Open Thread

The Open Thread for March 15, 2018

“Republicans on Wednesday struggled to explain their likely loss in the Pennsylvania special election: GOP leaders warned lawmakers that the outcome in the pro-Trump district could spell disaster in the midterms if they don’t respond forcefully, but many lawmakers dismissed the race as an anomaly and seemed to be in denial,” Politico reports.  “Most rank-and-file going in and out of the meeting downplayed the election, suggesting Republican candidate Rick Saccone was weak and Lamb was a “unicorn” who couldn’t be replicated in tight races this fall.”

“We should be able to elect a box of hammers in this district. If we’re losing here, you can bet there is a Democratic wave coming.” — Republican strategist Mike Murphy, quoted by the Washington Post, on yesterday’s Pennsylvania special congressional election.

Nate Silver: “It’s true that other measures aren’t as bad for Republicans as these special elections — for instance, they trail Democrats by ‘only’ 8 or 9 percentage points on the generic congressional ballot, which suggests a close race for control of the House this year that only narrowly favors Democrats. By contrast, the 16- or 17-point5 average Democratic overperformance in special elections so far suggests a Democratic mega-tsunami.”

“But those special election results consist of actual people voting, whereas generic ballot polls are mostly conducted among registered voters — or sometimes all adults. (Very few pollsters will apply their likely voter models until later this year.) In midterm years, polls of likely voters sometimes show a substantial gap from those of registered voters — there was about a 6-point enthusiasm gap favoring Republicans in 2010, for instance, which took that year from being mildly problematic for Democrats into a massive Republican wave that saw them pick up 63 House seats.”

“That sort of turnout gap suggests that registered-voter polls could be underrating Democrats in this year’s midterms — and could turn a challenging year for Republicans into a catastrophic one.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) blasted the national student walkout as a “shameful” attempt by left-wing groups to push their own political agenda, The Hill reports.  Said McMaster: “This is a tricky move, I believe, by a left-wing group, from the information I’ve seen, to use these children as a tool to further their own means. It sounds like a protest to me. It’s not a memorial, it’s certainly not a prayer service, it’s a political statement by a left-wing group and it’s shameful.”

The Wall Street Journal has this great detail when President Trump called Larry Kudlow to offer him a job as his top economic adviser:  “At one point during their call Tuesday, Mr. Kudlow said the president seemed to revel in the fact that his staff didn’t know they were discussing the job. The president told him, “‘No one else knows that you and I are having this conversation.’ I loved it,” said Mr. Kudlow. “He is who he is.””

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said “he had no interest in becoming the next head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, flatly rejecting speculation that he would soon take over the position amid rapidly eroding White House support for embattled VA Secretary David Shulkin,” the AP reports.  Two administration officials said that Shulkin’s position “is growing more precarious and that he could be out of a job within the week, but cautioned that nothing was finalized.”

In 14 months covering this White House, Jonathan Swan says he’s “never registered such a mood of acute anxiety from within the West Wing.”  “Nobody knows what exactly is happening, who’s about to be fired, or which staffer will next be frogmarched out the door by security for some shadowy clearance issue.”  Said one official: “This is the most toxic working environment on the planet. Usually tough times bring people together. But right now this atmosphere is ripping people apart. There’s no leadership, no trust, no direction and this point there’s very little hope. Would you want to go to work every day not knowing whether your future career was going to be destroyed without explanation?”

Sources tell Vanity Fair that President Trump has discussed a plan to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  “According to two Republicans in regular contact with the White House, there have been talks that Trump could replace Sessions with E.P.A. Administrator Scott Pruitt, who would not be recused from overseeing the Russia probe. Also, because Pruitt is already a Cabinet secretary, he would not have to go through another Senate confirmation hearing.”  Trump may also tap former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as his national security adviser.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said that CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s earlier support for the Iraq war and defense of enhanced interrogation techniques — or ‘torture’ in the view of Paul and many other senators — is disqualifying for his nomination to be Secretary of State, Politico reports.  “And the Kentucky senator indicated he may be willing to filibuster both Pompeo’s nomination and CIA director nominee Gina Haspel, who he says is ‘gleeful’ in her defense of torture techniques.”

