The Briefing, Vol. V, Issue 8

The Briefing, Vol. V, Issue 8

This week:

  • DNC to choose a new chairman
  • A Kennedy enters the race for Illinois governor
  • Is Jeff Flake in trouble?

Democratic Party

Chairman’s race: Democrats will choose a new part chairman on Saturday. With the tacit backing of Barack Obama and overt support from his fellow alumni of the administration, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez is claiming he’s locked up at least the 224 our of 447 votes he needs ahead of time. Perez’s claim doesn’t make it true, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone if it were.

The selection of Perez, if it goes down as expected, demonstrates an unwillingness among Democrats to move outside the comfort zone of the Obama years. Even as most of his accomplishments disappear in a flurry of deregulation and repeal, they remain fond of the recent memories.

Many Democrats seem willing to blame Hillary Clinton and her wing of the party for the destruction they has recently suffered, but no one is willing to blame Obama for the direction in which he took Democrats.

This is an interesting feature of the party right now. It remains unwilling to accept that the voters’ verdict against them — and in favor of someone they find as horrifying as President Trump — had anything to do with the direction in which they moved during the last decade under Obama’s leadership.

Perez is definitely a left-winger, but in this particular race he represents the “establishment” wing of the party, or what is left of it. He’s had to keep an awkward balance between pandering to the Sanders wing and keeping the party establishment behind him.

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who received the early backing of several lawmakers, was at one point the frontrunner but suffered from some of the more outlandish things he had said. Still, he remains Perez’s most serious opposition. South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg has made some waves and raised his profile mightily by running, but he’s definitely a dark horse.

The new DNC chairman will not set the tone for the party’s politics. Rather, he will manage its technical side. He (or she) has to get the party ready for life after Obama, equipping candidates and state parties with the data operation they will need to compete nationally, while also raising the money to support this and other party projects.

Whomever they choose, Democrats will be starting off far behind the ball. But in their first skirmishes in 2017 and 2018, they will at least enjoy the advantage of a party running against an incumbent president. As Republicans massive losses in 1982 demonstrate, that should be worth something.

The new chairman will be tested immediately with the governor’s race in Virginia (which might determine who redistricts the state in 2020) and the party’s quest to retake the House of Representatives for the first time since 2010.

Governor 2018

Illinois: Gov. Bruce Rauner, R, a moderate Republican, won in 2014 on a reform platform. The trouble is, it’s not so easy to get results when Democrats hold three-fifths supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature and can even override your vetoes.

Rauner got a slight reprieve in election 2016 — Democrats lost ground in both the House and Senate, and just barely lost their supermajority in the state House. But in terms of enacting his reform agenda, Rauner still faces a steep uphill climb, against both the legislature and a state court system that has resolutely rejected nearly every attempt at much-needed pension reform so far. Rauner’s relative powerlessness will not make his re-election easy, especially if Democrats decide they can wound him and regain power by refusing to cooperate.

Between the state’s business climate and its quality of life (which in Chicago includes incredibly high rates of violent crime), Illinois has lost nearly 80,000 residents in the last three years. This trend began before Rauner was governor, but he will be the one defending his record in 2018.

Democrats, on the other hand, have to nominate a credible challenger who can compete against Rauner’s millions — he has already given $50 million to his own campaign. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D, who represents the Quad Cities area, already passed on this race.

Chris Kennedy, the nephew of JFK, already entered the Democratic primary on February 8. But beware: The Kennedy name isn’t necessarily magical outside New England. His cousin, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, lost her bid for governor of Maryland in 2002.

Senate 2018

Alabama: Attorney General Luther Strange’s appointment to the U.S. Senate to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions means that all 50 states have had at least one new senator since 2000.

That’s the trivia. The more important issue: By appointing Strange, who had been investigating him for using state resources in an affair, Gov. Robert Bentley has apparently stained both himself and Strange with an impression that he is trying to undermine the investigation.

On very rare occasions, senatorial appointments backfire — usually when governors appoint themselves or appoint family. This is not a case of those things, but it might turn out to be one of them.

The appointment has apparently revived an impeachment process that had been fizzling out. Meanwhile, Strange, who immediately before his appointment had downplayed the investigation’s importance, may face a serious primary challenge in 2018.

It’s an interesting dilemma: Had Strange simply refused the appointment and announced his intention to run for the seat next year, he might have run with only token opposition. Had Bentley given the seat to a placeholder-senator, he probably wouldn’t be facing impeachment this spring.

