Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Are The Protest Demonstrations Going To Make The Pandemic Worse While President Dunsel Looks On Impotently?


In his Bloomberg News column yesterday, Jonathan Bernstein noted that as America's upheaval mounts, Trump has no plan and recalled "The Ultimate Computer" episode from Star Trek (above) in which a rival captain calls Kirk "Captain Dunsel" after a fancy new computer takes control of the Enterprise, making Kirk superfluous; Spock explains that "dunsel" was cadet slang for "a part which serves no useful purpose."

"This," wrote Bernstein, was "Donald Trump’s President Dunsel weekend. Not, as in the original, because he had been replaced; Trump simply seems to have given up on the job. He’s had no policy on the pandemic for about a month now. He basically has no policy on recovering from the economic calamity. And he has no policy to deal with the police violence, demonstrations and the rest of the upheaval that has gripped the nation for the past week. As Philip Rucker put it in the Washington Post:"
Never in the 1,227 days of Trump’s presidency has the nation seemed to cry out for leadership as it did Sunday, yet Trump made no attempt to provide it.

That was by design. Trump and some of his advisers calculated that he should not speak to the nation because he had nothing to say, according to a senior administration official. He had no tangible policy or action to announce, nor did he feel an urgent motivation to try to bring people together. So he stayed silent.
"He did have his Twitter account, of course," Bernstein reminded his audience, "and he made a few comments to reporters over the weekend. But that was far from policy. At one point, Trump echoed civil-rights era reactionaries by threatening “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” only to back down when Republicans urged him to. That is, even when all Trump has is words, he’s easily rolled by his own allies. (They’re not willing to remove him from office, partly because they know how easy he is to defeat any time they want to.) By Sunday, he had moved to one of his favorite devices, the fictional tough stand. This one was a tweet about designating “ANTIFA” a terrorist organization, something the president very likely doesn’t have the power to do. It joins other fictional tough stands such as his threat to shut down Twitter or to order state governments to exempt churches from distancing rules. It’s all phony, bluster instead of policy... President Dunsel, indeed."

Death Of A Salesman by Nancy Ohanian

Sunday another Bernstein, Lenny-- presumably related to neither Jared nor the actual Lenny-- addressed the widespread concerns about the renewed spread of the coronavirus through the demonstrations against racism and police brutality. With infections going down in cities like New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Newark, no one is eager to see anything spark new outbreaks. With the country hurtling towards 2 million cases, in states where the pandemic is getting stronger-- like in California, Texas, Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia, Virginia, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada Ohio, Indiana and Alabama-- people are legitimately wondering if the demonstrations are going to make things even worse. Don't look towards President Dunsel for any answers-- let alone guidance or hope.

Bernstein reminded his readers that "The rules of the covid-19 pandemic, so recently learned at considerable inconvenience, have been discarded on the streets in recent days. Protesters frequently find it impossible to stay six feet apart, to avoid hand-to-hand contact or to dodge the respiratory droplets of their shouting, chanting comrades amid the swirling chaos. And because the virus can be spread by people with no symptoms, it can be impossible to figure out whom to avoid. Officials are clearly worried about the possible impact of the protests on the health crisis. As of Sunday, the United States had recorded 1.7 million coronavirus infections and 103,000 covid-19 deaths-- a disproportionate number of them black and brown people."

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said she is concerned about renewed outbreaks caused by large demonstrations in the nation’s capital. And Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) urged her city’s demonstrators to seek tests for the virus as soon as possible.

“If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week,” Bottoms said at a news conference Saturday. “There is still a pandemic in America that’s killing black and brown people at higher numbers.”

Experts said it remains to be seen whether the protests will produce a surge in infections. Given the behavior on the street, they said, there is cause for concern.

“Crowded protests, like any large gathering of people in a close space, can help facilitate the spread of covid-19, which is why it’s so important participants wear masks, eye protection and bring hand-gel,” Saskia Popescu, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, wrote in an email.

“Shouting and screaming, as some studies have shown with singing, can project droplets farther, which makes the use of masks... and eye protection... that much more important.”

...Linsey Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, who specializes in airborne transmission of viruses, said that even when people are crowded against each other, it takes time to transmit the virus in significant amounts-- especially outdoors. She said she would worry if the density of the crowd approximated the conditions of packed seats in a basketball arena, and if people did not move much for at least a half-hour.

Mask-wearing by infected people would cut down on the spread of respiratory droplets, offering some protection to people nearby. Unless they are rated N95 or better, however, masks offer only limited protection against the microscopic virus for the people wearing them.

On the streets in recent days, many protesters, police and reporters appeared to be wearing masks, though some did not. Some police officers also wore plastic face shields.

“Outdoor contact is far, far less risky than indoor contact,” said Tom Frieden, former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “When outdoors within 6 feet, a mask will further reduce risk.”
2020 America

Shouting projects droplets farther than speaking, however. The best-known incident of this means of infection came in March, when 53 members of a Washington state choir were infected during a single rehearsal by droplets expelled while they sang. Two of them died.

Even ordinary speech can send out droplets that carry virus. One research group found these can linger for eight minutes-- and possibly much longer-- in stagnant air under laboratory conditions. The study could help explain why infections so often occur in houses, nursing homes, conferences, cruise ships and other confined spaces with limited air circulation.

The report, from researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the University of Pennsylvania, was published in May in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed journal.

Frieden raised one other aspect of the protests that may contribute to the spread of the virus: the breakdown of trust in government. “Successful public health requires engagement and trust of the community,” he said.

Some demonstrators said they weighed the risk of covid-19 when deciding whether to attend a protest. Columbia University student Juliet Shatkin, 26, said her friends were “nervous about coronavirus,” so they did not join her during a protest Saturday on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

“It’s scary, but I don’t know,” Shatkin said. “People are mad, and everyone I’ve seen is wearing a mask.”

Elise Barr, a teacher at a child-care center, wore a mask to attend a protest Sunday in Kansas City, Missouri., but she said she was not worried about catching the virus.

Coronavirus is going to have to take a back seat. This movement is about more than that,” she said. “Black people are being murdered.”
"This was a peaceful protest until the cops showed up." Watch:

And for those who think the pandemic is over (because they really, really, really want it to be over... because we've all had enough of it... well, I feel your pain but, no, it's not over. Chris Martenson has cut back his broadcast to just twice a week instead of 5 times a week. I cut out the whole boring beginning-- although, obviously if you want to hear him read his increasingly uninteresting fan letters, you can start from the beginning-- but here's the important stuff from last night's podcast:

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Naming The Names: The Democrats Working With Republicans To Gut Social Security And Medicare


Eva: "Back in 2015, my opponent switched parties from Republican to Democrat. But if you look at his track record, you couldn't tell the difference. He's voted to roll back important banking regulations adopted under Dodd-Frank, weaken the federal minimum wage bill, he accepts corporate PAC money from private health insurance companies and Big Pharma, and now wants to gut two of our most important and most popular safety nets. Clearly, my opponent still bleeds GOP red. Programs like these are essential-- we are seeing it now more than ever.  When I'm in Congress, I will defend and fight to expand Social Security. I will fight for Medicare for All. Our system needs a complete overhaul, and that starts with replacing representatives in Congress who aren't willing to put people first."

