Sunday, September 24, 2017

Physical Cowards Like Señor Trumpanzee Often Promote Violence And Fascism


Hillary couldn't have picked a more sycophantic interviewer than Joy Reid for a taped, edited appearance of MSNBC Saturday morning. Nonetheless, there was something the two of them got to that even Hillary's detractors would whole-heartedly agree with: Trump is worse than she, or almost any of us, imaged he would be as president. Although, who really even imagined he would be president until Putin's agents managed to flip a few precincts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan?

In the midst of discussing her "it's all about me, me, me, me, me" book, Reid asked her if Clinton thought the Trump era was even worse than she expected it to be. "I really had such deep doubts about his preparation, his temperament, his character, his experience, but he's been even worse than I thought he would be," said the woman who beat him 65,853,516 (48.2%) to 62,984,825 (46.1%). "I thought, and I tried in my concession speech to make clear that we should all give him the space to be president for every American. That's what we want from our presidents, regardless of our partisan differences, we want to feel like the person in the oval office really cares about and is looking after everybody. And that just hasn't turned out to be the case, starting with our inauguration, which is how I opened the book talking about how excruciating it was to go and what a missed opportunity for him because all he did was reinforce the dark, divisive image of America that he'd been feeding to his supporters."

That said, DWT contributor, nom de guerre is and has always been, Valley Girl decided to take a look at this age of Trump Joy Reid decided to ask Hillary about:

Trump Loves Violence In All Forms
-by Valley Girl

Nope, I’m not in any way a fan of football. I don’t like the inherent violence of the game. The only team game I like, though less so now, is baseball. At one point recently I resorted for a few days to watching the great Sandy Koufax on youtube. Yeah, total escapist behavior on my part, to save my sanity. I needed some kind of distraction from our totally bat-shit crazy President, to soothe my nerves, so that I didn’t end up becoming  bat-shit crazy myself.

I watched every Sandy Koufax video available on youtube. I grew up in LA. I used to listen to the Dodger games on radio, with my father. Here is the great Sandy Koufax, after highlights of the game, being interviewed by the poet of baseball, Vin Scully, after the Dodgers 1965 World Series win. Sure, this will appeal only to true baseball fans. And, by the way, Sandy Koufax was born and raised in Brooklyn. Jewish. Hi, Howie.

[Since my name was invoked, I'll add that my dad used to take me to Ebbets Field on Bedford Avenue near our house way before the Dodgers won the 1965 World Series. I saw Koufax pitch a few games before the Dodgers moved.]

And, notice how incredibly articulate Sandy is in the post game interview. And, kind. He doesn’t make the interview “about himself.” He gives gracious credit to his team members. And for you other girl fans, take a look at those dimples.

Why was I prompted to write this post? Because of something I happened to read this morning.  
On the same day the media was filled with stories about a 27-year-old former NFL player who committed suicide and was found to have severe degenerative brain damage-- likely much or all of it from football-- the president decried how big hits have been taken out of the game.

…Regarding anthem protests, Trump said: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s FIRED!’ You know, some owner is gonna do that. He’s gonna say, ‘That guy disrespects our flag; he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it. They don’t know it. They’re friends of mine, many of them. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country.”

Regarding his nostalgia for the dangerous hits that college and pro football have been trying to take out of the game, Trump said: “Today if you hit too hard-- 15 yards! Throw him out of the game! They had that last week. I watched for a couple of minutes. Two guys, just really, beautiful tackle. Boom, 15 yards! The referee gets on television-- his wife is sitting at home, she’s so proud of him. They’re ruining the game! They’re ruining the game. That’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit! It is hurting the game.

“But do you know what’s hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on the television and you see those players taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem. The only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium. I guarantee things will stop. Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up and leave. Not the same game anymore, anyway.”

Reaction was swift on Twitter. “Where was this passion in response to Charlottesville?” Broncos guard Max Garcia wrote, referring to Trump’s equivocating remarks after the white supremacist rallies in Virginia in August.

…Now about the new rules and penalties in recent years for the big hits both pro and college football are trying to take out of the game. Trump, apparently, is the only person in America who wants to see a more dangerous game of football.

…The New York Times has reported extensively on the number of deceased former players diagnosed with CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease experts believe is caused by repetitive head trauma. On Thursday the paper reported that former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who last played at age 23 and committed suicide in prison this year after being convicted of murder, had “severe” CTE at the time of his death.

Trump’s remarks come at a time of intense examination of the violence of the game, at a time when its long-term future is being questioned because of the effects of head trauma. It’s not the first time he’s questioned the softening of the game. It was a particularly tone-deaf instance, however, given the news of the week.

There’s no other way to put it: On Friday night, again, Donald Trump was America’s divider-in-chief.
And, more, which will ask you to watch to videos.

This youtube captures important parts of Trump’s remarks atthe Huntsville Rally, November 22, 2017. And, there’s no other way to summarize his remarks, than to conclude that Trump loves violence.

Of course this shouldn’t be news, that Trump loves violence,  to anyone who’s been paying attention.

Here’s Trump speaking to police in Suffolk County on Long Island, giving them permission to abuse their authority as police officers:

The full text of that speech is here but below are some of the highlights:
On Friday, President Trump traveled to Long Island to address a group of law enforcement officials and speak about the administration’s efforts to eradicate the gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13. His speech stuck largely to that theme, though he also made note of Thursday night’s failed health-care vote.

Trump’s speech was noteworthy, though, for its embrace of aggressive tactics by police officers. He insisted that his team was “rough” and encouraged police officers not to be concerned about preventing physical harm to people being taken into custody. The laws, he said, were “stacked against” the police.

“Please don’t be too nice,” Trump told the officers, to applause. Below, his comments, as provided by the White House, with our highlights and annotations. To see an annotation, click on the yellow, highlighted text.

Well, thank you very much. This is certainly being home for me. I spent a lot of time right here. I was in Queens, so I’d come here, and this was like the luxury location for me. And I love it. I love the people here. Even coming in from the airport, I sat with Nikki Haley, who’s here someplace. Where’s our Nikki? Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is so incredible. (Applause.) And she’s seen crowds in her life, and she said, boy, those are really big crowds. Crowds of people all lining the streets, all the way over to here. And it’s really a special place. And so when I heard about this, I said, I want to do that one.

But I really wanted to do it not because of location, but because, as you know, I am the big, big believer and admirer of the people in law enforcement, okay? From day one. (Applause.) From day one. We love our police. We love our sheriffs. And we love our ICE officers. And they have been working hard. (Applause.) Thank you. They have been working hard.

Together, we’re going to restore safety to our streets and peace to our communities, and we’re going to destroy the vile criminal cartel, MS-13, and many other gangs. But MS-13 is particularly violent. They don’t like shooting people because it’s too quick, it’s too fast. I was reading-- one of these animals was caught-- in explaining, they like to knife them and cut them, and let them die slowly because that way it’s more painful, and they enjoy watching that much more. These are animals.

We’re joined today by police and sheriffs from Suffolk, Nassau, Dutchess and Ulster counties; state police from New York and New Jersey-- many of you I know, great friends; Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers; and law enforcement personnel from a number of federal agencies. So we’re loaded up with great people-- that’s what I call it.

