Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Last Call For Shutdown Meltdown, Con't

The Trump regime's delegitimization of the free press continues, with Trump announcing on Twitter today that the month-long shutdown gap since the last White House press briefing will continue for the foreseeable future.

President Trump said Tuesday that he directed White House press secretary Sarah Sanders “not to bother” with press briefings because he believes that reporters are rude to her and that most members of the media will not cover the administration fairly.

Press briefings, which used to be a near-daily occurrence, have become a rarity in the Trump White House. Sanders has not provided an on-camera briefing for more than a month, including the duration of the partial government shutdown.

“The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the ‘podium’ much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press,” Trump said on Twitter. “I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway! Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!”

Trump’s tweet came shortly after White House spokesman Hogan Gidley was asked about the subject during a live interview on Fox News.

Gidley said the briefings had not permanently ended.

“It’s not that they ever stopped, but sometimes we need to come to the podium to communicate things and sometimes we don’t,” Gidley said, adding that Sanders would “come back when she finds a reason to do that.”

Gidley cited Trump’s frequent public appearances as one reason the briefings have diminished in number.

Sanders last appeared at the White House podium Dec. 18.

She and other White House officials have spoken to reporters in more-informal gaggles on the White House driveway several times since then. Most often, those sessions occur after television interviews conducted from the White House grounds.

Don't expect any more White House press briefings, frankly.  You will know what this regime tells you that you can know, when the regime chooses to tell you.  Most certainly, don't expect the press to ever be able to ask questions of Sanders or Trump in the future.

I expect that Trump will threaten to close the White House press room before too long.  It will become the new normal, a one-sided affair, and I bet we'll see pundits weighing in with brilliant observations about how in the internet age, we certainly no long need press briefings and questions from journalists.

Everything will now be Twitter bleating, online gaslighting, and endless rallies.

President Donald Trump is preparing for two different State of the Union speeches – one a more traditional address delivered to Congress in the House chamber or some other location in D.C., the other prepared for a political rally at a location outside of Washington, D.C. that has yet to be determined, according to multiple sources familiar with the planning.

Sources told ABC News that the president was previously planning two separate versions of the State of the Union – one version if the government was still shut down and another if the government was open.

However, now the planning has evolved, assuming the government shutdown could drag on past next Tuesday – the expected delivery date of the address. If the president decides to deliver a speech in rally form, it would mark the first rally style event the president has attended since the partial shutdown began.

Count on this happening anyway regardless of the status of the shutdown.  The new normal of a permanently crippled federal government, one that only works for the rich and for corporations, is what we are trapped in until we get rid of not just Trump from the White House, but from the entire GOP.

And first to go needs to be Mitch McConnell next year.  Martin Longman:

Most reporting on McConnell’s thinking portrays him as worried primarily about himself. He’s up for election again in 2020 and he’s very unpopular in his home state of Kentucky.
Over the last several years, he has usually ranked as the least popular senator in the country with his own constituents. In the latest Morning Consult poll, only Jeff Flake and Claire McCaskill had higher disapproval numbers, and neither of them survived the last election cycle. The thinking goes, then, that McConnell simply cannot afford to buck the president.

There’s definitely some truth to that, but it’s also important to think about McConnell’s concern for the Republican Party’s majority in the Senate. He does not want hurt the reelection prospects of his colleagues because it could send him back into the minority. So, he has very little interest in passing a bill that Trump will criticize and veto. He suffered that fate once already before Christmas, and he’s not keen to experience a repeat. It’s also key to McConnell’s current thinking that Trump had signed off on the deal last December before suddenly reversing himself once he received criticism from people like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. He doesn’t have any reason to take Trump’s word that he’ll stick with any deal that is negotiated.

The best way of looking at this is that McConnell is angry with the president. He was double-crossed. He wasn’t consulted. He doesn’t believe in the wall. He doesn’t believe that Trump’s strategy will work. He doesn’t want to take ownership of a deal that the president will characterize as insufficient or weak. He doesn’t even want to appear with the president in front of the cameras.

I’d say his strategy is basically to let Trump keep banging his head against his wall until he breaks. And when Trump admits he can’t get what he wants, only then will McConnell jump into the fray to help him limit the damage.

By taking the position that he won’t take up a bill the president won’t sign, McConnell is giving Trump a chance to break Nancy Pelosi’s will and ability to keep her caucus united, and that’s as much as he’s willing to give the president at this time.

There may come a time before too long that McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy need to seriously consider a veto override. The precipitating event may be that something really critical breaks due to lack of funding, like airport security or the courts. It could be that public opinion turns very sharply against them and constituent pressure becomes unbearable. It could be that something breaks in the Russia investigation, either coming from Mueller or from the congressional hearings that are about to gear up in the House. If Trump’s credibility drops suddenly and drastically, the congressional Republicans may conclude that they can’t allow a shutdown to continue on top of everything else.
McConnell wants to avoid that outcome, but he can’t continue his wait-and-see strategy forever if nothing changes. He might want Pelosi and the Democrats to break, but I bet he’d be just as satisfied to see the president capitulate. To him, Trump is like a child who won’t listen to adult advice and can only learn from the personal and painful experience of predictable failure.

Anyone waiting on Mitch McConnell to take a leadership role to end the shutdown is likely to be disappointed. He’s got his candy and his hundred-dollar bills, and he’s just going to wait this one out as long as he can.

Something will break, though. And I don’t think it will be Nancy Pelosi.

