Late Night Update: There Will Be A Runoff in Georgia

Per CNN:

Republicans were served another reminder of President Donald Trump’s unpopularity Tuesday as Democrat Jon Ossoff nearly captured a House seat in a region that for decades has been a conservative stronghold, with the Democrat ultimately falling just short of the percent needed to avoid a runoff.

CNN projects that Ossoff will miss the 50% he needed to win outright. He and the other top vote-getter — Republican candidate Karen Handel — will now face off on their own in June.

The hotly contested race carried major implications as a gauge of the President’s popularity — and Trump himself seemed to grasp the high stakes, playing a direct role in its closing days.

Democrats saw it as an opportunity to drive a wedge between Trump and congressional Republicans fearful that he could drag down the party in the 2018 midterms — while also delivering a psychic boost to an energized progressive base.

They nearly pulled it off. And two months later, Ossoff will get a second shot in a one-on-one runoff with Handel albeit an uphill climb now that the Republican vote in a reliably GOP district will be consolidated behind one candidate…

“There is no doubt that this is already a victory for the ages,” Ossoff told supporters late Tuesday night. “That no matter what the outcome is tonight — whether we take it all or whether we fight on — we have survived the odds. We have shattered expectations. We are changing the world. And your voices are going to ring out across this state and across this country.”

Even after Ossoff left the stage, many supporters stuck around, chanting, “Flip the Sixth!”…

The near-death experience for Republicans — on the heels of one a week earlier in Kansas, where Democrats nearly flipped a deep-red district — could still have the effect of leading GOP lawmakers in competitive states and districts to seek distance from the President, making it even more difficult for Trump to advance his agenda on Capitol Hill.

In Tuesday’s results, Democrats saw more evidence of a playing field for the 2018 midterm elections that has drastically expanded — and given the party’s 10 senators up for re-election in states that Trump won some breathing room…

That’s a hopeful thought:



Friday Morning Open Thread: She Persists

… And she hopes we can, too.

What’s on the agenda as we wait for the latest Trumpstuntin’ dung doc drop?
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Speaking of persisting…



Wednesday Evening Open Thread: Nancy SMIRK!

The Trumpcare blame game is getting worse, with Heritage Action blaming the moderate Tuesday Group for the lack of progress in last night’s talks and House GOP leadership blaming the conservative Freedom Caucus. But everyone seems to agree on one thing: Congress should give the talks a break and go on recess rather than meeting again today…

There had been tentative plans for more talks today between Vice President Mike Pence and Hill Republicans, but there’s now a growing sense that another meeting before recess would be a waste of time.

Remember, it’s not bragging if you’ve actually done it.

Apart from schadenfreude, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Open Thread: Nuclear Justice

(Matt Davies via GoComics.com)
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Good for the Democrats — they should keep fighting the Gorsuch charade, no matter how sad it makes the Media Village Idiots. Per the Washington Post:

Senate Democrats secured enough votes to filibuster the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, increasing the likelihood that Republicans will change the rules of the U.S. Senate to ensure his confirmation later this week.

Democratic opposition to Gorsuch has been building for days, and four more senators announced on Monday that they would vote against him and support a filibuster of his nomination. That gave Democrats the requisite 41 votes to put up a roadblock and compel President Trump and Senate Republicans to either withdraw Gorsuch’s nomination or change Senate procedure.

With Trump and Republicans vowing that Gorsuch will be confirmed despite any filibuster, a change in how the Senate does business — the so-called nuclear option — is expected by Friday…

The outcome of the panel’s vote was never in doubt — Republicans hold a majority of seats on the committee and Gorsuch was approved on a party-line vote. But the testy hearing foreshadowed what is likely to be a combative week over the merits of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee and the way both parties have behaved during years of feuding over the makeup of the federal court system.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) and Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) indicated on Monday that they would oppose Gorsuch and vote against cloture — or the motion to end a filibuster that is required to hold a final up-or-down confirmation vote.

During an hours-long committee hearing, Leahy, the longest-serving member on the panel, criticized Gorsuch’s answers during his marathon confirmation hearing as “excruciatingly evasive.” He said that a GOP move to end filibusters of Supreme Court nominees would damage the Senate but argued that he had to vote his conscience, even if it pushes Republicans to change the rules.

“I cannot vote solely to protect an institution when the rights of hard-working Americans are at risk,” he said, “because I fear that the Senate I would be defending no longer exists.”

The longer the spotlight shines on Gorsuch, the more threadbare his lying professions of absolute innocent impartiality show. The Repubs have been trying to turn the Supreme Court into their rubber stamp since at least the days of Richard ‘Mediocre people are entitled to a little representation too’ Nixon; if they insist on being rabid partisans, we can at least deny them the pleasure of hiding behind hypocrisy when they do.



Open Thread: Best April Fool Prank in… Well, Forever

Per the Hollywood Reporter:

The actor tweeted that he will be running for a seat in Congress before posting another tweet hours later indicating that it was just a joke.

Actor George Takei, best known for his role as Mr. Sulu on the original Star Trek television series, got in on the April Fools’ Day action early, posting on Twitter late Friday night Pacific Time (but after midnight on the East Coast) that he was running for Congress…

This news from io9 sounds very cool, also:

George Takei’s recounts of his time at a Japanese-American internment camp have been put to page and brought to the stage. Now, he’s signed a book detail with IDW Publishing to create a graphic novel about what it was like for those imprisoned because of their heritage.

