Friday, January 31, 2014

Forget "Getting To Know A District"-- Bill Maher Wants To Flip One!


Back in 2006, Stephen Colbert was regularly skewering Members of Congress. His Lynn Westmoreland episode (above), for example, is probably better known, certainly nationally, than anything else about the reactionary Westmoreland. But the hilarious show was comedy for the sake of comedy. No one in their right mind could have possibly thought the Colbert appearance would have wrecked Westmoreland's career, even to the extent that the video went viral. GA-08 had a PVI of R+21 at the time. Today, after another round of redistricting, Westmoreland's west central Georgia district southwest of Atlanta still has a forbidding PVI of R+19. Democrats didn't even bother to put up a candidate last year-- and don't have one lined up this year either-- and Westmoreland has never been reelected with less than a 2/3s landslide.

Another TV comedian, Bill Maher, wants to take it further. He's talking about using his popular HBO show to actually defeat a real life congressman.
Bill Maher makes little effort to hide his own contempt for many politicians, most of them Republicans. Now, he wants to take it to the next level: finding one he might be able to help oust from office.

On his weekly HBO talk show, Real Time With Bill Maher, on Friday night, Mr. Maher and his staff plan to ask viewers to make a case for their individual representatives in the House to be selected as the worst in the country.

After some culling and analysis, one member of Congress will be selected, and the show will follow up through November with examples of what it considers terrible work by that representative. Mr. Maher will make occasional visits to that member’s district to perform stand-up and generally stir up hostile feelings toward the show’s target.

“This year, we are going to be entering into the exciting world of outright meddling with the political process,” Mr. Maher said in an email message.

The project-- which the show is calling the “flip the district” campaign-- is intended to get real results, said Scott Carter, the show’s executive producer. Among the criteria for selecting a representative, other than some degree of outrageousness in statements or voting record, is that the member be in a truly competitive race. Those running unopposed will not be selected, no matter how egregious the show’s fans may claim them to be.

“We want the chance to win,” Mr. Carter said. The choice may be a Republican or a Democrat, though he acknowledged, “with our viewers voting, I imagine it is much more likely we will pick a Republican.”

Mr. Maher has been a frequent critic of conservatives-- and a target for them. “There are a lot of terrible, entrenched congressmen out there,” Mr. Maher said. “We’re going to choose one of them, throw him or her into the national spotlight, and see if we can’t send him or her scuttling under the refrigerator on election night.”

Before beginning its campaign, Mr. Carter said, the show would make sure that the challenger in the race would not be harmed by Mr. Maher’s presence. “We will suss out whether or not the challenger might think there was reason why our participation in the effort to unseat the incumbent would not be welcomed,” he said.

He acknowledged the possibility that the incumbent will play the famed “outside agitators” card and accuse “Hollywood liberals” of interfering where they don’t belong.

“We do not want to do harm,” Mr. Carter said, but he suggested that many people might welcome “Hollywood types” adding a little pizazz to a local race.

Of course, getting laughs out of the effort will also be a goal. “We think there will be no shortage of nominations of incumbents who are ludicrous, who are ridiculous for one reason or another,” Mr. Carter said, “and we think there is no lack of entertainment value among sitting members of Congress.”
Maher could do something amazing and unexpected-- like going after a corrupt, entrenched Democrat like DCCC Chairman Steve Israel himself. The NRCC doesn't campaign against Israel as part of a deal that keeps the DCCC from targeting vulnerable senior Republicans. Israel is in one of only 8 districts nationwide that has a PVI that is exactly EVEN. The other 7 districts are the most competitive in the country, with Democrats giving all they've got to oust Republicans and Republicans doing the same in the 5 that have Democratic incumbents. Except Israel. He has immunity. The NRCC could easily beat him if they tried. They target MUCH more difficult districts than Long Island's NY-03. But if they did, then Israel would unleash the dogs of war against senior Republicans in vulnerable districts, like these half dozen right-wing galoots, who the DCCC doesn't even try too defeat:
Fred Upton (MI-06)- R+1
Peter King (NY-02)- R+1
Dave Reichert (WA-08)- R+1
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27)- R+2
Mike Rogers (MI-08)- R+2
Paul Ryan (WI-01)- R+3
The DCCC is hands off on all three districts, despite the fact that Obama won each in 2008 and/or 2012 and despite the fact that all of them are far more vulnerable than many of the absurd targets Israel is going after that are just money-pits that will never be won but where he prefers conservative candidates he recruited like anti-Choice, antigay, anti-environment gun-nut Jennifer Garrison in OH-06, a district with a PVI of R+8 and where Obama lost in 2008 (45%) and 2012 (43%).

But a better fit for Maher would be to go after the very powerful-- and vulnerable-- Boehner-and-Israel buddy, Fred Upton, an heir to the Whirlpool fortune and Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. A former member of Israel's Center Aisle Caucus, he is probably the #1 most vulnerable Republican in America who Israel prevents the DCCC from targeting. There's a good grassroots progressive running, Paul Clements, and the DCCC won't help him but with a push against Upton-- who richly deserves that push-- Clements could win. Maher cares about climate change, right? There is no Member of Congress who has been worse on that issue-- and more destructive-- than Upton. If you agree, let Bill Maher know-- and contribute what you can to Clements' campaign.

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At 8:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shimkus, IL 15... his facebook page alone is terrifying... he belongs in a cult/church not government... and, he is 6 terms over his self-imposed 2 term limit, since '97.

At 9:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take a look at Congressman Chuck Fleischmann in TN03. He constantly blames all government problems on Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid yet he never offers any type of solution. He has a legitimate primary opponent who wants to work across party lines to move our country forward. Has awesome support from Democrats and Republicans alike in the Chattanooga area. Help us get rid of Congressman Fleischmann however you can.


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