Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Tom Emmer: The Republican Party's New Super-Villain?


How do you replace Michele Bachmann-- in Minnesota's reddest district? Bachmann's old district (MN-06)-- in St. Cloud and the exurbs north and west of Minneapolis-- has a PVI of R+12. Democrats win the state but Obama lost MN-06 twice and Hillary was crushed there-- with just 33.2% of the vote. When Bachmann was forced into retirement after serious ethics charges, the GOP was determined tp find someone even further right than her. They dug up a guy named Tom Emmer, a crackpot from the state House who had earlier lost a gubernatorial election.

Emmer is best known in Minnesota for deciding the people who don't deserve a living wage are waiters and other people who scrape by on tips. He proposed a change to the law that would count tips toward the minimum wage requirement. "With the tips that they get to take home," he said, "there are some people earning over $100,000 a year. More than the very people providing the jobs and investing not only their life savings but their families' future." Perfect replacement for Bachmann, right?

Now a member of the House Financial Services Committee, he stinks of corruption, having sucked down $1,318,123 in bribes from the same institutions he's supposed to be overseeing. The GOP loves that and it helped for them to decide a couple of weeks ago to skip over Ann Wagner-- a girl-- to give Emmer the chair of the NRCC.

Earlier today, we mentioned Emmer's woman problem, but he has an even more overwhelming problem. The anti-red wave that swept 40 of his colleagues out of Congress November 6, is still raging and likely to be even stronger this cycle-- his cycle. He says his goal is to rebuild the NRCC. Maybe he could take a trip to Germany and ask how hard it was to rebuild Berlin after 1945.

Or maybe he'll learn how much rebuilding it's going to take by participating in the two special election likely to hit the GOP very soon-- one in NC-09 where their candidate, Mark Harris, paid a known felon to collect and destroy absentee ballots from African-American voters, and one in FL-15, where their candidate, Ross Spano, was found to be illegality funneling large amounts of unreported money into his narrowly successful campaign. Those should be fun races for Emmer. Harris "won" by around 900 votes and is now notorious as a vote cheat. Spano won 53-47% but he's been damaged by his scandal and if the Democrats wind up for a stronger candidate they can win that one too. Welcome to the NRCC, Mr. Emmer.

Trumpanzee and Emmer-- good luck!

The National Journal posits that if the impossible happens and "2020 proves to be a comeback year for House Republicans, the foundation for the successful cycle starts here in the midterm ashes and amid the fog of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into President Trump." That doesn't;'t sound very auspicious. "Emmer, who was just elected to a third term in Minnesota's 6th District, is more upbeat than some of his colleagues. Republicans in the lower chamber have begun a public hand-wringing over the future of the party after an electoral drubbing that handed Democrats dozens of districts in suburban areas that were once Republican strongholds." Yeah, they're smarter than Emmer, who is a fool who no one respects in his own caucus.
The GOP lost 40 seats in all, with casualties from Seattle to San Diego to Miami to Maine, and generally in areas where the president is less popular. [With plenty of room for even more districts to fall.]

“There’s a narrative that people are trying to build out there that somehow there’s been this shift, this political realignment in the suburbs,” Emmer said. “That’s not true. It isn’t there.”

Emmer's analysis of the midterms pins the blame on the Republican Party at large for failing to win over independent voters with a cohesive message on the booming economy. He stressed that the party’s focus on immigration in the final days repelled moderates, but he disputed attempts to fault the president specifically and pushed back on assumptions that Trump would be a liability in 2020.

“You’re definitely impacted, but you don’t rise or fall based on the executive,” he said. “You get to run your own race, but I think this is a customer-service business. You have to have your own independent brand.”

That sentiment isn’t shared across the Republican consultant class. Responding to Emmer’s comments, one pollster said it’s clear that women and suburban voters cast their midterm ballots based on how they felt about the president, and there is little reason to believe that either Trump or those voters will change their behaviors in two years. While it may be fixable, the pollster said, the party at least has to admit the problem.

Others agreed with Emmer that the party’s losses can’t wholly be blamed on a suburban realignment. One media consultant pointed to specific tactical errors by both the NRCC (not spending enough in some places, sinking too many resources elsewhere) and the Congressional Leadership Fund (unmemorable ads) that pushed Democratic gains higher.

As Republicans turn to recruitment, it's unclear whether Trump will hinder the party's efforts to rebuild. Emmer said he would begin enticing ousted members to run again in January. But in interviews with about a dozen of them, few sounded eager to mount comeback bids and some raised issues more deep-seated than the national environment.

Rep. Mike Bishop, a second-term Michigan Republican, said in an interview last month after his defeat that he was most concerned about the party’s appeal to women.

“They were generally dissatisfied and maybe even a little bit repelled by the Republican Party,” he said in an interview. “And we have to now be honest with ourselves and figure out what we need to do. So it’s up to these guys to figure it out.”

Some House Republicans have openly called for a thorough examination into their 2018 losses, but Emmer declined to say if there would be such an autopsy.

There are compelling signs that Trump proved to be a massive drag on Republicans, and that disadvantage could potentially increase as he wages a national reelection campaign, as House Democrats open multiple investigations into his administration, and as Mueller presumably wraps up his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Democrats flipped all but three of the 25 GOP-held seats in districts won by Hillary Clinton, felling battle-tested incumbents such as Carlos Curbelo in South Florida and David Valadao in California's Central Valley.

Emmer said his target list will include many of the 31 Democrats in Trump-won seats. He identified Oklahoma's 5th District, Illinois's 14th District, New York's 11th and 22nd Districts, and Virginia's 2nd and 7th Districts as some obvious offensive opportunities. However, the majority of Trump-district Democrats are in predominantly urban and suburban seats where the president's popularity has tended to sag.

He intends to effect some structural change within the committee to allow for more member input, particularly in fundraising and recruitment. And he described plans to further decentralize NRCC operations through more-robust regional leadership teams that could divide some operations based on rural, suburban, and urban areas in each region.

“We’re regionalizing the NRCC,” he said. “We’re trying to take it closer to the Main Street that it represents, closer to the members themselves.”

He has already involved Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise, the incoming minority leader and whip, in putting the NRCC leadership team together, and intends for them to participate heavily in fundraising and recruitment, comparing their roles to that of a board of directors.

“We’re asking them to be incredibly supportive of the program that we’re putting here, so they need to have ownership of it, and we’re trying to make sure that they feel like they have ownership of it,” Emmer said.

Other ideas include replicating the “suburban caucus” that former Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois created in the mid-2000s, and forming NRCC teams to focus on Texas and California, where Republicans lost a combined nine seats.

Republicans in the conference have called for an effort to match the success of ActBlue, the Democrats' online-fundraising platform. An in-house fundraising apparatus or an outside vendor could work, Emmer said, and members are already creating proposals.

They also want a review of the independent expenditure decision-making process. On calls to drum up support for the chairmanship, Emmer said he was inundated with complaints about the $5 million spent on TV ads to help Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock in Virginia. It was the committee’s largest expenditure in any district, and Comstock lost by 12 points.

But Emmer has a few messages for his fellow Republicans, too. He said they must work their districts, raise campaign cash, give him a heads-up if they plan to retire, and, despite complaints, pay their NRCC dues for the good of the party’s policy priorities.

“You’re contributing because you want the opportunity to govern, because you believe in our agenda and you believe it will improve people’s lives,” Emmer said. “If you truly believe that, then grab ahold of the rope and pull it with me, because it takes a lot of resources to get that thing moving.”
I think Republican candidates should follow Tom Emmer's advice and just spend all their time and resources talking with independents about Trump and his agenda and personality.

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OMG! The Problem Was White Evangelicals The Whole Time


It hasn't been uneducated white working class men per se who are the backbone holding top the Trumpist Regime... it's been evangelical uneducated white working class men. Keep this in the back of your mind: 45% of all white voters without a college degree self identify as evangelical Christians. Ron Brownstein revealed some fascinating exit poll data that shows the toxic role white working class evangelicals are playing in our politics. "Though Republican candidates almost everywhere registered large margins among white voters without a college degree," he wrote, "Democrats ran much more competitively among the roughly half of that group who are not evangelical Christians [and] particularly well this year among white working-class women who are not evangelicals, a group that also displayed substantial disenchantment in the exit poll with Trump's performance. Those women could be a key constituency for Democrats in 2020 in pivotal Rust Belt states such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where relatively fewer blue-collar whites are also evangelical Christians."
Nationwide, nearly three-fifths of blue-collar white women who are not evangelicals voted Democratic in last month's House races, while an equal number said they disapproved of Trump's performance in office, the analysis of exit poll results found. That was well over double the Democratic share of the vote among non-college white women who are evangelical Christians. And while Republicans last month still carried a majority among working-class white men who are not evangelicals, Democrats attracted about twice as much support from them as they did among the equivalent men who are evangelicals.

