Friday, August 14, 2020

Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

I like compilations of idiocy like tonight's meme. They offer, for easy reference in one neat place, a little catalog of reasons why some assclown should not be treated with any respect.

Donnie Psycho has now given us an Encyclopedia Britannica's worth of such little catalogs; page after page after page. Someday, someone may even publish an encyclopedia of Trump's little catalogs of idiocy and worse. I know some would say something like, "But Noah, surely we need to respect the office if not the person." My answer to that would be something along the lines of, Fuck no! Not when that person has made sure to dedicate himself and define himself as 100% opposed to everything the Office Of The President Of The United States Of America is at least alleged to stand for. If we all look at the nation's history, anyone can find a president they wouldn't agree with in part or in whole. As Lincoln intimated, even the ones we like aren't going to please us all of the time. But finding a president other than Trump who chose a treason lifestyle? Well that's a lot harder.

So, what is tonight's meme? Is it just a calendar of ineptitude or something far worse? Obviously, it's the latter because no honest person among us could look back at all of this evidence of a person being so constantly wrong, day by day and month by month, saying the same thing over and over as the corpses pile up, and see that as mere ineptitude. The Trump statements depicted here are also not just the random statements of a lying loon. He is lying with full malice aforethought. Some naive people even say that he has refused to formulate a plan to deal with COVID-19 when, in fact, his plan is right there in plain sight; plain sight for all of those who can conceive of just how horrible a human being can be to see. Trump's actions can only be seen as the deliberate actions of a psychopathic mass murderer who has constantly said what he has said only as an active delaying action while the plague spreads with no attempt to stop it and the amount of corpses and human suffering grows. All a sensible person is left with is to reason why.

One can also only look at those in Washington deciding to keep Trump in office also as a delaying action, and not just to get some more wackjob judges in place and fuck up the post office. No, they knew what would happen. They knew in December if not before as the news of Wuhan was reaching them through our intelligence people. Lots, if not most, of these people are dumb as a rock but everyone knows what a plague is. They knew that human suffering would be inflicted and considered us all to be a human sacrifice to their money and power gods. They knew the numbers of corpses would mount. There's no way they could not. Hell, we've now passed the latest number in the meme and we will continue to zoom right past it while the Trump's, the Moscow Mitches, the Gym Jordans, the Louie Gohmerts and the rest drink to it on our dime. How many dead will satisfy their lust for power and their greed? The answer is millions. The answer literally is blowing in the wind.

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Has Jared Kushner Taken Over Kanye's Mind On Behalf Of The Trumpanzee Campaign?


There are always contrarians-- people who go against the grain just to... go against the grain. In the early 1930s, a Jew voting for Hitler as Germany's fragile democracy was collapsing-- and there were some-- would likely have been a severe contrarian. Those votes didn't prevent them from being rounded up and exterminated in gas chambers. According to Pew Research, 6% of 2016 Black voters cast their ballots for Trump. Contrarianism is one explanation. Can you think of a more clownish contrarian than deranged rap star Kanye West? We covered his presidential "campaign" late Monday night.

The idea behind it was simple: Trump isn't going to get many Black voters-- maybe even less than the 6% he got in 2016. But preventing some from voting for Biden-Kamala in a few swing states-- like Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa-- could swing the electoral college to Trump again. Black voters, it turns out, are way too smart for that, as is apparent in the Morning Consult poll for Politico yesterday. Just 2% of voters say he's their choice and just 2% of African-American voters say he's their choice. Most people see it as either a Trumpist ploy or a typical Kanye publicity stunt. People don't tale his bid seriously, despite a gaggle of experienced Republican Party operatives, like Gregg Keller, former executive director of the American Conservative Union, working to legitimize him and get him on the ballot in key states. This is his 10-point Bible-driven "platform" (for lack of a better word):
Restore faith and revive our Constitutional commitment to freedom of religion and the free exercise of one’s faith, demonstrated by restoring prayer in the classroom including spiritual foundations.
We will not hide the truth from our children, but will declare to the next generation His praises and wonder. Psalm 78:4

Restore the sound national economy. Reduce household debt and student loan debt.
God has plans to give us hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Provide leadership to restructure our country’s education system to serve the most at-risk and vulnerable populations allowing the widest possible range of educational and vocational paths to job opportunities and career success.
Direct your children on the right path. Proverbs 22:6

Maintain a strong national defense, fully prepared, but not so quick to tie up our country’s young men and women in foreign quagmires that do not advance our national interest, and which last for decades.
Through God we shall do valiantly. Psalm 60:12

Reform the legal system to provide true justice, equitable for all citizens, regardless of race or ability to defend oneself in court. Recognize the disparity in verdicts and prison sentences, caused by the lack of financial resources or legal assistance.
There will not be differing weights and differing measures. Proverbs 20:10

Reform the approach to policing in a manner that treats all Americans the same, regardless of race, color, or ethnicity. Refocus police forces on real crime. Eliminate federal sentencing guidelines that tie the hands of judges, resulting in ridiculous sentences for the most minor offenses.
We will speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Proverbs 31:8

Take care of the environment, diligently pursuing clean air and water as a national security priority and making renewables top priority.
The past is forgotten and everything can be new 2 Corinthians 5:17

Ensure that we always place Americans’ best interest first and foremost in dealing with foreign affairs. We must project strength, not aggression. We want trust, but we must also verify. We want fair trade, not one-sided deals that hurt American workers.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9

Support faith-based groups to provide vital local services, giving communities a shared purpose in government.
We will provide ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works Hebrews 10:24

Creativity and the Arts can be an important source of innovation and development of other national strengths and resources.
He has given them skill in all kinds of work done. Exodus 35:35

The only semi-significant support the poll found for him was among the youngest-- and least reliable-- cohort of voters, Gen Z, where he could get 6% of the vote. Oh... and then there's Jared Kushner, who, the NY Times reported yesterday, "met privately last weekend with Kanye" in Telluride, Kanye leaving a family camping trip to fly in and meet with Trumpanzee's campaign overseer.
After an inquiry, Mr. West tweeted Tuesday evening: “I’m willing to do a live interview with the New York Time about my meeting with Jared,” adding that they had discussed a book about Black empowerment called Powernomics.” He did not elaborate on his meeting with Mr. Kushner in a brief follow-up interview. He instead expressed anger about abortion rates among Black women and said he didn’t reflexively support Democrats.
Forbes went further in their reporting: a Kushner-Kanye yack session daily. A friend of Kanye's told Randall Lane explained that Kanye is "mentally ill. When you have people around him who have the best intentions and don’t need anything from him, you can steer him when he’s in that space into a positive place. When you have people around him who see him as an opportunity, they create a very, very bad scenario." Some in Kanye's circle "feel that Kushner now falls into that latter camp in ways that flirt with exploitation-- concerning, after Kardashian West asked publicly for 'compassion and empathy.' One described their understanding of Kushner’s conversations with West as 'reverse psychology.' Others prescribe less malicious intent, though that narrative would require a level of naiveté that would rank up there with sitting in a meeting at Trump Tower with Russians who promise to have dirt on Hillary Clinton."

