Tuesday Morning Open Thread

Also from Catherine Rampell, in the Washington Post“Trump’s narrative is nonsense. So why is the media buying it?”:

Yes, Democrats can walk and chew gum at the same time. The problem right now is that all anyone ever asks about is the gum-chewing…

There have been a lot of other issues — kitchen table issues, you might even say — that Democrats have also been pursuing, and to which pundits like me haven’t given sufficient time or attention. Many of the proposals are good, some are bad; but, in any case, it’s hard to argue that Democrats have been underinvesting in policy because they’re overinvesting in oversight…

One major bill addresses drug costs (by banning pay-for-delay generic prescription agreements) and repeals Trump’s expansion of junk insurance plans (which often don’t cover preexisting conditions). Another bill attempts to narrow the gender pay gap. Another would require the United States to remain in the Paris climate accord, while another reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act.

Still another is a sweeping anti-corruption and election integrity measure. That may not exactly be a “kitchen table” issue, but it should theoretically appeal to all those Trumpkins who say they want to drain the swamp.

Again, these bills have all already passed the House. The reason they remain bills, rather than enacted legislation, is not that they’re being crowded out by Democrats’ supposedly all-consuming impeachment agenda. It’s that the Republican-controlled Senate refuses to take them up.

And Trump himself is not exactly trying to move the ball forward, including on issues with opportunities for bipartisan consensus. Such as, oh, infrastructure — which, as you might recall, was the subject of the meeting Trump stormed out of last week, for his preplanned news conference on how Democrats supposedly only cared about investigating the president.

Which is to say: If anyone is too laser-focused on the threat of impeachment, it ain’t the Democrats. It’s the object of that potential impeachment, aided and abetted by a media he manages so masterfully.

2020 Election Thread: The DNC’s Random Draw

When it gets Chuck Todd excited, you know it’s not good for the Democrats:

A new rule adopted by the Democratic National Committee and NBC News will evenly divide top-tier candidates across two nights in the first Democratic presidential primary debates in June, a move to maintain viewer interest in both events by making sure well-known contenders are on stage both nights.

Democrats getting at least 2 percent support in the polling average will be randomly and evenly split between the two nights, which will each feature 10 candidates, according to the formula obtained by POLITICO. Candidates below that threshold will also be evenly and randomly divided between the two debate lineups…

Eight candidates have a polling average at or above 2 percent right now: Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. With the newly announced rule, four would be guaranteed to appear on the first night, and four would be guaranteed to appear on the second night.

Biden and Sanders, currently occupying first and second place in most polls, will still have a close to 50-50 chance of appearing on the same night — about the same odds they would have under a purely random draw that does not break the field into two groups.

According to a POLITICO analysis, 19 candidates have qualified for the first debates on June 26-27 in Miami: Biden, Booker, Steve Bullock, Buttigieg, Julián Castro, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Harris, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, Sanders, Eric Swalwell, Warren, Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang.

Thirteen of those candidates — Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Gabbard, Harris, Inslee, Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Sanders, Warren, Williamson and Yang — have crossed both thresholds, virtually guaranteeing them a spot in one of the two nights…

So both Wednesday and Thursday will feature four potential candidates, plus five or six randomly chosen no-hopers, wannabes, and publicity hounds. No wonder Chuckles is fondling his facial hair in glee at the prospect. (And Murphy the Trickster God forbid that Biden, Buttigieg, O’Rourke and Sanders all draw the Wednesday spot.) Were I in charge, no candidate who couldn’t poll at least 2% would be permitted in the auditorium, much less on the stage.

Of course, this rigamarole was put into place mostly to placate one noisy group of (theoretically) Democratic voters, so of course they are pleased with the due attention paid to their complaints. Suuuure they are:

I know going from “angry young rebel” to “aging old crank” is common enough to be a trope, but there are few examples as stark as that of Matt Taibbi. Unless you include Taibbi’s inspiration here, but as far as I can tell, that dude was an aging old crank by the time he was old enough to decamp from Brooklyn to Chicago (before fleeing to Vermont).

Russiagate Open Thread: Speaking of Reagan Administration Malfeasance, Here’s A Fawn Hall for the New Generation

If you want a ‘responsible’ newspaper to gin up false sympathy for a treason-adjacent GOP minion, the NYTimes is your outlet. And if you want a reporter who’ll do a dishonest job with real dedication, Maggie Habermann is your willing gull:

Like few others in the White House, Ms. Hicks was witness to some of the president’s angriest moments and most pointed directives about the investigations into the Trump campaign and its contacts with Russians in 2016. Her dilemma now is how to respond to House Democrats, who have grown frustrated and increasingly aggressive in the face of a sweeping decision by the Trump administration, and the Trump Organization, to oppose such subpoenas.

Ms. Hicks was instructed by the House Judiciary Committee to turn over documents by June 4 and to appear in person on June 19. She and another former West Wing aide, Annie Donaldson, who was the chief of staff to Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel at the time, were subpoenaed to testify…

A White House spokesman did not respond to an email seeking comment about whether they will instruct Ms. Hicks to follow Mr. McGahn’s lead, or what legal grounds they might invoke to do so. But for Ms. Hicks, the options are fraught.

