Schadenfreude Open Thread: The McConnell-Trump Marriage of Convenience Has Turned Very, Very Bitter

I, myself, am rooting for painful and potentially disfiguring injuries…

The relationship between President Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has disintegrated to the point that they have not spoken to each other in weeks, and Mr. McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises.

What was once an uneasy governing alliance has curdled into a feud of mutual resentment and sometimes outright hostility, complicated by the position of Mr. McConnell’s wife, Elaine L. Chao, in Mr. Trump’s cabinet, according to more than a dozen people briefed on their imperiled partnership. Angry phone calls and private badmouthing have devolved into open conflict, with the president threatening to oppose Republican senators who cross him, and Mr. McConnell mobilizing to their defense.

The rupture between Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell comes at a highly perilous moment for Republicans, who face a number of urgent deadlines when they return to Washington next month. Congress must approve new spending measures and raise the statutory limit on government borrowing within weeks of reconvening, and Republicans are hoping to push through an elaborate rewrite of the federal tax code. There is scant room for legislative error on any front…

Mr. McConnell has fumed over Mr. Trump’s regular threats against fellow Republicans and criticism of Senate rules, and questioned Mr. Trump’s understanding of the presidency in a public speech. Mr. McConnell has made sharper comments in private, describing Mr. Trump as entirely unwilling to learn the basics of governing.

In offhand remarks, Mr. McConnell has expressed a sense of bewilderment about where Mr. Trump’s presidency may be headed, and has mused about whether Mr. Trump will be in a position to lead the Republican Party into next year’s elections and beyond, according to people who have spoken to him directly…

Others in the party divide blame between Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell. Al Hoffman, a former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee who has been supportive of Mr. McConnell, said Mr. McConnell was culpable because he has failed to deliver legislative victories. “Ultimately, it’s been Mitch’s responsibility, and I don’t think he’s done much,” Mr. Hoffman said…
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Excellent Read: “Get Off Kamala Harris’s Back”

There’s been some much-deserved pushback to Ryan Cooper’s “only white men like me can be allowed to serve as True Progressives” manifesto — I particularly liked Wonkette‘s “Sure Guys, It Is Awesome That We Are Shitting On Kamala Harris” — but Brittney Cooper’s essay for Cosmopolitan definitely deserves wider distribution among us political types:

The future of the Democratic Party does not rest on the back of Kamala Harris, the junior senator from California. Furthermore, it is unfair for the Democratic Party to keep hanging its hope on black messianic figures, whom it hopes can bring new relevance to a struggling party. To be clear, there is a lot to like about Harris, the first black woman to hold a Senate position since Carol Moseley-Braun in the 1990s. Despite Ryan Cooper’s screed last week about “why leftists don’t trust Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Deval Patrick,” Harris’s policy positions on free college, single payer health care, an increased minimum wage, and criminal justice reform, are solidly to the left. Still. Black women are not Jesus. It’s not right to expect us to fix what white Americans are so committed to breaking. This debate, then, isn’t about Harris, but about the emotional and political labor that black women are expected to do to save America’s soul…

The biggest lie that members of the so-called “Sanders Left” told during the 2016 elections is that there was no appreciable difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. After six months of having Donald J. Trump lead the country, it’s quite clear that the left should have listened to 94 percent of black women voters. We know a disaster when we see one.

Now, to add insult to injury, those on the left are conceding the political narrative of the right. What do I mean? Did Hillary Clinton lose the election with 3 million more popular votes, or did the Trump campaign collude with the Russians while the GOP engaged in massive voter suppression to steal the election? Yes, I get the electoral college system. However, 3 million more popular votes is a win, and not only is there mounting evidence of collusion, but voter suppression was a significant problem, too. As a black “xennial” voter, I was horrified watching the GOP roll back the protection of the Voting Rights Act in locales across the country. So while it is true that if less than 53 percent of white women had voted for Donald Trump, Clinton’s popular victory might have been more resounding, there is something deeply wrong with a Left that thinks the first problem in a stolen democratic election is not theft and voter suppression but a failure to run up the vote totals on the clearly winning side…

In 2016, we were offered two kinds of revolution, one in which the “Sanders Left” tore shit down and one in which the Trump Right tore shit up. Surely you can see why black women, the ones who have been called to take the scraps handed to us by the nation and painstakingly build communities, families, and institutions, would turn down the sledgehammer no matter which white hand was holding it. Revolutionary destruction is still destruction, and black folks are the casualties of these kinds of political visions. Kamala Harris has work to do. But bearing the cross of the Democratic Party and fighting off angry white Sanders voters isn’t her work. So get off her back, and let her soar. In case you missed the memo: Black women are reclaiming our time.