According to a press release, the graphic novel will dive into President Roosevelt’s unconscionable Executive Order 9066, which authorized the internment of over 100,000 people, most of them American citizens, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Takei was 5 years old when he was taken to a camp, and the graphic novel will dive into his story and show how his experiences helped him become who he is today.

Takei has been extremely vocal about violations of civil liberties in the United States, especially in the wake of President Donald Trump’s violent rhetoric and thinly veiled threats against, among many others, Mexican Americans and Muslim Americans. Takei made headlines in 2015 when he left a seat open for Trump during the Broadway run of Allegiance, the musical also based on his life story. Trump never took him up on his offer…



Thursday Morning Open Thread: Now You Wanna Be Our Buddy?

The South Boston Democrat is among those who received a formal invitation to meet next week with Trump’s director of legislative affairs, Marc Short, as the White House makes a renewed push to cultivate moderate Democrats.

“I was asked if I would be interested in going over to the White House for a meeting,” Lynch said in a statement to the Globe. “They said they were looking for ‘moderate’ Democrats – which I am. But under the circumstances I felt like they were trying to divide our party so I declined the invitation.”

“My feeling is that the Trump White House has taken a ‘scorched earth’ approach so far,” he added. “I am usually someone who looks for middle ground, but Mr. Trump’s opening position, especially as reflected in his budget, has been so extreme that there is no middle ground. It’s a non-starter for me.”…

Lynch is the most conservative member of the Massachusetts delegation, and has in the past shown a willingness to buck Democratic Party lines. In 2010, he was one of the few to vote against final passage of President Obama’s health care bill.

Think of Steve Lynch as a low-profile version of Long Island’s Pete King; he’s got a job for life, as long as he doesn’t get crosswise of his base, whose strongest impulse is to reject anything not of its Tribe and its Tribal Traditions (aka ‘Southie Pride’). Lynch voters may not have been Trump voters, but they were at the very least Trump-persuadable. If Steverino is publicly spurning the outstretched Repub hand now, it means that Lord Smallgloves’ mojo has lost its magic, at least here in the redder reaches of the Peoples’ Commonwealth.

Which is a bit of a problem, if you read the Washington Post, company paper for the town whose monopoly industry is national politics:

Congressional Republicans are working aggressively to craft an agreement intended to keep the government open past April 28, but their bid to avert a shutdown hinges on courting Democrats wary of President Trump and skirting the wrath of hard-line conservatives and Trump himself.

The murky path forward on government funding sparked unease Wednesday within the business community and at the Capitol, where Republicans speculated that Trump’s request for money to build a wall along the border with Mexico and $30 billion in new defense spending may need to be delayed to avoid a shutdown…

But for the moment, neither House nor Senate Democratic leaders have committed to supporting a spending plan. Bipartisan committee negotiations are underway, and crucial elements of an agreement remain unfinished. Democrats, too, bring their own challenges to the negotiating table. They are under pressure from their liberal base to oppose virtually everything that Trump and Republicans do — especially, in the case of the budget, funding for a border wall. But they and most of their supporters also favor keeping government open, and they are vulnerable to being accused of hypocrisy if they are seen as playing a part in causing a shutdown after years criticizing Republicans for doing the same.

Meanwhile, several congressional aides said that Republicans are agitated by the lack of clarity from White House officials over a strategy to avert the awkward theater of a Republican-driven shutdown on the watch of a Republican president…

But wait — this time, there’s a Plan B!


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Why must everybody laugh at his mighty sword?



Late Night Open Thread: Trumpcare, Not Dead Yet! (*Thunk*)

The NYTimes:

House Republican leaders and the White House, under extreme pressure from conservative activists, have restarted negotiations on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, with House leaders declaring that Democrats were celebrating the law’s survival prematurely.

Just days after President Trump said he was moving on to other issues, senior White House officials are now saying they have hope that they can still score the kind of big legislative victory that has so far eluded Mr. Trump. Vice President Mike Pence was dispatched to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for lunchtime talks.

“We’re not going to retrench into our corners or put up dividing lines,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said after a meeting of House Republicans that was dominated by a discussion of how to restart the health negotiations. “There’s too much at stake to get bogged down in all of that.”…

Mr. Ryan declined to say what might be in the next version of the Republicans’ repeal bill, nor would he sketch any schedule for action. But he said Congress needed to act because insurers were developing the premiums and benefit packages for health plans they would offer in 2018, with review by federal and state officials beginning soon.

The new talks, which have been going on quietly this week, involve Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, and members of the two Republican factions that helped sink the bill last week, the hard-right Freedom Caucus and the more centrist Tuesday Group.

Any deal would require overcoming significant differences about how to rework a law that covers about one-fifth of the American economy, differences that were so sharp they led Mr. Trump and Mr. Ryan to pull the bill from consideration just as the House was scheduled to vote on Friday…

Meanwhile, per Politico:

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent a letter to her caucus Tuesday, requesting members send their ideas to strengthen the law as soon as possible. Pelosi and ranking members of the committees with health care jurisdiction will discuss the proposals in a meeting Wednesday morning.

“After the collapse of TrumpCare, we must ensure that the Trump Administration does not sabotage the ACA out of spite,” Pelosi wrote. “Then, we can work to improve and update the Affordable Care Act and the health security it provides tens of millions of Americans.”

Pelosi ended the letter by calling last week’s repeal collapse, which stemmed from dwindling Republican support and unified Democratic opposition, a “thrilling success.” Democrats aren’t planning to introduce a full-scale alternative or even a comprehensive overhaul but are looking at specific areas within the 2010 health care law to target for improvement…

Read more