What Now?! – 2/4/19

A new CBS News poll finds Americans overwhelmingly opposed to President Trump’s suggestion that he would declare a national emergency in order to bypass Congress and build a border wall, 66% to 34%.

“If government funding runs out on Feb. 15 and there’s still an impasse over wall funding, Americans don’t want either side to force another shutdown. Seventy-three percent of Americans want Mr. Trump to continue negotiating while keeping the government open, rather than demand wall funding if that forces a shutdown.”

President Trump on Saturday named Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson as chief medical adviser and assistant to the president, Politico reports.

He was also nominated on Friday for a promotion to a two-star admiral in the Navy.  The dual announcements came ahead of Trump’s annual physical, which is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 8, at Walter Reed.

“I am who I am. I’m good with it. You might need to figure it out, but I’m fine with it.”  — Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), telling the Washington Post that she doesn’t define herself by race or ethnicity, just as “an American.”

Washington Post: “Trump dealt himself a political defeat with the 35-day government shutdown. He has secured no funding to construct a border wall and is preparing to declare a national emergency to fulfill his campaign promise. He is newly at odds with the nation’s intelligence chiefs and some senators in his own party. The Russia investigation, which has ensnared several of the president’s allies, appears to be nearing its conclusion. New congressional oversight investigations will start soon. And the race to defeat him at the ballot box has kicked off in earnest.”

“The challenges mount at a moment when Trump is as unencumbered and isolated as ever. Inside the White House, aides describe a chaotic, freewheeling atmosphere reminiscent of the early weeks of Trump’s presidency.”

“Power has consolidated around presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, a senior adviser who is functioning as a de facto White House chief of staff. With counterweights like ousted chief of staff John F. Kelly now gone, some advisers say the West Wing has the feel of the 26th floor of Trump Tower, where an unrestrained Trump had absolute control over his family business and was free to follow his impulses.”

“Facing clear political peril, President Trump will deliver his second State of the Union address at a moment when his bully pulpit is uncertain and his negotiating skills in question after a monthlong government shutdown that exposed fractures in his party and sent his poll numbers tumbling,” the AP reports.

“Trump hopes to use his Tuesday speech to reset his agenda and begin to gear up for his 2020 re-election campaign. But even as the president promises a theme of unity, his performance is likely to draw cheers from one side of the deeply divided Congress and stony silence from the other.”

A White House source leaked President Trump’s private schedules since the midterm elections to Axios, showing that Trump has spent around 60% of the last three months in “Executive Time.”

Jonathan Swan: “Trump, an early riser, usually spends the first 5 hours of the day in Executive Time. Each day’s schedule places Trump in ‘Location: Oval Office’ from 8 to 11 a.m. But Trump, who often wakes before 6 a.m., is never in the Oval during those hours, according to six sources with direct knowledge.”

“Instead, he spends his mornings in the residence, watching TV, reading the papers, and responding to what he sees and reads by phoning aides, members of Congress, friends, administration officials and informal advisers.”

“This country hasn’t dealt well with issues of race. We have a president who’s a racist.”  — Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), in an interview with NBC News.

Charles Pierce says the US ending the INF is a huge victory for Vladimir Putin.  “I’m not sure how giving Vladimir Putin everything he wants is supposed to hurt him, but I am not the Secretary of State. This is an odds-on decision to start another nuclear arms race in Europe, which can only hype up the ambitious Russian ganglord’s dreams of a gangster-capitalist new USSR. The INF Treaty was one of the Reagan Administration’s shining accomplishments, and one of the first indications that Mikhail Gorbachev was a real reformer.

It was the first arms-control agreement that required a reduction in nuclear weapons rather than simply freezing the number of them in place. It brought Europe out from under a dark shadow. (These were the days in which nuclear war was again thought to be feasible, if not imminent.) It allowed people in Europe to breathe a little easier. For all his faults, Reagan made the INF Treaty a landmark in nuclear diplomacy, and it led directly to President George H.W. Bush’s START treaty which cut in half the nuclear arsenals of both countries.

If your partner in a treaty cheats, you use the mechanisms of the treaty to hold the partner to account. You don’t simply abandon the treaty—unless, of course, you want to start arming up in Europe all over again and (maybe) don’t mind much if Russia does the same thing. Were I an ordinary Czech, say, I might wonder if two oligarchs weren’t actually working together to dominate the European landscape.”

Leonard Pitts is tired of reading enablers whose remorse came way too late.

“Let’s call it Trump Remorse.  It’s a new literary genre — books by former staff members and aides who now want to dish about the awfulness of Donald Trump or his White House. Last week, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie debuted the latest book in that field, “Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics.”

Christie thus joins Omarosa Manigault Newman, whose “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,” came out in August, and Cliff Sims, whose “Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days In The Trump White House” also was released last week. Granted, Trump Remorse is just a literary trickle now. But given the extraordinary rate at which the man burns through personnel, it’s reasonable to think the trickle may soon become a flood.

After all, the only thing these authors really have to offer is the gratification that comes of hearing some true believer finally admit what you already knew. And with Christie, you barely even get that. To judge from media coverage, his book concentrates its fire on the circus Trump surrounds himself with, while the ringmaster himself escapes relatively unscathed.”