Arizona: Since election day, there have now been two polls showing Sen. Jeff Flake performing miserably in a Republican primary against both former State Sen. Kelli Ward and state Treasurer Jeff DeWitt. Neither poll is of especially good pedigree, but there’s no question Flake is in trouble after upsetting conservatives with his moves to the center and upsetting Trump supporters with his refusal to support the party nominee.

Flake’s seat will be the Democrats’ number-one pickup target in 2018, in a year when they don’t have many realistic targets. They can be expected to put a lot of resources behind this one.

Given Arizona’s late primary, Flake has about 17 months to right the ship. But the danger is that his early weakness among Republican primary voters will attract a swarm of ambitious Republican pols..

Rep. Paul Gosar, R, ruled out a challenge to Flake earlier this month, but surely there are others who might jump in.

Michigan: There’s now talk of Kid Rock running for Senate against incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

Of course, much, much stranger things have been tried — and have worked — only recently. But the idea that this would be a serious possibility — that the experienced pols would pass up the chance — demonstrates the concern that experienced Republican politicians seem to have about 2018. They are afraid of running in the Trump midterm. Are they being overly cautious?

Pennsylvania: Sen. Bob Casey, D, won’t have to worry about Rep. Pat Meehan, R, this year. Meehan has announced he will be running for re-election instead of going for the Senate in 2018. Pennsylvania Republicans, if they hope to build on Trump’s victory in next year’s Senate race, will have to find someone new.

Virginia: Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina and radio talker Laura Ingraham have both expressed interest in challenging Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine in 2018. Both poll quite poorly against him in the early results from Quinnipiac: Each at 36 percent, with Kaine about 20 points ahead in the high 50s. For the record, Kaine scores one point higher against Fiorina than against Ingraham.

Still, this contest cannot be judged accurately until we’ve had time to see how this year’s race for governor goes. The takeaway, for the moment, is that Kaine is not personally unpopular enough that anyone should expect to beat him easily. Someone is going to have to make a case against him that so far hasn’t been made.

Wisconsin: Republican Rep. Sean Duffy somewhat surprisingly announced that he will not be running for Senate next year against Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D.

This is a bit of a gut-punch to a state GOP on a long winning streak. It takes arguably their strongest candidate and most credible, steadfast Trump supporter out of the equation at a time when Republicans would really like to build on their performance in 2016.

Duffy’s decision not to enter makes it much more likely that state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald will get into the race. The field here is still forming, and there’s a lot of time — Wisconsin’s primary is not until August 14, 2018.

March Madness for Gorsuch

President Trump’s nominee for the United State Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, has been scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 20th. The hearing is expected to last for three or four days. Opening statements will be read on the 20th of March, and questioning of Gorsuch is expected to happen on the following days.

Gorsuch, aged 49, is a graduate of Columbia, Harvard, and Oxford. He has clerked for two Supreme Court Justices, done a stint at the Department of Justice, and currently serves on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Colorado. “The real appeal of Gorsuch nomination is he’s likely to be the most effective conservative nominee in terms of winning over Anthony Kennedy and forging conservative decisions on the court,” said Jeffrey Rosen of the National Constitution Center.

Gorsuch has been spending time meeting with various Senators, attempting to court them as the hearing approaches. He has met with around 50 Senators so far, and will be meeting with several more in the coming days, according to Politico.

“Judge Gorsuch has met every demand placed on him by the minority,” committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement announcing the hearings. “He’s a mainstream judge. He’s displayed independence. He’s met with dozens of senators who have nothing but positive things to say. He is well-qualified and respected. He worked diligently to return the bipartisan questionnaire. It’s time for him to have the opportunity to speak for himself before the Judiciary Committee.”

Netanyahu: “There is no bigger support of Israel than Trump”

Wednesday, President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held their first joint press conference. This marks the first time the two have met since the President’s inauguration late January.

During the conference at the White House, the two spoke about the creation of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, and the potential for a two-state solution. Trump also added that he thinks Israel and Palestinians “are going to make a deal”.

At the end of the conference Netanyahu reaffirmed Trump’s support for Israel, saying “there is no bigger support of Israel and the Jewish State than President Donald Trump.”

