Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Politics-- The Art Of The Possible? Please, Give Me A Break


-by Valley Girl

"Politics is the Art of the Possible."

Hearing that phrase always makes me grind my teeth. One person on a college email list I am on (all Democrats) likes to repeat this phrase. Sanctimonious Bullshit I say.

On his twitter stream, Howie posted a link to a Jacobin article, which I read with great interest. And having read that, I went off to Google and found an excellent, thoughtful article from 2010 about “the art of the possible.” I will use an edited version of this first here, because it sets the stage for the more recent Jacobin article. [my additions are bolded]
The problem with “the art of the possible.”

Whenever a commentator declares that "politics is the art of the possible," I'm on my guard. What I'm being told, I suspect, is to accept apparent present conditions as immutable facts of life, and to trim my goals accordingly. I'm being told to let injustices stand.

Like all banalities, the familiar dictum contains an obvious truth. To be politically effective, you have to be able to distinguish between your desires and realities on the ground, between aspirations and resources.

But like most banalities, it begs more questions than it answers. How is "the possible" defined? Where are its limits drawn? Who draws them? Theoretically, the possible is an elastic and speculative category. But the dictum draws no distinctions between the immediately unlikely and the ultimately impossible, takes no notice of the infinite and shifting gradations between them, and of the impact of human agency in shifting an outcome from one category to another.

What's usually meant when politics is pronounced the art of the possible is that politics is a calculation of the probable, an exercise in the pragmatic, the expedient or the opportune.

The adage implies forcefully that minimal improvements or lesser evils are the only realistic aim--and any demand for more is self-indulgence. It's an injunction not only to compromise, but to get your compromise in first. To placate hostile forces in advance, as Obama tried to do with health care reform.

Obama's election was in itself a vivid display of the eruption of the supposedly impossible into the realm of the ordinary. The slogan "Yes we can" evoked a defiance of assumed limitations. Now Obama's supporters are being lectured for expecting too much from the president, for not understanding that "politics is the art of the possible." Here, as in so many instances, the "possible" is a code word for what vested interests will permit.

...When people speak of politics as the art of the possible, they imply a world of unexamined assumptions about the limits of the possible-- a world that embodies only the limits of their own experience or imagination. In its unreflective way, the dictum treats the superficial conditions of the moment as unchangeable realities. In effect, it serves as a denial of possibility, a closing of the aperture into the future.

It also urges us not to feel the urgency of injustice. The dictum is cold comfort to the oppressed, the victims of poverty, discrimination and violence, who are asked to continue suffering while distant arbiters decide what is or is not "possible" in their case. It sacrifices the poor, the hungry, the desperate on the altar of a self-serving pragmatism.

Impatience, in fact, is a necessary political virtue. Without it, even the most gradual change is inconceivable. And a politician who is not impatient with injustice, with needless death and destruction, is worse than useless.

Those who dispute the dictum are accused of utopianism, which is condemned as an intellectual and emotional error--not just a mistake, but a danger. Of course utopias are no substitute for the practice of politics, and can serve as an evasion of present responsibilities. But a practical politics stripped of serious ideas about what would constitute a just human society is a greater and more common menace.

…Utopias provide a perspective from which the assumed limitations of the present can be examined, from which familiar social arrangements can be revealed as unjust, irrational or unnecessary. They are a means of expanding the borders of the possible.

You can't chart the surface of the earth or compute distances without a point of elevation--a mountaintop, a star or a satellite. You can't chart the possible in society without an angle of vision, a mental mountaintop that permits the widest sweep. The pundits championing the art of the possible are the flat-earthers of today, afraid to venture too far from shore lest they fall off the edge.

It's striking how often pundits of "the possible" rest their case on all kinds of gross improbabilities.

In insisting that there was no alternative to neoliberal economics, many assumed, in defiance of obvious objections, that speculation had no limits, that wealth-making could be severed from productive activity, that private interests would magically coagulate into public benefit, that industrial growth could be limitless on a planet with finite resources. Here, the art of the possible has been revealed as a dismal pseudo-science, its certainties built on foundations of sand.

It is very much the vice of the center-left. The right is bolder, more confident, more reckless and strongly driven by their own utopian visions (which would be dystopias for the rest of us). In contrast, liberals advise each other to trim their ambitions, to sacrifice their goals in order to remain politically viable.

In the wake of 9/11, liberals in the U.S. largely signed up to the Afghanistan invasion--because to fail to do so would place them outside an apparently immutable pro-war consensus. Those who kept their nerve and set about building an antiwar movement proved the more farsighted.

Of course, if your politics is about personal aggrandizement, then it will be "the art of the possible" in the narrowest sense. But for those who seek in politics a means of changing society for the better, it must be the art of redefining the possible. The art-science-craft of coaxing from the present, with its complex mix of possibilities and limitations, a just and sustainable human future.
Now back to the Jacobin article Howie posted on Twitter, The Midterms’ Winners, Losers, and Double-Losers. Keep in mind the first article above while reading below, because they mesh perfectly.
By running to the right, Democrats insist on losing twice: at the polls and in constructing an inspiring agenda. Bold left-wing politics are our only hope for long-term, substantive victory.

In the throes of an identity crisis and scrambling to recover ground lost in 2016, Democrats tried a wide array of tactics in this year’s midterm elections. Some tacked left, others tacked right. Both strategies yielded mixed results. But the major difference between the two approaches is that the Democrats who parroted conservative talking points ceded politically to the Right, even when they won their elections. Those who articulated a bold progressive political vision claimed a crucial victory for the Left, even when they appeared to go home empty-handed.

When Democrats compromise on left-wing values to win office, that’s a draw for the Left at best. This is because the task of the Left in the political sphere isn’t simply to prevent Republicans from gaining majorities-- it’s to defeat the right-wing agenda, in all its forms. If that’s your goal, incorporating conservative positions and rhetoric into your own campaign is an unsound strategy, destined to undermine you in the long run.

Not Whether, But How You Win

Consider the case of incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana. Donnelly tacked way right-- touting his collaboration with Trump and voicing support for the proposed border wall, promising to “cut regulations that cost jobs,” positioning himself as the more reasonable of two pro-life candidates, and warning that Medicare for All would pass “over my dead body.” He calls his brand of politics “Hoosier common-sense middle,” but the word he’s looking for is “conservative.” [editor: or opportunism and inauthenticity, long the mark of Donnelly's political career, both in the House and then the Senate.]

Donnelly lost. Even with an incumbent’s advantage and the ringing endorsement of Barack Obama [Proponent of the “The Art of the Possible,” “President Pre-compromise,” who visited Indiana for a last-minute rally with the senator, [Donnelly] was unseated by Republican challenger and Trump acolyte Mike Braun. Braun is an aggressively pro-corporate multi-millionaire businessman and free-market evangelist who exploited a man’s death against his widow’s wishes in a campaign ad designed to spread fear about undocumented immigrants.

[Bernie] Sanders did something even more important than defeating his opponent on the political stage: he gave millions of people permission to take their innate disgust with economic inequality and exploitation seriously as a political framework.

There are two main reasons to be leery of Donnelly’s approach. First, it doesn’t work.

When Democrats tack to the right-- often on economic issues, less often on social ones-- they justify it as a shrewd stratagem, even a prerequisite for victory. But the idea that Democrats stand a better chance at winning office if they posture as Republican-lite is baseless. Ordinary people, whose living standards are declining as their wages stagnate and their safety net disappears, are increasingly attracted to distinct and explicit political agendas and proposals for bold change.

