Tuesday, February 19, 2019

2020 Primary Challenges Could Get Pretty Ugly-- No, No... They Will Be Ugly For Sure

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No one can put the Ocasio-Crowley primary in a box and sell it in other districts

Last week the New York Times published a lazy piece by Shane Goldmacher, The Ocasio-Cortez Effect: Wave of Challenges Hits Entrenched N.Y. Democrats, that defines superficial reporting. It should be lost on no one that Ocasio Cortez's stunning and successful campaign against New York's ultimate congressional insider ("the next speaker of the House"), Queens County machine boss, Joe Crowley, was utterly missed-- if not purposefully ignored-- by her hometown paper. Perhaps they're making a half-assed attempt to make up for it by covering some generally non-existent primaries in the area. "Half assed" is better described as quarter-assed... if that. The first sentence may be correct-- let's hope: "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may be just the beginning." But Goldmacher goes nowhere from the correct way to begin his piece.

Blue America has been involved, on one level or another, in every successful Democratic primary against a conservative incumbent since 2006-- Donna Edwards, Beto, Matt Cartwright, AOC... We have also been involved on a ton of them that haven't been successful. If I've learned one thing it's that they succeed when a determined and capable challenger (very, very hard to find, let alone invent) takes on an easily-defined villain with an established bad record. That was certainly the case with Edwards in Maryland, Beto in Texas, Cartwright in Pennsylvania and Ocasio Cortez in New York. Each of them is an extremely talented and charismatic politician and each ran against a corrupt, out-of-touch conservative who was supported fully by an establishment generally loathed by the grassroots.

Goldmacher generally neglected to look at any of that and instead spouts irrelevant nonsense like "Party insurgents are plotting and preparing to battle with the entrenched establishment-- targeting as many as a half-dozen Congress members in and around New York City-- over what it means to be a Democrat and a progressive in the age of President Trump. The coming New York uprising could result in a series of races that lay bare some of the same generational, racial, gender and ideological cleavages expected to define the 2020 presidential primary. The activist left, in particular, hopes that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s victory will inspire a brush fire of Democrat-on-Democrat campaigns that will spread from New York across the nation."

"Party insurgents?" Really? Grass roots activists might be a better way to describe the point he's fumbling towards. As for "generational, racial, gender and ideological cleavages," which worked in Ocasio Cortez's campaign, we'll have to look at each race Goldmacher is reporting to be a potential primary battle. He's certainly right when he claims "serious primary challengers for House seats have historically been rare, and it is almost unheard of for so many to emerge in one region so early in the election cycle." And they haven't emerged, except on the page in the Times his piece was published on.

The first member Goldmacher identifies as a potential target is Jerry Nadler-- who represents a district that includes areas of Manhattan (the Upper West Side, Soho, Chelsea, the Village, the Financial District) and Brooklyn (mostly Borough Park). His super-highly educated Manhattan constituents are not likely to be persuaded he's a villain at all. His ProgressivePunch score is "A" and has always been "A" and his voting record is ranked-- and has always been ranked-- among the 20 most perfect progressive records in Congress. I don't think Nadler or his team ever thought he could be primaried from the left. His last primary was in 2016 when the far right Hassidics who run Borough Park recruited and supported a candidate, Mikhail Oliver Rosenberg, son of a millionaire, to run against Nadler when he voted for the Iran nuclear deal. It looked like if they could order their zombie followers to go out and vote against Nadler-- in what was predicted to be a low-turn-out election, they could pull off an upset. (They even persuaded racist former comedian Jackie Mason to cut a robocall for their candidate.) Instead it was the second highest turn-out primary in the state that year and Mason and the zombies were nowhere to be seen.

Rosenberg fancied himself the new generation (and a part of a strong LGBTQ community) up against an old and tired Nadler. (Nadler has been in the forefront of every pro-gay initiative in his career and gay organizations backed Nadler.) Rosenberg campaigned on a solid green energy platform, on legalizing marijuana, and as an advocate for Israel. 85% of his campaign expenditures ($366,852) came from his own bank account and, like Trump, he claimed he wouldn't be beholden to special interests. Nadler beat Rosenberg in a landslide-- 88.78% to 10.26%.


Goldmacher reports that next year "Nadler could face a primary from Lindsey Boylan, a former economic development adviser to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who appears to want to run on a platform of "I'm a woman and he's not."
She said she was considering a run after watching the 2018 midterms, as “these women decided not to wait their turn because it was never going to be their turn.”

“I just can’t justify having my daughter watch me sit on the sidelines,” she said.

A huge X-factor in any Nadler primary would be the billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who has pushed for the impeachment of Mr. Trump. Mr. Steyer has already polled the popularity of impeachment in the district and is launching a $200,000 direct mail, television and digital ad campaign this week urging Mr. Nadler to begin impeachment hearings in his committee.
Goldmacher identified Tom Suozzi, Eliot Engel, Yvette Clarke, José Serrano, Carolyn Maloney and Kathleen Rice as likely targets. Suozzi, Engel and Rice are New Dems with relatively conservative voting records. Serrano, Maloney and Clarke are members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Engel is rumored to be buying his way into the Progressive Caucus so he will be able to use that membership to claim he's progressive. These are the crucial vote scores for all 7 candidates identified in the piece.
Yvette Clarke- 95.88- A
Jerry Nadler- 94.98- A
José Serrano- 93.71- A
Carolyn Maloney- 86.47- C
Eliot Engel- 85.30- C
Kathleen Rice- 63.16- F
Tom Suozzi- 54.05- F
"Not every challenge in New York," wrote Goldmacher, "will be run on ideological grounds. Some will be powered by more local disputes, longstanding grudges or just timely ambition. But for many progressives, the goal is to police the Democratic Party ideologically, much in the way the Tea Party pushed Republicans to the right."
“We are trying to elect more Alexandrias,” said Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats, the insurgent group devoted to recruiting progressive primary challengers nationally. “She is an example of what one victory can do. Imagine what we can do with more primary wins across the country.”

