Open Thread

The Open Thread for October 24, 2018

“When President Trump began tweeting warnings and threats about a caravan of migrants headed for the border, his own government could not explain what he meant,” the New York Times reports.

Politico: “In pressing the issue, Trump sees a twofold advantage. It’s a way to argue that his opponents have ‘turned a blind eye to the problem,’ as one Republican working on the strategy put it, and also an opportunity to rev up his base. Although Democrats remain strongly favored to win back the House, overhead TV pictures of thousands marching north have them spooked…. Whether any real crisis exists at the border remains a matter of considerable debate.”

There is no crisis at the border.  That caravan is 2500 miles away from the border and if it gets there, then it will be just like last April, where the only crisis was generated by our own government’s actions in separating children from their parents.

Vice President Pence supported President Trump’s claim without evidence that “unknown Middle Easterners” are traveling with the group of Central American migrants moving north through Mexico toward the U.S., The Hill reports.

Said Pence: “Well, it’s inconceivable that there are not people of Middle Eastern descent in a crowd of more than 7,000 people advancing toward our border.”

Amy Walter: “Opinions about the president today basically mirror the vote for the president in 2016. The coalition that brought Trump to the White House, (white, non-college, overwhelmingly male), continue to give him high marks. Meanwhile, those that voted against him in 2016 – women, college-educated white voters and voters of color – dislike him as much today as they did back then.”

“Even more remarkable is how closely currently Trump’s job approval ratings track the 2016 vote.”

“So, what does it mean for 2018? Trump is gambling that he can run the 2016 playbook and come up with similar results. He’s got the same rallies with the same music and the same themes (Democrats are weak on the border, soft on crime and will raise your taxes). But, this year, of course, the battleground for House control is centered in the places where Trump remains the most toxic – highly educated suburban America. And, most important, his ideal foil, Hillary Clinton, isn’t on the ballot in 2018.”

Brian Kemp (R), Georgia Secretary of State and the Republican nominee for Georgia governor, expressed at a ticketed campaign event that his opponent Stacey Abrams’ (D) voter turnout operation “continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote,” according to audio obtained by Rolling Stone.

Kemp particularly expressed worry about early voting and “the literally tens of millions of dollars that they are putting behind the get-out-the-vote effort to their base.”

The Economist: “Mr Kemp all but admits that he cannot win an election if every eligible voter votes. A major-party candidate for governor sees registering voters not as a fundamentally American and essential activity, but as a partisan threat.”

Rick Hasen: “In some ways we are really talking about two Americas. In one part of America, voting is getting easier. Many blue states, and even some red ones, have moved to adopt automatic voter registration. Many red and purple states have much more generous periods of early voting than blue states; early in-person voting started Oct. 10 in Ohio, yet does not exist at all in New York. And both red and blue states have moved to adopt online voter registration, which is a convenience for voters and avoids errors in data entry. Other bipartisan reforms include the sharing of information across states through the ERIC database to avoid duplicate voter registrations.”

“That is all good news, and it is often ignored in the fight over voter fraud and voter suppression. Such actions deserve praise and support as election officials and legislatures do their jobs to ensure that all eligible voters can easily cast a ballot that will be fairly counted.”

“But there’s the other part of America too. There’s North Dakota, which changed its voter identification law after the razor-thin election of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in 2012 to make it harder for Native American voters living on reservations and lacking a residential street address to be able to vote. There’s Georgia, where Secretary of State (and current gubernatorial candidate) Brian Kemp has been holding for administrative review up to 53,000 voter registration cards for failing to have an exact match (like a missing hyphen) between the official record of a person’s name and the name appearing on the registration card. And there’s Dodge City, Kansas, a Latino-majority city with only a single polling place for 27,000 people—a polling place that was recently moved out of town and a mile from public transportation for the 2018 midterm elections.”

President Trump “will hold at least another 10 rallies before the midterm elections and his campaign will spend $6 million more on advertising, in a widening effort to defend Republican majorities in Congress,” USA Today reports.

“By the time voters head to the polls in two weeks, Trump will have spoken at more than 30 rallies in the final five weeks of the campaign, putting him on the midterm trail more than his recent predecessors.”

President Trump “made a brief attempt to campaign on his record of accomplishments but, as the November congressional elections approach, he has traded that shiny new positivity for the well-worn tactic that helped him win the presidency in 2016: a blizzard of fear-mongering and lies, many of them about darker-skinned foreigners,” the Toronto Star reports.

“Trump has been a serial liar about just about everything for his entire tenure in office, but he has rarely before deployed so many complete fabrications about so many important subjects at the same time.”