I'm not sure how big Kanye is in Montana but the Billings Gazette reported yesterday that Republican operatives are trying to get him on the ballot there, specifically to draw voters away from Biden/Kamala. They've been gathering signatures and telling people explicitly it was to siphon off Biden votes in November.

"You want to help Trump?" one of the organizers called out Tuesday afternoon in front of the Yellowstone County Courthouse. "We're trying to take votes away from creepy Uncle Joe."

...A similar group of organizers were at MetraPark on Tuesday using the same pitch, calling out to fair-goers as they approached the gate, sometimes not even mentioning West's name.

The organizer on the sidewalk in front of the county courthouse called to people as they approached or left the building Tuesday afternoon. His pitch was always the same, help Trump, sign the petition, get West on the ballot and draw votes away from Biden.

The man declined to give his name, saying he had been "told expressly to stay away from the media." He also declined to name the group that recruited him to gather signatures, describing them as clients of the West campaign.
About 6,400 of Montana's 1.1 million people are Black. Kanye probably has a lot more fans than that in the state. The Republican organizers of his ballot effort have until August 19, a week from yesterday, to gather 5,000 verifiable signatures. Many-- in some cases, most-- of these signatures the GOP operatives have been turning in in other states are forgeries. And that's hardly the only dirty trick the GOP is trying to pull off in Montana to protect Trump and Daines and their other candidates. They're also trying-- so far unsuccessfully-- to use the Montana Green Party as a way to divert progressive votes away from Biden.

A couple of free thinkers. How would you like a tape of their presidential strategy meeting? 

Labels: , , ,

Badly Handled School Reopenings Are Absolutely Deadly-- Wave II Starting Overseas?


Leana Wen, who formerly served as Baltimore’s health commissioner and is now teaching emergency medicine at George Washington University, wrote an OpEd for the Washington Post Tuesday, Stop justifying school reopening based on false statements. Wen is furious that "people"-- meaning Trump and his sycophantic supporters like governors Brian Kemp (GA), Ron DeSantis (FL), Kevin Stitt (OK), Greg Abbott (TX), Doug Ducey (AZ), Mike Parson (MO), Bill Lee (TN), Chris Sununu (NH), Kristi Noem (SD), Kay Ivey (AL), Pete Ricketts (NE), Henry McMaster (SC) and Kim Reynolds (IA)-- keep saying that children don’t get sick from the coronavirus and don’t spread it. "These statements," she wrote, "are being used to justify school reopening, and they’re just not true.
First, children do get infected. In fact, a new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association found that 338,000 kids have been diagnosed with covid-19 in the United States. More than 97,000 cases were diagnosed in the last two weeks of July. The majority of these infections were in states undergoing surges, suggesting that high levels of community transmission directly translates to infections among children.

It is true that children tend to get less severely ill than adults, particularly when compared with older adults with underlying medical conditions. But some children do become very sick and require hospitalization. Among children admitted to the hospital, 1 in 3 end up being admitted to the intensive care unit-- a similar ratio as adults. Racial disparities seen in adult patients are also mirrored in children: The rates of hospitalization among Hispanic and Black children are nearly eight and five times higher, respectively, than the rate in White children.

Even though the virus that causes covid-19 is transmitted through the respiratory system, that’s not all it affects. The virus can cause damage to multiple organs in children, just as it does to adults. There is even a rare but serious associated disease specific to children that we are just beginning to understand, the multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). In a New England Journal of Medicine study, 92 percent of children with this syndrome experience effects on their gastrointestinal system and 80 percent on their cardiovascular system. Some develop coronary artery aneurysms. There are case reports of children suffering from a toxic shock-like multi-organ failure, which has led to death.

Counting Sheep by Nancy Ohanian

It’s also true that children spread covid-19. The largest study involving children and transmission is one from South Korea that traced nearly 60,000 people. It found that children 10 and older transmit the virus at least as well as adults. Children under 10 appeared to transmit it about half as much-- though here the study was limited to only 57 younger children. Another study in JAMA Pediatrics found that children carry just as much virus in their nasal passages in adults; in fact, kids under 5 may carry 10 to 100 times more.

That children can transmit to one another and to adults around them is also evident in a case report from a Georgia summer camp. After a teenage counselor developed symptoms, the camp was shut down. By then, 260 of 344 campers and staff for whom testing data is available had the infection. Among children ages 6 to 10, more than half were infected. More than half of the staff, too, tested positive.

Some who support on-time school reopening point to European countries that have had few outbreaks after resuming in-person instruction. However, these countries undertook many safety measures, including enforcing social distancing and implementing regular testing. They also had far lower rates of covid-19 in the community than we do. A cautionary tale should be Israel, where rapid school reopening with few safeguards contributed to a resurgence across the country. One school had a superspreader event after which 154 students and 26 staff members tested positive. A month after reopening, nearly half of the country’s new infections were thought to have originated in schools.
Short answer: absolutely not-- completely false... another dangerous Trump lie

And countries that botched their school reopenings seem to have kicked off Wave 2. New cases are astronomical in Israel and Spain and rapidly on the rise in France, Germany and the U.K. These are the new cases for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in countries where Wave II seems to have started:
Spain +2,873 ---> +3,632 ---> +3,172
Israel +1,720 ---> +1,871 ---> +1,558
Germany +1,219 ---> +1,030 ---> +1,320
Japan +1,207 ---> +938 ---> +1,282
U.K. +816 ---> +1,148 ---> +1,009
France +785 ---> +1,397 ---> +2,524
Belgium +781 ---> +468 ---> +388
Netherlands +630 ---> +779 ---> +654
A new poll Morning Consult did for Politico indicates that most Americans understand the danger of rapid reopening on schools a lot better than DeVos, Trump and his band of criminal governors do. Among registered voters, the number opposing in-person elementary and high school openings rose from 53% in early July to 59% today.

Writing for the NY Times yesterday, Richard Fausset asked facetiously if 925 people quarantined for COVID-10 defines a successful school reopening. He starts off by describing Cherokee County as "a bucolic and politically conservative stretch of suburbs north of Atlanta." The county only gave Hillary 22.7% of its vote in 2016. Two years later-- the so-called "blue wave"-- and Cherokee County was all in on Brian Kemp-- 72.1% to 26.4% for Stacey Abrams. The county performance for the local congressional neo-fascist crackpot Barry Loudermilk was R+49. You got the picture? So they opened their schools idiotically and immediately, the kids started getting COVID-- in all 10 elementary schools. Over 900 in the first week (students and staff) and one of the high schools re-closed.

