Saturday, January 19, 2019

Last Call For Shutdown Meltdown, Con't

As promised, Donald Trump offered a non-starter deal to Democrats on his border wall this afternoon in exchange for temporary DACA extensions, and the deal disintegrated before Trump even finished his speech.

On Saturday, in remarks billed as a “major announcement” on the border and the shutdown, Trump proposed a deal to Democrats. He continues to insist that any bill to reopen the government include billions of dollars for a physical barrier on the US-Mexico border — a “wall” — but is now open to such a bill including other immigration provisions as well.

Most notably, he’s open to extending existing protections for the 700,000 or so immigrants currently protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who currently have legal status under Temporary Protected Status. The Trump administration has moved to sunset DACA, and to end protections for most of the immigrants covered under TPS. Both of those plans are currently held up in litigation.

Democrats aren’t particularly interested in what Trump’s proposing. “Democrats were not consulted on this and have rejected similar overtures previously,” a Democratic aide told Vox. “It’s clearly a non-serious product of negotiations amongst White House staff to try to clean up messes the president created in the first place. POTUS is holding more people hostage for his wall.”

After weeks of all-or-nothing intransigence, Trump’s announcement Saturday indicates that the White House realizes they’re losing the shutdown in the eyes of most Americans, and are willing to compromise to reopen the government. But Democrats also know the White House is losing the shutdown, and the compromise now on offer is something they are unlikely to take.

Trump’s pitching this as a compromise: He wants the wall, Democrats want to help DACA and TPS recipients. But the deal isn’t the result of conversations with Democrats. It’s reportedly the result of discussions that Vice President Mike Pence and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner have had with congressional Republicans (most notably Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)).
And it shows. What Trump’s offering — temporary extensions of existing protections for both groups of immigrants — isn’t something that Democrats have been wildly enthusiastic about in the past. Furthermore, with Trump’s efforts to strip existing protections held up in court, it’s essentially a short extension of the status quo.

DACA recipients are currently being allowed to extend their protections for two years, just as they could under the Obama administration, while the administration fights in court to end the program. (People who don’t already have protections are no longer allowed to apply.) Without knowing when the Supreme Court will rule — or how the Trump administration will proceed if the Supreme Court agrees they can end DACA, since their original plan (issuing no renewals for expirations after March 2018) is obviously moot — it’s hard to say for sure that a three-year one-time extension will protect DACA recipients for longer than waiting for the Supreme Court.

In other words, Trump gets 100% of what he wants in exchange for Democrats maybe getting what they would already have as status quo under Obama if Trump hadn't immediately scrapped DACA in the first place.   Of course Nancy Pelosi told Trump to go to hell, and rightfully so.

Pelosi said in a statement before the speech that based on reports of the deal, she would not support it, calling it a "nonstarter" which was unlikely to pass the House.

"Unfortunately, initial reports make clear that his proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people's lives," Pelosi said. "For one thing, this proposal does not include the permanent solution for the Dreamers and TPS recipients that our country needs and supports."

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin also said in a statement that he would not support the rumored deal before the speech.

"First, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell must open the government today. Second, I cannot support the proposed offer as reported and do not believe it can pass the Senate. Third, I am ready to sit down at any time after the government is opened and work to resolve all outstanding issues," Durbin said.

Some conservatives also voiced their opposition to the deal. Right-wing commentator Ann Coulter tweeted: "Trump proposes amnesty. We voted for Trump and got Jeb!"

And of course the right wing nutjobs hate the deal.  Nobody likes it, and it'll never pass the Senate, let alone the House.  As we come up on 30 days, Trump is content to let tens of millions suffer.

The Kids Are Not Alright, Con't

A new Pew Research poll finds Generation Z, those born after 2000, are as liberal if not more so than Millennials.