Paul Ryan: Flynn Resignation Was ‘The Right Thing’

Speaker Paul Ryan addressed the media regarding Mike Flynn resigning from his position as National Security Advisor. Ryan defended President Trump saying that he “made the right decision,” and that it was “the right thing to do.” During Trump’s presidential transition, Flynn had conversations with the Russian ambassador discussing sanctions that he neglected to disclose.

Washington Examiner quotes, “National security is perhaps the most important function or responsibility the president has, and I think the president made the right decision to ask for his resignation,” Ryan said. “You cannot have a national security advisor mislead the vice president and others, so I think the president was right to ask for his resignation, and I believe it was the right thing to do.”

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Tom Price Takes Point on Obamacare Repeal

Now that the Secretary of Health and Human Services, former Georgia Rep. Tom Price has been confirmed, the Trump administration has a new leader in the effort to repeal Obamacare. The 2010 healthcare act gave wide discretion to the executive branch regarding the implementation of the law, meaning Price should be able to easily roll back coverage mandates and ease eligibility requirements.

The Trump administration has signaled that newly confirmed Price will be outlining the views of the President on Congressional Republicans attempting to formally repeal the law, as well. As the former chairman of the House Budget Committee and a medical doctor, Price is familiar to both friends and foes of the ACA.

Senate Majority Whip, John Cornyn of Texas, said the confirmation of Price should be able to “get the process moving”, explaining that the Republican conference plans to get together behind a single bill that follows the Senate’s rules.

“It is going to take us a series of actions and it’s not going to be another 2,700 page bill. We’re working to achieve consensus,” he said. “After seven years we’ve got all sorts of great ideas but we have to come together behind one”… “We have to do it consistent with the budget reconciliation rules, which constrain how much we can do through that process, but a combination of what Dr. Price can do, once confirmed, administratively, together with the reconciliation bill that finishes the job.”

Singer Rocks Trump Dress To Grammys

American singer and songwriter Joy Villa made a huge statement at the 59th annual Grammy Awards. Villa showed up covered in a long white cloak, later removing it to reveal a patriotic red, white, and blue gown on the red carpet. Trump’s popular campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” was bedazzled down the front of the dress, followed by “TRUMP” sparkling across the train of the dress. The custom dress was made by fashion designer, Andre Soriano.

For obvious reasons, Villa’s choice of wardrobe received mixed feelings, but you could say the risk paid off. Fox News pointed out, “The 25-year-old’s EP “I Make the Static” jumped to the top of Amazon’s top digital paid albums and reached number seven on the iTunes top album chart after her red carpet appearance.”

Check Out Joy’s comments on Instagram:

Trump’s travel ban is popular

The Briefing, Vol. V, Issue 7-

This week:

  • Trump’s travel ban: It’s popular.
  • Republicans announce their House targets for 2018
  • Which ones are realistic?

Trump administration

Travel ban: Say what you like about President Trump’s travel ban: It’s controversial. It’s tied up in the courts.

It’s also quite popular, according to a poll released last week by Morning Consult — more popular than he is, and more popular than any of his other policies. You wouldn’t think anything like that based on the hue and cry in the media and from Democrats and liberal activists. But that’s the way it is. Whether or not it survives in court — or, as appears likely, Trump issues a new version — Americans are not at all concerned with the idea that the feds would temporarily bar travel to the U.S. by people coming from the seven targeted countries.

We could well be seeing a replay of what happened during the election. Trump’s critics and opponents may be projecting their own morality onto the electorate, and failing to understand that they just don’t share the broader population’s values.

House 2017

Kansas-4: First things first: The first Republican nominee for House in 2017 was chosen at a district caucus meeting to replace Rep. Mike Pompeo, who goes on to serve as CIA director for President Trump. State Treasurer Ron Estes won out over a large field that included former Rep. Todd Tiahrt. Democrats will pick their candidate later this month, but the seat is heavily Republican. The special election will take place on April 11.

House 2018

Last week, House Republicans’ campaign arm — the NRCC — announced which Democratic districts they will be targeting. Every cycle they do this in order to prove to journalists that pickup opportunities really exist. It is an exercise whose details should not be taken too seriously, because they have to show that there are lots of good targets, and in doing so they inevitably over-represent opportunities that aren’t very realistic.

