Open Thread

The Open Thread for December 3, 2018

Even though this coming week will be dominated with coverage of the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush, Special Counsel Robert Mueller will have a busy week.  He will be releasing a Sentencing Memo on Michael Flynn on Tuesday.   A sentencing Memo from both Mueller and the Southern District of New York on Michael Cohen is due on Wednesday.  Both of these memos could be incredibly revealing.   Then Mueller will release a memo outlining Manafort’s lies on Friday.  And there could be indictments accompanying each memo.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told NBC News that new revelations from Michael Cohen amount to proof that Russia had “leverage” over Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Said Nadler: “The fact that he was lying to the American people about doing business in Russia and the Kremlin knew he was lying gave the Kremlin a hold over him.”

He added: “One question we have now is, does the Kremlin still have a hold over him because of other lies that they know about?”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News the same thing: “There is now testimony, there is now a witness, who confirms that in the same way Michael Flynn was compromised, that the president and his business are compromised.”

The Raleigh News & Observer looks at data on mail-in ballots in North Carolina’s 9th congressional district, where there are allegations of improperly collecting mail-in ballots and voters receiving mail-in ballots they did not request.

  • Across the 9th district, 24% of the requested mail-in ballots were unreturned. In Robeson County, 64% of mail-in ballots requested did not make it back to elections officials. In Bladen County, the figure was 40%.
  • The unreturned ballots are disproportionately associated with minority voters. More than 40% of the ballots requested by African Americans and more than 60% of those requested by American Indians did not make it back to elections officials. For white voters, that figure was just 17%.

President Trump said that he “intends to formally notify Canada and Mexico of his intention to withdraw from the nearly 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement in six months. The move would put pressure on Congress to approve his new trade deal with the two U.S. neighbors,” Politico reports.

Said Trump: “I’ll be terminating it within a relatively short period of time. We get rid of NAFTA. It’s been a disaster for the United States.”

Joshua Alvarez says Dems should just vote to ratify this updated NAFTA agreement, because that is what it is: “The USMCA, as has been widely reported, is almost exactly the same as NAFTA. Some notable exceptions involve automobile manufacturing, access to dairy markets in Canada and the U.S., and modernized intellectual property protections for internet and tech-based innovations.

How the temporary tariff ceasefire and the USMCA came about share similar story arcs: Trump digs hole; Trump refills hole (mostly); Trump declares beautiful victory for filling very big hole that nobody knew would be so hard to fill.  […]

[It] seems to me that the dumbest thing House Democrats could do is the thing they appear to be thinking about doing: begin their term in the majority by staging some melodramatic opposition to the USMCA on the grounds that it doesn’t do enough for American workers. It would be smarter to quickly approve it, insist on calling it “an updated NAFTA,” and rely on that most reliable of things: Trump’s ability to harm himself in spectacularly public ways and bury this “victory” beneath the headlines. In any case, it will be up to the Democrats’ 2020 candidate, not House members, to lay out what a truly worker-friendly trade agreement would look like.”

“Congressional negotiators and White House officials are discussing a one-week budget bill that would delay a partial government shutdown while Washington prepares for the state funeral of former president George H.W. Bush, according to several people briefed on the talks,” the Washington Post reports.

“A final decision has not been made but could come as soon as Sunday, when President Trump returns to Washington. It’s also possible that lawmakers could pursue a 10-day or two-week spending bill, depending upon how talks proceed.”

Stan Collender: “Bush’s death and the events that have been scheduled this week to commemorate his life almost certainly will be a cover story rather than the actual reason this Friday’s shutdown showdown may be delayed.”

“The real reason will be that neither the White House nor Senate Republicans have the votes they need. If they did, the debate and vote would have taken place this week ‘in President George H.W. Bush’s memory and honor.’”

“This is one of the most basic truisms of legislating in Washington: You stop talking and take the vote as soon as possible when you’ve got enough to win. When you don’t, you figure out a way to delay.”

Politico: Trump said he would back a two-week delay of a government shutdown.

“The United States and China called a truce in their trade war on Saturday after President Trump agreed to hold off on new tariffs and President Xi Jinping pledged to increase Chinese purchases of American products,” the New York Times reports.

