Friday, March 31, 2017

Sure, He's Guilty But Is Aaron Schock Being Railroaded?


I have to admit, I'm a huge fan of politicians going to prison. In fact, helping male sure Duke Cunningham wound up in prison was one of the reasons we started DWT originally. As woefully rare as it is, I love it when corrupt politicians get caught and see their miserable lives shattered and ruined and then wind up on a prison cell. Especially conservatives. And I was a fan of Aaron Schock's ruin over the last couple of years. This link includes the 2015-2017 posts. But there's a new twist in the twisted tale of poor Aaron.

Tuesday the Associated Press ran a wire story that the government spied on the congressman. It creeped me out. It sounds like one of his staffers,Bryan Rudolph, his Peoria district office manager, was persuaded to wear a wire and to steal "a trove of emails, credit card receipts and other documents that violated the now-indicted congressman's constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure."
[I]n court documents filed late Tuesday, Schock's attorneys say the government went too far when it transformed the staffer into an informant and required him to wear a wire to secretly record conversations-- in addition to providing more than 10,000 pages of legislative emails, staff rosters, employee records and confidential documents from Schock's district office the defense considers to be stolen property. The informant rummaged through the desk of Schock's chief of staff and taped conversations with other staffers, the attorneys said.

...Schock's attorneys say the FBI used the informant to get around restrictions on what a federal agent would not have a right to search and seize. The documents suggest Schock's attorneys will move to have the case dismissed by citing, among other things, alleged illegal searches and prosecutorial misconduct.

Using an informant is not uncommon in public corruption cases, but they tread a fine constitutional line, said Jeff Cramer, a former federal prosecutor who is not involved in the Schock case.

"The problems may occur when or if this informant crosses the line starts gathering information at the request of law enforcement that he or she should not be looking for," he said. "When you add a sitting congressman to the calculus it becomes even more fraught with peril."
I asked every member of Congress I know on the House Judiciary Committee if this is fair. No one wanted to talk about it on the record. One member, on condition of anonymity said that "the answer is somewhat complicated. Normally, DOJ and the FBI would not spy on a Member of Congress regarding official business, because of separation of powers concerns, but they probably would say that this was not regarding official business. (There was a big stink over the CIA breaking into House computers a few years ago.)  Aside from that, the courts often rule that anything that a government agent asks a witness to do is the same as the agent himself doing it, which would raise an unreasonable search or seizure issue. In this case, however, under DC law, anyone can take any conversation that he or she wants, so technically, neither the witness nor the agent was doing anything wrong. There still might be an issue of entrapment, depending on exactly what the witness said to the Congressman. Legalese aside, it stinks. Most investigators I’ve known would never say 'go get me this,' regardless of whether the target is a Member of Congress or not."

I wonder if someone is throwing this case so Schock never had to go to jail. Another congressmember e-mailed me that she "didn’t realize [when I first asked her] that the staffer involved was a district staffer, not a DC staffer. It’s a crime to record a conversation in Illinois. If that’s where it happened, then both the staffer and the FBI agent should be investigated and prosecuted."

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Every Race In Every District Is Different-- Trump Or No Trump


NJ-07 is a red-leaning north-central suburban New Jersey district, primarily in Somerset County, but with significant chunks of Union and Hunterdon counties as well. It's the home of Trump's mobbed-up Bedminster Gold Club-- which may explain, at least in part, why Trump did so much worse in NJ-07 than Romney and McCain did. Romney beat Obama 53-47% and McCain did nearly as well 4 years earlier. Hillary, on the other actually beat Señor Trumpanzee 48.6% to 47.5%. Suddenly the brain surgeons at the DCCC, who usually ignore the swingy district, are hoping to ride of Hillary's two year old coattails. It won't surpriise you to hear that the DCCC completely ignored last year's Democratic candidate, Berniecrat Peter Jacobs who only managed to spend $395,886 against incumbent Leonard Lance's $1,276,330-- and then lost 184,309 (54.2%) to 146,350 (43.0%), which isn't bad for a first time candidate against a 4-term incumbent.

Peter Jacobs may run again but another progressive former candidate, Ed Potosnak (2010), is also considering a run. And more than likely, the DCCC will find some pile of human garbage like Blue Dog Josh Gottheimer to run. Yesterday, though, Walter Bragman, writing for Paste brought up an entirely different route for displacing the shilly-shally incumbent-- a primary... from the left. "Why," he asked, "is this progressive millennial running for Congress as a Republican? And, according to Bragman, Lindsay Brown is a bold progressive, no less. You see, what she believes in isn't a natural fit for the corrupted Democrat establishment, so she's trying something unique.
Her big goals include checking the influence money has in politics, fixing gerrymandering with nonpartisan redistricting, passing single-payer health care or, at the very least, a public option, addressing man-made global warming, raising the minimum wage so it keeps up with inflation and making sure cost-of-living increases from companies do the same, breaking up the banks, tackling student debt, taking in and welcoming Syrian refugees, and, of course, seeing more women and millennials represented in government. On top of that, she is socially progressive-- a strong supporter of LGBTQIA, gender, and racial equality. What’s more, she plans to win by taking only small donations.
And the reason she gave could be echoed by dozens of idealistic progressives who have come up against the Wasserman Schultzes of the Democratic Party-- or, in New Jersey, the George Norcrosses, Joseph DiVincenzos and Joseph Ferrieros. "I’m actually planning to run in the Republican primary because-- especially in NJ-- the Democrats and the way the Democratic Party establishment is run is not supportive of young people who don’t have deep, deep political experience or a lot of money to fund their own race. We shouldn’t all have to be millionaires or deeply politically connected to represent constituents."
The argument goes that the Democratic Party is too heavily focused on patronage and raising capital for grassroots efforts to succeed-- a sentiment rooted in the fact that since November, the Democrats have doubled down on the same establishment that shoehorned Clinton into the nomination and most recently selected Tom Perez for the position of DNC Chair, who has done little to win over progressives.

New Jersey Democratic Party politics are a machine in which “you’d better be putting in the money or the sweat equity” to earn the support of “party bosses,” Brown tells me. “It’s everything I’m running against.” Though personally a fan of Hillary Clinton, Brown reminds me that her nomination was essentially shoehorned by the establishment-- a way to illustrate that the problem is not isolated to her state. However, she does caution that the New Jersey Republicans are also an insider club.

Still, Brown and progressives like her see the GOP, which has proven more susceptible to outside efforts like the Tea Party Movement and Donald Trump’s meteoric campaign, as the inevitable path. That’s because, in addition to holding a permanent majority in the House due to its 2010 redistricting efforts, the party controls 33 of 50 governorships and 32 of 50 state legislatures. With the 2020 Census around the corner, and the Democrats doubling down against the grassroots, the Republicans may further cement their hegemony in 2020 following the Census.

