Open Thread for Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Screenshot of Washington Post video

Screenshot of Washington Post video

Some topics for your consideration:

  1. Graham urges Dems to give Gorsuch the chance he gave Kagan, Sotomayor — And he’s right. I heard an absurd argument from Russ Feingold this morning claiming that Republicans’ outrageous behavior on Garland (and it was inexcusable, an unprecedented refusal by senators, including Graham, to do their jobs) means Gorsuch shouldn’t get a chance. That’s insane. Gorsuch should get the same respect and consideration that Garland should have received.
  2. Bill allowing carrying firearms without permit heads for House floor — Because ya know, when we look around at the problems we have in the world today, we really need to add THIS to the pile, right?
  3. Charleston church killer’s friend sentenced to 27 months in prison — This reminds me of a conversation earlier in the week with Doug. I don’t see why the hed couldn’t have said, in the interests of brevity, “Roof’s friend Meek” instead of “Charleston church killer’s friend.” Anyway, it’s out there in case you want to comment.
  4. Trump tells GOP critics of health-care bill: ‘I’m gonna come after you’ — Today’s classy move by the fulminator-in-chief. I wonder how much longer it will take for these people to have the nerve to tell him to take a flying leap…
  5. The American presidency is shrinking before the world’s eyes — Yep. And it shrinks more every day. This is what I keep saying to those of you who ask why I don’t wait to complain when Trump does something “horrible.” The answer is that he’s already doing it, every day. Worldwide respect for American institutions went into free fall the moment this guy captured the GOP nomination, and it hasn’t stopped falling yet…
  6. Trump is under investigation for ties to Russia. What happens now? — This is a day old, but still worth examining. This is a place where we’ve never been — in the first days of an administration, we learn officially that it’s being investigated for ties with the Russians, and the head of the FBI says under oath that the president’s attempt to deflect with wild accusations about his predecessor is a load of horse manure. Where, indeed, do we go from here?


64 thoughts on “Open Thread for Tuesday, March 21, 2017

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    This is interesting. Apparently, from here on, anyone with “ties” to the Quinns (which means, a huge portion of the GOP establishment) will have that hung around their necks like a millstone:

  2. bud

    1. Feingold I right. Of course Dems should vote against Gorsich. The GOP must be opposed or they will ruin this country.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      And there you have it — the mindset that has made Washington dysfunctional, and disgusted people enough that they voted for Trump…

      1. Doug Ross

        I watched Gorsuch for about 10 minutes yesterday. He came across as thoughtful and intelligent. Better first impression than many previous candidates.

  3. Harry Harris

    Gorsuch has plenty (worker rights, women’s issues, religious-based) nullification to cause Senators to oppose his nomination, but the Garland case is just a separate dirty trick pulled by the Republican leadership.

    What I noticed today was the Koch-backed opposition to the highway funding bill fronted by Tom Davis. What they want is to starve government – period. They would be content to take a clean bill as long as it’s linked to an income tax cut at the top (ala Sanford and Haley). The commission reform thing is an excuse and distraction.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I haven’t heard anything bad about Gorsuch yet.

      Of course, not being a Democrat, I don’t care about the things they care about.

      But from what I’ve seen, I don’t see any reason I’d oppose him even if I DID think like a Democrat…

  4. bud

    I wonder how much longer it will take for these people to have the nerve to tell him to take a flying leap

    Brad lives in a fantasy land where Trump is an aberration. No. He. Isn’t. He’s pretty much the heart and soul of today’s Republican Party. And why, you ask, do I continue to harp on this? Because I love my country and it’s important to understand the problem so we can properly formulate an effective strategy. If we continue to wring our hands over 1 eccentric billionaire we lose focus of the real threat. The Republicans defying Trump in the house are MORE extreme than POTUS. So it’s crystal clear that they pose a broader, more insidious threat than some narcissistic 3 am tweeter. Trump can fulminate till the cows come home but its congress that can pass legislation that will ruin America. Just go check out Paul Ryan gushing over Trump deal making skills. Didn’t come across as a man getting ready to tell Trump to take a leap. Clearly the GOP is Trumps party now. He may eventually loss it but that time is not now.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, you’re right. It’s totally silly ” to wring our hands over 1 eccentric billionaire.”

      I mean, he’s just this guy, right? It’s not like he’s president of the United States or anything! He’s not, you know, the most powerful man on the freaking planet! He’s just some schmoe who wandered in off the street. And the only thing wrong with him is that he ran as a Republican. If he’d run as a Democrat, why we’d all be right as rain, and he wouldn’t ever do anything wrong.