Witnesses have generally followed the White House lead, in part because of institutional concerns about areas that could be viewed as covered by executive privilege. But if Ms. Hicks does not cooperate, she would potentially be in legal jeopardy with the House.

The likeliest possibility would be a compromise, where she would submit to an interview as long as certain topics are off limits. More recently, Mr. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., reached a deal with the Senate Intelligence Committee to come in for a limited interview, after he balked at a subpoena…

Always there with a helpful suggestion, our Ms. Haberman!

(Side note: The Washington Post — which is interested in the business of politics, not the politics of our oligarchical ‘betters’ — chose to focus on note-taker Annie Donaldson, not ego-fluffer Hope Hicks. And they got there almost a month ago, because honest reporting takes less time than beat-sweetening.)

Fisking by Emptywheel, who’s an expert at this:

Read more

“Shocking” News: Elizabeth Warren Is Extremely Competent!

Annie Linskey has been paid to hate-stalk her since Elizabeth Warren first challenged Scott Brown; she’s got a real shot at being this election cycle’s Amy Chozick. Read anything she produces with that bias firmly in mind.

Stripped of its some people say innuendo, the ‘news’ is that Elizabeth Warren was a very good bankruptcy-law expert, and firms who could afford the best were willing to compensate her accordingly. I guess Trump’s go-to racial slur is no longer working so effectively, so his Media Village defenders are switching to the ‘This woman accepted money from rich people!!!’ kabuki-outrage that worked so effectively against HRClinton. The ‘raises questions’ crap about whether taking money from asbestos manufacturers or Dow Chemical to get the best possible compensation for their victims was extensively pundit-litigated during Warren’s first Senatorial campaign, and it didn’t work then, but no doubt Linskey and her cronies will do their best to make it the new ButHerEmails:

Warren’s presidential campaign released a list of 56 cases on her website on Wednesday night, revealing a far higher number of cases than Warren (D-Mass.) had previously disclosed and lending detail to an aspect of her career that she rarely discusses in public…

“Elizabeth was one of the nation’s top experts on how to make sure victims hurt by bankrupt companies eventually got paid,” Warren’s website said Wednesday night. “Throughout her career, she worked to help set up trusts and other mechanisms to return $27 billion to victims and their families.”

A nationally recognized expert in bankruptcy law, Warren consulted for more than a dozen committees representing claimants and creditors in these cases, often in partnership with the law firm Caplin & Drysdale, for an hourly rate of $675…

Details about Warren’s compensation were scant in court records. Documents reviewed by The Post showed that Warren made at least $462,321.75 from her work in 13 cases, although the total for those cases might be much higher. Warren has released only her last 10 years of tax returns, and much of her legal consulting work is not reflected in those documents.

The Post found that Warren took on outside legal work in as early as 1991, when she was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The work appears to have picked up in 1995, when she joined the faculty at Harvard Law School, and intensified through the early 2000s as she worked on a series of mass tort bankruptcies.

Warren’s roles in these cases varied. At times, she served as an expert witness or filed briefs; at other times, she advised fellow attorneys or represented clients directly. She worked in more than 20 different courts, including the Supreme Court, where she worked on at least eight cases…

Note the new standard, per my emphasis: “only” the last ten years’ tax returns. Sometimes I wish hypocrisy at this level was physically painful.

Warren Says NOPE to Fox News Town Hall

Good for her:

I get why Democratic presidential primary candidates appear on Fox: It burnishes their bipartisan bona fides and can generate a lot of positive press from a Beltway media that is determined to uphold Fox News’ legitimacy as a “sister organization,” as Jake Tapper once called it.

But while preening hacks like Tapper may coo over the alleged bravery of Dems who appear on the TrumpCo propaganda outlet, in my book, Warren’s is the more courageous approach. She’s standing up for something more important than a momentary bump in the polls or both-sidesy hack approval; she’s standing up for the truth, which is that Fox News is a white grievance/racism distribution network that has done incalculable damage to America. Warren, quoted in HuffPo:

“A Democratic town hall gives the Fox News sales team a way to tell potential sponsors it’s safe to buy ads on Fox ― no harm to their brand or reputation (spoiler: it’s not),” she said. “I won’t ask millions of Democratic primary voters to tune into an outlet that profits from racism and hate in order to see our candidates ― especially when Fox will make even more money adding our valuable audience to their ratings numbers.”

So far, Sanders and Klobuchar have done a Fox News town hall, and Gillibrand and Buttigieg have scheduled one. Castro is said to be “in the process of scheduling one,” and Booker, O’Rourke and Harris are considering it.

Again, it might work out for those individual candidates as a campaign strategy, but appearing on Fox News undermines the larger and ongoing project of documenting the network’s relentless bias and discrediting it as a legitimate news source outside wingnut circles. People like Jane Mayer have done great work to that end, and when Democratic presidential candidates appear on Fox News, they undermine that work. That’s not brave. It’s selfish.