The Open Thread for 12/26/2018

“President Trump says parts of the government will stay shut as long as Democrats refuse to build more barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border, seemingly dashing hope for a Christmas miracle that would soon allow several departments to reopen and employees to return to work,” the AP reports.

Said Trump: “I can’t tell you when the government’s going to be open. I can tell you it’s not going to be open until we have a wall or fence, whatever they’d like to call it.”

He added: “I’ll call it whatever they want but it’s all the same thing.”

President Trump questioned a 7-year-old’s belief in Santa Claus, telling the child it was “marginal” at that age to still think Father Christmas is real, USA Today reports.

Said Trump: “Are you still a believer in Santa? Because at 7, it’s marginal, right?”

“On Christmas Day, President Donald Trump took part in a long-running practice of presidents who called troops stationed around the country and the world,” NBC News reports.

LBut he broke from a recent tradition of actually visiting troops and wounded warriors. He did so in 2017, when he visited wounded troops at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Dec. 21 (and invited Coast Guard service members to play golf at his course in West Palm Beach, Florida).”

“By staying home on Tuesday, Trump became the first president since 2002 who didn’t visit military personnel around Christmastime.”

Thomas Friedman: “Up to now I have not favored removing President Trump from office. I felt strongly that it would be best for the country that he leave the way he came in, through the ballot box. But last week was a watershed moment for me, and I think for many Americans, including some Republicans.”

“It was the moment when you had to ask whether we really can survive two more years of Trump as president, whether this man and his demented behavior — which will get only worse as the Mueller investigation concludes — are going to destabilize our country, our markets, our key institutions and, by extension, the world. And therefore his removal from office now has to be on the table.”

“I believe that the only responsible choice for the Republican Party today is an intervention with the president that makes clear that if there is not a radical change in how he conducts himself — and I think that is unlikely — the party’s leadership will have no choice but to press for his resignation or join calls for his impeachment.”

President Trump’s surprise orders to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan — and Defense Secretary James Mattis’ subsequent resignation — have left high-ranking U.S. military officials in the dark, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Said Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps: “I don’t think anybody really knows exactly what’s going to happen. I’ve read the same stuff in the newspaper you did, I have a little more knowledge than that, but not a whole lot more.”

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday called early elections for April, setting the stage for a three-month campaign clouded by a series of corruption investigations against the long-serving Israeli leader,” the APreports.

“Riding high in the polls, Netanyahu appears all but certain to win a fourth consecutive term and a place in history as the country’s longest-serving prime minister. Those bright prospects, however, could be derailed by a looming decision by the country’s attorney general on whether to file charges against Netanyahu.”

Outgoing Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) told CNN that Republican senators privately say President Trump is “nuts.”

Said McCaskill: “Now they’ll tell you, if it’s just the two of you, ‘The guy is nuts, he doesn’t have a grasp of the issues, he’s making rash decisions, he’s not listening to people who know the subject matter.’ But in public if they go after him… they know they get a primary challenger, and they know that’s tough.”

John Harwood: “The end of 2018 makes clearer every day that the president himself represents a fundamental problem for America’s economy and national security alike. Trump’s erratic behavior and weak leadership have unsettled Wall Street and Washington alike — and there’s every reason to expect things will get worse.”

“Turmoil at the highest level of the administration intensifies the unease.”

“A large swath of the federal government is shut down — and so are negotiations to reopen it,” Politico reports.

“President Trump’s standoff with Democratic leaders over the border wall dragged into a third day on Monday, with no hopes on either side of a Christmas deal to break the stalemate. It’s been 48 hours since the last real discussions between Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Vice President Mike Pence, and there’s growing sentiment in the Capitol that the closure could drag on until mid-January.”

Playbook: “There has been practically no movement in resolving the standoff over the funding of a big chunk of the government. The Capitol was completely empty yesterday. We hardly saw anyone. This is among the strangest shutdowns ever.”

“With stocks extending their slide Monday, President Trump took another swipe at the Federal Reserve, writing on Twitter that the ‘only problem our economy has is the Fed’ as he continued to blame the central bank for recent volatility in the financial markets,” the New York Times reports.

“But Mr. Trump’s comments only exacerbated the sell-off on Wall Street, and stocks were on track for their worst year since 2008 and the largest December decline since the 1930s. The S&P 500 closed down 2.7 percent after a shortened trading session because of the Christmas holiday.”

“I think General Mattis has put his finger on where the president has views that are very, very distinct from the vast majority of Republicans and probably Democrats, elected and unelected.”

— Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), in an interview with NBC News.

“In his first 13 years on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s main challenge was trying to assemble five votes to move the court to the right though there were only four reliably conservatives justices,” the New York Times reports.

“Now he faces a very different problem. With the retirement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and his replacement by Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, the chief justice has the votes he needs on issues like abortion, racial discrimination, religion and voting. At the same time, he has taken Justice Kennedy’s place as the swing vote at the court’s ideological center, making him the most powerful chief justice in 80 years.”

“But all of that new power comes at a dangerous time for the court, whose legitimacy depends on the public perception that it is not a partisan institution.”

“President Trump has unabashedly hitched his political fortunes to a rising stock market. Now, with stock prices in retreat, he has become increasingly fixated on the idea that one man is to blame for the recent rout: Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve,” the New York Times reports.

“After the Fed raised its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday, the fifth consecutive quarterly increase, Mr. Trump fretted to aides that Mr. Powell would ‘turn me into Hoover,’ a reference to the man who was president in the early years of the Great Depression. Mr. Trump has said choosing Mr. Powell for the Fed job last year was the worst mistake of his presidency and he has asked aides whether he has the power to fire him.”

“But the volatile stock market, which just posted its worst week since 2008, is falling in part because of Mr. Trump’s own policies, including an escalating trade war with China, a shutdown of the federal government and the fading effects of the $1.5 trillion tax cut Mr. Trump ushered in at the end of 2017.”

“Chief Justice John Roberts on Sunday issued a temporary pause on an order holding an unnamed, foreign government-owned company in contempt over a mystery court case related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation,” CNN reports.

“The order puts on hold the contempt citation issued by a DC federal judge against the company related to a grand jury subpoena it received, but only long enough for the justices to decide whether they want to intervene in the case.”

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

7 comments on “The Open Thread for 12/26/2018

  1. Politicians have caused a pay ‘collapse’ for the bottom 90 percent of workers, researchers say

    “Bivens and Shierholz say that poor wage growth is less a function of increasing employer power and more a product of deliberate efforts to undermine worker power. Policymakers, for instance, have been reluctant to raise minimum wages, which would directly benefit workers at the bottom of the income distribution. They’ve taken steps to make it harder for workers to secure bargaining power, eroding union membership in the process. And Bivens and Shierholz maintain that the Federal Reserve has contributed to the problem by prioritizing low inflation over high employment.”

  2. Black Voters, a Force in Democratic Politics, Are Ready to Make Themselves Heard

    “Many black voters want to be engaged in a manner that reflects their electoral power, and not passed over in favor of a strategy that prioritizes Mr. Trump’s heavily white coalition.”

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