“It’s a numbers game,” Brown tells me. “With NJ’s version of ‘fair districting’, a Dem will never be elected in my district, regardless of platform or message.”

So she’s taking her chances in a party that would appear to be her ideological opposite. Brown’s departure should worry establishment Democrats because millennials like her are about to be America’s largest voting bloc. Their realignment could very well mean the end of the party.
Goal Thermometer She's wrong about a Democrat never being able to win in NJ-07 but Bragman is right that establishment Dems should be worried about people like Lindsay Brown. This week Gabriel Debenedetti and Scott Bland did a post for Politico about how anger at Trump is fueling massive numbers of small donors giving contributions for Democratic candidates-- millions of dollars online. They're looking at evidence in the form of federal disclosures that suggest "many Democratic Senate incumbents-- particularly those who have been most outspoken in their resistance to Trump-- are on a trajectory to raise more money online than in any previous nonelection year. That could help level the fundraising playing field at a time when Republicans are poised to reap the financial rewards of holding all the levers of power in Washington." Jon Ossoff has raised over $2 million. Steve King's opponent, Kim Weaver, raised more than $138,000 over one weekend after King started spouting his racist bullshit again. And every time Trump's popularity rating ticks down, Democratic fundraising ticks up. "Democrats," they asserted, "minted money online in February." I know progressives did-- but did the dregs of the party, the Wasserman Schultzes and the other New Dems and Blue Dogs?

This week "elections expert" Nate Gonzales makes the case to the Beltway establishment that what people outside the Beltway have known since Trump was elected-- Democrats should be able to take back the House in 2018.
[T]he contours of the 2018 midterm elections depend on what the Republican Congress-- and the Trump White House-- does or does not do on health care, taxes, environmental policy and other areas over the next 18 months. If Americans are content, the economy is expanding and the nation is at peace, any Democratic midterm “change” argument will be weak.

  The great risk for the GOP is that voters are likely to tire of the turmoil and tumult that surrounds Trump. If that happens, especially if other aspects of the Republican agenda frighten swing voters, the midterm electorate is likely to be receptive to House Democrats’ “check Trump” message.

Since the House has no role in confirming Cabinet or judicial nominees (including any future Supreme Court vacancies), voters can use their midterm House vote to check Trump without giving Democrats too much power.

The GOP’s inept handling of health care insurance raises doubts among all but the most enthusiastic Trump supporters about the party’s ability to govern. For most voters, that’s crucially important, regardless whether “governing” means a more conservative or a more progressive America. Voters next year will want competence, at the very least.

Former Republican congressman Tom Davis was surely correct when he wrote in a recent op-ed that either House Republicans get their “act together” or else “face losing the majority.”

The problem for Republican officeholders is that many Trump/GOP actions already can be portrayed as benefiting corporate America and leaving the average American unprotected. To Republicans, this narrative may seem completely unfair, but it is likely to be effective for Democrats because it plays into long-time caricatures of the two parties.

Both the Republican and Democratic congressional campaign committees have released lists of 2018 targets, and each includes some reasonable names and a few that aren’t.

Count me as skeptical that the National Republican Congressional Committee really believes that it has a chance to threaten Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona 9), Denny Heck (Washington 10) or Sander Levin (Michigan 9), or that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is going to devote resources to defeating Bob Gibbs (Ohio 7) or Pete Sessions (Texas 32).

...It is still early in the candidate recruitment cycle, but it’s likely that the Trump Administration’s early actions and the defeat of the GOP health care effort will encourage potentially strong Democratic challengers into races. If that does not happen, it will be a serious blow to the DCCC.

If history is any guide, the midterms are likely to turn out a disproportional share of angry anti-Trump voters, and that is likely to make it difficult for Republicans, who control Congress and the White House.

It is far too early to say that the House will or will not be in play in 2018.  Today, the Republicans’ handling of health care is the top issue, but a year from now Americans could be talking about war with North Korea, inflation, taxes or some issue not now on anyone’s radar screen. And we certainly can’t know how popular the president will be as autumn 2018 approaches.

However, we already have reasons to believe that one thing has changed dramatically since November 2016.

The midterm elections are not likely to be about Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Instead, they are more and more likely to be about the GOP and, more specifically, President Trump. As one veteran Democratic strategist put it to me recently, if the 2016 campaign was about “he said, she said,” 2018 will be about “he said, he did.”

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With Trump In The White House, Corrupt Conservatives Get A Shot At Re-Shaping U.S. Education


LAUSD Board President, Steve Zimmer

In many urban centers-- L.A. is one-- the Republican brand is so toxic that it's a real stretch for the party to even run plausible candidates. So the special interests and big money behind the kind of corrupt conservatism that the GOP embodies, finds its way into the campaigns of corrupt conservative Democrats-- the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. In my Assembly District last year, I was mortified to see the charter school billionaires successfully pass a repulsive Republican masquerading as a "moderate" Democratic, Laura Friedman, off on the voters by flooding the district with immense amounts of cash in the form of a deluge of deceitful communications. Today, in the congressional district next door, CA-34, the avaricious developers and predatory charter school monsters are doing the exact same thing-- flooding the airwaves with expensive false ads for Sara Hernandez, in effect, the stand-in for the Republican Party in the congressional race.

Our old comrade-in-arms, Marcy Winograd, has been warning about a similar situation in the elections in the L.A. Unified School District race. DWT readers probably remember Marcy as a brilliant progressive congressional peace candidate who did a great service for America by helping to drive Blue Dog Jane Harman-- a female Joe Lieberman-- out of Congress. Marcy has also served as a delegate to the California Democratic Party and teaches special education students at Venice High School. You can follow her on Twitter @marcywinograd. I asked her to explain why the school board race is so important to progressives everywhere.

Re-Elect Steve Zimmer Tues., May 16th-- Stop the Privatizers’ Hostile Take-Over of the Los Angeles Unified School District
-by Marcy Winograd

You don’t need to jet to DC in a pink pussy hat to flip the bird to billionaires hoping to bankrupt the Los Angeles Unified School District by turning half of the district's schools into union-busting independent charters, siphoning off state attendance funds to run a private crap shoot with public dollars.

A showdown over education privatization and de-regulation is set for Tuesday, May 16th, when voters in the San Fernando Valley, coastal Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Hollywood will decide who controls the Los Angeles Unified School District Board, a 7-member governing body that oversees 900 schools-- some 200 specialized magnets-- with 650,000 students, over 75% students of color. If the billionaire boys club-- Eli Broad, former mayor Dick Riordan, the Waltons of Wal Mart-- have their way, voters will choose a candidate who will carry their water to make 50% of LA’s public schools independent charter schools over the next eight years.