      Also all Republicans are exactly alike. Personally, I can’t tell the difference between Trump and, say, Lamar Alexander. Can you?

      Bud, I find myself wondering sometimes how the weather is in the world where you live…

      1. bud

        Realistic. In my world we don’t pretend the GOP is some normal organization with modestly different, but defensible, policies like a 35% top marginal tax rate vs 40%. No. Today’s GOP is a radical departure from what I see as the American dream. Hell they want to end Medicare as we have enjoyed for 50+ years. This is a party that sees only $$$$ for a tiny cadre of “real” Americans. Go ahead make jokes about the world I live in but the joke is on all of us if this craven band of plutocrats rules the roost while people like Brad fulminate over the latest nonsensisical tweet.

      2. Larry Slaughter

        Brad–to turn Randy Newman on his head: He may be a fool, but he’s their fool. As much as I’d like the vote to be determined by cool non-partisan heads in the center, it isn’t.

        Unfortunately, I think Bud is right in this regard: Trump is the perfect Republican candidate for the party as it now exists. He is the embodiment/caricature of greed, enriching himself without conscience, the environment, employees, women be damned. Until voters reject this notion that it is in the self-interest of the majority of Americans to make billionaires into multi-billionaires, then opposing the Republican Party is in order.

        I can’t even imagine Graham surviving an SC Republican primary. If they keep parading, in Graham’s words, “bat s**t crazy” candidates for office, then let them. And anyone of good conscience would wish that some grownups would leave the party and push Democrats to a reasonable center.

  5. bud

    Lamar Alexander at 76 is an outlier in today’s GOP. And that’s my point. The gravitational center of todays GOP is Trump. People like Alexander are a dying breed.

    1. Mark Stewart

      Well, I’m still here. All Republicans are not crazy; but too many have fallen into the trap of opposing progress, of supposing individualism trumps civic engagement. The truth is we all win when all are empowered with opportunity.

  6. Bryan Caskey

    1. Gorsuch is going to be confirmed. It’s just a question of whether it’s going to be with the filibuster intact or not. Figure some Democrats might want to keep the filibuster around for a while. Oh well…

    2. Meh. I’m sort of there with you. Not sure who is out there clamoring for this. I know that I haven’t heard any of my fellow gun owners wanting this. The pro-gun rights people are pretty happy these days.

    3. Wonder if they’ll have to put Roof’s friend in isolation to keep him safe.

    4. Trump’s only response to being challenged/criticized is to escalate. I’m trying to think of a time he de-escalated a situation, but nothing comes to mind.

    5. Yeah. It’s been going downhill for awhile. Raises the interesting question: When was the American Presidency at its apex in the world? Which President cast the longest shadow on the world stage?

    6. We are indeed through the looking glass.

    7. Gamecocks Men’s Basketball made the Sweet 16 in a stunning upset of Duke. Worth mentioning, since it’s the first time it’s happened since the tournament went to the field of 64.

    1. bud

      Beating Duke was a very big deal. At least in the local sports world. I remember the 1973 win against Texas Tech. Only time the Gamecocks got this far in the tournament. And then there were only 32 teams.

        1. bud

          Is that a subtle reference to the fact that Memphis State (now Memphis) beat the gamecocks that year?

    2. Mark Stewart

      5. Franklin Roosevelt, Reagan, Kennedy, Wilson and Teddy R. in that order. Nixon probably beats out TR, but I don’t want to add him as his fall was more damaging than his diplomacy was noteworthy.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        FDR towers over all. I measure all by that. He’s the standard to rise to.

        Truman, Ike, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Bush père and the others are measured by how well they navigated the world order that FDR left them.

        The presidency began to diminish with the end of the Cold War. When people started talking about “peace dividends” and domestic affairs and saying obnoxious things like “It’s the economy, stupid” — that’s where the decline started.

        Oh, and before you get on a high horse defending domestic affairs — add up the domestic accomplishments of all of the presidents from 1991 on, and the result is a tiny fraction of what LBJ — or FDR — did domestically in a single year.

        Presidents and Congresses no longer do great things, globally or domestically. They just jockey for position in the next election.