Not even the very worst Democrap running for president

So when a Republican puts forth a brazen (if dystopian) vision of the future, and a Democrat responds by proposing a watered-down version of it, the Republican has the advantage. This is clearly what happened in Donnelly’s case. It’s also the reason that arch-centrist Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump, and why Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in Indiana.

Second, politics isn’t just about whether a candidate wins. It’s also about how they win, and on whose terms.

Elections are a unique opportunity to speak to people on a mass scale about the principles and values that should order society. Political candidates have a chance to say whatever they want to thousands and sometimes millions of people at a time. The choices they make about how to wield that power shape the popular conception of what ideas are admissible, what policies are desirable, and what social transformations are achievable.

Political campaigns are always either expanding or constricting the imagination of the public. For a candidate whose sense of political purpose extends beyond selfish careerism-- someone who wants not simply to improve their personal station, but for their political ideas to become ascendant in the long-term-- a campaign is an opportunity to educate and inspire constituents with a positive, unambiguous plan for a better society.

When a Republican like Braun stokes the fires of xenophobia and racism, and a Democrat like Donnelly responds by reiterating his support for a border wall to keep immigrants out-- promising that he won’t let the “[menacing voiceover] radical left” abolish ICE and asserting that we must do “whatever’s necessary to protect our border”-- this entrenches rather than challenges the conservative worldview. It’s a political victory for the Right, no matter who wins office.

Similarly, when a Republican calls for “market-driven health care solutions” as part of a larger program to pad corporate pockets at the expense of working people’s health, and a Democrat responds by aiming his indignation at the segments of the Left seeking to attain universal public healthcare, the Democrat has thrown the match. He’s wasted his opportunity to lay the groundwork for long-term left-wing victory by proposing an alternative to the right-wing capitalist vision of a world where people are subordinate to profits.

Winning on those terms is far from guaranteed-- and it’s hardly a victory at all.

A Widening Split

Donnelly’s a somewhat extreme example, at least on social issues. Though many Democrats agree with him on the need to cater to large businesses and the impermissibility of Medicare for All, most are pro-choice and oppose Trump’s border wall. But Donnelly’s strategy is not as anomalous in the Democratic Party as you might think.

Barack Obama could have gone anywhere in the country in the days before the midterm elections. He chose three, and one of those was Indiana. There, he stumped for a man who decided to campaign against a racist capitalist by shadowboxing with imaginary “radical left” opponents. Obama threw his weight behind Donnelly-- who openly opposes amnesty for immigrants and refugees-- by saying, “We need leaders who will actually stand up for what is right.”

Politics isn’t just about whether a candidate wins. It’s also about how they win, and on whose terms.

Thus we saw how the Democratic Party establishment is fully on board with this strategy of Thus swapping political conviction for what they assumed would be partisan victory.

Mostly this manifests as a fetishization of compromise. The Democrats recovered a majority in the House yesterday. Instead of taking the occasion to claim a victory for the Left over the Right, Nancy Pelosi promised that Congress would now function as a “bipartisan marketplace of ideas.” Even in their wildest political fantasies, basking in the glow of victory, Democrats see themselves sharing governing power with Republicans rather than defeating Republicans’ ideas.

This obsession with combining left and right politics, instead of simply pushing against the Right from the left, is the same strategy that for more than thirty years has kept Democrats busy mastering the art of compromise while Republicans pursue their high-octane austerity, privatization, and reactionary social agenda without any pretense to bipartisanship. Not only is it pathetic to behold, but the payoff is supposed to be electoral victory. That victory has been elusive.

Meanwhile, concessionary centrism from the Left matched by zealous ambition from the Right have combined to produce a rightward drift in American policy, especially as pertains to corporate empowerment and evisceration of the public sector.

But there is a split widening within the Democratic Party, and not every candidate in the midterms struck a centrist pose. Quite a few Democrats tacked left instead, contra Obama and Pelosi.

National Nurses United found that in 52 percent of congressional races, Democratic candidates supported Medicare for All or single-payer health care. This surge in candidate support for Medicare for All is pretty astonishing considering that two years ago Hillary Clinton, then the face of the Democratic Party, assured the public that single-payer healthcare will “never, ever come to pass.”

Candidates have changed their tune because the national conversation has shifted dramatically-- and that’s happened because Bernie Sanders has a different conception of the political value of an electoral campaign than mainstream Democrats do.

In 2016, when he went head-to-head with Clinton in the Democratic Party primary, his goal was not to simply beat his opponent by whatever means necessary-- though, tellingly, he did come much closer to winning than anyone expected, given that party elites reviled and actively restrained him. Instead he acted like a candidate acts when they have a clear political vision, and their goal is to popularize that vision and inspire a new constituency that will fight for that vision for years to come.

To this end, Sanders put forward a bold platform that tested the limits of what Americans thought was possible, while remaining achievable on the condition that Americans could muster the political will. He unflinchingly campaigned on ideas that would transform working people’s lives but that few Democrats had the guts to publicly propose, including Medicare for All to tuition-free college and student-debt forgiveness.

Putting this platform before a mass audience not only established new norms of legitimacy in the political mainstream-- it also worked to rewrite the narrative about the balance of power in American society. Sanders’ platform told a story about America with a new protagonist, the non-affluent majority, and a new antagonist, the ruling-class minority that profits from everyone else’s hard work and desperation.

As a result, even though he lost the primary election, Sanders emerged over the next two years as the most well-liked politician in America. Popular support for Medicare for All shot up from 21 percent in 2014 to a whopping 70 percent this year. Popular support for tuition-free public university reached 60 percent, up from an idea so obscure that pollsters didn’t even inquire about it.

By treating his campaign as an opportunity to reset the terms of the debate and raise the expectations of the ordinary people who comprise the broad working class, Sanders did something even more important and long-lasting than defeating his opponent on the political stage: he gave millions of people permission to take their innate disgust with economic inequality and exploitation seriously as a political framework. A majority of Americans now want to eliminate the private insurance industry and replace it with a single public alternative, and more than half of Democratic congressional candidates ran on the issue this November.

Candidates who backed Medicare for All and other progressive policies sustained a combination of defeats and victories. But they had in common a willingness to walk through the door that Sanders opened and use their campaigns to raise ordinary people’s expectations for what a good society can look like.

In an era dominated by unhinged Republicans and equivocating Democrats, running a widely observed campaign aimed at generalizing progressive and democratic socialist principles is a victory for the Left, whether or not the candidate defeats their opponent. When the Left runs as the Right and it loses, as Donnelly did, that’s a double loss. When the Left runs as the Left and it wins, as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Julia Salazar, and Franklin Bynum did this midterm season, that’s a double victory. And even when explicitly left-wing candidates don’t win office, their losses aren’t complete if they’ve dedicated their campaigns to articulating and popularizing progressive and democratic-socialist ideas on a mass scale. Let’s build more of those kinds of campaigns, instead of insisting on losing twice.
Kirsten Gillibrand, another would be Democratic presidential contender

Closing note: I (VG) graduated from college in 1969. It was a time of great social upheaval. I found an email I wrote to someone on the college list, back in Feb. 2013.

Our conversation happened to remind me of something I hadn't thought about in a while. I remember coming to this view back in college or thereabouts. Probably arose b/c of observations re: women's lib, and more general political protest that included violent actions (Weathermen, etc) and to a lesser extent very radical views from women's libbers. Even though what they did and said went beyond what I might have done myself, I was NOT willing to condemn them, privately, or especially in political conversations, of which there were many at that time. As best as I can recapture my thoughts, I felt that those on the extreme left were the ones driving political change in a positive direction, and I applauded their courage and commitment. Seemed to me that those who would take the "let's be reasonable" stand-- "those radicals are nuts"-- didn't do much to change things. My view was that those who pushed the boundaries way way beyond the comfort level of most people were essential to change. They pushed the boundaries such that what was considered acceptable middle ground, or whatever, moved to the left also. That was my own untutored analysis, based on my own opinions and observations at the time. I remember quite well coming to this point of view, and it seemed rather obvious to me at the time.