Conservative politicians-- entirely clueless and unable to learn from past mistakes, but dramatically-inclined-- many representatives of their own wealthy class-- are already talking the Austerity talk about how to deal with the economic blowback from the dual pandemics-- the coronavirus and Trumpism. Cutting what conservatives love to label "entitlements," as well as services depended on by the non-rich, come immediately to mind. Virtually all Republicans and the entire Republican wing of the Democratic Party, want to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and so on. Well, the Republicans want to eliminate them; the Democraps just want to cut them (liberals).

The nearest parallel is the financial crisis of 2008-- a story of unregulated market failure that in the UK the Conservative government somehow succeeded in turning into a story of state failure in the form of the allegedly spendthrift Labour government preceding them. This enabled it to follow low-spending, deficit-cutting austerity policies that, it’s widely acknowledged, only prolonged the economic pain-- though it did have the desired effect from the government’s perspective of most hurting the people it cared least about, and generally weakening public institutions to which it was ideologically opposed. Justifications for austerity are often informed by the so-called 'household analogy' that a country’s finances are just like those of an individual, debt-averse household-- the idea that ex-Prime Minister Theresa May had in mind when she said 'there is no magic money tree' to increase frozen public sector wages. This time around, plenty of commentators are warning against the siren song of austerity and the 'economically illiterate' household analogy as a response to the forthcoming economic crisis. But there are plenty on the right still trying to sing it. If they succeed once again in pinning the economic storms to come on lazy employees and install another round of austerity, I think I’ll give up whatever vestigial faith I still have in electoral politics.

Ever since Caitlin Emma's tweet promoting her password-protected PoliticoPro article Monday, people have been asking which Democrats are working with the Republicans to compromise Social Security and Medicare under the cover of Trump's ballooning deficit. Here's the letter conservative New Dem Scott Peters (San Diego) and right-wing freak Jodey Arrington (R-TX) sent to Pelosi and McCarthy.

No one wants to say it out loud, but what these people think is a "cure" is to raise the retirement age and reduce benefits, rather than eliminating the cap on contributions so that wealthy people (the people who finance their cushy lifestyles and careers) pay their fair share. These are the Democrats who signed on. Every single one of them-- notice, not any just normal Democrats, all Wall Street-owned New Dems and Blue Dogs, most with histories of wanting to work with the GOP to gut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid-- is a shit-eating conservative (shit-eaters in red have primaries pending):
Ben McAdams (Blue Dog-UT)
Dean Phillips (New Dem-MN)
Ed Case (Blue Dog- HI)
Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-FL)
Kathleen Rice (New Dem-NY)
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)
Derek Kilmer (New Dem-WA)
Jimmy Panetta (New Dem-CA)
Cindy Axne (New Dem-CA)
Tom O'Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ)
Anthony Brindisi (Blue Dog-NY)
Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)
Kendra Horn (Blue Dog-OK)
Abigail Spanberger (Blue Dog-VA)
Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Xochitl Torres Small (Blue Dog-NM)
Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Harley Rouda ("ex"-Republican/New Dem-CA)
Ann Kuster (New Dem-NH)
Colin Allred (New Dem-TX)
Lou Correa (Blue Dog-CA)
Chrissy Houlahan (New Dem-PA)
Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)
Sharice Davids (New Dem-KS)
Gil Cisneros ("ex"-Republican/New Dem-CA)
Lipinski's constituents already defeated him in the March primary but he still wants to do all the harm he can before he gies back to Tennessee to live. I might add that the Republicans on the list are all garden variety Trumpists like Jason Smith (R-MO), Roger Williams (R-TX) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). I reached out to McMorris Rodgers Democratic opponent, Chris Armitage, a firm defender of Social Security and someone who wants to expand Medicare, not shred it. Yesterday, he told me that "Cathy thinks she can do anything to hurt people and never face consequences. Well, we are shining a light on the cockroaches with this bill. Make people show what they are really about, greed and corruption or compassion and integrity."

I bet Horn will be sad when she she passes by No. Western and Britton Rd in OK City

Another staunch progressive, Tom Guild, is running for the Oklahoma seat Blue Dog Kendra Horn is disgracing with her conservative approach. Tom told us he's "extremely disappointed that Ms. Horn is undermining the security of America’s and the Fifth District’s seniors. It was just a few days ago that I received a slick and very expensive mailer paid for by one of Horn’s Super PACs praising her for her alleged work on behalf of senior citizens. Raising the retirement age and reducing benefits rather than eliminating the cap is simply a power play that feathers the nests of her well-heeled New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC mega donors. Horn opposes Medicare for All. Instead she wants to give more public money to Big Insurance Corporations to prop up the failing profit-driven health care insurance industry. Social Security should be expanded, not weakened. Benefits should be increased, not undermined. With alleged friends like Kendra Horn, who needs enemies?"

Goal ThermometerJust down the road from Tom's OK City district, Texas progressive Julie Oliver is taking on Trump enabler Roger Williams in a gerrymandered district that stretches from the suburbs south of Ft. Worth right into Austin. "Every American," she said after hearing Williams was one of the signatories, "should be able to retire with dignity. Not only should we eliminate the Social Security wage benefit so that the ultra-rich do their patriotic duty and pay into it like the rest of us, we should expand Medicare to every person in this country so that we all get the care we need.

Cathy Ellis is running for the seat occupied by Trumpist Jason Smith in the rural southeast Missouri district. "Cutting Social Security," she told us this morning, "would dramatically hurt districts like mine, where the population leans older and folks rely on Social Security to live, eat, and survive. Jason Smith continues to make it clear that he doesn't have the interests of his constituents at heart-- he only works on behalf of the big corporations that fund him, including many that have a vested interest in cutting Social Security."

Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, told us today that "This is both incredibly stupid and extremely dangerous. Austerity prolonged the Great Recession and weakened the recovery. If Wall Street billionaires and the politicians they own are successful in bringing back austerity, it will prolong the pandemic and lead to economic catastrophe. We need much more government spending right now-- to save lives in nursing homes, and to prevent state governments from having to make catastrophic cutbacks. The last thing we need to do is cut Social Security and Medicare, which are more essential than ever in the midst of a pandemic. Shame on every Member of Congress who signed this letter."

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Kansas Anymore?


You know what would be amazing? That Trump winds up being so toxic that he even manages to lose the Kansas Senate seat for the Republicans! I know, I know... it's impossible. Actually it is-- literally-- impossible since even if the Schumer candidate, Barbara Bollier, wins, it's still a Republican in the seat. (A few months ago, she switched parties, although certainly not her ideology, but... good enough for Schumer.) Pat Roberts is retiring and the seat is open and-- that aside-- Kansas has elected Democrats in the past-- although only one after senators started being elected by popular vote rather than by state legislatures. That one time Kansas elected a Democratic freshman was in 1930 when George McGill won after Charles Curtis resigned to become Herbert Hoover's vice president.

