Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: McCabe and Mr. Mueller (aka War and a Piece of the Action)

Daily Brian / Flickr Mueller To Subpoena Trump This Isn...
Daily Brian / Flickr

Jeff Toobin reviews Andrew McCabe’s book:

In his new book, the former acting director of the F.B.I. speaks with bracing directness about what was going on in the Trump-Russia investigation and why it matters.

The warnings are familiar. The question that remains is whether, and how, the people and their representatives will respond to this threat from the office that once seemed to be liberty’s foremost guardian.

The way it works is that you’re always in touch with intelligence services, as needed. You’re never fully retired.

In light of the Robert Kraft and Jeffrey Epstein stories, amd with Michael Cohen speaking to SDNY, a reminder Trump owned a sketchy modeling agency (Mother Jones):

But the mogul’s New York modeling agency, Trump Model Management, has profited from using foreign models who came to the United States on tourist visas that did not permit them to work here, according to three former Trump models, all noncitizens, who shared their stories with Mother JonesFinancialand immigration records included in a recent lawsuit filed by a fourth former Trump model show that she, too, worked for Trump’s agency in the United States without a proper visa.

Foreigners who visit the United States as tourists are generally not permitted to engage in any sort of employment unless they obtain a special visa, a process that typically entails an employer applying for approval on behalf of a prospective employee. Employers risk fines and possible criminal charges for using undocumented labor.

Will that be a topic of interest for SDNY?

Also, this two year old story (Independent, UK):

China approves Donald Trump-branded spas, escort services, hotels and massage parlours without US Congress permission

Preliminary approval has been granted for 38 trademarks which raises further questions about conflicts of interest

Will that be a topic of interest for SDNY?

The above is interesting because it’s staid AP.

Max Boot/WaPo:

Only one Republican, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, has co-sponsored the House resolution of disapproval. Almost all Republicans will likely do what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) did: He warned against the emergency declaration before it was issued but supported it after Trump ignored his advice.

If Republicans support this unconstitutional power grab, they will have completed their transformation from the party of Reagan — a party devoted to conservative principles — to the party of Trump — a party devoted to no principle other than a desperate desire to propitiate a capricious would-be tyrant in the White House. They might as well get rid of the elephant and make their party symbol a curved yellow fruit, because they will have become banana republicans. I am worried about the Democrats’ drift to the left, but I can never imagine voting again for a Republican Party that represents a clear and present danger to democracy in the United States.

A reminder about the ‘drift left’ silliness: In 2020 it’s a referendum on Trump. Plain and simple. In any case, the House is expected to vote Tuesday. The Republican House is far more radicalized than the Senate, so don’t get all armageddon-y  for a bill that will pass regardless.

“Unassailable by Republicans and the NYT” also works.

Josh Kraushaar/National Journal:

The Upcoming Republican Battle Royale

Indeed, the biggest immediate primary challenge that the GOP faces is in Kansas. Despite its deep-seated Republican heritage—Kansas hasn’t elected a Democratic senator since 1932—growing rifts within the party are creating a narrow opening for Democrats. Trump’s loyalty to Kobach, an immigration restrictionist and voting fraud crusader, have been a constant irritant for Republican officials. Against his party’s best wishes, Trump endorsed Kobach in last year’s gubernatorial primary, narrowly pushing him to victory over the sitting Gov. Jeff Colyer. Republicans believe Colyer would have cruised to victory; instead Kobach sputtered to a five-point loss against now-Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. If the Kansas Senate race somehow turned into a competitive race, it would threaten the GOP’s majority in the upper chamber.

Discussions with Pompeo about running for Senate stemmed more from McConnell’s anxiety of Kobach as a possible Senate nominee than Pompeo’s own eagerness to run, according to two sources familiar with McConnell’s conversations with Pompeo. One Republican close to Pompeo said he wants to make sure Republicans hold the critical Senate seat, and didn’t rule out the Secretary of State changing his mind if GOP infighting in the state worsens. The filing deadline in Kansas isn’t until June 2020.

More interesting than the usual Dems in Disarray™ stories.