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reviewing a recommendation to fire the former F.B.I. deputy director, Andrew McCabe, just days before he is scheduled to retire on Sunday,” the New York Times reports.  “Mr. McCabe was a frequent target of attack from President Trump, who taunted him both publicly and privately.”   “Though no decision has been made, people inside the Justice Department expect him to be fired before Friday, a decision that would jeopardize his pension as a 21-year F.B.I. veteran.”

“Newly released emails cast doubt on claims by Secretary Ben Carson and his spokesman that he had little or no involvement in the purchase of a $31,000 furniture set for his Department of Housing and Urban Development dining room,” CNN reports.  “Emails show Carson and his wife selected the furniture themselves.”

James Hohmann: “There are not many — if any — real opportunities for Republican incumbents to score meaningful legislative achievements between now and November.”

“The GOP’s struggles are remarkable because the economy is so strong. A solid jobs report came out last Friday, and the stock market is still up big since Trump took office, even after the recent correction. But it’s not puzzling what’s going on: Trump’s approval rating is hovering below 40 percent, and he sucks up all the oxygen. He did it again yesterday, when he fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson over Twitter.”

Associated Press: “Trump’s esteem for the Cabinet has faded in recent months… He also told confidants that he was in the midst of making changes to improve personnel and, according to one person who spoke with him, ‘get rid of the dead weight’ — which could put a number of embattled Cabinet secretaries on notice.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the United Kingdom would expel 23 Russian diplomats after the Kremlin failed to take responsibility for the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, the HuffPost reports.

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

8 comments on “The Open Thread for March 15, 2018

  1. cassandram

    Philly students on school safety walkout: What took you so long?

    A good reminder that there have been kids who have been pushing back on gun violence for awhile — without national support or sympathy.

    • delacrat

      “I saw more police officers at Black Lives Matter protests than I’ve seen at the Super Bowl parade in Philadelphia,”

      That’s a sad commentary. Makes you realize that law enforcement is really status quo enforcement.

  2. The Republicans are still in denial mode about Lamb’s win and Saccone’s defeat and have yet to mount a recount campaign. Trump however has said Lamb won because he’s like Trump. Did not notice Lamb being a jack ass. Like the mad scheme to get rid of Sessions and replace him with Scott Pruitt so he could then fire Mueller, the insane reasoning being “Pruitt has already been confirmed by the senate”, yeah, right! Senate confirmations are not a blanket seal of approval for other posts in the cabinet. And just a reminder, did you excoriate Carper and Coons today for voting to gut Dodd Frank? Got a laugh out of the girl from Carper’s office when I remarked “and now to rip Chris Coons a new one”.

    • The message I ask be passed along is “that there is nothing he can do to win back my vote and that I, and everyone I can convince will be supporting Kerri Evelyn Harris in the primary. If he manages to Delaware Way her, I still wouldn’t vote for him in the general because I dont vote for people that support Trump’s agenda.” Also to have a nice day. dont abuse the people who answer the phone.

      • Have not voted for Carper in over a decade, however I will if the seat is endangered, same for Coons.

        • endangered? i assume you mean endangered by a MAGAT in the general. If Carper is in danger of losing to a Republican in Delaware, it his his own damn fault for being awful. Same with Leiberman 2.0

          A lot of people aim to make his seat EXTREMELY endangered in a couple months… I hope you join us in sending this bank shill into retirement.

    • cassandram

      It’s been eye-rollingly funny to watch GOPers try to claim that Lamb made himself into a Republican to win. When just on Monday they were claiming he was a Pelosi-loving leftist liberal Democrat and Saccone was the TRUE ONE. Pornstasche and all.

  3. cassandram

    Trump’s New Economic Adviser Lawrence Kudlow Has Been Wrong About Everything for Decades

    Which is why he as a TV gig and not a bank or hedge fund gig.

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