November 8, 2018

Sessions Resigns

On Wednesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions submitted his resignation at the request of President Trump. Sessions’s chief of staff, Andrew Whitaker, will take his place as acting Attorney General until a successor is confirmed.

AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left worries that Whitaker will impede or end the Mueller investigation, but also criticizes Sessions’s actions as Attorney General.

“For Trump, this is a problem solved. Out: an attorney general who, following Justice Department rules and heeding the advice of the department’s ethics professionals, recused himself from the Mueller probe. In: Whitaker, who before joining the department announced to the world how he would deal with the meddlesome Mueller. By starving him of funds...Or by slamming the brakes on Mueller’s ability to follow the evidence against Trump or his family."

Washington Post

“If we have ever seen an appearance of impropriety in our decades of experience, this is it: a criminal subject president appointing his own prosecutor — one who has evidently prejudged aspects of the investigation and mused about how it can be hampered...

“This is not about partisanship. The strong protections against interference in the Watergate investigation were given by an acting attorney general, a Republican, to protect the independence of a special prosecutor investigating a Republican president. Nearly 50 years later, the American people should ask no less.”

New York Times

Many note that “at the [DOJ], Sessions enforced the law in a manner that harmed racial minorities, immigrants, and LGBTQ people. He rolled back Obama-era drug sentencing reforms in an effort to keep nonviolent offenders locked away for longer... He implemented the ‘zero tolerance’ family separation policy... His DOJ defended Trump’s ban on open transgender military service by claiming that trans people are disordered deviants...

“Thousands of people were brutalized by his bigotry, and our country will not soon recover from the malice he unleashed.”

Slate

Many argue that “despite relentless Republican attacks, the benefits provided [by the ACA] -- guaranteed insurance and coverage of pre-existing conditions -- are now seen by many as a benefit to which they're entitled. Moving to Medicare for those who want it is a logical next step toward a single-payer option, one that maintains choice for millions of Americans… 56% of Americans say they support full Medicare for All… [but] when voters are presented with the full details of the Sanders and Warren plans, support falls dramatically… I believe it's critical for Democrats to maintain their advantage on health care going into 2020, and the best way to do that is to reject Medicare for All and embrace Medicare for those who want it.”
Joe Lockhart, CNN

The political calendar and Trump's approach could give grounds for optimism. Kim, who has presided over a limited form of economic development inside North Korea, is under pressure to deliver improvements in the lives of his people… So he has an incentive to try to seek economic benefits or aid from the United States and wants punishing economic sanctions lifted — a potential opening for US negotiators… Kim must realize that his chances of basking in this kind of legitimacy with a US President other than Trump are slim. So if he fears Trump could lose in 2020, he may reason the time may be ripe for a deal. And Trump wants nothing more than a big diplomatic breakthrough months before the election.”
Stephen Collinson, CNN

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right is divided. Some believe it’s time for Mueller’s investigation to come to an end, while others argue that the new Attorney General should allow the investigation to continue unimpeded.

From the Right

The right is divided. Some believe it’s time for Mueller’s investigation to come to an end, while others argue that the new Attorney General should allow the investigation to continue unimpeded.

Some opine that “Sessions... allowed pressure from the left over two minor contacts with a Russian ambassador to make the decision for him [to recuse himself]... Session’s decision was irresponsible and ill-considered... If Mueller has anything valid to charge the President with, we will find out soon. If not, it’s time to end this farce."

RedState

While “the Attorney General shouldn’t fire Mr. Mueller... Mr. Trump does have a point that Mr. Sessions’ recusal compromised his leadership of the department and made it harder to exert supervision over the FBI...

“[In the next Attorney General] Mr. Trump needs an individual of stature and judgment who will have the trust of the department’s lawyers, who is capable of independence, but who also understands that the Justice Department is part of the executive branch and not a law unto itself.”

Wall Street Journal

Others argue that “while the more casual Whitaker will be able to forge a better relationship with Trump than his stoic former boss, Sessions, Whitaker must resist Trump’s [worst] impulses... Whitaker should ensure that Mueller’s investigation remains insulated under the orbit of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein... not because Whitaker can't necessarily be trusted to oversee the Mueller investigation, but so as to preserve the independence of the Justice Department."

Washington Examiner

Senator-elect Mitt Romney (R-UT) tweeted, “Under Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, it is imperative that the important work of the Justice Department continues, and that the Mueller investigation proceeds to its conclusion unimpeded.”

Twitter

“Not only did [Trump] attack the ‘squad,’ he managed to do it in a way in which no other prominent Democrat can continue to criticize them publicly, lest they be perceived as echoing the president’s contention that they should go back where they came from. At the exact moment the accusations and counter-accusations were set to do lasting damage, Trump just had to jump in and give them an attack that would unify them all. It often seems like Trump would rather have a bad news cycle that focuses on him than a beneficial news cycle that focuses on someone else… Everyone around the president can read a poll and knows that his rage-tweeting is a liability; it is perhaps the biggest liability in a presidency that, with prosperity and a perception of peace, ought to be comfortably cruising to reelection.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“If Joe Biden can win his way through the primaries, he’s almost lab-engineered to beat Trump. He doesn’t cause Republican panic, he has the potential to connect with white working-class voters in a way that Hillary couldn’t in 2016, and he has a potential to connect better with black voters than Hillary did… if Biden emerges from [this] crucible, Trump will face a very different challenge than he faced in 2016.”
David French, National Review

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“The fans who avidly followed the men’s tournament certainly weren’t doing anything wrong. And it’s hard to argue that each of them had a moral obligation to be exactly as interested in women’s soccer. Even if we could stop them from watching the men more than the women, should we?…

“It’s tempting to answer that the fan choices aren’t innocent, they’re sexist. But since we can’t peek into their hearts, to say that definitively, we’d have to assume that men’s greater speed, strength and endurance definitely make nodifference to the sport’s quality. Fair enough, but then why do fans prefer to watch Megan Rapinoe play instead of the sedentary elderly who could presumably use some exercise? Alternatively, maybe pay should be equalized precisely because biology is unfair. But that seems to be an argument for curbing the pay of all top-level athletes, who have to hit the genetic lottery just to get on the field. It might be easier to focus on the distributions across society at large, rather than every individual industry, especially when fundamental biology is in play.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

Why did _________ cross the road? Alpaca climbs into backseat of taxi cab in Peru, flooded creek sends salmon swimming across road, and confused deer runs through Pennsylvania Walmart.

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