After Mr. Crowley’s defeat almost no one is seen as untouchable.

“They should be afraid,” Maria L. Svart, the national director of the Democratic Socialists of America, which backed Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, said of incumbent House Democrats.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez herself appeared in a promotional video for Justice Democrats and on an organizing call for the group last November during which Saikat Chakrabarti, now her chief of staff, declared, “We gotta primary folks.”
True, but targets should be carefully chosen. It amazes me, for example, that Justice Democrats and DSA have seemingly ignored, at least so far, corrupt New Dem Gregory Meeks. Nadler and Serrano may not be perfect-- but they certainly are in comparison to Meeks, who seems to exist in Congress primarily to collect bribes. A member of the House Financial Services Committee, he's taken $3,665,788 from the Finance Sector, including $564,100 in the last cycle. What's more, Meeks' likely challenger is the ideal candidate for the seat. Khaair Morrison is a 25 year old African-American attorney born and raised in the district, which, he told me yesterday "is ripe for a fresh leadership after having ineffective leadership for 20+ years. Working class neighborhoods like South East Queens, Nassau, Valley Stream, and Far Rockaway have had an up-close seat to the major issues of our time. After Hurricane Sandy, areas are still rebuilding as we see the effects of Global Warming. We were the epicenter for the foreclosure crisis and many have still not able to get their homes back. We see the brutality of broken windows and mass incarceration as our kids are constantly targeted for low-level offenses that ruin opportunities for black and brown lives to be productive members of our society. We have seen how poor infrastructure and lack of planning can ruin a neighborhood's vitality. We have seen the decrepit state of public housing and are still without creative ideas to make housing more equitable. It is time we do things differently and that we speak truth to power." True, that-- and time for a self-serving do-nothing congressman like Meeks to bow out and let a fresh can-do kind of guy like Morrison take the seat.



Meeks is one of the New York congressmembers who Goldmacher was no doubt referring to when he wrote that they "have sought to establish personal or professional bonds with Ocasio-Cortez, signing onto her Green New Deal, for instance-- recognizing the power of her megaphone. In an interview in January, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said she had 'put zero energy' into the question of primarying colleagues. She said the freshman class had 'already changed the opinions and commitments of a lot of incumbent members already. And I think that is something we should absolutely consider.' Whether or not Ms. Ocasio-Cortez gets personally involved, insurgent groups are plowing ahead."

Let me jump to Carolyn Maloney, a difficult target ideologically put perfect for a reformist challenger to take on based on ethics. Her corruption is just mind-boggling, even if her voting record is pretty good. She's not just a member of the House Financial Services Committee, she's the chair of the Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets-- and exploits that to the max in her fundraising efforts. Among current members of the House, only 3 have been bigger Finance Sector money pigs than Maloney. A case can-- and should-- be made that these are the half dozen most corrupt members of Congress, at least in regard to Wall Street banksters, and that they should all be carted off to jail holding tanks before their trials:
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)- $8,086,692
Steny Hoyer (D-MD)- $6,865,814
Jim Himes (New Dem-CT)- $6,376,379
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)- $6,309,318
Patrick McHenry (R-NC)- $5,627,242
Steve Stivers (R-OH)- $5,620,077
Suraj Patel ran against Maloney in 2018 and may do it again next year. He ought to. NY-12 is a solidly blue district (D+31) that spans Manhattan (Yorkville, the Upper East Side, Midtown, Kips Bay, Gramercy Park, Alphabet City and the Lower East Side), Queens (Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside) and Brooklyn (Greenpoint and north Williamsburg). Interstate 278 separates Maloney's district from Ocasio's in Queens. Of the 251,604 people who voted in 2018, 190,771 were in Manhattan, 35,728 in Queens and 25,105 in Brooklyn. The district has changed-- and rapidly, as Ocasio's had-- and in similar ways. First of all, though not most important per se, the D+27 PVI in 2017 jumped to D+31 in 2019. That's a big jump and it's the other changes that account for it. The white population is smaller but still dominant, though the fastest growing demos are Asians, Latinos, Arabs and-- very significantly-- highly educated and politicized millennials. Patel: "The status quo isn’t good enough. Our values are under attack by leaders that don’t share or understand our lived experiences, and it’s going to take new ideas and louder voices to make real change... We deserve a congressperson who isn’t recklessly indifferent to the less privileged."

Patel ended up with a bit over 40% of the vote, a great accomplishment against a forever incumbent on a first try. Goldmacher interviewed Sean McElwee, who has been involved in finding primary challengers in New York and who was a co-founder of the progressive think tank Data for Progress. McElwee told him that "in deep blue states, Republicans increasingly don’t exist. We spend a lot of time thinking about why we have right-wing corporate Democrats selling out our interests." McElwee told him the push to recruit a challenger to Engel, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee and has been in Congress for three decades (and who represents the Likud Party of Israel and their lobbyists, AIPAC, far more than he does the folks who live in the 16th district (including Riverdale, Fieldston and Eastchester in the Bronx, abutting Ocasio's district, and New Rochelle, Yonkers, Mount Vernon, Mamaroneck, Scarsdale and up to Rye and Hastings-on-Hudson in Westchester.