Only later did I learn, via internet reading, (20-30 years later) that this had been codified as a principle-- the Overton window or window of discourse. The term is derived from its originator, Joseph P. Overton. His political aims were quite different from mine. Nonetheless, his stated theory is seemingly identical to what I at arrived at on my own. And, right now (2013), the ultra die hard religious right, and the ultra conservatives, and the neo-cons are pushing the Overton window firmly in a rightward direction. Way back when, in college, of course, I saw the radical lefties pushing the window to the left.

Back to the present: We have to keep pushing the window of discourse to the left. The ideas that Bernie champions, which after all are supported by a majority of voters, need to be put front and center. Read this from DWT.

The Man in The Middle lost-- and now we have a fascist in his place

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Republican-Lite Democrats Are Only Good At One Thing: Losing


You think Democratic primary voters want this as their candidate against Trump?

A silly new poll from Morning Consult purports to show something about how the 2020 Democratic nomination is shaping up. The same kind of lo-info, identity politics idiots who saddled the party with Hillary Clinton in 2016, want Joe Biden in 2020. Will Democratic primary voters ever think about where a candidate might actually want to take the country rather than the color of their skin or the shape of their genitals? I think so. But it takes some kind of concentration, which isn’t easy when you’re talking about something years in the future (even just 2). Anyway, that list up top is the latest iteration of the laughable horserace tabulation, different from Monday’s. What! No groundswell for the Starbucks guy? No Mayor Buttfuck Buttigieg? No Terry McAuliffe? Where’s The Rock and Hillary, all the governors who want to form unity tickets with John Kasich and the backbencher congressmen no one ever heard of like John Delaney who’s been living in Iowa campaigning for a year and only tangentially more absurd than Seth Moulton or Tulsi Gabbard?

Note: This is stupid, so don't take it seriously

Have you read Steve Phillips’ NY Times’ OpEd about why a conservative Democrat is not going to win in 2020? He implores Democrats to learn “the right lessons from the midterms. He wrote that conventional wisdom dictated that both Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams “did not give Democrats their best chance; more traditional, moderate white candidates were seen as the most competitive. In this view, moderate candidates can better appeal to and win over ‘swing’ white voters. And yet, and yet… “Over the past 20 years, the best-performing Democratic candidates in statewide elections in Florida and Georgia have been Mr. Obama, Mr. Gillum and Ms. Abrams. (Hillary Clinton in 2016 was actually Florida’s highest Democratic vote-getter ever.) This year, Ms. Abrams dramatically increased Democratic turnout, garnering more votes— 1.9 million— than any other Democrat running for any office in the history of Georgia (and that includes Jimmy Carter, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton).”
Midterm results laid bare the fallacy of that view. In Missouri, Claire McCaskill, the incumbent Democratic senator, lost to Josh Hawley by six percentage points, 45.5 percent to 51.5 percent. Senator McCaskill campaigned by highlighting her moderate credentials and ran a radio ad distancing herself from her party: “Claire’s not one of those crazy Democrats,” a narrator said. “She works right in the middle and finds compromise.”

In Tennessee, Phil Bredesen, the state’s former governor, lost his bid for the Senate by over 10 points despite his attempt to peel off Trump supporters by coming out in support of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
The day Bredesen came out in favor of Kavanaugh— leading in nearly a dozen consecutive polls at the time— I wrote that Democrats could kiss base enthusiasm and the Tennessee Senate seat goodbye. Bredesen, a mainstream conservative, outspent extremist Marsha Blackburn $15,246,145 ($5,516,942 from his own fortune) to $11,819,522 and Schumer’s Majority Forward SuperPac and Senate Majority PAC threw another $18.5 million into Tennessee on behalf of Bredesen. But no amount of money could save him after that stupid, pointless statement. So… will Democrats learn the right lesson? Out of the question— at least for life-long know-it-alls like Schumer (and Pelosi, Hoyer and other party leaders).

Phillips suggests looking more closely at Georgia, contrasting the 2014 election and the recent midterm. “The strategy of wooing supposedly moderate whites was put to the ultimate test when Democrats fielded nominees from two of the most prominent Democratic families in the history of Georgia-- the Carters and the Nunns. Jimmy Carter’s grandson Jason Carter ran for governor, and former Senator Sam Nunn’s daughter Michelle Nunn ran for Senate. Together their campaigns spent more than $20 million, pouring enormous sums into television advertising seeking to persuade moderate whites to back their bids.”

They both lost, with about 45% of the vote each. This cycle Stacey Abrams is governing around 49% as more voters are counted in an incredibly corrupt electoral environment. And in the 6th district, where ultimate milquetoast moderate Jon Ossoff— with every dime the Democratic establishment could raise for him-- lost last year, “riding the swell of turnout inspired and organized by Ms. Abrams, the Democrat Lucy McBath flipped that seat.”
Clearly success required a different strategy. Ms. Abrams and Mr. Gillum embraced the Obama playbook for winning elections: It starts with emphasizing mobilization over persuasion. Ms. Abrams’s campaign defied conventional wisdom by spending early and big on a vast mobilization effort that involved calling, texting and knocking on the doors of nearly 600,000 infrequent Georgia voters a full year before the election.

Mr. Gillum took a similar approach and was buoyed by the backing of organizations such as New Florida Majority, which hired community-based canvassers to knock on tens of thousands of their neighbors’ doors to identify and mobilize Gillum supporters long before the rest of the country caught on to his candidacy.

These campaigns laid the groundwork for future Democratic success, because the thousands of volunteers, operatives and new voters will pay dividends for the 2020 Democratic nominee.

Mr. Gillum and Ms. Abrams did exactly what Mr. Obama did: They inspired people across the racial spectrum to participate and vote, and they did it by being unapologetically progressive. They did not shy away from championing Medicaid expansion, pursuing criminal justice reform and promoting gun control policies.

Does this strategy require a candidate of color? No, but it does call for candidates who can inspire voters of color. Beto O’Rourke in Texas is an excellent example, and his inspiring and well-organized campaign brought him closer to winning statewide than any Democrat has come in Texas in years. And nationally, the Democrats reclaimed a majority in the House by winning in nearly a dozen districts with large populations of voters of color.

Ms. Abrams and Mr. Gillum were also not afraid to tackle the not-so-silent racist “dog whistles” emanating from their opponents and the president. Ms. Abrams refused to shirk from condemnation of racism and condemned the ways in which honoring racist imagery like the Confederate monument at Georgia’s Stone Mountain monument-- called out by name in Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech-- undermines democracy and distances entire groups from being part of the body politic. Mr. Gillum offered one of the greatest lines in the history of American politics when he offered, about his opponent, Ron DeSantis, during a debate: “I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”

Notably, this approach of tackling racism head-on is also the best way to woo many white voters. According to the exit polls, both Ms. Abrams and Mr. Gillum received more support from whites in their states than either Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton did. White people-- all people-- want to believe in something. Challenging them to reject racism and embrace their highest and best ideals is the most effective way to secure their support.

Yes, the strategy of mobilizing voters of color and progressive whites is limited by the demographic composition of particular states. But what Mr. Obama showed twice is that it works in enough places to win the White House. And that is exactly the next electoral challenge.