And I want to just tell you all together, right now, the reason I came-- this is the most important sentence to me: On behalf of the American people, I want to say, thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you.

And I don’t think you know how much the public respects and admires you. You’re saving American lives every day, and we have your backs-- believe me-- we have your backs 100 percent. Not like the old days. Not like the old days. (Applause.)

You know, when you wanted to take over and you used military equipment-- and they were saying you couldn’t do it-- you know what I said? That was my first day: You can do it. (Laughter.) In fact, that stuff is disappearing so fast we have none left. (Laughter.) You guys know-- you really knew how to get that. But that’s my honor. And I tell you what-- it’s being put to good use.

I especially want to thank ICE Director Tom Homan, who has done an incredible job in just a short period of time. Tom, get up here. I know you just-- (applause)-- Tom is determined to rid our nation of cartels and criminals who are preying on our citizens. And I can only say to Tom: Keep up the great work. He’s a tough guy. He’s a tough cookie. Somebody said the other day, they saw him on television, and somebody-- they were interviewed after that; they said, he looks very nasty, he looks very mean. I said, that’s what I’m looking for. (Laughter.) That’s exactly what I was looking for.

And for that, I want to congratulate John Kelly, who has done an incredible job of Secretary of Homeland Security. Incredible. (Applause.) One of our real stars. Truly, one of our stars. John Kelly is one of our great stars. You know, the border is down 78 percent. Under past administrations, the border didn’t go down-- it went up. But if it went down 1 percent, it was like this was a great thing. Down 78 percent. And, in fact, the southern border of Mexico, we did them a big favor-- believe me. They get very little traffic in there anymore, because they know they’re not going to get through the border to the United States.

So that whole group has been incredible, led by General Kelly.

…And, of course, a legend, somebody that we all know very well, sort of my neighbor-- because I consider him a neighbor-- but he’s really a great and highly respected man in Washington, Congressman Peter King. (Applause.) Very respected guy. He is a respected man that people like to ask opinions of. I do.

Congressman King and his colleagues know the terrible pain and violence MS-13 has inflicted upon this community-- and this country. And if you remember just a little more than two years ago, when I came down the escalator with Melania, and I made the speech-- people coming into this country. Everyone said, what does he know? What’s he talking about?

...But from now on, we’re going to enforce our laws, protect our borders, and support our police like our police have never been supported before. We’re going to support you like you’ve never been supported before. (Applause.)

...And I can tell you, I saw some photos where Tom’s guys-- rough guys. They’re rough. I don’t want to be-- say it because they’ll say that’s not politically correct. You’re not allowed to have rough people doing this kind of work. We have to get-- just like they don’t want to have rich people at the head of Treasury, okay? (Laughter.) Like, I want a rich guy at the head of Treasury, right? Right? (Applause.)

…ICE officers recently conducted the largest crackdown on criminal gangs in the history of our country. In just six weeks, ICE and our law enforcement partners arrested nearly 1,400 suspects and seized more than 200 illegal firearms and some beauties, and nearly 600 pounds of narcotics.

The men and women of ICE are turning the tide in the battle against MS-13. But we need more resources from Congress-- and we’re getting them. Congress is actually opening up and really doing a job. They should have approved healthcare last night, but you can’t have everything. Boy, oh, boy. They’ve been working on that one for seven years. Can you believe that? The swamp. But we’ll get it done. We’re going to get it done.

…Right now, we have less than 6,000 Enforcement and Removal Officers in ICE. This is not enough to protect a nation of more than 320 million people. It’s essential that Congress fund another 10,000 ICE officers-- and we’re asking for that-- so that we can eliminate MS-13 and root out the criminal cartels from our country.

Now, we’re getting them out anyway, but we’d like to get them out a lot faster. And when you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon-- you just see them thrown in, rough-- I said, please don’t be too nice. (Laughter.) Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over? Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody-- don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay? (Laughter and applause.)

…It’s essential that Congress fund hundreds more federal immigration judges and prosecutors-- and we need them quickly, quickly-- if we’re going to dismantle these deadly networks. And I have to tell you, you know, the laws are so horrendously stacked against us, because for years and years they’ve been made to protect the criminal. Totally made to protect the criminal, not the officers.

…So we’re going to secure our borders against illegal entry, and we will build the wall. That I can tell you. (Applause.)

In fact, last night-- you don’t read about this too much, but it was approved-- $1.6 billion for the phase one of the wall, which is not only design but the start of construction over a period of about two years, but the start of construction for a great border wall. And we’re going to build it. The Wall is a vital, and vital as a tool, for ending the humanitarian disaster brought-- and really brought on by drug smugglers and new words that we haven’t heard too much of-- human traffickers.

We will defend our country, protect our communities, and put the safety of the American people first. And I’m doing that with law enforcement, and we’re doing that with trade, and we’re doing that with so much else. It’s called America First. It’s called an expression I’m sure you’ve never heard of: Make America Great Again. Has anybody heard that expression? (Applause.)

That is my promise to each of you. That is the oath I took as President, and that is my sacred pledge to the American people.

Thank you everyone here today. You are really special, special Americans. And thank you in particular to the great police, sheriffs, and ICE officers. You do a spectacular job. The country loves you. The country respects you. You don’t hear it, but believe me, they respect you as much as they respect anything. There is the respect about our country. You are spectacular people. (Applause.)

And, this: Trump gives supporters permission to be violent with protesters
Published on Mar 4, 2016

Donald Trump-- 'Knock the Crap Out Of Them, I Will Pay For The Legal Fees'
Published on Mar 23, 2016

Donald Trump Inciting Violence at Rally in St. Louis: March 11, 2016
Published on Mar 12, 2016

This is a long video, annotated and interpreted by the person who published it on youtube.  And, if, you had any doubts before, that Trump does indeed love violence, watch it. Or even if you knew that already.

The above youtubes are just a few of those available.

But, it wasn’t until I thought about writing this post that the idea crystallized in my mind, as a simple phrase:

Trump Loves Violence.

... Because it’s so much fun. See the first video in the series above.

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After He's Humiliated Tuesday, Trump Will Never Want To Set Foot In Alabama Again


The Women For Trump PAC is just the latest MAGA group to split from Señor Trumpanzee and embrace Roy Moore's overt fascism. Bretibart reported that "Women Vote Trump, the largest female-run PAC to support Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, announced their endorsement of Judge Roy Moore for U.S. Senate on Friday, describing him as the “only candidate” who will stand up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell... 'At a time when Mitch McConnell and the DC swamp have been obstructionists to the President’s agenda, this election is about who is going to stand up to Mitch McConnell,' the statement continued. 'There is only one candidate who will do that, Judge Roy Moore.' Moore’s opponent, U.S. Senator Luther Strange, remains the choice of Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment. Strange also received the endorsement of Trump himself, much to the frustration of many Trump supporters. In recent weeks, the Senate Leadership Fund, a PAC affiliated with McConnell, has flooded the state with a series of false attack ads against Moore. During a debate between the two candidates on Thursday evening, Strange spent much of his time touting what he called his 'close, personal friendship' with the President and referred 28 times to the fact that Trump endorsed him over Moore. A poll released Friday shows Moore with an eight-point lead over Strange."