On a range of issues, from Donald Trump’s presidency to the role of government to racial equality and climate change, the views of Gen Z – those ages 13 to 21 in 2018 – mirror those of Millennials.1 In each of these realms, the two younger generations hold views that differ significantly from those of their older counterparts. In most cases, members of the Silent Generation are at the opposite end, and Baby Boomers and Gen Xers fall in between.2

It’s too early to say with certainty how the views of this new generation will evolve. Most have yet to reach voting age, and their outlook could be altered considerably by changing national conditions, world events or technological innovations. Even so, two new Pew Research Center surveys, one of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 and one of adults ages 18 and older, provide some compelling clues about where they may be headed and how their views could impact the nation’s political landscape.

Only about three-in-ten Gen Zers and Millennials (30% and 29%, respectively) approve of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president. This compares with 38% of Gen Xers, 43% of Boomers and 54% of Silents. Similarly, while majorities in Gen Z and the Millennial generation say government should do more to solve problems, rather than that government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals, Gen Xers and Boomers are more evenly divided on this issue. For their part, most Silents would like to see a less activist government.

Of course, there are striking examples of Gen Z kids who are most certainly not liberal, and in fact are budding MAGA white supremacist assholes who make national news, like the kids right here in Northern Kentucky.

Covington Catholic High School faced backlash on social media Saturday morning after video was posted and widely shared showing a tense exchange between indigenous marchers and a group of young men in Washington, D.C.

The video shows a young man wearing a "Make America Great Again" cap standing near and staring at a man who is drumming as other young men surrounding them cheer and chant. Some of the onlookers appear to wear clothing bearing insignia from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills.

The man with the drum was participating in an Indigenous Peoples March, according to people who posted about the incident.

Twitter users condemned the incident as an attempt by the group to intimidate the marchers and called for a response from the school.

The Enquirer could not independently confirm that students from Covington Catholic were present during the incident or the origin of the video.

However, Laura Keener, the communications director with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, released a brief statement at about 12:15 p.m. Saturday:

"We are just now learning about this incident and regret it took place. We are looking into it."

Messages left with Covington Catholic Principal Bob Rowe and other school faculty members were not immediately returned Saturday.

The school's website says students planned to attend the March for Life event, held Friday in Washington, D.C., the same day as the Indigenous Peoples March.

The man with the drum is a Vietnam Veteran, by the way.  And yes, this is exactly what I mean when I say racism in America is not dying out, Trump gave white America permission to teach this to their Millennial and Gen Z kids, and that's exactly what's happening.  These smarmy little pricks are wearing MAGA hats on a school field trip on purpose, guys.  It is a symbol of power and privilege and hate, and it's perfectly acceptable.

This is the country that elected Donald Trump as goddamn POTUS.  It has always been this racist, every now and then the pendulum swings a bit and there's a brief window where we're able to reclaim a sliver of the lost humanity from 400 years ago.

And on the other end, there's Trump.  Make America Overtly Racist Again™.

Trump Cards, Con't

Americans just don't see a happy ending for the Trump era, for Trump, or for America itself. CNN's Harry Enten:

Poll of the week: A Pew Research Center poll released this week finds that 29% of Americans think President Donald Trump's presidency will be successful in the long term, 47% think it'll be unsuccessful and 23% say it is too early to tell
What's the point: The fact that more Americans think Trump will ultimately be an unsuccessful president than believe he'll be a successful one makes sense. The 18-point margin on that lines up nearly perfectly with his -22 point net approval rating (approval rating minus disapproval rating) in the same poll. 
What is notable is how many people have already made up their minds on Trump being unsuccessful. The 47% who said that are basically saying not just that they don't like the President now, but also that there's a very good chance they'll never like him. It gives Trump very little wiggle room in trying to bring up his low approval rating before his re-election. 
Last year, the gap between successful and unsuccessful was the same as it is now (18 points). The overall percentage of who thought Trump would be unsuccessful, though, was 6 points lower, at 41%. That is, Trump had more room to grow in the past. Now, people are settling in on their opinions of the President. 
The lack of people undecided on Trump is truly unusual. The other three presidents about whom this question was asked elicited much higher percentages of "too early to tell" than Trump. At this point in their presidencies, between 43% and 47% of Americans said it was too early to know if the president would be successful. Trump, at 23%, is 20 points below the lower part of this range. 
More amazing is what we see when we examine all the times Pew has asked this question. Even at the ends of the last three presidents' second terms, at least 26% of Americans still said it was too early to tell if those presidents were going to be successful. In other words, people are more locked in on their opinions of Trump now than they were at the ends of the second terms of the last three presidents. The 47% who say Trump's presidency will be unsuccessful is also higher than ever measured at any point in any term in the last 25 years for any president
The idea that people seem more decided on Trump than previous presidents is backed up by the approval trend line over his presidency. As Gallup recently noted, his approval rating over the first two years of his presidency was more stable than it was for any other president over his first years. Pew's future-looking question suggests that stability will continue. 
Indeed, a different question also points to the difficulty Trump will face going forward. His strongly disapprove rating in the Marist poll, at 45% this week, tied his previous all-time high for that pollster. By the Quinnipiac University poll's reading, his strongly disapprove rating stands at 50%. These are very high strong disapproval ratings. Trump is as strongly disliked now as President Richard Nixon was when he resigned in 1974.