“The compromise, struck over a steak dinner at the Group of 20 meeting here and announced in a White House statement, was less a breakthrough than a breakdown averted. The two leaders remain far apart on basic issues of market access and trade policy, and there was no sign that either planned to back down on those.”

Washington Post: “The temporary cease-fire in the U.S.-China trade war left the toughest issues to future bargaining sessions, which will attempt to succeed where earlier efforts failed — and under an ambitious 90-day deadline.”

She was right.

“Michael Avenatti’s cable TV bookings have dwindled. He was uninvited from one prominent Democratic event and skipped out on another. Now his highest-profile client is bringing new allegations against him,” Politico reports.

“In just a matter of weeks, Avenatti’s fortunes have taken a nosedive, rapidly downshifting from 2020 presidential prospect to political pariah.”

“Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent at least 11 messages to his closest adviser, who oversaw the team that killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the hours before and after the journalist’s death in October, according to a highly classified CIA assessment,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The Saudi leader also in August 2017 had told associates that if his efforts to persuade Mr. Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia weren’t successful, ‘we could possibly lure him outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements.’”

Politico: World leaders shy away from confrontation over Khashoggi killing.

“Britain’s opposition Labour Party is ramping up the pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May, saying it will call a no-confidence vote in the Conservative leader if Parliament rejects her Brexit deal on Dec. 11,” the AP reports.

“May is battling to persuade skeptical British lawmakers to back the deal agreed between her government and the European Union last month. Rejecting it would leave the U.K. facing a messy, economically damaging ‘no-deal’ Brexit on March 29.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CBS News that his committee has made “a number of referrals” to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office for prosecution, and vowed to do the same for anyone who lies to congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Said Warner: “If you lie to Congress, we’re going to go after you. We’re going to make sure that gets referred.”

“Israeli police on Sunday recommended indicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of bribery and corruption in a third case — this time on suspicion that the leader eased business regulations for the country’s largest telecommunications company in exchange for favorable coverage for him and his wife on a popular news website owned by the firm,” the Washington Post reports.

Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) “may have lost in Texas, but he’s winning in Obamaland,” NBC News reports.

“Aides to the former president and the man himself say O’Rourke’s campaign against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) gave them flashbacks to Obama’s precocious political rise and has positioned the young white congressman as an early if unlikely heir to the first black president’s ‘hope and change’ mantle.”

“Obama said as much at an event in Chicago last week and some of his former political lieutenants have been publicly encouraging O’Rourke to consider a 2020 presidential bid, while privately counseling him on what to expect should he jump in.”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) told NBC News that she will make a decision on running for president over the holidays.  Said Harris: “It will ultimately be a family decision… And over the holiday, I will make that decision with my family.”

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

51 comments on “The Open Thread for December 3, 2018

  1. Everyone is aware of our main stream media’s tendency to suppress otherwise newsworthy events that don’t support the preferred progressive narrative. A good example of this is happening right now to the information about the massive “yellow vest” riots over high fuel taxes in France.

    The French people are objecting the forced non organic push towards renewable energy ,as they should, because it puts the hardship squarely on the backs of the working people, and Macron is basically engaging in what I’m going to describe as a “let them eat cake” scenario by essentially telling people that, if they are unhappy with the high price of fuel brought on by new fuel tariffs, they should buy electric vehicles.

    It’s no wonder that the French are angry, and it’s no wonder that the main stream media is keeping this story on the down low just like they are doing as the socialist state of Venezuela is failing in violent fashion like the proverbial tree in the forest falling with nobody watching.

    • cassandram

      The NYT has been reporting on this for days as has Bloomberg and NPR. These are all news sources for me. So your MSM claim is, of course, not true. And the French have a really excellent habit of taking to the streets when the government is doing something they don’t much agree with. In this instance, it is raising fuel taxes while so many French working class are in serious distress. So even your narrative is bullshit. There’s definitely symmetries to what the working class is living through here — gas taxes or no. The difference is that we do not have the same habits of civil disobedience as the French do and much of our working class (at lest the white ones) voted for a government that promised the world and delivered nothing. In spite of their distress, they content themselves with the fact that a white guy is in charge now and that white guy gives good TV.

