Thursday, January 31, 2019

Republicans In Congress Will Sink With Trump In 2020 Because They're In Too Deep To Extricate Themselves


Has he gotten better, Susie?

A few days ago Susan Collins (R-ME), who faces a tough reelection battle next year, was asked on PBS NewsHour live by Judy Woodruff whether she will endorse Trump's reelection bid. Her reply must be pissing Trump off no end-- "I'm not prepared at this point to make that decision." When pressed if she'd endorse Trump later, she refused to budge: "I don’t know. I’m going to have to see what happens between now and then and look at what his record is. I can’t imagine I would endorse any of the Democrats who are running right now, but I’m going to focus on 2020 in 2020."

If she refuses to endorse him she could lose about a third of the vote-- the Trumpist base-- and instantly lose her own reelection. If she does endorse him, she can kiss independents-- and that reelection bid of her own-- goodbye.

The Independent Journal Review asked the 2016 "Never Trump" Republicans if they plan to support the failed, illegitimate president this time around. They all face the same conundrum Collins faces. Rob Portman (R-OH) and the very vulnerable Cory Gardner (R-CO) have given up and have both announced they're backing Adolph Hitler Donald Trump.
“I intended to support the Republican incumbent,” [Portman] told IJR. And like other Republicans, Portman said he’s basically supporting Trump because he’s already the president.

“What changed?” Portman replied when asked why he’s changed his mind. “Well, he’s the incumbent. I mean, he’s in office, I work with him every day.

“I disagree with him publicly and privately when appropriate. But I also get a lot done, and I get that done with him. So we work with the White House, and I think that’s important for Ohio,” Portman added.

Portman has been critical of the president, including pushing back on Trump when he called Democrats “treasonous” for not applauding enough during last year’s State of the Union address.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), another Republican senator who vocally opposed Trump in 2016, told IJR that he’s endorsing the president now because it’s the “right thing to do for Colorado.”

“Look, there are things here-- look, I’ve made it very clear that where I agree with the president, we will agree or where I disagree, we will disagree,” Gardner told IJR. “But I’m going to fight like hell for Colorado, and we’ve done some good things for Colorado.

“I know what Kamala Harris and I know what Bernie Sanders will do to Colorado, and that’s why I’ll be supporting the president,” Gardner added.

Gardner called for Trump to step aside in 2016 and said the only way Republicans would defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton “is with a new nominee that reflects the values of our country and our party.”

Both Portman and Gardner find themselves in complicated states politically. Portman isn’t up for re-election until 2022, but Ohio, which Trump won in 2016, has gradually soured on the president over the course of the administration’s first few years.

According to Morning Consult polling, the Buckeye State has dropped from a plus-14 net approval for Trump at the start of his presidency to a net approval of minus-3 in its latest update.

Unlike Portman, Gardner is up for re-election in 2020 and in a state (Colorado) that not only voted for Clinton in 2016 but has a significantly lower net approval of Trump, falling from plus-1 at the beginning of his presidency to minus-16 as of December 2018.

...During his first week in Washington, freshman Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who’s been a persistent critic of the president dating back to the 2016 campaign, also said he’s not sure he can support Trump in 2020.

“I haven’t decided who I’m going to endorse in 2020. I’m going to wait and see what the alternatives are,” Romney said in an interview.

Other “Never Trump” Republicans refused to weigh in on whether or not they would support their own party’s president in the upcoming election. Sens. Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) both declined to comment when asked where their support will land in 2020.

It’s important to point out just how abnormal it is for so many Republicans to either refuse to comment or cast doubt on whether or not they will support the leader of their own party in the upcoming presidential election.

To be fair, most Republicans will support the president in the general election, even if some seem to be doing so by default.

“Yes. Why, is someone running against him?” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) replied when asked if he plans to back Trump, his former 2016 rival. “It’s my intention, of course, to support the nominee. And he’ll be the nominee.”
So they'll all vote for Trump not because they love him but because they have something against how Bernie and Elizabeth Warren propose to help ordinary American families in their states. No America over party? Not even with this destructive madman? Like they find something wrong with this?

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The GOP Is Looking More And More Like An Anti-Democracy Party-- Conservatives, Though Have Always Opposed Voting


McConnell may look like a turtle but he's a lot smarter than one-- albeit, smart in the service of Evil. He realizes that reform is his-- and his party's-- implacable enemy. He is very aware, painfully so, that when more people vote, more Republicans lose. H.R. 1, the For the People Act, is the pro-democracy legislation currently being debated in the House Judiciary Committee. Many Republicans are panic-stricken over it. The very first sentence, introducing the proposed package of laws, strikes fear into their... hearts: "A bill to expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants." Expanding access to the ballot box is the polar opposite of GOP policy for the last half century. Voting rights expert Ari Berman was on the case for Mother Jones Tuesday and again on Wednesday.

Tuesday, Berman wrote that "while voting rights lawyers are testifying in favor of the bill, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee who oppose the legislation have recruited two of the biggest vote suppressors in their party to testify against it: Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation and J. Christian Adams of the Public Interest Legal Foundation." Both were members of Trump's discredited and now-abandoned election integrity commission, and both have been part of the GOP voter suppression movement for over a decade.