Democrats can go the old route that has consistently failed to come close to winning and demoralized supporters down the line, or they can do the math and follow the example of Ms. Abrams and Mr. Gillum and Mr. Obama before them. Invest in the infrastructure and staffing to engage and mobilize voters. Stand as tall, strongly and proudly for the nation’s multiracial rainbow as Mr. Trump stands against it. And mobilize and call forth a new American majority in a country that gets browner by the hour and will be even more diverse by November 2020.

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Which Sack Of Human Excrement Will Be The New Head Of The DCCC?


Worse than Steve Israel? Worse than Ben Ray Lujan?

Whether in the hiring of staff— the DCCC hires right-of-center hacks in it to line their pockets with not the slightest care about candidates winning or losing— the recruitment of candidates or the decisions about which candidates to support and which to leave bleeding on the side of the road— the DCCC has a lot of sway in the makeup of the Democratic caucus. This cycle, their resources, once again, were deployed omniscience’s behalf of New Dems and Blue Dogs from the Republican wing of the party and few progressives were elected— exactly what the DCCC was aiming at.

They interfered against progressives in primaries and refused to support progressives who won primaries. Although races are still be finalized, let’s look at the freshman class. In races where the DCCC had no sway, replacements for retiring Democrats in blue districts, seats are split between progressives and less progressive Democrats: Ilhan Omar is replacing Keith Ellison in Minneapolis, Rashida Tlaib is replacing John Conyers in Detroit, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is replacing Joe Crowley in New York City, Chuy Garcia is replacing Luis Gutiérrez in Chicago, Joe Morelle is replacing Louise Slaughter in Rochester, and Ayanna Presley is replacing Mike Capuano in Boston. Less progressive winners are Greg Stanton (New Dem), who is replacing Kirsten Sinema in Phoenix, Chris Pappas (New Dem), who is replacing Carol Shea-Porter in eastern New Hampshire, Debra Haaland, who is replacing Michelle Lujan Grisham in Albuquerque, Veronica Escobar (New Dem), who is replacing Beto O’Rourke in El Paso, Sylvia Garcia, who is replacing Gene Green in Houston, Jahana Hayes (New Dem), who is replacing Elizabeth Esty in Connecticut, Madeleine Dean (New Dem) who is replacing Brendan Boyle in the Philly suburbs, David Trone, who is replacing John Delaney in western Maryland, Lori Trahan (New Dem) who is replacing Niki Tsongas in northern Massachusetts, Susie Lee (New Dem), who is replacing Jacky Rosen in southern Clark County, Steven Horsford, who is replacing Ruben Kihuen in northern Clark Co., and Ed Case (Blue Dog) who is replacing Colleen Hanabusa in Honolulu, Joe Neguse (New Dem), who is replacing Jared Polis in Boulder, and Andy Levin, who is replacing Sandy Levin in eastern Michigan.

Here are the freshmen who were not running in blue districts to replace Democrats. The money next the their names is how much the DCCC + Pelosi’s SuperPAC spent in the race.
AZ-02- Ann Kirkpatrick (New Dem)- $1.5 million
CA-10- Josh Harder (New Dem)- $5.1 million
CA-25- Katie Hill (New Dem)- $3.3 million
CA-48- Harley Rouda (New Dem)- $7 million
CA-49- Mike Levin (D)- $3.5 million
CO-06- Jason Crow (New Dem)- $3.2 million
FL-26- Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (New Dem)- $7.1 million
FL-27- Donna Shalala (D)- $1.6 million
GA-06- Lucy McBath (D)- $5.8 million
IL-06- Sean Casten (New Dem)- $4.6 million
IL-14- Lauren Underwood (New Dem)- $1.8 million
IA-01- Abby Finkenauer (D) $0.8 million
IA-03- Cindy Axne (New Dem)- $3.0 million
KS-03- Sharice Davids (New Dem)- $1.6 million
MI-08- Elissa Slotkin (New Dem)- $3.8 million
MI-11- Haley Stevens (New Dem)- $2.1 million
MN-02- Angie Craig (New Dem)- $2.5 million
MN-03- Dean Phillips (New Dem)- $1.7 million
NJ-02- Jeff Van Drew (Blue Dog)- 0
NJ-07- Tom Malinowski (New Dem)- $4.0 million
NJ-11- Mike Sherrill (Blue Dog)- $1.5 million
NM-02- Xochitl Torres Small (Blue Dog)- $1.9 million
NY-11- Max Rose (Blue Dog)- 0
NY-19- Antonio Delgado (New Dem)- $4.1 million
NY-22- Anthony Brindisi (Blue Dog)- $4.6 million
OK-05- Kendra Horn (D)- 0
PA-05- Mary Scanlon (D)- 0
PA-06- Chrissy Houlahan (New Dem)- 0
PA-07- Susan Wild (New Dem)- $1.5 million- 0
SC-01- Joe Cunningham (New Dem)- 0
TX-07- Lizzie Fletcher (New Dem)- $2.4 million
TX-32- Colin Allred (New Dem)- $4.2 million
VA-02- Elaine Luria (New Dem)- $1.8 million
VA-07- Abigail Spanberger (Blue Dog)- $1.4 million
VA-10- Jennifer Wexton (New Dem)- $2.9 million
WA-08- Kim Schrier (New Dem)- $6.1 million
Just for comparison’s sake, what did the DCCC + Pelosi’s PAC spend to help nine high-profile progressives who, without their money, lost?
WI-01- Randy Bryce- 0
NE-02- Kara Eastman- 0
IA-04- J.D. Scholten- 0
KS-04- James Thompson- 0
CA-50- Ammar Campa-Najjar- 0
WA-05- Lisa Brown- 0
TX-10- Mike Siegel- 0
PA-11- Jess King- 0
CA-01- Audrey Denney- 0
And that brings us to… the battle over the chairmanship of the DCCC. As of Saturday there were 4 Democrats running for the post, each one worse than the other:

Blue Dog Cheri Bustos- garbage

New Dem Suzan DelBene- not very good

New Dem Denny Heck- garbage

New Dem Sean Patrick Maloney- really, really stinky garbage

So why not a progressive? Why never a progressive? There isn't even one-- at least not so far-- trying. What the hell is wrong with them?

UPDATE: Inside Info

A senior Democrat and Pelosi pal, just responded to me by saying that "This may lead to a backlash against the idea of electing the DCCC Chair, especially since those are four very weak candidates. Maloney and Heck will be perceived as trying to run the DCCC for their own personal benefit. Maybe Pelosi will step in and take the decision back. If not, and there are no other candidates, I would expect DelBene to win with Pelosi’s behind-the-scenes support."

Having read the full post, he also threw in "David Trone? Ed Case? Wow. Maybe F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong when he said that there are no second acts in American life!"

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Undecided House Races— And Where They Are Headed


Will Orange County be a Republican-free zone?