        This needs to be a separate post

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Conversation at table is all very well and good (and I love the way O’Brian writes about the strains of doing one’s social duty at dinner), but the bottle stands by you, sir…

      2. bud

        Reagan continues to be very overrated. Johnson gets dissed for Vietnam. My rankings:

        1. Obama
        2. Ike
        3. Clinton
        4. Kennedy
        5. Bush Sr
        6. Carter
        7. Ford
        8. Reagan
        9. Truman
        10. Johnson
        11. Nixon
        11. By a wide margin W

        1. Richard

          Not even close. Obama, Clinton and Carter would be my bottom three. The only one I agree with may be bud’s Johnson ranking.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            So you’d rate Obama, Clinton and Carter lower than James Buchanan? Or are you only talking post-1945?

            I ask because Bryan went back to Jefferson…

  7. Bob Amundson

    Tough editorial regarding POTUS in WSJ today. Brad, would you please share some of the editorial for discussion?

  8. Tom Stickler

    From a news article: By James Rosen – Washington Bureau 4 June 2009

    WASHINGTON — Sen. Lindsey Graham used a private meeting with Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday to tell her that he’s bothered by her controversial claim in 2001 that “a wise Latina woman” judge would often make better rulings than a white judge.

    “I do think she needs to explain herself,” Graham said. “I do think she needs to understand she has offended some people.”

    What Graham gave Sotomayor could be characterized as a “tongue-lashing” compared to the way he pitched softballs to Gorsuch.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, I’ll tell ya…

      I found that comment of hers offensive as well — for more or less the same reason I found it offensive when Trump claimed that a Hispanic judge couldn’t be fair to him…

  9. JesseS

    2.) I stopped reading at Mike Pitts. His middle name might at well be, “You-should-stop-reading-here-because-this-story-is-only-going-to-get-worse”, whether it be the flag or guns or showing up on Vice to give a reporter reason to wonder if red velvet cake is inherently racist solely because Pitts enjoys it.

    Does he even realize he is killing off a cottage industry? Does he realize that for CWP reciprocity it will force SC residence to go to NC and GA for permits so they can legally carry firearms across state lines? Does he realize how much trouble that is going to be after the CWP licensing business folds in SC?

    Ugh, then again it’s asking a lot for a Laurens County Republican to favor education, even if it’s privately funded, firearms based education. Maybe he would change his mind on it if we could pay for our CWP permits with vouchers.

    NRA and ALEC like those things, right? And Mike totally wants to make those guys happy, right?

  10. Harry Harris

    The polarization is hurting both parties’ ability to govern in my view. Republicans, especially their leadership, will use Trump until they can’t stand his personal style, peccadilloes and frequent gaffe. He is helping to sell the Ryan healthcare makeover- counter to his campaign lies. His budget proposals will make the Ryan right-wing enrichment of the powerful look somewhat palatable. Our allies will tolerate his naive and self-centered world view unless he starts some real trouble on trade or military-mess-ups. Our adversaries will both curry favor and grab what they want underhandedly. He’s probably looking for a spot to use force without too much blast-back so he can brag and build favor, but so are many of the militarists who back him. He’ll claim credit for any good news and Republicans with enough economic savvy to know better will play along. If his policies up open strident opposition, the whole Republican crowd will label it as un-American. I hear voices calling for moving together and moderation, but the right-leaning voices are mostly a beckon to move somewhat toward their position with no give-back on their part. “Let’s raise the social security/medicare age only gradually, but keep investment and upper incomes off the books. “Let’s kick only the working poor in the teeth on healthcare and back off our attack on seniors to almost what they have now. Let’s force states to decide in their Medicaid funding whether to provide nursing care to senors who have burned through their resources or to insure children and maybe low-income workers – but we know they will find great solutions because they are closer to the people, and aren’t controlled by the local monied interests.

    1. Bill

      Uh-huhn, and I’m sure determined spinners will try to turn this into vindication of Trump’s reckless tweet: “See, he was right: Obama DID bug Trump Tower!”

      Nunes says he’s “alarmed” by this incidence of alleged “incidental collection.” But I bet his “alarm” only applies if Republican politicians are affected — not your everyday Joe Schmo.

      1. Burl Burlingame

        Once Trumpsters were discovered, however accidentally, to have relations with a hostile foreign power, it was our intelligence services job to pay attention to them.

  11. Burl Burlingame

    I feel Garland should be voted down before Gorsuch is voted up (assuming, of course, that’s the way the voting would go). Garland was nominated, and not given the professional dignity of a hearing.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, I agree. The failure even to consider Garland — who, like Gorsuch, is a highly qualified candidate officially nominated by a sitting president — was and remains grotesque, possibly the most dramatic way in some time that partisanship has interfered with Congress doing its duty. (I’d say the worst instance in my lifetime, but then there was the Freedom Caucus actions on raising the debt limit that led to the nation’s credit rating being lowered — that was pretty horrible, too.)

