Monday, June 04, 2018

Lesser Of Two Evils? Sometimes The Call Is Just Too Close


In the lesser of 2 evils argument, morons on Twitter (and the DWT comments section) rarely-- rarely like in never-- take hard votes and congressional actions into account. Chad Pergram is Fox News' chief DC correspondent. He has great connections and nothing to do with the lunatics like Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Jesse Watters, Laura Ingraham, Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade.

Saturday he was tweeting away about how enough Republicans had signed the DACA discharge petition to force a floor debate and vote... but that 3 ultra-right wing Democrats-- Texas Blue Dogs Henry Cuellar, Vicente Gonzalez and Filemon Vela-- refused to sign, the only Democrats who did, killing the chances, at least for now, of a DACA debate. Pergram's tweets explain all the mechanics of the problem. Let me talk a little about the mechanics of it.

In the middle of the 2006 wave, Rahm Emanuel insisted on sneaking dozens of Blue Dogs into Congress. In a wave cycle many low-info voters don't understand or care if a candidate is a Blue Dog or a progressive. They just want to strike out against Republicans. So Emanuel loaded up on them. By 2010 Democratic voters realized they'd been duped and they stayed away from the polls rather than reelect the Blue Dogs and New Dems. Every one of Rahm's Blue Dog recruits was defeated.

The current DCCC chair, Ben Ray Lujan, is far stupider than Rahm so he asked Rahm for advice. Rahm advised him to load up on Blue Dogs and New Dems again and that's exactly what the DCCC has been doing. But voters aren't always going along with it. Some of the worst of that lot, like Jay Hulings in Texas, JD Huffstetler in Virginia and Brad Ashford in Nebraska were all ignominiously defeated despite the DCCC's slimy tactics.

When Blue Dogs and New Dems get into Congress, you can always expect behavior like Cuellar, Gonzalez and Vela just exhibited, shitting all over the Democratic brand and confusing voters about a difference between Democrats and Republicans. Tomorrow is primary day in several states including states where progressives are battling against DCCC crap candidates-- like in California, Iowa and New Jersey. The worst candidate the DCCC has overtly endorsed this cycle is Gil Cisneros (CA-49), an "ex"-Republican, a carpetbagger from another district, a lottery winning self funder and a complete joke. Sam Jammal is a far better candidate on every level. The other candidates progressives should avoid in California are Mike Levin (CA-49), New Dem Dave Min (CA-45), and DCCC recruits who worked out so badly that even the DCCC had abandoned them-- Hans Keirstead (CA-48) and Mai-Khanh Tran (CA-39). Even worse than Keirstead and Tran, but in Santa Clarita, not Orange County, is Bryan Caforio. Saturday's Santa Clarita Signal:

Character counts.

There are a few people left who think how you play the game matters as much as whether you win or lose.

Sports teach us this, and so should elections.

How one competes is more important than how big of a scene someone can make, or how many Twitter followers someone has garnered.

And rooting for the person willing to win by any means necessary will only yield you a candidate who’s willing to do whatever it takes to win, which can include lying, cheating and stealing-- not traits you want in the person you elect to govern.

...Negative politicking is toxic. It reflects especially poorly upon the person slinging the mud more so than whatever negative pabulum is being spewed... [W]e’ve seen the mailers from Bryan Caforio that again show his negative streak. While he is putting his name to it, the ad hominem attacks in that campaign have drowned out any substantive talk on the issues.
As for the other states, the DCCC has endorsed Abby Finkenaurer in Iowa but she's a weak, pointless politician with no heartfelt values besides winning and her own career. Friends of mine in the Iowa legislature where she serves told me she's a complete waste of a seat. Progressive Thomas Heckroth would make a far better member of Congress.

The DCCC has 4 candidates in New Jersey, one of whom seems pretty good, Andy Kim, although I haven't spoken with him long enough to leave out the word "seems." Blue Dog and NRA ally Jeff Van Drew is widely considered the worst Democrat in the New Jersey state legislature and the DCCC picked him for the very reasons Democrats will eventually abandon him and his seat will revert to the Republicans. Mikie Sherrill is being sold as some kind of a military heroine but she never flew a single coat mission and the DCCC and her campaign are just gaslighting about she's all about-- which is just someone looking for a career and who is a typical status quo nothing. She's someone who talks about tweaking the Affordable Care Act a little bit instead of moving forward with Medicare-For-All the way progressives do. And Tom Malinowski is being sold to voters as the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor who "earned national acclaim for standing up to dictators like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un." Is that so?