Republicans are victims of their own success. Because of their incredible success in the House in 2014, and their retention of most of the seats they picked up in 2016, there just isn’t much room left to grow. Between that and the headwinds they will face in Trump’s first midterm, it would be nothing short of a miracle were the GOP to gain House seats in 2018. Their chief preoccupation, in reality, will be preventing Democrats from taking over the House. That seems quite doable, but not a sure thing.

This week we go through the Republicans’ announced targets — not exhaustively, but just to get acquainted with the incumbents and to get some sense of how serious these opportunities really are.

We also look at how Trump did in some of these districts, using numbers from Daily Kos Elections, who were kind and public-spirited enough to aggregate and publish the results from all 435 congressional districts.

Arizona-1, 9: Arizona will be hot in this year’s House races — it’s a dry heat, of course.

Freshman Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D, is quite beatable in his relatively close fair-fight first district. Republicans nominated a weak candidate in 2016 and Trump underperformed Romney in nearly every county in the District, but he did just barely carry it.

Kyrsten Sinema’s Ninth district was not nearly as close — Trump didn’t even get 40 percent, although Republicans have previously come very close to beating her.

Note that Arizona’s redistricting map, created by an ostensibly non-partisan commission, is actually one of the worst gerrymanders in America, with all but on of the Republicans in the congressional delegation receiving nearly 70 percent of the vote in every election. All of the Democratic seats but one are relatively competitive.

California-7, 24, 36, 52: Even under ideal conditions in strong Republican years, these seats have proven to be out of reach. That’s surely in part because of the anemic condition of the California Republican Party. Were it a serious contender for power, as it was just ten years ago, it’s unlikely that Hillary Clinton could have racked up such an enormous margin of victory.

The story of California since 2005 has been one of Republicans gradually losing ground. Rep. Ami Bera defeated Rep. Dan Lungren in 2012. In every cycle since he has been a target. Even with the state and the district going to Clinton by a large margin, Republican Scott Jones came within three points of beating him.

That is the only district out of the four listed above where Trump even broke 40 percent. The other seats are probably three bridges too far.

Colorado-7: In 2002, this district was drawn to be a fair-fight seat, and it was won and held by former Rep. Bob Beauprez, R, until he ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006.

The district is more Dem-friendly now than it was then — Trump got only 39 percent there. This is also reflective of the state’s leftward drift as a whole. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, who won the open seat in 2006, has easily held on through good and bad years. It’s not an impossible mission, but it will take an exceptional candidate and the right kind of environment to bring him down.

Connecticut-2, 5: For Republicans, Connecticut is the Probably Not State. Rep. Joe Courtney won the eastern second district in 2006, over Republican Rep. Rob Simmons — so yes, a Republican represented the district in prehistoric times. But it’s pretty hard to believe Republicans are suddenly going to take it back now.

The same applies for Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty in the fifth. Rep. Nancy Johnson, R, was always living on the edge in the land of the endangered Republican liberal before her defeat in 2006. Today, that kind of Republicanism is all but extinct, and voters in a relatively wealthy and liberal state like Connecticut are Trump’s worst demographic.

Florida-7, 13: The narrow, surprise defeat of Rep. John Mica, R, by Stephanie Murphy, D, is one result that could conceivably be flipped in the midterm.  the right sort of year. Republicans are likely to contest this one for real.

In the thirteenth district, Rep. Charlie Crist’s reputation as a choker will always keep hope alive. But as with Murphy’s district, after court-ordered redistricting, it is harder for a Republican to win than it was when former Rep. David Jolly first won it in a 2014 special election. Still, he came within four points of keeping it in November.

Iowa-2: This is the most Democratic seat in Iowa. Republicans lost it to Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack in the 2006 wave. Despite Iowa’s overall Republican trend, it’s a real longshot to believe they’re going to win it back in 2018. Republican Chris Peters lost by eight points in November, even though Trump carried the district.

Illinois-17: Residents of this Quad Cities-area district easily re-elected a Democrat, Cheri Bustos, even as Donald Trump narrowly carried it. It is definitely a Democratic seat, drawn by Democrats to elect a Democrat, but Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., held it for one term after winning in 2010.

Massachusetts-9: It’s been more than 20 years since a Republican represented a House seat in Massachusetts. It’s not for lack of trying to beat Rep. Bill Keating in his district in the southeastern portion of the state, which includes Martha’s Vineyard. The voters just don’t cooperate. Then again, Massachusetts did elect a Republican senator for a brief moment there.

