Open Thread

The Open Thread for June 29, 2018

AUTOCRAT CONSOLIDATES POWER.  Mike Allen: “President Trump, with his refusal to take advice or yield to experts, is the West Wing. Republicans who control both halves of Congress won’t lift a finger against him and fully support his every move.  With his chance to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, Trump may have fewer checks on his power than any president in his lifetime. (Trump was born in 1946, the year after FDR died in office, 72 years ago.)”

“The media, normally the last check on a president with total control of government, has lost the trust of most Republicans and many Democrats, after two years of Trump pummeling.”  Not to mention they are just horrible at actual journalism.

Slate: “It is not just that the administration that is proving to be more effective than we might have hoped; it is also that the institutions meant to constrain it are proving far more pliant than we might have feared.”

“President Trump’s time in office has been tumultuous, his term dogged by the special counsel investigation, his major legislative achievements few and his political prospects clouded by the chances of a Democratic Party midterm wave,” the New York Times reports.

“But no matter what else happens in the Trump presidency, the retirement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the Supreme Court’s swing voter, set up Mr. Trump to cement a lasting legacy. Given a second Supreme Court vacancy to fill, he appears likely to go down in American history as an unusually influential president.”

“As the first Republican president to get his judicial nominees confirmed by a simple majority vote, thanks to the abolition of the Senate filibuster rule, Mr. Trump has already broken records in appointing young and highly conservative appellate judges. Now, Mr. Trump can create a new majority bloc on the Supreme Court — one that is far more consistently conservative, and one that can impose its influence over American life long after his presidency ends on issues as diverse as the environment and labor or abortion and civil rights.”

GOODBYE UNIONS.  Lost in the Kennedy news yesterday, was the Supreme Court’s devastating blow to public-sector labor unions.  It ruled 5-4 that they cannot collect fees from non-members, the Washington Post reports.   “The case has major implications for the future of organized labor, which has become a pillar of Democratic Party politics, and for the millions of workers in the nearly half of states that authorize payments from nonmembers to cover the cost of collective bargaining.”

Axios: “The public sector is one of the last bastions of labor’s strength — about 34% of government workers are unionized, compared with just 6.5% of the private sector. But this ruling could shrink those rolls significantly.”

My solution: strip all benefits that accrued to non paying members via the efforts of the union and collective bargaining.  That includes all pay increases, all benefits, all health insurance.    No more free ride to Trumpist conservative union members.

THE ELECTORAL RAMIFICATIONS. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Any Democrat who votes for this new nominee will anger a certain percentage of Democrats even in very red states. These Democratic voters may choose not to show up at the polls or may stop donating money to express their displeasure. Or, if the red state Democrats vote against Trump’s pick, they might energize more Republican presidential voters to turn out and support their GOP opponents. In McConnell’s calculation, heads they lose, tails they lose.”

“McConnell knows all this. He doesn’t care all that much how Democratic senators end up voting on the justice-nominee so long as he can keep his own caucus together. Assuming a vote before the midterm — McConnell said the Senate will vote on a replacement ‘this fall’ — the majority leader will attempt to make each red state Democrat pay a dear price on Election Day whether they vote for or against the nominee.”

Rick Klein: “The Democrats have a waking nightmare along with a bad hand that they could play into something worse. What may help their chances in House races may hurt them in the Senate, with an already restive base primed for the fight of all fights with Trump on any number of fronts.”

MUELLER IS A WILD CARD IN THE SUPREME COURT FIGHT.  First Read: “One thing that makes this Supreme Court fight different from the ones during the Bush or Obama years is the Mueller probe. The president’s 2016 campaign — and the president himself — is under investigation for its possible ties to Russian interests.”

“And if there’s a significant development in the next month — like another indictment or guilty plea — could Democrats make the case to the public that the president shouldn’t be able to appoint a justice to the court who will probably have to rule on some aspect of the Mueller probe?”

