The Open Thread for July 6, 2018

President Trump tweeted that he has accepted the resignation of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Los Angeles Times: “The departure of the anti-regulatory crusader ends a bizarre and tumultuous chapter of the Trump administration that puzzled even some of the president’s staunchest supporters.”

“The spendthrift EPA chief has been a political liability for the White House for months, drawing the attention of federal investigators with scandal after scandal, many of which were linked to his lavish spending of taxpayer money and the use of his position to enrich his family. Pruitt leaves the post the target of more than a dozen official probes.”

Fox News quotes from Pruitt’s resignation letter to Trump:  “It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it a blessing to be serving you in any capacity, but also, because of the transformative work that is occurring.  However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally and my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us.”

It’s not good news.

Some immigrant U.S. Army reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with a promised path to citizenship are being abruptly discharged,” the AP reports.

“The AP was unable to quantify how many men and women who enlisted through the special recruitment program have been booted from the Army, but immigration attorneys say they know of more than 40 who have been discharged or whose status has become questionable, jeopardizing their futures.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller “is tapping additional Justice Department resources for help with new legal battles as his year-old investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 election continues to expand,” Bloomberg reports.  “As Mueller pursues his probe, he’s making more use of career prosecutors from the offices of U.S. attorneys and from Justice Department headquarters, as well as FBI agents — a sign that he may be laying the groundwork to hand off parts of his investigation eventually.”

Max Boot: “After a lifetime as a Republican, I re-registered as an independent on the day after Donald Trump’s election… I am more convinced than ever that I made the right decision. The transformation I feared has taken place. Just look at the reaction to President Trump’s barbarous policy of taking children away from their parents as punishment for the misdemeanor offense of illegally entering the country. While two-thirds of Americans disapproved of this state-sanctioned child abuse, forcing the president to back down, a majority of Republicans approved. If Trump announced he were going to spit-roast immigrant kids and eat them on national TV (apologies to Jonathan Swift), most Republicans probably would approve of that, too. The entire Republican platform can now be reduced to three words: whatever Trump says.”

“Personally, I’ve thrown up my hands in despair at the debased state of the GOP. I don’t want to be identified with the party of the child-snatchers. But I respect principled conservatives who are willing to stay and fight to reclaim a once-great party that freed the slaves and helped to win the Cold War. What I can’t respect are head-in-the-sand conservatives who continue to support the GOP by pretending that nothing has changed.”

“That is why I join Will and other principled conservatives, both current and former Republicans, in rooting for a Democratic takeover of both houses in November. Like postwar Germany and Japan, the Republican Party must be destroyed before it can be rebuilt.”

A fourth former Ohio State University wrestler came forward to contradict Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) claim that he had no idea the wrestling team doctor was molesting athletes, NBC News reports.

“The wrestler, Shawn Dailey, said he was groped half a dozen times by Dr. Richard Strauss in the mid-1990s, when Jordan was the assistant wrestling coach. Dailey said he was too embarrassed to report the abuse directly to Jordan at the time, but he said Jordan took part in conversations where Strauss’ abuse of many other team members came up.”

Said Dailey: “I participated with Jimmy and the other wrestlers in locker-room talk about Strauss. We all did. It was very common knowledge in the locker room that if you went to Dr. Strauss for anything, you would have to pull your pants down.”

Mike DiSabato told CNN that not only was Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) aware of the alleged sexual abuse on the Ohio State wrestling team, but that he personally witnessed inappropriate behavior in the team shower.  DiSabato described an environment where student-athletes shared a shower with staff and faculty members who “were involved in lewd acts that included public masturbation” and “excessive soaping of their groin area.”

Said DiSabato: “I considered Jim Jordan a friend. But at the end of the day, he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on.”

Michael Cohen has recently told friends that he is pessimistic that President Trump will offer him a pardon — one more indication that Cohen does not believe his former boss will have his back, CNN reports.  Said one friend: “I brought up the pardon, and he said, ‘I don’t think so. I just don’t think so.’ He’s certain in his mind that he has been dismissed.”  According to the friend, Cohen also said: “I don’t know what to think any more.”

Michael Cohen has hired attorney Lanny Davis, who worked in the Clinton White House, as he prepares for a potential legal onslaught from prosecutors and a potential public relations onslaught from President Trump’s allies, the New York Times reports.

Not sure what to make of that.  Lanny will represent anyone.   Not sure it is a sign he is cooperating.  But Trump will go nuts at the Clinton connection.

President Trump has narrowed his list of contenders to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy to three serious candidates, NBC News reports. Those candidates are appeals court judges Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge and Amy Coney Barrett.

“Bowing to heavy pressure from progressives locally and nationally, the Rhode Island Democratic Party on Thursday rescinded its endorsement of two controversial General Assembly candidates,” WPRI reports.

“In a letter dated July 4, Democratic Party Chairman Joe McNamara withdrew his endorsement of Michael Earnheart, a pro-Trump challenger running in the primary against incumbent Rep. Moira Walsh, and Greg Acciardo, a former state senator with a criminal record who is running against a progressive newcomer, Bridget Valverde, in Senate District 35.”

The entirety of the Rhode Island Democratic Party staff and officials must be replaced.

FiveThirtyEight: “John Roberts is likely about to occupy a dual position that no one else has in the modern history of the United States: He will be both the court’s chief justice and, with the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, its median voter — the person in charge of the court, and the justice most likely to swing a decision one way or the other. This combination of institutional power and ideological centrality will give Roberts remarkable sway over the business and decisions of the court, and by extension the law of the land, possibly for decades to come.”

