Open Thread

The Open Thread for July 19, 2018

The Walk-Back to the Walk-Back to the Walk-Back to the Walk-Back to the Walk-Back President Trump told CBS News that it’s “true” Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, and he “would” hold Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible for interference.  Said Trump: “Well, I would, because he’s in charge of the country. Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country. So certainly as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes.”   Well, first, you are not in charge of the country.  And thankfully,  you are not responsible for everything in the country (but if you want to be, then I will gladly blame you when anything goes wrong).

The walk back to CBS came after another shoe in the mouth moment this morning when Putin’s little bitch claimed “that Russia is no longer targeting the United States, contradicting his top intelligence official who said the opposite earlier this week,” CNN reports.

New York Times: “Mr. Trump’s comments were the latest in a dizzying collection of conflicting statements from Mr. Trump since he emerged from a private meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Monday in Helsinki, Finland.”

All these walk backs do not take back all of what Trump has said in the last three days.  First Read highlights what he didn’t try to clean up:

  • “I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish.”
  • “I think that the [Mueller] probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart. It’s kept us separated. There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it.”
  • “You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the [DNC’s] server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that.”
  • “What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? Thirty-three thousand emails gone — just gone. I think, in Russia, they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails.”
  • “So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
  • “And what [Putin] did is an incredible offer; he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 [indicted Russians]. I think that’s an incredible offer.” (By the way, Putin’s condition for that offer? That Americans and U.S. residents who Russia believes have committed illegal actions should be questioned, too.)

“So what should be the major takeaway? That Trump tried to clean up a couple of statements from his meeting with Putin? Or that didn’t walk back everything else he said in Helsinki.”

Trump to turn over American citizens and officials to Putin’s KGB.   Press secretary Sarah Sanders says the White House is still weighing an offer [or order] from Russian President Vladimir Putin to allow the U.S. to interview the indicted Russians accused of election meddling in exchange for Putin’s KGB getting to question Bill Browder and our former Ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, both critics of Putin and connected to the lawyer, Magnitsky who exposed Putin’s corruption and then was ordered killed by Putin.  An American President would have stood up and left the meeting at that suggestion.  A Russian Traitor says he will consider it.

If this happens, there must be violent riots in protest.

Kavanaugh wants to end Special Counsel law.   “Judge Brett Kavanaugh two years ago expressed his desire to overturn a three-decade-old Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of an independent counsel, a comment bound to get renewed scrutiny in his confirmation proceedings to sit on the high court,” CNN reports.

Speaking to a conservative group in 2016, Kavanaugh bluntly said he wanted to “put the final nail” in the 1988 Supreme Court ruling.

“Whether that means Kavanaugh views Mueller’s appointment and investigation itself as unconstitutional is unclear, given the special counsel works directly for the Justice Department under a different set of rules that governed the independent counsel.”

GOP Congressman wants to call women sluts again.   Rep. Jason Lewis (R-MN) “has a long history of making deeply misogynistic comments on the radio, including lamenting that women can no longer be called ‘sluts,’” CNN reports.

Said Lewis: “Does a woman now have the right to behave — and I know there’s a double standard between the way men chase women and running and running around — you know, I’m not going to get there, but you know what I’m talking about. But it used to be that women were held to a little bit of a higher standard. We required modesty from women. Now, are we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can’t call her a slut?”

Reducing Caucuses and Superdelegates: A good compromise.  “A quiet but significant shift across a handful of states could reshape the Democratic nominating process ahead of 2020: The party is now poised to see a historic reduction in the number of states that use caucuses over primaries to pick a presidential nominee,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“By next year, Democrats could see the number of caucus states cut in half.”

“Four states have already moved from a caucus system to a traditional primary: MaineMinnesotaColorado, and, as of last month, Idaho made the switch. Party officials say two more states — Nebraska and Washington — are now considering the same change. And as Democratic Party members prepare to adopt changes to the nominating process at their annual summer meeting next month — including a new rule to “encourage” the use of primaries over caucuses “whenever possible” — caucus states may face new outside pressure to embrace state-run primaries.”

The Unity Reform Commission has already agreed to limit and reduce the number of superdelegates.

How the Obamas stayed invisible in Washington post-presidency.  Washington Post: “The conventional move for a post-presidency life is back home: a return to roots, a presidential library and distinguished service. No modern president has remained in the nation’s capital after leaving office; the last was the ailing Woodrow Wilson in 1921. So the idea of the vibrant, glamorous Obamas — two of the most famous people in the world — living here was a very big deal. Expectations were high.”