HERE COMES THE PAYOFF TO PUTIN.   President Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will meet on July 16th in Helsinki, the Washington Post reports.  “The meeting signals a growing rapprochement between the United States and Russia. Trump and Putin have pursued the tete-a-tete in hopes of soothing tensions over Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and its aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere, despite retaliatory actions taken by both governments this year.”

As the U.K. prepares to welcome Donald Trump next month, there are fears at the top of government about what he might do when he meets Vladimir Putin,” Bloomberg reports.

“One Cabinet minister, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that having watched the president’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, they worry Trump would want to burnish his deal-maker credentials by outlining a plan to reduce military presence around Europe’s Eastern boundaries.”

Jonathan Swan: “You’ve already read a hundred stories about President Trump’s clashes with some of America’s closest allies at the G7 summit in Canada. But we’ve got new details from his private conversations with heads of state that have put some of these leaders on edge leading into next month’s NATO summit.”

“In one extraordinary riff during his meeting with the G7 heads of state earlier this month in Quebec, Trump told the other leaders: ‘NATO is as bad as NAFTA.’ An official read this quote to me from notes transcribed from the private meeting.”

MUELLER TIME.  “Several billionaires with deep ties to Russia attended exclusive, invitation-only receptions during Donald Trump’s inauguration festivities,” guest lists obtained by ABC News show.  “These powerful businessmen, who amassed their fortunes following the collapse of the Soviet Union — including one who has since been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department — were ushered into events typically reserved for top donors and close political allies and were given unprecedented access to Trump’s inner circle.”

“Their presence has attracted the interest of federal investigators probing Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.”

Meanwhile, a former aide to Roger Stone Jr., the longtime Trump adviser and self-described ‘dirty trickster,’ was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury hearing evidence in the Russia investigation and to hand over documents, and his lawyer said he planned to move on Thursday to quash it in court,” the New York Times reports.  “The aide, Andrew Miller, has not been mentioned before publicly in the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller.”

SUPPORT FOR IMMIGRATION CONTINUES TO INCREASE.  Pew Research: “Since 2001, the share of Americans who favor increased legal immigration into the U.S. has risen 22 percentage points (from 10% to 32%), while the share who support a decrease has declined 29 points (from 53% to 24%).”

“The shift is mostly driven by changing views among Democrats. The share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who say legal immigration into the U.S. should be increased has doubled since 2006, from 20% to 40%.”

GOODBYE JOHN KELLY.  May you know nothing but bitterness and despair all the rest of the days of your life.   President Trump “is consulting with advisers about whom he should tap as his next chief of staff, with John Kelly expected to depart the administration as early as this summer, possibly even this week,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The two front-runners for the job, the people said, are Nick Ayers, who serves as chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, and Mick Mulvaney, who heads the Office of Management and Budget as well as serving as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

Jonathan Swan: “The pressure to remove chief of staff John Kelly has been building for months, and the chief’s relationship with Trump and many others in the building has been strained. Several people who currently work in the administration have lobbied the president to get rid of Kelly. And many more of Trump’s interlocutors outside the White House have lobbied him to get rid of Kelly, too.”

GOD HELP US.  President Trump has asked advisers their opinions about nominating Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, Bloomberg reports.  “Trump thinks Lee would be easily confirmed by the Senate, but the president has expressed concern about keeping his Senate seat in Republican hands.”

STOPPING COLLUSION IN 2018Washington Post: “The meeting with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security took place at Facebook’s headquarters last month and was also attended by Google, Apple, Microsoft and others. It was an attempt at dialogue and information-sharing that was absent during the 2016 presidential elections.”

“The nation’s top intelligence chiefs declared in February that the Kremlin is continuing its effort to disrupt the U.S. political system and to target the midterm elections. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said at the time that operatives plan to use propaganda, false personas, and bots to undermine the upcoming election.”

