Open Thread

The Open Thread for July 18, 2018

A tale of two Presidents emerged yesterday.   A real American President returned.  And a a lying Russian traitor President tried to do damage control and failed.   After the uproar he created yesterday, President Trump said he has full confidence in the U.S. intelligence agencies and accepted the finding that Russia meddled in the election but still said there was no collusion, CBS News reports.  Said Trump: “In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word would instead of wouldn’t. The sentence should have been: ‘I don’t see any reason why it WOULDN’T be Russia.’ Sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things.”  But he added: “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”

So he couldn’t even finish his weakass walk back without walking back his walk back.  This will go just like his previous walk back after Charlottesville, where on Day 3, he will double down on his original outburst with uncontrolled rage.  And the reason why this incident is sticking is because Trump has looked so fucking weak during Monday’s treason and yesterday’s failed walk back.   He is a coward.  A scared little boy.

The failed walk back is not working, given the reactions of all the networks:

In preparation for a public statement meant to mitigate the damage his news conference with Vladimir Putin, the Washington Post reports that President Trump “brought four pages of handwritten notes to a meeting with congressional leaders and in his own distinctive scrawl, he added notes to the prepared comments. And in several instances, he struck out things he planned to skip.”

Trump struck out a line about bringing “anyone involved in that meddling to justice.”

Thomas Friedman: “Such behavior by an American president is so perverse, so contrary to American interests and values, that it leads to only one conclusion: Donald Trump is either an asset of Russian intelligence or really enjoys playing one on TV.”

“Everything that happened in Helsinki today only reinforces that conclusion. My fellow Americans, we are in trouble and we have some big decisions to make today. This was a historic moment in the entire history of the United States.”

“There is overwhelming evidence that our president, for the first time in our history, is deliberately or through gross negligence or because of his own twisted personality engaged in treasonous behavior — behavior that violates his oath of office to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’”

“President Trump sucking up to Vladamir Putin after the summit in Helsinki yesterday was such an unbelievable, indelible moment that many deflated White House officials didn’t even bother to defend or explain it,” Axios reports.  One of Trump’s own former National Security Council officials texted: “Dude. This is a total fucking disgrace. The President has lost his mind.”

However: “It’s highly unlikely any top White House officials will quit in protest; inconceivable congressional Republicans will do anything other than complain (mostly gently) in public; and unimaginable Trump will regret or rethink his pro-Putin approach.”

Associated Press:“The hammering and drilling began just months after Jared Kushner’s family real estate firm bought a converted warehouse apartment building in the hip, Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Tenants say it started early in the morning and went on until nightfall, so loud that it drowned out normal conversation, so violent it rattled pictures off the walls. So much dust wafted through ducts and under doorways that it coated beds and clothes in closets. Rats crawled through holes in the walls. Workers with passkeys barged in unannounced.”

“More than a dozen current and former residents of the building told The Associated Press that they believe the Kushner Cos.’ relentless construction, along with rent hikes of $500 a month or more, was part of a campaign to push tenants out of rent-stabilized apartments and bring high-paying condo buyers in.”

“If so, it was a remarkably successful campaign… more than 250 rent-stabilized apartments — 75 percent of the building — were either emptied or sold as the Kushner Cos. was converting the building to luxury condos. Those sales so far have totaled more than $155 million, an average of $1.2 million per apartment.”

Washington Post: “Administration officials had hoped that maybe, just maybe, Monday’s summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladmir Putin would end differently — without a freewheeling 46-minute news conference in which Trump attacked his own FBI on foreign soil and warmly praised archrival Russia.”

“Ahead of the meeting, staffers provided Trump with some 100 pages of briefing materials aimed at laying out a tough posture toward Putin, but the president ignored most of it… Trump’s remarks were ‘very much counter to the plan,’ one adviser said.”

“‘Everyone around Trump’ was urging him to take a firm stance with Putin.”

Michelle Goldberg: “While I was as shocked as everyone else, I shouldn’t have been. Trump’s behavior on Monday recalled his outburst at Trump Tower after the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, when he insisted there were ‘very fine people’ among the racist demonstrators. Both times, everything Trump said was in keeping with things he’d said before. The shocking part was his frankness. Then, as now, it forced, if just for a moment, a collective apprehension of just what a repulsive abomination this presidency is.”

“It’s always been obvious that Trump does not hold Russia’s hacking of the 2016 election, which he publicly encouraged and gleefully benefited from, against Putin. None of us yet know the exact contours of Trump’s relationship with Russia, whether Putin is his handler, his co-conspirator or just his hero. But it’s clear that Trump is willing to sell out American democracy for personal gain.”

If you want to remember when we had a real American President, watch President Obama’s speech in South Africa yesterday.

Law & Crime: “The judge overseeing Paul Manafort‘s federal court case on charges of tax evasion and bank fraud in Virginia delayed proceedings in a surprise move on Monday afternoon. According to legal experts familiar with the federal court system, this could be an indication that Manafort is about to cut a plea deal.”