The campaign messaging circulated by Malinowski for Congress highlights their candidate’s background as having fought against the sanctioning of torture during the Bush administration. The particulars of this language should not be overlooked. Why? Because once Tom Malinowski became a part of the Obama Administration as an Assistant Secretary of State, his function was not to end practices that were regarded by international legal and human rights organizations as torture. Instead, he facilitated the continuation of protocols by United States that created a “torture loophole,” a framework by which interrogators could initiate tactics and practices that when used in correlation, their aggregate effects result in the torture of a prisoner. This was accomplished through his defense of the interrogation protocols sanctioned by Appendix M of the US Army Field Manual.

This troubling history was recently brought to light during the confirmation hearing for CIA Director Gina Haspel. Around that context, the wider implications of the shameful legacy of US-sanctioned torture was discussed in a recent podcast by The Intercept (Intercepted, Episode 57, 5/23/18), in which Tom Malinowski’s role in the continuation of torture by the United States was discussed by author and anti-torture activist Dr. Jeffrey Kaye and host Jeremy Scahill:

Dr. Jeffrey Kaye: And the Army Field Manual’s Appendix M is quite clear that its import is to prolong trauma, to prolong what they call “the shock of capture,” and to induce compliance and take away the will of individuals.

And the United Nations Committee against Torture, in 2014, did its investigations on various countries’ compliance with the treaty against torture and when it came around last to the United States, it pointed out and said: You know, Appendix M is inducing psychosis in people. We have real questions about what you’re doing with isolation, and sleep deprivation is actually amounting to torture.

The former member of Human Rights Watch, Tom Malinowski, who at that point was an Obama administration State Department official, responded to the U.N. Committee against Torture and defended the use of Appendix M and said that it had, you know, plenty of safeguards against misuse and torture.

Jeremy Scahill: You’re saying that a former staffer or official at Human Rights Watch, who then goes on to work in the Obama administration, was the official who was put forward to defend the techniques that you’re describing, as they exist in Appendix M, under the Obama administration.

Dr. Jeffrey Kaye: Yes. He was one of four or five officials who were put forward and went to New York to formally respond to what the U.N. officials were criticizing about U.S. interrogation. Yes.

Amnesty International railed against the Obama administration's Malinowski-led effort to deflect criticism for a wide assembly of international human rights advocates at the hearing of the UN Committee Against Torture, stating:
"The USA merely reiterated what the Committee found inadequate during the review, namely that an investigation into CIA interrogations had been conducted and closed, with no charges referred. It also repeated its focus on the future by seeking to consign to history and impunity what had happened in the program...Accountability and remedy for undoubted crimes under international law have fallen by the wayside in this self- congratulatory analysis... So the story on these issues is one of double standards, impunity for crimes under international law, indefinite detentions, secrecy serving to block truth, remedy, and accountability, and rejection after rejection of the recommendations of UN treaty bodies and other human rights experts."
So even though the evasive answers put forward by Malinowski and his team at the 2014 hearing of the UN Committee Against Torture gave the Obama administration the breathing room to allow US interrogation practices to continue, the facts are undeniable: allowing interrogation to operate under the guidelines of US Army Field Manual Appendix M opened up a "torture loophole" by which the human rights of prisoners could continue to be violated within a framework where the United States government could claim plausible deniability. Tom Malinowski had the opportunity to take a principled stance against this inhumane policy. Unfortunately, Malinowski instead chose to be an advocate and apologist for the torture loophole.
I've always said that the DCCC's underpining-- our candidates are the lesser of two evils-- was a very slippery slope... at best. Luckily there's a much better candidate for NJ-07 voters tomorrow: Peter Jacob.

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At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Too many Americans simply lack basic civic literacy, and have lost faith in democracy.

"The Democratic Party remains too disorganized to respond [to Republican outrages] in a unified or coherent fashion. For years, it has been consistently outmaneuvered by Republicans, the right-wing media and (now) Donald Trump. Democrats continue to be losers in their struggle to stop this widespread assault on democracy. I believe the primary explanation is that Democrats cling to outmoded notions of political decency, respect for norms and a general belief that human beings are rational and reasonable. Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton's battle cry that, "When they go low, we go high" is a prescription for defeat and a distillation of the problem.

"The Democrats are actually so cowed that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently announced that Democratic Party would not try to impeach Donald Trump if they win back a legislative majority this fall."

-Chauncey DeVega

At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "democrats" are losing a vital voting bloc:

Milwaukee Minorities Didn't Vote Hillary & Don't Regret It

Certain prominent Black commentators are beginning to tell the GOP that there are votes to be mined:

Professor Michael Eric Dyson -formerly a staunch supporter of the Democratic Party- proposed recently on The View that “black people are morally conservative even if they’re politically progressive. If Republicans weren’t so racist they could encourage black people who are morally conservative to be on their side. Thirteen percent of black men voted for Donald Trump.