Washington Post: “President Trump has settled on a strategy of fear — laced with falsehoods and racially-tinged rhetoric — to help lift his party to victory in the coming midterms, part of a broader effort to energize Republican voters with two weeks left until the Nov. 6 elections. ”

“Trump’s messaging — on display in his regular campaign rallies, tweets and press statements — largely avoids much talk of his achievements and instead offers an apocalyptic vision of the country, which he warns will only get worse if Democrats retake control of Congress.”

Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor revealed in a letter that she has been diagnosed with the “beginning stages of dementia, probably Alzheimer’s disease,” CNN reports.

Said O’Connor: “I will continue living in Phoenix, Arizona surrounded by dear friends and family. While the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying, nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings of my life.

“Kamala Harris swears she’s ‘not bullshitting’ when she says she’s squarely focused on the midterm elections. But even before she arrived here Monday, there were signs of the California senator’s heightening preparation for a 2020 presidential run. In recent days, an adviser told Politico, Harris sent $25,000 to the Democratic parties in all four early nominating states: Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada and New Hampshire.”

“Then Harris crossed into this first-in-the-nation caucus state for the first time this year, stumping for Iowa Democrats and previewing the contours of her own likely campaign.”

Matthew Yglesias: “The hack gap explains why Clinton’s email server received more television news coverage than all policy issues combined in the 2016 election. It explains why Republicans can hope to get away with dishonest spin about preexisting conditions. It’s why Democrats are terrified that Elizabeth Warren’s past statements about Native American heritage could be general election poison in 2020, and it’s why an internecine debate about civility has been roiling progressive circles for nearly two years even while the president of the United States openly praises assaulting journalists.”

“The hack gap has two core pillars. One is the constellation of conservative media outlets — led by Fox News and other Rupert Murdoch properties like the Wall Street Journal editorial page, but also including Sinclair Broadcasting in local television, much of AM talk radio, and new media offerings such as Breitbart and the Daily Caller — that simply abjure anything resembling journalism in favor of propaganda.”

“The other is that the self-consciousness journalists at legacy outlets have about accusations of liberal bias leads them to bend over backward to allow the leading conservative gripes of the day to dominate the news agenda.”

Tory Newmyer: “Setting aside that President Trump’s pledge to slash middle-class taxes by 10 percent in the coming weeks will be next to impossible to pull off, it’s not clear the gambit even amounts to a good political strategy.”

“Congressional Republicans running for reelection haven’t wanted to talk much on the campaign trail about the tax cut package that was supposed to be their crowning achievement. Trump’s pitch for new cuts points to the reason why: It seems most likely to remind voters of what they didn’t like in the first package he signed at the end of last year.”

Politico: “The pledge — which Trump repeated Monday afternoon — came as news to House and Senate lawmakers, who’ve already returned to their home states to campaign for the elections and have no plans to consider new legislation before then.”

“White House officials spent the day trying to decode what Trump meant because no one knew the substance of any such tax cut, or had seen any policy proposal related to it. Aides were left wondering what Trump had read in newspaper clippings, or seen on Twitter, to inspire this grand promise from his rally podium.”

“An argument last February between the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, and Corey Lewandowski, an informal adviser to President Trump, turned into a physical altercation that required Secret Service intervention just outside the Oval Office,” the New York Times reports.

“The episode, details of which have not been previously reported, is the latest illustration of the often chaotic atmosphere Mr. Trump is willing to tolerate in the White House as well as a reflection of the degree to which Mr. Kelly’s temper can be provoked.”

“The near brawl — during which Mr. Kelly grabbed Mr. Lewandowski by the collar and tried to have him ejected from the West Wing — came at a time when the chief of staff was facing uncertainty about how long Mr. Trump would keep him in his job. A guessing game over his departure has colored his tenure ever since.”

“The Supreme Court shielded Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross from answering lawyers’ questions in a lawsuit challenging his decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census form,” the Washington Postreports.

“The government had asked the Supreme Court to block questioning of Ross as part of a lawsuit filed by several states, including New York, and civil rights groups. The groups are seeking to stop the administration from adding a citizenship question to the decennial count. It is one of six legal challenges to the question, which Ross announced March 26 would be added to the survey to help enforce the Voting Rights Act.”

A man was arrested on “an abusive sexual contact charge” after a Southwest Flight landed in Albuquerque, KHOU reports.

“According to an affidavit, when he was placed in handcuffs, he asked what the sentence was for the charge he was being arrested for and later told officers President Trump says it’s OK to grab women by their private parts.”

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

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