Yesterday, McConnell was on the House floor trying to discredit the bill, particularly the part that would make Election Day a national holiday the way it is in democracies that want to encourage voting, calling it a Democratic Party "power grab." This is turtle-talk: "Just what America needs, another paid holiday and a bunch of government workers being paid to go out and work for I assume our folks-- our colleagues on the other side, on their campaigns. This is the Democrat plan to restore democracy? A brand-new week of paid vacation for every federal employee who would like to hover around while you cast your ballot?" What a clown-- an evil clown.

Ted Lieu is a very active member on the Judiciary Committee-- and extremely serious about protecting the right to vote. "The statement by Sen McConnell," he told us today, "is a surprisingly frank admission that the overwhelming majority of the American people support Democrats. In a democracy, any party that fears democracy will eventually shrink so much that it will drown in a bathtub. The right to vote is a constitutional right. The Republicans can't stop it, and are doomed as a party unless they expand their narrow base."

One of the most extreme right members of the House GOP, Jim Jordan (OH), serves on the House Judiciary Committee, along with other anti-democracy fanatics like Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), Ken Buck (R-CO), John Ratcliffe (R-TX). Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Mike Johnson (R-LA), Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and 4 crazy new members: Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Ben Cline (R-VA), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) and Greg Steube (R-FL). Jordan had a meltdown on the House floor, outraged that Democrats want to make Election Day a federal holiday-- something 65% of Americans support.

In your face, McConnell

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3 New Blue Dogs-- 3 More Freshmen Pledge Fealty To The Republican Wing Of The Democratic Party


Blue Dogs screw up everything... always

7 of the worst, most right-wing Democrats elected in November immediately joined the Blue Dog coalition: Anthony Brindisi (NY), Ben McAdams (UT), Max Rose (NY), Mikie Sherrill (NJ), Abigail Spanberger (VA), Xochitl Torres Small (NM) and Jeff Van Drew (NJ). Yesterday, Lou Correa, Blue Dog co-chair for communications, proudly announced that 3 more right-of-center freshmen had just joined the coalition:
Ed Case (Honolulu)
Joe Cunningham (Charleston)
Kendra Horn (Oklahoma City)
The GOP senses when a fake Democrat loses support from the base because of votes supporting Republican positions-- and then move in for the kill

That makes 10 "Democrats" who will be voting against anything that smacks of progressive and who will be joining with the Republicans to derail any policy that would help working families. For example, yesterday we noted that although 203 Democrats co-sponsored a significant Social Security expansion bill, 15 filthy, mangy Blue Dogs joined the GOP in refusing to get behind it. The 15 filthy mangy Blue Dogs included 6 of the freshmen: Joe Cunningham, Anthony Brindisi, Max Rose, Mikie Sherrill, Xochitl Torres Small and Jeff Van Drew.

There haven't been enough votes this session to make any definitive assessments of members' voting records... although, the only freshman members who have already been awarded "F" scores based on their votes include 9 Blue Dogs:
Anthony Brindisi (Blue Dog-NY)
Kendra Horn (Blue Dog-OK)
Mikie Sherrill (Blue Dog-NJ)
Abigail Spanberger (Blue Dog-VA)
Joe Cunningham (Blue Dog-SC)
Ben McAdams (Blue Dog-UT)
Max Rose (Blue Dog-NY)
Xochitl Torres Small (Blue Dog-NM)
Jeff Van Drew (Blue Dog-NJ)
Anyone surprised? Last week Kendra Horn was back in Oklahoma City whining about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and showing off her own profound ignorance: "Let me be clear: I don't support a 70% tax rate. That, to me, doesn't make any sense." Too much Fox TV? Or was she just born that way?

Ed Case is widely considered the most conservative, anti-working class politician in Hawaii. When he served in Congress between 2002 and 2007 he was also a Blue Dog and was someone everyone knew as a lazy turd who did nothing but but collect money from lobbyists. He supported the war in Iraq, joined the GOP to lower estate taxes on multimillionaires and billionaires, joined the GOP to lower taxes on investment income, and he was the only Democrat to vote to eliminate funding for PBS, NPR, and Title X family planning, including money for Planned Parenthood. (Even most Republicans voted against it!) He's lost most of his political races in Hawaii but manages to win everyone now and then, primarily because of name recognition and big corporate money that in other states would flow to the GOP. He was elected to the state House in 2002 before anyone knew how horrible he is. He was defeated in a run for governor in 2002 and then in runs for the Senate in 2006 and for Congress in 2010 and then for the Senate again in 2012. He promised he was out of politics after that defeat but never stopped sniffing around for an opportunity to get back on the bribery gravy train. He was elected to the House again in November and hooked up with the Blue Dogs again this week. Correa's press release quotes him saying "In the twelve years since I last served in Congress, the Blue Dog Coalition has become even more relevant to finding a better way forward for our country, one that is realistic, pragmatic and inclusive. I look forward to working again with my fellow Blue Dogs toward workable mainstream solutions to the challenges of our generation with a focus on fiscal sustainability and national security."

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Yep, Foxconn Was A Con Job All Along-- You'd Expect Something Different From Trump, Walker And Ryan?


Wednesday morning, Reuters broke an explosive story about how Foxconn is reconsidering the bullshit deal they made with Scott Walker, Paul Ryan and Trump "to make advanced liquid crystal display panels at a $10 billion Wisconsin campus, and said it intends to hire mostly engineers and researchers rather than the manufacturing workforce the project originally promised."
Announced at a White House ceremony in 2017, the 20-million square foot campus marked the largest greenfield investment by a foreign-based company in U.S. history and was praised by President Donald Trump as proof of his ability to revive American manufacturing.