Trump counties in rural and suburban Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Indiana have been reopened for two weeks. "Students and teachers," wrote Fausset, "have immediately tested positive, sending others into two-week quarantines and creating whiplash for schools that were eager to open, only to have to consider closing again right away. All of this has only further divided communities where parents and teachers have passionately disagreed over the safety of reopening. 'This is exactly what we expected to happen,' said Allison Webb, 44, who quit her job as a Spanish and French teacher in the district because of her concerns about reopening schools, and who put her daughter, a senior, in the district’s remote-learning program. 'It’s not safe' to return to the classrooms now, Ms. Webb said. But to Jenny Beth Martin, who wanted schools to reopen-- even appealing directly to President Trump in a visit to the White House-- the district’s return has been a rousing success. 'I think that the opening plan is working,' said Ms. Martin, a district parent and co-founder of the national Tea Party Patriots, a conservative political group. 'They’re checking, they’re making sure when people have tested positive that they’re watching the exposure and spread.'"
Cherokee County had its own firestorm. A photo taken outside Etowah High School on the first day back showed scores of students crowded shoulder to shoulder, smiling and unmasked. A similar photo from Sequoyah High School was also posted to social media. Beneath the photo, a commenter wrote, “Most of these kids are gonna be sick in the next few days … was it really worth it to appease the anti-mask parents? At what cost?”

The county’s reopening plan was unanimously approved by the school board on July 9. Families could choose online or in-person, five-days-a-week instruction, and masks would be encouraged, but not required, for the district’s 42,500 students.

Opposition began to coalesce almost immediately. Ms. Webb, the foreign language teacher, organized a group on Facebook called Educators for Common Sense and Safety. The group started an online petition asking for, among other things, a mask mandate for students and a delayed start to allow time to rework schedules, classrooms and the curriculum “to be safe and engaging for our students.” It attracted more than 1,100 signatures.

In mid-July, the group, which Ms. Webb said currently counts hundreds of members, picketed outside a board meeting. A former English teacher, Miranda Wicker, 38, became its spokesperson-- a necessity, she said, because current teachers lacked union protection and feared retaliation if they spoke out.

“They’re terrified,” Ms. Wicker said. “They’re being asked, literally, to risk their lives.”

...Late last month, Ms. Martin was an organizer of a Washington news conference featuring people who identified themselves as doctors and who made misleading statements about the coronavirus, including unsupported claims that the drug hydroxychloroquine was an effective treatment. Mr. Trump tweeted a video of the event, which was later removed from major social media platforms on the grounds that it was spreading misinformation.

In early July, when the school board approved reopening, case tallies in Cherokee County, with about 260,000 people, had only begun to rise after remaining flat and relatively low-- an average of about 10 new confirmed cases a day-- for most of June. Since then, though, the numbers have climbed steadily, mirroring the state as a whole, with the county averaging more than 90 new confirmed cases daily over the past week. Sixty-four people in the county have died of Covid-19, including eight in the past week.

...Ms. Morrison said she and her husband do not wear masks either. “I feel like before we’re even born, God has a plan for when he’s going to take us to heaven,” she said. “There’s nothing we can do to stop it.”

Labels: , , , ,

The Behavior Of The Airlines Makes The Case For Letting Them Go Bankrupt And Forcing Them To Reorganize Under New, Less Predatory Management


There was some sympathy in Congress to let the airlines go bankrupt, but that never got off the ground. Last April the Washington Post noted that the airlines had received more than $12 billion in taxpayer funds as part of the $25 billion they were granted in the first pandemic relief package. Republicans-- including Susan Collins (ME), Steve Daines (MT), Cory Gardner (CO) and Martha McSally (AZ)-- are demanding we give them another $25 billion in the next package.

Pelosi and Schumer are perfectly happy to go along with this and there's probably nothing to stop it. Let's hope they at least use their acquiescence as a bargaining chip to get something working families actually need. As NY-27 congressional candidate Nate McMurray told me today, "We need Republican lawmakers to realize that the people that make our economy move aren't executives or corporate lobbies. Everyday people do and that's who we need to provide relief to. I've advocated for UBI. This is a conscious-shifting moment where the $600 pandemic unemployment gave people a taste of not only how UBI could work, but also that it's possible. People have been able to care for their families, do mutual aid and community work, be creative, and not feel the pressures of productivity that constantly harps on working people. We need to take this moment and fight for the supports we're owed. We need to stand strong against Republicans who would like to see us all in precarious positions." Chris Jacobs, his own opponent, a right-wing dog born into a family of billionaires, is one of those Republicans who has no problem seeing the rest of us falling into precarious positions. It helps drive down labor costs.

Airline have been, generally, terrible corporate citizens. Basically they don't care if their passengers (and employees) all die-- as long as they don't die on the planes. It's all about the stock price for the vultures who manage these companies. They're reducing flights and cramming people into planes again and many of them are being very lax about masks. Yesterday, Wall Street Journal reporter Scott McCartney wrote how that the Airlines Are Withholding Billions in Refunds-- That's Billions With a B. "Refunds delayed and denied," he began. "Vouchers worth thousands of dollars that have already expired, or are so rule-bound they’re useless. Interminable telephone holds, unanswered emails and complaints ignored. Consumers continue to battle airlines over canceled tickets. At stake are literally billions of dollars-- and likely lasting animosity toward airlines over punitive policies." Yeah, there is definitely a lot of that going around.
The U.S. Transportation Department warned that any airline operating in the U.S., foreign or domestic, had to refund tickets for flights the airline canceled and couldn’t offer an alternative without a “substantial” schedule change. But many international carriers have offered only vouchers. Some forced consumers into accepting vouchers before the airline officially removed flights from its schedule. Some have delayed paying refunds while waiting for government bailouts or new investment.

Worse, some have tried duplicitous methods to pocket expensive tickets, offering nothing in return. Italian carrier Alitalia, for example, told Ellen Schiller that her family of five were considered no-shows for a March 8 Boston-to-Rome flight and therefore ineligible for both refund and voucher. They spent more than $3,000 on the tickets.

Ms. Schiller says she called Alitalia twice before the departure to cancel the trip, but the airline suggested not canceling in hopes the flight would be canceled-- the only way they’d be eligible for a refund. She says she made it clear they were canceling because it was obvious Italy was closing down. The March 8 flight took off. On March 9 Italy imposed a national quarantine.

The Schillers appealed to their credit card company for a refund to no avail. They appealed to Alitalia, but a customer-service representative suggested they should have rebooked to a random date in late March hoping that flight would get canceled and they could get a refund.

“The runaround we got was insane,” Mrs. Schiller says. Alitalia was “intentionally evasive, difficult, and clearly trying to avoid providing a refund or a credit. I believe they were counting on my giving up hope.”