      Too bad we can’t take some lessons from the French here.

      • “Raising fuel taxes while so many French working class are in serious distress”… is exactly the point I’m making , so the “even your narrative is bullshit” reply to my remark is incorrect.

        • cassandram

          This is the bullshit:

          I’m going to describe as a “let them eat cake” scenario by essentially telling people that, if they are unhappy with the high price of fuel brought on by new fuel tariffs, they should buy electric vehicles.

          Which is nowhere in evidence from the NYT article. You are arguing that it is the “non organic push towards renewable energy” that is the problem. You are trying to argue that it is renewable energy that is distressing these people. That’s the bullshit. What is distressing these people is an on-going dismantling of their economy and supports in favor of giving tax cuts to rich people. A philosophy you actually vote for here.

          • The Macron tax hike is designed to expedite the transition away from fossil fuels. The higher fuel tax, in part ,is designed to discourage people from buying gasoline and diesel powered cars.
            It’s all based on “climate change” and is an eletist maneuver based in academe and is akin to Obama’s, “under my plan … electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”. Consideration for the underclass is an afterthought. They are now calling Macron, “the President of the rich”.

            • Because he cut taxes on the rich at the same time he proposed the fuel tax increase.

              If we don’t confront climate change because the poor will suffer, then we will all suffer.

              The poor always suffer. Climate change shouldn’t take a back seat to that fact. I always love it when Republicans pretend to care about “the poor,” which they only do when it’s convenient.

              As always, the dunderheaded always say “elitist” when they mean “intelligent.”

    • Front and center on ABC news and near-top of the page on most other sites….. except Fox, which is talking about HW’s dig and whining that Mueller continues of enforce the rule of law.

      Do you understand that the stupid shit you say is easy to fact check?

      • Actually, this is what’s front and center at the moment on ABC News, ben:

        “Legal questions swirl around fate of $50 million penthouse in Trump Tower Moscow”

        • So only the top story counts?

          And you think the French protests should be the top story…why? Because progressives like France and this makes France look bad?

          There’s an enormous media apparatus, from Fox to Rush to Breitbart, devoted to spoon-feeding you news that will keep you resentful and buying gold. If that’s not enough, why don’t you start your own blog to preach your message, instead of telling others that they’re doing it wrong?

  2. The French who are angry are the same sort of people who are angry in this country even after winning in 2016 — mainly people from the sticks who can’t cope with a changing world. Besides, half of all French people are below the median in intelligence, just like half of all Americans are. Tell us, what’s the view like from down there?

    There are people like this everywhere — incapable of thinking beyond their own interests right now, the good of society, or even its survival, be damned.

    • This you know from your vast experience with “people from the sticks”, both here and in France?

  3. RE Vanella

    You think the main stream media has a “preferred progressive narrative”? That’s hilarious.

    Activist leftists in the US including Marxists like me stand in solidarity with gilets jaunes.

    Marcon is neoliberal trash. A corporate centrist of the Clinton/Obama kind. The main stream media has a corporate neoliberal bias not a progressive bias. They are corporate giants.

    You’re understanding of complicated global politics is very poor

    • Then Marxists like you are no better at protecting the planet than conservatives are.

      • RE Vanella

        Difference is the protesters in France understand that human caused Climate Change is real. But the cost of addressing should fall on those who have reaped the rewards…

        That’s a very large difference for me.

        • The cost isn’t the point; the point is making it too expensive to drive your own car, or getting an electric car. They could do what we do — have the government underwrite the cost of an electric car, which would have the effect of having taxpayers in a progressive-tax system, i.e. the well-off especially, bearing more of the cost. But the point isn’t to raise money, it’s to make driving a less-appealing option.

          I don’t give a fig whether this comes from the left or the right, it’s a sign that everybody wants to change but nobody wants to pay for it.