Foxconn, which received controversial state and local incentives for the project, initially planned to manufacture advanced large screen displays for TVs and other consumer and professional products at the facility, which is under construction. It later said it would build smaller LCD screens instead.

Now, those plans may be scaled back or even shelved, Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chief Executive Terry Gou, told Reuters. He said the company was still evaluating options for Wisconsin, but cited the steep cost of making advanced TV screens in the United States, where labor expenses are comparatively high.

...“In Wisconsin we’re not building a factory. You can’t use a factory to view our Wisconsin investment,” Woo said.

Earlier this month, Foxconn, a major supplier to Apple Inc., reiterated its intention to create 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin, but said it had slowed its pace of hiring. The company initially said it expected to employ about 5,200 people by the end of 2020; a company source said that figure now looks likely to be closer to 1,000 workers.

...Rather than manufacturing LCD panels in the United States, Woo said it would be more profitable to make them in greater China and Japan, ship them to Mexico for final assembly, and import the finished product to the United States.

During the 2018 congressional campaign, Foxconn became a hot topic between progressive Democrat Randy Bryce and Foxconn booster Paul Ryan. Most Republicans, though not all (see Justin Amash tweet above), bought into the corporate welfare plan Ryan, Walker and Trump were advancing. Bryce warned voters that this whole Foxconn deal was a con, a scam, and that it wouldn't work. I asked him about it when the news broke yesterday.

"When the Fox-conn deal was first announced," he told me, "it was not too long after we launched our campaign to take Paul Ryan out. Trump invited Ryan and Walker (who was also about to be taken out as well) to the White House where they all broke their arms frenetically patting themselves on each other’s backs. There was no doubt it was a politically motivated stunt to save their careers. The deal was practically agreed upon on the back of a napkin. Since then Walker promised over 4 BILLION dollars to the Taiwan-based company. This at a time when public education had been stripped of nearly 1 billion. Income inequality at it’s all-time worst. The Middle class leaving Wisconsin quicker than any other state in the country. Walker postponed infrastructure projects claiming we can’t afford to make our roads and bridges safe but at the same time vowed to widen lanes from Milwaukee’s airport to the Mt. Pleasant Foxconn location to be used for AUTOMATED trucks to deliver goods."

Bryce continued, "Now that we have a new governor-- Tony Evers-- the same old grifter network is at an end. It’s no surprise that we find out just how big of a scam it was. The sign welcoming people to Wisconsin used to read 'Open For Business.' Now that we’re 'open for everyone,' the corporate gravy train is over. It’s time to use taxpayer money to benefit the citizens-- not the corporations who see us as their servants."

Another Democrat who recognized the whole deal was bogus from the start was state Senator Chris Larson, who is eager to create good middle class jobs in the area he represents south of Milwaukee, but wasn't buying into the con-job the GOP was offering. "Wisconsin taxpayers shouldn't invest our future or our funds in a company that isn't invested in Wisconsin," he told me yesterday. "That will be the legacy of the failed FoxConn deal. In the meantime, we'll continue to have to put up with the tortured explanations as to why the jobs won't materialize, why they can't follow our environmental laws, why they choose to put all our money in a foreign corporation instead of in our kids' education, and today, why they don't actually want to build here anyway." And he was just getting started.
Beware Wisconsin Republican leaders promising job creation for handing out massive tax subsidies. As it so happens, taking an agreement written on a bar-room napkin as gospel is not the brightest idea former Governor Walker and legislative Republicans have had. Foxconn was never going to build a manufacturing plant, they were never going to invest $10,000,000,000 here, and they were never going to create 13,000 jobs. The Foxconn boondoggle was an election year fantasy designed to hide the fact that the extreme Republicans who have had a gerrymandered stranglehold on Wisconsin have never had a real economic development plan.

It is telling that despite having delivered a historic $1 billion cut to public education, having local roads and infrastructure in extreme disrepair, and being told that regional public transit is just “too expensive,” Republicans always find the tax dollars for their corporate buddies. Over the last eight years, Wisconsin had the opportunity to invest in ourselves but time and again Republicans chose to invest in millionaires and billionaires.

The sooner we ignore the snake oil salesman (and the politicians that ogle their cash) and instead start plotting our own way forward, the better off we'll be.
Yesterday, the Washington Post reminded Wisconsinites about a statement they got last November from Mark Maley, spokesman for Scott Walker's Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. "The state of Wisconsin is investing in a once-in-a-lifetime economic development opportunity that will be transformational as the state will become home to the only LCD manufacturing facility outside of Asia." Maley (and the Walker administration-- since sent packing by the voters) lying? You bet they were, right along with Trump, Ryan, Ryan clone Bryan Steil and Sean Duffy. "Foxconn," reported the Post" has a history of walking back its hiring announcements. The company grabbed headlines in 2013 when it unveiled plans to invest $30 million and generate 300 jobs at a new high-tech factory in central Pennsylvania. The state’s governor applauded the news, and economists predicted Foxconn would lead a local manufacturing revival. But after the spotlight faded, Foxconn quietly dropped its plans in the state. Trump and Walker’s deal with the company also sparked criticism. Wisconsin’s nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau forecast the move wouldn’t bring profits to the state until 2042. Walker lost his race in November to Democrat Tony Evers, who has slammed the Foxconn deal a as a 'Hail Mary pass on the part of the governor.'...Wisconsin’s offer of economic sweeteners to Foxconn was unprecedented in scale, analysts say. The bundle of financial incentives was larger than what New York, Virginia and Tennessee collectively pledged to to win its new offices."