An Alitalia spokeswoman confirmed two late February calls from the Schillers but said they didn’t officially cancel. Still, the airline said even though it had previously declined to issue vouchers, it would now do so thanks to an “updated” policy.

The Alitalia example shows how airlines have essentially been making up their own rules to hold on to customer cash. Some carriers, including Colombia’s Avianca, Chile’s Latam and the United Kingdom’s Virgin Atlantic, have filed for bankruptcy reorganization in the U.S. Some, like Israel’s El Al, have suspended all operations and are looking for a rescue plan. El Al’s website states: “All flight tickets for canceled flights are currently frozen, and you will be able to use them in the future.”

The DOT has been in direct communication “with the largest U.S. and foreign airlines, and other airlines that received a large number of refund complaints, to ensure compliance with the law,” a spokeswoman says. The pressure has resulted in passengers receiving refunds after first being denied them.

DOT is “first providing airlines an opportunity to come into compliance and issue refunds. However, the department will take enforcement action against noncompliant airlines if necessary,” the spokeswoman says.

The feds did pressure United into rolling back its policy that denied refunds to likely millions of customers. Before the pandemic, United’s policy was to offer the option of a refund for canceled flights if the airline couldn’t offer alternative flights within two hours. It changed that to six hours. DOT has long held that airlines couldn’t change the terms on tickets after they sold them.

In June, United changed its policy back to two hours and said customers forced to take vouchers instead of refunds for flights the airline canceled could now get a refund. But they’d have to call—the airline wouldn’t reach out to them.

That was welcome news to Gerald Brown of Pebble Beach, California, who wanted a refund on two business-class tickets between San Francisco and London that cost him $5,354. But United denied his refund request.

On Saturday, a day after receiving questions about Mr. Brown’s case, United said it was issuing him a refund. His appeal in July had been denied “because it was interpreted as a voluntary change,” a spokesman says. “Our mistake.”

Says Mr. Brown: “Cows do fly.”

Another frustration for consumers: The terms airlines have imposed on vouchers. Though many airlines have given customers a year or more to use vouchers, it still can be tough to redeem them.

Stuart Krawll of St. Louis spent more than $10,000 on American Airlines tickets for a family trip to St. Thomas for 14 people. He paid for all the tickets. Any refund would go back to his credit card. But with vouchers, each passenger gets the credit, regardless of who paid. Only the ticketed passenger can fly on that voucher.

Mr. Krawll’s seven grandchildren-- the youngest between 3 and 7-- each have a voucher. The family trip likely won’t be rescheduled anytime soon because of the complexity of getting schedules lined up. Instead, Mr. Krawll and his wife have several overseas trips planned for 2021 and 2022 for which they’d like to use the vouchers.

“Airlines should let the voucher credits flow back to whoever paid for the tickets,” Mr. Krawll says. Flexibility in this case, he notes, “costs them nothing.”

American says it will make an exception for Mr. Krawll and give him one credit to use. American is making exceptions to its policy, trying to take care of customers in the pandemic, but stressed this was a one-time exception for Mr. Krawll because so much was tied up in tickets for minors.

Frontier has a 90-day expiration on its vouchers-- a significant gotcha, since so many are uncertain when they will start traveling again.

Cynthia Blouch learned just how costly that could be in July when she went to redeem her $4,593 Frontier credit left over from a canceled spring break family trip for five from Cleveland to Cancún. Frontier’s website said, “the credit you are trying to use has no value.”

Ms. Blouch had spent several weeks unsuccessfully trying to reach a customer service representative to book new flights before the expiration. Calls went unanswered or were disconnected. She couldn’t find an email address for Frontier customer service. “It has been very frustrating,” she says.

Frontier spokesman Zach Kramer says the airline decided to reinstate Ms. Blouch’s credit for 48 hours so she could rebook for a later date, which she did right away for next April.

Mr. Kramer noted that the airline’s schedule is open for booking through September 2021. Frontier is working with customers “to accommodate their travel wishes, within our policies,” he says.
Looks like the only way to get your money back from these crooks is to get a Wall Street Journal reporter to put your story in an article. The airlines hate bad p.r.-- especially in any way it could tank their stocks, many of which are owned by the senators who are trying to bail them out with our money.

Labels: ,

Does a Republican Have To Win Before a Progressive Can Run for the White House?


Is the Democratic Party transitioning its base from working people and progressives to #NeverTrump Republicans and whoever this guy represents?

by Thomas Neuburger

In the wake of Kamala Harris's pick as Joe Biden VP, I want to look again at something I covered in June (see "What's the Earliest a Progressive Democrat Can Be Elected President?"). There I made the following assumptions:

Because no progressive Democrat will run in the primary against an incumbent Democratic president, either the Party must be reformed — or a Republican must first take the White House — before a progressive can win the presidency.

Will the Democratic Party self-reform? Can it be reformed by others? Opinions vary on that. Those looking at the election of AOC, Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush and the near election of Bernie Sanders in 2016 and 2020 would say "Yes, we just need to keep pushing."

On the other hand, those looking at what looks like the start of AOC's "acquiescence" to Party leaders (see Ryan Grim's discussion of that here); the lock-grip that Obama, through Biden and now Harris, seems to have on Party decision-making; and what looks like the deliberate transitioning of the Party from a base that supports the AOCs and Bernie Sanders of the world to a party that welcomes John Kasich to its Convention, George Bush to its circle of love, and Nicolle Wallace, Bush's White House Communications Director, to a choice two-hour slot on its house news network, MSNBC — those people see a different picture, a picture of solidifying, not loosening, neoliberal control.

Those differing opinions vary by demographic. That is, the closer one is to Democratic Party politics, even as a strong progressive, the more likely that person is to see reform in the headlights, just about to happen. The further one is to Democratic Party politics — the more one dwells in the world of the plebes, the civilians, the mass of voters and non-voters — the more the prospect of reform seems left in the dust, a diminishing dot in the Party's rear-view mirror.

Even mainstream writers like Thomas Frank ask (I'm paraphrasing), Which party represents the lower 90%, the workers of the country? Which represents the people? And they answer, Neither.

Is it possible a viable, non-fringe progressive Democrat will challenge an incumbent Democrat for the presidency? I have yet to see it, the Party wouldn't allow it, and the rules of the game, which place a premium on playing within Party leaders' boundaries, don't permit it.

To confirm this idea, note that even the "rebel" AOC failed to endorse Cori Bush, running against incumbent Democrat Lacy Clay, an endorsement that, had the race been close in Lacy Clay's direction, might have mattered. The record of Bernie Sanders' ultimate acquiescence to Barack Obama and surrender to Joe Biden makes the same point.

Which leaves us with this: A progressive will run a viable primary campaign only if no incumbent Democrat is in the race. That means the public might be offered a progressive option:

• In 2024, if Biden loses to Trump.
• In 2028, if Biden wins and Harris loses in 2024.
• In 2032, if Biden wins, Harris wins in 2024, but loses in 2028.
• In 2036 or later in all other cases.

