The Open Thread for April 1, 2018

Washington Post: “Nowhere to be seen was John F. Kelly, the beleaguered White House chief of staff and overall disciplinarian — nor were the handful of advisers regarded as moderating forces eager to restrain the president from acting impulsively, who have resigned or been fired.”

“The gatherings neatly illustrated an inflection point for the Trump presidency. Fourteen months into the job, Trump is increasingly defiant and singularly directing his administration with the same rapid and brutal style he honed leading his real estate and branding empire.”

“Trump is making hasty decisions that jolt markets and shock leaders and experts — including those on his own staff. Some confidants expressed concern about the situation, while others, unworried, characterized him as unleashed.”

From Steve Peoples and Emily Swanson of the Associated Press: “Support for tougher gun control laws is soaring in the United States, according to a new poll that found a majority of gun owners and half of Republicans favor new laws to address gun violence in the weeks after a Florida school shooting left 17 dead and sparked nationwide protests…

The poll, conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, found that nearly 7 in 10 adults now favor stricter gun control measures. That’s the strongest level of support since The Associated Press first asked the question five years ago. The new poll also found that nearly half of Americans do not expect elected officials to take action…

Overall, 69 percent of Americans think gun laws in the United States should be made stricter. That’s up from 61 percent who said the same in October of 2016 and 55 percent when the AP first asked the question in October of 2013. Overall, 90 percent of Democrats, 54 percent of gun owners and 50 percent of Republicans now favor stricter gun control laws…Sixty percent believe that making it harder to legally obtain a gun would result in fewer mass shootings; just 49 percent said the same in the 2016 poll…7 in 10 favor a nationwide ban on devices known as “bump stocks” that allow semi-automatic guns to function like automatic guns…Nearly 6 in 10 favor a nationwide ban on AR-15-style rifles.”

“The carefully maintained secrecy around President Trump’s finances is under unprecedented assault a year into his presidency, with three different legal teams with different agendas trying to pry open the Trump Organization’s books,” the Washington Post reports.

“On one side is special counsel Robert Mueller, who has subpoenaed Trump Organization documents as part of his wide-ranging investigation into the 2016 campaign. On another is Stormy Daniels, the adult-film actress seeking internal correspondence as part of her effort to be freed from a nondisclosure agreement centering on an alleged affair with Trump.”

“And in the most direct assault, the District and Maryland have sued Trump, alleging that he is improperly accepting gifts, or “emoluments,” from foreign or state governments through his businesses, including his hotels.”

Salon asks if Trump’s voters even care if the President is a criminal?

“So if the president’s base has no real commitment to democratic values, would they care if the president were found culpable in any of the scandals presently roiling the White House? Jan-Werner Müller, a political theorist at Princeton University and the author of the 2016 book “What Is Populism?” has his doubts. Even if Trump violated campaign finance laws in his alleged hush payment to Stormy Daniels, obstructed justice in the Mueller investigation or was discovered to have colluded with the Kremlin, Müller contends, he might not face any political consequences for his misdeeds.

“In many populist regimes, what seems so obviously like corruption is, in fact, a strength for these leaders,” Müller told Vox’s Sean Illing. “It’s easy to look at abuses of power and assume that it will hurt the person committing the abuses, but it’s not that simple. What might look like corruption or cronyism to neutral observers is seen by the supporters of populists as doing the right thing for the right people, the ‘real people.’ This is why the tribal appeal of populism is so crucial. Populist leaders thrive on distinctions between ‘us’ and ‘them,’ between ‘the people’ and ‘the establishment.'”

As Müller sees it, the president’s supporters have been conditioned to tolerate a criminal commander-in-chief. Because Trump campaigned on the promise to dismantle a rigged political system, his voters likely interpret his looting and graft as a means to an end.”

Perry Bacon, Jr. and Dhrumil Mehta of FiveThirtyEight share some data about the current demographic profile of the Democratic party:

“According to Pew, 33 percent of self-identified Democrats are whites without a four-year college degree. They represent a larger cohort in the Democratic Party than whites with a four-year degree (26 percent), nonwhites without a four-year degree (28 percent) and nonwhites with a four-year degree (12 percent).

