The Open Thread for March 31, 2018

Russia’s ambassador to the United States has told NBC News he can’t remember a period of worse relations between Washington and Moscow, after both countries expelled dozens of diplomats following the poisoning of a former Russian spy. Said Anatoly Antonin: “It seems to me that atmosphere in Washington is poisoned — it’s a toxic atmosphere. It depends upon us to decide whether we are in Cold War or not. But … I don’t remember such a bad shape of our relations.”

Martin Longman: “If Ambassador Anatoly Antonin doesn’t want poisoned relations with the West, he could try convincing his boss to stop holding fake elections, murdering people left and right, using nerve agent in the United Kingdom, shooting down passenger airplanes, invadingand annexing territory from his neighbors, having his mercenaries attack our troops in Syria, and hacking into our infrastructurevoting networks, and political parties’ emails.  […]

Ambassador Antonin added, “Today Russia’s responsible for everything, even for bad weather. It’s high time for us to stop blaming each other. It’s high time for us to start a real conversation about real problems.”  Antonin could improve bilateral relations immediately by not saying risible things like we’re blaming his country for the weather. That would be a good start. Just not saying things that make Americans want to slap your face would be like a new beginning.  In the meantime, we’re trying to rid ourselves of your leader’s great gift to us, President Donald Trump.  There’s no amount of apologizing that’s going to atone for that trick. You pantsed us in front of the world, congratulations. But don’t think we’ll ever forget.

In all seriousness, though, you can’t assassinate people on the street in our countries with military grade chemical weapons and think we’re going to smile, shake hands and “start a real conversation about real problems.” That was an arrogant miscalculation that has now resulted in the expulsion of more than 150 Russians from twenty-seven Western countries.”

“A controversial London-based academic with close ties to Nigel Farage has been detained by the FBI upon arrival in the US and issued a subpoena to testify before Robert Mueller, the special counsel who is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin,” the Guardian reports.

“Ted Malloch, an American touted last year as a possible candidate to serve as US ambassador to the EU, said he was interrogated by the FBI at Boston’s Logan airport on Wednesday following a flight from London and questioned about his involvement in the Trump campaign.”

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s protective detail “broke down the door at the Capitol Hill condo where he was living, believing he was unconscious and unresponsive and needed rescue, in a bizarre incident last year that the EPA has for months refused to discuss,” ABC News reports.

“The EPA eventually agreed to reimburse the condo owner for the damage to the door… Pruitt declined medical attention, and a police report was never filed.”

Meanwhile, according to Bloomberg: “Administrator Scott Pruitt’s lease at a Washington apartment owned by a lobbyist friend allowed him to pay $50 a night for a single bedroom — but only on the nights when he actually slept there. White House officials are growing dismayed about the questions surrounding Pruitt’s living arrangement, including his initial inability to produce any documentation about his lease or his actual payments, according to three officials.”

“In all, Pruitt paid $6,100 to use the room for roughly six months.”

“An obscure White House office responsible for recruiting and vetting thousands of political appointees has suffered from inexperience and a shortage of staff, hobbling the Trump administration’s efforts to place qualified people in key posts across government,” the Washington Post reports.

“At the same time, two office leaders have spotty records themselves: a college dropout with arrests for drunken driving and bad checks and a lance corporal in the Marine Corps reserves with arrests for assault, disorderly conduct, fleeing an officer and underage drinking.”


A new Economist/YouGov poll finds 58% of Republicans think President Trump is being framed by the FBI and Department of Justice in the Russian investigation.

A new Associated Press-NORC-MTV poll finds that just 33% of Americans between the ages of 15 and 34 approve of Trump’s job performance. That’s 9 points lower than all adults.

“The survey is the first in a series of polls designed to highlight the voices of the youngest generation of voters. The respondents, all of whom will be old enough to vote when Trump seeks re-election in 2020, represent the most diverse generation in American history.”

“Multiple companies say they’re pulling their advertisements from conservative Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s show after she sent a tweet mocking Parkland shooting survivor and gun-control activist David Hogg,” NPR reports.

“Nestle US, Hulu and Nutrish confirmed on Twitter that they are removing advertising from Ingraham’s show. Media reports say TripAdvisor, Expedia, Wayfair and Johnson & Johnson are pulling their support as well.”