No one wants Trump to win, which means 2028 at the earliest, and that's only if a Republican is elected in 2024. Not a charming prospect.

Inside-the-box thinking says that challenging Party leaders must not overly disrupt the Party itself, a party that neoliberal leaders almost completely control. This is where inside-the-box thinking has gotten us — a Biden-Harris ticket and no one else with any chance of winning to vote for.

Perhaps out-of-the-box thinking is needed next time around, something along "in your face" and "open rebellion" lines. Careful, respectful, quiet and "polite" rebellion may just not be enough to fix what ails us, what's already gone so wrong in the only country we have to live our lives in.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

An Editorial By Haydar Khan-- Essential Sacrifice


Teacher unions are misreading the moment. The time to strike is under a Biden regime.

America society has suffered immensely since the outbreak of Covid–19. Fragilities and inadequacies have been revealed and magnified in multiple facets of U.S. society. We have supply-chain deficiencies. We have professional incompetence. We have bipartisan political incompetence. There are tens of millions of unemployed who are about to lose temporary support that has been meager from the start. Our for-profit healthcare systems are under stress. The university and college systems are teetering, having been brought to this point by a bloated administrative class, high costs, and a weakened faculty whose members struggle to hold on to their positions. Many other parts of society are also strained by the pandemic. However, there is one facet of American society that I would like to draw special attention to: the public K-12 educational system.

As someone who has taught at multiple levels of the educational system in the United States, I can personally attest to the stress and anxiety that pervaded the public K-12 system prior to the pandemic. The lack of teacher autonomy, Fordist curriculum standards, seemingly endless clerical work, inadequate supplies, slow erosion of benefits and pay, and baseless scapegoating of teachers have transformed teaching into an increasingly unpleasant experience. Covid-19 may lead to the collapse of this much-weakened educational system or may, as impossible as it may seem at this bleak moment in American history, lead to a rebirth.

Volumes have been written about the never-ending assault by the oligarchy and corporations upon the kindergarten through high school system. From the Koch family to Bill Gates, a menagerie of enemies have been chipping away at this particular public good. We even have an education secretary, Betsy DeVos, who is a proud member of this infernal club. An endless wave of “accountability” measures, coupled with the Democratic Party’s betrayals of teachers by embracing neoliberal educational “reforms” have pushed K–12 to the wall; Covid–19 is magnifying the misery. Teachers were forced into emergency distance- learning mode during the initial outbreak in the U.S. The situation was far from optimal for teachers, students, and parents and was meant to be a temporary stopgap measure. Now teachers and students face the resumption of in-class coursework for the ensuing year, and many are terrified. Indeed, many teachers are so terrified by the threat of the virus that they may respond to Trump with tactics such as sickouts or strikes. This could be a fatal mistake for the teacher unions.

According a recent Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll (July 23rd), 60% of parents surveyed indicated they would prefer to wait to reopen schools due to infection risks. Some teachers and progressives interpret results such as this as a signal that now is the time to strike back against President Trump’s pressure to reopen schools. However, in the same poll, parents expressed concerns about the consequences of not returning to in-school instruction: “However, if schools don’t reopen, about two thirds say they worry about their children falling behind socially and emotionally (67%) and academically (65%). About half say they worry about losing income because they can’t go to work (51%) and not being able to pay enough attention to their kids while working at home (47%).” These seemingly contradictory results indicate that a strike wave may not have the support of the public.

Speaking of polls, Trump’s polling numbers are terrible due to his pathetic response to the pandemic, and he is desperate to drive his numbers up. Some commentators have theorized various “October Surprise” strategies that could boost Trump. One theory is that Trump could go to war with Iran, a reckless move that could send Trump into political oblivion. Another theory is Trump could hastily release a Covid–19 vaccine before Election Day, delivering a knockout punch to Biden. However, polling conducted on this issue indicates that this might not be the “game changer” Trump may be hoping for. In what may be yet another attempt at setting up for a campaign resuscitation, Trump is spinning himself as a “law and order” president set against violent protesters, as evidenced by the recent appearance of federal law enforcement officers in Portland, Oregon, and other epicenters of protest. It remains to be seen if Trump can get a poll bounce from such a strategy, but it certainly bears watching.

It is in this political context that Trump may view a war on teachers as another potentially beneficial election-year ploy. As indicated by the Kaiser poll, it isn’t clear that teachers would have the backing of parents in the event of a nationwide strike campaign against a premature return to in-class instruction. Indeed, Trump may be hoping for a chance to re-enact a “Reagan versus the air traffic controllers” scenario, using the threat of withholding Covid relief funds and parental resentment instead of Taft-Hartley, finishing what Reagan began in 1981 by delivering a death blow to, in this case, the teachers’ unions. Silicon Valley and the school-choice movement are waiting in the wings, and this could be their moment of victory.

What are teachers to do? We’re now caught in a double bind between Trumpian threats and parents who are at the mercy of a neoliberal job market.

The answer comes in two parts. First, teachers must keep the strike powder dry and march back into the classroom. It would be wonderful if the U.S. educational system would emulate measures taken by countries such as Germany or Denmark but this will not happen while Trump is the president. We must refuse the Trumpian baiting and show solidarity with all of the other essential workers who are being forced back into the Covid–19 storm. This is a physically hazardous course of action, but public sympathy is critical for teachers to have a win. If Covid erupts among the teachers and students, as it did in Israel upon a return to physical instruction, Trump will be forced to take ownership for this failure and the educational system will revert to virtual learning anyway. The second part? Trump is a drowning fool, reaching desperately for anything to save his political career. By depriving him of a potential rescue, teachers will likely have Joe Biden in the White House come January. After Biden is firmly ensconced and presumably implements effective pandemic control measures, it is at this time that teachers should unleash the strike weapon and force the Democratic Party to come to terms with their neglect of organized labor and the working class.

For too long, the mainstream of the Democratic Party has taken organized labor for granted. An unchallenged Biden would likely follow the path of neoliberal Barack Obama, who promised much and delivered little to organized labor. Therefore, teachers must force Biden’s hand. It will not be easy for a political party that represents itself as a champion of American public education to resist actual labor militancy.

Would Biden dare mimic Reagan against a core part of his constituency? I think it highly unlikely and, even if he does, the fallout from such an action could be fatal for a party that is increasingly seen as a bunch of do-nothing corporate stooges. The demands must be ambitious, ranging from passing the Employee Free Choice Act, which would allow workers organize a union through a simple majority sign-up procedure, to increased funding for education and other public goods. From a seemingly precarious position, teachers actually have a chance to strike a blow for essential workers and children across the nation and teach the Democratic Party a lesson.