Breitbart also reported that Señor Trumpanzee was doing his best at the Huntsville rally Friday "to characterize Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) as a Washington outsider. 'He’s been in Washington for even less time than me. So he doesn’t know all these people he’s supposed to know,' Trump said. However, the characterization did not comport with reality. While Trump has lived in Washington, D.C. since January, Strange has spent eight years as a Washington, D.C. lobbyist for an Alabama-based gas utility company." In fact, every Bretibart top story but one was related to the Alabama Senate primary runoff coming on Tuesday. The biggest one of all was the silliest and most disparaging of Trumpanzee: Trump Claims Luther Strange Does Not Know Mitch McConnell, Despite Campaign Getting Millions from Him.

During a rally in support of Luther Strange’s election campaign, President Donald Trump attempted to distance any relationship between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Strange despite McConnell-linked money streaming into the race and a report that McConnell handpicked Strange for the seat.

“He’s not a friend of Mitch McConnell. He doesn’t know Mitch McConnell, until just recently,” Trump said of Strange at Friday night’s rally for Strange. He added that he wasn’t saying that as a bad comment about “Mitch, at all.” “He just got there,” Trump said of Strange. He stated that he once asked Strange how well he knows McConnell and Strange claimed that he had just met McConnell.

“In fact… he just came out against that totally ridiculous rule, the filibuster rule, that’s ridiculous,” said Trump of Strange. He spoke of the 52 Republicans in the U.S. Senate and the need to have 60 votes to pass much legislation in that governing body.

However, Strange has spent significant time In Washington, D.C., and as a registered lobbyist.

The New York Times reported in February on Strange’s previous work with D.C.-establishment operative Karl Rove and their meeting in the 1990s. The report notes Strange’s time as a D.C. lobbyist and work for “a white-shoe Birmingham law firm with deep ties to the establishment wing of the Republican Party.” The report also highlighted McConnell’s enthusiasm for Strange and that Strange is “no stranger to the swamp.”

Strange ran the Washington, D.C., government affairs office for Sonat before returning to Alabama to join the establishment-connected Birmingham law firm.

Questions also remain after Strange asked the state legislature to suspend an investigation into then-Gov. Robert Bentley, which it did. Bentley appointed Strange to Sessions’ Senate seat. The Governor “denied any impropriety in his selection” according to the Times.

Bentley has been extremely clear that McConnell sent him a message about appointing Strange to the Senate seat. “I went by his office, and the first person that he actually mentioned was Luther Strange,” said Bentley, according to the Times. “He named several people, but the first one that he mentioned was Luther Strange.”

Not only was Strange reportedly McConnell’s first pick, but the McConnell-linked Senate Leadership Fund PAC has dropped millions and millions of dollars into the race. Just days ago the PAC sunk yet another $830,000 into the race.

Despite the many millions dumped into the race to prop up Strange, he has continually trailed his GOP opponent Judge Roy Moore in the polls. A statewide FOX10/Strategy Research poll conducted before a Thursday night debate between Moore and Strange was released on Friday. It showed Moore still leading Strange, 54-46.
Tomorrow night Bannon and the kook from Duck Dynasty are headlining a rally for Moore in Fairhope, just outside of Mobile, and Hannity has announced on Fox that he will be interviewing Bannon, live, at the rally. I haven't been able to find any traces of Mercer money in this though. I wonder if they just laundered it through other groups or if Bannon failed to persuade the fascist-minded Mercers to write any checks for this one.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics' money is still flooding into the Alabama race just days before the vote. "Strange," they reported, "has raised $3.9 million and spent about $4.1 million as of Sept. 6, according to filings with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). The amount raised by his campaign more than doubles the $1.7 million then-Sen. Jeff Sessions received for his 2014 Senate bid. The majority of Strange’s financing has come from PACs, which make up 28.5 percent of his contributions, and large individual donors. Moore, on the other hand, has raised money predominantly from small and large individual donors with little to no support from PACs. According a Sept. 6 FEC filing, Moore’s campaign has raised $1.4 million and spent $1.1 million. As far as outside spending, the Solution Fund PAC has spent $54,000 in support of Moore while the Swamp Drainers Foundation and the Madison Project have spent $85,000 and $68,000 respectively in advertising and other communication materials against Strange."

McConnell's Senate Leadership Fund spent $733,000 bolstering Strange and $2.5 million attacking Moore, with whom he'll soon be serving. The NRA has spent over $1 million-- $874,000 in the last 2 weeks-- supporting Strange.

Friday, James Hohmann, offered an exhaustive last minute look at the race and Thursday's televised debate for Washington Post readers. He started by smirking that "If you took a shot of liquor every time Luther Strange name-dropped the president during a televised debate last night, you’d probably be too hammered to attend Donald Trump’s rally for him in Huntsville later today. Heck, depending on your tolerance, you might still be too hung over to go vote next Tuesday in the GOP runoff."
White House aides were deeply divided as recently as last week about whether Trump should risk humiliation by holding a rally for someone who trails in the polls.

After Strange had invoked him a few dozen times, Moore argued that the president was misled and manipulated into endorsing him by Senate Majority Leader McConnell. He noted that several of Trump’s former advisers have endorsed him, such as ex-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and former National Security Council aide Sebastian Gorka. “They know what President Trump stands for,” Moore said. “The problem is President Trump is being cut off in his office. He’s being redirected by people like McConnell, who do not support his agenda and will not support his agenda in the future. I think we need to go back and look at what’s going on.”

Strange feigned great umbrage at this line of attack and insisted that “it was not just a namby-pamby decision” when Trump chose to endorse him: “What you just said reveals a total lack of understanding of the president and of his character, and of his determination, and of his loyalty and of his friendship,” he replied. “I met Mitch McConnell about six or seven months ago. I’ve already stood up to him on many occasions. To suggest that the president of the United States, the head of the free world, a man who is changing the world, is being manipulated by Mitch McConnell is insulting to the president. It’s absolutely insulting to the president! That’s why he’s chosen me. He’s not being manipulated by anyone. As a matter of fact, many of the people who are supporting you look like the unemployment line at the White House. They were fired! They’re not there. There’s a reason for that: because the president is his own man. If anyone in this room... doubts that, that he can’t make up his mind without being influenced by someone, then you just misread the president. You just flat misread him!”

Moore ribbed Strange for how hard he sucks up to Trump. He noted that, as a registered lobbyist, Strange advocated for trade deals that Trump says are bad. He said that his opponent only endorsed blowing up the rules of the Senate so bills can pass with a simple majority after Trump called for it on Twitter. Then he attacked Strange for supporting Trump’s deal with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to raise the debt ceiling.

“This race is not me against the president... It’s me against Luther Strange,” he said. “I can’t tell you what the president thinks. I can’t tell you every move he makes, when he goes to the bathroom and when he doesn’t!... I do know Mr. Strange has been a lobbyist. That’s what a lobbyist does... You don’t get rid of lobbyists in the swamp by sending them to the United States Senate.”

Threading a delicate needle, Moore simultaneously sought to link himself with Trump. The most amusing example came when he noted that Trump attended a military academy for high school that is not far from West Point, where he went. He praised the president’s ban on transgender troops in the military. “I said that even before he said it! I agree with him very much on that,” said Moore.