"It's another overlay to the conclusion that there are some parts of the white non-college population that are open to Democrats and can be moved a few points in your direction," says Ruy Teixeira, a long-time Democratic analyst of voting trends who now serves as a senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress.

...At issue is how much emphasis the party should place on trying to recapture white working-class voters as opposed to maximizing turnout among its new base of minority, millennial and college-educated white voters, especially women and those in urban areas.

While some Democrats have come to view white working-class voters as largely a lost cause for the party in the Trump era, other party strategists, including some affiliated with organized labor, have privately argued that the large number of staunchly conservative evangelical Christians in the group has overstated Democratic weakness among them.

Strategists in this camp argue it would be a mistake for the party to downplay outreach to white working-class voters who are not evangelicals, especially the women in that group.

The detailed exit poll results provided to CNN show clear openings for Democrats with some groups of white working-class voters. But they also indicate that Democrats still face significant headwinds with most of those blue-collar whites and that white evangelical Christians look increasingly monolithic in their support for Republicans. That's a big challenge for Democrats in many southern states, where half or more of working-class whites are also evangelical Christians.

...To start, this analysis underscores how many white working-class voters are also evangelical Christians. Nationwide, the exit poll found that evangelical Christians this year comprised fully 45% of all white voters without a college degree, a substantial portion of the total electorate. By contrast, evangelicals represented only one-fourth of college-educated white voters. (In 2016, the exit polls found that evangelicals constituted slightly larger shares of each group.)

In all of the southern states where the question was asked this year, evangelicals represented a majority of working-class white voters, including fully two-thirds in Georgia and Tennessee. Evangelicals were also a majority of white working class voters in West Virginia and Indiana and exactly half in Missouri.

That's a big hill for Democrats in those states, because the exit poll results show that they face virtually monolithic opposition from all segments of the evangelical community.

At least 77% of white evangelicals without a college degree voted against the Democratic Senate candidates in Florida, Missouri and Tennessee, while 72% opposed defeated Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly in Indiana, the exit polls found. In the Georgia governor's race, a breathtaking 89% of non-college white evangelicals voted for Republican Brian Kemp over African-American Democrat Stacey Abrams; 84% of those voters picked Ted Cruz over O'Rourke in Texas. Only Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in West Virginia ran competitively, losing those voters by a narrow 52% to 46% margin.

In House races, the exit polls found that exactly three-fourths of white evangelicals without a college degree voted Republican, while only about one-fifth supported Democrats. Democrats lost the men in this group by 57 percentage points and the women by a still daunting 49 points.

...In Public Religion Research Institute, surveys... evangelical Christians have declined from about 21% of the total population in 2008 to 15% this year. That erosion, Jones says, has been "asymmetrical," with younger and better-educated members becoming the most likely to leave the faith. That's left behind a group that is older and more uniformly conservative.

"As this group is shrinking and aging it is just becoming more and more homogenous," says Robert Jones, author of the 2017 book The End of White Christian America. "When you have that kind of attrition, and it's coming all from the low [younger] end, and the low end is more likely to be college educated and likely to be more liberal on a whole range of cultural issues and less anti-immigrant... you start losing differences."

But if the 2018 election results highlight the solidifying uniformity of white evangelicals-- male and female, college-educated or not-- the findings simultaneously illuminate pressing reasons for Republican concern about white voters who are not evangelicals, both those with and without college degrees.

Although Democrats this year posted their best recent showing among white voters holding at least a four-year college degree, the GOP's continuing strength among such well-educated white evangelicals obscured the full extent of the party's decline.

In the national House exit poll, Democrats carried fully two-thirds of college-educated whites that are not evangelical Christians. That included not only a head-turning 71% of college educated white women who are not evangelicals but also 59% of the equivalent men. The shares that said they disapproved of Trump's performance were even higher in both groups: 74% of the women and 63% of the men.

Democrats carried about three-fifths of these non-evangelical white-collar whites in the Florida Senate race and about two-thirds of them in Indiana, Tennessee and Missouri. Even in Texas, O'Rourke carried 61% of them, while Abrams won 55% of them in the Georgia governor's race. Those geographically dispersed results testify to the breadth of the recoil from the Trump-era GOP among these well-educated white voters that Republicans in an earlier generation considered part of their base.

In a process that Trump has accelerated, Republicans in this century have instead come to see whites without a college degree as the foundation of their support. But the detailed results from Edison show some cracks in that base among the working-class whites that are not evangelicals.

In the national House exit poll, Democrats actually carried a slim 52% to 46% majority among non-college whites who are not evangelicals, though with a significant gender gap. While Democrats won the blue-collar women who are not evangelicals by 16 percentage points, Republicans won the equivalent men by 9 points.

Frank Schaeffer knows more about the evangelical community-- and the evangelical con-- than anyone I know. This is how he explained it to me this morning: "Empire builders are empire builders, and entertainers are entertainers, regardless of what they call themselves. That’s why Trump and the evangelical leaders understood each other. The average uneducated white evangelical male voter has been looking for entertainment value for generations in church. The televangelists provided it. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Walt Disney Company are a perfect match. Mea culpa! I only understood the reality of the symbiotic relationship between the consumer/entertainment culture and our star religious-empire builders after I quit being one myself. Judging by the many emails I’m getting from pastors who have read my Calvin Becker Trilogy of novels (which are humorous stories about a preacher’s family, seen from the inside), it seems that many a preacher is in the position of Groucho Marx. Groucho said he’d never want to belong to a club that would let someone like him join. The doubt and self-loathing expressed to me by so many pastors is amazing. Of course, they all beg me never to tell anyone what they are telling me. The con is the same one Trump perpetuates of 'success.' Go will make you rich like he made me rich is the prosperity gospel hook for the dumb. No wonder they fell for the same con from Trump."

 And evangelical women aren't the only women giving Republican leaders a headache. Republican congresswoman are too. Rachael Bade and Sarah Ferris, writing for Politico, reported that "Several Republican women are preparing their own plans to help their female colleagues, support women candidates and woo suburban women just in case nobody listens. Wagner, for example, is about to relaunch a “suburban caucus” in the House. The group will craft an agenda aimed at winning back suburban women by promoting issues like paid family leave and child care tax credits." That's Ann Wagner, who represents Missouri's 2nd district, the St. Louis suburbs. On paper, the district is still comfortably Republican-- with a nearly unassailable R+8 PVI. Obama was defeated there both times he ran and Trump beat Hillary by 10 points-- 52.6% to 42.3%. But... last month Wagner had a tough reelection campaign against Democrat Cort VanOstran. She did beat him-- 190,008 (51.3%) to 174,486 (47.1%), but in the St. Louis County portion of the district (which is over 70% of the population), the margin was razor thin, despite her spending $4,115,076 to his $2,334,726. This year the DCCC spent nothing in MO-02. That's unlikely to be the case in 2020.

Wagner isn't alone in turning her attention towards electing more Republican women to Congress. New York Republican Elise Stefanik is doing the same thing, and in primaries no less. That means she'll be backing Republican women against Republican men in primaries. In GOP-land that is an unforgivable heresy. But Republican congresswomen are angry. In the same year Congress finally got around to designating a bathroom for women off the House floor (2011), there were 76 women serving in the House. Starting in January, there will be 103. The problem is that almost 90% of them are Democrats-- more like super-progressive leaders Alexandria Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayssa Pressley, Deb Haaland and Katie Porter than like reactionary shrews Virginia Foxx, Diane Black, Claudia Tenney and Liz Cheney.
“I am going to keep pointing out to my colleagues that we are at a crisis level for GOP women,” Stefanik said in a recent interview. “This election should be a wake-up call to Republicans that we need to do better … We need to be elevating women’s voices, not suppressing them.”