Not so fast, fat cats. LAUSD Board President, Steve Zimmer, a champion of the arts, a believer in equity for all, the guy who saved adult education and early childhood education from lethal budget cuts-- the mensch who balanced the budget is running for a third time to stop Broad’s plan to decimate the District by taking over its land while draining it of capital. Challenging Zimmer in the run-off is “Pick Nick” or the billionaire boy’s pick, Nick Melvoin, an attorney who taught for a minute in Watts until he lost his job during the recession, sued the District over its “last hired, first fired policy”, participated in a settlement, then offered to testify again in another expensive lawsuit against the District, (Oh, suing the District is so much fun, isn’t it?) this time unsuccessfully challenging its seniority commitment to get a thumbs down and cold shoulder in the Court of Appeal.

For the privatizers, it’s all about choice. I agree. Under California law, charter schools can choose to blow off much of the state education code, like caps on administrative salaries, requirements that teachers receive certification in teaching English learners, textbooks for all core academic subjects, third party vendor rules designed to thwart favoritism and corruption, and requirements that school boards be elected, not self-selected. Also in the choice column is the privatizers’ legal right to choose to plop their independent charter school on an existing public school’s property, booting public school teachers out of their classrooms to become rovers, sprinting between bells to make it to the next classroom.

According to the United Teachers of Los Angeles, independent charter schools already owe the larger district almost a half-a-billion dollars in unpaid or partially paid rental and oversight fees the District sorely needs to cover fixed district costs, such as electricity and building maintenance, as well as legacy costs; health care and debt service. To add insult to injury, an LAUSD report (2016) of the Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee, says charter schools serve disproportionately fewer severely disabled students and spend over seven times less on educating those same students.

Surely, Trump's Education Secretary Betsy DeVos-- a cheerleader for charter schools and vouchers-- will be eyeing the run-off, for as goes Los Angeles, the second largest school district in the US behind NYC, so goes the rest of the nation in the rocky terrain of education reform – or rip-off. First came the charters with their uneven-- some good, some horrific-- performance, then came the vouchers, and then came the bundlers on Wall Street, selling taxpayer-subsidized education coupons as derivatives that, like the fancy mortgage investments that went belly-up, will soon be worthless when the fly-by-night voucher-recepients shutter their schoolhouse doors after stashing their profits in a Swiss bank account.

Zimmer says he wants a robust public education system; Melvoin writes he wants a hostile take-over of LAUSD. Trump’s man Steve Bannon would call that "administrative deconstruction." Sounds more like plain old destruction.

Don't vote for the billionaire's pick. Vote for the people's educator. Re-elect Steve Zimmer on May 16th.

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Full Scale Civil War Breaks Out In The GOP-- But Are Trumpy-the-Clown's Threats Credible?


Congressional Republicans have supposedly been afraid of Trump attacking them in tweets for months. And this week, he went for it. He called out the Freedom Caucus and tweeted "we must fight them" and tweeted twice specifically against Tea Party leaders Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan and Raul Labrador. Earlier, it came out that OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, a former South Carolina congressman, personally delivered a threat from Trump to Mark Sanford that Señor Trumpanzee was actually hoping Sanford would vote No on TrumpCare so that Trump would have an excuse to recruit and back a primary opponent against him in 2018.
Against the backdrop of crumbling negotiations over the GOP bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump said last week he wanted to oust incumbent U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford in 2018.

The South Carolina Republican told the Post and Courier that Trump chose to convey this message through an intermediary: White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney, a former member of the S.C. congressional delegation, co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus and a friend.

"'The president asked me to look you square in the eyes and to say that he hoped that you voted ‘no’ on this bill so he could run (a primary challenger) against you in 2018,'" Sanford said Mulvaney told him.

He added that Mulvaney made it clear he did not want to deliver the message but did so at Trump's insistence.

"I’ve never had anyone, over my time in politics, put it to me as directly as that," Sanford said, perhaps understating just how monumental it is for a sitting president to openly go after members of his own party.
Back in February we noted that Sanford would probably be better off keeping the increasingly unpopular Trump at a distance anyway. Today we see even the oafish Hannity has sided with the Freedom Caucus over Trump! And in the fever swamps of the fringe right, when you've lost Sean Hannity...

The 4 members of Congress Trump chose to single out are all pretty well-respected hard-core conservatives, and his move was not a very popular move among Republicans in Congress-- or among hard-core ideologues in the far right grassroots. We'll come back to that in a moment. First, though, let's look at how serious Meadows, Jordan, Labrador and Sanford have to take Trump's overt threats. Let's overlook, for a moment, that Trump has failed miserably in every single Republican primary contest he's gotten involved in and that his preferred candidates have all lost. (Right now the Trump candidate in the GA-06 primary, Bruce LeVell, is polling at 0.6%.)

Fact of the matter is that Trump won all 4 congressional districts of the congressmen he threatened-- and pretty strongly... but not as strongly as the congressmen won the same districts on the same day!
ID-01- Trump- 63.7%, Labrador- 68.0%
NC-11- Trump- 63.2%, Meadows- 64.2%
OH- 04- Trump- 64.3%, Jordan- 68.1%
SC-01- Trump- 53.5%, Sanford- 58.6%
Mark Meckler, a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, was interviewed by The Hill and he made it clear which side he's on: "The man who promised to 'Drain the Swamp' now appears to be the 'Creature from the Black Lagoon.' He is now on the side of the swamp monsters."
Meckler and others on the right have warned that Trump risked losing his grassroots base by whipping support for the healthcare bill.

Many conservatives have so far directed their anger at Ryan and GOP leadership, who they say misled the president on the legislation.

But Trump’s attack on the Freedom Caucus could open up a rift with grassroots conservatives, who have defended the president against criticism over his support for the bill.
Chris Gandolfo, writing for Conservative Review, also took the side of the Freedom Caucus and against Trump's attacks. He wrote that "Though the Freedom Caucus is under assault from all sides, some of its members who have spoken to the media or made public statements are standing strong-- insisting that they are willing to work with President Trump to keep the GOP’s promise to repeal Obamacare. The media has used the failure of the American Health Care Act-- Republican leadership’s phony repeal bill-- as an excuse to attack conservatives in Congress. The Tea Party members of the Freedom Caucus, who opposed the legislation on grounds that it would not improve the American health insurance market, have been labeled 'hardliners' who are unwilling to 'compromise' or 'get things done.'... 'The Freedom Caucus is trying to change Washington. This bill keeps Washington the same, plain and simple,' Rep. Jordan said on Fox News Thursday."