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Intelligence Chiefs Appointed By Trump Tell Congress He's Wrong-- About Virtually Everything


Mattis and Kelly by Nancy Ohanian

A new poll from Morning Consult offered some more bad news for Trump and his congressional enablers-- and for xenophobes in general. Just 31% of voters support shutting the government down again to force Congress to pay for Trump's vanity-wall, while 58% are opposed to another shutdown. Only 38% like TRump's idea of declaring a state of emergency to build his wall and a majority of Americans oppose it. The latest poll from Quinnipiac-- the one that shows voters trust Nancy Pelosi more than Trump, 49-42%-- shows the minority of Americans who support Trump's wall has shrunk from 43% to 41%, while the 55% of voters who oppose it has remained rock steady.

And it isn't only voters who have no stomach for another shutdown over this idiotic wall of Trump's. Miss McConnell (R-KY), who is unpopular back home and across the country-- and is up for reelection next year-- has changed the famous quote about people who refuse to learn hard lessons: "There certainly would be no education in the third kick of the mule." Yesterday, Jordain Carney reported that "Senate Republicans are signaling they will do just about anything to prevent a second shutdown after the White House was widely seen as badly losing the political fight over the closure that ended with President Trump’s retreat on Friday. Republicans are in no mood to be dragged back into another partial closure in mid-February, the deadline to get a deal on spending for roughly a quarter of the government. The Senate Majority Whip, John Thune (R-SD) characterized a shutdown as a "pox on all of our houses" and McConnell told the media that he "doesn't like shutdowns. I don’t think they work for anybody, and I hope that they would be avoided. I’m for whatever works, which means avoiding a shutdown and avoiding the president feeling that he should declare a national emergency." This comes just when Trump is doubling down and demanding a wall that now includes the coasts of Alabama and Louisiana. He also flipped out on his own intelligence officials:

Shane Harris reported for the Washington Post this week that the intelligence chiefs, testifying before Congress, all took issue with Trump's dangerous fantasies. Trump appointees Gina Haspel (CIA Director), Christopher Wray (FBI Director), Dan Coats (Director of National Intelligence) and others "threw cold water" on Trump's self-serving bullshit that the U.S. and North Korea "will achieve a lasting peace and that the regime will ultimately give up its nuclear weapons."

The distance between the intelligence community and the White House extended to areas that have ignited fierce political debates in Washington.

None of the officials said there is a security crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, where Trump has considered declaring a national emergency so that he can build a wall.

Coats noted that high crime rates and a weak job market are likely to spur migrants from Central America to cross into the United States. But he also sounded optimistic that Mexico will cooperate with the Trump administration to address violence and the flow of illegal drugs, problems that Trump has said Mexico isn’t addressing sufficiently.

Officials also warned that the Islamic State was capable of attacking the United States and painted a picture of a still-formidable organization. Trump has declared the group defeated and has said he wants to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria as a result.

Coats noted that the terrorist group has suffered “significant leadership and territorial losses.” But it still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria, he said, and maintains eight branches, more than a dozen networks and attracts thousands of supporters around the world.

The officials assessed that the government of Iran was not trying to build a nuclear weapon, despite the Trump administration’s persistent claims that the country has been violating the terms of an international agreement forged during the Obama administration.

Officials told lawmakers that Iran was in compliance with the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as some officials had previously said privately. But Iranian leaders are discussing reneging on the deal if they fail to reap the economic benefits it was supposed to bring after international sanctions were lifted, Haspel said. The Trump administration has reimposed U.S. sanctions.

Intelligence officials largely sidestepped lawmakers’ questions about why certain White House staffers were given security clearances after problems were discovered in their background checks that might ordinarily keep personnel from obtaining access to classified information.

Officials also warned, as they did last year, about Russia’s intention to interfere with the U.S. political system via “information warfare” waged largely on social media, which stokes social and political tensions to divide Americans. Other countries are likely to employ those tactics, as well, Coats said.

“We expect our adversaries and strategic competitors to refine their capabilities and add new tactics as they learn from each other’s experiences, suggesting the threat landscape could look very different in 2020 and future elections,” the intelligence director said in his written statement.

Trump continues to equivocate on whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election on his behalf, contradicting the unanimous assessment of all the top intelligence officials currently serving.

At last year’s threats hearing, leaders focused much of their remarks on Russia, unanimously concluding that the country was trying to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections by sowing discord and confusion via social media, as it had two years earlier in the U.S. presidential race.

Last week, Coats emphasized in a national intelligence strategy document that U.S. spy agencies were turning their main focus away from fighting global terrorist networks toward countering Russia and other state adversaries seen as geopolitical threats to the United States.