Labels: , , ,

Midnight Of The Day!


by Noah

Leave it to Traitor Don to turn 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue into East Berlin. With his love of all things Russia, it fits. What's next? Guard towers, barbed wire, and landmines? Maybe a giant, 200 foot statue of Dear Leader designed to loom over the White House and everything it once stood for? These things are all part of the authoritarian dictatorship dreams indulged in (and very rapidly becoming horrific reality) by the people who currently infest the White House. Unlike the Saddam Hussein imitator that lives in that house, the picture doesn't lie. This is a monument to the Republican Party 2020.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Like Art? Hate Trump? Check Out The Dynamic, Inspiring "Enough Of Trump Campaign"


Working with a stellar group of top shelf American artists, People for the American Way just launched a new program, "Enough of Trump," based on a simple concept: artists using art to convey what they have had “enough” of in the Trump era and to inspire the public to vote in November. The issues driving artists’ response to Trump include his inflaming of racial tensions, encouraging violent and deadly policing, and his failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan is to put up billboards 3 swing states: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, like this Shepard Fairey piece, Enough Monarchy, We Need Democracy! 2020

The launch includes works by Carrie Mae Weems, whose concept was key to the project, Shepard Fairey, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Jeffrey Gibson, Mark Thomas Gibson, Deborah Kass, Christine Sun Kim, Takaaki Matsumoto, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Beverly McIver, Sam Messer, Ed Ruscha, Alyson Shotz, Hank Willis Thomas, and Cayetano Valenzuela.

by LaToya Ruby Frazier

Ben Jealous, president of People for the American Way told the media that "This project couldn’t be more timely. Our country is in crisis over the racial injustice, economic disaster and public health emergency that have all been amplified and exacerbated by Donald Trump.  The 'Enough of Trump' campaign captures this moment through art in a way that is both unique and complementary to the activism going on in the streets."

PFAW explained that. "The campaign aims to motivate people across the country, especially in the key Electoral College swing states, to share and create 'Enough'-themed art and to get involved in advocacy and electoral organizing that will ultimately lead to defeating Trump in November. As it unfolds, it will include creative opportunities for the public to engage in creating their own works to deliver the messages of 'Enough' and 'Vote.' Plans include displaying the messages on union halls, at protests, on face masks, on billboards, and on store windows shuttered by COVID. The campaign website, which features a gallery of downloadable images of the artworks, links to volunteer and activism opportunities across the country, resources for getting registered to vote, and a portal to purchase artworks, can be found here. In the coming months, in-person and digital engagement opportunities will include exhibits, webinars, opportunities to join artists online as they engage in the creative process, participatory public events to transform outdoor spaces with the 'Enough of Trump' theme, community-building activities on social media, distribution of 'Enough' themed merchandise and more."

by Ed Ruscha

Carrie Mae Weems: "Artists have played a leading role in social change movements for centuries. In creating art that expresses what we have had ‘enough’ of in the Trump era, we can address the corruption, ignorance, and racism that are so devastating to so many of us. I add my voice alongside many other artists to say definitively that we reject Trump and all that he stands for. Enough is ENOUGH." 

by Carrie Mae Weens

Labels: , ,

Desperate House Republicans Are Spending Millions To Defend Vulnerable Incumbents, Money They Planned To Use To Attack Democrats


This is a Republican ad-- but who will it help and who will it harm?

The Kevin McCarthy-controlled Congressional Leadership Fund went into the 2020 cycle with some kind of delusion that they would be able to go on the offensive and win back the seats they lost in 2018 and thereby the House majority. At some point they appear to have stopped drinking the ayahuasca that Bolsonaro gave them and realized they need some paddles to get back down shit's creek before it's too late. They're not winning back any of those seats until 2024. Now there's still a massive anti-red wave and McCarthy has ordered them to start playing defense.

Politico's Ally Mutnick reported Monday morning that the PAC just dumped another $45 million into TV and digital ads in 40 districts, doubling their investment in the cycle so far-- but much of it to defend hysterical House Republicans who see their careers slipping away.

Ironically-- but not surprisingly-- virtually all of their incumbent Democratic targets are from the Republican-wing of the House Democrats, the ones who vote most frequently with the GOP on crucial votes, which makes them vulnerable to attack. Every one of their targets has an "F" score from ProgressivePunch (except Debbie Mucarsel-Powell who has a "D" instead of an "F"):
Kendra Horn (Blue Dog-OK-- $3.6 million) R+10
Ben McAdams (Blue Dog-UT-- 3.1 million) R+13
Anthony Brindisi (Blue Dog-NY-- $4.9 million) R+6
Xochitl Torres Small (Blue Dog-NM-- $4 million) R+6
Joe Cunningham (Blue Dog-SC-- $3.1 million) R+10
Elaine Luria (New Dem-VA-- $2.8 million) R+3
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (New Dem-FL-- $2.7 million) D+6
Susie Lee (New Dem-NV-- $1.9 million) R+2
Harley Rouda (New Dem-CA-- $600,000) R+4
Jared Golden (Blue Dog-ME-- $250,000) D+2
They are also spending against New Dems Lizzie Fletcher in Houston, Colin Allred in Dallas, Abby Spanberger in Virginia and Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne in Iowa.
But McCarthy's SuperPAC is also spending to protect some Republican districts once thought to be safe, like Montana’s at-large district and an open GOP-held seat on Long Island.

...[M]ost of the new markets added in the second wave of reservations cover defensive targets. CLF plans to book $3.2 million in Dallas and $500,000 in deep-red Montana, where Democrats are targeting two open GOP-held seats; and $775,000 in Cincinnati where Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) faces another stiff reelection challenge after turning aside a well-funded opponent last cycle.

The group has also set aside $1.9 million to defend retiring Rep. Pete King’s (R-NY) seat on Long Island-- where the Democratic candidate has a huge cash advantage and polling shows a tightening race.

The new round of TV ad spending comes amid increasing concern among some Republicans that President Donald Trump’s sinking suburban numbers could send them deeper into the House minority. There is a contingent in the party who have urged GOP outside groups to prioritize incumbents and open seats.

...Democrats will be able to go to toe-to-toe with that kind of spending. The incumbents in those seats have massive cash-on-hand advantages over their challengers, and they will also receive help from Democratic groups. House Majority PAC, congressional Democrats’ flagship outside group, is also flush with cash and has reserved $75 million so far.

And the buys do set CLF in a position to play defense in as many as 13 seats, including those held by Chabot and Reps. Jim Hagedorn (R-MN), Mike Garcia (D-CA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Don Bacon (R-NE) and Scott Perry (R-PA), as well as five open seats in Texas, New York, Georgia and Montana.