Liberty News Now was even harsher towards the GOP Establishment, into which they're lumping Trumpy-the-Clown. "For those who praised the selfless actions of the Freedom Caucus," wrote Shane Cory, "Trump’s tweet was a shot heard round the nation. Trump is vowing to defeat the leaders who stopped him from passing a $1.4 trillion bill that would raise insurance costs and create yet another entitlement program. The threat is directed at Virginia’s Dave Brat who threw out Establishment icon Eric Cantor. The threat is directed at Texas’ principled Louie Gohmert and the most conservative member of Congress, TEA Party favorite, Ken Buck. To put this in perspective, if you take a look at the Heritage Foundation’s Congressional Scorecard, the President of the United States just vowed to defeat eight of the ten highest-rated conservatives and libertarians in Congress. While threatening members of the Freedom Caucus who hold ratings 90% or higher with Heritage, President Trump strongly stands by Speaker Paul Ryan who holds a pathetic lifetime score of 58%. Paul Ryan is closer to Elizabeth Warren than he is to Dave Brat according to the Scorecard. And Donald Trump wants us to defeat our only principled members of Congress in 2018? Something is simply twisted in Trump World, or we were twisted to trust him."

Or both. And it won't be too long before Trump is going to need the Freedom Caucus members he's been alienating to save him from impeachment. Later we'll talk more about this poll that came out this morning:

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Lamar Smith Leads The Charge, Successfully, In The Republican War On Science


My best friend Roland teaches science to elementary school kids in Compton, California. When he saw this headline Wednesday night he shook his head and asked me if I thought people around the world were going to see it too. Tim Cama's report for The Hill was mind-boggling; what century was he writing about! "The House voted Wednesday," he wrote, "to restrict the kind of scientific studies and data that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can use to justify new regulations. The Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act, or HONEST Act, passed 228-194. It would prohibit the EPA from writing any regulation that uses science that is not publicly available. It’s the latest push by House Republicans to clamp down on what they say has turned into an out-of-control administrative state that enforces expensive, unworkable regulations that are not scientifically sound."
Democrats, environmentalists and health advocates say the HONEST Act is intended to handcuff the EPA. They say it would irresponsibly leave the EPA unable to write important regulatory protections, since the agency might not have the ability to release some parts of the scientific data underpinning them.

The HONEST Act is similar to the Secret Science Act, which leaders in the House Science Committee sponsored in previous congresses and got passed.
This garbage legislation was proposed-- predictably-- by Texas neanderthal Lamar Smith, who was appointed head of the House Science Committee as a GOP in-joke. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), the Science Committee’s top Democrat, slammed the committee Republicans for a misguided effort to stop sensible EPA regulations, denying that the EPA is overly secretive with its science, saying it often doesn’t own the information and has no right to release it. "The secret science bills the Republicans tried to enact over the previous two congresses were insidious bills, designed from the outset to prevent EPA from using the best available science to meet its obligations under the law. Those bills were constructed to hamstring the ability of EPA to do about anything to protect the American public... In reality, this bill isn’t about science. It’s about undermining public health and the environment."

The bill passed 228-194, with 7 mainstream conservative Republicans abandoning the lunatic who have taken over the House GOP, crossing the aisle and voting with the Democrats. Of course, 3 of the most corrupt and wretched Blue Dogs shit-eaters-- Collin Peterson (MN), Jim Costa (CA) and Henry Cuellar (TX)-- crossed in the other direction and, as usual, voted with the GOP.

Lamar Smith represents a well-educated, mostly suburban district that stretches from Austin into the Hill Country and down into San Antonio. The district is transitioning in such a way that it will soon be inhospitable for an ignorance-based politician like Smith. In 2012 the district went for Romney over Obama 60% to 38%. Last year Hillary made some significant inroads without once campaigning in the district; Trump won 52.5% to 42.5%. And Tom Wakely, the independent-minded Democrat who took Smith on-- with zero help from the DCCC, needless to say-- did better against Smith than any Democrat had done previously. Tom hopes to finish what he started last year and defeat Smith-- if Smith even dares run for reelection-- in 2018. After the vote we spoke with Tom on the phone.
My first thought when I saw the "House votes to restrict EPA’a use of science" in the subject line of an email I received was-- "fake news." However, it was sent to me by a friend with a link so I went ahead and clicked on it. I expected the link would take me to the Onion, or some similar satiric website but no, it took me to an article written by Timothy Cama, who works for the political website The Hill. My second thought was, "Say it ain’t so, Joe." Well, the story is true and all I can say is "God help us all."

When I told my wife about what the House had just done she just shook her head and said that is exactly what the PRI does all the time in Mexico. She should know; she is from Mexico. Anyway, she said the PRI manipulates the facts; they lie and do whatever was necessary to convince people that they should just trust the government and that is exactly what Lamar Smith is doing right now. When the House passed the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act, or HONEST Act, Smith was front and center leading the charge to deny science, once again?

It seems everyday now, Smith and Trump are doing everything they can to destroy our world. Pesticides once banned because they were found to damage children’s brains have been given the green light under Trump’s and Smith’s watch. Scientific data is being deleted from government websites. I close my eyes and I can see the clock being turned back, not by a day, not by a month, but by a century or more.

I have accepted the reality that Donald Trump is President. I know things are bad and I know that they will only get worse but I am reminded of something that LBJ once said: "Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose." Those words are what have given me hope. We must continue to fight Trump and Lamar Smith and the best way to do that is by electing a brand new Congress in 2018. Something I hope to be a part of next year.

Kim Weaver ran against Iowa bigot Steve King last year-- also with no assistance from the DCCC and also going to a rematch in 2018-- and she wasn't surprised to see backing Smith's anti-science/anti-EPA legislation. "It's disappointing," she told us, "to see Steve King and House Republicans continue to follow Donald Trump's lead in dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency. Steve King claims that climate change is 'more of a religion than a science.' At a time when we desperately need to address climate change, our country is being led by a party that refuses to even acknowledge that it exists. We have an obligation to protect our environment for future generations, and if House Republicans refuse to step up to that challenge, we need to replace them with people who will."

Goal Thermometer Replacing Lamar Smith and Steve King with candidates of the quality of Tom Wakely and Kim Weave is an endeavor-- a crusade-- worth participating in. Except for people who abhor fact-based reality and think our approach to Climate Change should be ostrich-like. Please consider tapping the ActBlue thermometer on the right and contributing whatever you can to these two excellent candidates-- or any of the other pro-Science candidates on the page. Whoever thought our politics would come down to contrasting candidates by noting who is pro-science and who is anti-science! But the records of these crackpot Republicans can't be denied. And we need people in Congress who will stand up to their ugly, willful ignorance and their reactionary worldview.