But a newly released poll of registered voters in Kansas by Civiqs, shows the Kansas Senate contest all tied up-- quasi-Democrat Barbara Bollier beating neo-fascist Kris Kobach 42-41%, losing to establishment Republican Roger Marshall 41-42% and beating establishment Republican Bob Hamilton 41-40%. The same poll, but of Republicans only, indicates that Bollier will probably get her wish to take on Kobach:
Kobach- 35%
Marshall- 26%
Hamilton- 15%
In 1960 Kansas voted for Nixon over JFK, 561,474 (60.5%) to 363,213 (39.1%). In 1968, Kansas would have given Nixon an even bigger percentage but George Wallace was running so it was Nixon 54.8% to Humphrey 34.7% and Wallace 10.2%. Four years later, you can probably imagine the Kansas landslide to reelect Nixon, right? 67.7% to 29,5% for George McGovern. "Trump," wrote David Frum yesterday, "is no Richard Nixon." That's true, even Kansans know the difference. They only gave Trump 56.2% against Hillary. But's that's not exactly what Frum had mind. "As riots and looting have disordered cities across the United States, many have speculated," he wrote, "that the troubles could help reelect President Donald Trump. The speculation is based on analogy. American cities were swept by riots in the mid-1960s, and then, in 1968, Richard Nixon campaigned on a pledge of “law and order” and won the presidency. As it was then, so it will be now-- or so the punditry goes. The riots of 2020 may or may not help Donald Trump. The analogy to 1968, however, misunderstands both the politics of that traumatic year, and the success of Richard Nixon. One thing to remember about the presidential election of 1968 is that it was a three-way race. Nixon ran not only against the Democratic nominee, Hubert Humphrey, a liberal stalwart with a long civil-rights record, but also against the outright segregationist George Wallace, governor of Alabama. Wallace would ultimately collect 8.6 percent of the popular vote and win five states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Facing those two rivals allowed Nixon to run as the candidate of the middle way, committed both to civil rights and to public order." But, yeah, Wallace did better in Kansas... of course.
Today, we know the Nixon of the secret tapes: crude, amoral, often bigoted. The public Nixon of 1968, however, behaved with the dignity and decorum Americans then expected in a president. Trump in 2020 occupies the place not of Nixon, but of Daley and George Wallace: Trump is the force of disorder that is frightening American voters into seeking a healing candidate-- not the candidate of healing who can restore a fair and just public order.

The irony, of course, is that at the same time that Trump tweets bloodthirsty threats, he has turned off the White House lights and cowered in the bunker below. He joins noisy bluster to visible weakness-- exactly the opposite of the Nixon formula in 1968. Trump will not repeat Nixon’s success in 1968, because he does not understand that success. Nixon joined his vow of order to a promise of peace at home and abroad. Trump offers only conflict, and he offers no way out of conflict, because-- unlike Nixon in 1968-- Trump is himself the cause of so much conflict.”

If Trump seeks historical parallels for his reelection campaign, here’s one that is much more apt. There was a campaign in which the party of the president presided over a deadly pandemic at the same time as a savage depression and a nationwide spasm of bloody urban racial violence. The year was 1920. The party in power through these troubles went on to suffer the worst defeat in U.S. presidential history, a loss by a margin of 26 points in the popular vote. The triumphant challenger, Warren Harding, was not some charismatic superhero of a candidate. He didn’t need to be. In 2020 as in 1920, the party of the president is running on the slogan Let us fix the mess we made. It didn’t work then. It’s unlikely to work now.
The L.A. Times published an editorial at 3AM yesterday about Trump poring oil on the flames. He's overtly calling himself "your president of law and order" and threatening to send the military into American cities. The Times labeled that another demonstration "that he has little understanding of why Americans have taken to the streets [and] reinforced the impression that he sees the current crisis as an opportunity for him to score political points in an election year with a new iteration of his 2016 claim that 'I alone can fix it.'... A different president would have been able to credibly lament that lawlessness, and call for measures to deal with it, with no one suspecting ulterior motives. Trump has forfeited any such benefit of the doubt. In his remarks on Monday, as in previous comments, he expressed sympathy for George Floyd, whose death led to a murder charge against the former Minneapolis police officer shown kneeling on Floyd’s neck in a video that went viral. But Trump consistently has failed to recognize that Floyd’s death was the latest example of a pattern of police violence against African American men that in turn is a manifestation of entrenched and pervasive racism."

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Well, Mr. Bunker Boy, you want your picture everywhere? I got your picture right here. Here you are going for a stroll on the Constitution in Lafayette Park, a people's park named after a man who came a great way just to fight tyrants like you. Secret Service aside, I see some of your White House Nazi scumbags right behind you, too.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2020

If The Republicans Could, They Would Eliminate Voting In General, But They Can't-- Yet-- So They Just Keep Chipping Away At The Franchise


John Oliver should have a canned laugh track until the pandemic is over. But he's still the best of the TV news and opinion shows even without the laughs.

As you know, we've been writing a lot about vote by mail, but not as well as John Oliver has this week. As he notes, Missouri Governor Mike Parson (R) is an asshole.

This morning, the NY Times published a piece by Trip Gabriel, Republicans Fear Trump’s Criticism of Mail-In Ballots Will Hurt Them. Who could possibly think the party of suck-up enablers doesn't deserve it? "Republican officials and strategists," he wrote, "warned that if a wide partisan gap over mail voting continues in November, Republicans could be at a disadvantage, an unintended repercussion of the president’s fear-mongering about mail ballots that could hurt his party’s chances, including his own. In Pennsylvania, Iowa, Indiana and New Mexico, all states voting on Tuesday that broadly extended the option to vote by mail this year, a higher share of Democrats than Republicans have embraced mail-in ballots."
Seventy percent of the 1.5 million requests for mail ballots in Pennsylvania came from Democrats, ahead of a Primary Day now overshadowed by nationwide protests of police misconduct, which could keep voters away from polling places not already closed because of the pandemic.

The president’s baseless claims that mail voting leads to widespread fraud are working at cross-purposes to the state Republican Party’s efforts to increase mail voting.

“Democrats will use the new mail-in ballot to greatly increase their turnout,” the Republican Party of Pennsylvania says on its website. “Republicans would be smart to do the same so that we have the advantage.”

...“Republicans are constantly being warned that mail-in voting leads to vote fraud,” Mr. Landi said. “My concern is sometimes people think, ‘All right, I’m going to go to the polls,’ and then something comes up and they don’t make it to the polls.”

The same partisan divide is at work in other states voting on Tuesday that sent applications for mail ballots to all registered voters as a response to the coronavirus outbreak. In New Mexico, 71 percent of mail ballots returned as of Monday were from Democrats, according to the secretary of state. In Iowa, Democrats requested 56 percent of mail ballots, in a state where Democrats make up 50 percent of the voters registered by party.

In Indiana, which loosened its rules to offer no-excuse voting by mail, 350,000 Democrats requested mail ballots, compared with 268,000 Republicans, according to the secretary of state. Other states voting on Tuesday are Maryland, Montana, Rhode Island and South Dakota.

Iowa expects to have competitive races in the fall for a Senate seat and potentially for all four of its House seats. A Republican strategist who works for candidates in Iowa and other battleground states said if Mr. Trump continued his attacks on mail voting, it would significantly damage many of his clients in tough races.
Last week, the U.S. Postal Service sent out suggestions to state officials about how to run an election by mail. I bet Parson doesn't bother reading it.
How Election Mail can be Sent

As an initial matter, the Postal Service offers a variety of mailing services that voters and election officials may utilize to transmit Election Mail. The two main classes of mail that are used for Election Mail are First-Class Mail and USPS Marketing Mail, the latter of which includes the Nonprofit postage rate. These mail classes have different delivery standards and price ranges, and are subject to eligibility requirements that include the volume of a given mailing and the mailpiece's contents, weight, and size. As a general matter, all Election Mail (including ballots) mailed from individual voters to state or local election officials must be sent by First-Class Mail. Election materials (including blank absentee ballots) mailed from state or local election officials to voters may generally be sent by either First-Class Mail or Marketing Mail.