Others are revealing why supporting either face of the corporatist party is a lost cause:

"The “Russiagate” hysteria is only the latest reason to conclude that the Democratic Party is the greatest institutional impediment to creation of mass “resistance” to onrushing war and never-ending austerity under late-stage capitalism. Last week’s vote on the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019 showed, by the numbers, that any legislative “resistance” depends, not on Democratic victory in November of this year, or in 2020, or the cycle after that, but on the formation of an entirely new party.

"Only 59 Democrats voted against the $717 billion Pentagon spending bill, whose passage guarantees, not only more war, but new waves of privatization and a painful spiral of doom for what’s left of the social safety net in the United States—an ultimate outcome that is fully understood by the perpetrators on both sides of the corporate duopoly.
-Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report

But let's keep trying to take the party from within.

At 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lulz...while it is sad that only 59 Democrats voted against that spending bill, it was exactly 59 more than the number of 3rd party Congress members that voted against it...Yes, there are 0 members of the House that are from a 3rd party.

You need 218 members to have a majority in the House. A 3rd party will need to find 218 winners. Our anonymous'democrap' poster has never even identified ONE that we should vote for. Those 59 Democrats only need to find around 70 allies to gain control of the House leadership. Still a daunting task, but I find it risible that our 'democrap'-hating friend finds it necessary to troll around here so religiously with this baseless '3rd party or bust' attack. I hope David is paying you well.

At 6:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:59, which is worse:

1) having a democrap presence FOREVER that is corrupt, fascist and indifferent to everyone but billionaires and CEOs
2) trying to form a truly left movement that may, some day, suppress numerically the two corporate parties

If your goal is to have a majority in the house in 2018, a truly left movement won't help you... yet. But your majority will be short-lived and they won't do shit for you anyway.

If all you want is a 'win', vote for democraps all you want.

If you ever want the constitutional usa back from the Nazis and fascists, your 'wins' will NEVER give that to you. It will take a new left movement that will take time.

You could compellingly argue that it's too late; that we may only have elections for another cycle or two... but that only reinforces my contention.. that I've been making for over 30 years. Had we started the work in the '80s, maybe we'd have our left majority by now. Either way, keeping the 'craps or ditching them... we're heading toward the suspension of elections and (more) enabling acts sooner than later.

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


"Reasoning will never make [2:59] correct an ill opinion, which by reasoning he never acquired...."
- Jonathan Swift

Most of us know this version better:

""It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his [Party] salary depends upon his not understanding it!""
-Upton Sinclair, I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked (1935), ISBN 0-520-08198-6; repr. University of California Press, 1994, p. 109.

At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Said better, 10:12. I still try a finite number of times. Every once in a while, an epiphany is engendered.

It a retort to DeVega's quote, It should be plain by now that the democraps are NOT disorganized. They are corrupt and are actively suppressing progressive candidates BECAUSE of that corruption. They are, simultaneously, trying to NOT suppress all of their voters.

The plight of the democraps is non-trivial. They must succeed in enough pretense of caring about the plight of non-billionaires/non-CEOs while they stealthily serve only the interests of the money and moneyed.

It's proven much easier than one might imagine to buffalo 65 million voters -- fucking morons. But their service to the money and moneyed DOES eventually become apparent even to the morons who populate this shithole.

In 2006, using the exact same feckless vow to repudiate their constitutional duty, they succeeded in fooling the rubes. However, by 2010, after 4 years of overt refusal to serve those rubes, 24% of them stayed home.
They are hoping that the massive anti-red tsunami will both suppress Nazi votes and re-animate lefty voters such that they will win majorities again.
To what end, one may ask, since they shall never be allowed to actually serve the interests of those voters and many of those will be watching closely for actual, you know... RESULTS!

By 2022 at the latest, will they permanently lose another 24%? more? What then for the party of the money and moneyed? When they are obviously irrelevant, what money and moneyed will want to flush bribe capital where it is no longer useful?

Perhaps the only logical reason would be to bag one last yoooooge score on which to retire from bribery of the 116th and 117th congresses.

At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:41, this would be akin to the jews coalescing behind hitler if the non-Nazi parties proved too corrupt, feckless and inept... just as the democraps are here and now.

If blacks start supporting the Rs, then maybe god SHOULD come down and just blow it all up. No surer sign of total apocalypse could be possible.

If there is no god, then we'll just blow it all up ourselves. either way...

At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Reports emerge that the Millennials are hostile to democracy (the traditional variety) and lean in favor of despotism. I'd say that 24% loss you ask about is underway:

"Fewer than a third of U.S. millennials “consider it essential to live in a democracy.” One out of 4 believes that democracy is a bad form of government. One-third of Americans of all ages now favor some sort of strongman rule, without checks and balances, and 1 of 6 would prefer the strongman to don a military uniform."
-SOHRAB AHMARI, Commentary Magazine, JAN. 17, 2018

Data listed reportedly from World Values Survey


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