Blue America has been trying to find a local elected official to take Engel on for years, but with not a nibble. McElwee calls finding a primary opponent for him a "top priority" and recently commissioned a poll there. The district used to be overwhelming white but now whites only make up 39% of the population. Blacks, Latinos and Asians make it a minority-majority district. McElwee is eager to find "a younger candidate of color in 2020; only about a half-dozen white Democratic men represent a more diverse district in Congress than Mr. Engel," wrote Goldmacher.
One potential challenger mulling a run is Andom Ghebreghiorgis, a Yale graduate and 33-year-old educator in Mount Vernon, who said that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez "showed there’s a hunger, especially here in New York, for representatives who reflect the changing progressive politics of their communities."

In a statement, Mr. Engel praised the party’s "new energy" and said the fact that anyone can run "is the beauty of our electoral system." But, he added, "think we’re doing the people we represent and the country a disservice by focusing on 2020 primaries when we have so much to do right now in Washington."
Yeah-- but not in NY-16. There are 4 congressmembers who represent parts of the Bronx, Ocasio, Engel, Adriano Espaillat-- a relatively new member, a progressive and a very good fit for the district-- and José Serrano (NY-15) in the center of the borough, in some ways the furthest left district in New York. The PVI is D+44, the bluest in the state and Trump only managed to win 4.9% of the vote in 2016 (slightly better than Romney did, but still Trump's worst performance anywhere in America. Only 2% of the population is white. The last Republican who won this district was Calvin Coolidge in 1924. The Bronx Machine has been eager to take Serrano out for some time but no one wants to run against him. In 2014 his primary opponent, Sam Sloan won 9% of the vote. His 2016 primary opponent, Leonel Baez won 10.8% and in 2018 there was no primary opponent. In the 2018 general election, the Republican candidate was Jason Gonzalez and Serrano beat him 124,469 (96%) to 5,205 (4%). City Councilman Ritchie Torres, a 30-year-old often described as a rising star, is weighing a run based on the whole "it's my turn, you're too old" thing.

Yvette Clarke, who won with only 53%, is facing a rematch with Adem Bunkeddeko, the Harvard-educated son of war Ugandan refugees who had been endorsed by the New York Times. "We’re at a moment of reckoning. Some people get it and some people don’t. Maybe someone’s seventh term is the charm? But most of us aren’t holding our breath." Goldmacher spoke with her and she told him that "she had reorganized her district office following the 2018 close call and is aggressively selling her progressive credentials in the more gentrified and liberal parts of the district, such as Park Slope. 'I definitely will not be caught by surprise.' She has among the dozen most progressive voting records in Congress. Bunkeddeko's point is that she's basically just a backbencher who votes well and doesn't do much for the district.

The last two likely primary races are on Long Island-- Tom Suozzi and Kathleen Rice, both New Dems who are going to be challenged from the left. I'm going to do a separate post on these two races because both are swingy districts that could, at least in theory, flip red if the incumbents are beaten.


UPDATE: Democratic Primary In Arizona

At dawn today, the Arizona Republic reported that Eva Putzova, a former Flagstaff city councilwoman, is running for the AZ-01 seat currently held by reactionary Blue Dog Tom O'Halleran.
Putzova, who announced her candidacy in January, said her top priority in Congress would be to address the process immigrants have to go through to become citizens. She said the current system takes too long and leaves people at the mercy of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers for far too long.

She also wants ICE restructured.

“Nobody is saying that enforcement in immigration is not important, but ICE as an agency is rogue,” she said. “It needs to be completely restructured.”

..."A #GreenNewDeal should be every candidates priority in 2020," she tweeted Feb. 10 in support of the "Green New Deal" environmental plan championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

Her campaign website lists other top issues: universal health care, tuition-free college, indigenous peoples' rights, "meaningful climate action," "no more wars," women's reproductive health and workers' rights.

...O’Halleran, the two-term incumbent, appears to have the support of national Democrats.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently added him to its "Frontline" program.

The DCCC's Frontline program is designed to help provide Democratic members of Congress with the support they need to win re-election. O’Halleran is now one of 44 members of Congress in the program.

Goal Thermometer“Tom O’Halleran wins tough races because he understands the concerns of hard-working Arizonans, and because he never forgot where he came from,” Rep. Cheri Bustos, the 2020 cycle's DCCC chairwoman, said in a written statement.

“We’re proud to stand with Tom as a member of our Frontline program to ensure he has the support he needs to win and keep working for Arizona,” Bustos (Blue Dog-IL) added.
Blue America has already endorsed Eva Putzova and if you'd like to see another member of Congress who supports Bernie's platform replace an "ex"-Republican Blue Dog, please click on the ActBlue Primary A Blue Dog thermometer on the right and contribute what you can.

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Bernie's In

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Tomorrow's my birthday-- but the present I wanted most came a day early. First on Vermont Public Radio and then on CBS This Morning, Bernie announced he's running for president. Responding to a question from John Dickerson, Bernie said "I am going to run for president, that's correct. Dickerson asked him what's going to be different this time and Bernie said, "We're going to win. We are also going to launch what I think is unprecedented in modern American history and that is a grassroots movement to lay the groundwork for transforming the economic and political life of this country.
"It is absolutely imperative that Donald Trump be defeated, because I think it is unacceptable and un-American, to be frank with you, that we have a president who is a pathological liar. We have a president who is a racist, who is a sexist, who is a xenophobe, who is doing what no president in our lifetimes has come close to do doing, and that is trying to divide us up.