Open Thread: You Come At the Queen…

Cue the Somewhat Soiled Lady, a day late and a hot-take short — “Nancy Pelosi Tells Democratic Critics, ‘I Think I’m Worth the Trouble’”:

The House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, strolled before the cameras on Thursday with defeat at her back once more, projecting a well-worn swagger — brash, defiant, more than a little off key — as she insisted that her moment had not passed…

With six words, Ms. Pelosi, 77, demonstrated the self-assurance that has powered her as one of the most successful congressional leaders in the modern era. Yet even as Democrats enjoy a surge of grass-roots energy that could resurrect their House majority, some members of Ms. Pelosi’s own party are impatient for her to give up her 15-year grip on power.

She is the Democrat most crucial to determining whether her party can take back the House and torpedo President Trump’s agenda — an avatar of the kind of coastal excess that Republicans abhor and that some progressives have come to view suspiciously in an age of ascendant populism.

“Everybody wants leaders,” she said in an interview in her office at the Capitol, during which she was often as dismissive of critics in her own party as she was of the Republican opposition. “Not a lot of people want to be led.”
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While Weasels Gnaw Our Flesh

Just a quick hit to remind everyone that while the criminal investigation of Trump and co. widens, they’re still pissing on us at every opportunity, and calling it rain.

So how’s this: it’s going to be legal again/stay OK for profit-making higher ed to rip off their students/protect the banksters:

The U.S. Department of Education is hitting pause on two of the Obama administration’s primary rules aimed at reining in for-profit colleges.

Department officials said they will block a rule, set to take effect next month, that clarifies how student borrowers can have their loans forgiven if they were defrauded or misled by their college. The plan was first reported by Inside Higher Ed Wednesday.

The Trump administration will pursue a do-over of the rule-making process that produced that regulation, known as borrower defense to repayment, as well as the gainful-employment rule. The latter holds vocational programs at all institutions and all programs at for-profits accountable when they produce graduates with burdensome student loan debt.

Given that college debt is one of the most iron-clad ways to crush upward mobility, this is another move by Trump and the grotesque DeVos to ensure that the current class structure in the United States remains intact.

Putting this in the long view:  the GI Bill, followed by the prioritization of public higher education in the 60s by leaders like Governor Pat Brown of California and Governor George Romney of Michigan, put first class advanced education and training within reach of an unprecedented amount of Americans.  The retreat from that ideal led by (mostly but not exclusively) Republican state governments, beginning with Reagan in California and then in the White House, have incrementally narrowed that opportunity.  Now, the combinatio of cost and constraints on access meant that the debt involved makes higher education as much or more a burden as it is the engine of a better life.

Today’s Republican party is just fine with that.  DeVos is not an outlier; this isn’t on Trump, or only on him.  The idea that higher ed (or education in general) is a business in which students are the product on whom to make a profit is utterly destructive of either a democratic ideal or any plausible concept of social justice.  And it is the core tenet of today’s radical conservatives calling themselves members of the Party of Lincoln.

One last thought:  I had dinner last week with a Democratic Party senior statesman.  He told me that in his view we’ve made the mistake of thinking better policies are argument enough for elections.  They’re not; we surely know that now, right?

Instead we have to convey something more, the framework in which specific good policies can work.  DeVos’ current obscenity gives us a hint as to what that might be. Republicans throw obstacles in the way of Americans making better lives.  Democrats are — and we should say so as loud as we can — the party of opportunity.

At least that’s my take.  I know it’s hardly original.  But whatever the particular frame you may favor, I think one of our biggest needs right now is to find a way to both describe and be (ever more) the party that can lay claim to affirmative allegiance, and not just the true fact that we are better than the other side.  Your feeling?

(Oh — and happy Father’s Day, all.  This thread should be open enough to tell us your plans, completed or still in prospect, for the day.  Mine? Pick up one of the rib-eyes on sale at Whole Paycheck today, and smoke it in the Weber egg.)

Image: Winslow Homer, The Country School 1871



Muslim Ban 2.0 — First Time Tragedy; Second Time Tragic Farce

I’ll leave it to the more knowledgeable among us to dissect (looking at you, Adam…). But the greatest hits are about what I’d expected.  Iraq’s off the list as we owe too much to too many there.  The other six countries from the original order remain, though the specific restrictions are a little different than in Fear The Furriner version one.  Here’s The Washington Post‘s take:

President Trump signed a new travel ban Monday that administration officials said they hope will end legal challenges over the matter by imposing a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas for citizens of six majority-Muslim nations, authorities said.

In addition, the nation’s refu­gee program will be suspended for 120 days, and it will not accept more than 50,000 refugees in a year, down from the 110,000 cap set by the Obama administration.

 

The goal is obviously to deliver some red meat to the Trump base while sliding past inconvenient judicial reality tests. Trumpistas are already suggesting that the administration should not have to justify the order in court, despite evidence that there is no net national security gain from a Muslim ban:

A Department of Homeland Security report assessing the terrorist threat posed by people from the seven countries covered by President Trump’s original travel ban had cast doubt on the necessity of the executive order, concluding that citizenship was an “unreliable” threat indicator and that people from the affected countries have rarely been implicated in U.S.-based terrorism.

The Department of Homeland Security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, criticized the report as being incomplete and not vetted with other agencies, and he also asserted the administration should not be pressed by the judiciary to unveil sensitive national security details to justify the ban.