Chris Murphy and Ben Rhodes/WaPo:

Democrats should stand for democracy in Venezuela — and democratic values in America

To demonstrate that our concern for the Venezuelan people is not just a political talking point, we should provide them with more support. In the United States, we can grant Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelans who are demonstrating the necessity of asylum for vulnerable populations. In Latin America, we should be providing more support for countries such as Colombia, which is hosting huge populations of Venezuelans, while also putting a substantial package of humanitarian assistance on the table for the moment when Venezuela has a government that can receive it.

Finally, the administration must recognize the troubled history of U.S. intervention in Latin America, which includes support for Central American contras and death squads in the 1980s, engineered in part by Elliott Abrams, the Trump administration’s new envoy for Venezuela. Public bluster about military options and private leaks about coup planning only serve to undercut the legitimacy of the democracy that we should support.

It’s important to highlight who Elliot Abrams is, which we have done in past pundit round-ups (see Damon Linker and Ishaan Tharoor and Raymond Bonner).

Charles Duhigg/NY Times:

Wealthy Successful and Miserable

The upper echelon is hoarding money and privilege to a degree not seen in decades. But that doesn’t make them happy at work.

So it came as a bit of a shock, when I attended my 15th reunion last summer, to learn how many of my former classmates weren’t overjoyed by their professional lives — in fact, they were miserable. I heard about one fellow alum who had run a large hedge fund until being sued by investors (who also happened to be the fund manager’s relatives). Another person had risen to a senior role inside one of the nation’s most prestigious companies before being savagely pushed out by corporate politics. Another had learned in the maternity ward that her firm was being stolen by a conniving partner.

Makes me more sympathetic to a wealth tax, tbh.

That’s better.

Ed Kilgore/New York:

Democrats Should Trust Democracy and Resolve to Kill the Filibuster

It may be time to conclude that for Democrats tolerating (while fighting) Trump for another two years is vastly preferable to accepting the ever-more-entrenched minority rule his party has come to rely on for much of its power. If Trumpism means anything, it means a rearguard action to deny our people self-government on grounds that the country has lost its greatness and requires rule by a righteous remnant of “real” Americans composed of taxpaying Jesus-worshiping gun-toting patriarchs. Progressives have long quoted Paul Wellstone in identifying themselves as “the democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” That’s simply not consistent with a willingness to maintain the Senate filibuster. This needs to be a 2020 campaign issue.

Jonathan Bernstein/Bloomberg:

Nate Silver argues that a very large candidate field is dangerous for the party. In the modern era, there have been only three contests where more than 12 major candidates reached the formal announcement stage – in 1972 and 1976 for Democrats, and in 2016 for Republicans – and each one produced a nominee that the party didn’t want. Two of those nominees, Jimmy Carter and Donald Trump, went on to win the election and ended up on notably bad terms with their own parties while in office.

But I’m with Elaine Kamarck, who doesn’t think a large field is that big of a problem:

The complex rules for awarding delegates to presidential candidates have not changed in many years and will remain the same in 2020. First, there is a threshold of 15 percent of the primary vote for winning a delegate. In a twenty-person field, many candidates won’t win a single delegate. Second, while delegates are awarded proportionally … By the time Super Tuesday is over, candidates without delegates are likely to be walking ghosts.

In other words, winnowing works.

Ellis Cose/USA Today:

Forget blackface. Stop celebrating KKK and Confederacy to get past lynching and slavery

My problem is not with people who were young and stupid and wore blackface. It’s with people who don’t take history seriously enough to learn from it.

Blackface, in other words, was not just simple entertainment; it was also propaganda for the dehumanization and subjugation of a supposedly grateful but incompetent and inferior race. And the reason it is painful for so many people is that it still carries those connotations — even if the people perpetrating it don’t intend to send that message.

Instead, many just want to be in on the joke. As Brookings Institution fellow Andre Perry told USA TODAY, on some college campuses, the “way to fit in, sadly, is to make fun of black people. It is a unifying act. It’s sad but racism pulls people, particularly white people, together.”

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