“Longtime Washingtonians hoped they would become unofficial ambassadors for the nation’s capital, embracing their adopted city. Instead, they’ve embraced their new lives as private citizens, emphasis on private.”

“In the past 18 months — aside from a few carefully curated public appearances — they are rarely spotted around town. They still love going to restaurants and attending the occasional exhibition or play. But outside a rarefied circle of close friends, they fly pretty much under the radar.”

Democrats Have Massive Cash Edge In Key Senate Races.  “Senate Democrats and supportive outside groups have built a massive cash advantage over Republicans 3½ months before the midterm elections, raising GOP concerns that they will squander a golden opportunity to grow their narrow majority,” The Hill reports.

“All told, Democratic candidates in 10 of the most critical races are sitting on $75 million, while their Republican rivals hold $33 million in cash on hand.”

Suspected Spy Contacted Russian Intelligence.  Prosecutors said that a woman “charged with secretly acting on behalf of Russia was working as a covert agent in the United States and was recently in contact with a suspected Russian intelligence official,” the New York Times reports.  “The new details about the woman, Maria Butina, 29, were disclosed by prosecutors in a court filing arguing that she should be held without bond because she was a flight risk… The authorities disclosed that she was moving money out of the country, had her boxes packed and had terminated her lease.”

The Trump Drownout Strategy.  GOP strategist Josh Holmes told McClatchy the President Trump is an asset for the midterm elections and that Republicans are counting on his media dominance to turn out their voters in November — and drown out opponents’ messaging.

Said Holmes: “Everybody thinks that President Trump is some kind of drag on the Republican Party, [when] in this case, he’s just the essential ingredient.”He added: “What the president is doing by continuing to discuss the investigation and the quote-unquote ‘witch hunt,’ particularly on prime time Fox News, is doing more to mobilize base voters than any legislative issue we’ve seen.”More: “You could be up with 10 million points of health care messaging from now until the election. None of that matters if President Trump doesn’t utter the word health care. He controls the conversation in a way that we have not seen a president do.”

Polling Update.  A new Center for American Progress poll in 48 Republican-held congressional districts finds a majority of voters think Republicans are more corrupt than Democrats, 54% to 46%.  Democrats also hold a 4-point lead on the generic ballot in these districts, “a notable shift from the last two cycles, where Republicans led in the same districts by an average of 14 points.”

“A majority of Americans, 68 percent, consider Russia either unfriendly or an enemy of the United States,” according to a new NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll.  “That’s a 9 percent increase from one year ago, when 59 percent of Americans said they considered Russia either unfriendly or an enemy, signaling that attitudes toward Russia have worsened amid President Trump’s administration and the federal probe into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election.  The poll was conducted just prior to Trump’s Monday news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

A new Pew Research poll finds 41% think the U.S. Senate should confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, while 36% say they should not and 23% do not offer a view on the question.  “Opinions of his nomination are already deeply polarized: 73% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents think he should be confirmed. By contrast, 63% of Democrats and Democratic leaners  say the Senate should not confirm him.”

A new Center for Politics/Ipsos poll finds 51% of Americans believe elections are fair and open, and large majorities of Americans express skepticism about big money in politics and favor disclosure of donations.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds 55% of Americans disapprove of the way President Trump is handling relations with Russia, while 37% approved, in a survey conducted after his controversial summit and joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, among Republicans, 71% approved of his handling of Russia compared to just 14% of Democrats.

The Financial Times says Trump betrayed America. Financial Times editorial: “Mr Trump has undermined his country and his office in a series of important ways. His performance in Helsinki made it absolutely clear that the US president places his own political survival and personal vanity above any belief in the rule-of-law. Just a few days earlier, Rod Rosenstein, America’s deputy attorney-general, had indicted 12 Russian agents accused of interfering in the 2016 election and had correctly pointed out that the indictments should not be a partisan issue. But this crucial point is lost on Mr Trump. Everything — including truth, the rule-of-law and the dignity of the US — is subordinated to his own partisan interests.

The president’s rambling and self-centred remarks also underlined the questions about his intellectual fitness for office. The contrast with the controlled, polished (and deeply cynical) performance of Mr Putin was painful to behold.”