In interviews with Politico, Republican women were divided about whether GOP leaders and their male colleagues were getting the message. In one of his first moves as NRCC chairman-elect, for example, Tom Emmer told a reporter Stefanik’s idea to help female candidates in primaries was “a mistake.”

...“I’m sorry-- Tom Emmer is wrong on this one,” said retiring Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee, who supported Stefanik in her first election and supports her primary idea. “To say what Elise is doing is a mistake? We need to applaud her. She’s filling a void.”

She added: “OK, the NRCC’s policy is that they are not going to help in the primary ... But if [women] don’t get out of the primary, what good is that?”

Stefanik, for her part, tweeted Emmer’ comments out with a bit of her own sass:

...[T]he NRCC has been on the defensive since Emmer’s comments, which come as the number of House GOP women is set to drop to the lowest number since 1994. When he takes office, Emmer plans to sit down with all 13 remaining GOP women for a candid tell-all “listening session” about what went wrong in 2018, according to an NRCC aide.

“You can’t not recognize the problem, the numbers are so terrible,” said an NRCC aide.

But it’s unclear whether that will be enough. Some women like Wagner are still frustrated that the gravity of the situation has yet to sink in, arguing that “I have seen no sign” of reflection. Even Stefanik is pushing her colleagues to conduct an “autopsy” of what happened and why they lost so many female voters and lawmakers this year.

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The Four Freshmen


Establishment media, as we've been pointing out, at the direction of transpartisan DC establishment politicians, has been working overtime to tear Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez down. Her ideas and her energy are too scary for them and too compelling for activists. Fox has made her famous among the imbeciles who watch the channel. This week a national reporter called me to ask why the fuss. "She hasn't accomplished a thing yet," he said, "and the House Democrats will make sure she never does... [t]he knives are out for her."

Even before being sworn in, she's accomplished more than 75% of congressmen accomplish in a lifetime of serving. She and her posse are setting the agenda for Congress in a way no freshmen have ever done in contemporary history. She's the peoples' congresswoman and that scares the crap out of the establishment.

Let me just point to one simple metric-- twitter followers. The media has been desperately pushing pathetic New Dem and Blue Dog freshmen as the "authentic" voice of the new Democratic class. These are the nothings they want to push:
Max Rose (Blue Dog-NY)- 12.5K
Mike Sherrill (Blue Dog-NJ)- 25.4K
Katie Hill (New Dem-CA)- 26.7K
Colin Allred (New Dem-TX)- 18.1K
Abigail Spanberger (Blue Dog-VA)- 31.7K
Chrissy Houlahan (New Dem-PA)- 16.3K
And these are the twitter numbers for Ocasio and the freshman members who have been with her on the #GreenNewDeal and the forward, cutting edge agenda they are bringing to the foreground-- dismissed by ancient establishment moron Al Hunt as "bomb throwers":

Alexandria Ocasio (D-NY)- 1.55 million
Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)- 106K
Ilhan Omar (D-MN)- 258K
Ayanna Pressley (D-MA)- 116K
So that's 130,500 for the half dozen "moderates" from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, compared to over 2 million for the four freshmen the establishment and its media arm are trying to discredit and render ineffective.

On Monday Sahil Kapur noted that "messy battles between the party’s factions risk undercutting Democrats hopes of rallying to defeat Trump in the next election, potentially costing them the chance to define the political debate and highlight favorable issues."

One of the most right-wing Democrats, Blue Dog Josh Gottheimer-- who has an "F" grade from ProgressivePunch, votes against progressive legislation almost 60% of the time and is co-chair of the Wall Street-owned and directed Problem Solvers Caucus. Gottheimer has the 3rd worst voting record among Democrats in the new Congress, only fellow Blue Dogs Henry Cuellar (TX) and Collin Peterson (MN) voting worse. Gottheimer is a member of the House Financial Services Committee and took $1,838,510 in bribes from the industries the committee oversees, more than any other members in the new Congress other than Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ($1,982,675). On the Hill, he is widely considered one of the 5 most corrupt members of Congress. Sahil forgot to mention any of that background before quoting him like this:
"Your swing votes on a lot of these issues are going to come from the middle," said New Jersey Democrat Josh Gottheimer, a co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of centrists. "If you look at how we just captured the House it was through the middle, through seats like mine. And so the middle should have-- and will have-- a really influential voice in the legislation we pursue, and on how it’s crafted and shaped."
Two things Sahil also forgot to mention:

1- when Gottheimer says "the middle," he means the extreme right fringe of the Democratic Party

2- the DCCC heavily recruited and supported Blue Dogs and New Dems and undercut and sabotaged progressives at all stages of the election cycle.

One thing Sahil did bring up-- in a quote from progressive icon Pramila Jayapal: "Progressive voters were key to our victory, and our majority. I don’t think we can lose sight of that."
"Medicare-for-all," debt-free college education, bolstering collective bargaining rights for workers and restructuring the immigration system, Jayapal said. Next year won’t be like 2009, she insisted.

"Progressives have the balance of power with us. Our voice will be at the table on leadership, which was not necessarily the case back then. But we also have the country with us,” she said. "You will see us leveraging our power."

Some of the young, newly elected Democrats with passionate bases of support, such as New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, have already made a splash with their outspokenness and willingness to clash with party leaders and establishment figures.

House progressives intend to work with outside activist groups like MoveOn and Indivisible to pressure reticent Democrats to support those types of progressive ideas and to craft messages to sway public opinion. While they’re still discussing how best to leverage their power, “we’ll use every tool in the toolbox,” Jayapal said, including attaching their priorities to must-pass spending bills to keep the government functioning.

“Sticking together as a voting bloc to help move a particular policy will be very important,” Jayapal said. It’s a tactic used successfully by the conservative House Freedom Caucus to move GOP bills to the right by refusing to provide votes until their demands were met. But it also at times resulted in stalemates that thwarted attempts at compromise.

That would set up a clash with centrists in the Blue Dog Coalition, the New Democrat Coalition and the Problem Solvers Caucus, the ranks of which will be expanded with the election of 25 Democrats in more conservative districts, like New York’s Anthony Brindisi, Utah’s Ben McAdams and Virginia’s Abigail Spanberger.

Many opposed left-leaning proposals like Medicare-for-all during their campaigns, and are positioning themselves on the right by refusing to back Pelosi or by endorsing rules changes that give more power to moderates.

...Gottheimer declined to speculate on policies like Medicare for all or debt-free college, saying the party’s focus should be on more modest proposals that can pass the Senate and be signed into law by Trump, such as an infrastructure bill, fixing problems in health-care markets, and resolving the status of young undocumented people.

He added that Democrats who “want to obstruct for the sake of it” or to “scream and yell” won’t find allies in his group of centrists [rightists].

The Blue Dog Coalition added seven newly-elected Democrats, all from competitive districts currently held by Republicans, and expects to number at least 24 come January.

Representative Stephanie Murphy of Florida, an incoming Blue Dog co-chair, said the group intends to focus on "bipartisan cooperation, fiscal responsibility, and national security."

Drawing an implicit contrast with liberals eyeing legislative proposals that lack Republican support, Murphy warned against "partisan stalemate that brings our country to a halt."
The 7 new Blue Dogs will need to be watched carefully and-- if they turn out to be as bad as Gottheimer-- primaried in 2020. Is one of them yours?
Jeff Van Drew (NJ)
Mikie Sherrill (NJ)
Xochitl Small (NM)
Anthony Brindisi (NY)
Max Rose (NY)
Ben McAdams (UT)
Abigail Spanberger (VA)

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

The melding of FOX "News" and the Trump White House continues. First Trump tapped former FOX contributor and fellow Nazi sympathizer Sebastian Gorka as a White House advisor. He has now returned to the FOX loony bin. Then it was Trump's fellow sex harasser Bill Shines, the ex co-president of FOX "News" who replaced Hope Hicks when she left the White House to go to, you guessed it, GOP-TV! Sean Hannity stays at FOX but is a key Trump aide. Trump's personal lawyer is a face of Fox "News" lunatic named Rudy Giuliani. Katy McFarland came from the same treason-supporting insane asylum. She worked in the White House as the notorious Michael Flynn's deputy. There are more, lots more, including Trump's NSA head John "Swiffer" Bolton. Even Trump himself came from FOX where he, in reality, began his campaign for president by pushing the racist nonsense of birtherism that Republicans embrace to this day.

