Open Thread

The Open Thread for October 8, 2018

Aaron Blake: “Republicans face a difficult 2018 midterm election in about one month’s time. But on its eve, the GOP just secured its greatest amount of political power and leverage since at least the Great Depression.”

“The new, clear-cut 5-4 conservative majority on the Supreme Court replaces a more nominal 5-4 court, in which Republican appointee Anthony M. Kennedy served as a swing vote and sometimes sided with the court’s more liberal justices. Things can always change, but Kavanaugh is expected to be a much more reliable vote for conservative issues.”

“Assuming the court is more tilted toward the GOP going forward, that delivers the GOP the last vestige of power in Washington that had thus far eluded it. While justices are technically nonpartisan, experts say this is shaping up to be the first reliably conservative Supreme Court since at least the New Deal era more than 75 years ago. By some measures, the court was already more conservative than it was then — at least before high-profile decisions legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide and upholding Obamacare — and it’s likely to be even more so now.”

Jonathan Swan: “According to a source with direct knowledge, Chief of Staff John Kelly recently formed a small working group to start preparing for the possibility that Democrats will soon sic Congress’ top investigators on Trumpworld. Senior White House staff have an offsite weekend retreat scheduled for late October. The agenda is expected to include a discussion of investigations under a Democratic-controlled House, according to the source.”

“White House officials have been telling us for weeks they were worried that Kelly hadn’t been taking the threat seriously enough. This is the first time I’ve learned new information to suggest that they’re preparing.”

Wall Street Journal: “A veteran Republican operative and opposition researcher solicited and raised at least $100,000 from donors as part of an effort to obtain what he believed to be emails stolen from Hillary Clinton, activities that remain of intense interest to federal investigators working for special counsel Robert Mueller’s office and on Capitol Hill.”

“Peter W. Smith, an Illinois businessman with a long history of involvement in GOP politics, sought and collected the funds from at least four wealthy donors as part of the plan to obtain Mrs. Clinton’s stolen emails from hackers just weeks before election day in 2016.”

Frank Bruni: “But Graham is special. He really is. I can’t think of another Republican whose journey from anti-Trump outrage to pro-Trump obsequiousness was quite so illogical or half as sad, and his conduct during the war over Kavanaugh completed it. For the president he fought overtime, he fought nasty and he fought without nuance.”

”In so doing, he distilled our rotten politics — its transactional nature, its tribal fury, its hysterical pitch — as neatly as anybody in the current Congress does.”

President Trump said he’s “a hundred percent” certain that Christine Blasey Ford named the wrong person when she said Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, the HuffPost reports.

Said Trump: “This is one of the reasons I chose him is because there is no one with a squeaky clean past like Brett Kavanaugh. We’re very honored that he was able to withstand this horrible, horrible attack by the Democrats.”

Trump also insisted women were “extremely happy” about Kavanaugh’s confirmation because they’re apparently relieved the men in their lives are less likely now to be accused of sexual assault.

President Trump explained that he mocked Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, in an effort “even the playing field,” The Hill reports.

Said Trump: “Well, there were a lot of things happening that weren’t correct, they weren’t true and there were a lot of things that were left unsaid. And I thought I had to even the playing field. It was very unfair to the judge, and now I can very nicely say Justice Kavanaugh. It was a very unfair situation. So I evened the playing field.”

Sen. Susan Collins explicitly told CNN that she does not believe Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Said Collins: “I found Dr. Ford’s testimony to be heart-wrenching, painful, compelling, and I believe that she believes what she testified to.”

But she added: “I’m 100 percent certain that this did not happen.”

Must-watch: John Dickerson fact-checks Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Fact the Nationon his claim of a historical precedent for blocking Merrick Garland’s appointment to the Supreme Court during the 2016 presidential election.

McConnell got very angry when Dickerson pointed out that President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican, named William Brennan to the court in 1956 by recess appointment just before that year’s presidential election. Brennan began serving immediately, and was formally nominated and confirmed the next year.

And a quality quote that Mitch will regret from Saturday:    “These things always blow over.”

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) “descended on Iowa Saturday night with ideal timing to strike a chord with Iowan Democrats,” ABC News reports.

“The senator from New Jersey, a long-rumored 2020 presidential candidate, arrived at the Iowa Democratic Party’s fall gala fresh off the Senate floor, where he voted not to confirm President Donald Trump’s embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.”

Said one attendee: “This whole thing feels like a therapy session and Sen. Booker is the therapist.”

Nate Cohn: “A favorable national environment, strong Democratic candidates and a wave of Republican retirements have combined to produce a long list of vulnerable Republican seats. But Republicans remain competitive in the districts that will decide control.”

“The sheer number of highly competitive districts means a wide range of possible outcomes. Democrats could win in a landslide, or Republicans could run the table and narrowly retain a majority. Both possibilities are evident in data collected from The New York Times Upshot/Siena College surveys in battleground districts.”

