Monday Morning Open Thread: Happy Vernal Equinox


Apart from #Resisting, what’s on the agenda as we start another week (and season)?

A new Washington Post feature, from Media Columnist Margaret Sullivan — “Tracking the special treatment media get when they play nice with the White House“:

True, it is not the proper job of journalists to provide favorable coverage but rather to hold powerful figures accountable.

But that doesn’t get you far these days, at least in terms of access.

So we’ll be taking note of what does.

Consider Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent trip to North Asia — his first such foray. Tillerson broke with long-standing tradition by not including State Department reporters on this foreign trip. The norm is to have a solid group of reporters who provide “pool reports” to others not on the trip, so that American citizens might have a sense of what their government is doing abroad.

Tillerson had only one press representative with him: Erin McPike of the Independent Journal Review, a conservative website founded by Alex Skatell, a former Republican operative.

McPike has little experience covering foreign affairs and has been with IJR only a few weeks, but she had written a piece about why Tillerson might be avoiding the press and how well he and the president were working together behind the scenes to get things done…

The decision was a way to give access to a “broader representation of U.S. media,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters last week, adding, “This is just an attempt to reach beyond the usual suspects, and I’m not trying to say that in a demeaning way at all.”

Tillerson’s own words showed how little respect he has for journalists’ role in keeping citizens informed. He made it all about himself, telling McPike: “I’m not a big media press access person. I personally don’t need it.”…

If they’re not courtiers, what good are they? And I personally don’t need courtiers, so…

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Snow (Job) Day?

Not sure how much of DC will be shut down, so this next may or may not be postponed:

Here in the Boston exurbs, the weatherpersons are predicting somewhere between a foot and two feet of snow; I’m selfishly hoping the snow/sleet line doesn’t get this far north, because I’d rather move two feet of dry fluffy stuff than ten inches of frozen sludge…

Apart from March Snowmaggedon Madness (and you Left Coasters rolling your eyes), what’s on the agenda for the day?


And finally, happy news for us Washington Post subscribers — the Mad Bitcher is taking his talents elsewhere:

Monday Morning Open Thread: People Power

Probably a more viable alternative, at the present moment:

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — It had all the trappings of a campaign rally: the signs, the Bruce Springsteen songs on repeat, the clipboard-hugging volunteers in matching T-shirts.

But the 2,000-odd people in the University of Miami’s basketball arena were there to hear Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, try to recruit them into a legal army.

“It didn’t take a lot of work to fill this auditorium,” Romero said, as the screens surrounding him showed mass protests against President Trump. “People want to be deployed. They don’t just want to write you a check, or sign a petition. They want to be engaged. You want to be protagonists with us.”

The ACLU is spending millions of dollars on a plunge into grass-roots politics — a “People Power” campaign. It’s the newest and largest development from a sprawling “resistance” movement that regularly moves faster than the Democratic Party’s leaders can think and isn’t waiting on politicians for cues…

“We’ve seen this exponential growth in people becoming card-carrying members of the ACLU,” Romero said in an interview after his speech. “They’re younger. They’re in every state around the country. The biggest danger was in not doing something like this, where people get apathetic and they fall asleep.”

There’s little apparent risk of that, and the biggest organizations on the left, broadly defined, are staffing up to give it direction. The Center for American Progress is planning a grass-roots conference for “rising” activist groups in California next month, and an ideas conference in Washington one month later. Super PACs such as American Priorities have become promotion machines for the Indivisible movement, which in just a few months has begun to organize some local chapters as official nonprofit groups.

But no organization is transforming as quickly or as boldly as the ACLU. Since the 2016 election, it has tripled its membership to more than 1.2 million and raised more than $80 million, with plans to add 100 staff members to a team of about 300…

Here’s the ACLU website’s update. You can watch a recording of the whole session here.

More, from the Christian Science Monitor:

The event marked a distinct strategic shift for the civil liberties group, which has traditionally focused on courtroom litigation. The ACLU’s new campaign, PeoplePower, is the organization’s first grassroots mobilization effort in its nearly 100 years of existence, leaders say, driven by a recent surge in membership and widespread activism efforts across the country in the months since President Trump’s election victory. Since November, group membership has tripled to more than one million, with more than 135,000 people signed up to take part in the PeoplePower campaign as of Saturday.

“Before, our membership was largely older and much smaller,” ACLU executive director Anthony Romero told Reuters. “Our members would provide us with money so we could file the cases and do the advocacy. What’s clear with the Trump election is that our new members are engaged and want to be deployed.”…

Speaking at the event on Saturday, Mr. Romero said priority issues for the campaign are immigration, free speech and religious freedom rights, civil and reproductive rights, and LGBT rights.

“We will bring all the lawsuits necessary to defend these rights,” he said, as reported by the Associated Press. “We’ll do the work in the courts. You do the work in the streets. People are motivated. They want to be engaged.”

The Resistance Training coincided with the ACLU’s launch of a new grassroots online organizing platform,, a tool to help people planning a local protest or rally connect and coordinate with others around the country. The site will also provide details of ACLU initiatives…

Apart from staffing The Resistance, what’s on the agenda as we start another week?

Late-Night Sweet Little Leftovers Open Thread


Mmm, hamantaschen. My family wasn’t Jewish, but every sensible New Yorker takes advantage of ethnic bakeries during their various holidays. Purim, this year, actually ran from Saturday sundown to Sunday evening…

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Make It So — Cute!

Sir Patrick probably wouldn’t object to the comparison.

What’s on the agenda for the day, or the weekend?

Speaking of things that could cheer you up, from the Washington Post“Trump stumping for AHCA? Democrats aren’t worried”:

The three-phase Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act is intended to end with massive political pressure on Senate Democrats, who’ll face a choice: Vote with them on individual replacement bills, or be blamed for the American Health Care Act’s implementation going awry. The crux of the theory is that 10 Democrats face reelection next year in states won by Trump.

The problem with the theory is that those Democrats feel little pressure to vote Trump’s way.

“If he came to Michigan to campaign for this plan? I think it’d be terrific,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) at a Thursday news conference. “We’d welcome him to come to Michigan, and talk to the people who with all sincerity voted for him because they thought he was going to make their lives better. Let him talk about what happens when they lose health care, and when their parents lose health care.”

In the past, presidents trying to build support for their first-term agendas have reached out to the opposition party; when that’s failed, they’ve campaigned in their states. During his unsuccessful 2005 pitch for Social Security privatization, President George W. Bush flew into states like Nebraska, still represented by Democrats in the Senate, with the not-so-subtle suggestion that rejecting the presidential agenda would come with risks.

But some members of the Democrats’ 2018 class don’t see a risk in rejecting Trump…

The Democrats’ confidence comes from two main sources. The first is the AHCA itself, which offers nothing that appeals either to the party’s base or to interest groups that backed the ACA, such as AARP. The second is Trump, who Democrats do not see as a force even in some states that he won. In the states that voted for Barack Obama twice then for Trump — Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — the president’s favorable rating on Election Day was below 40 percent. In Iowa, the only one of those states polled recently, the Des Moines Register poll that accurately predicted a large Trump victory in 2016 found him last month with a wan 42 percent approval rating

Sunday Morning Open Thread: If They Can Keep Going, So Can We

New Yorkers are pretty blase about celebrities, but they’re also damned tired of Lord Smallgloves and his hangers-on, it would seem.

What’s on the agenda for the day, and the upcoming week?


Saturday Morning Open Thread: Out of the Darkness

(Drew Sheneman via

What’s on the agenda for the new day?