Category Archives: Campaign Notes

Memories Of The Muskie Administration

The MSM punditocracy hasn’t learned anything from the 2016 election. They’re still fixated on early polling and “discovering” bright shiny objects instead of reporting the campaign. I *had* hoped they’d learned that insider political journalism was bankrupt as declared by Ben Smith last summer. But they haven’t learned a damn thing and continue to focus on the horse race aspects of the “why not me” campaign. Remember the Avenatti boomlet? I’d prefer to forget it.

After declaring Joe Biden’s candidacy DOA, many in the punditocracy now think that he’s the inevitable nominee. They’re wrong in both instances. Frontrunner status has a way of bringing a candidate crashing to earth, especially in such a large field. Remember President Dean?

I have fond memories of the 2009-2017 Hillary Clinton administration. She was the frontrunner that time around and ended up losing the nomination. Secretary of State was a pretty damn good consolation prize. Thanks, Obama.

The ultimate Democratic frontrunner who failed was Senator Edmund Sixtus Muskie of Maine. 1972 was my formative year as a political junkie. It was the first time I was old enough to pay attention. I supported George McGovern but liked Muskie and didn’t understand why he was torn down by a media that had built him up as the inevitable nominee for two years. I was too young to get it then.

Ed Muskie was Hubert Humphrey’s running mate in 1968. The contrast between him and the man I refuse to claim as my countryman, Spiro Agnew, was stark. Muskie was calm, thoughtful, and qualified. The self-loathing Greek, Ted (Don’t Call Me Spiro) Agnew, was the exact opposite: bombastic, shallow, and unqualified. He was also a crook who took bribes while serving as Veep.

One of the best ads of the 1968 election cycle mocked Agnew:

Back to Ed Muskie. He emerged from the ’68 campaign as a national figure. His calm, reasoned reply to a frenetic midterm broadcast by Tricky Dick in 1970 made him a star and the ’72 frontrunner. The tall Senator was called Lincolnesque by many observers. What candidate wouldn’t want to be compared to Honest Abe?

Muskie led in every Democratic preference poll from that moment on. He was frequently ahead of Nixon in head-to-head polls through the early months of 1972. One of his campaign themes was Trust Muskie, drawing an obvious contrast to a president whose nickname was Tricky Dick.

This button is a good example of Muskie’s message:

Muskie was inevitable, until he wasn’t. His frontrunner status made him a target for Nixon’s dirty tricksters and at 6’4″ he was a big target. Attacks on his wife, Jane, caused Big Ed to snap and cry in public, which in the uber-macho atmosphere of 1972 helped doom his candidacy. Nixon and his lackeys had the opponent they wanted in the general election.

Among the many ironies of Muskie’s doomed campaign is that he actually won the New Hampshire primary, but the punditocracy, unaware of Nixonian dirty tricks, declared McGovern the “winner.” Muskie’s campaign might have come a cropper anyway: he was over reliant on big name endorsements and blurred his strongly liberal political views into blandness on the advice of his advisers.

Muskie was also dogged in 1972 by a bizarre and untrue story concocted by Hunter S. Thompson about his use of a hallucinogenic drug, Ibogaine. Thompson later claimed it was a joke and that nobody believed the story anyway. That just wasn’t so. I think of Ed Muskie every time I hear Hunter Thompson lionized as a voice for fearless independent journalism when, in fact, he was in the bag for Team McGovern. Projection thy name is Hunter S. Thompson.

What lessons can be drawn from my memories of the Muskie administration?

It’s not over until it’s over.

Don’t trust the MSM punditocracy and early polls. They’re both eminently changeable. Just ask former media darling Beto O’Rourke.

Insider political journalism *should* be dead, but it’s not.

The last word goes to Alice Cooper with a hit song from 1972:

Quote Of The Day: Bill Weld On Trump

I’m a hardcore Democrat so I’m not supporting Bill Weld, BUT I got a kick out of that slogan when I saw it on the book of faces. As a longtime observer of presidential politics, I’m keeping an eye on Weld’s nascent challenge to the Insult Comedian. In the primary era, presidents who face a serious intra-party challenge lose re-election. By serious, I mean someone who can poll enough votes early on to inflict political damage such as Pat Buchanan or Gene McCarthy neither of whom expected to win the nomination. But Poppy Bush lost and LBJ withdrew. Mission accomplished.