The United States will be challenged in coming years, the strategy concluded, by nations that exploit “the weakening of the post-WWII international order and dominance of Western democratic ideals” and “increasingly isolationist tendencies in the West.”
Trump went ballistic and it didn't help any that Stars and Stripes, widely read by members of the armed forces, then reported that the intelligence agencies directly contradicted the idiot in the White House and that "their analysis stands in sharp contrast to Trump’s almost singular focus on security gaps at the border as the biggest threat facing the United States...The intelligence assessment, which is provided annually to Congress, made no mention of a crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, which Trump has asserted as the basis for his demand that Congress finance a border wall. The report predicted additional U.S.-bound migration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, with migrants preferring to travel in caravans in hopes of a safer journey."

A glimmer of hope. Greg Sargent thinks Trump's hysteria and rage will give the Democrats an opening to solve this mess. Trump's childish tweeting "is actually restricting the maneuvering room Republicans will have in these bipartisan conference talks, which are focused on finding a compromise on Department of Homeland Security funding that will avert another government shutdown in mid-February. Trump is letting it be known that he will continue to define 'border security' as a 'wall' or 'barrier'-- that is, as a down payment on a large and monolithic superstructure that fulfills the fantasy he promised his supporters. That could make it harder for Republicans to accept a deal that spends billions on real border security, just not quite to Trump’s specifications, without enraging the base. But this gives Democrats an opening to go into these talks with a reality-based agenda to address the real problems at the border. And the early signs are that they are going to do just this.
Democrats will propose hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding to address the humanitarian crisis at the border, with upgraded facilities that are better equipped to deal with just-arrived asylum-seeking families and children, including additional medical care and counseling. Democrats will also push for around half-billion in money for additional judges to unclog court backlogs.
Democrats will propose to increase the amount of border security money to a point higher than the $1.3 billion they originally offered but less than the $5.7 billion Trump wants. (I was unable to obtain the exact figure.) However, this would not be wall or barrier money. Instead, it would be for things such as increased personnel and more sensors along the border, and drug-scanning technology at ports of entry.
That border security investment would also include more money for Homeland Security personnel who would focus on investigating human trafficking, something both sides agree is a serious problem.
Democrats will also push to include funding in a related bill that provides more than a half-billion dollars for investments in economic aid and shoring up institutions in Central American countries, to address the terrible civil conditions prompting these migrations of asylum-seekers.
All that said, there doesn't appear to be much of a chance for an immigration deal in Congress in the next 3 weeks. The joint committee isn't getting anywhere, primarily because no one in Congress trusts Trump at all-- on anything. Everyone wants border security but Trump wants an expensive-- an opportunity for massive graft-- and ineffective wall as a monument to a presidency that will be quickly written off as the worst in American history. He seems willing to destroy the well-being of the country if he doesn't get it. And Pelosi and Nadler are still refusing to begin impeachment hearings. That new Quinnipiac poll finds American voters trust Democrats more than Señor Trumpanzee on border security, 50% to 41%, up from a 49% to 44% 2 weeks ago. And Gallup found that the Trump-contagion is spreading rapidly to congressional Republicans. The party's favorability has dropped from 45% to a dismal 37% since September.

And the worst part about this for Republicans up for reelection next year is that the largest decline in favorable ratings of the Republican Party has come among independents, from 41% to 29%. That kind of favorability rating from independents is a death sentence for congressional Republicans in any district that isn't at least R+6. Republicans just cannot win elections without support from independent voters and 29% favorability indicates they do not have it.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Yeah, I know it'll be hard to unsee this, but, really, would it surprise you if Roger Stone, the Republican Party's newest icon had more than just that Nixon tattoo? We need to be very, very specific when we ask Republicans to reveal all. I bet that backside tattoo of his is standard issue for all Republicans now. It certainly seems so.

Now, ask yourself this: Is this some sort of secret Republican body art fashion thing that's been going on right in front of us? Trump has the orange face and those weird white eye rings. We've already seen Stephen Miller painting his head but what's below the neck, and where? What tattoos are people like Lindsey Graham and Kellyanne Conway sporting? Is that Tucker Carlson's real face? Does Brett Kavanaugh have a keg of beer with the words "I like beer" on his back? Does Sarah Huckabee Sanders have a pair of normal eyes inked between her shoulder blades, or somewhere else? Does Ted Cruz have a picture of the Munster's mansion or just Grandpa Munster on his back? I have all sorts of ideas about what tattoos McConnell my have, and none of them are good. Maybe he just has a bag of cash tattooed on his back, or maybe Putin's face, or maybe both.

OK. Enough of this. Maybe I should just say, I don't really care, do you? I just hope Roger doesn't turn around.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Most Dysfunctional Chaotic White House In History Is A National Security Threat


Probably everyone has read about Cliff Sim's new book, Team of Vipers by now, thanks in great part to the villain of the book screaming about it so loudly. Trump is sure to help lift Sims' first book into the annals of #1 best-sellerdom. I'm betting it will be made into a film or TV series as well. I wonder how many book sales a Trumpanzee Tweet is worth.

I'm sure a law suit is worth many more book sales. And the Washington Examiner reported that Trump is about to sue over the violation of one of Trump's laughable nondisclosure agreements, reverting to a pre-presidential business model. Trump almost never follows through on these moronic threats but everyone-- especially Sims-- sure hopes he does.

