Open Thread

The Open Thread for July 28, 2018

“Nineteen months into his presidency, there is no coherent Trump administration strategy to combat foreign election interference — and no single person or agency in charge,” NBC News reports.

“After terrorists struck on 9/11, the U.S. government passed laws, boosted funding, and reorganized itself with the goal of making sure such an attack could never happen again. But no such wholesale changes have taken place in the nearly two years since Russia sought to manipulate the 2016 election, cyber aggression that some lawmakers have called an act of war.”

“United States gross domestic product rose at an annual rate of 4.1% in the second quarter, up from 2.2% in the first three months of the year. It was the strongest quarter of growth since 2014,” the New York Timesreports.

“The second-quarter acceleration was widely anticipated by economists, a result of a confluence of events unlikely to recur. Most economists expect growth to slow in the second half of the year.”

“President Trump has sought repeatedly to punish journalists for the way they ask him questions, directing White House staff to ban those reporters from covering official events or to revoke their press credentials,” the Washington Post reports.

“At various moments throughout his presidency, Trump has vented angrily to aides about what he considers disrespectful behavior and impertinent questions from reporters in the Oval Office and in other venues. He has also asked that retaliatory action be taken against them.”  Said Trump: “These people shouting questions are the worst. Why do we have them in here?”

“Until this week, the officials said, Trump’s senior aides have resisted carrying out his directives.”

“Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday he had invited Donald Trump to Moscow and that both he and the U.S. president want further summits, despite the uproar in Washington after the two leaders met in Helsinki last week,” Reuters reports.

“Putin did not say how Trump had reacted to the invitation to travel to Moscow. The last time Trump was in the Russian capital was in 2013, to attend a Miss Universe beauty pageant.”

Andrew Sullivan: “What this tiny glimpse into reality reveals is something quite simple. It’s not that it’s a shock that Trump has been lying about this incident from the very beginning. That has long been clear. But there’s something about listening to his voice acknowledging this in such a breezy, matter-of-fact tone that exposes the purity of the cynicism behind the lies. ‘We have no knowledge of any of this,’ Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks, had, after all, originally told The Wall Street Journal when it broke the story days before the 2016 election. The idea that Trump had had an affair at all, let alone organized hush money to the National Enquirer, was ‘totally untrue.’ And yet here, as the curtain is pulled back, we hear Trump himself figuring out how to finance its cover-up.”

“This is not a man embarrassed by something unusual in his private life, lying defensively in a panic. It’s a world-weary operator in sleaze and outright deception, dealing with an item of everyday business. The euphemisms — ‘info,’ ‘financing,’ ‘our friend David,’ etc. — are those of people who know they’re doing something shady. He even talks of ‘using’ a religious-right figure. It’s the tape of a con man, discussing the con with an underling in a kind of consigliere code. And this revelation is therefore dangerous. It demonstrates that Trump is, in fact, just another crooked pol — and does so in his own voice.”

“Con men usually know that a con has a life span, and not a long one. At some point, it will collapse because it is, in fact, bullshit. By then, the best con men have made the sale — think of ‘Trump University’ — and moved on. They also know that keeping the suckers sealed off from other sources of contrary information is essential until the deal is done. You have to maintain a fiction relentlessly, dismiss or delegitimize external information that might get your marks to think differently, and constantly make the sale. You have to humor and flatter and bullshit all the time, until you’ve sealed the deal.”

“And Trump is really, really good at this. In fact, it’s his chief skill, along with his instinct for the easy mark and another human being’s vulnerable spot.”

James Hohmann: “The freshest data reveals that there has been no surge in new Puerto Rican voters. During the nine months before the hurricane — January through September of 2017 — there were 343,000 people who registered to vote in Florida, and 18 percent were Hispanic… During the nine months after the hurricane — from last October through the end of June — there were 326,000 new registered voters. Just 21 percent were Hispanic. That’s a pretty small uptick — and not necessarily explained by Puerto Rican registration at all.”

Said Democratic strategist Steve Schale: “The concern I’ve had for a while is that … the Maria impact was probably not going to be as significant as people initially thought. We’ve got two-and-a-half months left for voter registration. But these numbers show it’s not going to happen organically.”

Molly Ball: “Describe someone as ‘commanding the room’ and you generally conjure an image of gravitas — a man, likely white, in a suit, emitting soaring oratory. Abrams is a big-boned, natural-haired, youthful-looking woman with a quizzical smile and a gap between her front teeth. She’s as likely to geek out about tax policy or Star Trek as she is to summon the spirit of justice.”

“Yet when she speaks, all kinds of people — from black folks in rural communities to yuppie ‘resistance’ moms around Atlanta to this crowd of rough-handed electrical workers — go quiet and listen. In a Democratic Party divided and desperate for fresh faces, Abrams is already becoming a national star.”



A new Axios-Survey Monkey tracking poll launched ahead of the 2018 midterm elections with a focus on five specific groups of voters.

“The most important group to watch will be the #NeverHillary independents — a group that narrowly disapproves of Trump’s performance… It’s also not a good sign for Republicans that Trump’s disapproval ratings are high among suburban white women. The other subgroups lean pretty much the way you’d expect.”