Mail Processing Times Need to be Considered when Communicating Deadlines

It is important to note that First-Class Mail and Marketing Mail have different delivery standards, and that delivery times further depend on the origin and destination of a given mailpiece. Most domestic First-Class Mail is delivered in 2-5 days. Most domestic Marketing Mail is delivered in 3-10 days. However, the Postal Service cannot guarantee a specific delivery date or alter standards to comport with individual state election laws.

To account for delivery standards and to allow for contingencies (e.g., weather issues or unforeseen events), voters should mail their return ballots at least 1 week prior to the due date established by state law. Similarly, for election materials (such as blank ballots) sent to voters, the Postal Service also recommends that state or local election officials use First­ Class Mail and allow 1 week for delivery to voters.

It is critical that the Postal Service's delivery standards be kept in mind when informing voters how to successfully participate in an election using the mail, and when state and local election officials are making decisions as to the establishment of deadlines and the means used to send a piece of Election Mail to voters. Voters should be made aware of these transit times when offered the opportunity to request that an absentee ballot be mailed to them, and when deciding when to mail a ballot back to election officials. For example, if a state law requires completed ballots to be received by election officials by a specified date (such as Election Day) in order to be counted, voters should be aware of the possibility that completed ballots mailed less than a week before that date may not, in fact, arrive by the state's deadline. Similarly, if a state law allows a qualified voter to request an absentee ballot shortly before Election Day and requires the state or loc al election offic ial to mail that ballot to the voter, voters should be made aware that the absentee ballot may not reach the voter before Election Day if requested less than a week before the election.

Proper Labeling Helps Avoid Delivery Delays and Increases Mailpiece Visibility

The Postal Service is committed to the efficient and timely processing and delivery of Election Mail in ac c ordanc ewith its delivery standards, and has developed labeling to provide greater visibility for these mailpieces during processing, including the Official Election Mail logo, which is used on all Election Mail, and Tag 191, Domestic and International Ballots, which is used specifically for ballots. Neither Tag 191 nor the Official Election Mail logo is mandatory, and they do not upgrade service or substitute for postage, but they help to alert the Postal Service of the presence of Election Mail in the postal network and distinguish Election Mail from the millions of other mailpieces that are moving through the network. The Postal Service further recommends that election officials use Intelligent Mail barcodes for their Election Mail. These barcodes are used to improve a mailer's ability to track individual mailpieces and gain greater mailstream visibility. The Postal Service also offers an Intelligent Mail barcode identifier specifically for ballots that increases mailpiece visibility within the processing system, is used by the Postal Service to sort individual mailpieces, and can be used both by the Postal Service and by the mailer to track the delivery and return of ballots.

Consult with Election Mail Coordinators BEFORE Printing Mailpieces

In addition, the Postal Service has assigned election mail coordinators to each locality that stand ready to assist and consult with state and local election officials concerning the logistics of their mailings and the services that are available. A list of election mail coordinators may be found on our website here. Also, mailpiece design analysts will assist election officials in designing and preparing envelopes that are consistent with postal regulations, increase mailpiece visibility, facilitate the application of postmarks, and allow officials to receive available postage discounts. You may reach a mailpiece design analyst by calling the MDA Customer Service Help Desk at 855-593-6093 (between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday) or by sending an email lo MDA@usps.aov. Mailpieces that do not adhere to the Postal Service's requirements may experience longer processing times or other delivery problems. To avoid incurring delivery delays and unnecessary costs, the Postal Service strongly recommends that state and local election officials work with the Postal Service before designing and printing any mailpieces for use in elections.

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Asking For A Friend: How Much Do You Trust Obama?


Shan Chowdhury is a championship international rugby team captain who worked as a legislative assistance for the New York state Assembly before deciding to challenge one of the most corrupt Democrats in Congress, sleaze ball New Dem Greg Meeks, the Queens Democratic Party machine boss, a position he took over when AOC defeated Joe Crowley, a close ally of Meeks'. It's a real uphill climb for Chowdhury, who has raised just $46,571.18 as of March 31 to Meek's $1,241,618.71 haul from corporate PACs and slimy Wall Street operators eager for his continued assistance from his perch on the House Financial Services Committee.

"Slavery is a crime against humanity," Chowdhury mentioned today when he was talking about an online interview he's doing with Marianne Williamson on Sunday evening. "The path to restorative justice begins with the United States acknowledging our past crimes against Americans of African descent, whose ancestors were transported here against their will and enslaved. Meaningful and transformative reparations begins with implementing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). I believe prioritizing access for African Americans to services, fully-funding Black institutions such as Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU), Community Banks, and Black Owned Businesses, central to racial, social, and economic justice."

Goal ThermometerShan is a young activist-- a next generation leader who the Democratic Party should be hoping stays inside the party. But, whoever wins the NY-05 congressional race, Meeks is not the future of the Democratic Party, at least not a remotely viable one. And Shan will certainly be active in civic affairs. He's the kind of person Obama was writing about yesterday when he wrote about-- if a bit ingenuously (since it was Obama who organized Biden's Super Tuesday win)-- how to make this moment the turning point for real change. Unless we're talking about change for the worse, Biden is no more a part of that change than Meeks or Trump are.

People, he wrote, are asking him "how we can sustain momentum to bring about real change" as people have taken to the streets after the George Floyd murder. And he responded that "Ultimately, it’s going to be up to a new generation of activists to shape strategies that best fit the times. That would be people like Shaniyat Chowdhury, not establishment careerist hacks like Gregory Meeks and Joe Biden.

Being, Obama, of course, he wants to share "some basic lessons to draw from past efforts that are worth remembering."
First, the waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States. The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support, not condemnation-- something that police in cities like Camden and Flint have commendably understood.

On the other hand, the small minority of folks who’ve resorted to violence in various forms, whether out of genuine anger or mere opportunism, are putting innocent people at risk, compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment and detracting from the larger cause. I saw an elderly black woman being interviewed today in tears because the only grocery store in her neighborhood had been trashed. If history is any guide, that store may take years to come back. So let’s not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it. If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves.

Second, I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more. The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices-- and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.

Moreover, it’s important for us to understand which levels of government have the biggest impact on our criminal justice system and police practices. When we think about politics, a lot of us focus only on the presidency and the federal government. And yes, we should be fighting to make sure that we have a president, a Congress, a U.S. Justice Department, and a federal judiciary that actually recognize the ongoing, corrosive role that racism plays in our society and want to do something about it. But the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.

It’s mayors and county executives that appoint most police chiefs and negotiate collective bargaining agreements with police unions. It’s district attorneys and state’s attorneys that decide whether or not to investigate and ultimately charge those involved in police misconduct. Those are all elected positions. In some places, police review boards with the power to monitor police conduct are elected as well. Unfortunately, voter turnout in these local races is usually pitifully low, especially among young people-- which makes no sense given the direct impact these offices have on social justice issues, not to mention the fact that who wins and who loses those seats is often determined by just a few thousand, or even a few hundred, votes.

So the bottom line is this: if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform.