Yes, President Trump carried non-college-educated white voters easily in 2016; the exit polls suggest Hillary Clinton won only about 30 percent of these voters. But, because they’re such a huge portion of the U.S. electorate overall (44 percent, according to Pew) that’s enough to make non-college-educated whites a big share of the Democratic flock…

And while the percentage of Democrats who are unaffiliated with any religion is growing and that group now makes up a third of the party, the majority of Democrats consider themselves Christians. And it’s not just black and Hispanic Democrats who account for the party’s churchgoing contingent: White Democrats who belong to “mainline” denominations, such as certain types of Presbyterians and Lutherans (12 percent), white Catholics (10 percent) and white evangelicals (7 percent) together form a is sizable percentage of the party — almost as large as the unaffliliated bloc.

In terms of ideology, 46 percent of Democrats identify as liberal, the highest number Pew has found for that label since at least 2000. That’s a plurality, but it’s still a minority — Democrats who describe themselves as either moderate (37 percent) or conservative (15 percent) together form a slim majority of the party, according to the Pew poll…Young voters may tilt heavily Democratic, but nearly half of Democrats (47 percent) are 50 or older.”

David Weigel has an encouraging article at PowerPost, “Democrats’ message at gun-control rallies: Do what the students say,” which shows why Democratic candidates are in a good position to benefit from the burgeoning gun safety movement. Weigel notes that “politicians, most of them Democrats, cheered them on from the crowd. Democratic leaders from both houses of Congress participated in the marches, along with dozens of colleagues and candidates who are running for office in 2018. Their message: Listen to the students, and do what they say…Chants of “vote them out” rang in Washington and at other marches…Democrats were more outspoken about what they wanted: legislation to tighten background checks, restrict the sales of some magazines, and a restored ban on “assault weapons…On Twitter, congressional Democrats shared messages of support, videos of the crowds they saw, and the names of gun-control bills they wanted to pass.”

Lachlan Markay and Sam Stein of CNN report on Tom Steyer’s “impeachment crusade,” the activities of his “foremost political vehicle, NextGen Climate Action,” and how his involvement might impact the midterm elections. Markay and Stein note that NextGen “has raised more than $16 million during the 2018 election cycle. And more than half of those funds have been passed along to other groups or spent on political activity in support of specific candidates…The group has donated millions more to leading left-wing political organizations, including prominent Democratic groups such as opposition research group American Bridge 21st Century, labor union-backed super PAC for Our Future, and, most recently, a $1.5 million contribution to a new state-level political outfit called State Victory Action…

NextGen Rising, the youth turnout entity housed in one of Steyer’s nonprofit groups, has been highly active in 10 states, including the crucial battlegrounds of Florida, Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Virginia.” While many Democrats worry that the impeachment initiative could backfire, as it did with President Clinton, others argue that calling attention to Trump’s impeachable offenses has helped position Democrats as a clear alternative for the midterms.”

The pivotal role labor unions played in helping to elect Conor Lamb brings a reminder that unions are one of the most important elements of a winning Democratic coalition, and a healthy labor movement is critical for Democratic prospects. “Today, both the Gallup and the Pew polls show public support for unions at its highest level in years: 61 percent at Gallup; 60 percent at Pew, a good 20 to 35 percentage points higher than the approval ratings of President Trump and the Republican Congress,” Harold Meyerson writes in The American Prospect.

“Among Americans under 30, unions’ approval rating is a stratospheric 76 percent. As was the case in the 1930s, pro-union sentiment has grown only after the recovery was well under way…Unions’ new members are not merely younger; they also are increasingly either professional or technical workers. In 2003, 34 percent of all union members were professionals or techs; today, that figure has risen to 42 percent…Should the Democrats recapture the federal government after the 2020 elections, they will need to do something that no Democratic Congress has mustered the will to do in the last 70 years: Change labor law to bolster workers’ right to organize—and, if the Democrats can figure out how to do so, do the same for workers who are independent contractors and temps. They will have strong public backing to make such changes. The anti-plutocratic, pro-democratic politics of the young in particular apply not just to the polity, but to the workplace as well.”



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

2 comments on “The Open Thread for April 1, 2018

  1. cassandram

    New York passes bill to restrict guns for domestic abusers

    The law forces convicted domestic abusers to turn in rifles, shotguns, and any other firearms they were not previously prohibited from owning under a law passed after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that barred abusers from owning pistols or revolvers.

    Well done. Just well done.

  2. Support for gun control is rising quickly in America, except for that cowardly species we call politicians. As is so often the case they know what is needed but will not do it for fear of NRA voter reprisal. In Vermont they had enough guts to do it, but not here. Pathetic, typical and a way of life for politicians here.

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