Open Thread

The Open Thread for May 16, 2018

Josh Marshall on Trump’s betrayal of our allies on North Korea:  “From the outset, there was little reason to think that North Korea would agree to surrender its nuclear weapons and the infrastructure and labs required to build them. If we set aside the never-very-plausible idea that the Kims are madmen intent on prepping some secular apocalyptic nuclear confrontation with the U.S., a more prosaic, rational strategy becomes clear: build a credible nuclear deterrent, thus making military-backed regime change unthinkable. Then reach an accommodation with the U.S. from a position of strength and fundamental equality. Such an agreement might involve restrictions on nuclear weapons development, limits on numbers of warheads. But fundamentally it would mean accepting North Korea as a nuclear power.

Now the Trump administration appears to be trying to define “denuclearization” in such a way as to bring it into line with that kind of agreement. Most notably he seems to be focused now on eliminating the nuclear threat to the United States rather than North Korea’s nuclear weapons in general. That seems like it can be addressed by restrictions on missile capacity and/or some treaty which eliminates by some definition how much we consider North Korea a “threat”. Indeed, at one point, Pompeo has suggested that the U.S. is more categorical about North Korea getting rid of chemical and biological weapons than nuclear weapons – another hint that ‘denuclearization’ does not imply denuclearization.  Put it all together and you see a ‘deal’ in which North Korea gives up missiles that can reach the U.S., gets rid of chemical and biological weapons, and perhaps limits some ability to manufacture new nuclear weapons. In each case, North Korea gets an end of sanctions, partial withdrawal of U.S troops from South Korea and an undetermined amount of economic aid. (Note that this amounts to pretty close to the deal Republicans and finally President Bush trashed 20 years ago, only with the addition that North Korea has nuclear weapons and U.S. troops leave the region.)”

Apologies to our allies Japan and South Korea.  We only care about America now, so you both are screwed.  This supposed end game would be an open invitation to South Korea, Japan and the Philippines to also develop nuclear weapons.

Charlie Cook: “Over the past 90 days, the president’s approval ratings have ticked up to the low-to-mid 40s—still extremely low for elected incumbent presidents in their second year in office, but certainly better from where they had been… In the generic-ballot test, the GOP is now typically behind by mid-to-high single digits. As with Trump’s approval rating, Republicans are still in an alarming position on that front, but better than they were.”

“One thing to remember about midterm elections is that roughly a third fewer people vote in them than in presidential elections. The people who disproportionately participate in midterms are people who, as my mother used to say, “have their noses out of joint”—in this case angry, fearful, or merely unhappy. Republicans should be quite sure that those who dislike or disapprove of Trump will turn out in big numbers.”

First Read: “Across the 2018 Senate landscape, the vulnerable red-state Senate Democrats are either outspending their GOP challengers over the TV and radio airwaves, or they’re keeping the disparity as close as possible. (That’s where it helps to be an incumbent, right?)”

“But there’s one huge exception — Florida, where Republican Rick Scott and the GOP are outspending Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and the Democrats by nearly a 50-to-1 margin, $8.8 million to $185,000, according to ad-spending data from Advertising Analytics.”

“Scott’s personal wealth was always going to be a wild card for Republicans to play in this rough political environment for the GOP. It forces Democrats and Dem outside groups to spend heavily to keep Nelson competitive — it costs at least $2 million to $3 million PER WEEK to advertise statewide in Florida — which comes at the expense of other Democratic campaigns. That’s a significant advantage for Republicans, especially when so many Democrats (incumbents or challengers) are outraising Republicans in hard dollars.”

With respect to Israel, a two state solution/peace plan is dead. Israel has effectively taken over all the viable territory in the West Bank, making the creation of a second Palestinian state impossible. So the choices now are either 1) granting all Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza full Israeli citizenship or 2) being an Apartheid state that must be sanctioned and boycotted and shunned on the world stage.

