The Open Thread for August 5, 2018

President Trump hurled insults at Lebron James in a Friday night tweet after the basketball star criticized him in an interview with CNN.  Said Trump: “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do.”  He concluded with an apparent reference to basketball legend Michael Jordan and the debate of who is the best basketball player of all time, saying: “I like Mike!”  In response, “First lady Melania Trump issued a statement Saturday in support of LeBron James,” the Washington Post reports.

“In private, President Trump spent much of the past week brooding, like he often does. He has been anxious about the Russia investigation’s widening fallout, with his former campaign chairman now standing trial. And he has fretted that he is failing to accrue enough political credit for what he claims as triumphs,” the Washington Post reports.

“At rare moments of introspection for the famously self-centered president, Trump has also expressed to confidants lingering unease about how some in his orbit — including his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — are ensnared in the Russia probe, in his assessment simply because of their connection to him.”

“Yet in public, Trump is a man roaring. The president, more than ever, is channeling his internal frustration and fear into a ravenous maw of grievance and invective. He is churning out false statements with greater frequency and attacking his perceived enemies with intensifying fury.”

Neil Irwin: “The economic expansion in the United States celebrated its ninth birthday last month. If it survives another year, it will be the longest on record.”

“But eventually something will kill it. The question is what, and when.”

“While it’s impossible to predict the details or timing of the next recession with any confidence, we can identify some emerging threats to the expansion — and with a bit of imagination, picture how the recession of 2020 (or 2022, or whatever year it ends up being) may unfold.”

Elijah Cone: “It doesn’t matter what Facebook intended to be. Facebook has become a media outlet—and, through the manipulative efforts of conservative activists, a grossly irresponsible, right-wing media outlet. It’s time to stop pretending otherwise.”

“Facebook’s efforts to appease right-wing critics have distorted the outlet’s political influence in many obvious ways. In response to the hearings on bias in Congress, Facebook hired conservative lobbyist Jon Kyl to lead a review. A six month study by Media Matters found that right-leaning pages continue to rack up more interactions on their posts than left-leaning or politically neutral pages, and conservative memes are by far the highest performing political content on the platform.”

The National Archives said “it won’t be able to produce the full cache of documents requested by Senate Republicans on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until the end of October, casting doubt on whether he can be confirmed by the midterm elections this fall,” the Washington Post reports.

“Gary Stern, the Archives’ general counsel, told Senate Judiciary Committee Charles Grassley (R-IA) in a letter that the records he has requested could total more than 900,000 pages. Grassley, backed by other Senate Republicans, asked for all documents from Kavanaugh’s tenure in the George W. Bush White House as an associate White House counsel.”

Roll Call: “That could force Grassley and Senate Republicans to either slow down the confirmation process or curtail the amount of records they seek from Kavanaugh’s time in the White House.”

The Atlantic: “The president is fond of repeating certain disparaging phrases about Mueller’s investigation on the social media platform, repeatedly referring to it as a ‘hoax’ and a ‘scam.’ But his favorite moniker by far is ‘Witch Hunt’—embellished, in recent weeks, to ‘Rigged Witch Hunt’—which Trump has used a whopping 84 times this year alone in reference to Mueller’s investigation.”

“This repeated public condemnation is almost certainly having a psychological effect on how Americans view the investigation. Multiple studies have shown that when something is repeated often enough, people start to think of it as true, whether it actually is—a concept known as illusory truth.”

“Trump’s consistent tweeting—and the constant media coverage of those tweets—makes his favorite phrases familiar to the American public. And that familiarity could be key to making his claims seem plausible, even believable.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions after Sessions criticized his criminal justice overhaul a day before a committee vote, Bloomberg reports.

“Sessions wrote a letter charging that the legislation — approved Thursday by the Judiciary Committee on a 16 to 5 vote — could let the ‘very worst criminals’ and gang members out of prison early. Grassley accused the attorney general of being ungrateful, saying that he had supported Sessions when President Trump wanted to fire him and protected him from repeated Democratic demands for public hearings on Sessions’s contacts with Russians in 2016.”

Said Grassley “I think it’s legitimate to be incensed and I resent it, because of what I’ve done for him. He had a tough nomination, a tough hearing in my committee.”

“The Democratic National Committee warned party candidates running in November elections not to use devices made by Chinese telecommunications companies ZTE Corp and Huawei Technologies because they pose a security risk,” Reuters reports.

A new United Nations report finds that North Korea “has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and is violating U.N. sanctions including by ‘a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products,’” the AP reports.

“A summary of the report by experts monitoring U.N. sanctions against North Korea, which was sent to the Security Council Friday night… said North Korea is also violating sanctions by transferring coal at sea and flouting an arms embargo and financial sanctions.”

“President Trump’s strategy of becoming aggressively involved in the midterm elections is prompting concern among some Republicans who worry he’s complicating the political calculus for GOP candidates trying to outrun his popularity,” the AP reports.

“Those Republicans worry their statewide candidates may rise or fall based on Trump’s standing, muddling their path to maintain control of Congress.”

“But Trump has no plans to step out of the spotlight. He will hold a rally Saturday in Ohio and plans to host two fundraisers at the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, New Jersey, next week for House and Senate candidates.”

New York Times: “Mr. Manafort’s work running the campaign is the backdrop to his federal bank and tax fraud trial in Northern Virginia. Prosecutors are not addressing that work. But as they present evidence that he was growing desperate for money, the question of why Mr. Manafort, now 69, agreed to an unpaid job for Mr. Trump has become increasingly tantalizing.”

“While his trial is unlikely to reveal the answer, there is evidence that Mr. Manafort saw Mr. Trump’s campaign as a potential loss leader — an upfront freebie that he could use to boost his stature and eventually parlay into more work for foreign clients. After working decades earlier for Bob Dole, George Bush, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, Mr. Manafort viewed the Trump campaign as a chance to return to prominence on the biggest stage in American politics, his associates said.”

HuffPost: “Amid the headline-grabbing details about Manafort’s extravagant spending ― the $15,000 ostrich jacket, the thousands of dollars worth of suits, the red flowers in the shape of an ‘M’ ― prosecutors’ narrative about Manafort’s shady financial dealings is going to be difficult to refute.”

“Given the way the trial is unfolding ― and with yet another trial still on the agenda for Manafort in the District of Columbia ― hoping for a pardon or commutation from Trump might be Manafort’s best bet.”

“A federal judge on Friday again said the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program should be fully restored,” CNN reports.

“Judge John Bates said the Trump administration still has failed to justify its proposal to end DACA, the Obama-era program that has protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.”

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

3 comments on “The Open Thread for August 5, 2018

  1. 73 years ago today, Americans exploded an atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. Still controversial, I think it is controversial, we endure the legacy of our actions that day. I am glad that horrible war is over.

  2. cassandram

    Matt Yglesias’ discussion of how GOP recalcitrance on fixing the ACA makes Medicare for All more inevitable highlights for me the Dems that are MIA in this conversation. Because this is an exceptional argument to make to push for fixing the ACA is you are a “moderate” Dem looking for a clean way off of the Medicare for All train.

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