Finally, the more specific we can make demands for criminal justice and police reform, the harder it will be for elected officials to just offer lip service to the cause and then fall back into business as usual once protests have gone away. The content of that reform agenda will be different for various communities. A big city may need one set of reforms; a rural community may need another. Some agencies will require wholesale rehabilitation; others should make minor improvements. Every law enforcement agency should have clear policies, including an independent body that conducts investigations of alleged misconduct. Tailoring reforms for each community will require local activists and organizations to do their research and educate fellow citizens in their community on what strategies work best.

But as a starting point, here’s a report and toolkit developed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and based on the work of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing that I formed when I was in the White House. And if you’re interested in taking concrete action, we’ve also created a dedicated site at the Obama Foundation to aggregate and direct you to useful resources and organizations who’ve been fighting the good fight at the local and national levels for years.

I recognize that these past few months have been hard and dispiriting-- that the fear, sorrow, uncertainty, and hardship of a pandemic have been compounded by tragic reminders that prejudice and inequality still shape so much of American life. But watching the heightened activism of young people in recent weeks, of every race and every station, makes me hopeful. If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals.
He ended with "Let’s get to work." Let us get to work. Us? Elites who have reached the pinnacles and are integral parts of the establishment... like Obama, Biden and Meeks? Or all of us-- including the young activists who the DNC, DSCC and DCCC are constantly attempting to silence and derail and marginalize?

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Marianne Williamson Has A Weeklong Summit Starting Tonight With Congressional Candidates


Starting tonight at 9 PM (ET)-- so 6 PM on the West Coast-- Marianne Williamson will be hosting a week-long summit for progressive Congressional candidates on her Facebook page-- one candidate each night. Her first guest, someone she has already shared a stage with in Iowa, is J.D. Scholten, the progressive Democrat who nearly beat neo-fascist and racist Iowa Republican Steve King, in 2018. That was a race sabotaged by the DCCC but so much momentum was built up by Scholten's grassroots campaign that this year not even progressive-hating DCCC chair Cheri Bustos will be able to stop J.D.

Monroe County, NY progressive Robin Wilt will be on with Marianne on Saturday. Today she told me that "At the heart of Marianne Williamson’s run for the Presidency was a commitment to humanitarianism that was lacking from many of the corporate, establishment-based candidates in the race. I am proud to be among the down-ballot candidates that Marianne Williamson has endorsed, because we share the fundamental belief that we can only make progress if we center the needs of those most directly impacted by the deleterious policies that have created the inequities that we witness. As Marianne will be the first to tell you, the ideas at the center of her platform are not novel. They are supported by a majority of everyday Americans who recognize that the vast wealth and income inequality that plagues our nation is not sustainable, and that we need representatives at all level of government who are willing to prioritize the needs of the people over those of corporate elites that have been disproportionately and unfairly benefiting from government largesse at our expense."
We need expanded and improved Medicare for All, not only because it is inhumane for 45,000 Americans to die each year from a lack of access to health care, but also because our for-profit, atomized health care landscape fails to address the many social determinants of health that are the root causes of preventable diseases.

We need a Green New Deal, not only because it is inhumane for communities like Flint, MI and Newark, NJ to have poisoned air and water, but also because we need a solution to the current crisis that recognizes the scale of the threat to civilization and transitions to a green economy that ensures that those communities that have been disproportionately impacted by polluters receive the support they need to equitably share in the economic opportunities of a green economy.

We need publicly-funded, freely available pre-K through 16 education because it is inhumane for one’s educational opportunity to be determined by one’s zip code.

Most importantly, we need bold, new representatives in Congress that will unabashedly support these policy positions on behalf of the people that they represent, because our current leadership has not been up to the task.
"Slavery is a crime against humanity," said Shan Chowdhury, who is running for a seat in Queens held by corrupt New Dem Greg Meeks and Marianne's Sunday guest. "The path to restorative justice begins with the United States acknowledging our past crimes against Americans of African descent, whose ancestors were transported here against their will and enslaved. Meaningful and transformative reparations begins with implementing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). I believe prioritizing access for African Americans to services, fully-funding Black institutions such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Community Banks, and Black Owned Businesses, central to racial, social, and economic justice."

Shahid Buttar, the attorney and community organizer who is taking on Nancy Pelosi, will be joining Marianne on Friday. This morning he told me that "One of the overarching themes that unite our campaigns is our shared recognition of social justice as an extension of mutual concern and compassion. That, in turn, drives our shared commitment to universal healthcare, as well as ending police violence and ensuring that black lives matter-- not just to We to the People, but also the government that answers to us. We’re excited to get into the issues and explore why change is so desperately needed!"

This is the whole schedule-- at least for week 1:
J.D. Scholten- Tuesday, June 2
Andrew Romanoff- Wednesday, June 3
Hector Oseguera- Thursday, June 4
Shahid Buttar- Friday, June 5
Robin Wilt- Saturday, June 6
Shan Chowdhury- Sunday, June 7
Jen Perelman- Monday, June 8
Goal ThermometerYou can contribute to any of the Marianne-endorsed candidates by clicking on the ActBlue thermometer. Whether Trump is re-elected (or gets away with stealing the election) or Biden is elected, one thing we are going to need in Congress is more progressives to work with the handful of members-- like AOC (D-NY), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Andy Levin (D-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)...-- trying to move a progressive agenda forward and trying to move the Democratic Party in a progressive agenda and away from corporatism, careerism and corruption.

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Neo-Fascist? Time To Drop The "Neo" When Describing Trump


Out of the bunker and...

Jim Acosta on CNN: "We are descending into something that is not the United States of America tonight; there's just no other way to put it... Donald Trump did not do this by himself tonight. There were other White House officials, military officials, federal employees paid for with our tax dollars. And our tax dollars were used to teargas fellow Americans. That's what happened tonight in the nation's capital and the entire world was watching."

And yeah, this was all done because Trumpanzee-- a notorious coward-- was embarrassed that it leaked out by the media that he was cowering and trembling in the White House bunker on Friday night when protestors in Lafayette Square were hurling curses at him. "They wanted a disruptor," said Anderson Cooper on TV last night. "That's what a disruption is."

Last night the Washington Post had its A-Team on the case: Phil Rucker, Robert Costa, Josh Dawsey and Seung Min Kim, writing about how the authoritarian orange blob "militarized the federal response to protests of racial inequality that have erupted in cities across America late Monday, as authorities fired tear gas at people protesting peacefully near the White House to disperse crowds moments before Trump staged a photo opportunity there. Trump forced a brazen inflammation of the crisis convulsing the country by calling the nationwide demonstrations 'acts of domestic terror,' declaring himself the 'president of law and order' and taking the rare step of mobilizing the military to use force to quell the unrest. In a move denounced by critics as authoritarian, the commander in chief threatened to deploy troops to 'quickly solve the problem' if state and local authorities did not immediately regain control of their streets, which he said had been overtaken by 'professional anarchists' and 'violent mobs.'"

This morning, the Religion News Service reported that ahead of the blasphemous Trumpanzee Bible photo op, police forcibly expelled the priest from St. John's church.

During an interview on CNN, Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, condemned the flaming asshole for clearing out peaceful protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas in order to stage his photo op in front of her church: "I am outraged… Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence. I am beyond. We need moral leadership, and he’s done everything to divide us, and has just used one of the most sacred symbols of the Judeo-Christian tradition... I just can’t believe what my eyes have seen tonight."