“President Trump wasn’t planning to attend the recent NRA convention – that is, until he learned that Vice President Mike Pence would be giving the keynote address,” Politico reports.  “That led to a change of plans in the West Wing, according to two people familiar with the arrangement, and nearly a week after the NRA announced Pence would speak, the president was added to the schedule to speak moments after Pence.”

“It wasn’t the first time Trump has changed his plans to one-up the veep. It was originally Pence, not Trump, who planned to travel to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. But upon seeing who else would be attending, Trump decided to make the trip himself instead, bumping Pence off the schedule, according to a person familiar with the matter.”

Meanwhile, “Corey Lewandowski, who helped Donald Trump win the Republican nomination, is getting back in the campaign game,” Fox News reports.  “He is joining Vice President Pence’s political action committee, which will enable him to travel with the VP and puts him firmly back in the president’s 2020 reelection orbit.”


A new Gallup poll finds President Trump’s approval rate has continued to inch upwards to 43% to 52%. For comparison, the FiveThirtyEight polling average  shows Trump’s approval at 42% to 52%.

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds 60% of voters think it’s immoral if President Trump had an extramarital affair with Stormy Daniels, as compared to 21% who say it’s not immoral.  However, Trump voters are pretty divided on the question: Only 41% think it’s immoral if he had an affair with Daniels to 33% who say it’s not and 26% who are not sure.

“We also as an experiment asked voters if they think it would be immoral if Bill Clinton had an affair with Daniels. Trump voters think that would be immoral by an 18 point margin (46/28) compared to just the 8 point margin for Trump having an affair with Daniels. Hillary Clinton voters were more consistent, saying it would be immoral for Trump to by a 60 point margin (74/14) and saying it would be immoral for Bill Clinton to by a 62 point margin (75/13).”

A new Missouri Scout poll finds Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) leading challenger Josh Hawley (R) 48% to 44%. That 4-point spread is just outside the poll’s margin for error.  The poll also shows President Trump with continued strong approval in Missouri, 50% to 44%.

The EPA’s inspector general said that Scott Pruitt began receiving round-the-clock security from the moment he stepped foot inside the agency, the Washington Post reports.  “The inspector general’s office, which investigates threats made against any EPA employees, ‘played no role in this decision.’ At the EPA, no prior administrator has received 24/7 protection.”

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is “weighing a run for the suddenly vacant spot of New York attorney general — possibly doing so as an independent, free of ties to Democrats and Republicans,” Bloombergreports.

“Bharara’s name was floated as possible attorney general almost instantly after Eric Schneiderman quit as New York state’s top cop on May 7, following allegations of abuse by four women. Bharara, 49, served almost eight years as U.S. attorney in New York, where he spearheaded an historic crackdown on insider trading and targeted corruption in state government, before he was summarily fired by President Trump on March 11, 2017.”

CNN: “Despite active efforts to flush out administration leakers — including machines used to detect unauthorized cell phones in the West Wing — President Trump and his senior aides haven’t yet been able to stem the flow of damaging information.”

“The White House banned the use of personal cell phones in the West Wing in January. It was an idea first floated by chief of staff John Kelly when he replaced Reince Priebus last July, but one he didn’t implement until months into his tenure. Officials publicly maintained that the ban was because of national security reasons, but multiple staffers said privately that they were under the impression it was carried out in hopes of limiting leaks to reporters.”

“Kelly was agitated when a memo he wrote outlining the new policy quickly leaked to media outlets, a source familiar with his reaction said.”

Paul Waldman gives some perspective on the whole “Democrats has lost their advantage!” narrative:  “So let’s try to put things in perspective. Has President Trump’s approval risen lately? The answer is yes — but not by much. If you look at FiveThirtyEight‘s aggregation of polls, you’ll see that a month ago, Trump was at 40 percent, and now he has rocketed all the way up to … 42 percent. In fact, his approval has been remarkably steady over his entire time in office, seldom shifting more than a few points from 40 percent in one direction or the other.

