Another Victory For Moneyed Interests

Ajit Pai assures us there’s nothing to be worried about by today’s first step towards dismantling Obama-era Net Neutrality rules. He should know – he’s chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and does a pretty mean Harlem Shake!

A bipartisan majority of Americans (83%) are less sanguine. There’s ample reason to suspect newly emboldened telecom companies will institute tiered internet service, disproportionately impacting low-income earners and those living in rural areas. I’ll explain why for a one-time fee of $3.99.

(Year Zero/Day Three Hundred and Twenty-Seven)

Moore’s The Pity

That I didn’t get to use that pun in a post bemoaning Alabama’s election of a man you wouldn’t trust to coach high school girls volleyball.

But I don’t mind being overly pessimistic at times, because once the worst case scenario is dispatched, whatever remains isn’t as bad.

Congratulations, Alabama. You didn’t  elect a known sexual predator. Just barely.

(Year Zero/Day Three Hundred and Twenty-Six)

I Think We All Know How This Ends

Today, Alabamans go to the polls for the special election to fill Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat. They deserve our sympathy; they’re shackled to either establishment Democrat Doug Jones or Roy Moore, a man who has been accused of serial child molestation.

It’s a tough choice for voters. On the one hand, Roy Moore wants to turn America into a theocracy, holds strong homophobic, nativist and xenophobic views, and thinks returning our country to the slavery system would “solve a lot of problems”. On the other hand, Moore was banned from a shopping mall for trying to pick up teenage girls.

Moore’s a cynical predator whose refusal to step down earned an endorsement from the president and renewed RNC funding, but no one will accuse him of being a liberal.

Welcome to the Senate, Judge Moore.

(Year Zero/Day Three Hundred and Twenty-Six)

On Trumpian Economic Philosophy

Donald Trump and GOP Lawmakers may be at philosophical odds on any number of issues, but when it comes to their antipathy for the poor, there’s unanimity.

While candidate Donald Trump pledged to protect some safety net programs, conservatives have long wanted to devolve control of social programs to the states and impose stricter work and drug testing rules. Now that they control both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, Republicans believe they have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to overhaul those programs, which they have long argued are wasteful, are too easily exploited and promote dependency.

“People are taking advantage of the system and then other people aren’t receiving what they really need to live, and we think it is very unfair to them,” Trump said in October.

The president is expected to sign the welfare executive order as soon as January, according to multiple administration officials, with an eye toward making changes to health care, food stamps, housing and veterans programs, not just traditional welfare payments.

The poor shouldn’t get away with exploiting the system. That’s the hard-won, exclusive domain of the wealthy.

(Year Zero/Day Theee Hundred and Twenty-Five)

Mr. Trump’s difficult adjustment to the presidency, people close to him say, is rooted in an unrealistic expectation of its powers, which he had assumed to be more akin to the popular image of imperial command than the sloppy reality of having to coexist with two other branches of government.

His vision of executive leadership was shaped close to home, by experiences with Democratic clubhouse politicians as a young developer in New York. One figure stands out to Mr. Trump: an unnamed party boss — his friends assume he is referring to the legendary Brooklyn fixer Meade Esposito — whom he remembered keeping a baseball bat under his desk to enforce his power. To the adviser who recounted it, the story revealed what Mr. Trump expected being president would be like — ruling by fiat, exacting tribute and cutting back room deals.

But while he is unlikely to change who he is on a fundamental level, advisers said they saw a novice who was gradually learning that the presidency does not work that way. And he is coming to realize, they said, the need to woo, not whack, leaders of his own party to get things done.

During his early months in office, he barked commands at senators, which did not go over well. “I don’t work for you, Mr. President,” Mr. Corker once snapped back, according to a Republican with knowledge of the exchange.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, likewise bristled when Mr. Trump cut in during methodical presentations in the Oval Office. “Don’t interrupt me,” Mr. McConnell told the president during a discussion of health care.

—Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush and Peter Baker, Inside Trump’s Hour-by-Hour Battle for Self-Preservation