Dana Milbank and Susan Collins’ “declaration of cowardice.”  “After Sen. Susan Collins announced on the Senate floor Friday that she would cast her deciding vote to confirm Brett M. Kavanaugh, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) rose to liken her to another Republican from Maine, Margaret Chase Smith, “the first member of the United States Senate to take on Joseph McCarthy . . . this demagogue and the tactics that he employed.”

[Smith’s] “Declaration of Conscience,” was a lonely denunciation of the demagogue who dominated her Republican Party. Collins’s speech, ignoring the new demagoguery that has overtaken her party while criticizing the other side, was the very opposite. Hers was a Declaration of Convenience, a Declaration of Capitulation.

“We are Republicans. But we are Americans first,” Smith said 68 years ago. “I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear.”

Ruth Marcus on the poisoning of the Supreme Court.  ““The Supreme Court must never, never be viewed as a partisan institution,” Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh observed at the start of his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  That was Sept. 4, just over a month ago, but it feels like an eternity — before the country was convulsed by accusations of sexual assault against the Supreme Court nominee, now on the brink of becoming the nation’s 114th justice.

Before Kavanaugh’s volcanic, partisan attack on the Judiciary Committee’s proceedings as the product of “a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything to block my confirmation.”  This is a dangerous, even scary, moment for the court — one in which Kavanaugh’s admonition against seeing the court in partisan terms seems laughably naive.”

Arwa Mahdawi on the system behind the men.  “If you are very clever and work very hard, you can achieve anything. We know this because successful people are always telling us so. They got where they are because of their work ethic: rich parents, the right connections and random chance had little to do with it.

See, as exhibit one, man of the moment Brett Kavanaugh. You know, the judge who really likes beer and seems to hate women having autonomy over their reproductive systems. When Kavanaugh appeared before a committee to defend himself against accusations of sexual assault, in between sniffles he argued that he has earned everything he has achieved, including his undergraduate place at Yale University. “I have no connections there,” he said. “I got there by busting my tail.”

Let’s move from Kavanaugh to an equally delightful master of the universe: Donald Trump. One of Trump’s favourite subjects of conversation is how he is a self-made billionaire who got to the big league off the back of his abnormally high IQ and a negligible $1m loan from dad. Which, by the way, he paid back with interest. I hate to call Trump a shameless liar, but evidence suggests his self-made schtick is fake news. An investigation by the New York Times found Trump actually received about $413m (£317m) in today’s money from his dad, most of which was from dubious tax dodges. You need to have a passion for alternative facts to square that with being “self-made”.”

Comparing the treatment Christine Blasey Ford received after accusing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault to the treatment Kavanaugh received after those allegations, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Saturday that “the roles were reversed” and “the slut whore drunk was Kavanaugh.”

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

24 comments on “The Open Thread for October 8, 2018

    • Enjoy the distraction, Biden is not going to win.
      He should avoid having his reputation nuked. That said, if Perez and Co decide to anoint him, they’ll deserve trmp’s re-election. #NoBidenNoBernie

      • Joe was great as a senator and as VP, but I got sick of him running for president a few decades ago. That and he’s too damn old, sick of geezer politicians that linger unto death. Hello Nancy and Chuck.

  1. To get serious for one moment do any of us have any real faith in the current leadership of the Democratic party? I don’t and have not for a long time. We cannot count on the Blue Wave, we cannot count our political chickens before they hatch. This may well be the most important election of modern times, the election when the forces of Fascism were stopped or the one that seals our fate. I’ll be working the phone banks and spreading the word as best I can while donating what I can, to campaigns here and out of state. Stay angry and energized until the job is done.

    • “…do any of us have any real faith in the current leadership of the Democratic Party?” – bamboozer

      I for one, do not.

    • Elect Chris Coons, face of the communist party!

    • cassandram

      Not sure who is counting on a Blue Wave or who is counting chickens before they hatch, but what exactly is the problem with the current party leadership? And be specific. I have my own issues, but I am local party leadership and am working on some of those things. Still — the Party Coordinated campaign is in full swing with more engagement best practices tests and included. I see a ton of Delawareans working on Coordinated Campaign phone banks and canvasses. Some of the tools and funds for specific campaign focuses were funded by the DNC. Just local.

      • Not talking local party, talking national party and the DNC. First where’s the message other than Get Trump? Their holding back the generational change the party needs to advance, the Millenials are coming and we respond with party elites pushing 80.

        • Agreed. There is a serious 2016 feel going on. Everyone is sure that appeals to decency will be enough. It wont. And the national party leadership will pass the blame to voters. Every. Damn. Time.