...In both his opening and closing statements at the debate, Strange called next week’s vote a referendum on Trump: “It will be a test of our state and our people: Are we going to support our president? … Are we going to make America great again?”

During a post-debate rally for Moore, Sarah Palin echoed the message that Trump is being co-opted. “The forgotten man and woman in this country, they stood up, and we beat the swamp. But, alas, 10 months later, guys, the swamp, it's trying to hijack this presidency,” said Palin, the 2008 GOP nominee for vice president. “The swamp is trying to steal the victory that we worked so long and hard for-- to steal the victory that a lot of us put our reputations on the line for. We voted to put America first, not the political elite that had ignored us for decades.”

Palin described Moore as being “deplorable before deplorable was cool”: “A vote for Judge Moore isn't a vote against the president. It is a vote for the people's agenda that elected the president... The president needs support to keep the promises that elected him. So we're sending Trump someone who has our back, not Mitch McConnell's... Make no mistake, 'Big Luther' is Mitch McConnell's guy!”

...The final rally speaker was Moore himself, who took the stage as ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ blared... Moore told his the crowd... how it's more important for ‘the country to be good again’ than for it to be great again.”
I wonder what McConnell said to persuade Trump to overtly support the swamp. And I wonder if we'll ever find out. Trump knows he fucked up with this. "I’ll be honest, I might have made a mistake," he told the crowd at one point during Friday night's loony rally. "If Luther doesn’t win they’re not going to say, we picked up 25 points in a short period of time. If his opponent wins, I’m going to be here campaigning like hell for him."

People have been asking me why we haven't taken a stand on the Democratic nominee, Doug Jones. He looks good on the issues and we did reach out to him-- a lot. But we never got any kind of a response at all. I've learned over the last decade or so that usually, when Democratic candidates don't respond to our attempts to contact them, there's a reason-- and it's not because they're too left-wing. Jones may be fine; but we have no way of knowing. I think he's probably counting on beating Moore (or Strange) by default. That's fine with me but that doesn't mean I'm sending him money or asking Blue America members to. These are the candidates we're supporting in the 2018 Senate races so far-- and we've talked to each and every one of them and we can vouch for each and every one of them without worrying they'll sell out when they get into office. But, yes, if I lived in Alabama, I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to vote for Jones in December.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


-by Noah

Señor Trumpanzee takes timeout from visiting his properties and watching porn with Ted Cruz to pose for the sculptor who will make a statue of him for the Donald J. Trump Library Of Historic Tweets.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Lay Down With Trump-- Get Up With Cooties... A Less Fancy Way Of Explaining Reputational Risk


Friday evening, Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions tight end, tweeted a question: "Does anyone tell Trump to stick to politics, like they tell us to stick to sports?" Trump had been busy attacking Stephen Curry and Colin Kaepernick and the NFL. NFL Players Association’s executive director, DeMaurice Smith responded that "This union will never back down when it comes to protecting the constitutional rights of our players as well as their safety as men who compete in a game that exposes them to great risks" and this morning, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement that rebuked Señor Trumpanzee: "The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities." Trump petulantly cancelled an invitation to the White House for Stephen Curry who had already said he didn't want to go. Trump's assertion that it was a great honor to be invited to the White House was true-- until he moved in.

Who cares? Probably a lot of sports fans. But also a lot of White House staffers. That picture up top-- from The Onion-- depicts Sebastian Gorka being welcomed to the halfway house for fired Trump Regime members. But what about the left-behinds? A report this morning from Politico's Nancy Cook reports that staffers are looking for the exits and that "after a wave of high-profile White House departures this summer, staffers who remained are reaching out to headhunters to discuss their next move." She wrote it's "a fast-growing number" and it's "aides up and down the chain" who are currently "reaching out to headhunters, lobbyists, and GOP operatives for help finding their next job."
Staffers from the National Economic Council-- where director Gary Cohn is expected to be on his way out altogether after tax reform or onto a different role-- as well as the communications shop and beyond are quietly exploring their next moves. They’re talking to headhunters about positions as in-house government affairs experts at major companies, or as executives at trade associations, universities, or consulting firms-- ironically, jobs that run counter to Trump’s “drain the swamp” mantra.

Political appointees want to leave for myriad reasons, according to recruiters, Republican operatives and White House officials. Morale is low, the Russia investigations seem only to grow in scope and constant churn at the top has left some staffers without patrons in a workplace known for backbiting and a tribal-like attitude.

“There will be an exodus from this administration in January,” said one Republican lobbyist, who alone has heard from five officials looking for new gigs. “Everyone says, ‘I just need to stay for one year.’ If you leave before a year, it looks like you are acknowledging that you made a mistake.”

Staffers are already laying the groundwork through networking, lunches, and résumés sent to D.C.-based executive recruiters, so that they can a land new job by the start of 2018. Two headhunters confirmed that they had heard from multiple White House staffers.

“There is no joy in Trumpworld right now,” said one adviser in frequent contact with several staffers. “Working in the White House is supposed to be the peak of your career, but everyone is unhappy, and everyone is fighting everyone else.”

...Roughly 23 White House staffers have also resigned or been fired since January including high-profile departures such Priebus, , Bannon and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to lesser-known appointees such as Michael Short of the communications shop, Derek Harvey of the National Security Council, or former deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh.

This constant departures and changes in leadership could make it difficult for the administration to woo Republicans or top policy experts for new openings, said one executive recruiter-- a problem compounded by the fact that the administration is still trying to fill vacant political positions in both the West Wing and federal agencies.

So far, the Trump White House has nominated roughly 345 appointees for Senate-confirmed positions. By Sept. 22 in past administrations, Obama had nominated 459 people while President George W. Bush had nominated 588 and Clinton 407, according to historical data kept by the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service.

“The question ultimately is whether people face a reputational risk by serving in this administration. Will it hurt people?” added the recruiter, who hires for trade associations, companies, and firms, looking for a D.C. presence.

But, this recruiter said, interest is always high in people coming out of the White House: “Our clients are always looking for people who have insights and perspectives from inside the administration, whether it is on tax reform or health care.”

...It’s not clear whether controversy over Trump’s policy positions will make it harder for people to find work. Former press secretary Sean Spicer has struggled to land a role as a paid network or cable news contributor because of concerns about his credibility.

The Last Supper by Nancy Ohanian

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How The Politics Of Healthcare Have Made Dean Heller Unelectable In Nevada


Dean Heller is a squishy mainstreamish Republican senator from Nevada. He was appointed to the seat by Republican Governor Brian Sandoval in 2011 when corrupt Republican John Ensign was forced to resign. Before getting into politics, Heller was a stock broker. In 2012 he was challenged by a corrupt New Dem, Shelley Berkley and managed to beat her 457,656 (45.87%) to 446,080 (44.71%)-- an 11,576 vote margin (against an incredibly weak and unattractive candidate who many Democrats just couldn't persuade themselves to vote for).

This cycle, Heller is a dead dog. He has a Trumpist opponent, Danny Tarkanian and another crappy DSCC-backed conservaDem just like Berkley (totally unqualified Jacky Rosen) and a Berniecrat the DSCC is trying to derail, Jesse Sbaih. Sarah Palin has already endorsed Tarkanian and the most recent poll of Republican voters shows Heller losing the primary to Tarkanian 39-31%. There is no doubt that Bannon's whole Roy Moore neo-fascist support team will be showing up in Nevada to destroy Heller as soon as they've finished destroying Luther Strange in Alabama-- and teaching Trump a lesson about where he gets his marching orders.