New York Times: “The meeting, which was initiated by Facebook, was seen as a hopeful first step to ensure that the midterms were not a repeat of the Russian interference in 2016, said the three people who attended the meeting.”

TRUMP’S LEGISLATIVE AGENDA IS OVER. Jonathan Swan: “For President Trump’s first term, the domestic agenda appears to be all but over. Congress has little chance of doing anything notable before the election, beyond confirming judges.”

“Whichever party ekes out a House win in November, the margin will likely be narrow. When we game out 2019 scenarios with administration officials, a number of them assume Republicans will lose the House. So Washington is gridlocked until at least January 2021 — meaning that this is it for signature legislation in Trump’s first term.”

“The idea of Trump shifting into bipartisan mode post-election seems unimaginable. He has chosen a strategy of hot partisan warfare that looks impossible to cool.”


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

27 comments on “The Open Thread for June 29, 2018

  1. delacrat

    “THE PAYOFF TO PUTIN. … a plan to reduce military presence around Europe’s Eastern boundaries.”

    Oh, that might foreclose any possibility for Armageddon. Gotta keep that option open.

    • So you are just perfectly fine with Russia invading and reoccupying the Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria?

      • delacrat

        The Russians didn’t off-shore any US jobs, engineer the housing bubble or write the Electoral College into the US Constitution.

        So don’t worry about The Russians.

        • You didn’t answer the question.

          • delacrat

            The Cold War was so last century.

            So sorry if you still miss it, but get over it and move on.

            You, being a career minion in the corporate propaganda apparatus(CPA), apparently have an acquired taste for CPA vomit, as a condition of employment. but most other Americans with real concerns like $k’s in student debt or worries if their job’s gonna be around tomorrow (if they have one) don’t care about Russia or the aforementioned countries.

            • “most other Americans with real concerns like $k’s in student debt or worries if their job’s gonna be around tomorrow (if they have one) don’t care about Russia or the aforementioned countries.”

              If that’s your standard — most Americans caring about something — I think you’ll find most Americans don’t share your concern with our war-mongering, either. Indeed, “most Americans” are in favor of cracking down on immigration. Does that mean we should give up that fight?

              Just because you don’t care about something doesn’t mean it’s not worth caring about. And your own position is not a popular one, so it’s self-defeating to look to popular opinion to buttress your arguments.

              • delacrat

                “…most Americans don’t share your concern with our war-mongering,” – alby

                Yeah, most Americans care about what’s happening where they live, which does not include Estonia, Belarus…etc.

                • That’s generally true. It’s wrong, but yeah they normally can’t see past their own immediate interests. The problem with that is that we live in a world with a global economy and hegemony directly effects trade, which effects jobs. Isolationism is fine if one has achieved complete self sufficiency. We haven’t. In fact, no one, except some completely isolated tribes in South America has.

                  So, while can ignore what happens outside our borders because we may not care about other nations and their peoples, we can’t ignore the effect these affairs and events have on our economy. When other nations can undercut our prices with low wages, it effects us and our ability to earn a living wage.

                  Americans are ignorant in so many facets of life, I am surprised when they can actually show up somewhere with matching socks. What made them this way? I wish I knew. I am pretty sure we were not always this way. American is on the decline. The good news is that at least we are the architects of our own destruction.

                • No, they don’t. But they also don’t show any sign of caring about getting troops out the places we have them already, so I think if the powers that be decide to propagandize to support troops elsewhere they would do so. There’s no draft, so no self-interest in fighting the military-industrialist complex.

                  That said, I find it odd and, frankly, suspicious that the target of your pacifism is Russian expansionism.

                  And, again, just because you, or even a majority, don’t care about something is not a legitimate reason for not caring about it. Why you would use this in defense of your position so consistently is another mystery.

                  You might think it unimportant that I am not convinced of your sincerity, but if I’m not neither are your propaganda targets.