  4. Here’s a puzzler: Why does our troll delacrat have no harsh words for the war in Yemen? Started under Obama, yes, but escalated by Trump. Why does he have no harsh words for Trump’s escalation in drone attacks? Why no complaints about Trump’s costly, wasteful military budget?

    Any clues, anybody?

    • easy. delacrat is one of the 12 Sanders to> Trump voters. It is the only thing that makes sense.

      • I don’t see that kind of ideological consistency. He wants Cynthia McKinney, who couldn’t handle a House seat, for president. He claims to hate the bombing of innocents, yet only calls out people no longer in power over it.

        Outside of comment sections, I’ve never met a Bernie-to-Trump voter, but then I don’t hang out with poorly educated white people very often.

        • “…Cynthia McKinney, who couldn’t handle a House seat,” – alby

          Actually, Cynthia McKinney served 6 terms in the House of Representatives

  5. RE Vanella

    Al… You just returned. Seems to me that this sentiment is just as much from the left as it is from say L’Front National.

    Some select graffiti I saw yesterday….

    “Les peuples chute des veulent la régimes”

    People want to fall of the system.

    “La crise climatique est une guerre contre les pauvres.”

    The climate crisis is a war against the poor.

    “Nous taxerons les rich!’

    We will tax the rich!

    I’m on board with all of this..

    • The climate crisis is not a war against the poor, except in the sense that every policy change falls harder on the poor.

      Their failure to understand this loses them any sympathy I have, which is little in the first place because I don’t think public policy should be based on the resentments of people who have no grasp of the world outside their own wallets.

      • Yes it 100% is.
        The poor will be orders of magnitude more vulnerable to every aspect of climate catastrophe. From being starved out of rising food prices to being unable to afford to relocate when their homes are flooded, or being unable to afford health care when diseases spike.
        The wealthy will be able to maintain and even increase their lifestyle, while millions of people die because we cant afford to survive.

        • As I said, those are the usual problems that come with being poor, and I think you’re wrong about those effects not affecting the rich. Without the poor, there are no rich.

          The point is that climate change POLICY is not a war on the poor. Taxes are used to incentivize people to change their habits, which they’ll never do otherwise. Our demise on the planet will be assured if we knuckle to arguments about the poor.

          Give them money with the other hand if you’re worried about the poor. Gas taxes are the only solution anyone has found to reducing vehicle use.

  6. RE Vanella

    It’s been made into a war against the poor. Just like every other neoliberal solution to large problems. See also crime justice, etc.

    Spray paint on building intreally a medium for nuance…

  7. RE Vanella

    In my view their resentment is warranted and their options are gravely diminshed.

    Like I said, I’m in solidarity with those in the street

    • I would agree with you if these were purely anti-Macron protests. When they whine about gas taxes, I have to stand in opposition.

      • RE Vanella

        I feel you. I did also see this bit of graffiti near Arc de Triomphe.

        Marcon Démission (Macron Resign)

        Macron = Louis 16 (self explanatory)

        So yes the narrow issue that kicked this off was aa regressiv diesel tax, but the tax is regressive and the ire is about far larger issues.

        • Im sure we’re all gonna feel really good about this when Macron is replaced by Le Pen.

          • Which is what’s really going on here. The initial protest movement, as with the US Tea Party, was populist, but it’s quickly being compromised by the nationalist right.

            Being poor does not make people’s opinions right.

            • Does it not trouble you that ” being poor does not make people’s opinions right “ Is the flip side of “being rich means you are right.”

              Donald Trump would agree with you.

              • No. It’s not the flip side. Sometimes I wonder what line of work you’re in. Something that doesn’t involve logic or critical thinking?

              • No. because one statement in no way means the “opposite” is even suggested.
                the hell is wrong with you? You’re total Sith, bro…. but like, Kylo sith.

              • No, the flip side is that being rich does not make people’s opinions right. You really do have a lot of trouble with critical thinking.

            • RE Vanella

              Manu nixed the petrol tax today. So maybe that’ll quell it.

              By the way, I do understand that there’s a very dangerous National Front right wing aspect to this. I don’t have my head in the sand. No doubt that’s a part if it.