When Dickerson asked Bernie about the crackpot Starbucks guy who has said he'd drop out if Democrats pick a conservative, corporate whotre like himself, rather than a progressive, Bernie dismissed Schultz as a billionaire who's essentially "blackmailing the Democratic Party."
"If you don't nominate Bernie Sanders he's not gonna run?" Sanders said of Schultz. "Well, I don't think we should succumb to that kind of blackmail."

Goal Thermometer>Dickerson pointed out that Schultz represents the argument that Democrats, in order to win voters in more conservative parts of the country, have to pick a candidate who isn't as radical.

"I think his deeper theory is, 'Hey, I'm a billionaire. Leave me alone. And let me make as much as money as I can without paying my fair share of taxes,'" Sanders countered, without acknowledging the point.
Earlier, Bernie told Vermont Public Radio host Bob Kinzel that "We have got to look at candidates, you know, not by the color of their skin, not by their sexual orientation or their gender and not by their age. I mean, I think we have got to try to move us toward a non-discriminatory society which looks at people based on their abilities, based on what they stand for."



And for those wondering... Bernie's 2020 platform:
Medicare For All
Green New Deal
$15 Minimum Wage
Criminal justice reform
Free public college
Break up Too Big To Fail banks
Gender pay equality
Paid leave
Bring down Drug prices
Expand Social Security
Save Unions
Dream Act
The centrists and "moderates" who try to shoot this down are the same kind of politicians who thought it was too radical to pass Medicare, too radical to pass Social Security, too radical to legislate a minimum wage, too radical to allow women the vote, too radical to emancipate the slaves, too radical to mandate free public education, too radical to declare independence from Britain. There will always be politicians like Status Quo Joe Biden and Billionaire Bloomberg and Amy Klobuchar. We're always better off ignoring them.



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Midnight Meme Of The Day!

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by Noah

Memes are, by nature, just a quick blast that conveys a message. Among the reasons that I started up the "Midnight Meme Of The Day!" was to pass the message on, provide context or expand upon the thought, create my own memes, see if anyone out there is paying attention... I've even been known to bait trolls. Once in a while though, a meme comes along and I find that someone has already expanded on the theme and done it gloriously. So, tonight, I'm just turning the commentary over to British film writer, producer, and director Nate White. He wrote what follows when asked, by Quora, a California-based question and answer website, why so many British people don't like Trump. What he wrote has since been making the rounds on social media. It's a fine read, a little long by necessity but it reads fast. It's humorous, pointed, has a powerfully hilarious ending, and millions of patriotic Trump-hating Americans will agree with its deadly accuracy. Enjoy.
A few things spring to mind.

Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.

For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace-- all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.

So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing-- not once, ever.

I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility-- for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.

But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is-- his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.

And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults-- he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.

Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront.

Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.

And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist.

Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that.

He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat.

He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully.

That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a sniveling sidekick instead.

There are unspoken rules to this stuff-- the Queensberry rules of basic decency-- and he breaks them all. He punches downwards - which a gentleman should, would, could never do-- and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless-- and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority-- perhaps a third-- of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think 'Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:
Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.
You don't need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.
This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.

After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.

In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws-- he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish:

'My God… what… have… I… created?

If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set.

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Monday, February 18, 2019

Steven Miller (And Trump) Want To Sell You A Bridge... While Status Quo Joe Biden Says He Wants To Build One

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Adam Schiff was on CNN yesterday, questioning questioning congressional Republicans' devotion to Congress as an institution (and the U.S. Constitution) in light of Trump's fake national emergency. "It will not be a separation of powers any more," he said, "just a separation of parties. So this is going to be a moment of truth for my GOP colleagues." When Republicans go on TV to discuss arguments they can't win-- like Trump's blatant lies about this or that or the other and all of the above-- they gravitate to their safe space: Trump TV. However, Steven Miller, one of the least sympathetic characters in current politics-- even without the shoe-polish on his head-- just may have been somewhat surprised by what happened to him yesterday on Chris Wallace's show.

Watch it above. Wallace hammered Trump's in-house Nazi when he tried vomiting out memorized press department talking points instead of answering the questions. Rachel Maddow would have be kinder and gentler. Miller could almost have been on with Lawrence O'Donnell. I wrote "almost" because O'Donnell wouldn't have let him get away with this bullshit for the sake of comity and politeness:
WALLACE: 'I didn’t need to do this.' How does that justify a national emergency?

MILLER: Well as you know Chris, we already have 4,000 troops on the border in light of a national emergency, a decision that was made almost a year ago, as we see an increasing number of people crossing the border as well as increasing violence in Mexico. What the president was saying is that like past presidents, he could choose to ignore this crisis, choose to ignore this emergency as others have; that’s not what he’s going to do.

Wallace should have called him out for asserting that because of Trump's election stunt of sending some troops to the border ("a decision that was made almost a year ago," as if that was relevant) there is a national emergency. There isn't. And Miller is insisting that the troops-- which don't need to be there, except in his mind-- must be protected with a wall. He also falsely claimed that "we see an increasing number of people crossing the border." There are fewer illegal crossings than in decades. He also stuck in-- pure fear-mongering-- that we see "increasing violence in Mexico." Not true, not relevant. Wallace didn't let it all go by without pushback though:

"The president talks about an invasion," he said, "used that word multiple times on Friday-- an invasion on the Southern border. But let’s look at the facts, I want to put them up on the screen; 1.6 million people were stopped crossing the border illegally back in 2000, less than a quarter that many were caught last year. The government’s own numbers show, for all the president is talking about drugs streaming over the border, 80 to 90 percent of the cocaine, heroin and fentanyl seized at the border is seized at ports of entry, not along unfenced areas.bAnd in 2017 twice as many of the new people in the country illegally were from visa overstays, as were from crossing the border. Again, where’s the emergency-- the national emergency to build a wall?"