                  • delacrat

                    “they also don’t show any sign of caring about getting troops out the places we have them already,” – alby

                    Just as you do not and never have.

                    “… the target of your pacifism is Russian expansionism.” – alby

                    Oh, basing US troops in Poland and the Baltics is Russian expansionism. By your twisted logic, Russian troops in Canada would be US expansionism.

                    • Never said that. The question is why you’re more upset over the U.S. playing the “great game” than you are about Russia playing it.

  2. cassandram

    Cory Booker gets how this gets played.

    Some Democratic senators and their allies are starting to make the argument that not only should there be no Supreme Court pick until after the November elections, but that there shouldn’t be one at all while the president remains under criminal investigation. […]

    During a judiciary committee hearing Thursday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) noted that a challenge to the investigation could very well end up before the Supreme Court at some point – potentially creating a conflict of interest for a president who has asked nonpartisan officials for their loyalty.

  3. john kowalko

    Finally some good news for electric users. A recent settlement brings good news to Delmarva Power and Light electricity consumers. I chose to intervene in PSC Docket # 17-0977 in order to join the Public Advocate, Drew Slater, in trying to mitigate the proposed increase in electric rates requested by Delmarva Power and Light. The original rate increase request was for $31 million. That would have resulted in a $65 per year (4.7%) increase for a typical user. As the hearings on this matter progressed the recently passed windfall tax cuts to corporations became a reality and the Public Advocates office filed a petition to capture that windfall and give it back to the ratepayers. I and Representative Kim Williams circulated a letter of support for this petition amongst our fellow legislators. We managed to accumulate 38 signatories of support and filed the letter with the PSC. The petition was granted by the PSC and the ruling was made to return the windfall to the ratepayers. As the original case was being negotiated, the Public Advocate, myself and other interveners decided that it would be most beneficial to the individual ratepayers and business electric consumers to have the tax cut applied to this rate case. After months of negotiations a settlement was agreed to that resulted in the original $31 million rate increase request being reduced entirely and a $6.8 million credit be given to the customer base. The credit amounts to a $15 per year (1.4%) decrease in the typical customers bill. This reversal totaling nearly $38 million is extraordinarily good news for ratepayers and a special note of appreciation should be extended to PA Drew Slater for his remarkable efforts in this matter. I would like to also extend my thanks and appreciation to Representative Williams and all 38 General Assembly members who signed the letter of support.
    Representative John Kowalko

    • That is great news, John, Thank you. And thanks to Drew Slater, who continues to fight for the people of Delaware. But, we’re still dealing with the likes of Bloom Energy. Today, they have a paltry 2 job openings (out of 68) in Delaware, there are more openings in India and California.
      WHO is watching this issue?
      And when will the State of Delaware see a return on their investment?

  4. If I had known that existed I would have posted in for you. You’re the one who has nothing to say but, “Wah! Everything costs me money!” Johnny One-Note.

  5. “posted in for you.” Nice grammar. Pot calling kettle black. Ha HA.

    • This is what I mean by your inability to engage in conversation. Why are you so concerned over every nickel and dime? Complaining about your taxes is not political conversation, it’s selfishness.

      This is a liberal/progressive place. Nobody here is interested in your constant complaints about your taxes and your electric bill, and they’re certainly not interested in your critique of Democrats, which has no basis in fact, as most of the things you complain about would be done no matter which party was in control of the state.

      I just don’t understand why you’re here, airing complaints nobody here sympathizes with. Are you just lonely?

