of liberals as Lamb is basically running as a Republican. He opposes abortion, has said he will vote against Pelosi as Speaker of the House, and has not come out as a member of “the resistance”. In fact, if you look at his web site it’s not really clear what he stands for, although he does support making healthcare cheaper and spending on infrastructure.

      In other words, a Democrat I would actually consider supporting if he were running in Delaware.

      Election probably does not mean much in any event thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, as 538 points out it is entirely possible both these candidates are members of the House in 2020.

      • cassandram

        Since it is liberals who will be voting for Lamb on Tuesday I wouldn’t worry about that all too much. The real problem is that in this area that overwhelmingly voted for the GRIFTUS, and that they’ve spent $9M or so to not move the needle, this continues the narrative that the GOP is in hot water with voters everywhere.

      • XYZ, it is interesting that you seem to trust the show that Dems are “welcoming pro-lifers”

        The party is just reiterating that one may have a Biden-esq view on abortion…. that it, it is fine to not make that personal choice for one’s self (super easy if you’re a cis man) but to clam the fuck up when discussing someone else’s body.
        Conner Lamb is doing exactly what I think Dems ought to do in districts like his. Put on the show for the hillbillies and get their slobbery votes…. seriously, it isn’t like Pelosi will NEED his vote to regain speaker-ship.

        People who need to be convinced NOT to vote for drumpf or his party are beneath deserving the truth anyway.

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