Currently there are 9 House races considered too close to call or in recount. This is the list and my predictions as to how they will likely turn out. Asterisks indicate incumbents and bolding indicates likely winners:

CA-10- Central Valley
Josh Harder (D)- 90,263 (50.9%)
Jeff Denham* (R)- 86,956 (49.1%)
CA-39- Orange County
Young Kim (R)- 87,924 (50.7%)
Gil Cisneros (D)- 85,501 (49.3%)
CA-45- Orange County
Mimi Walters* (R)- 107,132 (50.5%)
Katie Porter (D)- 105,123 (49.5%)
GA-07- northeast Atlanta suburbs
Rob Woodall* (R)- 139,837 (50.2%)
Carolyn Bourdeaux (D)- 138,936 (49.8%)
ME-02- rural Maine
Bruce Poliquin* (R)- 131,466 (46.2%)
Jared Golden (D)- 129,556 (45.5%)
NJ-03- south central New Jersey
Andy Kim (D)- 150,311 (49.9%)
Tom MacArthur * (R)- 146,887 (48.8%)
NY-27 (recount)- western New York
Chris Collins* (R)- 134,251 (49.5%)
Nate McMurray (D)- 131,341 (48.4%)
TX-23- Rio Grande Valley

 Will Hurd* (R)- 102,903 (49.2%)
 Gina Ortiz Jones (D)- 101,753 (48.7%)
UT-04- Salt Lake City
Ben McAdams (D)- 108,509 (51.2%)
Mia Love* (R)- 103,595 (48.8%)

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Remember Trump's caravan of black death, small pox, Middle Eastern terrorists, MS-13, and dreaded Hondurans? Leading up to the election, it was all we heard about. FOX "News" especially turned itself over to wall to wall coverage. It was their version of Halloween every day. A battalion of Freddy Kruegers was on the way! It was a sure-fire "get the loon party out to the polls" motivator. Herr Trump spent millions of our tax dollars to send thousands of our troops to stop 900 unarmed men, women, and children who were a thousand miles away from the U.S. border. No mention was made that they were coming to apply legally for asylum. They were walking out in the open. They weren't sneaking in.

Surprise! Just like with the 2016 election, all mention of a nation-threatening "caravan" ended with Election Day! Why it's as if the threat never even existed! It's like it vanished into thin air! It's like it was all a manufactured crisis cynically used to fool the gullible and hate-filled! That couldn't possibly be, could it? Surely, Republicans wouldn't play their bigoted voters for suckers, would they?

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Monday, November 12, 2018

Colorado Just Had a Real Wave Election-- And National Democrats Need Them To Have Another In 2020


Colorado just elected a socially liberal, fiscally conservative Democrat as governor; nothing new there. But he’s also the the first openly-gay man elected governor in any state. Also the richest Democrat in the House— and a member of both the reformist Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Wall Street-owned and operated New Dems. Jared Polis can be almost all things to all people. Last Tuesday he beat Republican Walker Stapleton 1,210,621 (52.3%) to 1,018,072 (44.0%). There was never much doubt that Polis was going to win. And there was even less doubt that politically similar Democrat Joe Neguse would be replacing him in Congress. Neguse beat Republican Peter Yu in the Boulder-centered district 252,220 (60.0%) to 142,617 (33.9%).

The only partisan change in the Colorado congressional delegation was that conservative Democrat Jason Crow beat mainstream conservative Republican Mike Coffman in the suburban Denver 6th district— 184,399 (54.1%) to 146,339 (42.9%). So the House delegation went from 3 Democrats and 4 Republicans to 4 Democrats and 3 Republicans, not that big of a chance to merit this headline from the Denver Post: Colorado Republicans’ conundrum: Donald Trump and the unaffiliated voters who loathe him. Well there was also the legislature. Heading into the election, Republicans had an 18-16-1 majority in the state Senate. Of the chamber's 35 seats, 17 were up for election. Ten were held by Republicans, six were held by Democrats, and one was held by the independent. Democrats won 3 Republican seats and will now control that body. Democrats already controlled the state House and still do. And Democrats replaced Republicans as Attorney General, Secretary of State and Treasurer. Yep… wave.

Reporter Nic Garcia wrote that there is a great deal of concern in the GOP about Cory Gardner’s chance of holding the US Senate seat. Insiders, he wrote, consider “Gardner’s re-election prospects grim unless the GOP can develop a new message.” Why all this change? Independents— 900,000 unaffiliated voters.
“The barn has been completely cleaned out,” said David Flaherty, a Colorado Republican pollster. “We’re trying to learn what motivated them. But you’re kidding yourself if you say President Trump didn’t have something to do with it.”

Long before the results from the 2018 election were known, Republicans— especially those running for statewide office— faced daunting electoral challenges. Colorado is getting younger; the party has registered fewer than 50,000 new voters since 2014; and the national mood favored Democrats.

Now, according to Flaherty and other political insiders interviewed by the Denver Post this week, the situation is more dire for Colorado’s GOP. Of most immediate concern: U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s re-election prospects are grim unless the party can develop a new message that appeals to both the Trump loyalists and the independent voters who dislike the president.

…Unlike in more conservative states, Colorado’s Republican Party is split over Trump. The base, especially in more rural parts of Colorado, adores him. And while more of the party’s leaders have come to embrace the president’s brashness, power brokers who orbit the party are still repulsed by Trump’s worst tendencies.

…For Republicans to claw back any power, they need to be turning out more voters in swing counties such as Jefferson and Arapahoe, the latter of which makes up the majority of the competitive 6th Congressional District that Republican Rep. Mike Coffman just lost. Jefferson County, meanwhile, is home to three typically competitive state Senate races that Democrats just swept.

Whether Trump could have helped turn out more Republican voters is an open question.

Trump certainly believes he could have. In a post-election news conference, he called out Coffman as well as other congressional Republicans who distanced themselves from the president and lost their elections.

Whether Republican candidates should have asked Trump for help “is a discussion worth having,” said Justin Prendergast, a Republican strategist. “However, I think not having Trump here gives us a clear analysis on where the base is.”

As results came in Tuesday night and it became clear that Republicans were losing massive ground across the state, U.S. Rep. Ken Buck said it was time for the party to rethink its goals and message.

“Republicans have lost our brand,” Buck said. For example, the party claims to be fiscally conservative, but it has racked up a trillion-dollar deficit, he said.

“The Republican brand in Colorado is hurting right now,” he said. “We need to sit down and have a serious conversation about who should lead.”

…Democrats have not been shy about their next target: U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. The Yuma Republican now will be one of only two statewide GOP officeholders.
The Senate map for Democrats in 2020 isn’t as bad as it was in 2018— but it isn’t a lot better. The party will be looking at a very narrow path to taking back the Senate while defeating Trump. Colorado is a must.

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"Moderate" Is A Valued Political Term-- But What Does It Mean And Who Gets To Define It?


America's most popular political leader is pushing positions popular with voters but not with billionaires
The word "moderate" is more popular with voters than words like "liberal" or "conservative," and politicians always try to claim the word for their own agenda (which is rarely much more than careerist). The Republicans-- and their media allies-- relentlessly define their reactionary agenda as "moderate." Repeating a lie often and passionately enough, especially with lots of money behind that lie, will make it so. Even Democrats, who have issues on their side, start too believe the GOP definition of "moderate." And the members of Congress referred to as "moderates" always seem to be the Wall Street-owned New Dems and right-of-center Blue Dogs who make up the foot-dragging Republican wing of the Democratic Party. Their policy agenda is set by their corporate donors and they ruin the progressive agenda and the Democratic Party brand. Remember, it was the New Dems and Blue Dogs who ruined Obamacare by killing the public option. Republicans had no seat at that table. And that decision brought on the 2010 debacle that gave us close to 2 decades of reactionary rule and, ultimately, Donal Trump. “Beware the latest call,” waned Matt Taibbi, “to ‘move to the center’— which is just the same old tune, re-packaged.” Taibbi:
The New York Times meanwhile said the results were a “vindication of the party’s more moderate wing,” and that Democratic winners “largely hailed from the political center.”

NBC said the results were a “gut punch for progressives,” although at the bottom of the piece it noted that high-profile incumbents who “tacked aggressively to the center” also lost-- like Claire McCaskill and Joe Donnelly. The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin concluded, “It’s a good idea to go with a moderate,” and avoid a “fire-breathing progressive.”