“This is not something that the Department of Justice should have to represent to a federal-district court judge,” the official said.

We shall see.

Over to y’all.

Image: Benjamin West, The Ambassador from Tunis with His Attendants as He Appeared in England in 1781, 1781



The Common Inheritance, The Common Defense

A bit of self promotion here, but I’ve got a piece in today’s Boston Globe that might be of interest to some here.

It’s a look at what the idea of the commons — not just the abstract, model commons of Garrett Hardin’s famous essay, but the historical commons as actually lived and used — can tell us about current problems.  The TL:DR is that commons are not inherently prone to tragedy, but that the preservation of communal goods requires…wait for it…communal action: regulation, self-regulation.

This is, of course, exactly what the Republican Party denies — more, loathes and condemns.  With Trump, they’re getting their way, but its vital to remember that the consequences that will flow from these decisions are not down to him, or simply so: the entire Republican power structure is eager to do this, and when we pay the price, we must remember who ran up the bill.

Anyway, here’s a taste from my piece.  Head on over to the Globe’s site if you want more.

The idea of the commons is deeply woven through the history of the English countryside. Shakespeare captured this idyllic approach to nature’s wealth in “As You Like It,” when the shepherd Corin explains to the cynic Touchstone the joys of his life. “I earn that I eat, get that I wear,” he says, adding that “the greatest of my pride is to see my ewes graze and my lambs suck” — in the unowned, readily shared Forest of Arden.

There can be trouble in such an Eden, as Hardin pointed out in an influential 1968 paper. Hardin asked what would happen if access to a commons were truly unfettered — if Corin and every other villager ran as many sheep as they could there. In such cases, Hardin argued, the endgame is obvious: Too many animals would eat too much fodder, leaving the ground bare, unable to support any livestock at all.

The evolution of resistance to antibiotics fits that story perfectly. The first modern bacteria-killing drug, penicillin, came into widespread use in 1944, as American laboratories raced to produce millions of doses in time for D-Day. The next year, its discoverer, Alexander Fleming, used his Nobel Prize lecture to describe precisely how this wonder drug could lose its power, telling the sad tale of a man who came down with a strep infection. In his tale, Mr. X didn’t finish his course of penicillin, and his surviving microbes, now “educated” (Fleming’s term), infected his wife. When her course of penicillin failed to eradicate these now-resistant microbes, Mrs. X died — killed, Fleming said, by her husband’s carelessness. It took just one more year for this fable to turn into fact: In 1946, four American soldiers came down with drug-resistant gonorrhea, the first such resistance on record.

 

Go on — check it out.  You want to hear about the great Charnwood Forest rabbit riot.  You know you do…

Image: Jacopo da Ponte, Sheep and Lambc. 1650.



Open Thread: Tom Perez for DNC Chair

Former Vice President Joe Biden is backing Tom Perez to head the Democratic National Committee, calling the former Obama administration labor secretary the “best bet to help bring the party back.”

Biden’s endorsement — a sign of Perez’s strong support among former Obama administration officials — drew a sharp response from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, escalating the relatively sleepy party chairman battle into a fight between the liberal wing that supported Sanders’ insurgent primary bid and backers of Hillary Clinton….

Biden cast Perez, a Dominican-American civil rights lawyer who grew up in the Rust Belt, as a tireless champion of working Americans, immigrants and the disabled.

“He knows how to explain why our party’s core beliefs matter to the immigrant family in Arizona and the coal miner in West Virginia. That matters,” Biden said in a statement. “I’ve watched him work. I think I know his heart. That’s why I endorse him as the next chairman of the DNC.”

Perez, who was quietly urged by the White House to jump into the race, faces his stiffest competition from Ellison…

Along with Perez and Ellison, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, South Carolina Democratic Chairman Jaime Harrison, New Hampshire Democratic Chairman Raymond Buckley, Democratic strategist Jehmu Greene and the executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party, Sally Boynton Brown, are in the race…

When the BernieBros first glommed on to Rep. Ellison as the sock puppet for their one true lord & savior, I was willing to let Ellison have it, even if it meant running another no-doubt-expensive campaign to hold his “safe” seat. Partly because Ellison’s been a staunch Democrat, and partly because there were all these rumors that President Obama would be transitioning his OfA platform into a voting-rights / voting-registration powerhouse that would pretty much replace most of what the DNC is supposed to do anyways.

But I’ve liked Tom Perez more and more, as the campaign went on. And now that Bernie Sanders has signed up for a CNN “debate on Obamacare” with Ted Cruz (predicted conclusion: It’s all that Obama guy’s fault, also every single Democrat and their entire party suxxs)… fuck that greedy little egotist and all his deluded diehard followers with the farm implement of your choice.

Sanders wants to represent the Democrats, let him join the Democratic Party, and stop hotdogging around as The Only Remaining Pure Spirit, Make Checks Out to Cash. And for the Democratic National Committee: TEAM PEREZ.
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