Now it's Heather Nauert, a FOX bozo who once cited D-Day as evidence of a history of a long relationship with Germany as our United Nations Ambassador. Perhaps she, like Trump and others in his party have (Pat Buchanan anyone?), wishes we had sided with Germany in WW2 and her D-Day statement is how it comes out? The surname Nauert is German in origin and has a "good advice" meaning, so maybe that is what is expected of her, no?

In any event, there she is; soon to be our new U.N. Ambassador. She didn't just come from any GOP-TV program mind you. She came from the FOX And Friends cesspool. I suppose we should be thankful that Trump hasn't dipped one rung lower in his search for members of his administration and chosen Judge Roy Moore, Cindy Hyde-Smith, Alex Jones or someone from his fast pool of porn star acquaintances.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

No One Wants To Be Trumpanzee's Chief Of Staff. Can You Blame Them?


Eliana Johnson and Alex Isenstadt, in their reporting for Politico, reminded readers what a top of the pile DC job presidential chief of staff is. But for the two Trump has gone through, Reince Priebus and John Kelly? Both "left as diminished and arguably humiliated figures, unable to control the wild chaos" inside the monkey house: Mission Impossible is how people in DC see the job. Nick Ayers, a self-made multimillionaire, ex-male prostitute and former lobbyist, currently Pence's chief of staff and his closest confidant (after Mother), was Trump's first-- and only choice-- but Ayer's either:
got passed over when someone told Trump he used to be a male prostitute or
passed on the job when he realized he'd have to commit through the bitter, likely historic (in a very bad way) end, and what that would do to his future prospects or
knew he'd be in trouble when the Senate started scrutinizing his personal finances and wormed out of the job or
Trump found out Ayers had been gossiping about him and freaked.
We'll never know for sure which one or which combination is sending Ayers back to Georgia. What we do know is that a tough job in the best of circumstances, has turned into the worst job in the country-- and about to get worse: saving the Trump presidency from itself and keeping Trump and his family out of prison... while also running the United States government and trying to keep the economy from falling off a cliff.

Names being floated include neo-fascist North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows, Blackstone managing director Wayne Berman, Citizens United president and Trumpets fanatic Dave Bossie, Chris Christie, U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, Mick Mulvaney, the acting Attorney General who-will-never-be-confirmed Matthew Whitaker, and... wait for it... Reince Priebus. The Politico team says they made a round of calls last night about the chief of staff job and "heard the same thing over and over again: No one wants it this time, and it’s an exceedingly bad phase of the administration to take the helm. Whoever takes over right now would likely be at Trump’s side when special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s report drops, when Democrats on Capitol Hill start hammering him and as the market continues to slump."

Rahm Emanuel, Obama's first-- and disastrous-- Chief of Staff, told the NY Times helpfully/smugly that "Someone needs to get the White House under control-- but the president won’t let it happen."

CNN released a new SSRS poll this morning with data from last week-- and, remember, it's been all bad news since then. Trump's job approval
Approve- 39%

Approve strongly- 30%
Approve moderately- 9%
Disapprove- 52%

Disapprove strongly- 44%
Disapprove moderately- 8%
No opinion- 9%

Since Trumpanzee can't find anyone remotely qualified and willing to take the thankless job, it looks like John Kelly will stay on at least into January-- probably much longer-- despite Trump's foolish announcement Saturday that Kelly would be out before the end of the year. Trump's a moron and was bragging this morning about how proud he would be to shut down the government. Worth watching him meeting with Pelosi this morning-- Schumer was there as well-- and... that was not a Pence stuffed toy next to Trump; it actually was Mike Pence. I wonder why he didn't bother inviting Ryan, McCarthy and McConnell-- or at least McCarthy. (You can skip the first five and half minutes of Trump babbling sheer nonsense about the wall.) I bet Pelosi's approval numbers shoot up after this meeting.

What If Meadows Takes The Job?

Mark Meadows is a hard-right-- some would say neo-fascist-- asshole who chairs the Freedom Caucus. He represents North Carolina's 11th congressional district, the reddest district in the state-- with a PVI of R+14. Obama lost it both times and Trump beat Hillary 63.2 (his best showing in North Carolina) to 34.0%. The district includes all or part of 16 western North Carolina counties. The biggest, population-wise, Buncombe County, went for Hillary 55.7% to 41.1%. In the 2016 primary Buncombe was Bernie's strongest county in the state and he won it with 62.1%. In fact, Bernie won more votes on primary day than Trump did (30,913 to 8,430) and more votes than the entire GOP field did combined! The Republican legislature, however, managed to split Buncombe County up in a way as to prevent a competitive district from emerging. Most of the city of Asheville, the heart of Buncombe, was chopped off and grafted onto another ultra Republican district, Patrick McHenry's 10th, diluting the Democratic vote in both districts. The Buncombe part of Meadows' district voted D+10 last month and the Buncombe part of McHenry's district voted D+ 39.

District-wide, Meadows won 177,230 (59.2%) to 115,824 (38.7%) against Democrat Phillip Price. The counties bordering on Tennessee are among the most dependably Republican in the whole country. The 4 westernmost counties, Cherokee, Clay, Macon and Graham, routinely give Republicans massive leads in any contest. This cycle Meadows raised $1,773,788 to Price's $237,843. The DCCC ignored the race entirely.

I only bring this up to warn Democrats that if Trump picks Meadows, triggering a special election, it is a dead-end for Democrats. The district is designed to elect Republicans and until Republican gerrymandering is finally thrown out in court and Buncombe County reunited-- which will happen eventually-- NC-11 is off-limits to Democrats.

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Impeachment Or Indictment?


Sunday, on MSNBC's AM Joy, sharp-tongued columnist Jennifer Rubin predicted that in January 2021, just as his term is finally ending, Señor Trumpanzee will resign so that "President" Pence, also on his way to the garbage heap of history, can pardon him of all crimes.

Eric Levitz is always good for a yuck. His "Intelligencer" piece for New York Magazine over the weekend, Trump 2020 Shaping Up to Be a Campaign to Stay Out of Prison, was a barrel of monkeys (orange ones). "In 2016," he wrote, "Donald Trump claimed that America’s presidential election would determine nothing less than whether a proven criminal would be sent to jail-- or the Oval Office. In 2020, that might actually be the case." Trump is now implicated in a federal criminal conspiracy-- in fact, as the director of that conspiracy. He assumes, like most people following this case that "the only reason Donald Trump has not been indicted on federal charges is because he is the president. The conventional wisdom among legal scholars holds that the commander-in-chief cannot be indicted so long as he or she remains in office. That means that if Trump loses in 2020, he could promptly find himself in legal jeopardy."
[T]his says nothing of the new evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government that’s sprinkled throughout Mueller’s memo. These lines of inquiry may not bear prosecutable fruit, but Cohen’s conviction alone should be sufficient for putting the fear of a post-presidential indictment into Trump.

It is true that the president could still be impeached instead of indicted. But even if Mueller’s investigation ultimately links the president to more crimes-- and demonstrates that his 2016 campaign had illicit ties to Russia-- it is hard to imagine a critical mass of Republican senators voting to remove Trump from office. There aren’t many things that this president has done with diligence and discipline, but delegitimizing the Mueller probe in the eyes of his base is one. And given how many blatant abuses of power that base has already witnessed-- and how unwavering the Trumpen proletariat’s support for their dear leader has been through it all-- it’s hard to see the president’s approval rating dropping to Nixonian levels, no matter what Mueller’s “WITCH HUNT” yields.

All of which is to say: There is a significant chance that in 2020, Donald Trump will be running for a second-term-- and from the law-- simultaneously. And if that proves to be the case, the consequences for American political life could be dire.

For Trump, the costs of losing the 2016 election were largely superficial — by most accounts, the original aim of the reality television star’s campaign was publicity, not the presidency. And yet, the mere threat of narcissistic injury was enough to inspire Trump to sow distrust in the legitimacy of the election. In July 2016, the GOP nominee told a crowd in Pennsylvania that “the only way we can lose, in my opinion... is if cheating goes on.” One month later, he told supporters in North Carolina that if the state’s voter-ID law remained suspended, Clinton voters would go to the polls “15 times” each...