Maryland-6: In an effort to ensure that Republicans can only win one district in their state, Democrats drew the nation’s most geometrically offensive gerrymander. Rep. John Delaney is one of the current benefactors, representing a district that runs all the way from the panhandle to the uber-liberal Montgomery County suburbs of Washington. Although Dan Bongino came close in 2014, he is now a Floridian. This seat should not be viewed as a likely pickup until the evidence proves otherwise.

Michigan-5, 9: Rep. Dan Kildee‘s district takes in Flint, Bay City and part of Saginaw. Sander Levin’s district takes in parts of Macomb and Oakland Counties in Detroit’s northern suburbs. Trump did reasonably well (mid-40s) in both districts, but both districts were drawn by Republicans to contain as many Democratic voters as possible, so that Republicans could win more easily in other districts.

Republicans would probably need to win these seats if they wanted to gain a two-thirds majority in the House. For the moment, it seems somewhat far-fetched.

Minnesota-1, 7, 8: These three seats are all winnable, and in fact were all nearly won in November. On aggregate, Democratic Reps. Tim Walz and Rick Nolan retained their seats by less than 5,000 votes in total. Rep. Colin Peterson, one of the last remaining conservative Democrats in the House, won by more than that, but his five-point victory was far closer than what he’s used to.

Trump carried all three of these districts by large double-digit wide margins. In Peterson’s case, Republicans would really like to see him retire — they will almost certainly take over the seat when he does. In the other two, Republicans can win if they find candidates who can appeal to the voters the way Trump does, arguing that the Democrats are misrepresenting the district with their resistance to Trump’s agenda.

New Hampshire-1, 2: Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is now beginning her fourth term in the House, but only two of those terms were consecutive. In fact, this seat has probably been handed back and forth between the parties in the last ten years more than any other in the nation. Shea-Porter triumphed this time over an incumbent facing a campaign finance scandal. This seat is truly winnable in the right sort of year.

Rep. Ann Kuster, D, who represents the more Democratic of New Hampshire’s two districts, will be much harder to beat.

New Jersey-5: The downfall of Rep. Scott Garrett, R, was not, as you might assume, the result of distaste for Donald Trump in New Jersey’s New York suburbs. In fact, Trump narrowly carried his district even as he narrowly lost. This is a seat Republicans should hold.

New Mexico-1, 3: Santa Fe is kind of like a hot, dry version of Portland. So Republicans probably shouldn’t get their hopes up about nabbing the seat of Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is running for governor.

Republicans have not managed to gain much traction against her cousin in Albuquerque, Rep. Ben Lujan, but the district is much more favorable and winnable under the right circumstances.

Nevada-3, 4: The Silver State was an island of disappointment for Republicans in November. Rep. Jacky Rosen, D, took over the very winnable suburban Las Vegas seat of Republican Joe Heck, who had run unsuccessfully for Senate. This one is worth the Republicans pouring some money into it, because it’s winnable.

The fourth district, on the other hand, probably isn’t. Former Rep. Cresent Hardy managed to win in the 2014 GOP blowout (Democrats failed to field a serious candidate for governor), but the way the seat is drawn it’s really a stretch to expect much unless Rosen makes some big mistakes.

New York-3, 18: Long Island went heavily Democratic in the Bush era, but some parts of Long Island have tracked back to the GOP. Trump failed to carry the third district of freshman Rep. Tom Suozzi, but the defeated former County Executive’s victory was narrow enough that it’s probably worth taking another shot in earnest.

On the other hand, Trump actually carried the upstate 18th district of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, which Republicans have represented in the recent past. Former Rep. Nan Hayworth came quite close to defeating him in 2014, so this is a legitimate target as well.

Ohio-13: Contrary to what Nancy Pelosi said, Hillary Clinton did win Rep. Tim Ryan’s Youngstown-area House seat. But not by much, considering it was created as a Democratic vote sink that takes in all of Youngstown and part of Akron. This is truly Trump Country, the old Jim Traficant district. But if even Trump couldn’t carry the district as drawn, it’s definitely a longshot for Republicans.

Oregon-4, 5: Trump did better than Romney in both of these districts. But Republicans have banged their heads against these two Oregon seats, held by Reps. Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader, for many years without a victory. As in Colorado, the state has generally been drifting leftward ever since George W. Bush came within a few thousand votes of carrying it in 2000.

