The Open Thread for July 9, 2018

SELECTION MONDAY.  “President Trump is expressing fresh interest in Judge Thomas M. Hardiman, the runner-up for last year’s Supreme Court vacancy, as he pushes his decision on a replacement for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy into the final hours before his self-imposed deadline of Monday night,” the New York Times reports.

“All cautioned that Mr. Trump could go a different way before he reveals his choice in a prime-time address on Monday. He has said positive things to associates about Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a staunch social conservative… and he has not ruled out Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, a former staff secretary to George W. Bush.”

Time: “As of Saturday evening, advisers say, the president had narrowed his list down to four candidates. Raymond Kethledge was the leading contender, although officials stress that Trump has not yet settled on a choice. Trump has been describing Kethledge to aides as “Gorsuch 2.0,” a reference to his 2017 successful nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Trump sees that nomination as one of the high points of his presidency.”

“Even so, White House officials are preparing rollout plans for all four contenders, which also include Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Thomas Hardiman, officials say. Hardiman, however, remains in distant last place.”

NORTH KOREA HUMILIATES TRUMP.   Trump’s declarations that he ended the North Korean nuclear threat now look delusional Just minutes after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “substantial progress” has been during his trip to Pyongyang, North Korea issued a harsh statement saying the U.S. has a  “gangster-like mindset” and described the talks as “regrettable.”  As Jonathan Swan points out, this was entirely predicted by foreign policy experts:

“People who’ve worked with the president, both at the Trump Organization and in the White House, say he viscerally fears being played for a sucker and humiliated.  But Trump has made himself quite vulnerable to embarrassment in the North Korea talks, which suggests he won’t have a great deal of patience for the entirely predictable shenanigans from Pyongyang.  There’s a long road ahead to any satisfactory peace deal with North Korea; but a very short road to renewed hostilities. Should a few more things go wrong, Trump could swing abruptly against Kim Jong-un.”

“As U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touched down in Pyongyang at 10:54 a.m. on Friday he had few details of his schedule in the North Korean capital — even which hotel he and his staff would stay in,” Bloomberg reports.

“In the end, Pompeo stayed at neither of the hotels where he thought he’d be. The North Koreans took him, his staff and the six journalists traveling with the delegation to a gated guesthouse on the outskirts of the capital, just behind the mausoleum where the bodies of regime founder Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il lie embalmed and on occasional display.”

“It was the start of a confused visit of less than 30 hours, marked by a pair of lavish banquets that the secretary and his staff appeared to dread for their length and the daunting number of courses presented by unfailingly polite waiters. He only learned of his own schedule hours ahead of time, and the meeting with Kim Jong Un never happened — despite strenuous efforts from his staff.”

“A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly,” the New York Times reports.

“Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.”

“Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.”

Extremely low?  How about dead last.   Meanwhile, Barack Obama, Trump’s superior in every way, ranks 8th best President, behind 1) Lincoln, 2) Washington, 3) FDR, 4) Teddy Roosevelt, 5) Thomas Jefferson, 6) Harry Truman, and 7) Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Ronald Reagan comes in at 9.

“In the final hours of Scott Pruitt’s tenure as administrator, the Environmental Protection Agency moved on Friday to effectively grant a loophole that will allow a major increase in the manufacturing of a diesel freight truck that produces as much as 55 times the air pollution as trucks that have modern emissions controls,” the New York Times reports.

“The move by the E.P.A. came after intense lobbying by a small set of manufacturers that sell glider trucks, which use old engines built before new technologies significantly reduced emissions of particulates and nitrogen oxide that are blamed for asthma, lung cancer and other ailments.”

Washington Post: “Trump’s lack of preparation has added a further level of unpredictability to his interactions with foreign leaders, the officials said. The president rarely reads his nightly briefing book, which focuses on issues likely to come up in meetings, a second senior U.S. official said. To slim down Trump’s workload, aides have sometimes put the most critical information in a red folder, the official said.”

A seventh former Ohio State University wrestler said Saturday that he believes Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) knew about inappropriate behavior that allegedly took place in the school’s athletic department three decades ago, the Washington Post reports.

Anne Applebaum expresses dismay over the loud hints that Trump is already making about giving Putin everything he wants.

“Keep …  the Yalta treaty in mind over the next few days, as the White House prepares itself for the first summit of President Trump and Vladimir Putin. Of course there are some differences. This is not 1945, and nobody believes this is “the dawn of a new day”: It is a strange meeting between the Russian president, a kleptocrat, and the American president, his longtime admirer.  […]

Trump and his national security adviser have both hinted that recognition of the Russian occupation of Crimea is on the table; Trump even repeats Russian propaganda about Crimea’s ethnicity and politics. Another was laid out in The Post by David Ignatius a few days ago: Trump may be planning to cede Syria to Putin, abandon U.S. allies on the ground and allow Russia’s client, the dictator, Bashar al-Assad, to reestablish control across the country, inflicting massive civilian casualties along the way.  In neither case is it clear what the United States would get in exchange for these major concessions.”