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s basically the same post-mortem we get all the time: Democrats must move to the center, capture the suburbs, and embrace a less policy-specific, more personal-profile-based approach to politics, often pushing candidates with military records.

Meanwhile, after every loss, Republicans insist that moving to the center hurt them (“Conservatives join Trump in blaming moderates for House loss,” was a typical red-audience headline this week).

This results in an entire electorate that appears to continually move right, which in turn accelerates the cycle. Because the electorate is increasingly crazy and conservative, the thinking goes, Democrats need to be even more careful not to stand for anything that might scare “moderates.”

What is a “moderate,” exactly? Nearly every election cycle, the press comes up with a neat catch-phrase that purports to describe this person. The moderate is said to live in the suburbs and can be captured without offering much on the policy front. Implicitly, this voter is white.

…The point is, conventional wisdom is pretty much always wrong, and often spectacularly so. Invented media storylines too often dominate elections. The worst was probably the infamous “beer standard,” i.e. America always picking the candidate it most wants to have a beer with (Slate last time, in a headline it would probably like to forget, declared “There has never been a better candidate to have a beer with than Trump”).

Voters are not skittish, brainless creatures afraid of strong policy proposals. That more accurately describes the politicians and corporate donors who are invested in things staying as they are. Most actual people are living on the edge financially, are angry, and will take policy help from anywhere they can get it.

Polls today show Americans in large majorities now support expanded Social Security, drug re-importation, single-payer health care, free college, and they want Medicare to be able to negotiate lower drug prices. These positions would do well if any party threw its support behind them.

But conventional wisdom, once again, will likely insist heading into 2020 that something other than policy will matter, when it comes to picking candidates. CNN earlier this year, quoting pols and consultants, actually said that “in the era of Trump, where uniqueness is prized,” Democrats should search for “candidates with distinct backgrounds.”
Two days earlier, Taibbi had published his interview with Bernie in which he warned against the Democratic establishment’s core: “complacency and insisted it would be a ‘very, very serious mistake’ if Democrats did not at least try to pass progressive legislation, so as to call Trump’s populist bluff. Failure to do so, he implied, would mean ceding vital territory to Trump, a man with ‘no core beliefs.’ By now Bernie should know that plenty of careerists in his own party have the same allegiance to core beliefs that Trump does. He told Taibbi that Tuesday “night was a significant rejection of Trumpism. Not only did the Democrats regain control of the House, which was the most important development, Democrats won seven governors’ races. Democrats won 300 races at the state legislative and in the four states that Trump won in order to get his Electoral College majority— Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan— all four of those Senate Democratic candidates won. And three out of the four [Democratic] candidates for governor won…

Bernie told him that all the ‘moving to the center bullshit’ “was the line that they had which enabled Republicans to gain control of the Senate and the House and the White House and for Democrats to lose almost 1,000 seats in the previous nine years. Of course, that’s what the establishment will say, and that’s what the establishment Democrats will say. But the truth is that what has happened in this election is a significant step forward in terms of the revitalization of American democracy. It wasn’t moderate Democrats or conservative Democrats who got young people into the political process. It wasn’t moderate Democrats who increased voter turnout in this election compared to four years ago, I think by almost 50 percent. It wasn’t just moderate Democrats who won incredibly great victories for the House. There were some moderates, to be sure. But I think the Washington Post is going to be very surprised at who shows up on the first day of Congress and gets sworn in, because that is going to be the most progressive freshman class in the modern history of the United States. Many of these folks are not just women, not just people of color, who campaigned on Medicare-for-all, raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks, campaigned on making public colleges and universities tuition-free, of undoing Trump’s tax breaks for billionaires. The political establishment notwithstanding, the future belongs to progressives.”

He chose not to comment on the battle over House leadership but did say that “the Democrats in the House have got to come out with a progressive agenda that speaks to the needs of working people. And that leads to— as you know, the Medicare-for-all bill I introduced, which is to be implemented over four years, lowers the eligibility age from 65 to 55, covers all of the children, and lowers the cost of prescription drugs. My guess is that about 80-percent of the American people would support a proposal like that. It’s wildly popular. And that’s what the Democrats have got to do. They’ve got to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour, they’ve got to make public colleges tuition-free and they’ve got to lower student debt. All of these proposals are enormously popular. And they’re good public policy. And here’s what I think, Matt, that maybe nobody else in the world believes. As you know, Trump is a 100-percent political opportunist, who has no political views other than how he can win elections… He has no core values. I would not be shocked that if the Democrats passed popular, good legislation, that Trump would look around him and say, ‘Hey, why not? What do I give a damn?’ And he may come on board, because ultimately he doesn’t believe in anything except winning. So I believe it’s terribly important that the Democrats come out of the gate full-steam ahead and start passing really good legislation that puts Trump and the Republicans on the defensive.”

He continued, “[P]eople can chew bubble gum and walk at the same time. Democrats can do that. And if all they’re going to do is investigate Trump, that would be, in my view a very, very serious mistake. I think finally we are going to have oversight over Trump’s behavior. And I think investigations are absolutely appropriate. But simultaneously, people who are making $11 an hour are not worrying about investigations. People who have no health care, or can’t afford prescription drugs, are not worried about subpoenas. People who can’t afford to send their kids to college are not worried about another investigation. So it would be a tragic mistake in my view if all the Democrats did is focus on investigations. They must, must, must go forward with a progressive agenda to win the support of the American people. Is Pelosi listening or just running around and sweet talking freshmen about her ultra-conservative plan to re-institute PAYGO and kill all hopes of a progressive agenda?

For progressives to cede the word "moderate" to the New Dems and Blue Dogs, let alone Republicans, what does that make forward thinking Democrats like Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Judy Chu, Jamie Raskin, Ted Lieu, Barbara Lee, Katherine Clark and Jan Schakowsky? Radicals? Extremists? How is that possible, since these are the people who are pushing the ideas that are most popular with the most voters?

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What's a Morally Appropriate Response to Climate Deniers?


A small part of a much larger infographic showing our bright bright technical future. None of this will happen.

by Gaius Publius

What's a morally appropriate response to climate deniers?

What's a morally appropriate response to those who enable mass murder?

This short piece is the start of a much longer consideration of the state of the U.S. at this crossroads moment. It's an odd state. I remember the Y2K explosion of fear and concern, that there may be a global collapse due to computers not having been told that the year portion of a date contains four digits, not just two. Many computers stored the year as two digits, for example, as "68" for 1968. That works until 1999. What would happen when all those computers, if they weren't fixed, rolled the date to January 1, 2000? Would they all be fixed?

Y2K fear was in all the newscasts of the day, and appropriately so. No one knew what would happen, and if the very worst did occur, it could indeed have been a disaster. It wasn't, but we sure heard about it.

When it comes to global warming, however, at the rate we're fixing the problem — which is achingly slow, the slowest rate anyone can manage and still be pretending to care — there will be a global disaster. And yet there's been nary a peep from the media or any public official in position to act effectively.

Newscasters talk about driverless cars in 2030; about cheap, widespread DNA-inspired nanotech in 2033; about designer molecules from "superatoms" in 2036; an unhackable quantum internet; a feast of wonders at the next stage of culture and development. (See graphic at this link for all of these technologies.) And none of that will happen unless the disaster we're headed for is avoided. Any movie set in 2030, that doesn't have global chaos as its backdrop, is set on a planet none of are living on, unless we effectively address global warming now.

If a meteor were approaching the earth, the will of the world would be bent toward salvation. Global warming is that meteor. No one with any power is acting appropriately.

