Open Thread

The Open Thread for July 2, 2018

Dan Balz: “The November election could be about many things. Immigration. Tax cuts and the economy. The Supreme Court and the future of abortion rights. Trade and tariffs. The menu changes with the cascading of events. Ultimately, the midterms will be about intensity. On that factor, Democrats ought not to underestimate President Trump.”

“Trump dominates like no president in recent memory. He dominates the daily conversation in the country. He creates diversions and distractions, starts brush fires or all-out conflagrations. He stirs constantly with tools his predecessors never had or imagined using. He says whatever he wants to say, regardless of the truth. He puts the news media on the defensive and calls journalists the ‘enemy of the people.’ He makes himself impossible to ignore.”

Washington Post: “In most other realms, Trump is quick to reject norms and resist the established order. Where previous presidents zigged, the 45th almost always wants to zag. But not when it comes to the Supreme Court. So far, at least, Trump is taking direction from his counselors, including two with deep roots in Washington’s conservative network: McGahn and Leonard Leo, who is on leave from the Federalist Society to informally advise on judicial nominations.”

“Since before taking office, Trump has strategized with McGahn, Leo and others about aggressively filling federal court vacancies to permanently shift the judiciary to the right. The pace has been historic — and, for conservatives, the outcome has been an undeniable success.”

They are.  And they are proud of their agent, who is you.

Jonathan Chait: “In 2016, Vladimir Putin reaped two of his greatest foreign policy triumphs in quick succession. The United Kingdom voted narrowly to exit the European Union, advancing a longstanding Russian goal of splitting Western allies that have long been united against it. Later that year, the United States voted even more narrowly to elect Donald Trump president.”

“On Friday evening, the New York Times revealed new detail about Russian involvement in the Brexit vote. The more we learn, the more clearly the pattern of behavior in the two countries becomes similar, and the more suspicious the denials of Putin’s partners grows.”

New York Times: “The chief ethics officer of the Environmental Protection Agency — the official whose main job is to help agency staffers obey government ethics laws — has been working behind the scenes to push for a series of independent investigations into possible improprieties by Scott Pruitt, the agency’s administrator, a letter sent this week says.”

“U.S. intelligence officials, citing newly obtained evidence, have concluded that North Korea does not intend to fully surrender its nuclear stockpile, and instead is considering ways to conceal the number of weapons it has and secret production facilities,” the Washington Post reports.

“The evidence, collected in the wake of the June 12 summit in Singapore, points to preparations to deceive the United States about the number of nuclear warheads in North Korea’s arsenal as well as the existence of undisclosed facilities used to make fissile material for nuclear bombs.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a critical vote on whomever President Trump nominates to replace Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court, told ABC News that any nominee who would overturn Roe v. Wade would “not be acceptable.”

“Collins said that when she met with the president to discuss the need to fill the seat of Kennedy, who announced his retirement last week, she told him that several qualities are important, including judicial temperament, intellect, fidelity to the rule of law and ‘most important of all, respect for precedent.’”

I call bullshit.  If she means what she says, then she is an automatic no for every conceivable and possible Trump or Republican nominee.   But she doesn’t mean what she says.  Unfortunately, what she really means is that she’ll vote for the nominee so long as he or she doesn’t expressly say that he or she intends to overturn Roe v Wade.  If the nominee just dodges or talks about the importance of “precedent,” she’s in.

President Trump “falsely claimed on Saturday that he never encouraged House Republicans to vote for an immigration bill, despite tweeting such an encouragement three days earlier,” Politico reports.

“Trump‘s position on the bill wavered several times before it even came to a vote, with the president at one point saying he wouldn’t sign the bill. He also said last week that the Republicans’ bill wouldn’t pass the Senate. By Wednesday he had tweeted his support.”

“In 2011, Fox News announced that a new guest would appear weekly on ‘Fox & Friends,’ its chummy morning show… It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” the New York Times reports.

“Seven years later, the symbiosis between Donald  Trump and his favorite cable network has only deepened. Fox News, whose commentators resolutely defend the president’s agenda, has seen ratings and revenues rise. President Trump views the network as a convenient safe space where he can express himself with little criticism from eager-to-please hosts.”

“Now, the line between the network’s studios and Mr. Trump’s White House is blurring further. Bill Shine, a former Fox News co-president who helped create the look and feel of the channel’s conservative programming, is expected to be hired as the president’s new deputy chief of staff, overseeing communications.”

President Trump said that he wants to “wait until after the election” to sign any new agreement with Canada and Mexico and seemed to indicate there won’t be an end soon to the ongoing trade battle brewing between the United States and its neighbors, the Washington Post reports.

Trump angered Canada and Mexico by putting hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, citing national security concerns.

Josh Marshall on Trump’s wanting to remove all American troops from Europe: “Some of this comes from Trump’s longstanding protectionist views which I would argue are rooted in his zero sum concept of deal-making. But the role of Russia, the efforts to liquidate NATO and the continuing and aggressive courtship of Putin show it is part of some broader agenda. Someone, eventually, will have to place some check on Trump’s power. For the moment, the entire cadre of political appointees in the administration and the leadership of Congress appears entirely inert and passive, if not outright supportive. It is important to remember that the President has zero constitutional authority over trade policy. That is 100% on loan from Congress. It’s remarkable that this is all happening before our eyes and no one in power is taking any stand or action to counter it.