Unlike Heller, Rand Paul stood up to Trump's bullying and bribes

You know the TrumpCare bill that John McCain just torpedoed, commonly known as Graham-Cassidy? That was actually short for Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson. And that's weird for someone who made such a big deal about sticking with the very popular Governor who originally appointed him to the Senate, Brian Sandoval. Sandoval has denounced the bill as detrimental to Nevadans. This week the Nevada Independent report on this sounded like an early Dean Heller political obituary.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said Thursday that the flexibility fellow Republican Sen. Dean Heller promised will be good for Nevada in a health-care bill he’s sponsoring is a “false choice” because the legislation will also slash funding.

Sandoval, in a statement to the Nevada Independent, said he would not “pit seniors, children, families, the mentally ill, the critically ill, hospitals, care providers or any other Nevadan against each other” because of the steep cuts to federal funding the state would face if the Heller-sponsored measure were to pass. A state analysis, also obtained by the Nevada Independent, agrees with independent calculations from various health-care organizations estimating Nevada will lose between $600 million and $2 billion in federal funding by 2026 if the legislation passes.

As tensions mounted this week with Senate Republicans renewing a health-care debate thought to be laid to rest, Heller publicly touted the “flexibility” the measure would create by dividing up the federal dollars currently spent on the Affordable Care Act among the states in the form of a block grant. Where Sandoval only gently rebuffed Heller on Tuesday, saying he appreciated the “intended flexibility” of the bill, the careful, deliberative Sandoval-- not one to rush to the presses with a strongly worded statement-- didn’t mince words on Thursday.

“Flexibility with reduced funding is a false choice,” Sandoval said in the statement. “I will not pit seniors, children, families, the mentally ill, the critically ill, hospitals, care providers, or any other Nevadan against each other because of cuts to Nevada’s health-care delivery system proposed by the Graham-Cassidy amendment.”

Sandoval’s statement stands in sharp relief against one issued just two days earlier, in which the even-keeled governor attempted to soften the blow to Heller after authoring a letter with a group of nine other bipartisan governors urging Senate leadership not to consider the proposal. In the earlier statement, Sandoval said that Heller is “working in the best interest of the state” while gently, but firmly reiterating that he favors a bipartisan fix to the nation’s health-care system.

The recent rift between the two Republicans is also a sharp turn of events from June, when Sandoval and Heller stood side by side to harshly condemn Senate Republicans’ last repeal-and-replace plan, saying that it would strip health care away from millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans. Sandoval remained mum for weeks on the measure, initially drafted by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy and signed onto by Heller amid a week of heated health-care negotiations in the Senate in July.

Heller publicly touted that “Nevada wins” under the measure, which would divvy up the block grant annually based on states’ numbers of poor or near-poor residents as well as create a per capita cap on the half-century old Medicaid program. The Republican senator, who is up for re-election in 2018, has had to walk a fine line amid discussions in the Senate over the past couple of months about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, facing a challenge from the more conservative Danny Tarkanian.

...[W]hile the bill sponsors compare the amount of money Nevada will receive in 2026 under Graham-Cassidy when the block grant ends to how much it will receive in 2020 when the block grant begins, the correct analysis would be to compare the projected funding Nevada will receive in 2026 under the Affordable Care Act under the status quo compared to what it would receive in 2026 under Graham-Cassidy. When that comparison is done, Nevada loses between $600 million to $2 billion by most organizations’ calculations, the state analysis says.

Over months of discussions about repealing the Affordable Care Act, Sandoval has repeatedly argued against touching the extra dollars the federal health-care law made available to states that chose to opt in to an expansion of Medicaid, a point he reiterated in the Thursday statement. Sandoval was the first Republican governor to opt in to Medicaid expansion, and the state has since entirely restructured the way it provides services, such as mental health care, to rely on those new federal Medicaid dollars.

“As Governor, I made a commitment to use all the tools available to ensure Nevadans had access to affordable and quality health care. I made the decision to expand Medicaid to never before covered populations, including childless adults and pregnant women,” Sandoval said. “I made the decision to leverage all the federal funding possible through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and to work to improve the health-care system for those with mental illness, addictions and disabilities.”

Before the state expanded Medicaid, the uninsurance rate was 20.7 percent, 27 percent for adults under 65 and 14.8 percent for children; after, the uninsured rate dropped by 9.3 percentage points, down to 11.4 percent in 2016. Between Medicaid expansion and the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, nearly 400,000 Nevadans have gained access to health care, including more than 300,000 in Medicaid and nearly 90,000 on the exchange, Sandoval said.

According to the state’s analysis, more than 200,000 people currently receiving Medicaid will lose coverage when the block grant goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020 and need to be moved to other coverage with unknown costs. An additional 90,000 Nevadans who purchase insurance on the exchange would also be left without access to subsidized coverage.

The per capita cap that Graham-Cassidy places on Medicaid funding, which organizations who have analyzed the bill do not believe will keep pace with the costs of providing health care, will “fundamentally” change the federal Medicaid program without analyzing the cost of long-term impacts to the state, the state analysis says.

The legislation will also reduce the ability for states to levy provider taxes from 6 percent to 4 percent over time, which will limit Nevada’s ability to help finance increased Medicaid payments to nursing homes. The reduction will result in a $10 million per year reduction in payments to nursing homes by 2025, according to the state’s analysis.

The state analysis says Graham-Cassidy will also reduce the $8 million in prevention and public health funding Nevada receives annually to pay for immunizations and conduct disease investigations to protect public health, as well as reduce Nevada’s hospitals from accessing Medicaid funds in retroactive months of eligibility in many cases, resulting in more uncompensated care and cost burdens being shifted to other parts of the health-care system.

“I have said many times before that I will not support legislation that may result in a cost shift to the State or result in Nevadans losing insurance coverage,” Sandoval said. “I cannot in good faith support the Graham-Cassidy amendment.”

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The DCCC Fully Embraced A More Conservative Democratic Party-- Partners With The Blue Dogs


Earlier today we compared the worst of the Republicans to the worst of the Democrats-- and came to the conclusion that the worst Republicans are worse than the worst Democrats. But that doesn't make the worst Democrats-- the New Dems and Blue Dogs from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- any less repellent than there records show them to be.

A couple of words before about the Republican wing of the Democratic Party first. The Blue Dogs and the New Dems are actual organizations, with members dues, admission processes, charters, officers, etc. They are not some words to use to describe non-members. And although Beltway goofballs tare always saying that the New Dems aren't as bad-- as in extreme right-- as the Blue Dogs, the fact of the matter is that almost every Blue Dog is also a New Dem. The worst Blue Dogs-- no matter how you define "worst"-- from Kirsten Sinema (AZ), Josh Gottheimer (NJ), Jim Costa (CA), and Stephanie Murphy (FL) to Jim Cooper (TN), Kurt Schrader (OR), Charlie Crist (FL) and Lou Correa (CA)-- are also New Dems. Generally speaking the new Dems are first and foremost a pack of corrupt conservatives who use the organization to launder special interest money into their careers. The New Dem leadership includes money-hungry crooks Jim Times (CT), Derek Kilmer (WA), Terri Sewell (AL), Kathleen Rice (NY), Ron Kind (WI), Scott Peters (CA) and Suzan DelBene (WA). Wassermann Schultz is also a member. And the former New Dem chairman, Joe Crowley, the most corrupt Democrat in the House, is now in line to tale over the Democratic congressional leadership.