Without Mitch, Trump wouldn't have been able to do a tenth as much damage to the country.

Courting Disaster

Welcome to the Kavanaugh days of the Roberts Court, and expect the damage caused by his appointment to resonate for decades to come.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed President Trump’s broad restrictions on transgender people serving in the military to go into effect while the legal battle continues in lower courts.

The justices lifted nationwide injunctions that had kept the administration’s policy from being implemented.

It reversed an Obama-administration rule that would have opened the military to transgender men and women, and instead barred those who identify with a gender different from the one assigned at birth and who are seeking to transition.

The court’s five conservatives--Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh--allowed the restrictions to go into effect while the court decides to whether to consider the merits of the case.

The liberal justices--Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan--would have kept the injunctions in place.

Trump surprised even his own military advisers in July 2017 when he announced a sweeping ban on transgender people’s military service via Twitter. He cited what he viewed as the “tremendous medical costs and disruption.” The administration’s order reversed President Barack Obama’s policy of allowing transgender men and women to serve openly and receive funding for sex-reassignment surgery.

Attorneys for active-duty service members went to court to block the policy shift, which could subject current transgender service members to discharge and deny them certain medical care.

The court rulings were met with another policy revision from then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who issued a plan to bar those from the military who identify with a gender different from their birth gender and who are seeking to transition. Mattis’s plan makes exceptions, for instance, for about 900 transgender individuals who are already serving openly and for others who would serve in accordance with their birth gender.

While several lower courts have blocked the policy, the changes were persuasive to a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which became the first appeals court to review the policy.

“The government took substantial steps to cure the procedural deficiencies” previously identified by a lower court, the panel said in a short order. “Although the Mattis Plan continues to bar many transgender persons from joining or serving in the military, the record indicates that the plan allows some transgender persons” previously barred to join and serve.

The policy is not a “blanket ban,” the court concluded, because “not all transgender persons seek to transition to their preferred gender or have gender dysphoria.”

The rollback of LGBTQ rights under the Roberts Court and Trump Regime will continue along with the rollback of women's rights and civil rights., and even if Donald Trump resigned today, the carnage from another decade of the current bloc of Bush/Trump justices on SCOTUS will make America a very dangerous place for anyone who ins't a straight, white, Christian male.

(Fund) Raising Some Major Alarms

Republicans love to copy what Democrats are doing right on political fundraising and campaigning, and then they cheat to make their version more successful while hamstringing the blue side.  The latest scheme is the GOP's answer to Act Blue and other grassroots funding groups, rolled into what Republicans hope is a multi-billion dollar fundraising juggernaut called "Patriot Pass".

President Donald Trump’s political team and top Republican officials have reached a landmark agreement to reshape the party’s fundraising apparatus and close the financial gap that devastated them in the midterms.

With the deal, Republicans hope to create a rival to ActBlue, the Democratic online fundraising behemoth that plowed over $700 million in small-dollar donations into Democratic coffers in the 2018 campaign.

Republicans have had no comparable centralized platform to cultivate small dollars. Since the election, officials including White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have privately insisted the party needed to come up with an answer.

Following weeks of closed-door discussions, Republicans have agreed to create a new platform dubbed Patriot Pass, which will be used to cultivate and process online donations. The GOP — whose jungle-like ecosystem of vendors has long fought bitterly over contracts and dollars — has struggled in the past to create such a unified system

The accord, revealed for the first time to POLITICO by officials at the center of the effort, has received the explicit blessing of party leaders. Under the arrangement, Data Trust, the Republican National Committee’s designated clearinghouse of voter information, will form a joint venture with Revv, a donation processor used by the Trump campaign. The two entities will form the nucleus of Patriot Pass.
As part of the agreement, Victory Passport, a small-dollar platform used widely by Republican congressional candidates, is expected to eventually shutter and encourage its clients to use the new platform.

The far-reaching consolidation reflects the urgency confronting Republicans, who concede their widening small-donor deficit reached a breaking point in 2018. Fired-up liberal donors funneled cash into House and Senate races through ActBlue, a centralized and easy-to-use hub of Democratic giving that allows users to enter their credit card information and contribute to their candidate of choice with a click.

After watching dozens of their candidates get massively out-raised, Republicans are looking to Patriot Pass to close the gap. The new tool is is expected to launch next month. While party officials concede that catching up to or surpassing the 14-year-old ActBlue won’t happen immediately, they contend they can level the playing field through a platform that can mimic ActBlue’s technology.

“The Democrats clearly in congressional races — not at the presidential level but in congressional races in 2018 — had an advantage in small-dollar donors. And so you say, ‘Why is that? There was enthusiasm in both parties.’ And it’s because they had the mechanism to harness and add rocket fuel to that energy,” said Mike Shields, a Data Trust senior adviser.

This story should be setting off gargantuan alarm bells.

Of course the real issue is that we know Republican voter data operations are deeply compromised by Russia, and a massive database of small dollar donors are exactly the kind of leverage Putin wants over the GOP, now that the NRA is a smoking ruin as a money-laundering clearing house and under Robert Mueller's watchful eye.

House Democrats should keep a very careful eye on Patriot Pass, because I guarantee you that it's going to be the basis for some serious Trump 2020 fundraising shenanigans, and I'm sure we'll find out a few years from now just how detailed the slush fund machine was.  If you wanted a vehicle to put Russian mob cash in not just Trump's pocket but in hundreds of GOP campaigns in 2020, this is exactly what I would come up with in order to do it.

Count on this being dirty as a Moscow sewer.


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