Weld is something of an anachronism: a moderate New England Republican. They used to be plentiful but now they’re as rare as the dodo bird. Weld, however, is no dodo.

Massachusetts pols have traditionally done well in the New Hampshire primary. It’s also one of twenty states where unenrolled voters can vote in a party primary, which gives Weld a chance to bloody Trump’s nose with the help of  independents. And they’re plentiful in the Granite State.

Weld sat down for an extended interview with the NYT’s Jeremy W. Peters. I got a kick out of this exchange:

There’s conservatism and Trumpism. One is an ideology, the other is more of an attitude. But increasingly a lot of conservatives worry that the two have become inseparably linked. Are they?

They shouldn’t be. Trumpism is frankly devotion to Mr. Trump’s megalomania. I mean, he’s got a lot going on in his head. The man is so angry so much of the time. It’s hard for me to see how one single head could contain so much anger, so much wrath.

He says, “I’m a counterpuncher.” He is not a counterpuncher. He will take off with tweets or action after any slight, real or imagined. My read is the guy is terrified maybe he’s a loser, which is why he lashes out at anybody. I don’t know everything that’s going on there. But I do know that I would not want to have the president’s demons. I feel for the guy in a way. They’re not normal.

That reminds me of some venerable Neil Finn lyrics:

There’s closets in my head where dirty things are kept
That never see the light of day
I want to drag them out, go for a walk
Just to see the look that’s on your face
Sometimes I can’t be straight I don’t want to hurt you
So forgive me if I tell a lie
Sometimes I come on cold but don’t believe it
I will love you till the day I die

I guess the last line could be the president* referring to his true love, himself. Hell, the next couplet fits as well:

I believe in doing things backwards
Take heed, start doing things in reverse

That concludes what one could call the sub-quote of the day. I believe I just did.

The last word goes to Crowded House:

Great White Hopes Or Killer Bees?

Everybody’s running for president; every Democrat, that is. Former Veep Joe Biden disregarded my unsolicited advice and threw his shades in the ring. Why not? He’s the polling frontrunner, which is a meaningless distinction at this point, Just ask Ed Muskie, Howard Dean, and Rudy Giuliani. That’s right, the artist formerly known as Mayor Combover was the early GOP frontrunner in 2008. In 2019,  the artist formerly known as America’s Mayor is reduced to being Trump’s mouthpiece. Where’s that rebuttal report, Rudy? Or was it just another lie?

I’m still undecided in the race. I like four candidates and consider them plausible presidents: Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Amy Klobuchar. Note that none of them is a white dude and three aren’t dudes at all. They haven’t received the level of media attention that four white dudes have: Bernie, Biden, Beto, and Buttigieg. I’m uncertain whether to call them the Great White Hopes or the Killer Bees so I gave the two labels equal billing in the post title.

Here’s the deal: I understand the attention paid to Bernie and Biden. The former was the 2016 runner-up and the latter has run twice before and was Barack Obama’s veep for 8 years. They have the name recognition to go along with the white hair of which Bernie has much more than Joey the Shark. They have another thing in common: they’re both septuagenarians, which is not disqualifying but gives me pause.

Mayor Pete seems to have supplanted Beto as the MSM’s darling. They both have slender resumes for putative presidents but it’s the Why Not Me election so they’re running. My preference is to have a nominee who has run and won statewide, which rules out the young gun set of the Killer Bees.

I will support anyone against Trump but the mayor of a  college town with a population of 109K? Really? Julian Castro also has not run and won a statewide race but at least he was a big city mayor and cabinet secretary. What’s the difference between him and Mayor Pete? Ethnicity. The campaign press corps has a hard time identifying with a Latino; even one with such an amazing Horatio Alger-type back story. Julian is just as cute as Pete and would also make history. Beto would simply be the latest white dude to be nominated albeit a white dude who used to be in a band. I was too. Perhaps I should run.