So yes, America has made up its mind about Trump's "legacy" and it will be one of failure and scandal.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Marcy Wheeler notes that Thursday night's BuzzFeed News bombshell isn't just about Trump ordering Cohen to lie to Congress, it's about why he did that, and the answer, according to Wheeler, is that Putin has had the Sword of Damocles dangling over Trump's head for years now.

The BuzzFeed article makes it clear that [Felix] Sater’s GRU contact got back involved after Cohen’s conversation with Peskov’s assistant.

All of which is to say that when Cohen called [Dmitri] Peskov’s assistant, he would have told her that he was speaking on behalf of Donald Trump, that Trump remained interested in a Trump Tower in Moscow (as he had been in 2013, the last time Putin had dangled a personal meeting with Trump), and that on Trump’s behalf Cohen was willing to discuss making a deal involving both a sanctioned bank (whichever one it was) and a former GRU officer.

So it’s not just that Trump was pursuing a real estate deal while running for President. He was pursuing a real estate deal involving a sanctioned bank — possibly one sanctioned for its involvement in Crimea — and involving someone with ties to the intelligence agency that was preparing to hack Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager.
Cohen told Peskov’s assistant Trump was willing to negotiate that deal while running for President. The assistant wrote all that down (how Mueller knows this is an interesting question on its own right). And then she or Peskov passed on at least the content of the notes to get Putin’s office to contact Sater.

And all that happened before Trump performed unexpectedly well in the Iowa caucuses on February 1.

Of course, if that ever came out, Trump would be done.  And Trump has been fearing that for years now.

Last year, I argued that — pee tape or no — the kompromat Putin has on Trump consists of a series of receipts of Trump formally communicating his willingness to enter into a conspiracy with Russia, receipts that would be devastating if Putin released them.

What Cohen plea deal makes clear is that Putin pocketed the first of those receipts — a receipt showing Trump’s willingness to work with both sanctioned banks and the GRU — even before the first vote was cast. Even before GRU hacked its first Democratic target (though APT 29 had been spying on the Democrats since the previous summer).

Discussing a real estate deal is not, as Trump has repeated, illegal. If that’s all this were about, Trump and Cohen might not have lied about it.

But it’s not. Even before the GRU hacked John Podesta, even before Don Jr told his June 9 visitors that his dad would consider lifting sanctions if he got elected, Michael Cohen let a key Putin deputy know that Trump would be happy to discuss real estate deals that involved both partnering with the GRU and with sanctioned banks.

And Putin has been sitting on that receipt ever since.

It's a solid theory.  Unfortunately, the BuzzFeed News report from Thursday is not quite as solid.

For the Mueller team to actually comment on this piece is exceedingly rare. Of course, that might be part of the plan to contain what essentially is a major Mueller probe leak, and this could just be sussing out the holes. After all, it's not like Mueller was going to say WELL YEAH YOU GOT US CASE CLOSED or anything.

We'll see where this goes.
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