Texas is set to host a slew of competitive House races this cycle, but CLF notably has not booked in the San Antonio market, which covers the open West Texas swing seat held by retiring GOP Rep. Will Hurd, and the central Texas seat held by Rep. Chip Roy.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has also declined to reserve air time there, and the lack of interest may suggest national Republicans are unsure of whether or not they will defend Hurd’s seat. Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones is running again after coming within 1,000 votes of ousting Hurt in 2018 and has more than $3 million banked. Meanwhile, the GOP nominee is unclear. The July primary runoff is still too close to call after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) made a last-minute foray into the race to block a win by the preferred candidate of House Republican leaders.

There is a growing consensus that Roy, who faces a well-funded challenge from Texas’s former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis, will need help in his reelection. But the conservative Club for Growth has signaled that it will back Roy, lessening the burden on CLF and the NRCC.

The Club is also likely to spend big for Matt Rosendale, the GOP nominee in Montana’s open seat, and for state Del. Nick Freitas, who is challenging Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA). CLF has already booked over $1.5 million in the Richmond, Va., market for Spanberger's seat.

Goal ThermometerAnd $6 million of CLF’s $45 million investment will go toward a GOTV program aimed at juicing up turnout as states increasingly plan to vote-by-mail. This new initiative will focus on reaching potential ticket-splitters in states that will be highly contested at the presidential level as well as low-propensity voters in states not hosting competitive presidential or Senate races.
And, as long as we're on the subject of the 2020 congressional races, I'd be remiss not to mention that Blue America has vetted and endorsed a strong slate of progressive challengers running for the U.S. House. If you click on the Act Blue thermometer on the right, you're not going to find any of the Blue Dogs or New Dems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- just strong, verifiable progressives running on solid platforms. So... if you can, please consider contributing what you can to any-- or all-- of them. "On November 3rd, remember-- it's America or Trump."

Perhaps House Republicans and their SuperPacs and strategists should try getting down to the nitty gritty of what today's new Morning Consult poll showed in terms of who the voters trust to handle their most pressing issues (above). Asked to rate congressional Republicans on their handling of the pandemic, just 29% of voters rated them excellent or good. Congressional Dems were rated excellent or good by 38% of voters; Señor Trumpanzee by 35% of voters (the same as Pence). 61% of voters gave Fauci a good or excellent grade.

Labels: , , ,

You Know How Biden Is Better Than Trump? That's Pretty Much How Jaime Harrison Is Better Than Lindsey Graham


In 2016 Trump carried South Carolina 1,143,611 (54.9%) to 849,469 (40.8%). He won all but 15 of the state's 46 counties. One of the ones Trump lost was Charleston County, the second biggest in the state. Two years later Charlestown elected, albeit narrowly (50.7- 49.3%), a quasi-Democrat, Blue Dog, Joe Cunningham, to Congress. Is South Carolina changing-- enough to elect a Democrat-- a Black Democrat-- to the Senate? Earlier this year, no one thought so. Now-- despite the heavily-populated northwest part of the state, around Greenville, being a fascist-oriented hellhole-- it's looking like there's a slight possibility that Jaime Harrison could replace Lindsey Graham in the Senate. Imagine that!

I noticed that in the CIVIQS poll a few days ago, Trump job approval was barely positive. 49% of South Carolina voters approve of the job he's doing and 48% disapprove. More telling, the new poll of South Carolina voters has Harrison tied with Graham 44-44%. Harrison is leading among self-identified independents 47-37%.

Journalist Lisa Rab took a deep dive into the race for Politico yesterday. She wrote that "College-educated moderates and self-described independents have turned on Trump and their anger is threatening the reelection prospects of one of the president’s most prominent surrogates. 'I’m not gonna vote for any Republican who doesn’t disassociate himself or herself from the Trump political school,' said Andy Savage, a prominent Charleston attorney and moderate who has donated to Graham’s campaigns since at least 2004. Normally, this anger might not be particularly worrisome for Graham. He won reelection in 2014 by a margin of more than 15 percentage points, and he hasn’t had a credible Democratic challenger since he was first elected 18 years ago. But that is not the case this year. The anger at Trump comes at a moment when Graham is facing his most serious opponent yet: an exceptionally well-funded, politically connected, centrist Democrat who is forcing election observers to wonder if South Carolina might, improbably, be in play."

As of their last reports, Graham had raised $29,941,512 and Harrison had raised $28,641,476. Maybe a more important number is 102,130-- the number of South Carolinians who have been confirmed to have COVID-19, which is a staggering 19,836 cases per South Carolinian. Their were 971 more cases announced yesterday-- and well as 49 new deaths, bringing the total deaths to 2,098. Greenville, the heart of Trump country, has had the most deaths-- 198 and rising. South Carolinians who are not part of the GOP death cult are starting to blame Trump and his puppet governor, Henry McMaster.

Harrison has a nice resumé-- at least if you choose to view it positively. He's the first African American chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party and now associate chair of the Democratic National Committee. He worked as a lobbyist for the Podesta Group, one of the top lobbying firms in DC. His clients included a roster of some of America's best-known companies-- Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Berkshire Hathaway and Avenue Capital Management, pharmaceutical companies Merck, gambling giants Caesars and Harrah's, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, Walmart, General Motors, Google, and Lockheed Martin. In the past, he has defended his choice of careers and clients by saying "It's how I pay back the $160,000 of student loan debt." It's better than other career options, I guess. Yesterday, I asked someone close with him how he defends himself from Graham attacks along those lines now-- a lobbyist being the most hated category of professions year after year in Gallup polling? The best I could get was "After 25 years in Washington, Lindsey Graham has changed so much he'll attack a South Carolinian who has lived the American Dream. Graham puts himself first, playing Washington political games, spending special interest dollars on luxury travel overseas, and voting to keep lobbyist funded perks for himself." Sounds like it was focus group-tested.

I also asked the same person what Harrison's campaign says when Graham accuses him of being Chuck Schumer's handpicked candidate. "Jaime Harrison," he told me, "chose to run to put South Carolina first. He grew up poor in Orangeburg and knows what it's like to struggle and the pitfalls of the current system.Jaime is running to fight for opportunity for all South Carolinians, and he’s willing to work with anyone to do it." I guess that works-- as long as there's no follow-up question. Besides, the GOP line this year is that every Democrat is a socialist and best friends with Pelosi and AOC and Bernie. Normal people laugh that off-- and nothing is going to persuade brainwashed Fox viewers otherwise.