“The delay may or may not have caught the prosecution and defense off guard–but was certainly a shock to those watching the events unfold from a distance. According to the publicly-accessible court docket, no party had submitted a request for such a delay and there was also no indication of an official court notice being filed as of late Monday afternoon.”

Foreign policy analyst Ian Bremmer tells CBS News that backstage at the NATO meeting there were elements that were even more eyebrow-raising than reports have suggested.

Said Bremmer: “Trump was very frustrated; he wasn’t getting commitments from other leaders to spend more. Many of them said, ‘Well, we have to ask our parliaments. We have a process; we can’t just tell you we’re going to spend more, we have a legal process.’ Trump turns around to the Turkish president, Recep Erdogan, and says, ‘Except for Erdogan over here. He does things the right way,’ and then actually fist-bumps the Turkish president.”

“It was a startling gesture of support for the increasingly authoritarian Turkish leader, who recently won another term and is widely expected to continue consolidating his power.”

Josh Marshall: “There is no reasonable explanation for the simple facts we see other than that Russia has some kind of hold over President Trump.  I know that sounds wild and I have a very hard time sometimes quite believing it myself. But it’s so overwhelmingly obvious that we need to get real with ourselves and recognize what is happening. I don’t know what the specific details are. I don’t know whether Russia has some compromising information on the President, whether they have enticed him with personal enrichment. I truly don’t know. But none of the standard explanations – truculence, trolling, anger over questioning the legitimacy of his election – none of them remotely add up as an explanation. In the future, when we know more details, we will have a difficult time explaining how any serious people continued to think there could be an innocent explanation.

Astronomers don’t see black holes directly. They see other celestial objects being affected by them. They infer the presence of a black hole by its gravitational pull. It is a deduction but a basically certain one because objects do not bend the course of their trajectory without a massive gravitational pull. As I wrote eighteen months ago, as the Russia story was erupting, you can infer the scope and depth of a scandal by its gravitational pull, often long before you know the particular details. President Trump’s actions make perfect sense if your assumptions are correct. Either by fear or avarice or some other species of control that exceeds the capacity of my imagination Russia exerts a control over President Trump. So the US is in grave danger.”

Rachel Maddow warned viewers of her show that it’s time for Americans to get ready to face the “worst case scenario” — the possibility that Trump has been compromised by Russia and that he’s in office to “serve the interests of another country rather than our own.”

Maddow said she recognized “it sounds nuts to say it even now, even tonight” but “there is a reason there is a big national freakout happening right now over what the president just did in public.”

A detailed review of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ calendar from February to November 2017 — his first months in office — “reveals dozens of meetings with companies tied to his personal fortune, which he built up over years in private equity,” Forbes reports.

“There are few bigger warning signs for a member of Congress that their re-election may be in doubt than when a challenger outraises them. In Texas, it just happened to seven incumbents, all Republicans,” the Texas Tribune reports.

“The numbers only became more striking when compared to their rivals: Some Democratic challengers raised two, three or even four times what their Republican incumbent rivals posted… Along with Sen. Ted Cruz, the six congressional incumbents who were outraised are delegation fixtures: Reps. John Carter, John Culberson, Will Hurd, Pete Olson, Pete Sessions and Roger Williams.”

We don’t know what he agreed to yet.

A new Monmouth poll in California’s 48th congressional district finds challenger Harley Rouda (D) edging Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R), 46% to 43% among registered voters.

“The state of the race does not change much when applying two different likely voter models. A historical midterm model shows the race at 47% for Rouda and 45% for Rohrabacher, while a model that includes a turnout surge in Democratic precincts gives Rouda a statistically insignificant 48% to 44% edge.”

“Rohrabacher has consistently won the district by double digits, but higher levels of enthusiasm among Democratic voters are making this year’s contest close.”

A new PRRI survey finds that Republicans and Democrats are about equally likely to say they are sure to vote this year, 59% vs. 56%.  For comparison, Republicans held a considerable edge in 2014.  More than two-thirds (68%) of Republicans, compared to only about half (51%) of Democrats, said they were absolutely certain to vote four years ago. in 2014.

Key takeaway: “The generation gap in reported voting intent is massive. Only 28% of young adults say they are absolutely certain they will vote in the 2018 election compared to 74% of seniors.”

In the generic ballot, Democrats lead Republicans by 11 points, 53% to 42%.

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

18 comments on “The Open Thread for July 18, 2018

  1. I have always had two criteria for my presidents. These criteria are equally important. One is what they do. The second is how they present themselves and represent the nation. I watched Obama’s speech in SA and quite simply it caused me to be more optimistic. His ability to be self deprecating, humorous, sincere, and inspiring is second to none. He made me proud to be an American.

    I am not seeking to argue the point, but in my opinion, he did not achieve as much as I would have liked. Still, considering the Congressional handicap he was faced with, the obstacles were pretty significant. So even though I don’t give him high marks for accomplishment, I caveat that with recognition of the difficulty he faced. Perhaps history will be able to put his Presidency in a better perspective.

    I wish we still had someone like Obama who could inspire. Instead we are faced with the Manchurian president who diminishes America everyday he spends in office.