        • cassandram

          Assuming that you are interested at all in any party change whatsoever, the fort step is to be clear about what the board looks like and those players on the board. The DNC is not the lead entity for any Dem messaging, especially in an election cycle. Messaging is happening on a more local level — meeting voters where they are. And at the local level people don’t talk about “Getting Trump”. They are talking about health care across the board. If they are in FL, they are also talking about increased voting rights and the environmental degradation left behind by Rick Scott. If you are in Texas, you are in New Mexico, candidates are running on better water management policy, clean energy and protecting their trading relationships. Elizabeth Warren is specifically running on dismantling corporate influence in government (this is potentially targeted at a Presidential run too) and on MA infrastructure which is a big deal after the gas line blowouts in Lawrence. You get it. It is difficult to see any of the viral videos of Dem candidates to see much of the “Get Trump” strategy. Where they address is mainly is in accountability for the corruption. Which is still about the Legislative Branch working as it needs too. Interested in the “message” check out who runs the Dem Policy and Communications committee and point your ire there.

          And I call BULLSHIT on the generational thing. Young people don’t even vote, so am not sure why anyone would hand them leadership positions. But no one hands anyone anything. If you want to be in leadership, you figure out how to get there and you work at it. It is the way leadership works everywhere else. Barack Obama stepped up and succeeded where plenty of folks asked him to wait his turn. Groups like Run for Something are specifically targeting support to young people running for office. And there are certainly younger (not young) people looking at stepping up to Congressional Leadership — Hakeim Jeffries, Lydia Sanchez and Barbara Lee are the names that come to mind. If millennials were coming, we would be talking about them.

          • Yeah because so many millenials have the financial stability to gamble on winning a election. Seriously is party leadership that far out of touch?

            • The young women toppeling Crowleycrats in Dem leadership are taking massive chances and they are bucking a party that blames them for electoral losses. My hope is that this blue wave washes away a good chunk of the Perez show.

              • cassandram

                No one is blaming voters for losses. And the young woman who toppled Crowley stepped up, figured it out and got it done. The old fashioned way. (Joe Biden did something similar back when he was a young person too) She did not sit at her keyboard lamenting that no one just gives millennials anything.

                If you are making excuses for not stepping up then you are choosing your fate. That is not the fault of leadership.

                • yikes. Did you yell that bit about “giving millennial anything” from your front porch?

                  Im not making excuses for anything. Im voicing (typing) concern that whoever is in charge of the Dem messaging control is asleep at the wheel and it sounds and AWFUL lot like 2016. “trmp will lose because he’s a racist, sexist pig”, horrifyingly is not a really great message. It should be. But most men are piles of shit who vote and a slim majority of (Old gen X and older) white women are Susan Collins. It isnt enough to appeal to people’s better angels.
                  …. and let me be clear here… YOU have not said this. Please don’t misunderstand that when I talk about “Dem leadership” I’m not talking about you or things you’ve said…
                  Im talking about the roughly 30 congressional races I’m actively following, or txt banking for, or have helped raise money for across the country. Im talking about paces in Salon and Politico etc who seem to be written by people who missed 2009-2017. Its terrifying.
                  With the exceptions of Ocasio-Cortez and Randy Bryce (who is going to lose now that they are attacking him as a deadbeat dad) people are re-running Clinton’s campaign. It wont work. I dont know what else to say. Dems are team players and wont hear criticism from anyone.
                  I do applaud those who have cut Manchin loose. Maybe catastrophe will be avoided after all and the loss of a so-called Dem in WV will be made up for when Susan Rice sends Collins packing.
                  Anyway, I await your take-down.

                  • cassandram

                    This is what you said:

                    “Yeah because so many millenials have the financial stability to gamble on winning a election.”

                    If you are a millenial who can’t figure a way into the game, then you aren’t in the game. The board is always the board. That is not leadership’s fault. It is a lack of leadership with the aspiriant.

                    No one is running Clinton’s campaign. I spent an entire paragraph talking about the various ways Dems are reaching constituents and you glossed right over it. More of this BS Morning Joe analysis. Who are you helping to win anything?

  2. RE Vanella

    Schumer’s deal to confirm the judges was repellant. They just two weeks ago bkew past around massive increase in defense spending. Coons and Carper… The entire caucus…less one .

    If you’re going defend Democrat leadership you may need to block me again. Cause that’s nonsense.

    • This is how they keep losing. They say criticism of the leadership is the reason they lose. Maybe when the gop has a super majority, they’ll finally listen. Im not even trolling here, i do NOT feel good about this year. I have heard no reasonable argument as to why I should trust the polls this time around. There’s a lot of self assured smiling and nodding. No one has explained why it’s different.
      I predict a net gain for the party of rapists of 3 seats in the Senate, House controll retained.

      • cassandram

        There’s no reason to trust the polls. Trust the work. Find yourself a House or Senate race that might flip and get to work. That Morning Joe bull is just that. What I can directly see is alot more energy on the ground. Will that energy succeed? Who knows. But I trust the people who are working.

  3. RE Vanella

    Like Dr Newton wrote last week. Embrace the future they’re afraid of. You know who they’re not afraid of? Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

    Look, bud. You know I vote strategically so chill your jet.

    Just don’t tell me that way our of this is to embrace the party establishment. You embarrass yourself and everyone on here.

  4. This just in……….Ruth Ginsberg wants to start spending more time, with her grandchildren!

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