Who will play Stephen Miller-- aka, President Miller-- in the movie version? He's the evil shadow behind all of Trump's vile, anti-immigrant pandering. Sims revealed that Miller once told him he'd "be happy if not a single refugee foot ever again touched America’s soil." (Miller-- who worked for fascist politicians Michele Bachmann, John Shadegg and Jeff Sessions before being scooped up by Trump-- comes from a penniless family of Russian-Jewish refugees fleeing a pogram. Rejected by his classmates, Miller became a dedicated, hate-driven Nazi and virulent racist while in high school in liberal Santa Monica. Working with Texas Republican Michael McCaul, he came up with Trump's child separation policies.

Sims credits Miller will knifing Steve Bannon, who brought him into Trumpworld, in the back undercutting him by whispering Trump's ear that "Your polling numbers are actually very strong considering Steve won’t stop leaking to the press and trying to undermine Jared. If Steve wasn’t doing that, I bet you’d be ten points higher."
Sims, then 32 years old, was brought into the White House after his successful run coordinating messaging on the campaign. There, he learned many of Trump’s quirks: how he preferred filming against dark backdrops because he didn’t like the way his hair looked against white ones. How it was best to always have a travel-size bottle of Tresemmé Tres Two hair spray on hand, just in case. And, perhaps most important, how Trump craved “normal” conversation. “I always tried to interact with him like a normal person,” Sims told me. “In between whatever work we were doing, I would look for opportunities to talk about what was in the news, or tell him about the latest gossip from entertainment or politics, or whatever.”

A level of ease and familiarity developed between the two, such that Trump wanted Sims in the room for meetings on a wide range of issues. He was present one afternoon in January 2018, for instance, when Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, was pushing Trump to sign off on a campaign to raise awareness of the opioid crisis. As Sims tells it, Conway wanted to film a video of Trump encouraging people to send stories of how the crisis had affected them personally.

Trump, though, had a different strategy in mind. “We need to scare kids so much that they will never touch a single drug in their entire life,” he told Conway, according to Sims. “Just give this to Cliff and let him make the most horrifying ads you’ve ever seen. Could you do that?”

Sims “just nodded.” “No, I mean it,” Trump continued. “We need people dying in a ditch. I want bodies stacked on top of bodies … Do it like they did cigarettes. They had body bags piled all over the streets and ugly people with giant holes in their faces and necks.

“Next thing you know,” he concluded, “the kids don’t want to be cool and smoke anymore.”

At times, Sims witnessed fellow staffers-- Conway chief among them-- take swipes at each other behind their backs. He calls Conway a “cartoon villain brought to life” who bad-mouthed colleagues to multiple reporters by the hour. He credits Stephen Miller’s survival to the speechwriter’s ability to play both sides of the “globalist/nationalist” divide in the White House. While then–chief strategist Steve Bannon viewed Miller as his “right-wing protege,” his ideological ally against the so-called globalists, Miller was cultivating a close relationship with perhaps the globalist in chief, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. Sims writes of listening in on Miller “plung[ing] the knife” into Bannon’s back and “twisting it with relish” during a conversation with the president. “Your polling numbers are actually very strong considering Steve won’t stop leaking to the press and trying to undermine Jared,” Miller said, according to Sims. “If Steve wasn’t doing that, I bet you’d be ten points higher.”

He also watched as senior officials privately laughed off many of the president’s stranger requests. In his first few days as director of the National Economic Council, Sims writes, Larry Kudlow emerged from a meeting with the president looking flustered. He told Gary Cohn, his predecessor, that Trump ordered him to “stop” a “special deal” that he believed Amazon was getting from the U.S. Postal Service. “Gary laughed loudly,” Sims writes. “‘Welcome to the White House,’ [Cohn] said, shaking Larry’s hand … ‘It’s total bullshit.’” Cohn explained that Amazon was not, in fact, getting “some special deal.” “He’s just mad at [Jeff] Bezos for owning the Washington Post.”

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Can The Democrats Win More House Seats In 2020 Than They Did In 2018? I Say Yes; The DCCC Says No


Early in December we looked at 50 vulnerable Republican-held House seats that could be targeted in 2020. The 50 seats were picked by only one criteria-- the GOP had held on by less than 55% of the vote. That's a sloppy criteria, but somewhere to start. Monday morning the new DCCC chair, Cheri Bustos, sent out a strategy memo to the press, claiming the committee "is gearing up for an aggressive effort to fortify and expand" their House majority. Internally, I'm hearing that they're talking much more about protecting their own vulnerable freshmen in purple and red districts than they are about spending on a big national offensive. Bustops and her executive director, Allison Jaslow, tell the media that "As the saying goes, the best defense is a good offense, and we couldn't agree more," but is that mostly bluster?

Bustos is correct when she says "2018 was just the tip of the iceberg for Democrats" and that the Democrats "have a clear path to expanding our Democratic Majority, and by putting our plans in motion earlier in the cycle than ever before, we are demonstrating to Democrats across the country that the political arm of House Democrats is operating in high gear from the start." OK, I hope she means what she's saying-- and is willing to put her money where her mouth is.