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

High Nunes


Last month not even Devin Nunes' own constituents knew who they hell he was. Today he's a household name-- in a bad way. He's in a league with Darrell Issa, Steve King, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Louie Gohmert... congressmembers who people have heard of... and detest. Or-- Draco Malfoy and Voldemort, Captain Barbossa, Hans Landa, the Green Goblin, Loki, Ras al Ghul, Doctor Octopus, Saruman, Negan and The Joker. Foo on you, Devin Nunes! Too bad the clowns at the DCCC don't understand the value of a good old fashioned villiain. You know how many times they're targeted him since he was first entered Congress in 2003? That's right: none. Never, not once. It's a red district-- but not that red. More Latinos live there than whites. With a little elbow grease, a couple cycles and some money, Devin Nunes would be selling his ass on K Street, his ultimate destiny anyway.

Yesterday Philip Bump featured him in a column, The Nunes-White House Question, Assessed Minute-by-Minute-- map included (not of CA-22, of the White House). Bump's column ran the same time that Frank Bruni's did-- not in the Fresno Bee or the Visalia Times-Delta but in the NY Times-- and with a swell title: Devin Nunes Is Dangerous. Bruni doesn't think Nunes sees himself as Negan or Voldemort, but... Jason Bourne. "To sneak onto the White House grounds for that rendezvous with an unnamed source last week, he switched cars and ditched aides, vanishing into the night. But Senator Lindsey Graham looks at him and sees a different character. Graham said on the Today show on Tuesday that Nunes was bumbling his way though something of an' Inspector Clouseau investigation,' a reference to the fantastically inept protagonist of the Pink Panther comedies. I salute Graham’s movie vocabulary. I quibble with his metaphor. While Clouseau was a benign fool, there’s nothing benign about Nunes’s foolishness.

Not that the hometown papers are ignoring their now-infamous congressman. The most widely-read newspaper in his Central Valley district was not very dramatic, just painfully straight-forward: Russia-Trump Probe Is In Chaos, And Rep. Devin Nunes Is To Blame. Luckily for him, Nunes doesn't bother with town hall meetings with his constituents. The editorial board:
[T]he performance of the Tulare Republican was so inept and bewildering that a fellow Republican, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, told MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday that a bipartisan special select committee should investigate Russia’s meddling into the 2016 presidential campaign.

...First, with millions of Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, wanting the committee to provide clarity on Russia’s involvement in the election and whether members of Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russians to weaken Clinton’s prospects, Nunes tried to steer the committee’s focus to identifying leakers of information embarrassing to President Trump.

It is an old trick in Washington, D.C., and one that rarely, if ever, works. Just ask Richard Nixon.

Then, Nunes-- a Trump transition team member-- betrayed the Constitution and its separation of powers by running like an errand boy to the White House to share with Trump classified information that he had received.

Before going to the White House, however, Nunes held a news conference at which he announced that the communications of Trump transition officials-- possibly including President Trump himself-- may have been “monitored” after the election as part of an “incidental collection.”

Nunes also said the intercepted communications did not appear to be related to the ongoing FBI investigation into Trump associates’ contacts with Russia or any criminal warrants.

These events Wednesday ambushed other committee members. Nunes had not shared the information with them before spilling his guts to the president and to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

That’s a shame. The Intelligence committee has a long tradition of being truly bipartisan. This is because the committee’s work is essential to keeping Americans safe. The committee is supposed to be about something much bigger than politics. And Intelligence committee chairs, be they Republican or Democrat, long have honored that charge.

Trump, of course, was pleased by what Nunes did, and said he felt “somewhat” vindicated by the revelations, which provided partial cover for his unsubstantiated Twitter claim that President Obama had “wiretapped” his New York skyscraper during the election.

As subservient as Nunes was to Trump on Wednesday, he did not give the president exactly what he wanted. As FBI Director James Comey had done Monday during the Intelligence committee’s public hearing, Nunes said hat Trump’s claim about Obama wiretapping him was false. Perhaps Nunes thought he could have it both ways by letting Trump use him, but then telling the press that the new reports offered no such evidence.

Nunes’ defenders say that he did nothing wrong and that President Trump deserved to have the information. But Nunes himself exposed the emptiness of that argument by privately apologizing to his Democratic colleagues on the committee.

Americans can distinguish between a hard-nosed fact-finder and a surrogate who shares information with a White House under FBI investigation.

Bring on the bipartisan special select committee-- as was done with Benghazi-- and a special prosecutor.
Nunes even made it into the hallowed pages of the New Yorker this week... where Ryan Lizza proceeded to rip him to shreds.

The evidence is now clear that the White House and Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, have worked together to halt what was previously billed as a sweeping investigation of Russian interference in last year’s election. “We’ve been frozen,” Jim Himes, a Democratic representative from Connecticut who is a member of the Committee, said.

...Since then, Nunes and the White House have kicked up a cloud of peripheral issues that have distracted attention from Comey’s testimony and that of Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency; Nunes and the Trump Administration have essentially shut down the investigation. Last night, Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, called for Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation. “All of this has cast such a cloud on the public perception of his impartiality that I think it would be in his interest as well as the committee’s,” he told me.

Since last Monday’s hearing, Nunes, who was a member of the Trump transition team, has spoken repeatedly about the issue of incidental collection, the intelligence community’s term for the communications of innocent Americans that can be swept up when the N.S.A. or other agencies legally spy on a foreign target. The Russian Ambassador, a legal target of surveillance, was recorded talking to Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national-security adviser, who was a victim of incidental collection.

The White House and Nunes were clearly coördinating this strategy. A few days before the hearing, Trump seemed to offer a preview of it. In an interview on Fox News, the President said that he “will be submitting things” to Nunes’s committee “very soon,” and “perhaps speaking about this next week,” adding that “you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

This morning the L.A. Times' editors jumped in as well with a damning OpEd from Conor Friedersdorf, Do you live in Devin Nunes' district? Pick up the phone and call his office immediately. How's that for a headline? How's this for a first line? "Rep. Devin Nunes blew it." The editorial didn't lighten up.
He was in a position to perform a vital service. As a conservative commentator at National Review put it, "The American body politic is awash in conspiracy theories, mistrust, and wild claims of espionage and criminality. It needs leaders. It needs competence. It needs integrity."

Had Nunes comported himself honorably, he could have followed the evidence where it led, gone before the public and credibly informed us that all the president's men are innocent of wrongdoing-- or that President Trump or someone on his team is guilty of misconduct or even treason.

Instead, Nunes failed his Central Valley district and his country.

His reputation, his credibility and his ability to do his job are in tatters due to a series of actions that suggest he is lying to the public and colluding with the Trump White House. The question is: Will his constituents do anything about it?

His dubious behavior became impossible to ignore last week, when he was asked by a reporter about Carter Page, a former Trump aide who met with Russia's ambassador to the United States at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, and Roger Stone, a Trump political advisor who communicated on Twitter with a hacker involved in the leak of DNC emails.

Nunes replied that he had never heard of either man.