    • cassandram

      Such a great speech and it was fantastic to see him back — back on the world stage – getting the kind of reception that ought to accompany an American leader. We all know who this is:

      Unfortunately, too much of politics today seems to reject the very concept of objective truth. People just make stuff up. They just make stuff up. We see it in state-sponsored propaganda; we see it in internet driven fabrications, we see it in the blurring of lines between news and entertainment, we see the utter loss of shame among political leaders where they’re caught in a lie and they just double down and they lie some more. Politicians have always lied, but it used to be if you caught them lying they’d be like, “Oh man.” Now they just keep on lying.

    • delacrat

      Because you are taken in by “His ability to be self deprecating, humorous, sincere, and inspiring”; that Obama expanded the wars from Iraq and Afghanistan to Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Syria, foisted on us a healthcare plan only the health insurers could love, failed to prosecute the banksters who imploded the global economy and repealed the Posse Comitatus Act does not trouble you ?

  2. I am tremendously impressed with his accomplishments. Losing 12 Senate and 64 House seats, along with 13 state governerships and 816 state legislative seats during his two terms was a remarkable achievement.

  3. cassandram

    And look who is back from the dead — Joe Lieberman, who is pretending to speak for the good of the Democrats by encouraging NY14 voters to vote for Joe Crowley on the Working Families Party line.

    So two things — I think we see the “moderate” purity test in play here, right? His biggest issue is that she is critical of Israel, looks like, but hey. And (I stole this line), this guy is the biggest reason why GoFundMe is the biggest health care funder in America. Which might be hyperbole, but helping to scuttle the public option is a very big reason why we are in the place we are in.

    • delacrat

      Holy Joe Lieberman cost Al Gore the presidency.

    • “Might” be hyperbole.

      Just think how many more legislative seats would have been lost if your hero Obama had pushed for public option/single payer.

      Watched an interview or two with Cortez and she sounds dumber than a box of rocks.

      The ego already kicking in as well, before she has won anything other than a primary in one of the bluest districts in one of the bluest cities in the country.

      “I’m twenty-eight years old, and I was elected on this super-idealistic platform,” she said. “Folks may want to take that away from me, but I won. When you hear ‘She won just for demographic reasons,’ or low turnout, or that I won because of all the white ‘Bernie bros’ in Astoria—maybe that all helped. But I smoked this race. I didn’t edge anybody out. I dominated. And I am going to own that”.

      Jesus wept. From the mouths of babes…

      • So do you put thought into your dumbass comments or do you just flap your fingers around and hit “post”? Not trying to be offensive or anything, I’m just asking.

        • cassandram

          This weak-ass bullshit is apparently his attempt to “own the libs”. I stopped reading when it was clear he hadn’t a clue that there is a difference between a public option and single payer. The only instruction they get is to react to certain words. They don’t need to know anything about those words or the policy implications of those words. Astonishing that they let themselves look this weak. Along with the GRIFTUS.

      • Or it might be an actual joke. Much better than the ones your Dear Leader thinks he’s making.

        I find it fascinating the way Trump can only offer certain canned shticks whenever certain terms are mentioned, but mainly as a real-time lesson in the slow degradation of the mind under progressive dementia. Most of his Trumpkin followers don’t have that excuse.

        • @alby “progressive dementia”

          That would seem to be a reasonable explanation. Yet, only those who have known him for decades would have a sufficient baseline with which to make such an assessment and they don’t appear to be talking. The other alternative is that he has always been this way.

          I have a family member quite similar to Trump. I jokingly accuse him of having early onset but honestly, he’s has always been that way. We used to refer to them as “slow.” That’s really how Trump strikes me. I think that’s why he is so easily manipulated both within the White House and outside of it. Someone(s) playing Cersei Lannister to Trump’s Joffrey. Maybe Putin is Cersei for all we know.

          • Point of Nerd order, no one had control over Joff with the possible and occasional exception of Tywin.

          • “only those who have known him for decades would have a sufficient baseline with which to make such an assessment and they don’t appear to be talking. The other alternative is that he has always been this way.”

            Not so. Compare his speech patterns to how he talked in interviews 20 years ago and you will quickly notice the decline in his vocabulary and syntax. In interviews pre-2000, he completes sentences, carries a thought for entire paragraphs, and so on. Not so in the past few years.

            • I never paid much attention to Trump. Didn’t watch Celebrity Apprentice. I thought he has always been this way. I assumed his daddy bought Trump’s way to his Wharton degree.

              • I despised him the second I saw him, but I never took him seriously. I only know the decline from watching past televised interviews on Youtube. Try it. It’s unmissable.

    • Im glad she is critical of Israel. My shame in that country as a Jew is only eclipsed by my shame in this one as an American. Crowleycrats are going down.

  4. cassandram

    Culture of Corruption

    Fifty-four percent of voters across 48 Republican-held congressional districts said Republicans are “more corrupt” than Democrats, compared with 46 percent who said Democrats are “more corrupt.”

    According to the online survey of 1,200 registered voters, conducted for the progressive Center for American Progress Action Fund from July 2-5, an even higher number of independents hold Republicans responsible for corruption: 60 percent.

    Say it every day.

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