Miller's response was to attack George W. Bush and accuse him of "an astonishing betrayal of the American people" for allowing illegal immigration to double from 6 to 12 million. Bringing in "cheap labor" has, of course been the agenda of the big industrial and agricultural backers of the GOP for far longer than a century. Miller isn't from that wing of the party, though. He's a proud and insistent Know Nothing Republican and he's dragged his mentally-impaired boss down that rabbit hole with him.

Wall Street Journal reporter Jess Bravin had some bad news for the Know Nothings this weekend. First of all, he wrote that within hours of Trumpanzee's Rose Garden speech, "the advocacy group Public Citizen filed suit in the Washington, D.C., federal district court to block implementation of the emergency declaration. The plaintiffs-- three Texas landowners who were notified by the government that their property could be taken to build the wall; and the Frontera Audubon Society, which operates a nature preserve in the Rio Grande Valley-- contend that no national emergency exists, and that even if one did, Mr. Trump exceeded the authority Congress gave the president to respond to military contingencies. 'The facts make clear that the premise of the president's declaration that the absence of a wall in the areas where construction is planned is an emergency is legally untenable and an impermissible basis for seeking to obligate funds that Congress has refused to appropriate for a border wall,' said Allison Zieve, a Public Citizen lawyer representing the plaintiffs."

Bevin also wrote, separately, that Democratic-led states and border communities said they were readying lawsuits to halt construction that Congress had not authorized. In Texas, El Paso County, which Señor Trumpanzee "visited Monday to make his case for a border emergency, said it would join with nonprofit groups to challenge the president’s action. 'President Trump has already made many negative and false statements about our community in the attempt to justify his border wall,' Ricardo Sanmaniego, the county judge, or chief executive, said in a release. The 'emergency declaration will further damage El Paso County’s reputation and economy, and we are determined to stop this from happening.'"

A few words about El Paso County, the 6th most populous in Texas. Beto represented most of it in Congress and now that seat is held by a long-time ally of his, Veronica Escobar. The county is blue. Kerry beat Bush 56-43% there in 2004. Obama won it-- both times-- by even greater margins. Hillary win in 2016 was a landslide-- 145,509 (69.6%) to 54,567 (25.9%). El Paso County is not Trump-friendly. Even in the 2016 GOP primary, Trump came in 3rd, after Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Not a great place for his racist policy agenda to face a jury.



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Keeping Track Of Who's In And Who's Not In The Green New Deal

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Tom Suozzi is generally thought of as a pretty conservative Democrat, but when it comes to action on Climate Change... the guy loves his family

When AOC first announced the Green New Deal resolution on February 7, she quickly garnered 65 co-sponsors in the House. Exactly 10 days later I count 87, including AOC, in total. Still no Republicans. That is scary. But all kinds of Democrats-- mostly progressives, of course, but I noticed a New Dem signed on and there's even a Blue Dog on the list. These are the most recent co-sponsors, each having signed on despite Pelosi's old-and-in-the-way hostility and belittlement.
Jimmy Gomez (D-CA)
Joe Kennedy III (D-MA)
Jimmy Panetta (D-CA)
John Sarbanes (D-MD)
Adam Smith (D-WA)
Jackie Speier (D-CA)
Karen Bass (D-CA)
Nanette Barragan (D-CA)
Lacy Clay (D-MO)
Elijah Cummings (D-MD)
Danny Davis (D-IL)
Bill Keating (D-MA)
Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Nita Lowey (D-NY)
Grace Napolitano (D-CA)
David Price (D-NC)
Linda Sanchez (D-CA)
Bobby Scott (D-VA)
Tom Suozzi (New Dem-NY)
Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
Jahana Hayes (D-CT)
OK, so here's AOC's original graphic with the immediate co-sponsors. You can click on it and it will get bigger. Look for your congresscritter on the graphic and on on the list above. Don't see him or her? You should call and tell the office how important you think the Green New Deal is and how important to you their support would be. Let them know you are a voter who takes Climate Change into account at the polls-- and when you contribute to campaigns.



The freshman non-cosponsors who campaigned on the importance of dealing with climate change, as most of them did, should be asked why they're withholding their support. I just noticed, in fact, that none of the 11 freshmen who joined the Blue Dogs are on board. And the only freshmen New Dems who are co-sponsors are Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL) and Veronica Escobar (TX). The rest of 'em... MIA. And, sure, some of them are hostile to anything smacking of progressivism-- Elissa Slotkin, Max Rose, Mike Sherrill, Abigail Spanberger, Ben McAdams, Ann Kirkpatrick, Kendra Horn, Anthony Brindisi, the real bottom of the barrel. But some of those right-of-center and centrist freshmen seemed very eager to talk about Climate Change and Global Warming during the campaign, some even with a sense of sincerity-- like Sean Casten (IL), Joe Cunningham (SC), Katie Hill (CA), Josh Harder (CA), Harley Rouda (CA), Katie Porter (CA). That bunch are all worth talking to (politely) and urging them to help, not stand in the way. Because, even if Chris Hayes' diktat was meant for presidential candidates, it's going to be fully in play during congressional primary season as well.


