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Vox Sentences: Town hall attendees are Jesus-booing mad

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The US and Mexico try to make it work (for the kids); the upcoming, maybe-not-all-that-consequential election for DNC chair; town hall attendees are angry, yo.


Rex Tillerson and Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray Daniel Cardenas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly were in Mexico today to meet with Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray. It was ... only slightly less awkward than you might expect. [CNN / Ryan Browne and Nicole Gaouette]
  • The problem (at least the most recent problem) is that among President Trump's executively ordered changes to immigration policy is a plan to send people back to Mexico — whether or not they are actually Mexican — while their deportation cases are pending in court. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • Videgaray has straight up said Mexico will not go along with this. [AFP]
  • The Trump administration has been making policy on the premise that Mexico will ultimately be forced to agree to whatever demands the US makes. But that's not true. This might be the moment Mexico decides to strike back. [Washington Post]
  • Mexican noncooperation would be a problem for the US on, among other things, border security — the Mexican government is the best friend the US has when it comes to keeping Central American immigrants from reaching the US, and Central Americans, not Mexicans, have been the most common border crossers in recent years. [Bloomberg / Jeremy C.F. Lin, Eric Martin, Michael McDonald, and Cedric Sam]
  • Tillerson and Kelly appear to have gotten the memo. They were more conciliatory than, well, their boss is. [NYT / Azam Ahmed, Gardiner Harris, and Ron Nixon]
  • But this might not mean much. If Kelly has pull with the White House, it hasn't been tested yet. And Tillerson is very obviously sidelined, which is, for a lot of reasons, not a thing you want a secretary of state to be. [Vox / Yochi Dreazen]

Atlanta, simmering

Keith Ellison Nick King for The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • On Saturday, at their winter meeting in Atlanta, Democratic National Committee members will convene to elect their new chair. [AP / Lisa Lerer and Bill Barrow]
  • The field is narrowing, in the days before the election, to former Labor Secretary Tom Perez — who was the member of the Obama administration with the most progressive cred, but still, simply by virtue of his ties, is in the "Obama wing" of the party... [The American Prospect / Justin Miller]
  • ..and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who has the support of the "Sanders wing" and of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and who (as a representative of a largely nonwhite district in a Midwestern state) has cred with two blocs that the Democratic Party is anxious to shore up post-Obama and intra-Trump. [Mother Jones / Tim Murphy]
  • Perez and Ellison don't actually disagree on much (and the other candidates for the position don't disagree with them either). But ever since Perez was drafted into the race, the rivalry has become a way to rehearse the unhealed psychic wounds of the 2016 Democratic primary. So here we are. [FiveThirtyEight / Clare Malone]
  • This might make sense if the DNC chair had actual power to guide the party's messaging. But ... they don't. (And Ellison, since he'll still be in the House, wouldn't even be running it full time.) [Vox / Jeff Stein]
  • It certainly appears that Ellison's defenders would be more upset with his loss than Perez's defenders would with his. [New Republic / Clio Chang]
  • But even many DNC members mostly just want the race to be over, so they can get back to talking about how much they think Donald Trump sucks. [MSNBC / Alex Seitz-Wald]

"Wow, they booed the name of Jesus"

Protesters at a town hall meeting Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP/Getty Images
  • So, uh, Republican members of Congress, in their districts for a "work period" this week, are discovering that their constituents are mad. Like, really mad. [NYT / Trip Gabriel, Thomas Kaplan, Lizette Alvarez, and Emmarie Huetteman]
  • Like, attendees at a town hall for Sen. Bill Cassidy tried to shout down the opening prayer mad. [New Orleans Times-Picayune / Tim Morris]
  • Like, the Washington Post has put together a YELL-O-MATIC including angry town hall clips for dozens of politicians mad. (Okay, not all of them are from this year.) [Washington Post / Philip Bump]
  • The stock Republican response is that the angry town hall attendees are fake constituents: from out of district, paid, or both. That is not accurate. They are just really mad. [WSJ / Byron Tau and Natalie Andrews]
  • (Yes, activist groups have played a role in directing people to town hall meetings, but that is how events like this traditionally work.) [Vox / Matt Yglesias]
  • The anger is focused pretty squarely on efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, with many town hall attendees coming prepared to speak about how the law helps them. It's a striking demonstration of a thesis put forth by the political scientist Paul Pierson in the 1990s: that once a social services program is implemented, it creates a constituency of beneficiaries, who make it much more popular and harder to take away than it was to begin with. [Johns Hopkins University Press / Paul Pierson]
  • Many members of Congress have responded by not holding town halls at all — or holding "tele-town halls" at which questions are carefully screened. [Ed O'Keefe via Twitter]
  • But conservative pundit David Freddoso suggests they'd be better off weathering the criticism now and simply delivering results later. After all, the next election isn't for another year and a half. [Washington Examiner / David Freddoso]


  • What do you do when your doctor wants you to have a costly, invasive procedure — but there's no scientific evidence suggesting the procedure would be at all effective? [ProPublica / David Epstein]
  • In October, GiveDirectly began the biggest basic income experiment in history. Here's how one Kenyan village is changing because of it. [NYT / Annie Lowrey]
  • 79 percent of Americans work at companies with 401(k)s or similar plans. But less than half of those Americans are actually contributing to the plans. [Bloomberg / Ben Steverman]
  • Just in time for Betsy DeVos's tenure, three big new studies find that school vouchers cause students to learn substantially less. [NYT / Kevin Carey]
  • Rumana Ahmed joined the National Security Council staff in 2014. She expected to stay on for the Trump administration, despite being a hijab-wearing Muslim woman. She lasted eight days. [The Atlantic / Rumana Ahmed]


Watch this: A timeline of the 3 Trump-Russia scandals

It's clear: Trump has a Russia problem. [YouTube / Sam Ellis and Gina Barton]

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