The anti-red wave is very strong. If Bernie (or Elizabeth Warren) is at the top of the ticket, there will also be a very strong blue wave, since the Democrats will then be running for something, not just against Trump. These are the districts Bustos pointed out:
AZ-06- Dave Schweikert
CA-22- Devin Nunes
CA-50- Duncan Hunter
CO-03- Scott Tipton
FL-15- Ross Spano
FL-18- Brian Mast
GA-07- Rob Woodall
IA-04- Steve King
IL-13- Rodney Davis
IN-05- Susan Brooks
KY-06- Andy Barr
MI-06- Fred Upton
MN-01- Jim Hagedorn
MO-02- Ann Wagner
NC-02- George Holding
NC-09- (special election)
NC-13- Ted Budd
NE-02- Don Bacon
NY-01- Lee Zeldin
NY-02- Peter King
NY-24- John Katko
NY-27- Chris Collins
OH-01- Steve Chabot
PA-01- Brian Fitzpatrick
PA-10- Scott Perry
PA-16- Mike Kelly
TX-10- Mike McCaul
TX-21- Chip Roy
TX-22- Pete Olson
TX-23- Will Hurd
TX-24- Kenny Marchant
TX-31- John Carter
WA-03- Jaime Herrera Beutler
I like Bustos' list, even though it leaves out several reasonable targets (and includes a few districts that they're unlikely to win even in a double (anti-red/pro-blue) wave. I don't see the DCCC beating Dave Schweikert (AZ) or Susan Brooks (IN) but it's great that they're thinking aggressively enough to target them, even though Schweikert beat Democrat Anita Malik 173,140 (55.2%) to 140,559 (44.8%) and Brooks beat Dee Thornton 180,035 (56.8%) to 137,142 (43.2%). Brooks looks especially safe, having trounced Thornton in Hamilton County, where a plurality of IN-05 votes live and swept all 6 of the smaller counties, losing to Thornton only in the northern reaches of Indianapolis (Marion County).

Goal ThermometerSo what did the DCCC leave out? These are districts at least worth considering-- along with the win number from last November. I would agree that some of these are very heavily lifts, particularly Justin Amash, who is very popular in the district and is especially able to resist the kind of right-of-center Democrat the DCCC would envision-- stupidly-- for that district. Blue America is already backing a strong progressive in CA-01, Audrey Denney. We have also endorsed progressive Democrats in 2 districts the DCCC has identified as top targets: Mike Siegel in TX-10 and Kara Eastman in NE-02. You can see all of our endorsed House candidates by clicking on the Blue America 2020 thermometer on the right.
Alaska- Don Young- 53.3%
AR-02- French Hill- 52.1%
CA-01- Doug LaMalfa- 54.9%
CA-04- Tom McClintock-54.1%
FL-16- Vern Buchanan- 54.6%
IL-12- Mike Bost- 51.8%
IN-02- Jackie Walorski- 54.8%
KS-02- Steve Watkins- 48.1%
MI-03- Justin Amash- 54.4%
MI-07- Tim Walberg- 53.8%
MN-08- Peter Stauber- 50.8%
Montana- Greg Gianforte- 50.9%
OH-12- Troy Balderson- 51.6%
TX-02- Dan Crenshaw- 52.9%
TX-03- Van Taylor- 54.3%
TX-06- Ron Wright- 53.1%
TX-25- Roger Williams- 53.6%
VA-05- Denver Riggleman- 53.3%
WI-01- Bryan Steil- 54.6%
I want to say one more thing about Indiana. As I mentioned, the DCCC claims they're going to target Susan Brooks (IN-05). I think Jackie Walorski (IN-02) is a better bet. The DCCC is probably demoralized over IN-02 because they ran a wretched Blue Dog-- Mel Hall-- last cycle who, predictably, lost. But even Hall was able to win the biggest county in the district, St. Joseph (South Bend). He got killed in Elkhart, the second biggest county, but Bernie had beaten Hillary there pretty handily, almost 60-40% in 2016. Bernie also beat her in LaPorte, Marshall, Wabash, Miami, Kosciusko, Starke, Fulton and Pulaski counties. Fact is, Bernie beat Hillary in every single county in IN-02. So why recruit a Blue Dog. After all, Hillary lost the district miserably in the general (59-36%) and her only victory was a skin of her teeth 52,247 (47.7%) to 52,019 (47.5%) win in St. Joe. One lesson the DCCC has never learned is to put their own ideological predilections aside-- the committee is completely dominated by right-of-center New Dems (like Bustos)-- and just find the best candidates. The DCCC is notorious for its hatred of progressives, even when a progressive can win where their usual fare of neo-liberal corporatists cannot.

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California Has Just 7 Republicans Left In Congress. After Next Year... That Should Fall To 4-- Thanks Latino Voters


Devin Nunes is unlikely to survive the 2020 election

In 2016, 7 California congressional districts voted for Trump over Hillary. Another 7 voted to elect a Republican to Congress, while rejecting Trump. All 7 of the seats that rejected Trump but voted to keep Republicans in Congress flipped to Democrats in 2018. That leaves only 7 Republicans in California's 53 congressional seats, at least 4 of whom-- LaMalfa, McClintock, Nunes and Hunter-- are vulnerable to defeat in 2020. At least part of the reason Democrats did so well in California last year has to do with a massive Latino turnout. Below is a list of the 14 districts the GOP held going into the 2018 elections along with the Latino population in each.
CA-01- Doug LaMalfa (12.4%)
CA-04- Tom McClintock (5.6%)
CA-08- Paul Cook (35.9%)
CA-10- Jeff Denham (40.0%)
CA-21- David Valadao (72.1%)
CA-22- Devin Nunes (45.9%)
CA-23- Kevin McCarthy (35.4%)
CA-25- Steve Knight (37.9%)
CA-39- Ed Royce (34.6%)
CA-42- Ken Calvert (33.2%)
CA-45- Mimi Walters (18.7%)
CA-48- Dana Rohrabacher (20.2%)
CA-49- Darrell Issa (25.7%)
CA-50- Duncan Hunter (29.7%)
On Tuesday, writing for the L.A. Times, Kate Irby reported about 2018 Latino voting patterns in California. [T]he proportion of Latinos voting in the seven California congressional districts that Democrats targeted last year," she wrote, "rose to levels normally seen in presidential elections. Democratic leaders point to President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and the party’s own get-out-the-vote operation for spurring the heavy turnout." Gracias, Señor Trumpanzee.
“It started with the Trump effect. There was incredible frustration and anger with the Trump administration’s policies and rhetoric among the Latino community,” said Matt Barreto, co-founder of the liberal national polling and research firm Latino Decisions.