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Mark Penn Wants To Tell You Who Upended Our Election Process, Fanned Partisan Political Fames, Distorted Our Foreign Policy By Isolating Us From Russia, And Abused The Powers Of Their Office

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Yesterday's big NY Times book review was Dwight Garner's look at The Threat by Andrew McCabe. Fox News has a very different perspective on the book and we'll get to that in a moment. Garner points to McCabe's first sentence-- "Between the world of chaos and the world of order stands the rule of law"-- and suggests that it demands to be read in the voice of Jack Webb from Dragnet. It may not be Dostoevsky but Garner is a fan: "McCabe is, of course, the former deputy director of the F.B.I. who was fired last March, just 26 hours before his scheduled retirement. He was briefly the F.B.I.’s acting director, after the dismissal of James B. Comey. The president hooted on Twitter: 'Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the F.B.I.-- A great day for Democracy.' This lawman, a registered Republican for the entirety of his adult life, may have been driven out of Dodge. But he has dusted off his white hat and returned with a memoir that’s better than any book typed this quickly has a right to be."
The Threat is a concise yet substantive account of how the F.B.I. works, at a moment when its procedures and impartiality are under attack. It’s an unambiguous indictment of Trump’s moral behavior. “Let me state the proposition openly,” McCabe writes. “The work of the F.B.I. is being undermined by the current president.”

It’s a rapid-fire G-man memoir, moving from the author’s training in Quantico (shades of The Silence of the Lambs) through his experiences chasing the Russian mob, the Boston Marathon bombers and others. The book is patriotic and oddly stirring. It has moments of opacity, where you feel he is holding back at crucial moments, but it is filled with disturbingly piquant details.

...McCabe’s accounts of his baffled interactions with Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general, would be high comedy if they were not so dire. They are a highlight, or a lowlight, of this book. We see a Sessions who is openly racist. “Back in the old days,” he says to the author about the F.B.I., “you all only hired Irishmen. They were drunks, but they could be trusted.”

Sessions seemed not to read his daily briefings. He had “trouble focusing” and “seemed to lack basic knowledge about the jurisdictions of various arms of federal law enforcement.”

Sessions concentrated almost solely on the immigration aspect of any issue, McCabe writes, even when there was no immigration aspect. Similarly, “Sessions spent a lot of time yelling at us about the death penalty, despite the fact that the F.B.I. plays no role of any kind in whether to seek the death penalty.”

The portrait of Sessions is of a man for whom merely ordering lunch seems to be above the timberline of his intellect and curiosity.

...Mueller is, in this book, the Mueller we have come to know: punctual, determined, the antithesis of casual, with a special loathing for people who speak when they don’t know what they are talking about.

“Ball-busting is his way of expressing affection,” McCabe writes. “If he said, Where does a person even find a tie like that? I knew things were fine: He never went out of his way to insult anyone he didn’t actually like.”

McCabe’s memoir joins a roster of recent and alarming books by high-ranking members of the United States’ justice and intelligence communities, each pushing back sharply against the president’s war on facts and competence.




These books include Comey’s A Higher Loyalty as well as  The Assault on Intelligence, by Michael V. Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency, and Facts and Fears, by James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, written with Trey Brown.

Each is its own Paul Revere ride of warning. Each is a reminder that we will be reading about Trump and his administration for the rest of our lives, for the exact opposite reason that we will also be reading about Lincoln and his for the rest of our lives.

There’s much more in McCabe’s book. He’s good on things like what it’s like to take a polygraph test, and the fastest way to take off a seatbelt.

He wades back through the big muddy of the Benghazi hearings. He writes of his fears about the increasing use of encryption.

He spends a good deal of time talking about Hillary Clinton and her email server. He argues that Comey, whom he admires, made crucial mistakes in how he handled the matter. “As a matter of policy, the F.B.I. does everything possible not to influence elections. In 2016, it seems we did.”

He recounts the attacks on his credibility, by Trump and others, after his wife, Jill, ran for Virginia’s State Senate as a Democrat in 2015. He hurt his own credibility, according to the F.B.I. inspector general, by making false statements about his contacts with the media.

The Trump-bashing texts between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, his F.B.I. subordinates, did something worse: They cast doubts about the impartiality of the agency. McCabe rushes past this material too swiftly. Yet if McCabe has made mistakes, his basic decency shines through in this memoir.

He adds to our understanding of how deeply Trump remains under Vladimir Putin’s sway. After a North Korean ballistic missile test, Trump told an F.B.I. briefer that reports of the test were a hoax. McCabe writes, incredulously: “He said he knew this because Vladimir Putin had told him so.”

About Trump, the author asks, “What more could a person do to erode the credibility of the presidency?” He watches this moral limbo dancer go lower and lower. Yet he sees the president as a symptom as much as a disease.

“When is the right time,” he asks, “to give up on people’s general ability to understand any slightly complicated statement that they don’t agree with?”

So many Trump books... which one(s) to actually sit down and read? Fox News knows its audience well enough to be certain the answer, for them, is "none of them." The Threat-- How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump is not going to be on many nightstands of Fox viewers. Sunday Fox published two commentaries on McCabe's book. The first was an OpEd by one of the most odious of creatures inhabiting the swampy fringes of American politics, Mr. Repulsive, Mr. Problem Solvers himself. In fact, his Fox OpEd, shows exactly from where the Problem Solvers world view emanates. "The most egregious anti-democratic actions ever taken by the what can now fairly be called the Deep State are confirmed with the publication of fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s new book detailing how the FBI and Justice Department plotted to remove President Trump from office for firing FBI Director James Comey." Pure Trump defense from the phony-center. I wonder if Josh Gottheimer, Penn's contemptible little lap doggie inside the House Democratic caucus, would agree. This is exactly what Fox wants to reinforce in the lizard brains of its viewers:
Justice Department and FBI officials spied on U.S. citizens with false warrants, gave a pass to one presidential campaign with a predetermined investigation, investigated another political campaign on the basis of no verified evidence, and illegally leaked information on investigations. They discussed wiretapping and using the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove President Trump, and appointed a special counsel as a retaliatory move for Comey’s firing.

