Home NEWS POLITICS Quick Takes: Rep. Trent Franks Did What?

Quick Takes: Rep. Trent Franks Did What?

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* Ed Kilgore has the headline that nailed my reaction to the news today: “Arizona Congressman Resigns for – Wait, What Was That Again?” He wrote that before the whole story emerged. Here’s what we now know:

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) resigned Friday amid reports he suggested aides have intercourse with him and serve as a surrogate for his child…

Politico reported Friday that, prior to Franks announcing that he would resign immediately, it had asked the congressman about allegations of unwanted advances toward female staffers. The outlet reported that Franks had approached staffers about serving as surrogates for his child, as he acknowledged Thursday, but also that “[i]t was not clear to the women whether he was asking about impregnating the women through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization.”

…an unnamed former aide of Franks told the Associated Press that he had “repeatedly pressed her” to act as a surrogate for his child, including by offering $5 million at one point. The former staffer told the AP Franks had asked her to serve as a surrogate in exchange for money “at least four times,” the outlet reported Friday.

* This weekend Trump will hold a rally in support of a racist Senate candidate and attend the opening of a civil rights memorial in Mississippi. Wrap your mind around that if you can. In the midst of all that, Marc Fisher tells the story of how this presidency has affected African Americans in Mississippi.

“It’s hostile now, more hostile than in a long, long time,” said Pete McElroy, who employs three men at the auto repair shop that has been his family’s business for three generations. “People almost boast about it: ‘We got our man in the White House, and this is the way the ball’s going to roll now.’ ”…

Two miles away from the museum, as Priscilla Sterling recalled, a tense white man cornered her daughter on a street in Jackson. “Would you ever date a skinhead?” he asked, and it’s 2017 and she doesn’t know what she can say.

“White men following me, intimidating my daughter — this is the craziest time I’ve ever seen,” said Sterling, 49, a Jackson resident and a cousin of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old black boy who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 after a white woman accused him of flirting with her at her family’s grocery store.

“I used to say I could never have lived in the 1950s or ’60s, that I couldn’t have taken the pressure,” Sterling said. “Now it’s 2017 and I’ve had people follow me and threaten me with vitriol. It’s vitriol like I never heard before Trump.”

* Some people have suggested that the label “white supremacist” should be reserved for those who join neo-nazi groups patterned after the KKK. But I don’t see how these sentiments expressed by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) vary even the tiniest little bit from the philosophies of those groups.

* Remember when Bill O’Reilly pointed out to Donald Trump that Vladimir Putin is a killer? The president’s response was, “We have a lot of killers. Well, you think our country is so innocent?” Obviously he and Roy Moore are cut from exactly the same cloth.

* Jonathan Chait thinks the Mueller investigation is in mortal danger.

Yes, “some conspiratorial quid pro quo between somebody in the Trump campaign and somebody representing Vladimir Putin” is “possible,” allowed Wall Street Journal columnist Holman Jenkins, but “we would be stupid not to understand that other countries have a stake in the outcome of our elections and, by omission or commission, try to advance their interests. This is reality.” The notion of a criminal conspiracy by a hostile nation to intervene in the election in return for pliant foreign policy has gone from unthinkable to blasé, an offense only to naïve bourgeois morality.

It is almost a maxim of the Trump era that the bounds of the unthinkable continuously shrink.

* On the other hand, it is always a good idea to pay attention to what Walter Shapiro writes.

The combination of GOP congressional majorities, a supine Republican Party and a truculent right-wing media culture have conspired to convince many liberals that Trump and all that he represents are indeed unbeatable.

This continuing sense of political impotence by liberals has placed undue weight on the Mueller investigation. Every indictment, guilty plea and rumor has been measured against Watergate and the need to discover impeachable offenses. Simply proving a pattern of corruption around Trump and a cavalier attitude to Russian meddling in the 2016 election won’t seem sufficient. Somehow the whole enterprise will be judged a failure if the investigation fails to prevent Trump from serving out his term in the White House.

But such a Mueller-centric worldview is shortsighted…

Trump may seem like a magician with his frenzied attempts at political distraction. But voters in the cheap seats remain unconvinced by the card tricks, especially since the marked decks keep spilling onto the floor. That’s why political remedies may ultimately prove more effective in taming Trump than Robert Mueller.

* Today is jobs Friday and we learned that the economy added 288,000 jobs in November. Steve Benen provides some perspective on how we’re doing so far in 2017.

…the U.S. added 1.97 million jobs over the first 11 months of 2012, 2.24 million over the first 11 months of 2013, 2.78 million over the first 11 months of 2014, 2.47 million over the first 11 months of 2015, 2.08 million over the first 11 months of 2016, and 1.91 million over the first 11 months of 2017.

Or put another way, while this year has been pretty good for job creation, we’re nevertheless on pace to see the slowest job growth since 2011.

* Democrats who insisted that Sen. Al Franken needed to resign are going to have to follow that up by doing a better job than this when asked whether Donald Trump should resign.

* Finally, find me a dog owner that didn’t already know this:

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