“But liberals cannot reasonably hold out much hope that Roberts will sway votes for some of their favored causes the way Kennedy did. While the statistical metrics show Roberts taking a relatively moderate position, he has very rarely voted with the liberals when it mattered.”

John Fitzgerald (R), who is running against Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), “has been appearing on neo-Nazi podcasts and falsely claiming that the Holocaust is a lie,” according to Media Matters.

“Spokespeople for online reputation management companies in the two countries confirmed that they had been paid to write articles attempting to whitewash Trump’s ties to Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman who, with former Russian trade minister Tevfik Arif, collaborated with the Trump Organization on numerous real estate deals from New York to the former Soviet Union,” the Daily Beast reports.

“The campaign appears designed to influence Google search results pertaining to Trump’s relationship with Sater, Arif, and the Bayrock Group, a New York real estate firm that collaborated with Trump on a series of real estate deals, and recruited Russian investors for potential Trump deals in Moscow.”

“Sater—who once had an office at New York’s Trump Tower, Trump Organization business cards, and claims to have worked as a senior adviser to Trump—has recently emerged as a key figure in the federal investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.”

Li Jiang, who owns a flag-making company in China, told NPR that he’s been contracted to manufacture flags for President Trump’s 2020 election bid.  Axios: “This isn’t the first time Trump has been caught criticizing American companies with overseas manufacturing, and then turning to foreign manufacturers for his own brand’s products.”

President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club “has applied for permission to hire 40 foreign workers to serve as waiters during the winter social season in Palm Beach, Fla.,” the Washington Post reports.  “The application filed with the Labor Department signals that — despite Trump’s insistence that immigration is holding down wages and crowding out native-born American workers — his club believes it cannot find any Americans willing and able to hold the waiter jobs.

Ezra Klein: “One of Trump’s great political talents, if it can be called that, is to behave so bizarrely that the bar is set lower for him than for any president in history. Then he can claim to have defied the doubters when he barely clears the standard he lowered for himself. If another president were polling at 42 percent amid 3.8 percent unemployment, no one in Washington would even consider covering that as a political achievement.

Trump has not managed to become a popular president. In fact, he seems to be squandering an unusually strong run of peace and prosperity. If Trump and his advisers are fooling themselves into believing otherwise, that’s a more interesting fact about the administration’s internal echo chamber than it is a convincing analysis of reality.”

Bill Shine, who was the co-president of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, has officially joined the Trump administration as assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for communications, CNBCreports.

Shines “had resigned from Fox in May 2017, trailing the departure of Fox’s ex-chairman, Roger Ailes, who resigned 10 months earlier after being accused of sexual harassment by a former host. Less than a month before Shine resigned, evening talk-show juggernaut Bill O’Reilly was removed from the network amid his own allegations of sexual harassment.”

BuzzFeed News quotes a senior Fox News executive: “It’s extraordinary that the president of the United States could hire someone like this. This is someone who is highly knowledgeable of women being cycled through for horrible and degrading behavior by someone who was an absolute monster.”

Ron Brownstein: “Almost halfway through Donald Trump’s tempestuous first term, Democrats are divided between two visions of how they can dislodge the Republican dominance of Washington and most state governments. One camp [Option A] believes the party’s best chance will come from targeting mostly white, Republican-leaning voters who are recoiling from Trump on personal, more so than policy, grounds. The other camp [Option B] believes the biggest opportunity is to turn out more voters from the groups most intensely hostile to Trump, in terms of both his style and agenda: Millennials, non-whites, and white women who are college-educated or unmarried. One camp bets mostly on persuading swing voters, the other on mobilizing base voters.”

“In practice, Democrats inevitably will need to do some of both… But in the selection of their 2020 presidential nominee, Democrats will face a genuine crossroads. Few, if any, potential candidates would be equally effective at both energizing the party base and reassuring swing voters.”

Option A was pursued by Hillary.  It didn’t work because the R-leaning voter hated Hillary for 30 years.   Pursue Option B with a good candidate not named Bernie Sanders and those R-leaning voters so inclined may come along.

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

5 comments on “The Open Thread for July 6, 2018

  1. cassandram

    Option A was pursued by Hillary.

    Sigh. Either she pursued the white aggrieved voter with no success or she went too far into “identity politics”. These two things don’t exist in the same space. Unless you are describing the GRIFTUS campaign’s aggrieved white voter coalition and the toxic identity politics only they will buy.

  2. Mother saves herself and 2 children. WAY TO GO!!

  3. cassandram

    There’s going to be a great deal of ink spilled on the “Trade War” most of it is going to be in the form of the usual horse race reporting, tallying up the winners and (mostly) losers. The real long term story to watch is how China uses the GRIFTUS trade war to position themselves as the superpower you really want to do business with. Start with following the effort by China and the EU (NOT the United States yet) to try to modernize and update world trade rules. This effort is well overdue, but the fact that the Chinese are at the table and the US is not yet is an interesting sign.

    Then there is China looking to position itself as the more reasonable trade partner. You can see some of how they’ve done this in relations with some African and other countries. They don’t worry about democracy promotion or about human rights, they just want to focus on economic development. And China doesn’t have to live with volatile American politics, either.

    It is a long-term story. If there is a re-orientation to China as a the trade superpower, it will happen over time, as the GRIFTUS squanders good will and utterly misreads what United States leadership means. In this trade war, China has the space to take up the pain of restricted trade. The US does not.

    • These trends were already in place. Before Trump, people across the spectrum were trying merely to prolong America’s time at the top before its inevitable decline. Now, instead of a glide path to No. 2, we’re falling out of the plane without a parachute.

  4. cassandram

    The right announces its next long term target: scaling back gay rights.

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