Since Rahm, a major New Dem, was head of the DCCC, New Dems have always been favored in recruitment and campaign funding. Now, under "ex"-Blue Dog Steve Israel protégé, Ben Ray Lujan, the DCCC is openly recruiting and funding Blue Dogs. They always did it, but now they're publicly celebrating that they're doing it. Keep in mind that inside the Beltway politicians and their media shills refer to the right-wing Blue Dogs as "moderates," implying the mainstream Democrats are not moderate (i.e.- radicals) a patently absurd Beltway convention. The Blue Dogs endorsed a slate of corrupt conservatives this week and they're "working hand-in-glove with the DCCC." The first 8 candidates presages "dozens more."
Former Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Neb.) is included in the first round of endorsements. Ashford, a former Blue Dog who lost his seat in 2016, wants a rematch against Rep. Don Bacon (R) after losing to him by just 1 percentage point.

Only one candidate, former House Intelligence Committee staffer turned federal prosecutor Jay Hulings, is from a district that Clinton won in November. Hulings is looking to unseat Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) in the Texas border district Clinton won by almost 4 points.

The remaining six candidates on the first slate are all running uphill battles in Republican-leaning districts, some in areas Trump won by a double-digit margin.

The list includes Anthony Brindisi (D), a New York State assemblyman looking to run against Rep. Claudia Tenney (R); Paul Davis, the former Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Kansas hoping to win an open seat; and Gretchen Driskell, a former Michigan state House member running for a rematch against Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI).

The Blue Dogs are also endorsing Roger Dean Huffstetler (D-VA), a Marine Corps veteran running against Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA); Brendan Kelly (D-IL), a state’s attorney and Navy veteran who wants to defeat Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL); and Dan McCready (D-NC), a Marine Corps veteran running to take on Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC).

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who is working with Schrader on Blue Dog recruitment, said she’s “delighted” by the relationship with the DCCC this cycle. Sinema and others said this is the relations between the two groups haven’t been this good since 2006, when DCCC head Rahm Emanuel made a concerted effort to recruit conservative Democrats in swing districts as part of an effort that eventually won the party a House majority.

Blue Dogs meet with the DCCC weekly to talk about recruitment and strategy, members and their staff have been interviewing prospective candidates over the past few months, and former Blue Dog staffers offered their support and effort to Blue Dog candidates.

Blue Dogs also expect to have more resources than normal to support their candidates-- one aide told The Hill that they are seeing a “surge” in donations to their political action committee.

The initial endorsements suggests the crossover appeal approach the Blue Dogs are taking to candidate recruitment for Republican-leaning or swing districts.

Brindisi, for example, earned high marks from the National Rifle Association during his time in the state assembly. Davis has pledged not to vote for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to lead the party in the House, while Ashford was a Republican until he switched parties in 2014.

Normal mainstream Democrats are not thrilled that the DCCC is spending money on so many right-wingers from the Republican wing of the party, some of who are homophobic, anti-Choice and have far more in common with the GOP than with progressives. One of the right-wing Democrats in Congress, Oregon Blue Dog Kurt Schrader says he expects progressives to fall in line after the primaries. "I’d like to think that the progressives will be fired up for any Democratic district, because no progressive policy gets done unless we are in the majority. None of Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders’ stuff has even a remote chance of happening unless Democrats are in the majority. We may not end up with their particular brand, but we’re going to be a hell of a lot closer." What he neglected to mention is that most of the Blue Dogs vote against the reform policies espoused by Warren and Sanders... consistently.
Gretchen Driskell (MI-07)
Brad Ashford (NE-02)*
Jay Hulings (TX-23)*
Anthony Brindisi (NY-22)
Roger Huffstetler (VA-05)*
Brendan Kelly (IL-12)*
Dan McCready (NC-09)*
Paul Davis (KS-02)
The bolded districts are the ones that were won by Bernie in the primary. The southern districts in North Carolina, Texas and Virginia were the Hillary districts. Maybe the DCCC is making a catastrophic mistake giving the Bernie districts to Blue Dogs to run-- and lose-- in. Asterisks (*) indicate there is also a normal, mainstream Democrat contesting the primary against the DCCC Blue Dog.

Pelosi & Lujan consider a morgue as the new DCCC headquarters

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Wisconsin-- The Center Of The Political Universe For 2018?


I had the impression that even before Randy Bryce realized he could do the "impossible" and actually beat Paul Ryan in Wisconsin's southeast congressional district, he was willing to run and rally the base and turn out the vote in the district so that Democrats would go to the polls and vote in other elections, especially Tammy Baldwin's tough reelection campaign for U.S. Senate. One basic lesson the DCCC and DNC have steadfastly refused to learn-- or even understand-- is that when there are candidates down-ballot generating local enthusiasm and excitement, it helps candidates running hop-ballot (like for governor and senator). Bryce is a strategic thinker. The DCCC isn't; the people running it are just clueless money-grubbing careerists.

Yesterday, Randy Bryce was a featured speaker at the International Association of Machinists' annual statewide convention at the Manitowoc Holiday Inn, 2 counties up Lake Michigan from WI-01. Frank Schaeffer, who's beginning a new project to help flip Congress from reactionary red to progressive blue, was with Bryce filming and interviewing. The DCCC literally had no plans for contesting any seats in Wisconsin in the 2018 cycle (because their only lame metric for targeting was to look to see where Clinton beat Trump and contest those districts, something they will regret on November 7, 2018.) I'm not saying they shouldn't use that metric at all, but that they should also use another-- one that would have them contesting seats in districts-- like WI-01 and other Wisconsin districts-- where Hillary was the wrong candidate and lost to Trump but where primary day saw Bernie not just outpolling Hillary but also outpolling Trump. Example: if you want to win WI-01, you have to win the 4 key counties that contribute most of the votes: Racine, where Trump beat Hillary 49.8% to 45.4%, Kenosha, where Trump beat Hillary 47.5% to 47.2%, Walworth, where Trump beat Hilary 57.0% to 37.0% and Rock, where Hillary managed to eke out a 52.4% to 42.0% win. But this is what happened on primary day:
Kenosha Co.- Bernie- 14,612; Hillary- 10,871; Trumpanzee- 11,139
Racine Co.- Bernie- 14,651; Hillary- 14,086; Trumpanzee- 11,756
Rock Co.- Bernie- 17,337; Hillary- 11,248; Trumpanzee- 10,264
Walworth Co.- Bernie-8,405 ; Hillary- 5,174; Trumpanzee- 7,534
Bernie country-- and yes, he certainly would have beat Trump in WI-01, where Bryce was one of his surrogates. But those are inconvenient facts the DCCC refuses to consider when they make preliminary plans for allocating resources for 2018 races. They removed Wisconsin from their maps. Now, however, by dint of Bryce's own talents as a natural leader-- and the local and national enthusiasm for his appeal-- Wisconsin is front-and-center for 2018... despite Pelosi's wishes to continue the long and sordid DCCC policy of protecting Paul Ryan's reelection efforts.