Cook Political Report: “With 102 days to go, Democrats remain substantial favorites for House control. A big reason: Republicans are defending 42 open or vacant seats, a record since at least 1930.”

“Of Republicans’ 42 incumbent-less seats, eight are in districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and an additional 13 are in districts where President Trump received less than 55 percent. History is working against the GOP in many of those seats: we found that since 1992, in situations when a president’s party was stuck defending an open seat two years after the president failed to carry it, that party has batted zero for 23 keeping it in their column.”

“]n a wave environment, 42 seats is a dangerous level of exposure: If Democrats win even eight of the 42 (our current ratings pin eight as Lean/Likely Democratic and four more as Toss Ups), they’ll already be over a third of the way to a majority.”

Daily Beast: “Two sources who have spoken to Trump about Cohen this week said the president was furious—hurling ‘expletives,’ per one confidant—after CNN revealed Cohen had covertly recorded at least one of their conversations.”

“After audio of the call surfaced, the president conveyed to those close to him that he felt betrayed by Cohen. He was particularly irate at being clandestinely recorded and that audio had found its way to, of all places, CNN, a frequent target of Trump’s tweets. Trump also vented his frustration that there are apparently other tapes out there, and that he doesn’t know exactly what could be on them, or when they’ll drop in the press.”

Said one source close to Trump, who also knows Cohen: “They’re dead to each other now.”

Town & Country: “It’s not just the toothy grin, the tall stature, and the shock of hair swept over his brow. With a disdain for highly paid consultants, a willingness to travel to unexpected places, and an inspiring message for an extraordinarily divided electorate, it’s hard to look at O’Rourke and not think of Bobby Kennedy in 1968. He has been to all of Texas’s 254 counties — including ones no Democratic candidate has seriously contested in decades. If he can meet every person, knock on every door, he thinks he can win.”

“Homeland Security officials may have neglected to give a choice to as many as three-quarters of all migrant parents removed from the United States about leaving their children behind, contradicting repeated public assurances from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen,” Politico reports.

“The Trump administration failed to document consent in most such cases… That lapse increased the number of departed parents whom officials must now find and contact about whether they wish to be reunited with their children, and, if so, figure out the logistics of how to bring them together.”

“Donald Trump’s former chief adviser Steve Bannon has been in direct communication with former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson, as both men plot new moves that could have a significant impact on European politics,” multiple sources told BuzzFeed News.

“A source who spent time with Bannon during the trip said Bannon was in private contact with Johnson while he was in Britain… A former UK government source told BuzzFeed News that Bannon and Johnson have known each other for some time, and exchanged text messages as far back as when Johnson was foreign secretary and Bannon worked in the White House.”

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

23 comments on “The Open Thread for July 28, 2018

  1. “Nineteen months into his presidency, there is no coherent Trump administration strategy to combat foreign election interference — and no single person or agency in charge,” NBC News reports.

    Remember that all of this so called Russian “interference” happened during the watch of the previous administration , and also remember that Obama had said that he knew about it and had taken the steps to remedy the situation. Obama also played down any interference and threw in a jibe at Trump for good measure. ( Hillary was a shoo-in and the last thing the Democrats wanted was for anybody to think there was any foul play going on.)

    “There is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections, there’s no evidence that that has happened in the past or that it will happen this time, and so I’d invite Mr. Trump to stop whining and make his case to get votes.”- Obama

    Everybody tries to influence the power structure of everyone else, it’s been going on for a long time and the US is just as guilty, if not more so, than just about anyone.

  2. cassandram

    Trump chairs election security meeting but gives no new orders to repel Russian interference

    House GOP refuses to renew election security funding as Democrats fume over Russian interference

    Putin’s favorite congressman (HINT: it’s not a Democrat)

    McConnell Refused To Sign Bipartisan Statement On Russian Interference BEFORE the election, mind you.

    Superpowers may be in the business of trying to influence everyone else. But let’s not forget that the GOP is actively aiding and abetting the Russians at every opportunity. Including taking campaign money from them.

  3. “We do it, too” is so laughably stupid and hypocritical I’m surprised anyone repeats it with a straight face. So we should forgive suicide bombers because we kill people with bombs too, right?

    The stupid is strong in this one.

    • cassandram

      It is stupid. Because you have no argument to stop the bad behavior of this government if you can’t draw the line for bad behavior by other governments in your country.

    • delacrat

      So “they” should forgive us, because “we kill people with bombs too.”

      Now that’s strong stupid.

      • I’m not sure you understand my point. It’s about the logic. Probably over your head.

    • Sure, “we do it too”, and it’s been tried before on us. The people heading the investigation into this supposed “hacking” have come to the conclusion that there was no “impact” at all on the election, so why is there such a meltdown going on this time, as opposed to the other times? (As if I have to ask)

      Obama admittedly knew the supposed “hacking” was taking place. Why wasn’t there an uproar from the media and others when this “hacking” was actually taking place. (Again, as if I have to ask)

      If politicians in the up coming mid terms start blaming their losing numbers on the Russians, I won’t be surprised.