“You’ve not heard of Carter Page or Roger Stone?” the incredulous reporter pressed.

“No,” Nunes affirmed.

Nunes was a member of the executive committee that led Trump's transition team. It would be very surprising if he hadn't heard of either man for that reason alone. Of course, there's no way to prove with certainty that he was lying. But if he was being truthful, his answer suggests staggering incompetence. How could the man leading an investigation into Russia's involvement in the U.S. election have zero knowledge of two former Trump aides widely reported to have suspicious ties to Russia?

...We’ve still got a republic. Let’s keep it.
I think the craziest thing I heard about this so far, though, came from another far right House Republican. MSNBC has Florida crackpot Ted Yoho on this morning and he literally said that Nunes "works for the president and answers to the president." Apparently Yoho never took a basic civics course in elementary school.

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This Is What Bipartisan Means-- Standing Up Against Illegal War


Wait, wait. First let me tell you what is not bipartisan. When Ryan and McCarthy-- sometimes with the connivance of corporate contributors-- lure votes from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, that is just opportunism, not bipartisanism. This cycle the half dozen faux-Dems most inclined to vote for Ryan's toxic agenda over a wide range of issues have been (from bad to worse): Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX), Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), Tom O'Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ), Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-FL) and Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ). Their backing doesn't make anything "bipartisan." None of them are actual Democrats and all have earned primaries. I believe tomorrow the first of these monsters, Kyrsten Sinema, in fact, will get an official primary opponent. No, "bipartisan" is something different from the cockamamie, incoherent politics Sinema and her values-free right-wing friends have embraced.

This week, 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans saw the Washington Post headline story, Trump Administration Weighs Deeper Involvement In Yemen War and reacted the way we all expect our members of Congress to react. They cast partisan considerations to the winds and took truly bipartisan action to head this potential catastrophe off at the pass.

The four-- Ted Lieu (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Walter Jones (R-NC) and Justin Amash (R-MI)-- weren't eager to read that the Trump Regime is "considering escalating U.S. military involvement in the two-year-old Saudi Arabia-led conflict against Yemen’s Houthi forces, which has left thousands of Yemenis dead and millions on the verge of starvation. One administration official acknowledged to the Post that the proposal under deliberation could be seen as 'a green light for direct involvement in a major war.'" That was from a dear colleague letter they sent to every member of the House, bypassing the Republican and the Democratic House leadership. And this is the letter to Trump and Jeff Sessions that Lieu, Pocan, Jones and Amash are asking all members of Congress to sign on to:
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

CC: Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Dear Mr. President:

We write to express our serious concern over reports that your administration is actively considering “direct support for the anti-Houthi coalition” of militaries led by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Administration officials are said to be weighing proposals to provide Saudi-led forces with “surveillance and intelligence, refueling, and operational planning assistance” against the Shia Houthis who control most of Yemen’s population centers. One administration official acknowledged that a removal of preexisting White House prohibitions on such assistance could be viewed as “a green light for direct involvement in a major war.”

Direct U.S. hostilities against Yemen’s Houthis would run counter to your pledge to pursue a “disciplined, deliberate and consistent foreign policy” that protects American families in “every decision." Indeed, according to U.S. defense officials, the U.S.-backed Saudi war against Houthis in Yemen has already “strengthened al Qaeda there” and poses “a serious threat to U.S. security.”

We share the concerns of some of your advisers, who worry that direct support for the Saudi coalition’s war against Houthis “would take too many resources away from the counterterrorism fight against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.” We are further troubled by news reports indicating that Al Qaeda in Yemen has “emerged as a de facto ally” of the Saudi-led militaries with whom your administration aims to partner more closely. According to press accounts, Al Qaeda in Yemen has fought against the Houthis on the same side as Saudi coalition forces in several battles near Taiz and al-Bayda, while also operating closely with Saudi-financed Islamist militias.

Moreover, Congress has never authorized the actions under consideration. The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) sought and received by President George W. Bush, which has been interpreted to apply to Al Qaeda and associated forces, has never been cited by any government official as justification for U.S. involvement in military actions against Yemen’s Houthis. The Houthis have never been “associated forces” to Al Qaeda; they are Zaydis, a branch of Shiite Islam, and strongly oppose the Sunni Al Qaeda, which promotes sectarian violence against Shia.

Engaging our military against Yemen’s Houthis when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers clearly delineated in the Constitution. For this reason, we write to request that the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) provide, without delay, any legal justification that it would cite if the administration intends to engage in direct hostilities against Yemen’s Houthis without seeking congressional authorization.

As U.S. Representatives, we take seriously the right and responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of force, or to refuse to do so, as mandated by the Constitution and the 1973 War Powers Resolution. We expect that any direct military actions pursued by the administration against the Yemeni Houthis be brought before Congress for consideration and authorization for approval before they are executed.

In August 2013, when President Obama threatened to bomb Syrian government forces without congressional approval, a large, bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives objected. They urged the president “to consult and receive authorization from Congress,” noting that the president’s “responsibility to do so is prescribed in the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973.” President Obama subsequently agreed to seek congressional authorization.

In light of the gravity of a potential U.S. military escalation in Yemen, we additionally seek the OLC’s prompt legal opinions concerning:
Defense Secretary James Mattis’s proposal to aid the Saudi military coalition in attempting to seize the Houthi-controlled Yemeni port of Hodeidah. The current, Saudi-enforced blockade of Hodeidah-- a main entry point for food, medicine and humanitarian aid-- is pushing Yemen to the brink of famine. Over 50 members of Congress have urged Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to use “all U.S. diplomatic tools” to reopen the port, noting that nearly half a million Yemeni children are “nearing starvation.” Saudi-led airstrikes have destroyed the Hodeidah province’s roads and bridges, leaving “unexploded rockets” inside the port that further prevent vital aid shipments from effectively reaching the more than 7.3 million Yemenis in need of urgent food assistance.10 In addition to the possibility that a U.S.-assisted operation to capture Hodeidah could worsen Yemen’s humanitarian situation, U.S. involvement in such an action has never been authorized by Congress.

Your administration’s “increased logistical support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign” against Houthis in recent days. U.S. Senators Rand Paul and Chris Murphy have noted that the Obama administration never received congressional authorization for refueling and targeting assistance to Saudi coalition warplanes. We wish to know your legal justification for continuing and expanding this policy in the absence of such authorization.