Pennsylvania-17: Yes, Trump did astoundingly well in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, carrying this district by ten points. But it isn’t going to be easy to find a Republican congressional candidate who can replicate that feat in in a district that was essentially created by Republican legislators to be a Democratic vote sink so that Republicans could win in surrounding districts.

Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright begins as an overwhelming favorite, but his is not the craziest name to show up on this list.

Washington-6, 10: Trump did not do well at all in the western shore district of Democratic Rep. Derek Kilmer or the Olympia-area district of Rep. Denny Heck. Nor have Republican challengers in the recent past. These are longshots.

Wisconsin-3: If Democratic Rep. Ron Kind does run for governor, a Republican could have a serious shot of picking up his seat in the western region of the state. This is the portion of rural and small-town Wisconsin that Trump turned Red — he carried the district by five points. Kind faced no Republican on the ballot in 2016, but previous challengers such as Dan Kapanke in 2010 have come awfully close to defeating him. Then again, the seat used to be more Republican — some Democratic areas were swapped in from Republican Rep. Sean Duffy’s seventh district after the 2010 election.

Still, in an open-seat situation, the Trump era presents a new ballgame in seats like this one.

Illegal Immigrant Busted In Grenade Launcher Sting

In Brownsville, Texas, an illegal immigrant from Mexico has been busted with attempting to purchase a grenade launcher and three AK-47 rifles at minimum. The detainee, 31 year old Oscar Fredy Garcia was arrested by ATF agents in the Los Fresnos area of Texas.

Breitbart reports, “The case began on February 6 when Garcia met with an undercover ATF agent to purchase the grenade launcher and three AK-47 rifles at a price of $5,000. During the meeting, Garcia gave the undercover agent $300 as a down payment. Another ATF agent wrote in the criminal complaint that Garcia revealed he was purchasing the weapons for a man named Oscar Garcia Mendez. It remains unclear if Garcia Mendez has been arrested in connection with the case.

An M-203 is a grenade launcher that fires 40mm rounds. Versions of the weapon can be used as a stand alone or can be attached to rifles such as AR-15s.

On February 7, Garcia met with the undercover agent to take delivery. The location of the meeting is not mentioned, but the agent arrested Garcia in the town of Los Fresnos. Late last week, Garcia went before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Morgan, who charged him with one count of conspiring to commit an offense against the U.S. and ordered that Garcia be held without bond due to his immigration status and flight risk.”

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Betsy DeVos denied entry to school by BLM protesters

On a trip to a D.C. public school on Friday, newly-confirmed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos found the entrance to the building blocked by protesters.

Right away, the group crowded around DeVos, both impeding her entrance to the building, and heckling her as she attempted to enter the school. Though the event was organized by the Washington Teachers Union, one of the protesters was holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign.

“News cycles make it hard to imagine what might unite our nation,” DeVos said in a statement later that day, “The rhetoric and the words can get hot and heated, and the animosity often seems unending. And that’s okay, too. People are passionate and moved by deeply held views. We are a pluralistic culture and we must celebrate our differences. But all of us here can help bring unity by personally committing to being more open to, and patient toward, views different than our own.”

DeVos was furiously opposed by the liberal teachers unions in America, and the American Federation of Teachers called it a “sad day” when her confirmation eventually passed on Tuesday.

The video, and rest of the story, can be found at the Daily Caller.

Trump’s Space Plan: To the Moon, Mars, and Beyond

The Trump administration is considering a brave vision for the future of the United States space program: privatization. Internal White House documents reveal that the plan calls for the construction of privately operated space stations and turning NASA into an organization focused on “the large-scale economic development of space”.

This strategy appeals to Trump’s pro-business and pro-jobs campaign promises, and has the potential to reignite a long-dormant space program. The early indications are that private rocket firms like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and their supporters have a clear upper hand in what Trump’s transition advisers portrayed as a race between “Old Space” and “New Space,” according to emails among key players inside the administration. Trump has met with Bezos and Musk, while tech investor Peter Thiel, a close confidant, has lobbied the president to look at using NASA to help grow the private space industry.

Trump has not yet named a director for NASA, Politico reports, but fingers point to Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma as the top contender.

The more ambitious administration vision could include new moon landings that “see private American astronauts, on private space ships, circling the Moon by 2020; and private lunar landers staking out de facto ‘property rights’ for American on the Moon, by 2020 as well,” according to a summary of an “agency action plan” that the transition drew up for NASA late last month.