The Washington Post on Trump’s ongoing campaign to destroy a military alliance that has protected the United States, and helped it in every war up to and including the ongoing fight in Afghanistan.

“U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison says “the overall theme” of this week’s summit meeting in Brussels “is going to be NATO’s strength and unity,” which is what it ought to be. There is considerable good news to celebrate: The alliance has substantially beefed up defenses of its eastern flank, facing Russia; it is recommitting to vital missions in Afghanistan and Iraq; and every one of its members is increasing defense spending — the biggest buildup by U.S. allies in 25 years. The summit is due to adopt an ambitious new plan that would allow NATO to deploy 30 battalions, 30 squadrons of planes and 30 ships within 30 days — a resource that could considerably bolster the ability of the United States to respond to crises.

Unfortunately, Ms. Hutchison cannot predict the potential behavior of the commander in chief, President Trump, who has kept security officials across Europe sleepless in anticipation of a possible blowup like he initiated at last month’s Group of Seven meeting. Behind closed doors in Quebec, Mr. Trump berated the alliance as “as bad as NAFTA” and defended Russia’s annexation of Crimea. He also dispatched letters to the leaders of Germany, Canada and several other nations, scolding them for failing to spend still more on defense.

The fear is not only that Mr. Trump will spoil the “unity” of the summit with harangues before flying to Helsinki for a far friendlier meeting with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. It is that, having shrugged off the strong support for NATO among his national security team, he is bent on wrecking a multilateral organization he regards as obsolete and a means for European nations to freeload at the expense of the United States.”

Karen Tumulty on Trump’s adding MeToo to his rally schtick.

President Trump has finally told us how he regards the #MeToo movement: with #contempt.  Trump announced as much at a rally in Montana on Thursday night, when he mocked the pain of the women and men who have come forward with their experiences of sexual abuse. …

His pettiness is a form of projection, given that the president has himself been accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women. Trump has a self-absorbed predilection to see everything and everyone as an extension of himself.  But two of his actions earlier in the day spoke even louder of his belief that victims are not to be taken seriously, particularly when the target of their accusations is a political ally of Trump’s.

First came the announcement that Bill Shine would join the White House communications operation. …  And then, as Air Force One was heading to Great Falls, Mont., Trump came to the defense of influential conservative Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who has been ensnarled in a growing sexual abuse scandal at Ohio State University. Jordan has denied accusations by four former wrestlers who say that when he was their assistant coach three decades ago, he failed to act when he learned that the team doctor was groping students on the team.”

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

9 comments on “The Open Thread for July 9, 2018

  1. Trump should have known Kim is a scorpion. Crossing the “river” with Kim on his back could only lead to one fabled result. Kim’s best word, “gangster”. Now THAT”S moxie.

    • delacrat

      So Kim doesn’t like Trump. Most people don’t either.

  2. Fuck collusion BEFORE the election…he’s conspiring with Putin NOW!

  3. I was always uneasy with Obama when it came to negotiations, there was always the threat that he would “give away the store” to the Republicans in the name of compromise. That’s nothing compared to Trump meeting Putin alone and in secret, Putin’s a shark, Trump’s a dumb cluck at best with a penchant for destruction of American norms. Read the article about Pruitt, found it to be spot on, if the Dems retake the house virtually all agencies and their evil appointees will come under intense scrutiny. Also agree that a Dem victory will prompt a mass exodus of Republican aides spurred on by the looming need to hire lawyers, and good ones at that.

    • “Homeland” framed it best. Trump is Putin’s U.I.

  4. The latest stunt by the Clintons:

    Who convinced them that anyone would buy it? These people are delusional.
    Next thing you know they will be out telling people how they are walking the walk and doing their part for global warming, lol.
    I’m surprised Chelsea wasn’t there, lol…..Speaking of Chelsea, when are her people going to find a State with a guarenteed legislative seat so she can go and move there.

  5. cassandram

    Why Did the Democrats Lose the South? Bringing New Data to an Old Debate

    A long-standing debate in political economy is whether voters are driven primarily by economic self-interest or by less pecuniary motives like ethnocentrism. Using newly available data, we reexamine one of the largest partisan shifts in a modern democracy: Southern whites’ exodus from the Democratic Party. We show that defection among racially conservative whites explains the entire decline from 1958 to 1980. Racial attitudes also predict whites’ earlier partisan shifts. Relative to recent work, we find a much larger role for racial views and essentially no role for income growth or (non-race-related) policy preferences in explaining why Democrats “lost” the South.

    Well, yes. If LBJ could still talk he would say that too. But more profanely.

    • delacrat

      “We show that defection among racially conservative whites explains the entire decline from 1958 to 1980. “

      This is 38 years out-of-date.

    • The American south remains a hotbed of racism, endless denial or not, as “the solid south” became the land of the rabid Republican. Still racist, just more foam about the mouth and jowls.

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