Trump never stopped disputing the integrity of the election, even after he had won. Instead, the president-elect claimed, repeatedly, that millions of illegal ballots had robbed him of his rightful popular vote victory.

In this year’s elections, Trump had far less at stake. He wasn’t on the ballot himself, and a Democratic takeover of the House was already close to a foregone conclusion by midsummer. And yet, to boost his party’s 2018 prospects, the president proved willing to fabricate an impending “invasion” by migrant terrorists and gangsters; suggest that said invasion was being organized by the Democratic Party as part of an elaborate bid to steal the midterm elections; persist in fomenting such incendiary conspiracy theories even after they inspired one of his supporters to attempt the assassination of many leading Democrats; and deploy thousands of U.S. troops to the southern border, so as to give his big lie an extra measure of credibility.

Even before Mueller’s latest revelations, this behavior was sufficient to prompt widespread anxiety about what Trump would be willing to do to win reelection, and/or what he might incite “Second Amendment people” to do should he lose it. If the president’s personal freedom ends up on the ballot in 2020, a lot of worse-case-scenarios become more plausible.

Some progressives have worried that Trump might actually be able to turn the threat of a postelection indictment into a source of electoral strength. The idea being: If the sitting president can (somewhat credibly) campaign against a deep-state plot to “lock him up,” then the Democratic nominee will struggle to focus attention on Trump’s policy failures and substantive betrayals of working people, where he is arguably most vulnerable. But that particular fear seems unfounded. Trump’s myriad scandals haven’t alienated the GOP base, but they appear to have damaged him with just about everyone else. And anyhow, there are plenty of ways to insert policy arguments into a campaign dominated by an incumbent’s corruption scandals (simply pointing out the president appears too consumed by his own problems to worry about yours could suffice).

Should the Mueller probe continue to implicate the president in unsavory and illegal activities, the Democratic Party’s 2020 prospects will improve; but America’s prospects of averting a democratic crisis and/or heightened levels of political violence won’t.

Josh Gerstein, writing for Politico, offered another possible way for Trumpists to undermine the law on which Mueller's case against Trump will eventually rest, the prohibition of using foreign money in U.S. elections. "Ravi Singh," wrote Gerstein, "an Illinois-based political consultant and self-proclaimed 'campaign guru,' is challenging a decades-old federal law barring foreign involvement in U.S. elections. He calls the provision unconstitutional, insisting Congress can’t regulate the role played by non-citizens in state and local elections... At a time when the special prosecutor’s legitimacy is being attacked on various grounds, a ruling in Singh's favor would create even more uncertainty around the broader effort to shield U.S. elections from foreign influence."
Singh is appealing a 2016 federal conviction on charges a Mexican real estate developer secretly footed the bill for a quarter million dollars-worth of digital campaign consulting that Singh provided two San Diego mayoral candidates.

The source of the funds for Singh’s campaign work, businessman Jose Azano, has homes in San Diego and Miami and spent much of his time in the U.S., but is not an American citizen or green card holder. He was allegedly hoping to gain influence in a bid to redevelop San Diego's waterfront.

Singh’s lawyers have leaned on the Tenth Amendment to support their appeal. The clause gives states and the people the powers that the Constitution does not expressly delegate to Congress.

“Congress’s effort to trample on the states’ ability to structure their political processes as they see fit violates the Tenth Amendment,” Singh attorneys Harold Krent and Todd Burns wrote in a recent brief.

Singh’s defense team notes that enforcing a ban on foreigners donating to virtually any U.S. electoral campaign has had some bizarre results. For instance, various localities including Takoma Park, Maryland, San Francisco and Chicago allow non-citizens to vote in local elections of some sort. However, under the broad federal ban, it is illegal for at least some of those foreigners to donate to candidates in those same races.

“If the eligibility of foreign nationals to vote in state and local elections is exclusively a state/local matter, it stands to reason that the eligibility of foreign nationals to make contributions related to such elections is also exclusively a state/local matter,” Singh’s defense wrote.

...The Justice Department has a blunt response to that argument.

“It does not matter that some local jurisdictions may permit aliens to vote,” prosecutors wrote in a brief defending the conviction. “That is a matter of grace, not constitutional requirement.”

The prosecution also raised the specter that giving foreigners a green light to spend in non-federal elections could lead to foreign countries effectively taking control of local governments in the U.S, particularly along the border.

“It cannot be beyond Congress’s power to prevent foreign citizens from pumping funds into local and state governments to set up foreign enclaves within United States borders,” prosecutors wrote. “If Canadian citizens decided that they wanted to install favored officials in all towns on the northern border by flooding local elections with foreign national funds, Congress would certainly be acting within its power to thwart it.”

Legal experts are divided about how much traction Singh is likely to get for his argument that Congress went too far in banning foreigners without green cards from donating to state and local races.

“Regulating the activities of foreign nationals is not only a form of protecting self-government and democratic processes, but it’s also a form of protecting the country itself,” said GOP campaign finance lawyer Jan Baran of law firm Wiley Rein.

“I think there’s actually a pretty strong federalism issue here and it’s super interesting,” said Temple University Law Professor Peter Spiro, a leading expert on citizenship and dual nationality. “If non-citizen voting is constitutionally acceptable, I’m not sure I see what the government’s rationale here is... It’s hard to see the national security explanation when you’re talking about state and local elections, and once you take that off the table it just looks like a federal diktat in terms of how states define their own political community.”

...[T]hus far the foreign donation ban has played an elusive role in Mueller’s investigation. Despite leveling more than 100 criminal charges at a total of 34 individuals and three companies, Mueller has yet to directly charge anyone with violating the foreign donation ban.

The foreign donation ban was cited in an early Mueller search warrant for the Alexandria condo owned by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has since been convicted of bank and tax fraud and admitted to evading a federal law requiring registration of lobbyists for foreign governments.

Some have accused Mueller of deliberately avoiding charging a violation of the ban. A Russian firm that is the only defendant currently fighting a Mueller charge, Concord Management and Consulting of St. Petersburg, has alleged that the special counsel didn’t charge the company with violating the prohibition because prosecutors knew they couldn’t show the defendants knew their conduct was illegal, which the law requires.

A criminal complaint against a Russian accountant connected to Concord, Elena Khusyaynova, explicitly cites the foreign donation ban, but doesn’t charge any specific violation of it. (However, that case, focusing on alleged interference in the 2018 midterm elections, is being handled by prosecutors in Alexandria, Va.-- not by Mueller's team.)

“The Special Counsel has pleaded around the knowledge requirements of all related substantive statutes and regulations," Concord’s American lawyers, Eric Dubelier and Kate Seikaly wrote in a filing earlier this year that accused Mueller's team of "sleight of hand."

Last month, however, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected Concord’s drive to throw out the conspiracy charge it faces.

Mueller's office declined to comment on any concerns about how a ruling against the foreign-donation ban could impact his probe. However, at least one Mueller investigator is intimately familiar with the San Diego probe. The FBI agent who oversaw much of the Manafort investigation, Omer Meisel, also played a key role in the probe that led to charges against Singh, Azano and others.

The central focus of the San Diego inquiry-- Mayor and former Congressman Bob Filner-- never faced a federal charge, but he was hit with state charges and resigned the mayor's post amidst a sexual harassment scandal.

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Middle Of The Road For President?


Who should be next in the popular series, "The Worst Democraps Who Want To Be President?" Part III, at the end of November, was all about multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg. A mutual friend tells me he wasn't pleased with what I wrote about him. I'm sure he's gotten over it. Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that he's still mullin' whether or not to run. I hope he asks people who don't stand to make small fortunes if he does run. The Post report indicated that he thinks he has some kind of clue about what Democrats want. "I think," he claimed, "most Democrats want a middle-of-the-road strategy. They want to make progress, but they’re not willing to go and to push something that has no chance of ever getting done and wasting all their energy on that." What a pitiful clown!

Like Biden, Bloomberg is a tired old centrist with no vision and nothing to offer the country. And, like Trumpanzee, he thinks it would be just awesome to be president.