      • You keep asking the same question, and it’s been answered.

        There has been no “conclusion” that there was no impact on the election, and Obama wanted to say something but McConnell told him that if he did Republicans would say it was politically motivated.

        This information is widely available. Your failure to access it is nobody else’s problem.

      • WHY, didn’t Obama do something when he was President. And blaming the media is no excuse. He just was already in retirement mode, just didn’t care. Pretty lame!

        • As has been explained many times, because Mitch McConnell killed the idea of a bipartisan statement and told Obama that if he said anything about Russian meddling in the election Republicans would treat it as a partisan issue.

          This has been widely reported. Look it up.

  4. cassandram

    Ex-lawmaker Atkins arrested 3rd time in domestic violence case

    3rd time. Hope the 18K cash bond keeps him in jail for awhile.

  5. I don’t care about the president, I don’t care about payments to anyone, I care about defending this country’s fall election and getting an authentic result.

    • Stan Merriman

      Don’t count on your local election commission for cyber protection; you’ll vote on 22 year old claptrap machines in 2018 with no paper trail of any kind and very likely in 2020 you’ll vote on spanking new and very hackable DRE machines with limited forensic auditability because of arrogant dismissal of over a decade of university based forensic testing for hacking vulnerability. At least 15 major institutions have arrived at consensus that paper ballots are the only hack proof voting method, now in use at about 70% of U.S. voting jurisdictions. Our legislators choose to be oblivious to this fact and my Party chooses silence.

  6. While the meddling in the election could have ranged from simple trolling all the way to altering votes, all that pales in comparison to the possibility that the current President may be an unwitting, intentional, or coerced Russian asset. The plethora of connections to Russia is too pervasive to be coincidental on the part of the Russians. No other “American” has ever had that broad range of interfaces as the current Administration who acted at the behest of a single individual.

  7. Oh, I don’t know about that. How about this guy:

    Or this one:

    Or maybe even this one?

    • cassandram

      And here you are, with more bullshit your Fox news handlers sent you out with. Did you note “at the behest of a single individual”? Or do we go with more demonstrated lack of reading comprehension? Most importantly, is that all of these were caught, investigated by the FBI and dealt with in accordance to their crimes. They were not protected by the entirely of any political party (like the GOP is currently doing), they did not have any regular American political party trying to excuse their behavior (like the GOP is doing for Trump), they did not have a regular American political party working the refs to make the FBI look like the really bad guys here (like the GOP is currently doing). The biggest difference between no and then is that then, the majority of the country understood th extend of the Soviet threat. NOW, the Democrats are the only folks on deck arguing for better security against the Russians.

  8. Please, spare me your bullshit. We heard for decades from liberals and Democrats that Hiss, White, and the others were “persecuted” and “victims of McCarthyism”. It wasn’t until the Venona decrypts were declassified that Democrats were forced to admit that many of the names on McCarthy’s list really were Soviet agents.

    • cassandram

      Seriously, open a book. The HUAC (and some of its predecessor committees) were largely hype trading on the Red Scare. McCarthy was a Democrat. His compadre Nixon was a Republican. Both were despicable people and one grew up to become an impeached Republican President. Hiss was convicted of perjury. Hopkins charged with nothing. The only one of those who clearly was a threat was White. And ONE MORE TIME — Democrats were not trying to pretend that Soviet influence was not a problem (like the GOP is currently doing), Democrats did not try to excuse their behavior (like the GOP is doing for Trump AND because there were Democrats leading the charge), and Democrats were not the refs to make the FBI look like the really bad guys here (like the GOP is currently doing). The biggest difference between now and then is that then, the majority of the country understood th extend of the Soviet threat. I’ll add that Democrats were complicit in demagoguing that threat. And NOW, the Democrats are the only folks on deck arguing for better security against the Russians.

  9. Note again: Soviet agents. Not businessmen that made some deals in Russia. Not sitting presidents that met with their counterparts in Russia just like every other president.

    There’s a bit of a difference, but you are too blinded by bitterness over losing the election to see it.

    • cassandram

      So this counts as two parts of your playbook here: 1) trying to pretend that Russian influence and interference was not a problem and 2) Excusing the criminal behavior.

      • Yeah, let me know if you find any actual evidence of criminal behavior, let alone a conviction. Tax fraud doesn’t count.

        You really think Russian influence had any effect whatsoever on the 2016 election?

        6.8 billion dollars spent on the election, 2.5 billion on the Presidential race, and you think a few facebook posts and ads made a difference?

        Russian influence/meddling = Lame excuses for a poorly run campaign with a muddled message and a historic loss.

        • cassandram

          More Fox News stupidity. You are, of course, free to buy into every bit of their propaganda, but all that does here is demonstrate just how far you’ll go to be a Trump sheep. And I will point out again that if a Democrat was tied up in all of this Russian foolishness you’d be screaming for the death penalty. You don’t care about a foreign country interfering with our government. You just care that no one on your team gets blamed for it.

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