Dana Milbank on the painful inadequacy of Northam’s latest press conference.  “Ralph Northam is soon to be the former governor of Virginia. And that is how it should be.  His governorship ended, as a practical matter, on Friday night, when he acknowledged he was in a just-surfaced 1984 photograph from his medical school yearbook of one man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood.

The Democratic governor attempted to apologize in written and video statements Friday, and then, bizarrely, attempted Saturday to retract his admission and his assumption of responsibility. At an afternoon news conference, he implausibly claimed he wasn’t in the offending photo (which contained what he called “blackfacing”) because “I so vividly don’t remember this” and didn’t know where it came from, even though other students chose the photos for their pages.

Yet he proceeded to acknowledge that he wore dark shoe polish on his face another time that same year while impersonating Michael Jackson doing the moonwalk in a dance contest — which he won! He allowed, in a rare moment of sense, that others “will find this difficult to believe.”

But his flailing serves only to compound his disgrace, because he has been denounced and disowned by his fellow Democrats; his only path forward as governor is as pariah and laughingstock.”

President Trump declined to say whether he wants the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation made public, the Washington Post reports.

“Totally up to the attorney general. That’s up to the attorney general. I don’t know. It depends. I have no idea what it’s going to say.”

“President Trump has dismissed the prospect of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leaving his post to run for a Senate seat, even as Pompeo has signaled that he is open to the possibility,” the Washington Post reports.

Trump said Pompeo told him he was not leaving his current position and voiced confidence that he would not bolt to pursue a Senate seat in Kansas: “I asked him the question the other day. He says he’s absolutely not leaving. I don’t think he’d do that. And he doesn’t want to be lame duck.”

In a phone call with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last month, Pompeo “had not shut the door on the possibility of a run.”

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

13 comments on “What Now?! – 2/4/19

  1. How did content land on a med student’s page? Who picked the photos, wrote the text? Was Ralph Northam given the opportunity to approve/reject the content. Has anyone heard anyone discuss the details of my questions so we know how much responsibility Ralph Northam should be required to shoulder?

    • We cannot judge Ralph Northam without knowing whether or not he was even involved in putting together his yearbook page. Med students have time to do these things?

      • cassandram

        Northam’s first problem is that he apologized for the page and appeared to acknowledge that one of them was him. His second problem was the spectacularly inept way he tried to take back that apology with claims it may not have been him. His third problem is that this whole business has been so badly handled by him that there is no reason to believe that Virginians would trust him to govern now.

        Your problem is that the question of why a med student dressed in blackface or a klan hood would even do such a thing doesn’t even appear on your list. Because he seems to certainly have had time for *that*.

      • Black face and a Klan hood? There’s no spin for this violent, racist image. Admitting to donning black face for Michael Jackson costume – complete with instructions on how to correctly apply blackface? Changing his story, non-apology apology. Almost doing the moonwalk? Put a fork in him. He’s done.

        • Some reporting from yearbook workers alleged that each student was directed to choose their own page content. One story is below:

          “Seniors at Eastern Virginia Medical School were allowed to submit up to three photographs in a sealed envelope to appear alongside a formal school picture on their personal pages in the 1984 yearbook, according to a former student who said he helped design most of those pages……“I didn’t have the editorial authority to say, ‘Oh, this is a potentially racist picture or could be viewed as stuff and I’m not going to put it on the layout,’” Elwood said. “That’s what the person wanted; that’s what they got.”
          He said he wasn’t sure anyone exercised such authority, except on certain ground rules such as a ban on nudity. “All of the political correctness that we have today did not exist then.”

          So the bar for yearbook photo censorship was set at nudity? Racisim was the norm within the VA caste system. Is it still?

          Reminds me of the DOC Connections nurse who let a man die in front of her without calling emergency services saying her boss set the bar before calling 911 at heart failure or hanging, e.g. already dead.

  2. cassandram

    Bernie to give his *own SOTU address response tomorrow night.

    LITERALLY talking over a black woman to do it.

    • OK I gotta say, it’s confusing.

      “The senator’s office confirmed to The Hill that his response will follow Trump’s State of the Union address as well as the Democratic rebuttal and be streamed on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.” – that makes it look like hes doing after Abrams, but so does this
      “Sanders, who is an independent but caucuses with Democrats, will be delivering his response after former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams delivers the official Democratic Party response.”

      Happy to be corrected as always.

      • cassandram

        I read that this AM too. And while it is better that he is literally not speaking over her, I am not crazy about the fact that he feels he needs the last word. This woman is the D’s future and letting her have the stage would be smart. But then again, Bernie doesn’t need black people in his coalition still.


          He has done this for the past 3 years apparently.

          • I guess it’s a good thing it’ll be online after everyone has tuned out.
            Seriously. what the shit is he doing now? Either run or dont,
            but 1… join the fucking club you’re demanding to be put in charge of or gut-up and run as an independent. and 2, Stop playing fucking games and get with the program.
            Between the “I hear Kamala Harris will send everyone to jail for thinking about the pots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” insane rambling coming from moron lefitsts, and Bernie dicking around with a will he wont he demand special treatment, it’s starting to feel a lot like 2016 all over gain. at this point, i give 45 a 70% chance of re-election.

  3. nathan arizona

    Seems like Michael Jackson was trying out whiteface as his career went along.

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