We’re in a lot of danger.”


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

14 comments on “The Open Thread for July 2, 2018

  1. john kowalko

    So let’s get this idea of taxing for mileage versus gasoline taxes sorted by logic. It will allow large Tractor Trailers to minimize expenses while still maximizing road damage. It will penalize people that make the proper decision to protect the planet and resources by using less fossil fuels (that have an irreversibly damaging effect on the climate) by buying and driving fuel efficient hybrids and other advanced vehicles that consume much less gasoline. It will reduce costs for those individuals who feel the need to drive gas guzzling vehicles without reservation. In conclusion it is a bad plan, bad idea, and bad policy encouraged and pushed by the fossil fuel companies and the Koch brothers. Also supported by vehicle manufacturers who enjoy huge profit margins on their truck/SUV sales who will see profits jump while no longer needing to invest in fuel efficiency production. Sorry Mother Nature, you should have gotten listed on the stock exchange if you wish to enjoy serious consideration for your plight.
    Representative John Kowalko

    • cassandram

      I’m for testing it. This model shifts the current taxation scheme to a more strict user-pays model. CAFE standards have driven down some of the amount of emissions but also have driven down the amount of money collected by Transportation Funds. And CAFE standards have not gone away yet. The *amount* you drive is really the next frontier for reductions in fuel usage and current data indicates that this kind of tax gets you part of the way there. Large tractor trailers rack up way more miles than the average family — even though both drive all day, a tractor trailer can be on the road for 800 miles or more a day. No family does this kind of mileage daily. A mileage tax also provides some options in terms of pricing roads — the fee can be higher during rush hours allowing some opportunity for congestion pricing. No reason to not participate in a regional test to see if it could work.

      • Truckers already pay more money in taxes.

        This would have a burden on people who live in Dover, DE and drive to Wilmington,DE for work. Just because they desire to have a little more space, between their neighbor. Because, the brain dead NCCC, just approve more buildings for the developers.

        This is true socialism at it’s best!! Sales people, merchandisers, inspectors and in general people who are trying to make an extra buck on their own. I have a friend who works 7 days a week. 2 days does his own little business, but travels from Wilmington to the beach areas, for projects. Just to make a little extra for his family. Healthcare workers, who are on the road taking care of hospice patients.

        Socialism at it’s best!!!

  2. Tax by miles per gallon.

    • For example, my car, a Nissan Leaf. 2500 miles over last 18 months. Add a multiplier bases upon carbon emissions per mile. 0. 0 tax.

      • Your vehicle still causes wear and tear on the roads and you are using transportation infrastructure (signals, signs, bridges, snowplows, etc.) that needs to be maintained. Why should you be exempt from paying for this service you are using?

  3. cassandram

    After a successful weekend capturing the world’s attention by protesting everywhere on the inhumanity of the child separations, can I just say how stupid it is to let the week start with a discussion on whether or not abolishing ICE is a political winner?

  4. pandora

    Via The Hill:

    “Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s (R) administration is canceling dental and vision benefits for thousands of people on Medicaid in the state following a judge blocking the state’s Medicaid work requirements.

    The cancellation of dental and vision coverage for almost 500,000 enrollees in the state’s Medicaid expansion is “an unfortunate consequence of the judge’s ruling,” Doug Hogan, a spokesman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, told the Louisville Courier-Journal.”

    500,000 is a lot of people, many of them children. Yet again, Republicans prove it’s never about the life of a child.

  5. elizabeth allen

    The state doesnt provide dental care for their disabled, handicapped people in the States care. Delaware a corporate state cares nothing about their citizens

  6. elizabeth allen

    You Never Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone. Are the centrists in the Democratic Party actually missing the labor movement now that the Supreme Court has dealt public-employee unions what Republicans hope will be a knockout blow? Noam Scheiber of the Times has a really smart piece detailing all of the ways the unions help Democrats and grassroots advocacy groups, and how weaker public-sector unions will set back not just workers but progressive politics generally.

    This belated discovery by centrist Democrats of the value of a strong labor movement is a little like Eisenhower’s famous farewell address criticizing the military-industrial complex. Where the hell were they when we needed them?

    The Republicans sure figured out how important unions were to Democrats, even if many Democrats didn’t.

    We would have a much stronger labor movement, whose voting strength would surely have spared America Donald Trump, if only the last three Democratic presidents had made trade unionism a higher priority. But neither Obama, nor Clinton, nor Carter (though they all had good cabinet and subcabinet appointees at the Department of Labor) put any political muscle behind reforms of the Wagner Act needed to stop union-busting and making it possible for workers to organize without risking their jobs.

    Those damned pesky unions—opposing corporate designs for trade that organized labor resisted, resisting deregulation of Wall Street, and challenging the Obama administration’s embrace of a brand of education reform that scapegoated public schools and schoolteachers. The real power players like Robert Rubin under Clinton (or maybe Clinton under Rubin), and his clones in the Obama administration, were opposed to unions and did not lift a finger to help them.

    So now, when we need a labor movement more than ever, unions have even less backing from the government or from the rules of the game—and will have to rebuild labor strength one worker at a time. That may yet succeed. But truth be told, the presidential Democratic Party and its allied centrist theorists and Wall Street masters has been a pretty feeble ally of organized labor. Now we all pay the price. ~ ROBERT KUTTNER

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