Another Special Election Democratic Upset? The August 7th special election in central Ohio, which was called after longtime Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-OH) resigned, “will be the last gut-check for both parties ahead of November’s midterms,” the Washington Postreports.

“Danny O’Connor, the Democratic nominee in a special congressional election here, has denounced both party leader Nancy Pelosi and the Republican-passed tax cut. Troy Balderson, a longtime Republican state legislator, has underwhelmed his party’s strategists and lagged in fundraising.”

“Republicans, who presided over a 2011 gerrymander that appeared to turn the district safely red, concede that Democrats have put it in play. A Republican super PAC has been on the air for five weeks; both Vice President Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan have flown in to help Balderson raise money and wake up voters.”

Trump’s $250K Jerusalem Embassy Will Cost $21 Million.  President Trump “has repeatedly boasted that he would save US taxpayers a bundle by negotiating a $250,000 price tag for a new embassy in Jerusalem. Turns out the final cost, just for a temporary facility, is almost 100 times more,” Al Monitor reports.

Documents uploaded this week to the official database of federal spending show that Maryland-based joint venture Desbuild Limak D&K has been awarded a $21.2 million award to design and build ‘addition and compound security upgrades’ to the embassy in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood. That’s in addition to the $335,000 spent to get the facility, formerly a US consulate, ready for its ritzy grand opening as an embassy back in May.”

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

32 comments on “The Open Thread for July 19, 2018

  1. delacrat

    “If this happens, there must be violent riots in protest.” – delaware dem

    Are you plotting violent riots, if so, what is your part in the plot ?

  2. “getting to question Bill Browder and our former Ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul”

    They both are private citizens. There is no legal way for Trump to effect such activity without their cooperation. They are not under an U.S. indictment. Nor do we have an extradition treaty with Russia. Once again, the Administration demonstrates their lack of understanding how things actually work. Emperors are not used to having to comply with laws and procedure. They always think that they can just say “Make it so” and it will happen. I recognize that Trump wishes he could do that (which is why he liked TV so much because he can say “You’re fired! and something actually happened), but IRL it doesn’t work that way.

    • cassandram

      Browder is a citizen of the UK, so the GRIFTUS has no jurisdiction here. McFaul was an American ambassador working under full diplomatic immunity. Seriously doubt Mueller will spend investigation dollars to interview anyone where they’ll be under the scrutiny of their bosses.

  3. RE Vanella

    Del Dem is making the same case as David Simon has made many times. It’s a perfectly appropriate observation. These things tend to deteriorate and the options to oppose them diminish precipitously. I wouldn’t relish it, but oftentimes the only option left is the brick.

    • The left-wing warming to the 2A is beginning. And why not? the fashies only understand one language.

  4. delacrat

    “A majority of Americans, 68 percent, consider Russia either unfriendly or an enemy of the United States,” according to a new NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll.


    [T]he percentage of Americans saying “Situation with Russia” is the most important problem is literally too small to represent with a number. ”

    Unless the Dems start speaking to the real concerns of their base, forget about any “Blue Wave”.

  5. Did you look at that poll? One could criticize it on many grounds — so many choices that most score in the low single digits, a single-most-important question gives a distorted answer (for comparison, terrorism is at 1%, down from 3% last December).

    You are correct that Democrats will suffer if they fail to articulate a better vision for the country than either what we have now or the pre-Trump status quo. But as for “forget about any blue wave,” statements like this are empty doomsaying. You won’t get a prize if you’re right, you won’t be punished if you’re wrong.

    • delacrat

      Given the 24/7 attention “Situation with Russia” you’d think it would score above 1%. Contrast that to “Immigration/illegal aliens” which receives similar media coverage scoring at 22%. You can’t explain away that much difference as due to “so many choices”.

      The later issue has implications for Americans day-to-day concerns like job competition, while the former does not. Trump and the GOP know this, which is why Trump makes immigration his issue and more than happy to have the Dems knock themselves out over “Russiagate”.

      • cassandram

        Here is the full poll summary.

        So if we were to follow you rule about what Americans are concerned about, we can expect you to stop posting about the Clintons, HRC, the Democrats, and your various pretend hand wringing about killing people in the Middle East. Right? Because why would you be here talking about topics that are of no concern to the Democratic base?

        • delacrat

          The “Clintons, HRC, the Democrats,” can do Russia hysteria 24/7, but I can’t mention any the preceding at all ?