              Plus Le Pen is best positioned to exploit this politically. But there’s an argument fromfrom left that austerity is cruel and counter-productive. If no one makes the argument it’s a walk for L’Front National. That’s a nightmare scenario.

              • We’re IN the nightmare scenario. Other moves across Europe do not show an intelligent trend in dealing with mounting “economic anxiety” austerity isnt working (duh) and everyone is primed to blame immigrants and, in a very retro but unsurprising move, Jews WELL before looking at the fat cats. Im not saying we shouldnt TRY but we may have to go through even more right wing authoritarianism before a non-bigoted socialistic approach is tried. lot’sa people need to… “not be in a decision making position” anymore for that to happen.

        • Certainly true, yet it provides no absolution as far as I’m concerned. Either climate change is Job 1 or it’s not. For me it is.

  8. cassandram

    And then there’s this: How No Labels Went From Preaching Unity to Practicing the Dark Arts

    Great reporting by The Daily Beast on where No Labels gets its funding AND its agenda. First thing to know is that Mark Penn is involved. Then the second thing is that all of the people who push back on those of us skeptical about both moderation and bipartisanship need to come to grips with the fact that both of these things are being cynically wielded in another effort by business to buy our government. In this case, No Labels was looking to support very business friendly politicians and issues and citizens of this nation could go to hell. No Labels is not successful at much, other than helping to get some horrible Dems elected (Dan Supinski).

  9. nathan arizona

    Interesting that both the far right and far left are donning yellow vests. Not quite sure what it means, but it’s interesting.

  10. RE Vanella

    Yesterday’s Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal.

    “Mobilize the Private Sector to Avert a Climate Crash”

    By: Emmanuel Macron

    I shit you not.

    Austerity and incentives to capital are at the heart of this protest.

    This is like George W Bush shit. Come on now.

    • I look forward to Marxism’s methods for fighting global warming. Hint: It doesn’t have one.

      You can’t apply Marxist solutions in a capitalist system. What this shows is that poor people can be just as stupid, and just as self-interested, as rich ones. I don’t have to subscribe to the ideas of either side.

      If you want immediate action, you have to acknowledge that we can’t wait until capitalism is toppled before grappling with the problem — and indeed, there is no evidence anywhere that populism is in favor of tackling climate change.

      They don’t want to pay their taxes. Boo fucking hoo. Neither do rich people.

    • cassandram

      Macron is right here. Avoiding a climate crash won’t happen unless the private sector gets in the game. Walking away from the Paris Agreement was spectacularly stupid in many ways, but the US walked away from what is expects to be a 1T/year marketplace in addressing climate change. The government will need to do its part — some in R&D and some in implementing some larger solutions — but you don’t want the government to be at the tip of the spear for fixing this. The cleanup at Hanford provides all of the lessons needed here.

      • RE Vanella

        Sure. Do some corporate synergies! What could go wrong? Shop some ideas at Davos. Give a TED talk. Score that VC dough.

        • cassandram

          This is the point in the conversation that you signal that you haven’t a clue about what you are talking about, so you’ll just work at pretending that no one does. It’s pretty clear that you’re not capable of getting the scope of the solution here (much less being part of the innovation to get to any solutions) so have the grace to shut up.

          • RE Vanella

            Hahaha. That’s funny. We both know that not true. Don’t embarrass yourself.

  11. RE Vanella

    You think there aren’t Marxist solutions to clean energy and technology. Come on, bro. Don’t be silly.

    Here a good starting point from Vanessa A Bee of Current Affairs.

    (Also, subscribe to Current Affairs.)

  12. No, I don’t think there are Marxist solutions that will be applied in a capitalist system. Therefore we must use capitalist incentives until capitalism is overthrown, which IMO will come too late to save most species. Maybe even us.

    • Also, I have no interest in “Marxism” when it comes to solutions. I think Marx did a fine job of describing the problem, and a piss poor one of providing a solution. Sorry.

      • RE Vanella

        Fair critique. Luckily many, many very sharp theoreticians and economists and writers didn’t stop working after Capital was published. So know we have loads of Marxist solutions!

        I’ll could recommend some very good reading.

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