That may be surprising, given the regular stream of lunacy emanating from the White House. But it shows the durability of partisan attachment: Even a presidency as alternately catastrophic and comical as this one won’t drive away more than a handful of voters from the president’s party.

At the same time, however, Trump is indeed different from presidents before him. Ordinarily, a president overseeing an economy in which unemployment had fallen below 4 percent would be basking in the affection of most Americans. Yet Trump’s approval has barely budged from where it has always been, even as the recovery that began under Barack Obama has deepened.

Republicans are hoping that Trump is so different that he can become the exception to what for them is a very frightening rule: When the president’s approval is below 50 percent, his party doesn’t just lose seats in the midterms, it loses big.”

A great way to demonstrate the outcomes of Republican vs Democratic policies is to compare what has happened in Wisconsin and Minnesota since 2010. The Economic Policy Institutejust updated the numbers.

“Since the 2010 election of Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Governor Mark Dayton in Minnesota, lawmakers in these two neighboring states have enacted vastly different policy agendas. Governor Walker and the Wisconsin state legislature have pursued a highly conservative agenda centered on cutting taxes, shrinking government, and weakening unions. In contrast, Minnesota under Governor Dayton has enacted a slate of progressive priorities: raising the minimum wage, strengthening safety net programs and labor standards, and boosting public investments in infrastructure and education, financed through higher taxes (largely on the wealthy).

Because of the proximity and many similarities of these two states, comparing economic performance in the Badger State (WI) versus the Gopher State (MN) provides a compelling case study for assessing which agenda leads to better outcomes for working people and their families. Now, seven years removed from when each governor took office, there is ample data to assess which state’s economy—and by extension, which set of policies—delivered more for the welfare of its residents. The results could not be more clear: by virtually every available measure, Minnesota’s recovery has outperformed Wisconsin’s.”

The Associated Press said that “it will begin conducting an elaborate election voter survey designed to replace the traditional in-person exit poll, which has been criticized in recent years for inaccuracy and failing to keep up with changes in how Americans vote,” the AP reports.

“The new AP VoteCast service, developed with NORC at the University of Chicago, uses a combination of online and telephone surveys conducted four days before Election Day and through the close of polls. In all, AP expects to conduct more than 85,000 interviews with voters for this year’s midterm election survey… That’s far more than the roughly 19,400 conducted by the exit poll in 2014… allowing for a deeper and more accurate understanding of the electorate.”

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

20 comments on “The Open Thread for May 16, 2018

  1. North Korea reneging on claims of nuclear disarmament you say? Shocking, other than this is the 5th time they’ve played the same game and suckered assorted pundits and politicians. Despite the best efforts of the Dem elite I still believe the blue wave is coming, the only debate is how far and will it retake the house. Noticed we’ve passed yet another “defining moment” for the Dems (per assorted pundits and other sundry fools) and that women did well, perhaps very well. This can only be a good thing, the new faces and new ideas the party lacks on a too frequent basis.

    • cassandram

      I can’t believe anyone is actually surprised at the NK pull back. They are the world’s version of Lucy and the football.

  2. cassandram

  3. delacrat

    “With respect to Israel, a two state solution/peace plan is dead.” – delaware dem

    The real solution is for Congress to tell Israel the checkbook is closed.

    • Don’t hold your breath. As has been pointed out for decades now, more criticism of Israel can be found in the Knesset than in the U.S. Congress.

  4. This whole North Korea business is connected with the China trade negotiations. North Korea is just a leverage point. Think of them as a party favor or toy that China will let Trump play with as long as the negotiations are going well in the eyes of China.

    This is sort of a new strategy for China in that usually when China is pressured over trade and things like intellectual property theft, they cue North Korea to start acting badly. This time they are offering a good North Korea to start with and taking it away when they need leverage in the negotiations.

    Basically they are dangling the Nobel Peace Prize in front of Trump and then pulling it away when they have to.

    • Yes, when I want trenchant geopolitical analysis, I go to randos on the internet. Jesus, you people.

    • Yeah mr “beat the hell out of em, i’ll pay your legal fees” is SUPER motivated by a Nobel Peace Prize.