And the excitement in Wisconsin isn't just centered on the David and Goliath Bryce vs Ryan contest. The Republicans are struggling to even find a candidate to go up against Baldwin in the Senate race. Although every Democrat's favorite GOP candidate, lunatic for Sheriff David Clarke, hasn't declared yet, two third tier candidates have: state Senate Assistant Majority Leader, Leah Vukmir, and Kevin Nicholson, a rich businessman. (Also some guy named John Schiess.) Some Republicans are holding out for possible runs by one of 2 unaccomplished congressional backbenchers, Mike Gallagher or Glenn Grothman (who has now, finally, moved out of his parents' basement) or by Eric Hovde, a rich businessman who ran and lost for the Senate in 2012. The lunatic fringe of the party is giving up on Clarke and starting to coalesce around Nicholson-- he's been endorsed by psycho-warmonger John Bolton and by the Club for Growth. Friday Politico featured the little-known Nicholson on it's front cover. Most important, explained Politico, is the support Nicholson won before entering the race: far right Wisconsin money-bags Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein, "titans in the conservative donor universe. The two extremist lunatics "parked $3.5 million in a super PAC for him, baffling rivals in both parties and lending the little-known, first-time candidate instant viability."

Not many voters in Wisconsin know who Nicholson is but, like Paul Ryan 2 decades ago, he appears to be a readymade, prefab candidate invented to carry a right-wing message: "With his Hollywood looks, military pedigree, Ivy League smarts and private-sector proficiency, Nicholson could have been built in a GOP laboratory." The same GOP laboratory that turned out Ryan. Never mind that he's never won a vote for anything before (other than when he ran for president of the College Democrats of America), with Ryan's sheen irrepairably tarnished, the Uihleins and other behind-the-cutain Republicans see Nicholson as an eventual presidential contender. "He is, for comparison’s sake, a wealthier, better-looking and more charming version of Senator Tom Cotton. 'Kevin is even more impressive in person than he is on paper,' gushes David McIntosh, the former [very, very, very far right] congressman and Club for Growth president."

Nicholson was a DNC hack and spoke, boringly, at the Democratic Convention-- touting his commitment to abortion and Al Gore. He was a typically clueless, anti-progressive conservaDem in the mold of garbage like Joe Lieberman. He "felt fundamentally betrayed by modern liberalism and went searching for something else," emerging in the GOP as a right-wing nut. Plenty of offal-eating Blue Dogs have done the same thing over the years.
The spell Nicholson has cast over a number of influential Republicans is a source of wonder in Wisconsin these days. Yet people who know him say the explanation isn’t terribly complicated. “He’s a McKinsey consultant. His job is to walk in a room of powerful, wealthy people, blow them away, and get their money,” says one state official who is friendly with Nicholson but obligated to remain neutral in the race. “And he’s very, very good at it.” Another person who spoke on condition of anonymity-- a longtime friend of Nicholson’s who is a Democrat, and therefore loath to either hurt or help him with an on-record statement-- says none of Nicholson’s early success is surprising. “I’m guessing once he managed somehow to get in front of Dick Uihlein, he just impressed the shit out of him. I’m sure he laid out the case and convinced them he could make it happen,” the friend says. “I’ve seen it-- the guy’s fucking incredible. Nobody knows him, and he’s arguably the front-runner for the nomination for U.S. Senate.”

But there’s a glaring flaw in his otherwise immaculate résumé: Kevin Nicholson hasn’t always been a Republican. He was once an aspiring politician and rising star-- in the Democratic Party.
He'd tries claiming his experience as a former Democrat-- he was never really a rising star except in his own mind and he's been dreaming about running for the White House since he was a teenager and even joined the Marines to burnish a future résumé-- is what made him a conservative, just the way it did with Reagan. That's what they all say. It probably won't hurt him much with in the context of such a lackluster field.
Months of gossip percolating through Wisconsin’s political class have produced two distinct and diverging judgments of Nicholson, revolving around the sincerity of his conversion and the scope of his ambition. The generous view holds, more or less, that Nicholson quit politics because he felt abandoned by the Democratic Party, discovered his inner conservatism and re-emerged serendipitously back home just as Wisconsin’s GOP bench was growing a bit stale. The cynical view is essentially that Nicholson has wanted to be president since he was a teenager and has few core convictions; that he saw the demographic winds shift during his time in D.C. and decided the clearest path to public office as a straight, white man in Wisconsin would be as a Republican.

...It’s risky to start poking holes in a decorated veteran’s backstory, and Nicholson’s GOP adversaries have no need to get overly personal-- at least, not yet. They believe, in a state where Republicans have radically transformed government through seven years of brutal party-line warfare, that Nicholson’s new-to-the-team routine won’t fly with voters. Wisconsin is one state where there is little daylight between the grass roots and establishment; outsider rhetoric can be ineffective bordering on counterproductive. Against that backdrop, Nicholson’s early traction has some Republicans concerned, if a bit annoyed.

When Vukmir learns that I’m here to write about Nicholson, she rolls her eyes. “What do you know about him?” I ask. She shakes her head. “What you’ve heard him say. That’s about all I know.” Vukmir, who sits on the powerful Joint Finance Committee, was waiting for the state’s budget to pass before officially announcing her Senate campaign, but couldn’t afford to wait any longer and wound up launching in the first week of September. But I know, speaking to her in Greenville weeks earlier, she’s here for the same reason as Nicholson... “I don’t know what Kevin’s conservative record is, other than him saying he’s a conservative,” Vukmir says. “So he’ll have to get people to believe that.”

The story of Nicholson's transformation starts with Jessie Roos. They met at the University of Minnesota, and according to mutual friends, forged a relationship owing to equal parts romance, intellectual admiration and political drive. They were inseparable, with Roos pulling double-duty as Nicholson’s girlfriend and most trusted adviser. This arrangement caused uneasiness in College Democrat circles as Nicholson campaigned to lead the national organization. The reason: Roos was among the most prominent conservatives on campus. In 1998, she and four other students were plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the university; they objected, the Associated Press reported at the time, “to sending $1.04 per quarter in mandatory student fees to the Queer Student Cultural Center, La Raza Student Cultural Center and University-YW (Young Women), groups they say promote homosexuality, communism and abortion.”

Despite their diverging politics, Roos was Nicholson’s “north star,” a phrase used by two separate college friends to describe her influence over him. The couple broke up and reconciled repeatedly, in part because Roos feared Nicholson might never acknowledge the truth about himself: that deep down, he was a conservative. The relationship nearly ended, permanently, when Nicholson advocated “a woman’s right to choose” in his convention speech. Reviewing the text with him by phone from Minnesota, Roos went ballistic when she heard the line and demanded Nicholson remove it. He refused. “We got in a fight. I knew at the time it was not something he had thought extensively about,” she recalls to me. “And that definitely was a piece of the conversation in terms of courtship and leading toward marriage, because that was a no-go zone for me.”