There's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos

Bloomberg, of course, was referring to Bernie's platform-- i.e., things people want, like free state universities, Medicare-For-All, $15 minimum wage, etc. You know some of the other things that have been pushed by visionary progressive Democrats, each and every one of them something Bloomberg would have deemed to have "no chance of ever getting done" and wasting all that energy on? Let's skip the American Revolution, since there can be no doubt which side Squire Bloomberg would have been on. Also might as well skip the Bill of Rights. However, there was a time when free public education was looked at as an insane unattainable dream, a unicorn, not to mention land grant universities, yet each of them came into being after great battles between progressives and conservatives. And, of course, ditto for the whole concept of a minimum wage, which people like Bloomberg didn't just not want to waste money on, but had workers who demanded a minimum wage murdered. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were all deemed "impossible, out of the question" by people like Bloomberg and each was a struggle to achieve against all odds.

A few other "impossible" things progressives achieved by fighting people like Michael Bloomberg: food safety, the breakup of monopolies, the 8 hour workday, rural electrification, the emancipation of the salves, civil rights for minorities and then voting rights for minorities. None of those things grew on trees-- and none were achieved by a rich shit-head who thought they were too utopian to waste any energy on. How about consumer protection? Cleanup of water and air? Consumer protections? Workplace safety? The weekend? Do you think any of those things came easy? Thank God we had people unlike Michael Bloomberg fighting to make them realities. Michael Bloomberg would be an absolute catastrophe as a Democratic Party nominee. Why doesn't he run as a Republican again?

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The Green New Deal Line In The Sand


Last week we talked about the opening of the the U.N. climate conference in Katowice, Poland; yesterday the Washington Post published a piece by David Nakamura about the Trumpist regime resisting global climate efforts at home and overseas. "The United States," he wrote, "joined a controversial proposal by Saudi Arabia and Russia this weekend to weaken a reference to a key report on the severity of global warming, sharpening battle lines at the global climate summit in Poland aimed at gaining consensus over how to combat rising temperatures... The attempt by Trump administration delegates to look past the world’s most important climate reports comes two weeks after the administration downplayed a landmark federal report about the impacts of global warming on the United States, which is the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide."
Over the weekend, the president reaffirmed his decision to remove the United States from the global Paris agreement to reduce carbon emissions from coal, natural gas and petroleum. Referring to continued unrest in France, where thousands of demonstrators have protested a proposed fuel-tax increase, Trump tweeted: “Very sad day & night in Paris. Maybe it’s time to end the ridiculous and expensive Paris Agreement and return money back to the people in the form of lower taxes?”

Trump touted American progress on the issue. “The U.S. was way ahead of the curve on that and the only major country where emissions went down last year!”

It is true that U.S. emissions dropped in 2017, but in 2018 they are projected to grow 2.5 percent.

According to the federal Energy Information Administration, emissions had fallen in seven of the last 10 years before this year’s rise.

Ignoring the climate assessment of experts within their own administration, released the day after Thanksgiving, U.S. officials in recent days cleared a path to build more highly polluting coal-fired power plants, authorized seismic studies in the Atlantic Ocean that could harm marine animals, and opened millions of acres of land in the West to mining and fracking, stripping protections for a near-threatened species of bird.

White House officials said that the rollback of Obama-era regulations had been in the works for months and that the timing of the announcements just days after the Nov. 23 release of the National Climate Assessment was coincidental. But experts said the Trump administration has clearly accelerated its energy agenda this year as the president seeks to lock in the rule changes, which can take months to finalize, before the end of his first term.

Republican administrations have traditionally been more lenient than Democrats on environmental regulations, but Trump has overseen a shift that is “much, much bigger,” said Bruce Buckheit, who served in the Environmental Protection Agency’s enforcement division.

“They want to get stuff done that can’t be undone by the next administration,” Buckheit said. “This is their moment to keep on truckin’.”

For Trump, the moves reinforce his belief that climate warnings-- delivered with increasing urgency by scientists who say policymakers are running out of time to avoid calamities caused by rising temperatures-- are fanning false hysteria about the planet’s future.

Rather than moderate his views, the president has made clear that he and his advisers are “not necessarily such believers,” as he put it in a recent interview with the Washington Post.

The National Climate Assessment, mandated by Congress, warned that temperatures could rise by as much as 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit in the continental United States by 2050, unleashing destructive and costly heat waves and extreme weather events.

“I don’t see it,” Trump told The Post.

That message has been delivered beyond America’s shores. At the Group of 20 summit in Argentina in late November, all nations except the United States endorsed a joint statement that reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate accord. Trump officials signed the document only after securing the insertion of language highlighting the administration’s decision to exit the Paris compact and America’s right to use all forms of energy.

In Poland on Monday, the administration has arranged to put on a show promoting coal and other fossil fuels. When a panel of climate skeptics at talks in Germany last year defended the administration’s policies and Trump’s assertion that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, a large group of activists sang, jeered and walked out.

White House aides rejected the notion that the regulatory changes are in conflict with the climate report, which they dismissed as focusing on the most extreme scenarios. Press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that such modeling contradicts “long-established trends” and called the process “an extremely complicated science that is never exact.”

Jeffrey Holmstead, who served as an EPA assistant administrator in the George W. Bush administration, said the Trump White House has been clear that the report “overstates or exaggerates the risk of climate change.”

The administration is moving to reverse Obama administration actions that Trump and his aides believe overstepped the government’s authority, Holmstead said. For example, Trump is replacing Obama’s Clean Power Plan with an alternative proposal to grant states more autonomy to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

“They think that the people who issued that report may be scientists but that maybe they have their own agenda,” said Holmstead, a lawyer and lobbyist at Bracewell who represents energy companies.

That view does not square with public opinion. A Politico/Morning Consult poll released Friday showed that two-thirds of voters are very or somewhat concerned about the report’s findings, with 58 percent saying they agree with the conclusion that human activity is accelerating climate change.

During a tour last month of the devastation caused by deadly wildfires in Paradise, Calif., Trump was asked by reporters whether his skepticism of climate change had changed.

“No, I have a strong opinion,” the president replied. “I want great climate; we’re going to have that.”

The climate assessment also contradicts the president’s core assertion that regulations aimed at lowering greenhouse gas pollution harm the economy.

On the contrary, the report says, respiratory illnesses from pollution that lead to sick days for workers and heat-related deaths could stunt economic growth. And the flooding of roads, which block transportation routes and close businesses, could cost the economy billions of dollars per year.

Ignoring such warnings, the administration moved this week to lift restrictions to protect sage grouse habitat on 9 million acres on Western land to promote oil exploration and natural gas drilling, widely called fracking, as well as other mineral mining. Drilling for natural gas has created a boom in energy that powers and heats homes, but burning it creates more greenhouse gases.

According to the Energy Information Administration, petroleum use accounts for the largest amount of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States-- 46 percent. Natural gas consumption, at 29 percent, edged out coal, at 26 percent, the Energy Information Administration said.

On Thursday, the Trump administration announced its plan to reverse an Obama administration rule requiring coal-fired power plants to install technology that captures and lowers their carbon emissions.

Acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler, who lobbied for a major coal company and other energy interests before joining the administration this year, said the technology’s cost made new coal plants infeasible. In fact, coal plants are in steep decline, with the amount of coal used in energy generation falling by 53 percent since 2006 as natural gas use increased by 33 percent, according to information from the administration.

Republicans in regions that are producers or heavy users of coal applauded Trump.

“For eight years, President Obama landed blow after blow in his war on coal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Thursday. “Now President Trump’s EPA is also targeting another regulation that would have made it nearly impossible to build any new plants in the future. This is a crucial step toward undoing the damage and putting coal back on a level playing field.”

Buckheit, the former EPA official, said its unlikely that any new coal plants will open. Rather, he said, the administration’s action was “in many ways symbolic. This is playing to the base.”

That political messaging has put Trump aides in the awkward position of trying to explain the apparent dichotomy of his regulatory agenda with the conclusions of the climate assessment. In an interview with a Canadian television network, U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft drew public ridicule when she said she respects “both sides of the science” on climate change.

