Democracy Dies in Darkness

The Plum Line | Opinion

Happy Hour Roundup

September 11, 2018 at 6:29 PM

* Amy Gardner reports on how the blue wave may be coming to some not-so-blue places:

An unusual political battle is raging across North Carolina, where national and state Democrats have recruited an army of candidates and are pouring millions of dollars into a campaign to loosen a years-long Republican grip on a state legislature that has turned an otherwise evenly split state into a bastion for some of the country’s most conservative laws. Among them: a limit on transgender access to bathrooms that was ultimately repealed under pressure from business leaders, congressional district maps that courts have ruled were designed to curtail the voting power of African Americans and education spending levels that have sparked mass protests at the state Capitol.

“North Carolina has been a beacon in the South, and I had to try and stop this Republican leadership from tarnishing our brand,” said the leader of the campaign, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who has seen the GOP’s legislative supermajority override his vetoes 20 times since he narrowly ousted a Republican incumbent two years ago.

The campaign reflects an often-overlooked subplot of the Democratic Party’s broader push to engineer a “blue wave” across the country in the November midterms — tapping into voter anger over President Trump as well as Republican policies on school funding, taxes and health care to chip away at GOP dominance in state capitals.

This is an important part of the story of 2018: People are mad at more than Trump.

* Paul Farhi explains that part of our political debate may not be quite on the up-and-up:

Love her or hate her, trust her or not, Omarosa Manigault Newman inadvertently exposed a little secret about how political journalism gets done in 2018: Some of the people you see talking on TV or who are quoted in articles about President Trump are legally obligated to say nice things about him.

Trump acknowledged last month that Manigault Newman — author of “Unhinged,” a tell-all book about her time in the White House — had signed a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) when she went to work for his 2016 campaign. He suggested she had violated the agreement, which obligates signers not to disparage Trump or members of his family.

Which raises a question: Are others who have signed an NDA with Trump really being honest in those media interviews, or are they just lauding the president because they legally can’t do otherwise?

The issue extends to the news media, as well. Shouldn’t news organizations disclose that the Trump officials they quote or put on the air are legally bound not to criticize the president, given that doing so would enable readers and viewers to better judge where an interviewee is really coming from?

Is it possible that cable news arguments are just play-acting? I can’t believe it.

* Andrew Sprung has a good piece explaining that taking away protections for pre-existing conditions is just the beginning of what Republicans want to do to health care.

* Adil Abdela and Marshall Steinbaum argue that America has developed a serious antitrust problem, and offer a deep dive into it.

* Ian Millhiser reports that Facebook censored a piece he wrote because a Weekly Standard “fact check” took issue with it. For some reason the Weekly Standard has been given the right to do this by Facebook alongside neutral arbiters like Politifact and Factcheck.org, while no liberal outlet has been given this privilege.

* Steve Benen flags some polling that shows an alarmingly high percentage of Americans think Trump is mentally unstable, and notes that it’s even more alarming that question is being polled.

* John Stoehr looks at Trump’s reaction to 9/11 today to explain how we’re living through a tyranny of the geezers.

* Radley Balko looks at the staggering scope of our wrongful conviction problem.

* Eric Levitz explains why Michael Avenatti’s apparent presidential candidacy is a good thing, even if he shouldn’t be president.

* Perry Bacon Jr. says Americans may be shifting their non-political identities to match their politics.

* Simon Maloy explains how Trump and conservative media have enmeshed themselves in a corrupt bargain with each other.

* And Karen Tumulty notes that Trump took the occasion of September 11 to ask for sympathy for the real victim: himself.


Paul Waldman is an opinion writer for the Plum Line blog.

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