  5. “Yes, when I want trenchant geopolitical analysis, I go to randos on the internet.”

    Not just any rando mind you, but a rando who cuts grass for a living. That’s what makes the information extra exclusive.

    • well that explains why you support the trmp “get rid of the animals” agenda.

      • Do you actually believe Trump called illegal immigrants animals, because I don’t think you really believe that. I think you know that he was referring to cold blooded killers.

  6. For those who aren’t going to watch the video, here’s the official transcript of that portion of the meeting, courtesy of Talking Points Memo:

    SHERIFF MIMS: Thank you, Mr. President. You know, sheriffs in California are now in an untenable position when it comes to trying to figure out — now, we have state law, we have federal laws, and here we are stuck in the middle. Sheriffs, especially, because most of us run our county jails.

    When there became a legal challenge to the 48-hour holds for ICE, it was very frustrating for us. So what I did is I invited ICE to put their officers in my jails so they’re able to do their work. We didn’t have the staffing to be able to help figure out who they wanted to talk to or didn’t. I said, come on in, work with our people to keep our community safe. Two weeks later, Mr. President, Kate Steinle was murdered.

    Now, I wasn’t the only sheriff to do that. Sheriff Youngblood did, Sheriff Christianson. And it was perfect — because we didn’t have to take our time, with our staff, to do anything. ICE was in there doing their work in a safe, controlled, environment. And then, the initiatives started happening — the TRUST Act, the TRUTH Act, and finally, SB 54, the Values Act. And that is causing us all kinds of turmoil.

    So here we are, stuck in the middle, trying to decide. We have federal law, we have state law. And that’s why I welcomed Attorney General Sessions’s lawsuit, because that will provide us the clarity that we need and direction that we need. What do we do? Because here we are.

    And I appreciated Mr. Homan and ICE. We had a great relationship; we still do. But now ICE is the only law enforcement agency that cannot use our databases to find the bad guys. They cannot come in and talk to people in our jail, unless they reach a certain threshold. They can’t do all kinds of things that other law enforcement agencies can do. And it’s really put us in a very bad position.

    THE PRESIDENT: It’s a disgrace. Okay? It’s a disgrace.

    SHERIFF MIMS: It’s a disgrace.

    THE PRESIDENT: And we’re suing on that, and we’re working hard, and I think it will all come together, because people want it to come together. It’s so ridiculous. The concept that we’re even talking about is ridiculous. We’ll take care of it, Margaret. We’ll win.

    SHERIFF MIMS: Thank you. There could be an MS-13 member I know about — if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I cannot tell ICE about it.

    THE PRESIDENT: We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before. And because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out. It’s crazy.

    The dumbest laws — as I said before, the dumbest laws on immigration in the world. So we’re going to take care of it, Margaret. We’ll get it done. We’re going to ask that man right there, because that man can do it. (Laughter.) Right now he’s the most important man in the room. Kevin can do it.


    That doesn’t sound to me like he’s only talking about MS-13 members. It sounds as if he’s talking about immigrants in general. And I’m not going to take personal responsibility for the president’s inability to clearly articulate his thoughts, if indeed he has any.

  7. No one is saying that Trump isn’t a buffoon, but I disagree with the ulterior context that is being pushed unfairly by the opposition. The dialogue is clearly about criminals and MS-13.
    It’s helpful to see the video:

    • DD posted a long clip and Alby posts a real transcript and you are still here trying to tell us our eyes are fooling us. There’s a reason we’re not conservatives and mostly it’s because we’re not going to fall in line with any bullshit that comes down the pike. Stop with your bamboozlement.

  8. @RSE: Shorter Cassandra, which I second: Bullshit.

    Even if he were trying to confine his comments to the “criminals” that he claims most of them are, he’s too inarticulate — a variation of “fucking stupid” — to make that clear.

    You motherfuckers used one scream by Howard Dean to proclaim him insane. Boy have your standards changed.

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