It is now crystal clear that the highest echelons of the Justice Department and FBI had morphed from the world’s most professional law enforcement organization into a Third World rump group. They had the hubris to believe that they-- not the American people or their duly elected representatives-- should decide who governs and how.

They upended our election process, fanned partisan political flames, distorted our foreign policy by isolating us from Russia, and abused the powers of their office.

Remember that McCabe, Comey and the intelligence community heads all publicly testified to Congress even after the Comey-Trump meetings and memos that no investigation had been tampered with in any way. None.

Yet upon President Trump’s firing of Comey, the remaining officials didn’t wait for the proper appointment of a new FBI head. Instead, they worked themselves up into an unfounded hysteria and acted to create an independent counsel over obstruction that never happened – and was never happening.

...[T]he FBI and Justice Department officials acted to keep the investigation they created under their supervision and with their friends whom they would appoint. And so rather than allow the new incoming head of the FBI to make these decisions, they acted to empower their buddy Robert Mueller as a special counsel.


Mueller, in turn, hired only Democrats, including a lawyer for the Clintons, and the “insurance policy” was launched and ensconced in power. So a counterintelligence investigation that was formed without probable cause now became the largest criminal investigation in history of a campaign and a presidency, dragging on since May 2017.

Adding to the intrigue is that Comey, McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein all disagree with each other in material ways.

McCabe believes he never lied to investigators and had permission from Comey to leak to the press. Comey says McCabe acted on his own.

McCabe and others say Rosenstein was deadly serious when he discussed invoking the 25th Amendment and wiretapping against President Trump in an effort to remove the president from office. Rosenstein says he was just joking around.

Newly confirmed Attorney General William Barr needs to crack all this wide open. The secret charge to Mueller needs to be released. The FISA warrants need to be declassified.

A grand jury must be empaneled to investigate all this and get testimony from officials under oath, and the certification of the warrants used to wiretap the Trump campaign needs to be fully investigated. Dossier author and former British spy Christopher Steele and Glen Simpson-- founder of opposition research firm Fusion GPS-- need to be called to the grand jury.

Operating a year past his commitment to the president’s lawyers, Mueller needs to finish his investigation, shut down his office, and distribute any remaining cases back to the Justice Department that now has a fully empowered attorney general.

If Mueller wants to continue instead, he should be required to balance his team with Democrats and Republicans, removing any former Clinton lawyers.

Rosenstein, who never should have been allowed to run this investigation because he was a fact witness who wrote a memo justifying firing Comey, will be leaving shortly.

McCabe and Comey appear on TV, write books, and have become nakedly partisan, revealing political attitudes no different from Strzok and Page. They readily believed unsubstantiated information and then took power into their own hands.

Every Democrat, Republican and independent should stop angling for partisan advantage and agree, regardless of who is helped or hurt, that these officials acted without proper authority and are responsible for unprecedented damage to our democracy and our political system.
By the way-- a bonus-- this is as good a time as any to let you know which freshmen Democrats have joined Penn's purposefully misnamed "Problem Solvers Caucus." Don't expect any surprises:
Max Rose (Blue Dog-NY)
Jeff Van Drew (Blue Dog-NJ)
Dean Phillips (New Dem-MN)
Joe Cunningham (Blue Dog-SC)
Abigail Spanberger (Blue Dog-VA)
Susie Lee (New Dem-NV)
Anthony Brindisi (Blue Dog-NY)
And now, another Fox OpEd willfully trying to distort McCabe's book, this time by deranged conspiracy theorist and Islamophobe Andrew McCarthy. (His latest is that Jamal Khashoggi was a Muslim Brotherhood operative and that that's why it was a good thing that Trump and the Saudis had him murdered.) His "review" of The Threat is just a dull regurgitation of the currently circulating far right trope that the FBI and CIA have been plotting a coup against Trump. As self-aware as any Trumpist, McCarthy, a lawyer, starts by asking his readers of they "ever wonder why people hate lawyers." Other than that, his review asserts that "There are really no new revelations in this week’s breathless reporting. The story is a retread, trotted out again because CBS is hoping to generate ratings for its 60 Minutes interview of McCabe on Sunday night, the launch of the McCabe book tour." His main point is that Trump is not unfit.



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Want to Pass Medicare For All? Make Voters Happy By Making Them Happy

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Medicare For All is wildly popular. Why not just give the public what it wants?

by Thomas Neuburger

An argument (or "fervent discussion") is raging on the left about the best way to approach Medicare For All (M4A) legislation — Should the plan be proposed all at once, or piecemeal?

I recently contributed to that discussionhere: "Improved Medicare For All or Watered-Down Medicare For All?" It's not just the program's enemies who want to enact M4A legislation in stages, however; several of its friends have also advanced good-faith reasons why Medicare For All legislation should be tackled in chunks.

Mike Lux, who was involved in the Clinton-era health care reform battle, accurately characterizes the opposition this way. "The problem with MFA is that it takes on almost the entire industry at the same time.  Not to mention, of course, the entire big money conservative apparatus: the Koch brothers network, the Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Wall Street banks who have made heavy investments in insurance/pharma/for-profit hospitals, all the conservative think tanks and media outlets and grassroots operations. It would also likely be opposed even by some labor unions who have great health insurance plans that they have collectively bargained for over the years, and various big businesses that have their own plans they administer."

This leads Lux to argue for "splitting the health care industry, getting parts of them to support our side and parts of them to agree to neutrality."