There’s another difference between Castro and the other young guns: he’s running a substantive campaign. He’s thought a lot about immigration and how the system can be changed and reformed. It’s badly needed after the chainsaw tactics of Trump and Miller. Castro is a longshot but he’s making a contribution to the dialogue in a way that neither Beto nor Buttigieg is. Frankly, I hope that Castro and/or Beto will drop out and run against John Cornyn back home in Texas. Winning the senate is every bit as important as retaking the White House. Democrats have been fixated on the latter way too long. We need to multi-task.

It’s still early and anything can happen in the Democratic field. There are two qualities that are being underestimated by observers thus far. First, the 2020 nominee has to be tough: Team Trump’s only path to victory is total annihilation of their opponent. Second, many voters want a restoration of what Gamaliel called “normalcy” and Adrastos calls normality. They are quite simply exhausted by the endless Trump scandals. I’m convinced that many 2016 Trump voters will pull the lever for peace and quiet in 2020.

The post title is, of course, wry and sardonic. None of the Killer Bees thinks of themselves as a Great White Hope although both Bernie and Biden need to do a better job explaining themselves to people of color, especially black women who are tired of being taken for granted. They should be: they’re the backbone of the Democratic base. That’s why the clips of yesterday’s She The People forum were so much fun to watch. Warren killed it. Bernie struggled. So it goes.

One reason I chose the featured Killer Bee image was the sign in the background: Swine Flu Inoculation Center. The executive branch is loaded with swines. We need to stop the disease called Trumpism in its tracks.  Additionally, the Insult Comedian has pandered  to the anti-vaxxers who have brought back measles.  Thanks, Trumpy. We need inoculation from these swines. If it takes the Great White Hopes or the Killer Bees, so be it. Just win, baby.

The last word goes to the original Killer Bees led by the great Elliot Gould:

I’m caught in another last word lie. Does that qualify me for a Trump regime cabinet job?

Let’s shut things down with the musical stylings of the Blues Brothers; some of whom were also Killer Bees:

The Man Without A Plan

The Insult Comedian continues to flail, wail, and fail. My favorite recent moment was his “threat” to close the border, which almost no one took seriously. The Trump base likes their guacamole and tequila as much as the rest of us. As always, Trump caved and issued a “one-year warning” instead. I somehow doubt that President Obrador aka Amlo was shaking in his boots. It was non-starter from the git-go.

It’s time for a reminder that Trump is the man without a plan. He wings it, improvises, and pulls stuff out of thin air. The only plan he has is to distract attention from evidence of his criminality.

An excellent example of Trump’s inability to plan ahead is the Mar-a-Lago mishigas. I suspect the Secret Service knew early on that it was an insecure location since anyone with an extra $200K can buy a membership and proximity to Trumpberius. The word seems to have spread in China that this is the way to get to Trump. A man with a plan would have had one to make the so-called Southern White House more secure. But who needs security when everyone loves you? #Sarcasm

My other favorite recent Trump gambit is his threat to nominate Herman Cain to the Fed. Isn’t Stephen Moore bad enough? A WaPo headline describes the Cain gambit as a plan but you know what  I think about that. Trump is the man without plan.

Another area that Trump’s chronic inability to plan seems to be infected is his re-election campaign. Here’s a Gabriel Sherman quote from the Hive that has people buzzing:

The prospect of damaging Mueller revelations is particularly alarming to advisers who worry the president’s 2020 re-election campaign is in “disarray,” according to three Republicans close to the White House. “There’s no brain trust,” a former West Wing official said. Campaign manager Brad Parscale, a social-media consultant with no political experience prior to Trump’s 2016 campaign, is struggling to exert control over the operation and reverse Trump’s upside-down poll numbers with women voters, sources said. “The polling is very bad. They’re going to have a big problem with female voters,” a Republican who’s been briefed on the internal numbers said. According to a source, Parscale told Trump over the weekend of March 16 that he could improve his standing with women if he dialed back the tweeting. Trump responded with a tweetstorm the following day that included an attack on the late Senator John McCain and a retweet of a user who had promoted the QAnon conspiracy. “Brad went to him and Trump’s response was like 40 tweets,” the source said.

I’d call it a brainless trust, especially since Sherman goes on to state that Trump Junior and Slumlord Jared will really run the campaign. Another gift from the president* to the resistance. Thanks, Trumpy.