      But I wouldn’t NOT confirm Gorsuch because that didn’t happen. Mainly because they are simply not going to turn back to Garland and consider him, even briefly. And we’d probably have to wait years and years before there’s a Congress that would even consider that. At that point, we might have nine vacancies instead of one…

      1. bud

        I’m ok with an 8 justice SCOTUS. Gorsuch will be confirmed eventually but let’s delay as long as possible in order to get a few more proper rulings.

        1. Richard

          So what is bud’s deal with Gorsuch? Is it because lame-duck Obama didn’t get to select him? It appears he’s good on both sides so why hold up his nomination? bud is implying that with him on the court rulings will be ruled improperly.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            No. His problem is that Obama DID nominate a successor to Scalia, in WAY more than plenty of time for him to be either confirmed or rejected — and in an unconscionable rejection of their duty, the GOP Senate refused even to hold a single hearing.

            That was and is an outrage — just as it would be an outrage not to confirm Gorsuch.

            The difference is that Bud seems to think two outrages add up to something good. I do not. Not doing their jobs on Garland is no excuse for the Senate not to do their jobs on Gorsuch…

          2. bud

            Gorsuch will side with the corporate elites over the working man. His record shows he is no dispationte jurist who will only consider the law. He’s nothing but a shill for the gilded class. The Democrats need to delay this phony as long as possible.

              1. bud

                Bryan I’m not trying to win a popularity contest. But I have to call it the way I see it. Did you not see the exchange between Gorsuch and Franken in the “frozen trucker” case? Franken exposed his corporate bias. Other Democrats made the same point. Best line of the exchange (LA Times):

                “I had a career in identifying absurdity, and I know it when I see it,” said Franken, a former “Saturday Night Live” performer and writer. “And it makes me question your judgment.”

                So yes I believe Gorsuch will side with corporate interests over the interests of workers, the environment and consumers. Further, I think that mindset disqualifies him from SCOTUS. Frankly I don’t give a damn whether you’re persuaded by that or not.

                1. Richard

                  Minnesotans know how to pick their leaders… Mondale, Ventura, Franken. No wonder the Loon is their state bird.

            1. Doug Ross

              All I do when I wake up in the morning is aspire to become a member of the “gilded class” that bud talks about. If I can just reach a six figure salary and only pay 40% of my income to the government, I’m sure that would put me there. After that, my next goal will be to become a dreaded “plutocrat” — translation: anyone who owns a business.

              1. Bryan Caskey

                “After that, my next goal will be to become a dreaded “plutocrat” — translation: anyone who owns a business.”

                Maybe I should put “Plutocrat” on my business cards.

                1. Doug Ross

                  How dare you, Bryan, contribute to the income inequality gap by starting your own business. The next thing you’ll probably do is hire people and pay them LESS than you and your partner. Shame! Shame!

              2. bud

                What an asinine comment. Really people just go check out the various metrics regarding income inequality in the U.S. It’s increased steadily since the late 70s. That should concern everyone. Flippant comments not withstanding.

                1. Doug Ross

                  Rich people spend money that provides jobs for others. What we are seeing is not an income inequality gap but a gap in intelligence, initiative, risk taking, forward thinking, tapping into global markets. Except for inheritance, it takes skills to get rich and stay rich. Skills that people like us who post on blogs don’t have.

                2. bud

                  Doug you’re making the long discredited trickle down argument. Growth was highest when income inequality was lowest.

                3. Doug Ross

                  I thought the Obama economy was sailing along? Are things good now or bad? Which is it? Obama had eight years to address the problem and didn’t. (Thankfully)

                  If you are uneducated or have skills in an area that are either commodities globally or not used any more, then you will naturally fall behind the rest of the world. We should be providing opportunities for those at the bottom to rise up on their own not offer more handouts to keep them where they’re at.

              3. Claus2

                I’m still trying to figure out how to get an Obamaphone and get the government to pay for my internet access. Because those are rights I deserve.

                1. Claus2

                  It was never known as that, maybe it’s known as the Obamaphone because he was President when everyone on welfare received one or more.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    It wasn’t known as that because people who hated Obama and also hated seeing any poor person receive anything from the government suddenly became aware of the long-standing program in the last few years.

                    The narrative came across as: That Obama, who as we all know is one of THEM, is giving THEM free stuff…

  12. Burl Burlingame

    Remember that the Repubs didn’t insist on delaying any nominees until after the election — they were waiting until there was a Repub president.

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