Open Thread

The Open Thread for July 15, 2018

David Rothkopf: “This is an extraordinary moment. It is without equal not only in American history but in modern history. A hostile foreign power intervened in our election to help elect a man president who has since actively served their interests and has defended them at every turn.”

“Trump may deny collusion. But given that this the attack continues, denying it is collusion, distracting from it is collusion, obstructing the investigation of it is collusion — because all these things enable it to go on.”

“That the president is abetted in his aid for the Russians — again, in the midst of this ongoing attack — by the leadership of the Republican Party makes the situation all the more extraordinary and dangerous. As they seek to undermine the investigation, they serve Russia as directly as if they were officers of the GRU.”

New York Times: “Whether it is Russia’s interference in the election, its annexation of Crimea or its intervention in Syria, Mr. Trump’s statements either undercut, or flatly contradict, those of his lieutenants. The disconnect is so profound that it often seems Mr. Trump is pursuing one Russia policy, set on ushering in a gauzy new era of cooperation with Mr. Putin, while the rest of his administration is pursuing another.”

Washington Post: “Hewing to a formal itinerary limited to working sessions with Prime Minister Theresa May and a tea ceremony with Queen Elizabeth, Trump has studiously avoided interacting with the public at large.”

“Aides have said the schedule was intentionally designed to keep the president far away from the mass protests in London that greeted his arrival… But Trump also has largely eschewed public events during his previous foreign trips, and this weekend he is cloistered at his private golf resort in Turnberry, Scotland.”


New York Times: “Just a few hours after President Trump doused expectations of extracting any confession from President Vladimir Putin on Russia’s election meddling when they meet on Monday, his own Justice Department issued a sweeping indictment of 12 Russian intelligence agents for hacking the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton presidential campaign.”

“The bold move, precisely the kind that Mr. Trump has long resisted, demonstrated how he is almost wholly untethered from his administration when it comes to dealing with Moscow. Whether it is Russia’s interference in the election, its annexation of Crimea or its intervention in Syria, Mr. Trump’s statements either undercut, or flatly contradict, those of his lieutenants.”

“The disconnect is so profound that it often seems Mr. Trump is pursuing one Russia policy, set on ushering in a gauzy new era of cooperation with Mr. Putin, while the rest of his administration is pursuing another.”

David Leonhardt: “The top-earning 1 percent of households — those earning more than $607,000 a year — will pay a combined $111 billion less this year in federal taxes than they would have if the laws had remained unchanged since 2000. That’s an enormous windfall. It’s more, in total dollars, than the tax cut received over the same period by the entire bottom 60 percent of earners, according to an analysis being published today.”

“Think of it this way: Income inequality has soared in recent decades, with the wealthy pulling away from everyone else and the upper-middle-class doing better than the working class or poor. Yet our federal government has responded by aggravating these trends. It has handed huge tax cuts to the small segment of Americans who need those tax cuts the least.”

“The White House has rebuffed concerns among American intelligence and law enforcement officials and ordered that more lawmakers be given access to classified information about an informant the F.B.I. used in 2016 to investigate possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia,” the New York Times reports.

“Both the director of national intelligence and the director of the F.B.I. tried to keep the classified documents tightly restricted, fearing that a broader dissemination of operational reports and other sensitive material could lead to more leaks of detailed information about the role of the confidential F.B.I. informant.”

“The American Civil Liberties Union is launching a new electoral program to mobilize its 1.8 million members to vote as a bloc — a sign of how the group, flush with cash from the election of Donald Trump, is increasingly turning itself into a political engine of the resistance,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“If the new ACLU reminds you of the National Rifle Association, that’s not an accident.”

Paul Glastris: “There was a time when divided government didn’t have to mean bad government. That time has passed. If the Obama years showed anything, it is that, when in opposition, the modern Republican Party has no goal beyond blocking the Democratic agenda, whatever that may be, and will transgress hitherto undisputed democratic norms to do so. Operationally, the GOP’s governing objectives have devolved to two base goals: transferring wealth upward, and staying in power. Because the former goal is unpopular, achieving the latter increasingly requires the party to rely on anti-democratic means: voter ID laws and voter roll purges designed to suppress minority and youth turnout; hyper-partisan gerrymandering; filling the federal judiciary with ideological conservatives committed to weakening the power of unions and enhancing that of corporations; and so on. (That’s all on top of constitutional features, like the Electoral College and the Senate, that give the GOP representation that is out of proportion to its votes.)”