All the people I communicate with who are reliable-- if moronic-- Trumpist parrots of the far right are convinced nothing is going on but looting. One of the most obtuse Trumpists I've ever met-- other than my brother-in-law-- sent me this message yesterday: "They burned the historic church in DC, St John’s Church. This isn’t about justice, it’s all looting, many of these businesses were already on the verge of bankruptcy. Many don’t have insurance because they couldn’t afford it. What’s sad is even those with insurance have no money left and now have lost their business." he said there's no evidence that the cop who murdered George Floyd is a racist because-- and I swear I'm not making this up-- "His wife was asian, one of the cops was Latino, one was asian, one was black and one was white. I actually belong to a facebook group on police brutality and there are plenty of police killing white people too. I just don’t see the dichotomy of the 1960s civil rights era and now, a black man became president by popular and electoral vote. There really isn't institutionalized racism anymore, in Miami the arrest records show that most of the arrest were out of state people. The same seems to be for every state, this is organized, people are inciting violence and anarchy... I think these riots are about looting and getting free stuff. That seems to be what everyone is doing, looting stores. Small businesses owned by people who have run out of money, out of insurance, and now they have nothing. The crimes committed by these riots far outweigh the police brutality that preceded it. We cannot condone these riots, have you seen the ghetto ass thugs who are doing this? It is scary and violent and they are happy smiling getting free shit from stores. This has nothing to do with the protests of the 60s for civil rights." OK? Now you know exactly what they're saying on White House news outlets like Fox News and on hate talk radio.

But not everyone on the right was happy with Trump's photo op. According to Axios, "Not everyone in the White House was thrilled with the church photo op. One senior aide [likely Miller] was exuberantly telling friends the photograph of him holding a Bible in front of the church that had been attacked by vandals was an 'iconic' moment for the president. But a senior White House official told Axios that when they saw the tear gas clearing the crowd for Trump to walk to the church with his entourage: 'I’ve never been more ashamed. I’m really honestly disgusted. I’m sick to my stomach. And they’re all celebrating it. They’re very very proud of themselves.'"

Paul Ryan's former top aide, Brendan Buck: "We long ago lost sight of normal, but this was a singularly immoral act. The president used force against American citizens, not to protect property, but to soothe his own insecurities. We will all move on to the next outrage, but this was a true abuse of power and should not be forgotten."

Even Tucker Carlson is having some misgivings about the fascist president he reflexively backs, tepidly criticizing Trump's abilities as a leader and Kushner-in-law's worth, asserting on Fox News that "No one has more contempt for the president’s supporters" than Jared, who he accused of breaking from Trump’s platform and talking Trump out of taking decisive actions.

Mark Leibovich for the NY Times yesterday: Trump Vowed to Disrupt Washington. Now He Faces Disruption in the Streets. "One of the recurring themes of the last three and a half years is that President Trump has disrupted Washington, just as his voters demanded. This is true in a certain sense: The Trump White House has been a chaotic drama, a procession of scandals, leaks, investigations, feuding protagonists and trampled norms. But one of the overlooked realities of the reality show is that the day-to-day existence of so-called official Washington has felt anything but disrupted. This gilded capital has actually been a serene and lovely place to live, work and visit, at least for those who can afford it. The trend has only accelerated through what until recently was the booming economy of the Trump presidency."
These last months, though, have been something else entirely. The reality has relegated the TV maestro in the White House to something of a sideshow.

In recent nights, the streets around the White House have been clogged with thousands of protesters, demonstrating against the police killing last week in Minneapolis of George Floyd, an African-American man. The crowds have been multiracial and comprised a free-for-all of purposes. Landmark restaurants, offices and a historic church have been burned and vandalized. By Monday, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser had set a curfew of 7 p.m. and activated the National Guard.

“Donald Trump is just a social media personality to us, the guy who told us to drink bleach,” said Artinese Campbell, 33, an African-American woman who has lived her whole life in Washington and who had come downtown Monday afternoon, just a few blocks from the White House, to visit her bank before it was boarded up and closed early in anticipation of another night of protests. She said she was sympathetic to the cause of the protesters but hoped they remained peaceful and had no plans to stick around to find out.

“I think most of us are numb to presidents who come in and talk about ‘change,’” Ms. Campbell said. “Nothing really changes if you’re black in America.”

...One thing was certain: No one was bemoaning the “shattered norms” perpetrated by the Trump administration or celebrating the “peaceful transfer of power” that may or may not occur in a few months. Television pundits have labeled the upcoming election as “existential” to the importance to the country’s direction. But it also felt beside the point-- like privilege talking-- in the crowds of the last few nights. This chaotic tableau felt so much more urgent, and close to home.

...[T]he national headquarters of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. were set ablaze during protests Sunday night. TV commentators described the conflagration as a strike against one of the fortresses of the American labor movement, a theoretical ally of the protesters in the struggle for a fairer power structure. Next door, flames engulfed St. John’s Episcopal Church, where two decades of presidents have come to worship-- the so-called Church of the Presidents.

Suddenly, though, these monuments to American progress and history felt like quaint abstractions, cherished by official Washington but just another thing to burn down for the Washington disrupters of 2020.

On Monday on a sidewalk across Farragut Square, in front of the boarded up Oval Room restaurant, a protester named Athena Kapsides, a Washington public-school teacher, said that Mr. Trump had in fact inspired a great deal of activism in opposition to his own actions. In that sense, she said, he has been a catalyst for change.

“President Trump himself has tried to present himself as a fighter, but really he only fights for himself,” said Ms. Kapsides, who grew up in the Washington suburbs and wore a T-shirt bearing the likeness of Colin Kaepernick, the former National Football League quarterback who protested police violence against African-Americans by kneeling during pregame renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Many believe that his statement resulted in his blacklisting from the N.F.L., where he has not played since 2017.

“He’s been a force for disruption,” Ms. Kapsides said of Mr. Trump. “But maybe not always the kind of disruption he planned for.”

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For The Working Class, The Democratic Party Is Still A Bit Better Than The GOP


In 2018, the DCCC successfully perpetrated the myth of the Blue Wave. That kind of p.r. is part of their job. The problem is, they believed it. And the results reinforced that mightily. There were 41 seats that flipped from red to blue. In 2016, the House Dems hadn't done badly. Even with an apparent Trump victory, they had managed to flip 6 seats and they increased their national congressional vote margin by 2.5%. In 2018, though, House Democratic candidates won 60,572,245 (53.4%) to 50,861,970 (44.8), as the GOP share of the vote plummeted 4.3%. The Dems increased their swing by 5.4%. That's a wave. But a Blue Wave? I've never thought so.

The DCCC recruited a huge pile of worthless garbage candidates with nothing to offer other than not being Republicans-- even if some of them actually were Republicans who were trying to rebrand themselves as Democrats (like Harley Rouda and Gil Cisneros in Orange County). Voters were ready to punish Trump for his first two years of excruciatingly bad governance. But he wasn't on the ballot... and they took stout on GOP congressional incumbents and on Republicans candidates. Dozens of Republicans sensed what was headed their way and retired before the election, including incumbents whose seats were ready to flip (and, in fact, did flip: Ed Royce (CA), Darrell Issa (CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), Lynn Jenkins (KS), Dave Trott (MI), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ), Steve Pearce (NM), Ryan Costello (PA), Pat Meehan (PA), Charlie Dent (PA), Bill Shuster (PA), and Dave Reichert (WA).