“I believe there are scientists on both sides that are accurate,” she said.
Twenty-two members of the House and 4 senators have signed onto the GreenNewDeal. Needless to say, none of them are Republicans. The GOP seems to have abrogated its repsonsibilities in regard to the most profound threat the country has faced since... perhaps ever. This shouldn't be a partisan issue. This has got to be a "Hey we're all in the same boat; let's do what we have to do" issue. I don't expect Trump-- who famously told his aides that he doesn't care about running up enormous deficits because he won't be around when they explode-- to understand or deal with something like Climate Change but what about Republicans in Congress? Are they really all that far gone? All of them? I suspect not many Republican members of Congress read Kate Aronoff except piece in The Intercept last week, With A Green New Deal, Here's What The World Could Look Like For The Next Generation. Some of them, unlike Trump, may actually care about children, grandchildren, mankind, planet... that kind of stuff, so if you have a Republican rep. or senator, let them know about this and remind them it's not a partisan issue and they can be a hero.

It's the spring of 2043, and Gina is graduating college with the rest of her class. She had a relatively stable childhood. Her parents availed themselves of some of the year of paid family leave they were entitled to, and after that she was dropped off at a free child care program.

Pre-K and K-12 were also free, of course, but so was her time at college, which she began after a year of public service, during which she spent six months restoring wetlands and another six volunteering at a day care much like the one she had gone to.

Now that she’s graduated, it’s time to think about what to do with her life. Without student debt, the options are broad. She also won’t have to worry about health insurance costs, since everyone is now eligible for Medicare. Like most people, she isn’t extraordinarily wealthy, so she can live in public, rent-controlled housing-- not in the underfunded, neglected units we’re accustomed to seeing in the United States, but in one of any number of buildings that the country’s top architects have competed for the privilege to design, featuring lush green spaces, child care centers, and even bars and restaurants. Utilities won’t be an issue, either. Broadband and clean water are both free and publicly provisioned, and the solar array that is spread atop the roofs of her housing complex generates all the power it needs and more.

For work, she trained to become a high-level engineer at a solar panel manufacturer, though some of her friends are going into nursing and teaching. All are well-paid, unionized positions, and are considered an essential part of the transition away from fossil fuels, updates about which are broadcast over the nightly news. In any case, she won’t have to spend long looking for a job. At any number of American Job Centers around the country, she can walk in and work with a counselor to find a well-paid position on projects that help make her city better able to deal with rising tides and more severe storms, or oral history projects, or switch careers altogether and receive training toward a union job in the booming clean energy sector.

The AJCs are a small part of the Green New Deal Act of 2021, a compromise plan that was only strengthened in the years that followed. For a brief moment, it looked as if the Supreme Court might strike down large elements of it, but as a plan to expand the size of the court gained popularity with the public, the justices backed down.

Gina might also open her own business. Without having to worry about the cost of day care or health insurance, she can invest everything into making her dream a reality. And the cost of labor for business owners, who no longer have to pick up the health care tab, is reasonable enough that she can afford to pay good wages for the staff that she needs to meet demand.

Whichever she chooses, she’ll work no more than 40 hours a week, and likely far less, leaving ample time to travel via high speed, zero-carbon rail to visit friends elsewhere and go hiking or to the beach; enjoy long, leisurely meals of locally sourced food and drink; and attend concerts in the park, featuring musicians whose careers have been supported by generous public arts grants. As she gets older, paying for health care won’t be a concern, with everything from routine doctor’s visits and screenings, to prescription drugs, to home health aides covered under the public system, as social security continues to furnish her rent, expenses, and entertainment through the end of her life.

That’s the world a “Green New Deal” could build, and what a number of representatives and activists are pushing Congress to help set into motion. Led by Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), 17 23 representatives and counting have signed on to a measure that would create a select House committee tasked with crafting, over the course of a year, a comprehensive plan to move the U.S. away from fossil fuels by 2030 and accomplish seven goals related to decarbonizing the economy.

...What, exactly, would a Green New Deal entail?

Like its 1930s counterpart, the “Green New Deal” isn’t a specific set of programs so much as an umbrella under which various policies might fit, ranging from technocratic to transformative. The sheer scale of change needed to deal effectively with climate change is massive, as the scientific consensus is making increasingly clear, requiring an economy-wide mobilization of the sort that the United States hasn’t really undertaken since World War II. While the Green New Deal imaginary evokes images of strapping young men pulling up their sleeves to hoist up wind turbines (in the mold of realist Civilian Conservation Corps ads), its actual scope is far broader than the narrow set of activities typically housed under the green jobs umbrella, or even in the original New Deal.

“People talk often about the infrastructure investment that has to happen, and new technology,” Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, told me. “But there’s also an industrial plan that needs to happen to build entirely new industries. It’s sort of like the moonshot. When JFK said America was going to go to the moon, none of the things we needed to get to the moon at that point existed. But we tried and we did it.” The Green New Deal, he added, “touches everything-- it’s basically a massive system upgrade for the economy.”

In a broad sense, that’s what policymakers in other countries refer to as industrial policy, whereby the government plays a decisive role in shaping the direction of the economy to accomplish specific aims. That doesn’t mean that the state controls every industry, as in the Soviet system; instead, it would be closer to the kind of economic planning that the U.S. practiced during the economic mobilization around World War II, and that is practiced internally today by many of the world’s biggest corporations. Should Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution pass muster, the select committee will convene policymakers, academics, and representatives from the private sector and civil society to hash out next steps. How widely or narrowly that groups defines a Green New Deal-- and whether it’ll ever be given space to meet on Capitol Hill-- remains to be seen, as supportive lawmakers huddle in Washington this week to try and gain support for writing it into the rulebook for the next Congress. Ultimately, it will be that committee that fleshes out what a Green New Deal looks like. But the proposal itself, American history, and existing research give us a sense for what all it might look like in practice.

The plan itself-- or rather, the plan to make the plan-- lays out seven goals, starting with generating 100 percent of power in the U.S. from renewable sources and updating the country’s power grid.

As the first two points of the resolution suggest, one of the main goals of any Green New Deal that spurs a complete switch to renewables will be dialing up the amount of total energy demand represented by electricity, by switching combustion-based activities like heating systems, air conditioners, and automobiles over to electric power. The Energy Transitions Commission estimates that 60 percent of energy will need to be distributed via electricity by mid-century, up from just 20 percent today. Making that possible means developing new technology, and also overhauling today’s grid, making it easier for homes and businesses that generate their own power to feed it back into the system. A modern grid-- or “smart” grid, per Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal-- would also make way for microgrids, which are self-contained renewable energy generation systems that allow small neighborhoods and hospitals, for instance, to continue making their own power even if there are disruptions (say, hurricane-force winds or a wildfire) upstream. Assuming it won’t be entirely sustainable to import all of that capacity, scaling up renewables will also likely mean expanding the country’s renewables manufacturing sector to produce more solar and wind infrastructure, components for which are today sourced largely from abroad.

“We build things here in Detroit, and across Michigan, and we’ve got a lot of people here with manufacturing skills who are being left behind by the corporate greed,” incoming Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D- Mich., among the first supporters of the resolution and who campaigned on a Green New Deal, said via email. “Just this week we heard about how GM, a company that has received billions and billions from taxpayers, is planning to cut thousands of jobs here.  So it’s really exciting to be talking about rapidly building up our green, renewable energy infrastructure, because these are jobs that can and should go to our workers here in Michigan.

“We were the Arsenal of Democracy and helped save the planet from real darkness decades ago, and there’s no reason why we couldn’t be one of the regions to build America’s green energy infrastructure and help save the planet again in the process.”

Bringing more clean energy online could entail expanding the types of programs that already exist at the state level, too, though they seldom come with much teeth. Renewable portfolio standards require utilities to source a certain amount of their power from wind and solar. New York state, for instance, set a renewable portfolio standard of 29 percent by 2015. The deadline came and went quietly, without much talk of how it would pick up the slack to reach its next goal of 50 percent renewables by 2030.

Those targets would have to be much stricter to get off fossil fuels by 2035. “You say, you hit the target and you reduce emissions 10 percent every year or you go to jail,” says Robert Pollin, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute. “That would get their attention.”

...While winding down fossil fuel production and scaling up renewables will of course be a considerable part of any Green New Deal, so too will investing in the research, development, and manufacturing capacities to get especially difficult-to-decarbonize sectors, like airlines and steel, off fossil fuels over the next several decades, as Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal notes. The latter requires a still largely experimental process called electrolysis, which targeted investments could subsidize research into. In Sanders’s town hall Monday night, Ocasio-Cortez appeared to reference economist Mariana Mazzucato’s work, which lays out the existing progress and potential of using public investment to finance early-stage research that venture capital funds are too risk-averse to support. (Ocasio-Cortez and other members of her team have met with Mazzacuto.)