Today they can claim a happy ending: Nicholson ultimately turned anti-abortion, the couple got married, had three children and are now simpatico in their worldviews. Jessie Roos is now Jessie Nicholson, herself a political pro with a communications background: She was a George W. Bush political appointee at the Department of Agriculture and previously worked for former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty as well as Republicans in the Statehouse. It takes five minutes around the Nicholsons to realize that Jessie, who led her husband's conversion, will be guiding his Senate campaign more than any consultant or strategist. “We are partners, and we both have different roles to play,” she says, smiling. “I know how I think things should go.”

She’ll have to help her husband craft sharper answers to questions about his background, including that convention speech. Before heading to Wisconsin, I heard Nicholson say on multiple radio shows that someone “put a piece of paper in front of me” containing the abortion rights language. As we ride together, I ask a simple question: Did you write that line, or was it written for you? “Um, let’s start with the most important thing,” he replies. “I’m responsible because I said it. So don’t think that I’m equivocating on this.” Sure, I say, but it’s important to nail down: Did you write it? “Yeah-- so, no. The bottom line is ... ” Nicholson stops and swallows hard. His face is flushed. “Cognizant of the fact you’re going to write this out, I want to be clear: I own it, ‘cause I was a young person but I was an adult, and I should have known better. Period.” He continues: “I wrote a speech which was pretty innocuous. It was about generational differences. ... That was sent to the DNC, it was recut, and that particular phrase was inserted.” So, I ask him, you didn’t write that phrase about abortion? “Nope. Well it-- don’t get me as a bullshitter here. I own it. I said it.”

Unless the DNC is hanging on to 17-year-old emails containing Nicholson’s original draft, nobody can prove who wrote that line. But Nicholson’s convoluted story only invites further scrutiny of his record on abortion. Already, Democrats have released the EMILY’s List letter, as well as the College Democrats’ abortion rights platform that was adopted on Nicholson’s watch. I found something else, having heard from friends about his frequent appearances on MSNBC during the 2000 campaign: a transcript of “Equal Time,” on July 14, 2000, in which Nicholson debated Scott Stewart, then the chairman of the College Republicans. Discussing the Supreme Court, 22-year-old Nicholson said, “Obviously, the next president is going to have a huge impact on the court. And I personally believe, and the people in my organization, the College Democrats of America, believe that Al Gore needs to be elected in order to ensure that the simple issues, base issues like a woman’s right to choose, must be protected.”

...His closest ally was Mike Tate, who led the Wisconsin College Democrats and later served as chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party during Baldwin’s victorious Senate run in 2012. Nicholson enlisted Tate’s support when running in college and the two became fast friends, having grown up 12 miles apart in suburban Milwaukee. They roomed together at the 2000 convention and Tate often crashed at Nicholson’s place in D.C. “He had his whole life planned out. He was going to serve in the military, come back to Wisconsin and run for office,” Tate says. “My biggest disappointment is that he’s doing it as a Republican.” He tells me Nicholson “gets up every day with a mission” and “should absolutely be taken seriously” by Democrats, even if Tate still doesn’t understand why his friend switched parties. He recalls one late-night college conversation that he can’t shake. “I was once foolish enough to think I wanted to run for office, and he talked to me about how Humphrey and Mondale were partners in Minnesota politics for decades,” Tate says. “And he said, ‘Mike, that could be you and me in Wisconsin.’”

Nicholson today is embarrassed by his former self, telling me three times that he was a “punk kid.” This is precisely how some fellow College Democrats remember him: as the cold, cocky, unpopular leader of their organization. “I did not like Kevin, and he would be the first person to tell you that,” says Alexandra Acker-Lyons, who was Nicholson’s vice president and is today a Democratic consultant. “Kevin is that guy-- D.C. is crawling with them, summer interns and Hill staffers-- who you know wants to run for office, and you know isn’t doing it for the right reasons.”

...When he returned stateside in November 2007, Nicholson says, he and his wife went all-in for John McCain. They put up yard signs and made multiple donations to his campaign totaling $500; Nicholson attended a McCain rally and was photographed sitting behind the Republican candidate. As with so much else in Nicholson’s past, however, there is nothing simple about his official switch to Republicanism. He says he voted for Bush in 2004; yet he registered as a Democrat when he moved to North Carolina in 2005. This caused an even bigger headache: When he went to vote for McCain in the May 2008 presidential primary, state law disallowed same-day registration switching. So he says he voted “no preference” in the Democratic primary. The problem: records from Nicholson’s precinct that day suggest nobody voted “no preference.” This doesn’t mean he’s lying about backing McCain, and Nicholson can be excused for rolling his eyes at questions about “paper ballots in North Carolina 10 years ago.” But it’s another example of biographical vulnerability, even as his version of events is pretty convincing. “I would ask people to use common sense,” Nicholson tells me. “I was a Marine, and I was giving my vote, my money, my support and my time to... the person who was going to be commanding me in a short period of time in combat.”

...If financial might is fueling much of the hype surrounding Nicholson, there are reasons to suspect he won’t live up to it. His name identification in Wisconsin is all but nonexistent. Vukmir has her own deep-pocketed supporters, starting with Diane Hendricks, the richest Republican donor in the state. Eric Hovde, a self-funding businessman who finished a close second in the 2012 primary, is weighing another run. The pivotal endorsements in Wisconsin come not from national groups such as the Club for Growth (whose endorsed candidate in 2012 finished third in the GOP primary), but from conservative talk-radio in the southeast corner of the state, which is Vukmir’s territory. His biographical vulnerabilities aside, Nicholson is raw as a retail campaigner and can come across as programmed and mistake-averse. If he wins the nomination and squares off against Baldwin-- who is certainly beatable, having run behind Obama in 2012-- Nicholson will have to spend next fall tap-dancing around Trump (about whom he’s been advised not to utter a negative word). He’ll also have to show a better command of the issues: Nicholson is playing to a perceived strength by attacking Baldwin’s poor handling of a Veterans Affairs scandal in Wisconsin, but when I ask him about the VA accountability bill that Trump signed into law this summer, Nicholson admits to not knowing the details.

All of that said, and given his manifest upside as a candidate, I was stunned at the degree to which the most prominent Wisconsin Republicans I spoke with-- in particular, close allies of Speaker Paul Ryan, Governor Scott Walker and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus-- were dismissive of Nicholson’s chances. Some of this skepticism, in both Madison and Washington, speaks to the pack mentality of veteran politicians trusting only one of their own. There’s also an element of jealousy: Out-of-nowhere phenoms like Nicholson aren’t often well received by members of the party who have spent years paying their dues. But above all, the rookie candidate must overcome a fundamental deficit of trust: In countless conversations, people who have met with Nicholson tell me they aren’t convinced he is truly a conservative.

“I’m not buying it,” Scott Fitzgerald, the state Senate majority leader, tells me. Fitzgerald, who has announced his support of Vukmir, says Nicholson reached out to him earlier this year after Rep. Sean Duffy, a presumed challenger to Baldwin, opted not to run. They had a cup of coffee, and Fitzgerald saw the upside others are investing in. But it wasn’t enough. “I’ve met those types of candidates-- sometimes they’re successful, but other times they turn out to be show horses instead of workhorses,” Fitzgerald says. “It’s a roll of the dice with Kevin, because you just don’t know enough about him. You don’t know who he really is.”

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