Then 30 Republican incumbents lost their reelection runs including notable Republicans Pete Sessions (TX, former head of the NRCC), Dana Rohrabacher (CA & Moscow), Dave Brat (VA), Barbara Comstock (VA), John Culberson (TX), Erik Paulsen (MN), Rod Blum (IA), Pete Roskam (IL), Mike Coffman (CO) and Steve Knight (CA). None of them had good opponents. In fact, almost no red to blue flips were by good Democrats. Those flips were anti-Republican flips... anti-Trump voters. There was a wave alright... but it was an anti-red wave, not a blue wave.

Yesterday, writing for the Washington Post, Mike DeBonis surveyed the lay of the land in terms of the upcoming House elections and concluded 2020 isn't going to be a good year for the GOP. He has no idea how bad it's going to be though, as anti-red wave II is gathering strength. The seat the NRCC wants to point to to frame the election is CA-25, the L.A./Ventura County seat the Steve Knight lost to weird New Dem Katie Hill in 2018 and was just won by a Republican in a special election. Hill had been forced to resign in a twisted and lurid sex scandal and the DCCC immediately recruited the worst possible candidate to replace her-- another worthless conservative, barely a Democrat, who was meant to remind voters of... Katie Hill, who most voters wanted to forget about. She was as unfit for office as Hill had been-- and the voters knew it and, despite it being a blue district with a Democratic registration advantage, the Republican won. DeBonis wrote that "When Republican Mike Garcia won a Southern California special election in May-- reclaiming a district Democrats had flipped only 18 months prior-- he gave the House GOP its most encouraging piece of political news since President Trump was sworn into office. The good news might end there. While Trump, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and other GOP leaders have heralded Garcia’s May 12 win as proof that they can win the House majority this year, many other indicators suggest that it will be exceedingly difficult to unwind Democrats’ 17-seat majority come November."

Yeah... and someone should explain to DeBonis that the GOP is more likely to lose 17 seats than to pick up a net of even one! That will be in his October column about the elections though. Now, it's just the Inside the Beltway metrics... "Vulnerable Democratic incumbents have massively outraised their Republican challengers, national GOP groups have yet to show the ability to make up the fundraising gap, and in several key districts, some of the party’s most coveted recruits have opted not to run. Public opinion polls, meanwhile, indicate a Democratic advantage on the congressional ballot in line with what the party enjoyed in 2018, ahead of their sweeping national gains." He is happy to admit this is all Inside-the-Beltway palaver: "Multiple nonpartisan forecasters, in fact, have worsened their outlook for House Republicans in recent weeks, arguing that those structural disadvantages, plus national political head winds for Republicans, will limit GOP House gains-- and potentially allow for further Democratic pickups." I question the use of the word "sincerely" by Gonzales below:
“Republicans sincerely believe that 2018 was a high-water mark for Democrats, that it is just not possible that Democrats can improve on their 2018 performance, and I don’t know that that’s true,” said Nathan L. Gonzales, editor and publisher of Inside Elections, who recently declared the California result an “outlier” and predicted that the November election would leave the House “close to the status quo” with no more than five seats changing hands between parties.

GOP leaders see the math differently. Garcia’s win, they argue, shows that Republicans can be competitive in the suburban battlegrounds where Democrats built their majority two years ago-- on top of the 30 Democratic-held districts where Trump won in 2016.

“If we can win in the Los Angeles suburbs, we can win anywhere and everywhere we need to win in the fall,” said Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), citing 43 Democratic seats with a heavier GOP tilt than Garcia’s.
Democrats didn't turn out for the special election. Among other things, Latinos, who make up a big part of the Democratic coalition in CA-25, were confused because the Republican was named Garcia and the Democrat was named Smith. And in the third of the district that lies in the Antelope Valley, she was disliked anyway for her support of putting homeless people in her Assembly district on a bus with a one way ticket to... the Antelope Valley. So they abstained. As horrible as Smith is-- and she's about as bad as a DCCC recruitment can be-- she'll probably win in November in the anti-GOP wave that catches Garcia.
Democrats and nonpartisan analysts are quick to quibble with that arithmetic-- starting with the size of the mountain Republicans have to climb. While the gap is now 17 seats, the margin is certain to be wider. A court-ordered mid-cycle redistricting in North Carolina created two additional safe Democratic seats in that state, and the retirement of GOP Rep. Will Hurd has opened a prime Democratic pickup opportunity in South Texas.

Meanwhile, Democrats are eyeing potential gains elsewhere, including suburban districts outside Dallas and Houston where GOP incumbents are retiring, as well as near-misses from 2018 in central Illinois, southern Minnesota and suburban Atlanta.

That means Republicans may have to flip three or more Democratic seats before they even begin to cut into the current majority, and they face serious head winds in doing so. The most easily quantifiable obstacle is money: More than two dozen Democrats have raised more than $2.5 million each, easily lapping their Republican challengers in all but a few cases.

Data compiled by the Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman found that, as of March, in the 55 top races targeted by the NRCC, the median Democratic incumbent had raised more than six times what the median leading Republican challenger had raised. And that was before the coronavirus pandemic upended political fundraising, making it more difficult for those behind to catch up. Wasserman declared the GOP’s path to the majority as “slim to non-existent” earlier this month.

Outside Republican groups such as the NRCC and the Congressional Leadership Fund are likely to raise tens of millions of dollars to supplement individual campaigns, but those groups have also been trailing their counterparts at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the House Majority PAC.

Republicans have heavily touted star recruits in several districts-- starting with Garcia, a former Navy fighter pilot, son of immigrants and first-time political candidate who skillfully positioned himself as a fresh alternative to his Democratic opponent, state lawmaker Christy Smith. Wesley Hunt, an African American former Army officer, is challenging freshman Rep. Lizzie Fletcher in Texas, and Michelle Steel, a Korean American county official, is running against Rep. Harley Rouda in Orange County, Calif.

“A record number of women running, a record number of minority candidates, 240-some military veterans-- these are people with great résumés, and the vast majority of them don’t have voting records,” Emmer said. “It’s basically the Democrats’ 2018 playbook that we’re using.”

But some of those diversity gains have been offset by setbacks elsewhere. Democrats were delighted when GOP voters nominated Jim Oberweis, a conservative former state senator, over two women to face Rep. Lauren Underwood in an exurban Chicago district Trump won by four points. And just this month, party officials moved to distance themselves from Ted Howze, the Republican facing Rep. Josh Harder in a competitive central California district, after Politico reported on racially offensive Internet postings made under Howze’s name [by Howze].

And on Tuesday, forecasters are closely watching the outcome of the GOP primary in Iowa’s 4th District, where Rep. Steve King is facing a strong intraparty challenge after making racially offensive comments, prompting Republicans to strip him of his committee assignments. A King win, forecasters agree, would leave the seat vulnerable to Democrat J.D. Scholten, who came within three points of beating King in 2018.

