America’s elites have for decades now enjoyed — and exploited — a mainstream political consensus. America is doing just fine, this consensus has held, but just not for everybody. We have some poor, unfortunate souls in our midst, the consensus continues, and decency demands more “opportunity” for them. Aspiring politicians have always loved this opportunity message. They can spout it and sound compassionate and caring to the voting public. But this mainstream political consensus has over recent years collapsed. Precious few analysts are still claiming that the nation is doing “just fine.” The United States these days is essentially working well only for the rich, and appreciable numbers of Americans no longer just wonder why. They’re demanding checks on grand private fortunes and the behaviors that pump these fortunes up. We’ve had similar political moments in America’s past, most often during epoch-shifting presidential election years. In 1912, the standard-bearer for the nation’s most fortunate, Republican William Howard Taft, collected less than a quarter of the presidential popular vote. America’s original Gilded Age would never be the same. A generation later, in the 1932 and 1936 presidential election years, big majorities of Americans paved the way for changes in the economic rules that determine everything from banking to labor relations and the much more equal United States that emerged in the 1950s. Will the 2020 election prove a similar turning point? We’ll see as the Democratic primary race unfolds.
WH Expands Exemptions To Restrict, Deny Care To Women, Gay And Trans
Trump strengthens protections for religious health workers. Politico: "The Trump administration Thursday finalized new rules making it easier for health care workers to refuse to provide care that violates their religious or moral beliefs, advancing a policy favored by anti-abortion groups and Christian conservatives closely allied with the Trump administration. The administration said the new rules will bolster enforcement of more than two dozen existing federal laws protecting conscience rights. However, patient advocates have warned the rules, which were first proposed over a year ago, could make it harder for women to receive emergency abortions or access contraception, and they say providers may be able to refuse care to gay and transgender patients. HHS is also expected to soon pare back nondiscrimination protections extended to transgender patients under an Obama-era policy that has been blocked in the courts."
AG Barr Lied To Congress, Says Pelosi
The US attorney general could be held in contempt of Congress. CNN: "Tensions are high on Capitol Hill after Attorney General William Barr declined to appear at a House hearing over the Mueller report. If things continue to escalate, and Barr continues to resist Democrats' demands about the Mueller report, the country's top law enforcement officer could be found in contempt of Congress. What is contempt of Congress? It means someone has obstructed the work of either Congress or a congressional committee. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has threatened to hold Barr in contempt of Congress -- not because he skipped the hearing, but over a subpoena to obtain the unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election."
The Notes That Might Sink Trump
Watergate had the Nixon tapes. Mueller had Annie Donaldson’s notes. WaPo: "The notes, scribbled rapidly on a legal pad, captured the fear inside the White House when President Trump raged over the Russia investigation and decreed he was firing the FBI director who led it: 'Is this the beginning of the end?' The angst-filled entry is part of a shorthand diary that chronicled the chaotic days in Trump’s West Wing, a trove that the special counsel report cited more than 65 times as part of the evidence that the president sought to blunt a criminal investigation bearing down on him. The public airing of the notes — which document then-White House counsel Donald McGahn’s contemporaneous account of events and his fear that the president was engaged in legally risky conduct — has infuriated Trump. 'Watch out for people that take so-called ‘notes,’ when the notes never existed until needed,' Trump tweeted a day after the release of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report. The scribe keeping track of the president’s actions was Annie Donaldson, McGahn’s chief of staff, a loyal and low-profile conservative lawyer who figures in the Mueller report as one of the most important narrators of internal White House turmoil."
Grassroots Activists Are Changing Dems' Playbook
Liberal activists drive Democratic Party. Axios: "In the run-up to 2020, power over debates, nominating contests and the national convention is moving from the Democratic National Committee to grassroots activists. The rules to qualify for next month's debates include an emphasis on grassroots donors, who helped Democrats take back the House in 2018. Pressure from the party's activist base increased after the 2016 election. So the nominating process was altered 'to enhance the role of the grassroots' and to avoid anything happening 'in the opposite direction,' said Jeff Berman, Barack Obama's delegate director in 2008 and a member of the Unity Reform Commission which helped with these rules changes. 'The huge result is that basically anti-establishment candidates will not be at a perception disadvantage' and therefore have a better shot in the race, said Adam Green, founder of the PCCC. The backstory: Changing the rules is one way to address the Hillary Clinton/Bernie Sanders feud that fractured the party and really solidified at the 2016 DNC convention."
How America's Top Mercenary Played Trump
How Trump's election helped Blackwater founder Erik Prince revive mercenary dreams. The Intercept: "When Erik Prince arrived at the Four Seasons resort in the Seychelles in January 2017 for his now-famous meetings with a Russian banker and UAE ruler Mohammed bin Zayed, he was in the middle of an unexpected comeback. The election of Donald Trump had given the disgraced Blackwater founder a new opportunity to prove himself. After years of trying and failing to peddle a sweeping vision of mercenary warfare around the world, Erik Prince was back in the game. A converted Catholic raised by Christian fundamentalists and the scion of a Midwestern auto-parts fortune would seem to be an unlikely ally to the Muslim crown prince of a tiny, oil-rich Arab kingdom, but from their first meeting in 2009, Prince and Zayed hit it off. Almost immediately it was clear they shared common enemies: Islamic militants and, especially, Iran. As in so many other episodes involving Prince over the last decade, his involvement in the Trump-Russia political scandal is a result of his relentless ambition, combined with his snake-oil salesmanship and his ability to gain entry to rooms with genuine power, even if it quickly becomes apparent that he doesn’t belong there."