The recent threat by your administration to intercept an Iranian ship in international waters “to look for contraband weapons possibly headed to Houthi fighters in Yemen.” While Secretary Mattis was reported to have “ultimately decided to set the operation aside, at least for now,” we wish to know how such an interdiction-- an act of hostilities-- would be legally justified despite having no prior congressional authorization.
The United States has participated in Saudi-led airstrikes that have been blamed for most of Yemen’s 10,000 civilian deaths, creating a security vacuum that Al Qaeda has exploited to expand its base of operations. We therefore urge you to terminate U.S. refueling for Saudi coalition warplanes and end, rather than increase, U.S. logistical assistance for the Saudi-led bombings in Yemen. At minimum, any decision by the administration to engage in direct U.S. hostilities against Yemen’s Houthis must be subject to a congressional debate and vote, as the framers of the Constitution intended and the 1973 War Powers Resolution demands. As you know, the War Powers Resolution provides a mechanism for individual Members of Congress to force the question of congressional authorization if the administration is not forthcoming in seeking approval for a planned military action.

We await your prompt response regarding any legal rationale for U.S. participation in hostilities against Houthi forces in Yemen and whether your administration plans to seek approval from Congress. Your timely answer is appreciated as we explore how best to assert our constitutional role of oversight and authorization over such actions.

In coming days, we'll let you know which members of Congress sign on-- and which want to see more war in Yemen, with more U.S. involvement. Remember, it's essential that the Trump administration follow the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973, and consult and receive authorization from Congress before engaging in direct U.S. hostilities against Yemen’s Houthis.

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Bernie's Revolution Has Taken Off And Could Help Power Democrats Into Congressional Wins Despite A Hopeless DCCC


This morning we looked at a new bill introduced this week by Ro Khanna and Beto O'Rourke that would end the pervasive influence of PACs on Congress. It's another example of how Democrats are getting behind Bernie Sanders' most salient ideas. Ro Khanna endorsed Bernie during the 2016 cycle and Beto O'Rourke had endorsed Hillary. Both are strong supporters of the core progressive principles that made Bernie's campaign so popular among Democrats and independents-- like muscular campaign finance reform. Writing this week for Newsweek, Tim Marcin explained how Bernie's ideas are winning in the Trump era. Marcin points out that "recent polls have shown that progressive ideas are catching on, largely as a function of organized opposition to President Donald Trump's policies. Half of Americans now believe in climate change and are concerned about it, Gallup found this week. This, as President Trump walked back Tuesday environmental regulations put forth by former President Barack Obama."

Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) and Bernie have long been on the same page when it comes to climate issues, but, in 2016, she endorsed Hillary in the primary and Bernie-- perhaps stung-- promoted some clueless, reactionary independent candidate, Shawn O'Connor who had about as much in common with Bernie's agenda as your standard Blue Dog does. But Tuesday, just as Trump signed his 4 executive orders promoting the end of efforts to promote clean energy and combat Climate Change, Carol Shea-Porter was front and center in the pushback, telling New Hampshirites that "The threat of catastrophic climate change is very real, and today’s short-sighted actions from the Trump administration leave us less prepared than ever to confront it. I will fight to restore these protections." Just like Bernie.

Single payer was one of the biggest issues that Bernie was pushing-- an issue Hillary was not enamored of. Today single-payer, or Medicare for All, has become pretty standard among all but the Republican wing of the Democratic Party (the corrupt New Dems and reactionary Blue Dogs). Marcin wrote that as soon as Ryan's TrumpCare proposal got flushed down the toilet, Bernie "indicated he planned to put forth legislation creating a single-payer system. He admitted it would probably not pass Congress but added, 'it is a common sense proposal, and I think once the American people understand it, we can go forward with it.' New York Times op-ed writer David Leonhardt wrote that after the AHCA didn't pass, Republicans have two choices: stick with Obamacare or gradually move toward a system resembling single-payer, and that it seemed things were heading toward the latter. At the very least, amid the battle over whether the GOP should replace Obamacare, support for the Democratic bill ticked up to 49 percent."
A Fox News poll in mid-March, meanwhile, found 61 percent of registered voters had a favorable view of Sanders, compared with just 44 percent for Trump. The president's approval rating, meanwhile, fell to just 36 percent, according to the latest poll from Gallup this week.
Gallup has found that a majority of Americans now favor Medicare for All. And Democrats serious about winning congressional seats are running on it. This week I noticed that OurRevolution, the group headed by Bernie's former campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, had endorsed Rob Quist in Montana based on his support for unflinching universal health care. DFA didn't just endorse Quist, they also endorsed James Thompson, running for Mike Pompeo's now empty seat in Kansas and running on many of Bernie's popular ideas, not on a DCCC-Republican-lite platform.

"Rob Quist," explained DFA in a mailer to their members, "is a beloved rancher and musician. He supports single-payer health care, opposes Citizens United and he's ready to take on corporations that outsource jobs and hurt workers-- but first he has to beat the carpet-bagging New Jersey billionaire the Republican is running against him. James Thompson is a civil rights attorney and military veteran from Wichita who acutely understands the struggles both urban and rural working class families are facing under increasingly unpopular Republican leadership in his deep red district... After November's upset defeat, Republicans crowed that Hillary Clinton's failure to compete in rural areas meant that Democrats were doomed. But we know better. Bernie Sanders won both Montana and Kansas by running on populist progressive ideas, focusing on real conversations with voters, and refusing to compromise away core values of racial, gender, and economic justice. These candidates are ready to make that happen at the Congressional level and send shock waves to the Republican party."

Yesterday, Nate Cohn explained something we've been talking a lot about here at DWT, namely that a progressive Democrat has a good shot at winning a Georgia congressional seat that the DCCC has always considered hopelessly Republican and out of reach. "Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, has fared well in recent polls and has raised an astonishing $3 million in only a few months," wrote Cohn. "Trump struggled to victory in this district, a well-educated suburban area north of Atlanta. He won by just 1.5 percentage points, down from Mitt Romney’s 23-point win in 2012."
The idea of a competitive race here would have come as a surprise to many just a few months ago. Mr. Price won re-election with a healthy 62 percent of the vote, which observers have held up as a stronger indicator of the district’s partisanship than Mr. Trump’s performance. Democrats also have a poor track record in special elections.

But Mr. Trump’s weak performance last November was a sign that this race could be competitive... National political conditions are worse for the Republicans than they were in 2014 or 2016. Republicans now hold the presidency and the Congress, with Mr. Trump’s approval rating around 40 percent. On paper, these are the sort of conditions that tend to build up to so-called wave elections, like the ones that swept the Republicans out of power in 2006 and back into power in the House in 2010.

...When the seat opened up, it was reasonable to assume that a special election would work to the advantage of Republicans. The Democrats didn’t have a candidate. And in recent years, Republicans have excelled in special elections because they’ve done well among the older and reliable voters who dominate low-turnout elections.

Instead, everything has been breaking toward the Democrats-- and it probably wouldn’t have happened without a special election.

Start with the money. Mr. Ossoff, a 30-year-old first-time candidate, has benefited from timing. He was basically the only Democrat seeking federal office at a moment when Democratic energy was surging and when progressives were looking to “do something.”