      • Al, we’re (see I got that right) paying 3 million a month, for something that had and has lies all around the Bloom Energy fiasco! We’re paying for jobs in other states and that is an atrocity! “would be done no matter which party was in control of the state.” It was smiling Jack who lied and then they said natural gas was a renewable energy.
        Twenty-five years of $1 a year rent from the University of Delaware’s 1743 Holding LLC, to attract the company to its STAR Campus as its first tenant.
        $12 million, which could increase to as much as $16.5 million, from the Delaware Strategic Fund in exchange for job creation.
        Expedited permitting.
        The hastily-passed 2011 legislation needed to designate fuel cells, which run on natural gas, as a renewable energy source.
        And, most recently, a pass from state environmental officials on the way the company handled spent fuel canisters at its power generation facility near New Castle. (In the last few days, state environmental officials have concluded the canisters really are hazardous waste and should be handled as such with state inspection, review and accounting by the company. The pollutant of concern is benzene, a known carcinogen.)

        AND NOW WE HAVE A HAZARDOUS WASTE TO DEAL WITH! Here is my point, when our elected officials do something like this, they should be held accountable!! You know AL, the old checks and balances.

        People should be making a stink about this, with their elected officials!

        • cassandram

          Everything we need to know about your money rants here are that they are created from selective facts — not the whole story. So for instance, DNREC reversed its decision to let Bloom handle the canisters as non-RCRA waste and did that back in 2016. Not an issue any more. Bloom is paying back its clawback agreements since it is not meeting the jobs threshold promised. There needs to be more money pulled back and since Bloom is looking to IPO itself, it is well past time for the DE Legislature to revisit the monthly surcharge we provide to Bloom. But you’ll never be able to create that kind of argument because your narrative is always wrong. And people always assume you are wrong.

          • Cassandra: “it is well past time for the DE Legislature to revisit the monthly surcharge we provide to Bloom.”

            Thank you, thank you. That is the whole point. We should put pressure on our elected officials, to revisit this. $3 million a month for 2 job openings in DE, that is a joke!

            The News Journal, does not keep up with local issues like this and to spread the news, is a good thing.
            Again, thank you!

  6. I know all about it, anono. I covered it when I was working. It’s ancient history.

    “when our elected officials do something like this, they should be held accountable!!”

    The elected officials who did it were reacting to very strong public pressure in 2009 to provide jobs in the Great Recession. Context is everything. The people who objected were badly outnumbered by panicky people who wanted government to do something, anything in response. When you want action badly, you often get bad action. To pretend that this was done in a special effort to fuck over the public is a misrepresentation of the truth — or, more accurately, a lie. Also, most of the public officials involved aren’t public officials anymore. They made a mistake; you assume, falsely, that they did it maliciously. This is why all your complaining about this falls on deaf ears. You (meaning the public) demanded quick action, and it didn’t work too well. Whose fault is that? I, personally, blame the public for demanding government do something it is not designed to do — create private-sector jobs. The only was government can create jobs is by hiring people to do government work, and that includes building and maintaining roads.

    The proper response to the Great Recession should have been obvious — a massive public works project on infrastructure. It was not done not because Republicans did not want it done, because Republicans want government to fail in the false belief that they benefit when oversight of their operations disappears.

    But see, you’re not knowledgeable to discuss any of this, as opposed to posting a lot of statistics. Yes, the Bloom deal sucks. It’s now 10 years in the past. You don’t have to get over it, but everyone else here has, and they aren’t changing their minds no matter how often you post the same complaint. And that was my criticism — that all you do is repeat the same complaint ad nauseum.

    “You know AL, the old checks and balances.”

    Checks and balances refers to branches of government, not public reaction. The public gets its input at the ballot box, and also by petitioning government for the redress of grievances. You are not a check on the government and, contrary to the

    Here’s the thing, anono: This site isn’t government. Your complaints should be directed at them, not the people here. The people here simply disagree with you about the best way for government to work and what its priorities should be. You should spend your time with the Caesar Rodney Institute folks, who agree with you and would give you some facts to buttress your positions.

    There is no receptive audience here for your views, which amount to conservative propaganda in the context of a liberal blog.

  7. “The only was government can create jobs” Way???? Get your grammar correct, ALBY! DONE!

  8. That’s your response? You didn’t understand a word of it, did you?

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