          • cassandram

            Your invocation of this poll is the try to control the conversation here. Again. I’m all in for holding you to your own rules.

            • delacrat

              Control the conversation”.!?

              Madame has a gift for overstatement.

              • cassandram

                No, I think most of us get why you drop by to just crap all over the place rather than engage in a discussion.

      • Which jobs are immigrants competing for? Drywall hanger? Mower jockey? Or programmer?

        If your complaint is the latter, you don’t seem to understand the alternatives. Given a global labor market, they will either bring them here at low wages or hire them in place at lower wages. Importing them here so they pay our taxes is the better-case scenario.

        • delacrat

          “Importing them here so they pay our taxes…” – alby

          Accepting for the sake argument that has any economic merit, it still makes for lousy politics because a disemployed American will say “thanks, but no thanks, I want the job the immigrant has and I don’t need him to pay my taxes.”

          • cassandram

            Many of the jobs immigrants take are ones Americans won’t. Or the jobs available don’t pay. Or don’t pay enough. At this point, this is less an argument about immigrants than it is about real living wages and making sure jobs are safe.

            • delacrat

              That maybe true, but you’re missing the point.

              Whatever impact immigrants have on jobs or what people think they have on jobs, won’t convince people care about “Russiagate”.

              • cassandram

                In which case your point is stupid. No one is trying to tie immigrants and Russiagate together and certainly there is no rule that people concerned with immigrants need to care about Russiagate. A very great many of us can be interested and fluent in multiple issues and not give a damn about convincing anyone about anything.

              • Still waiting for an explanation of how Democrats, who are for immigration, can turn fear of immigrants in their favor.

            • So, if Americans won’t take the jobs because they don’t pay enough, and we try to keep out the illegal immigrants that do take them, what is the logical result?

              • economic downturn, dumbass. Wages will never go up until laws force them to.

              • The actual result, as opposed to the logical one, is that crops rot in the fields and people mow their own lawns.

                You don’t know enough economics to play this game.

                • Right. All the farmers and big agribusiness will let the crops rot in the fields over a few extra bucks in wages. And I’m supposedly the one that doesn’t know economics.

                  • There are articles:

                    “All types of farms and ranches are facing labor shortages, but the problem is critical in the fruit and vegetable sector where farmers are more dependent on hand-harvesting,” said Zippy Duvall, the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, in an email. “Even with all the mechanization and innovation that has happened in agriculture, there are certain types of farm work, such as weeding or picking produce for the fresh market, that machines can’t do as well as human hands.”


                    Although Big Agriculture wears a red MAGA hat, Trump’s policies seem destined to test the theory that American workers will supplant undocumented immigrants when the latter are driven from their jobs.

                    There is scant evidence to support the notion. The U.S. is nearing full employment, while agriculture jobs remain demanding work for low pay. “By working about 200 days or 1,600 hours a year at $10 an hour, long-season and full-year farm workers can earn $15,000 to $20,000 a year,” Martin wrote. American farms have relied on foreign labor at least since before World War II, when the Bracero Program was instituted by the federal government to bring Mexican workers to American farms.

                    When Alabama and Georgia cracked down on undocumented labor in 2011, when unemployment was high, crops rotted in the fields. Farms lost millions in sales. (A University of Georgia study pegged losses in that state at $140 million due to a shortage of 5,000 workers.) The native American workers never did materialize. Courts eventually blocked key elements of the laws.

                  • To be honest, I don’t think you know much of anything.


                    It would have taken you 5 seconds to look this up. Conservatives are so lazy.

  6. Don’t disagree with any of that, except for your apparent agreement with Trump on immigration.

    That’s not the Democratic position on immigration. Indeed, by your own standard, resentment of immigrants would be the smartest way to pander to voters.

    Ranking the importance of issues by which ones respondents say are most important sounds like government by “Family Feud” researchers.

    • Also, the 24/7 spotlight on Russia is mostly a liberal web site/cable TV thing. The actual audience for that is pretty small, which is why you see it as an obsession and the general public doesn’t see it at all.

      For the media, it has replaced coverage of bills in Congress, because there are none to debate. In case you don’t recall, back in the Bush years you saw a lot more coverage of actual lawmaking. Today’s Congress is pulling the old Roman Senate trick of turning over all authority to the executive. All that’s left is to make the executive a life position.

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