Mr. Ossoff probably would not have raised nearly as much money if he’d been competing for attention with 434 other races. His fund-raising tally is better than that of 96 percent of the congressional challengers who raised more than $100,000 in 2016, and there’s still time for him to move up the list.

Instead, it’s the Republicans who are struggling to coalesce. They have 11 candidates on the ballot, with none emerging as the obvious favorite, although former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, the businessman Bob Gray and state senator Judson Hill are considered among the strongest contenders. Whoever advances to a runoff (assuming anyone does) will have only two months to coalesce support and raise funds with the benefit of party unity.

Low turnout could work to Democrats’ advantage, too. The enthusiasm that brought millions of Democrats to the streets and millions of dollars into Mr. Ossoff’s campaign account might just translate into an unlikely and possibly big turnout edge.

So far, 55 percent of early voters in the special election-- either in-person or absentee-- have most recently participated in a Democratic primary, while just 31 percent have most recently participated in a Republican primary.

For comparison, just 23 percent of voters in the district in the 2016 general election had most recently participated in a Democratic primary, compared with 46 percent in a Republican primary.

The huge Republican field probably helps the early Democratic turnout edge: Republican voters are less likely to know at this stage whom they’re going to vote for. But the Democrats also enjoy a similar 45-to-21-point edge among the larger group of voters who have requested but not yet returned absentee ballots.

These sorts of lopsided turnout advantages aren’t sustainable in a high-turnout presidential election or even a midterm. But in a low turnout election like this, it doesn’t take much to generate a meaningful turnout edge.

All these factors might be enough to get Mr. Ossoff over the top, but these are also reasons the result might not say much about Democratic or Republican fortunes next year and beyond.

Democrats can’t count on huge fund-raising, a split Republican field and a low turnout for future victories.

Goal Thermometer But a strong Democratic turnout in Georgia’s Sixth would certainly raise the possibility that the party can cure its enthusiasm gap in the midterms. And if the Democratic turnout stays anything like what it is so far, it will be fair to start wondering whether Mr. Ossoff will win the election outright, with no need for a runoff. Weird things happen in special elections.
You can contribute the Ossoff's campaign by tapping the thermometer on the right, where you'll find not just him, but other progressive candidate running against a pretty loathsome bunch of Republicans-- like Kim Weaver, who's opposing Iowa racist Steve King and Doug Applegate, the progressive marine ready to finish off the villainous Darrell Issa in the San Diego area.

Yesetrday Josh Krasushaar at National Journal went so far as to speculate that "Demo­crats now have a real­ist­ic shot at re­tak­ing the House in 2018. "Re­pub­lic­ans," he wrote, "with con­trol of the White House and Con­gress, look em­bar­rass­ingly in­cap­able of gov­ern­ing. The polit­ic­al con­sequences are severe: GOP voters are likely to be de­mor­al­ized in the run-up to next year’s midterm elec­tions, es­pe­cially if Pres­id­ent Trump is un­able to achieve any oth­er le­gis­lat­ive vic­tor­ies. This, at a time when Demo­crat­ic polit­ic­al en­gage­ment is sur­ging-- fueled by their off-the-charts an­im­os­ity to­wards Trump."
Each of the past three midterm elec­tions have swung wildly against the party in power-- re­flect­ive of the long­stand­ing dis­sat­is­fac­tion of voters to­wards polit­ic­al lead­er­ship, no mat­ter who’s in charge. Trump’s job ap­prov­al rat­ing is hov­er­ing around 40 per­cent, a tox­ic level for the dozens of Re­pub­lic­ans run­ning for reelec­tion in swing dis­tricts. Re­pub­lic­ans would be fool­ish to as­sume that Pres­id­ent Obama’s co­ali­tion of mil­len­ni­als and non­white voters-- many of whom stayed home in past midterm elec­tions-- re­mains dis­en­gaged giv­en their aver­sion to Trump.

Polit­ic­ally speak­ing, the health care bill couldn’t have been more dam­aging for Re­pub­lic­ans. In a dis­cip­lined Con­gress, safe-seat Re­pub­lic­ans would be more will­ing to take risky votes so those in com­pet­it­ive seats could main­tain some in­de­pend­ence from the party. But this time, hard-line con­ser­vat­ives in the Free­dom Caucus de­clared their un­stint­ing op­pos­i­tion early on, for­cing some vul­ner­able Re­pub­lic­ans to go on re­cord in sup­port of the un­pop­u­lar le­gis­la­tion-- which didn’t even come to a vote. Adding in­sult to in­jury, Trump bragged on Twit­ter that the health care ex­changes would col­lapse as a res­ult of his in­ac­tion-- the worst pos­sible mes­sage to send to any­one who viewed Trump as a can-do ex­ec­ut­ive.

The end res­ult is the worst of all worlds: a party that can’t get things done, a pres­id­ent with de­clin­ing job-ap­prov­al num­bers, swing-dis­trict mem­bers flushed out, and the base dis­il­lu­sioned.

“The midterm elec­tions are all about who shows up. Demo­crats are already up­set and angry; you’re already see­ing this dy­nam­ic at the protests and town halls. Now the Re­pub­lic­an base be­comes dis­pir­ited after this,” said former Rep. Tom Dav­is, who twice chaired the GOP’s House cam­paign com­mit­tee. “You might be able to hold the House with just your base, but this is bad.”

There are already signs that Trump’s sag­ging ap­prov­al rat­ing is rais­ing the pos­sib­il­ity of a stun­ning up­set in an up­com­ing con­gres­sion­al elec­tion in sub­urb­an At­lanta. The race, to fill the va­cant seat held by Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­ret­ary Tom Price, couldn’t be more rel­ev­ant to the health care de­bate. One pub­lic poll shows the Demo­crat­ic front-run­ner, Jon Os­soff, nar­rowly lead­ing sev­er­al of his GOP op­pon­ents in a run­off-- this in a con­ser­vat­ive dis­trict that has elec­ted Re­pub­lic­ans to Con­gress for over four dec­ades. Fear­ing an em­bar­rass­ing de­feat, the party’s lead­ing House su­per PAC is spend­ing over $2 mil­lion on at­tack ads con­nect­ing Os­soff with Nancy Pelosi.

Of the 36 at-risk House Re­pub­lic­ans, ac­cord­ing to the Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port’s rat­ings, 28 rep­res­ent urb­an or sub­urb­an dis­tricts where Trump isn’t par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar. In last year’s elec­tion, most of these GOP rep­res­ent­at­ives sig­ni­fic­antly out­per­formed Trump as voters dis­tin­guished between the pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee and the re­cord of their own mem­ber of Con­gress. But with Trump as pres­id­ent, that dis­tinc­tion is harder to make.

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