Ralph Peters: “You could measure the decline of Fox News by the drop in the quality of guests waiting in the green room. A year and a half ago, you might have heard George Will discussing policy with a senator while a former Cabinet member listened in. Today, you would meet a Republican commissar with a steakhouse waistline and an eager young woman wearing too little fabric and too much makeup, immersed in memorizing her talking points.”  “This wasn’t a case of the rats leaving a sinking ship. The best sailors were driven overboard by the rodents.”

“As I wrote in an internal Fox memo, leaked and widely disseminated, I declined to renew my contract as Fox News’s strategic analyst because of the network’s propagandizing for the Trump administration. Today’s Fox prime-time lineup preaches paranoia, attacking processes and institutions vital to our republic and challenging the rule of law.”

Jacob Pramuk spotlights two promising Democrats running in potential red-to-blue congressional districts, Brendan Kelley (IL-12) and Gina Ortiz Jones (TX-23) as prime examples of candidates well-matched for the unique features of their districts. Pramuk adds that “Of the 33 challengers getting the DCCC’s organizational and fundraising support as part of its “red to blue” effort, at least a dozen have some military or national security experience…Democrats often try to run candidates with military or national security backgrounds to counter a GOP narrative that the party is weak on defense or crime, said Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a Democratic National Committee member. That experience is “particularly valuable” in swing districts where Democrats will need voters to cross ideological lines, she said.”

Other insights from Pramuk’s post: “”No side has ever lost an election because of too much energy, and it’s clear that Democrats have all the energy,” said Tyler Law, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC. “Ultimately, robust primaries can be very helpful for candidates, especially those who haven’t run for office before…House Republicans won’t say it publicly but they woke up after the special election terrified by the fact that we have a huge amount of Democratic candidates who uniquely fit their districts and have deep records of service,” said the DCCC’s Law. “But that’s not all that keeps them up at night – Republicans know that their stale playbook backfired, particularly on taxes, and now they’re stuck without a single popular accomplishment to campaign on.”

Regarding the controversy about adding a question about a respondent’s citizenship status in the 2020 census, E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains the problem succinctly: “There’s a reason why the formal census has not asked about citizenship since 1950, and why it is an especially bad idea to reintroduce it now….Response rates to the census in lower-income neighborhoods have long been a challenge, and immigrants in the country illegally have worried that answering the questionnaire could endanger their status, despite legal guarantees of confidentiality. Even legal immigrants have shared these worries….The undercounting of immigrants would create a twofold injustice,” explains E. J. Dionne, Jr. in his syndicated column. “It would tilt representation at all levels of government away from places with large populations of Latinos and other immigrants (often Metropolitan and Democratic-leaning) and overrepresent white, rural regions and states. And it would short-change undercounted areas when it comes to federal funds, since many programs operate on formulas based on the census…In the Trump era, there is an irony here since one legitimate concern in locales with high levels of recent immigration is that their public services are often strained. Cutting money from such jurisdictions only increases the burdens on local taxpayers, native born and immigrant.”

Roxane Gay had the same reaction to the new “Roseanne” reboot as I did: “As I watched the first two episodes of the “Roseanne” reboot, I thought again about accountability. I laughed, yes, and enjoyed seeing the Conner family back on my screen. My first reaction was that the show was excellent. But I could not set aside what I know of Roseanne Barr and how toxic and dangerous her current public persona is. I could not overlook how the Conner family came together to support Mark as he was bullied at school for his gender presentation, after voting for a president who actively works against the transgender community. They voted for a president who doesn’t think the black life of their granddaughter matters. They act as if love can protect the most vulnerable members of their family from the repercussions of their political choices. It cannot.

This fictional family, and the show’s very real creator, are further normalizing Trump and his warped, harmful political ideologies. There are times when we can consume problematic pop culture, but this is not one of those times. I saw the first two episodes of the “Roseanne” reboot, but that’s all I am going to watch. It’s a small line to draw, but it’s a start.”

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

1 comment on “The Open Thread for March 31, 2018

  1. delacrat

    “In the meantime, we’re trying to rid ourselves of your leader’s(Putin’s) great gift to us, President Donald Trump.” – delaware dem

    You’re sayin’ Putin is behind the super-delegates, felony disenfranchisement, voter ID laws and gerrymandering that gave us Trump ?

    Sorry. Not buyin’ it.

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