“For far too long,” she said, “we gave money to Tesla-- to a lot of people-- and we got no return on the investment that the public made in new technologies. It’s the public that financed innovative new technologies.”

Such a policy umbrella, though, could be just as much about decarbonization as about building out sectors of the economy which simply aren’t carbon-intensive, but are essential to a healthy economy, such as teaching and nursing. A federal job guarantee, which is cited in the draft resolution and a hot topic among 2020 presidential hopefuls, might put people to work remediating wetlands and tending community gardens while providing an alternative to low-paid work bound up in hugely carbon-intensive supply chains. Walmart, for instance, is the biggest employer in 22 states, paying an entry-level wage of $11 per hour. McDonald’s, another major employer, is estimated to have at some point employed 1 in 8 American workers and has consistently resisted calls to institute a $15 minimum wage. A federal jobs guarantee that paying that much, as outlined by several proposals, would effectively create a national wage floor, compelling retail and fast food chains to either raise their wages or risk having their employees enticed into better-paid jobs that improve their communities and make them more resilient against climate impacts.

For extractive industry workers, whose wages are traditionally high thanks to decades of labor militancy, $15 an hour may not be too big of a draw, meaning other programs could be needed to finance what’s widely referred to as a just transition, making sure that workers in sectors that need to be phased out-- like coal, oil, and gas-- are well taken care of and that communities which have historically revolved around those industries can diversify their economies. Spain’s social democratic government recently sponsored a small-scale version of this, investing the relatively tiny sum of $282 million, with the support of trade unions, to help coal workers transition into other work while shuttering the last of the country’s coal mines.

With the right investment, new jobs won’t be hard to come by. Research from the International Labour Organization finds that while a concerted transition to renewable energy could cost as many as 6 million jobs around the world in carbon-intensive sectors, it could create 24 million jobs, or a net gain of 18 million, and far more than the profound job loss that would stem from unchecked climate change.

It's not hard to imagine cries from Republicans and Democrats alike about how much such a program might cost, and of the dangers of blowing up the deficit. Worth noting is the cost that 13 federal agencies have said are likely if we do nothing, according to the National Climate Assessment quietly released on Black Friday. By 2100, heat-related deaths could cost the U.S. $141 billion. Sea-level rise could rack up a $118 billion bill, and infrastructure damages could cost up to $32 billion. Along the same timeline, the report’s authors found, the financial damages of climate change to the U.S. could double those caused by the Great Recession.

By comparison, the 1 to 2 percent of gross domestic product that Pollin has said a Green New Deal would cost seems pretty cheap, never mind the fact that putting millions of people to work would bolster tax revenues and consumer spending. Pollin calls it “equitable green growth,” coupled with “degrowth down to zero of the fossil fuel industry.” Incumbent fuel sources, and coal in particular, aren’t exactly saving anyone money. A recent analysis from the group Carbon Tracker has found that 42 percent of coal capacity worldwide is already unprofitable, and that figure could spiked to 72 percent by 2030.

“The question is, ‘What policy do you use to build up the public investment and incentivize private investment?’” Pollin said. “You can’t just have these private sector incentive programs. That’s just not going to get it.”

As several proponents have pointed out, though, so-called pay-for questions are rarely asked of public spending programs designed to further national interests, be that getting out of a recession or fighting a war. “If we were threatened by an invader, we would mobilize all the resources we have at our disposal to deal with that security threat,” says U.K.-based economist Ann Pettifor. “As in those circumstances, you cannot rely entirely on the private sector.”

Pettifor was among the first people to start thinking seriously about a Green New Deal just after the financial crisis. Then working at the New Economics Foundation, a progressive think tank, she helped convene a series of meetings in her living room that would eventually coalesce into the Green New Deal group. The group produced several reports on the subject. But with European sovereign debt crisis about to plunge the continent’s lawmakers into full-blown austerity hysteria, any public discussion of a big, expansionary spending package faded. Jeremy Corbyn’s election to Labour Party leadership helped change that. And this past March, Chakrabarti, working on Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign at the time, showed up on her doorstep wanting to hear more.

For Pettifor, as for many Green New Deal advocates on this side of the pond, the funding question is less about how to reconcile line items than about reconfiguring what goals the economy is working toward-- that is, to make it do something other than simply grow GDP by some fixed percentage each year.

Economists’ and policymakers’ fixation on unlimited economic growth as the metric for measuring economic prosperity is a really recent invention, developed in large part by the exponential returns that were being brought in by a ballooning financial sector–and not to that point factored into economic accounts. “If I work hard every day and night I have a weekly wage. If i gamble and win a load of money, I get rich quick,” she explains. “And the finance sector has moved its focus into making money in that way and not in investing in productive activity.” That shift toward measuring growth above all else started to displace an earlier focus on full employment in the 1960s, making multiplying profits and consumption the goal rather than ensuring people’s basic needs were met. As a result, carbon emissions spiked.

It’s why Pettifor largely rejects the premise of debates among environmentalists about growth and degrowth. For the green movement to talk about growth at all, she says, “is to adapt that OECD framing of what the economy should be about” and “to adopt the framing of a neoliberal idea of the economy. I would prefer to us to talk about full employment.”

That’s not to suggest there aren’t nuts and bolts funding issues that can be easily worked out. In contrast to state governments, which rely in large part on tax revenues, the federal government has plenty of tools at its disposal for financing a Green New Deal-- tools it deployed to great effect during the financial crisis. It could also set up a National Investment Bank to furnish lines of credit for green investment. A polluter fee or carbon tax could provide some revenue, as well, but perhaps more importantly would punish bad behavior in the energy sector. Loan guarantees of the sort used in the stimulus package could help to build out clean energy as they did then, before getting scrapped when Republicans took control of the House in 2010. (While Solyndra, the most infamous of those loan recipients, failed, the program overall made a return on investment greater than those enjoyed by most venture capital funds.)

In a piece co-authored by Greg Carlock, author of a Green New Deal prospectus for the upstart think tank Data for Progress; and Andres Bernal, an adviser to Ocasio-Cortez; and Stephanie Kelton, former chief economist on the Senate Budget Committee, the writers explain, “When Congress authorizes spending, it sets off a sequence of actions. Federal agencies … enter into contracts and begin spending. As the checks go out, the government’s bank-- the Federal Reserve-- clears the payments by crediting the seller’s bank account with digital dollars. In other words, Congress can pass any budget it chooses, and our government already pays for everything by creating new money.”

A Green New Deal, moreover, “will actually help the economy by stimulating productivity, job growth and consumer spending, as government spending has often done,” Kelton, Bernal, and Carlock add. “In fact, a Green New Deal can create good-paying jobs while redressing economic and environmental inequities.”

...Needless to say, the Green New Deal faces an uphill battle on the Hill. Aside from complaints about feasibility, the pushback from other Democrats so far has been largely procedural, Weber says, citing a fear voiced by some House members that should the select committee be empowered to draft legislation, it would undermine the authority of other established committees. As he points out, the resolution outlines only that the committee be allowed to draft legislation, and wouldn’t pre-empt that legislation first going through another body before moving to a floor vote. Moreover, Weber added, “We actually do need a committee that goes beyond the very narrow focus of the existing ones. What we’re talking about is something that effects every aspect of society. A select committee that can have the purview over the issues that all of these existing committees and more is exactly the type of vehicle that Congress-- if it want to take climate change seriously-- should be creating.”
Eventually, support for the GreenNewDeal is going to be a make-it-or-break-it line in the sand. People like Alexandria, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Ted Lieu, Ro Khanna and Joe Neguse are going to be remembered as some of the Members who got it started in the House, just as Bernie, Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley and Brian Schatz did in the Senate. But, it's still early and we need all get our own members of Congress to understand how seriously we tale this and how seriously they'd better take it. Right now we're talking about heroes. How much longer before we're talking about enemies? Example: is anyone really supposed to believe Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, two senators who are being touted as "progressive" possible presidential candidates, are worthy of support when they're not on this thing yet? And where's Elizabeth Warren?

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