“But it takes organizing to turn that anger into votes,” he said, crediting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other Latino-focused groups such as Mi Familia Vota, Unidos and Voto Latino.

Historically, Latino turnout in midterm elections is much lower than in presidential election years. Latino voters comprised 21 percent of total votes in the 2018 election, up from 15 percent in the 2014 midterm election, according to figures by Political Data Inc. and the UC Davis Center for Regional Change.

The Latino share of the California vote in November was similar to 2016, when Latino’s made up 21 percent of the state’s electorate, and 2012, when Latinos accounted for 19.5 percent of the vote.

Latino turnout numbers were particularly stark in the six districts where the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee invested heavily in voter turnout by purchasing Spanish TV and radio ads and mailers, setting up booths at Latino community events and knocking on doors of identified Latino households to encourage them to vote.

“In 2018 the DCCC made history when we flipped seven districts in California and shattered Republicans’ hold on Orange County,” said Cole Leiter, spokesman for DCCC. “We didn’t win those seats to rent them for two years, and we are already working to ensure their newly elected Representatives win in 2020, and for years to come.”

The DCCC plans to use those results to expand its delegation in California, announcing Monday that it would be targeting Republican Reps. Devin Nunes of Tulare and Duncan Hunter of San Diego in 2020, both members in GOP strongholds of the state who won re-election by less than 5 percentage points.

“If the DCCC can keep up the momentum more seats are attainable in 2020,” Barreto said. “Presidential elections see more young people and minority groups voting, so if they make the same investments those numbers will be even higher.” 
In the 10th Congressional District around Modesto, for example, the DCCC and other Democratic groups bought targeted ads for challenger Josh Harder and canvassed Latino neighborhoods, spending about $7 million for Harder and against Republican Jeff Denham. Some of the party’s Spanish language ads criticized Denham’s votes on health care.

The outreach paid off with the Latino share of the district’s electorate rising to 26 percent, up from 18 percent in 2014, according to data from Political Data Inc. Harder defeated Denham by close to 5 percentage points.

There are two ways to measure turnout-- from the composition of the total vote and from measuring the number of eligible registered voters who actually cast ballots in the election.

In the 10th Congressional District, 58 percent of eligible Latino voters cast ballots in 2018. That’s down from the 67.5 percent share who voted in 2016 but much higher than the 29 percent who voted in 2014.

The differences in those measurements could be a reflection of less white voter participation in the 2018 election and an increase in registered Latino voters. The number of registered Latino voters nationwide has been steadily increasing, according to the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

Those numbers are going to continue to be bad news for Republicans, especially with Trump at the helm of the party, said Virginia Madueño, a former Riverbank mayor and former Democratic congressional candidate. She said she was surprised turnout numbers weren’t even higher.

“You’re definitely going to see higher numbers in 2020,” Madueño said. “As long as Republicans continue to support Trump’s rhetoric, I just don’t see how a Republican can be successful here.”

...This was the first election cycle the DCCC invested in Latino turnout early, in January and February of 2017. Barreto said that’s particularly important to continue this year, as the presidential race will draw money and attention away from congressional races as the cycle continues.

Eric Guerra, a Sacramento city councilman who canvassed in Latino communities in the San Joaguin Valley, agreed.

“Voting is a cultural thing. You have to build up, you can’t just start up a month or two before the election,” Guerra said. “That early investment created a culture. Latino voters have started talking about what partisan politics means for them.”
Asian-Americans also voted overwhelmingly in favor of Democrats in 2018 so it's worth looking at the big Asian populations in the 14 red and once-red districts. Don't forget, 70% of Asian Americans in California voted for Hillary in 2016 (compared to 71% of Latinos who did the same). Latinos made up 31% of the 2016 state electorate while Asian Americans were 12%.
CA-39- 28.1%
CA-45- 20.9%
CA-48- 17.8%
CA-49- 25.7%

Goal ThermometerMeanwhile, it's worth keeping in mind that Trump is likely to drag Republican Party candidates down with him in 2020, even more disastrously than he did in 2018 when he wasn't even on the ticket. A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that 56% of voters say they would "definitely not" vote for Trump. (14% say they would consider voting for him and just 28% say they would definitely vote for him). Significant majorities of independents (59%), women (64%) and suburbanites (56%) rule out supporting Trump for a second term. Blue America is hoping to help candidates who want to turn California bluer and more progressive. We're just getting started with our 2020 electoral project and already have one stellar candidate. Click the California thermometer on the right and consider giving her a hand.

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