The Open Thread for 12/16/18

David Nather: “The Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature achievement, may be headed back to the Supreme Court after a conservative federal judge in Texas struck down the individual mandate as unconstitutional last evening.”

“This could be a nightmare for Republicans in suburbs and swing states.”

“The midterms proved that the ACA has gotten more popular since the GOP started trying to repeal it — especially the protections for pre-existing conditions.  If the law goes away, that goes with it. This is not the fight Republicans want to have.”

Politico: “Friday night’s ruling raises a number of decisions for the White House: Will the government appeal, how quickly and will its agencies continue to enforce the law in the meantime? It’s not clear what the Trump administration will choose to do, given its legal strategy to date.”

“Career Justice Department lawyers this summer were told to drop their defense of the law — a near-unprecedented decision that led three lawyers to remove their names from the government’s brief and prompted the senior attorney, Joel McElvain, to resign.”

Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke “submitted his resignation to the White House Saturday, facing intense pressure from the White House amid multiple probes tied to his real estate dealings in Montana and conduct while in office,” the Washington Post reports.

“While the former Navy SEAL and Montana congressman worked aggressively to promote Trump’s agenda of expanding domestic energy production, administration officials concluded weeks ago that he ranked as the Cabinet member most vulnerable to congressional investigations once Democrats took control of Congress in January.”

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) “is under serious consideration to replace outgoing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who submitted his resignation to the White House on Saturday,” the Nevada Independent reports.

“Senators have been talking amongst themselves about Heller as a possible replacement for Zinke after the Republican senator lost his re-election bid in November to Rep. Jacky Rosen and as controversy bubbled around the secretary, and Heller supporters have reportedly spoken directly with the president about appointing him to the post… One of the sources confirmed Heller is interested in the position.”

Mike Allen: “White House insiders expect Mulvaney to get the permanent gig. But Trump keeps control and doesn’t fully empower his guy, reminding Mulvaney who the real chief of staff is: No funny business like General John Kelly tried to pull, restricting enablers’ access to POTUS.”

“This is exactly why some other candidates didn’t take the job or didn’t get the job: They would have insisted on changes Trump doesn’t want to make.”

Asked why Mulvaney was named “acting,” the official said: “Because that’s what the president wants.”

“Two years after Donald Trump won the presidency, nearly every organization he has led in the past decade is under investigation,” the Washington Post reports.

This includes his private company, his 2016 campaign, his foundation and the 2016 inaugural committee.

“The mounting inquiries are building into a cascade of legal challenges that threaten to dominate Trump’s third year in the White House. In a few weeks, Democrats will take over in the House and pursue their own investigations into all of the above — and more.”

Jeffrey Toobin: “President Trump said some time ago that he believes his personal finances should be off limits to investigators. In an interview with the Times in July, 2017, he asserted that if Robert Mueller, the special counsel, sought to investigate the Trump family’s business dealings he would be crossing a ‘red line.’ When, later that year, several news reports suggested that Mueller had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for records relating to Trump’s businesses, the President reportedly told members of his staff that he wanted to fire Mueller in response.”

“It was never confirmed whether Mueller had actually subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, but the President’s aversion to the scrutiny of his business interests caught the attention of Representative Adam Schiff, who will become the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence next year. On a recent weekend, at a busy restaurant in downtown Burbank, in the heart of his congressional district, Schiff talked about his plans for conducting an investigation that will be parallel to Mueller’s, probing Trump’s connections to Russia, Saudi Arabia, and other places around the world.”

“As Schiff described his approach, it became clear that he wasn’t just planning to cross Trump’s red line—he intended to obliterate it.”

“As he considers running for president, Joe Biden is talking with friends and longtime supporters about whether, at 76, he’s too old to seek the White House, according to several sources who have spoken with the former Democratic vice president,” the AP reports.

“The discussions suggest Biden is aware that his age may be the biggest hurdle to launching another bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, especially in an era when many in the party yearn for a new generation of leadership. He would be the oldest person to ever be elected president.”

No nominee over 70.  Bye Biden, Sanders and Warren.

Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg on How Pelosi Won (Again).

“She’s good at the job and understood the political context. Her opponents, not so much.  Second, while congressional leadership battles are usually personal and hinge on relationships within the caucus, this time seemed a little different. I suspect (and I’d love to see evidence from experts) that the relationships Pelosi called upon within the national party network were far more extensive than what was available to, say, Tip O’Neill or Sam Rayburn when they were in similar positions. Also, it sure seemed like there was real grass-roots support for Pelosi, possibly organized by the same people who have energized the resistance and who drummed up turnout in the midterms.

Another interesting angle is Pelosi’s public perception. Her first speakership, from 2007 to 2011, was not much celebrated by the news media. But a combination of the big midterm victory and the internal challenge to her leadership produced a kind of Ginsburgization of her, both in the traditional press and on social media. Here O’Neill again offers a useful comparison: Although the news media had generally dismissed him as a fossil by the 1970s, in his final years as speaker he ended up being recast as a kind but wily grandfather.”

George Packer of the Atlantic on the Corruption of the Republican Party:

“The fact that no plausible election outcome can check the abuse of power is what makes political corruption so dangerous. It strikes at the heart of democracy. It destroys the compact between the people and the government. In rendering voters voiceless, it pushes everyone closer to the use of undemocratic means.

Today’s Republican Party has cornered itself with a base of ever older, whiter, more male, more rural, more conservative voters. Demography can take a long time to change—longer than in progressives’ dreams—but it isn’t on the Republicans’ side. They could have tried to expand; instead, they’ve hardened and walled themselves off. This is why, while voter fraud knows no party, only the Republican Party wildly overstates the risk so that it can pass laws (including right now in Wisconsin, with a bill that reduces early voting) to limit the franchise in ways that have a disparate partisan impact. This is why, when some Democrats in the New Jersey legislature proposed to enshrine gerrymandering in the state constitution, other Democrats, in New Jersey and around the country, objected.

Taking away democratic rights—extreme gerrymandering; blocking an elected president from nominating a Supreme Court justice; selectively paring voting rolls and polling places; creating spurious anti-fraud commissions; misusing the census to undercount the opposition; calling lame-duck legislative sessions to pass laws against the will of the voters—is the Republican Party’s main political strategy, and will be for years to come.”

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

3 comments on “The Open Thread for 12/16/18

  1. Read the whole article by Colin Kahl concerning “American Exceptionalism” and foreign policy, I read it looking for even one word on The Military Industrial Complex and found none. To not assess the impact and power of war as profit center is to completely miss the point, regardless of policy this group has kept us at endless war around the world and has no intention of stopping now. As is the case with Big Pharma they own a great many politicians of both parties, nothing lights political hair on fire like talk of closing bases or not acquiring new weapons “systems”. I remember when Viet Nam was winding down there was much talk of America no longer being “the world’s policeman”. That never came close to happening, neither will it as it stands. We let the insatiable greed of corporations that market death have a big impact on foreign policy, and we suffer every day for it.

    • Amen bamboozer. I read this from S to F and there was nothing but windy generalities and no takeaway. This guy was the foreign policy advisor to VP Biden, which should give voters pause about Biden’s recent presidential noises.

      And why does 2nd fiddle need a personal foreign policy advisor anyway?

  2. Great. Time for the Democrats and Republicans to come up with a plan, together!

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