Meanwhile, Republicans are likely to go into November with less-than-ideal candidates in several other races. In New York’s 19th Congressional District, which Trump won by seven points in 2016, no credible GOP candidate has emerged to challenge freshman Rep. Antonio Delgado (D). In Michigan, top potential Republican candidates failed to challenge Reps. Elissa Slotkin, who has raised $3.7 million to defend a district Trump previously won by seven points, and Haley Stevens, who has raised $2.5 million in a district Trump won by four.

The difficulties for Republicans have been on display in Utah’s 4th Congressional District, centered on Salt Lake City, where Trump won by seven points in 2016. It leaped to the top of GOP target lists after Democrat Ben McAdams beat GOP Rep. Mia Love in 2018. The NRCC initially backed popular state Sen. Dan Hemmert, who quickly raised more than $400,000. But Hemmert backed out weeks later, citing the demands of a high-profile campaign.

“It’s not the right time. I don’t know what to say,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune in December.

McAdams, meanwhile, has raised $2.8 million for his reelection campaign and had $2.2 million left to spend as of early April. The best-funded Republican candidate, state Rep. Kim Coleman, had about $115,000 in the bank at the same point.

Meanwhile, it’s unclear if potential GOP attacks against McAdams-- highlighting his vote for Trump’s impeachment or tying him to far-left Democratic figures-- will even resonate in a post-pandemic political environment. McAdams, who recently emerged from a bout with the coronavirus, said Thursday he was focused on helping his constituents and not getting caught up in partisan politicking.

“One thing I have going for me is that I work harder than anybody else in the race, and I think a lot of people who were looking at the race knew that it was going to be hard to outwork me,” he said Thursday.

While there is anecdotal evidence that presidential-year turnout will improve for Republicans with Trump on the ticket, there is little sign that public opinion about control of Congress has shifted since 2018. Democrats won the national House vote in 2018 by about eight points; a Monmouth poll released this month gave them a 10-point lead nationally, and other recent “generic ballot” polls have been in a similar range.

Hopes of outsize GOP gains largely rest on Trump’s ability to keep the pandemic at bay and recover his political standing in the coming months, giving him the ability to drag underfunded candidates across the finish line on Nov. 3.

“President Trump won most of the seats that are on the battlefield now-- all he has to do is win them again,” said Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH), a former NRCC chairman. “And so I don’t know if he’ll match his performance from 2016, but if he does, we win the majority.”

But Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), chairwoman of the DCCC, expressed complete confidence in an interview Wednesday, calling Garcia’s win “not a sign of anything” and predicting that Smith would best Garcia in the higher-turnout November election.

Bustos pointed to her party’s fundraising advantage, GOP recruiting woes and a proven Democratic message on health care-- “I’d much rather be the party of health care than the party of drinking bleach,” she said, referring to Trump’s recent musings about injecting disinfectant-- as underpinning that confidence.

“It’s literally failure and failure after failure for them, whether it’s the money, the messaging or the mobilization,” Bustos said. “By every measurement, I feel really good six months out.”
Cheri & Rahm
Cheri Bustos feels good-- all those shit candidates she's recruited seem just like her and the other worthless, hated neo-liberals who have turned the Democratic party into a sewer that only exists because it's slightly less odious and toxic than the Republican Party. When I first met Ari Rabin-Have he was working for Harry Reid, although he soon migrated towards Bernie. Over the weekend he wrote a piece for Jacobin, Coronavirus’s Devastation Has Been Made Far Worse by Years of Democrats’ Neoliberal Policies, which should help anyone understand why the Cheri Bustos/Pelosi/Hoyer wing of the party is leading the Democrats down the road to disaster. [Prediction in January, 2023, there will be a Republican Speaker of the House again.] "Coronavirus," he wrote, "isn’t only exposing Donald Trump’s incompetence. The crisis is laying bare the consequences of the neoliberal economic agenda corporate Democrats have been pushing for decades." He explained how "Instead of examining the very real pain felt by workers in our economy over decades... the upper echelons of Democratic Party economic policymaking... hide behind broad macro numbers and use them to avoid confronting the economic hardship caused by the very systems they helped create."
Manufacturing workers watched as their jobs were outsourced in the aftermath of NAFTA and other bad trade treaties, while leaders in the Democratic Party either ignored their plight, claimed we were trading low-wage jobs for higher-wage ones, or falsely promoted the promise of programs like the Trade Adjustment Assistance which never lived up to the hype.

Factories closed, communities were gutted, and good jobs were nowhere to be found. Yet the economic thought leaders in the Democratic Party continued to paint rosy economic scenarios... A certain set of Democratic policymakers and strategists would like to pretend that the only thing exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic is the utter incompetence of Donald Trump. What they would like to ignore is that the crisis we are in has laid bare the consequences of the neoliberal economic agenda [Jason] Furman and his ideological allies have been pushing for decades.

They fought mercilessly in 2019 for a health care system where insurance coverage was tied to employment. In the 1990s they scaled back welfare programs. They pushed policies that tied educational advancement to personal debt and an international trade system whose supply chain is over-reliant on foreign manufacturing, in particular in China.

Each of these steps were taken under the advisement of wonderfully written economic studies claiming broad economic benefits for the country. In truth the opposite occurred, and the economic pain of the current crisis has been magnified because of them.

Earlier this month, the Biden campaign was promoting the notion of an “FDR-size presidency” under the rationale that the Democratic nominee needs to meet this moment. For centrist policymakers this was the threat they thought had been defeated in the primary.

Furman, on the other hand, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in early March making his case for a “big coronavirus stimulus.” Big to Furman amounted to a laughably small $350 billion program.

Furman is not worried that Trump’s campaign will successfully be able to sell an economic miracle. Instead he and other centrist policymakers’ greater fear is that the economic conditions of the Great Depression would steer the Biden campaign and administration toward bolder economic policies. While thus far there is little evidence of this, even deploying progressive rhetoric is too much for the centrist establishment.

Furman’s former boss, Obama White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who has been privately advising the Biden campaign, explained this to David Axelrod on his podcast this week. “The moment may call for it, and I’m a big believer in never allowing a crisis to go to waste, but the whole primary was a couple people in our party talking about a revolution and a couple people in our party talking more reform than revolution,” he said. “And what Biden is now saying is, ‘Well, the post-COVID world requires a revolution,’ and I’m surprised, because he did not win on the revolution model. He won on the reform model.”

Emanuel continued, “I’m not sure revolution is going to be reassuring to Southfield, Michigan; Bloomfield, Michigan; the suburbs out of Milwaukee; the suburbs in Phoenix.”

Axelrod replied that Biden’s policies should be “packaged as pragmatic answers to the crisis.”

Cheri & Debbie
The notion that people who are out of work, without health care and not knowing how they are going to put food on the table, are not seeking help but instead political pragmatism is ludicrous. It is yet another example of centrists ignoring economic pain because they fundamentally support a politics where “nothing will fundamentally change.” This is what they were promised by Joe Biden’s campaign. But if they acknowledge that the economic fallout from the coronavirus could lead to a second Great Depression, then the logical policy response is a second New Deal, and that promise would be broken.

Instead Furman suggests a Democratic response fundamentally based on accepting a false reality. He knows that Donald Trump will campaign saying he has built the greatest economy in American history. Regardless of data, the president was always going to make that claim, and Fox News and his other propaganda organs would dutifully tout that party line.

That is how fearful the centrist establishment is of progressive policy change. They would rather ignore the real pain of working people and cower to the phony economic posturing of Donald Trump than confront corporate power.

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