“The election of Donald Trump has pushed the Republican Party even further in this direction, to the point where it is now openly enabling corruption and autocracy.”

“The fact that America now has only one party committed to small-d democracy changes everything. It’s no longer acceptable for Democrats to look at politics as a way to win the next election so as to jam through a bunch of their preferred policies before the Republicans inevitably take back power. They must instead see the purpose of politics as building sustained power for Democrats, period—but, unlike the other side, they must do this in part by strengthening the democratic process, not by undermining it.”

Eliot Cohen: “A few years ago, the Germans created one of the compound nouns in which their language excels. The Russlandverstehers—literally, ‘Russia understanders’—were those who while not openly supporting Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea expressed sympathetic acceptance of it. They would never openly endorse the stealing of elections or the assassination of journalists, of course, but they understood the circumstances that lead to such unfortunate things, and the larger impulse to rough behavior to restore Russian national pride and enhance Russian prestige.”

“I propose the term Trumpverstehers in a similar spirit. These are not the mass of his supporters who fear the loss of jobs to global trade or automation; they are not the rural white Americans who feel threatened by immigration, ravaged by the opioid epidemic, and treated contemptuously by a bicoastal elite. In fact, by background, income, and employment, they are actually members of that elite.”

“Russia’s information attack against the United States during the 2016 election cycle sought to take advantage of the greater trust that Americans tend to place in local news,” NPR reports.

“The information operatives who worked out of the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg not only sought to pose as American social media users or spread false information from purported news sources… They also created a number of Twitter accounts that posed as sources for Americans’ hometown headlines.

Politico: “House Republican leaders plan to hold a vote on a liberal bill to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency — forcing Democrats to weigh in on a controversial issue that has divided the party just months before the midterms.”

“But Pocan and the bill’s other authors, Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), say they won’t be part of a GOP ‘political stunt.’ Pocan said he expects other Democrats to follow suit in voting no but said they’d relish the opportunity to debate immigration on the House floor.”

Playbook: “The kind of backfired on Republicans. They said this vote would put Dems in a tough spot. Democrats are expected to almost uniformly vote no. Guess it didn’t put them in that tough a spot. The biggest pitfall in Democrats’ strategy is that the base gets upset with them. There was dissent in GOP leadership on this plan, because some people realized it could make Republicans look silly.“

“House conservatives are preparing a new push to oust Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to three conservative Capitol Hill sources — putting the finishing touches on an impeachment filing even as Rosenstein announced the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for interfering in the 2016 election,” Politico reports.

“Democrats contend Republicans’ fixation on Rosenstein is really an effort to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller, who reports to Rosenstein and has been making inroads in his investigation of the Russian election interference plot.”

New York Times: “The trade war between the United States and China showed no signs of yielding on Thursday, as Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, told lawmakers there was no clear path to resolution and Beijing blasted the administration over its approach. Mr. Mnuchin, who has tried to avoid calling the trade tensions with China a ‘war,’ said talks with Beijing had ‘broken down’ and suggested it was now up to China to come to the table with concessions.”

“The Chinese, meanwhile, accused the United States of ‘acting erratically’ and said the administration had ‘blatantly abandoned the consensuses that two sides have reached and insisted on fighting a trade war with China.’”

“Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been revealed as a top donor to a Republican PAC aimed at keeping control of Congress,” the Daily Beast reports.

“Musk has a history of donating to both parties, but contributions to the Republican Party raised eyebrows on Twitter, where many questioned how the ‘socially liberal’ billionaire vowing to fight climate change could support the GOP’s platform.”

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

8 comments on “The Open Thread for July 15, 2018

  1. A useful reference from the last season of Homeland: U.I. (Useful Idiot). The entire Republican leadership.

  2. cassandram

    That Paul Glastris article needs to be required DAILY reading by Democrats.

    • delacrat

      You’ll note that Paul Glastris does not say the D-party’s decline has anything to do with “Russian interference”.

      • The failure of the Democratic Party and Russian help for Trump are two separate issues. One does not have to be false for the other to be true. Only someone incapable of logic would think it does.

        • cassandram

          Exactly. The issues of the Democratic are not the same as the Russian attack on us.

  3. It looks like Trump is just trying not to screw up. You can see the Queen directing him where to go at the beginning of the video:

    • The Queen appears to scold Trump before giving him instructions to take a number of steps and then stop while she gives him a Royal inspection like he’s one of her subjects or a horse or something. Then she proceeds to shoo him along like a small child. It’s actually pretty hilarious.

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