Fair enough; but look at the polling for M4A (above). The problem with this argument is that it prevents the public from having the one thing it really wants — a card on day one they can use to go to the damn doctor without paying money.

Here's Duncan Black (Atrios) to explain this position in the simplest possible terms (emphasis mine):
I Don't Give A Shit How You Bend The Cost Curve

"We" spend too much money on health care costs in this country, but I don't particularly care about that. I mean, I do, it's absurd, and we shouldn't, but it isn't actually my job do worry about how to fix that. It isn't your job. It isn't the job of voters to waste their beautiful minds worrying about what the best plan to cut health care costs is, and it's absurd that for some reason it's expected that voters all play Wonk for a Year and try to figure out who has the wonkiest wonko plan of all.

People are paid a lot of money to figure that shit out. Go figure it out. What kind of health plan should pass that makes voters happy and doesn't make them upset because it doesn't raise their taxes or upset the status quo or isn't "moderate" or whatever the fuck? One which mails them a card on day one that they can use to go to the damn doctor without paying any money. Then the wonks and the politicians can get to work for the next 10 years fixing the engine under the hood.

Make voters happy by making them happy. Tomorrow. Eat the up front costs because we are a rich country and we can afford to eat the costs, and then spend the next 10 years clawing money back from the other "stakeholders" who have been looting the bank accounts of dying people for decades. Just don't make us have to worry about how.

Make getting sick slightly less of a hassle than Comcast Customer Support and voters will love you. It's that simple. The details matter, but the wonks should be working out that shit between themselves, not by writing memos on op-ed pages because none of us should have to care about them.
Note Black's twin bottom lines:

• The best plan gives voters "a card on day one that they can use to go to the damn doctor without paying any money."

• "Eat the up front costs because we are a rich country ... then spend the next 10 years clawing money back" from the predators who've been looting from dead people for decades.

In other words, just get on with it and do the wonky stuff later. The public would love you for it.

Imagine if President Obama's 2009 health care reform plan was today's Medicare for All? Imagine how much support would he have gotten (assuming he wanted that for us in the first place, which he didn't)? Public approval would have been instant, full-throated and universal. Remember, "Hands off my Medicare"?

A fervent supporter of all the Medicare he can get

Black's bottom lines are wildly popular, easy to understand — and easy to love, since no one in the country is giving to the "undeserving" what they aren't also getting for themselves.

Which tells you immediately how to frame this: "Folks, it's called Medicare for All, not Medicare for Some. Everyone gets the new plan — free health care forever — or no one does. So pick one: Are you in or out?"

Only the predatory health care industries will say no to that. Actual voters are the plan's best friends. All proponents have to do is make them happy by making them happy.
 

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Sherrod Brown Thinks We're Looking For A No-Can-Do President-- He's Wrong

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I didn't bother writing a Worst Democraps Who Want To Be President post about one of the very worst Democraps trying to run, New Dem multimillionaire John Delaney. That's because he's not really a threat to anyone any more. He sold his Maryland House seat to David Trone and then moved to Iowa about a year ago. He isn't gaining any traction. He rarely breaks 1% in the polls. He's a joke candidate and I spent enough time writing about how horrible he is when he was in Congress.




This is John Delaney, although he loves to say: "People have a hard time labeling me. Some of the things they hear me talking about are on the total progressive or liberal end of the spectrum, and in other ways I'm kind of a solutions-oriented moderate who wants to get things done," snidely implying-- the way Hillary did-- that progressives don't get things done.

Fact of the matter is, centrists like Delaney (and Status Quo Joe Biden), sit around with their fingers up their asses when it's time for action to get the big and important things done. It was the progressive movement, not the centrists, who fought for and passed Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, free public education, corporate regulations, union rights, women's suffrage, emancipation of the slaves, the Bill of Rights (which politicians like Delaney and Biden bitterly opposed) and... even independence from Great Britain. "Moderates" and centrists have had plenty of time to fix this (below). Why haven't they? Really, why?




So... where does that leave Sherrod Brown, the fella in the video up at the top of the page? I don't think he has the character to be a good president. He's not terrible and in many ways he has even been excellent from time to time on one thing or another-- particularly trade and labor. Worst Democraps Who Want To Be President? No, not at all. I just don't trust him to do the right thing as president-- #3 of Chris Hayes' diktat:




Yesterday he was on CNN's State of the Union and, once again, he defined himself as one of the "that's too hard to do" crowd. The time for Medicare-For-All is now. 70% of the American public backs it. But it's too difficult for Sherrod Brown? Sherrod Brown should stay in the Senate and debate and get nowhere near the presidency (and that includes the #2 spot). If the debate was over the Bill of Rights, Brown would be suggesting we just do 3 or 4 amendments and that 10 are way too many and we'll never get it through and it's going to cause people "angst and anguish." He's just the wrong guy as a person-- who sometimes backs good policy but... just watch that video. Do you want that stumbling fool in the White House? And he sounds like a Republican when he backs himself into a rhetorical corner.

This is CNN's tweet about the show. But make the effort to read those comments under it. Sherrod Brown For President is DOA.



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Midnight Meme Of The Day!

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by Noah

Happy NOT My President Day!

Oh Lord, rid us of these thorns!

I look at this picture of psychopaths, sociopaths, looney mobsters, and brain dead slugs and I want to reach for the entire selection of Monsanto spray can products. I note that only one of the goons is able to even muster as much as half a smile for this team of destruction photo which was no doubt signed with individual Xs and handed out to their equally evil support staff; Xs that belong over their eyes.

Repeat when necessary.

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