Those with power, of course, are paid not to act. For example:

And those without power — the mass of the public — are encouraged by a well-paid media campaign not to act. Many in that mass, our aggressive climate deniers, are in fact deliberately in the way. Many of those aggressive climate deniers are our sisters, fathers, neighbors, friends, co-workers. What's a morally appropriate response to climate deniers, even among our friends?

Consider this from Eric Anderson, first published at Ian Welsh's excellent site (lightly edited; emphasis added):
Shun the Climate Change Deniers

I have a little boy. He is my first, and most likely, only child — and he is everything to me.

I once thought that I knew what love is. I am still learning that I had no idea I could love anyone so deeply. I would lay my life down for him in a heartbeat, and will viciously attack any who dare threaten it.

There are those that threaten it every day.

Those that, in the past, I have professed to love and who, in turn, profess to love my son:

They are my parents.
They are my older sisters.
They are my Aunt, and my Uncle.

They move their mouths as they profess their love for my son, but I know in my heart that it’s not true. They are lying to both him and themselves.

They are lying because they are climate change deniers.

Because they vote for people, parties, policies and platforms that are actively contributing to the destruction of the planet my son depends on for his future survival. [...]

I ask them, “If there were even the tiniest chance you could be wrong, why would you risk the future of your family?” To which, they consistently reply in some manner of, “Well, it doesn’t matter anyway. I’m so old I’ll be long gone.” And so, their words of love are hollow. They are selfish. They are hypocrites. They are killers.

They care more about their ideology, than they care for my son. I have to call them what they are.

Therefore, if I continue to profess my love for both them and my son, what does that make me? What does that make the man who professes that he is willing to go to any lengths to try and ensure that his son has a future that doesn’t read like a dystopian novel? A future wherein, my son doesn’t look at me and say “Daddy, why didn’t you do something???”

To do both makes me the hypocrite. But I’m not a hypocrite.

Which is why I have made the decision to shun them all.

They need to feel the repercussions of their actions.

Everyone one of them do. Immediately. There is simply no time to lose. [...]

I exhort you to do the same, if indeed, the love you profess for your children is true.

We all must shun the climate change denying hypocrites that profess to love us from one side of their face, while they sell our future down the road with the other. Enough is enough.

Please think hard about joining me in shunning them all.
"Shun them" means to cut off all social interaction. Remove them completely and totally from your life. Sit shiva for them and declare them dead to you. Shunning is a non-violent act, but a public declaration, and frankly it's the mildest of responses. (For contrast, consider a Jack Reacher response to those who enable what kills.)

Anderson admits the extremity of this act: "I would be lying if I told you this isn’t the most difficult decision of my life."

And yet: If a neighbor cheers a murder as you watch, how should he then be treated? If an aunt cheers an active genocide as you watch, how should she then be treated? What if the genocide included you and your children?

It's the same here. If a person is seduced by Fox News for reasons of hate — the Fox News product is entirely hate, and its viewers watch it just for that — and thus helps choke the life from the species you share, how should that person be treated?

Like a man who verbally backs the wife in a dispute, when you back the husband? Or like an accessory to murder?

Something to think about...


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Ted Lieu Is Not Running For President... But Everyone Else Is


I am certain that Ted Lieu is not running for president because:
1- Ted and his wife want him to spend weekends with his two young sons— and you can’t do that when you’re running for president
2- Ted’s parents brought him to the U.S. from Taiwan when he was a child, making him constitutionally ineligible to be president.
Ted is virtually the only member of Congress who’s made a name for himself who isn’t running, or at least floating trial balloons about running. I have an idea that Bernie may make his announcement later in the month which could make some of the minor candidates back down. I hope so. As I’ve mentioned before, I have persuaded myself that I’m entitled to have one great president in my lifetime and I don’t see an alternative, not now and not on the horizon. And think how fabulous it would be for the country— and how needed after the worst— and I hesitate to use the word— “president” in history, bar none.

First the conservative careerists with nothing to offer at all:
Career-long corporate whore Joe Biden
The coffee guy who thinks the Democrats are moving too far left and has organized a team of Republicans to cheerlead for him
Money bags Mike Bloomberg
Conservative congressman and corporate whore John Delaney (New Dem-MD), who didn’t run for Congress this year so he could take up full-time residence in Iowa

Former Blue Dog, Wall Street walker and the Senate’s least accomplished “big name,” Kirsten Gillibrand, the war on men opportunist who would be the best guarantee Trump could hope for for a second term

America’s most hated and possibly most corrupt governor, Andrew Cuomo
Trump shit-talker but increasingly hated Rahm Emanuel protege, Michael Avenatti
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
Younger and even more boring version of Biden, Tim Kaine
The Senate’s most milquetoast member, Amy Klobuchar
Can he speak Spanish yet? If so… Julian Castro
Another rich guy who no one ever told about the common touch, Mark Warner
Ever hear of South Bend Indiana or its mayor Pete Buttigieg? He deserves something just for getting himself included on these lists… maybe an ambassadorship to a small island nation somewhere?
Tim Ryan, who took on Pelosi from the right and lost
Half of a bipartisan conservative unity ticket (with John Kasich), either Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick or Montana governor Steve Never Mind The Bullocks
A third conservative Virginian with nothing to offer, Terry McAuliffe, wheeler-dealer
Anyone want a southerner? Mitch Landrieu
Hillary is rumored to want to try again, this time possibly as a liberal. What does she have to lose?
I wouldn’t vote for anyone from that list. Here are some celebrities who might be liberals or conservatives or perhaps undecided:Oprah, Eric Holder, former presidential candidate and loser John Kerry, Reality TV star and billionaire Mark Cuban and Wrestler Dwayne Johnson (AKA: The Rock). There are also some senators who have decided to make themselves available as progressives. Wait, wait… first 3 actual progressives— and the only names mentioned so far I would vote for: Bernie, Elizabeth Warren and Jeff Merkley. Also in this group is Sherrod Brown but I wouldn’t vote for him. Now the folks in liberal guise: Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, although Kamala could find up as a ticket-balancer for Bernie is the Bernie/Warren thing doesn’t work out, which doesn’t appear to be getting off the ground.

Let’s see… more people—members of Congress— who are just wasting everyone’s time, Tulsi Gabbard (no loner a Bernie die-hard?), Seth Moulton, Massachusetts’ most conservative Democrat, Joe Kennedy III, BETO, Eric Swalwell who’s good on MSNBC.

Over the summer Mike Bloomberg was struttng around the Bohemian Grove telling anyone who would listen that he’s running. Many of the others have also hired staff, which I suppose indicates seriousness. But if this list smacks of desperation and opportunism— other than Bernie— how about Richard Ojeda, the Bernie primary voter in West Virginia who then voted for Trump in the general and last week lost an election he looked like he might win for Congress? I think Ryan Grim has been taken in by him, but I might be wrong about that. Grim broke the news yesterday. “Ojeda’s case for his candidacy,” he wrote, “is straightforward: The Democratic Party has gotten away from its roots, and he has a unique ability to win over a white, black, and brown working-class coalition by arguing from a place of authority that Trump is a populist fraud. He’s launching his campaign with an anti-corruption focus that draws a contrast with Trump’s inability to ‘drain the swamp.’”

His biggest selling point is that he refused to vote for Hillary Clinton, “seeing her as an embodiment of the party’s drift toward the elite.” I sympathize… but that’s not enough for a presidential candidate.

Much winnowing needed, the sooner the better... Although I fear even more terrible candidates will toss their names into the hat before we start getting some drop-outs.

