The Power Of Having Nothing To Lose

Trump And Republican Senator Bob Corker Engage In Brutal Grappling. Neither Taps Out…

Tennessee’s Bob Corker recently announced he’s not running for re-election in 2018, and since then has become one of the most outspoken Trump critics on Capitol Hill. So Trump took to Twitter and attacked him with a ferocity normally reserved for one of his Cabinet Secretaries, or Kim Jong-un. Corker’s reply instantly turned him into a real celeb.

It all began with Trump Tweeting Corker chose not to run again because he “Didn’t have the guts…!

Then Corker Tweeted back:

Then Trump Tweeted back:

Then Corker said Trump’s recklessness could be setting the U.S. “on the path to World War III“. Which is an extraordinary thing for a Republican (other than maybe John McCain) to be saying.

But the former staunch Trump supporter no longer has anything to lose, and is free to stick to his Conservative principles such as not authorizing tax cuts that aren’t paid for, and would balloon the deficit by trillions of dollars. He could also have a hand, as Trump suggests, in saving the Iran nuclear deal. Curiously, Trump even appears to place blame for the failure of Obamacare repeal on Corker, despite the fact the Senator voted for it every chance he had.

Which leads us to wonder if Corker, either willingly or unwittingly, is moving in the direction of a primary challenge vs. Trump in 2020. Not running in 2018 would only help with that. Trump acknowledging him as a threat also helps him stake his claim as a voice for old-school Conservative values.

It’s an extreme long-shot. Especially with John Kasich already taking up the banner as the “anti-Trump”. (But he already ran, and lost).

And it is unusual for an incumbent President to face a primary challenge. But not that unusual. We can remember it happening a bunch of times in our lifetime:

Ronald Reagan mounted a primary challenge against President Gerald Ford in 1976 and almost won.

• 4 years later, Ted Kennedy went up against President Jimmy Carter.

• The most recent: 1992, with Pat Buchanan’s primary challenge to the incumbent George Bush (father).

In all those cases, the incumbents ended up winning their Party’s nomination, but went on to lose the Presidency. To find a time a sitting President lost a primary challenge, you’d have to go back to 1856, when President Franklin Pierce lost the Democratic Party nomination to James Buchanan. It’s never happened to an elected Republican.

Franklin Pierce, 14th President of the United States, photograph by Matthew Brady

While a radical wing of Trump loyalists in the Republican party seem to be on the rise, you’d have to believe at some point more “pragmatic” Republicans, or whatever you want to call them, are going to have to take a stand.

Might be too little, too late. Especially with challenges from Radical Right-Wingers abounding and so far, succeeding: The latest nut who might be running: Erik Prince, founder of the notorious Blackwater security company, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ brother. He’s rumored to be eyeing a Senate seat in Wyoming currently held by a well-liked establishment Republican, John Barrasso. Prince is from Michigan, so what sparked the rumor is a trip to Wyoming this past weekend to discuss establishing residency there.

Regardless, the Republican “stars” of the Obama Presidency: McConnell, Ryan, are fading and not likely to recover. Is Corker their guy? Is he sending a message he’s their guy? Would he be willing to be their guy?

Probably not quite yet, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility.

Back when Trump and Corker were BFFs


800,000 Pawns

The Trump Administration is turning the 800,000 or so DACA “Dreamers” into pawns in a high-stakes game to try to push as much regressive anti-immigration legislation through as possible in exchange for “saving” them.

The White House telegraphed this move for a few days, and while Trump famously likes to ask for a lot more than he expects to get, the list presented to congress Sunday night was still pretty stunning in its scope. The President seems now to be asking for, well, everything, including:

Funding for “the wall”.

• 10,000 new ICE agents.

• Tougher restrictions on “green cards”

• New rules that would turn back asylum seekers

• Denial of federal money to “sanctuary cities”

That’s just the tip of the iceberg…

So much for Trump’s “showing great heart“. So much for the deal with “Chuck and Nancy“.

Google Sold Russian Ads Too

This morning the Washington Post exclusively reports that Google, for the first time, privately admits Russian operatives bought “tens of thousands of dollars” worth of ads across its product line, including Search, Gmail, and YouTube. So far much of the Russian paid campaign to disrupt the 2016 Presidential election has focused on Facebook. Google has not officially confirmed the story and recently said it had no evidence Russian ads were sold on any of its platforms.

Update: Birth Control

Last week we told you about the Trump Administration’s pending decision to kill an Obamacare requirement that employers provide birth control free of charge in their health insurance plans.

Now it’s done. And we thought it was worth a quick update because of one of the reasons the White House gave: free access to contraceptives might promote “risky sexual behavior”.

Teen pregnancies fell 8% between 2014, when Obamacare kicked in, and 2015, which is the most recent year government numbers are available. So it’s unclear if that decline was due to the birth control mandate, since teen pregnancy numbers had been falling even before that. Still, it’s certainly didn’t hurt the situation.

And of course we will never understand waging a simultaneous battle against contraception and abortion.

Update: Puerto Rico

President Trump posted an almost 9 minute long video of aid being delivered in Puerto Rico Puerto Rico along with the following Tweet:

Really? That you flying that chopper? That you on the ground there loading supplies? Sorry we didn’t catch you in that video, Mr. President. All we saw you doing in Puerto Rico was this

How about sharing some kudos with the hard-working members of the military and FEMA and others who are on the video? You know, almost everybody gets irritated when they do a tough job and then somebody else comes along and takes all the credit.  So, come to think of it, keep it up!

Trump also took all the credit for a publicity stunt he forced Vice President Mike Pence to pull: walking out on his beloved Indianapolis Colts, after several members of the opposing San Francisco 49ers took a knee during the national anthem.

By this morning that stunt seemed to be backfiring, especially after CNN questioned the cost to taxpayers of flying Air Force 2 just for that purpose: $200,000 plus. Trump responded with a Tweet insisting the trip was “long planned”.

Update: North Korea

The President this morning again Tweeted economic incentives do not work with North Korea. Not surprising considering how much he hates the Iran nuclear deal, which is based on loosening sanctions in exchange for tightening its nuclear program.

Meanwhile, Kim Jong-un made a very interesting political move over the weekend, appointing his youngest sister to his country’s top political decision-making body. 28 year old Kim Yo Jong is often seen in photos with her brother, but usually way in the background.

Reuters photo


Tweets Are Wishes…

Politico has a story that exhibits Trump’s Tweets as evidence the President may not know how the government works. It points out he gives himself “great reviews” for legislation that does not yet exist, or characterizes Congress’ job as the “approval process” for what Trump proposes.

We love Politico. But in this case they are shortsighted. In our view: It’s not that Trump doesn’t know what the process is, it’s that he doesn’t care: because his Tweets are wishes. They’ve never been expressions of fact, they’ve always represented the way he’d want things in his ideal world. Which almost always involves a Congress and country completely subservient to him, and living for no other reason than to pass any damn thing he proposes.

Trump’s Twitter feed is is vision board, it’s his wish jar.