Ran wrote that "Donors and political experts agree Harrison’s path to victory is a narrow one. 'If Graham’s fortunes are closely tied to Trump’s ... then, for Graham to lose, you either have to predict a Trump loss in South Carolina (which would precipitate a Graham loss) or a situation in which Trump wins in South Carolina and many Trump supporters either vote against Graham, or don’t vote in the Senate race,' Scott Huffmon, political science professor and executive director of the Center for Public Opinion & Policy Research at Winthrop University, said in an email. FiveThirtyEight’s average of polls now puts Trump ahead of Joe Biden by 6.4 percent in South Carolina-- half the lead the president held in February before the coronavirus pandemic tanked the nation’s economy. Yet even if Graham’s popularity continues to decline with Trump’s, Harrison still has to convince some crucial constituencies, including wary Black voters conditioned to believe that Democrats have no real chance in South Carolina, that he is the exception. Add to that the challenges of campaigning during a pandemic and Harrison’s path seems especially daunting. But his sizable war chest-- including $10.2 million cash on hand at the end of June-- has the potential to alter the race with a barrage of advertisements that few Democrats have ever been able to afford."
A memo released by Harrison’s campaign in early February laid out a clear, if ambitious, path to victory. He planned to register a quarter of eligible African Americans, mobilize “new and inconsistent” voters of color and “persuade white suburban voters who are already moving away from Republicans.” Harrison was also counting on some Republicans to abandon Graham for more conservative candidates. About 6.6 percent of voters chose Libertarian or independent candidates over Graham six years ago, and there are similar candidates on the ballot this year who could help Harrison’s cause.

...The question remains whether Harrison can turn the anger at Graham into votes for him. That will mean flipping independents and moderates who have historically had no trouble voting for a Main Street conservative who worked across the aisle on issues like immigration and climate change.

Andy Savage, who leans Democrat but has donated to candidates in both parties, said he supported Graham from his first election because “I just thought he was a really good person. I still think the world of him, I just don’t understand what’s happened to him.”

His disillusionment began with Graham’s “disgraceful” treatment of John McCain. As McCain was dying, Graham went golfing with Trump, whom McCain hated and later forbade from attending his funeral. Trump continued to attack McCain after his death, and Graham, who had once called Trump a “kook” and a “bigot,” was criticized for not defending his friend forcefully enough. “I’m not into this idea the only way you can help honor John McCain is to trash out Trump,” Graham told CNN in March 2019.

Savage didn’t see it that way. “[Graham] promoted that friendship politically, and then to really just turn his back on him after he died-- that didn’t go well with me,” he said. Then he watched Graham explode in anger at the Kavanaugh hearings and take a “strong right-hand turn that’s hard to explain.” It would be one thing if Graham’s allegiance to Trump had translated into some kind of benefit for South Carolina, Savage said, but “I don’t see that. All I see is something for him.”

“It’s sort of an insult to all of us who supported him,” Savage said. “We thought that he was such a good, moderate leader of the country.” Now Savage has donated $2,200 to Harrison, whom he calls a “cheerleader for those who have been left out.”

Johnny Hagins, a Greenville attorney and former state legislator, served on Graham’s finance committee when he ran for president in 2016. He’s a moderate Republican who finds Trump “repugnant” but is not sure whether he’ll vote for Graham this year. “What bothers me about him is his support of Trump,” Hagins said. “On the other hand, if we want our way about something, it’s good to have him.”

...Hagins is certain the women in his family won’t vote for Graham. Like a lot of women, Republicans included, they were turned off by his behavior at the Kavanaugh hearings. Hagins’ wife, Priscilla, has already donated $200 to Harrison’s campaign.

The State newspaper in Columbia has identified at least 24 South Carolina donors who have defected from Graham to Harrison. The most prominent among them is [Richard] Wilkerson, the former Michelin North America CEO who met Harrison during his lobbying days. In an op-ed in the Greenville News, Wilkerson explained that he supported Graham until 2017 because he saw him as “a moderate Republican who could work across the aisle to get positive change made.” But Graham’s perceived failure to defend McCain angered Wilkerson, as did his support for Trump’s 2017 tax bill, which “disproportionately favored those who are financially well off.” Finally, he disagreed with Graham’s attempts to delay the March coronavirus relief package because he felt the unemployment benefits were too generous. “Apparently, he feels that it is OK to share government dollars with those who don’t truly need the money but deny any small windfall to working people who have lost their jobs,” Wilkerson wrote.

In recent months, Harrison has picked up on this theme, emphasizing the impact Covid-19 has had on his state’s most vulnerable citizens. He often cites a Washington Post analysis, which found that South Carolina’s businesses received the smallest Paycheck Protection Program loans per worker of any state in the nation. He points out that most Black businesses haven’t received those loans, and, as of late June, 160,000 households with school-age children didn’t have access to the internet, according to the South Carolina Department of Education. In late July, Harrison held a news conference calling for virtual schooling to be an option for all students and for the Republican governor, Henry McMaster, to issue a mask mandate. He also criticized Graham for opposing the extension of unemployment benefits under the CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill passed in March to address the impact of coronavirus on the economy. “We're gonna constantly remind people that he hasn’t done anything,” Harrison told me. “I have never seen such a dereliction of duty in my life.”

...Harrison’s policy stances generally avoid the far left. He has not advocated to defund the police or apologized for his work as a lobbyist. His platform on health care—in favor of expanding Medicaid and protecting rural hospitals, but against a completely government-run health care system—is in line with the national party and Biden. Harrison tweeted his support for "Medicare for All" in February 2019, but later explained he supports a public option, alongside government insurance. Still, he’s too liberal for Graham’s taste. Arrighi calls the closure of rural hospitals “one of the many negative legacies of Obamacare,” and says Medicaid expansion is a decision made by state leaders, not senators. Arrighi also pointed out that Harrison has accepted campaign donations from, which has petitions on its website advocating to defund the police. “Sen. Graham has made it crystal-clear that defunding the police is insane,” Arrighi said.

As protests over the killing of George Floyd convulsed the nation, Harrison published an op-ed in The Root that cast the struggle for racial justice as deeply personal rather than political. He talked about his grandmother watching the KKK march through her neighborhood, and the murder of his friend, state Senator Clementa Pinckney, during a racist church massacre five years ago. Above all, he worried about his young sons. The thought of having “the talk” about police brutality with them “rips my heart out,” he told me later. Yet the policy proposals in his op-ed were hardly revolutionary: “toughen hate crime legislation, end private prisons and cash bail, and train law enforcement officials on implicit bias.”

This middle-of-the-road platform helps Harrison court moderate voters. Quattlebaum said he appreciates Harrison’s humble roots, his support for the military and his emphasis on improving infrastructure in South Carolina. “I don't think he’s so left wing,” he said. “There’s not anything from a policy perspective that makes me think there’s no way I can support that.”
And nowhere in the Politico story-- let alone in Harrison's campaign-- is there a hint that Lindsey Graham is a deceitful and severely conflicted closet case, something that is universally known in DC and fairly well-known in South Carolina. I can't imagine Harrison's ultra-generic, campaign-in-a-box would get anywhere near it. It would be smart of them, though to drive a wedge between Graham and Republican voters in other ways. This kind of thing would be helpful for them to emphasize:

Labels: , , ,