UPDATE: Bloomberg

I love this essay by Kate Albright-Hanna that ran last week in City&State New York. She doesn’t want to see Bloomberg buy the presidency any more than I do and the short version of her piece is that “the mogul’s corporate ideology gutted the city and would do the same to the country.”

He recently spent around $100 million of his $51.8 billion helping to elect Democrats-- almost exclusively corporate conservative candidates. That’s like you contributing $1,000 to a candidate. And… he registered as a Democrat. “His recent moves ,” wrote Albright-Hanna, “warm the hearts of centrist pundits who believe his orderliness, love of data and great wealth are ‘antidotes’ to Trump.” I was born and raised in New York. It’s my home town. I stopped going there because of what Bloomberg did to it. Albright-Hanna explained:

According to reports, New York City is under siege, vanishing, empty or already dead as a result of the “Bloomberg Way”-- the concept of the mayor as CEO, businesses as clients, citizens as consumers, and the city as a product that’s branded and marketed. Bloomberg’s corporate worldview drained the color out of New York City-- a sterile, relentless kind of destruction that dehumanized its victims with the logic of the market. When he imagined what the city could be, his mind settled on a high-end mall filled with expensive accessories-- and that, increasingly, is what it has become. “If New York City is a business, it isn’t Walmart-- it isn’t trying to be the lowest-priced product in the market,” he explained at an economic conference in 2003. “It’s a high-end product, maybe even a luxury product.” If you couldn’t afford the product, the Bloomberg Way was to push you out.

Bloomberg invited global investors to knock down old brick buildings and erect glassy, lifeless towers of secrecy that housed the wealth of foreign oligarchs and kleptocrats-- but not many actual people who live in New York, pick up their dry cleaning and buy coffee at the local bodega. Not only did the absent owners fail to contribute to the local economy, but their property taxes were also wildly discounted-- for example, by 95 percent at One57, an ultraluxury tower in midtown Manhattan.

The billionaires were a “godsend,” according to Bloomberg, and the “bigger income gap” in the city was fine because everyone’s income was going up. For someone who purportedly loved data and math, numbers failed him here, because when median household income for all renting families goes up by 16 percent while median contract rents rise by 25 percent or more (as they did from 2005 to 2010), that’s a net loss for families-- especially when the cost of food, child care and transportation is also rising twice as fast as incomes.

In 2014, just after the end of Bloomberg’s tenure, New York University’s Furman Center estimated that more than half of renting households paid more than 30 percent of their income in rent and utilities. Rents increased more in lower-income neighborhoods than in areas with household incomes above the citywide median.

Small-business owners faced similarly daunting math: From 2004 to 2014, rents skyrocketed 89.1 percent in 16 Manhattan retail corridors while total retail sales grew by only 31.9 percent. The investment firm CBRE Group called it “an unsustainable situation.”

A surprising new phenomenon-- high-rent blight-- featured boarded-up windows where beloved local shops used to serve the community. With rent hikes that, in some cases, went from $4,000 to $40,000 per month, landlords might hold out for a global chain store or a bank. (Chase will pay $3 million a year in rent when it takes over the space occupied by Coffee Shop on Union Square.)

In a city accustomed to dizzying change, this sort of “change” was different. Where immigrants had once gotten a toehold in the city to build their dreams, global corporations now monopolized even the lowest-barrier entry points. With Bloomberg’s encouragement, they turned the owners of newsstands into renters, and imposed a steel and frosted glass uniformity onto them. A new sort of existential precarity took hold of everyone trying to make it-- as Bloomberg sought to clamp down on every rogue ice cream truck in town.

With the immigrants’ small businesses and long-standing family-owned shops and restaurants dying out, a sense of cultural transience permeated everything-- from hypergentrifying neighborhoods to vapid corporate pop-up shops. Nothing felt solid or permanent.

Bloomberg seemed totally fine with that. He offered hundreds of homeless people one-way tickets out of town, even while his policies allowed people to be pushed out of their homes. By the end of his three terms, the crisis of homelessness was setting new records, with the number of homeless families rising 83 percent during his mayoralty.

The CEO mayor, rumored to be a competent manager of complex problems, failed at every level of decision-making when tackling the problem. He took a relatively successful program that, under four previous New York City mayors, had helped more than 53,000 families move to long-term, permanent housing using Section 8 federal housing vouchers-- and disrupted it with his signature Advantage program. In 2010, he abandoned the program and left families with no assistance whatsoever to move into permanent housing.

And how did all this innovation impact the city’s bottom line-- supposedly the No. 1 metric for a CEO mayor? By expanding the temporary shelter system, expenditures rose nearly 80 percent to $1 billion. Even while the data showed that Housing First models provide an impressive return on investment, Bloomberg doubled down on harassing and ejecting people out of the shelters, relying on the art of bureaucratic stonewalling to discourage people from seeking help, based on the ridiculous premise that anyone-- even someone who just landed in New York on a private jet-- would choose a shelter when they have an alternative.

In Bloomberg’s imagination, the theoretical jet-setter is the only person who actually exists in his luxury city, and so every scenario-- even homeless shelters-- are considered in light of the global elite. It’s a distorted, deeply ideological worldview very much at odds with the claim that Bloomberg governs “based on the facts.”

Similarly, Bloomberg’s ideology leaves large gaps in basic economic logic. According to Bloomberg, homeless people should get jobs so they won’t rely on the city’s shelters. But it would be one of the “most misguided things we can do” to raise the minimum wage-- even if a full-time minimum wage job can’t cover the cost of a New York City apartment.

In 2012, Bloomberg vetoed a living wage bill for workers employed on projects that received more than $1 million in public subsidies. It would have raised the pay of approximately 500 working-class New Yorkers to $11.50 per hour or $10 plus benefits.

To review: Bloomberg was willing to pay over $6,000 to fly a homeless family out of town, but unwilling to pay housing-insecure workers a few more dollars per hour while they built the “luxury product” that Bloomberg was subsidizing with their tax dollars.

Conversely, generous handouts to corporations with no accountability are a cornerstone of the Bloomberg Way. In fiscal year 2009 alone, he gave away more than $300 million in public subsidies to 576 projects with the expectation that the payouts would create jobs. Over a decade, a city audit found that the city was owed 45,000 jobs from businesses and banks that had taken public money and failed to create jobs.

The bottom line in Bloomberg’s New York was that your value was determined by what was in your bank account. If you were wealthy enough, you could consume the luxury product he was designing for you. If you couldn’t afford it— even if you were a teacher or a nurse or someone else who built the product-- you were in the way. You deserved to be stopped and frisked, your dignity, security and freedom constantly at risk-- data be damned-- in order to protect the brand.

So, based on his record as mayor, would a Bloomberg presidency provide welcome relief from the reign of Trump?

The signature move of the Trump administration has been taking the New York real estate con, where lying is a business model, and scaling it up to the national level. In the really grand scheme of New York real estate politics, however, Donald Trump is actually a bit player-- almost anachronistic, a throwback to a time of wealthy, eccentric characters who made New York “colorful.”

As mayor, Michael Bloomberg wasn’t just a bit player in the real estate con. He orchestrated the whole real estate game in a way that turned most of us-- renters, small-business owners, wage earners, innovators and artists without trust funds-- into losers.

We’re left yearning to enjoy the bike lanes and waterfront parks that he built from the periphery, or in exile. As more of us are pushed out, we can begin to grasp the implications of a Bloomberg Nation. Let’s hope our democracy is still strong enough to resist the coming onslaught of his billions.
Better than Trump? Sure. But so is a steaming pile of dog shit that no one cleaned up-- and we don’t give the steaming pile the keys to the Oval Office.

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