Here’s my oddball 2020 prediction. Not long ago, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld announced that he was challenging Trump for the GOP nomination. It got very little attention but Weld is just the sort of candidate they love in New Hampshire. Do I think he can win? No, but he could attract enough votes to make Trump tweet 40 times after the primary. Remember: Pat Buchanan got 37% of the vote against Poppy Bush in 1992. It’s true that Trump is Buchanan-like but they love protest candidates in the Granite state. And Weld is for legal weed. Party on, Bill.

Trump’s inability to plan is one reason I call him the Kaiser of Chaos. I’m unsure of the “oranges” of this problem but it may have something to do with a rebellion against his father’s grandfather’s homeland. Germans like to plan, y’all.

The last word (image?) goes to Michael F with his marvelous Trump as upper class twit of the year image from last week:

The Veep Abidens

I remain undecided in the increasingly contentious race for the Democratic presidential nomination. I remain committed to the notion that anyone who wants to run, should give it a shot and see what happens. The more the merrier, let the voters decide. You’ve heard it all before.

I begin to wonder, however, whether or not former Vice President Joe Biden should throw his hat into the ring. It’s not for ideological reasons: anyone who was a Senator for 30+ years is going to have votes that look questionable 20 years later. It’s called the rule of unintended consequences and applies to the omnibus crime bill passed in the 1990’s. Its intent was NOT to throw more black folks in jail but that’s what happened. It has turned out to be a bad bill despite its strong gun control aspects, which proved to be depressingly ephemeral. Hindsight is always 20-20.

I’m less concerned with the “handsy Uncle Joe” stories than many. Arguably, these stories boil down to cultural, regional, and generational differences since they occurred in public view, not behind closed doors. Dr. A had a colleague who moved to New Orleans from New York in the 1990’s. She considered people calling her baby, sweetie, or darling to be sexual harassment. If that’s the case, it still happens to me every time I make groceries. In New Orleans, it’s just people being friendly. In fact, the colleague in question came to understand that. But I don’t think we should be having *that* particular argument during such a high stakes election.

I come from a touchy-feely ethnic culture in which hugging and kissing people of both genders is the norm. Having said that, I don’t recall ever kissing a woman on the back of the neck and sniffing her hair as Lucy Flores says Joe Biden did. That’s definitely creepy even if Flores herself thinks it was an invasion of her personal space and not sexual harassment. Is it disqualifying for a presidential candidate in the #METOO era? I’m not sure but it will  be a factor in a race in which there are multiple serious female contenders.

I’ve compared the early stages of the 2020 Democratic race to 1976 before. Joe Biden is an excellent analogue to the Happy Warrior of that era, former Vice President /Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey. HHH was more battle-scarred, but by 1976 he had regained his popularity among the Democratic base. He was repeatedly approached to join the race and was always reluctant because he knew he’d feel less love if he became an active candidate. He did not run.

There’s ample evidence that many Democrats have great affection for Joe Biden because of his 8 years as Barack Obama’s loyal Vice President. We at First Draft call him Joey the Shark, but many more people call him Uncle Joe. The Uncle Joe glow is already beginning to fade as Biden inches closer to running. It’s getting ugly out there. The axes are being sharpened over his voting record, loose lips, and back-slapping persona.

Then there’s the matter of Biden’s age. Dr. A and I paid a visit to an elderly relative yesterday. She’s an ardent Democrat but expressed her own concerns about Biden’s age. She said that she didn’t feel like an old lady even in her late sixties but when she hit her mid-seventies that changed dramatically. Joe Biden is 76 and, unless you’re a lazy lima bean like the Insult Comedian, the presidency is an arduous, stressful job, and campaigning is even harder.

My unsolicited advice for the Veep is to abiden by his beloved former colleague’s example and stay out of the race as Humphrey did in 1976. The supporters of at least one of his potential primary opponents are ready, willing, and able to throw everything they’ve got at him. If he runs, he needs to be ready to deal with them, then face the prospect of an ugly general election in which Team Trump will not only attack him and his family but create new charges out of thin air. Trump’s only path to re-election is total destruction of his opponent. Believe me.

Beto’s Big Getaway

It took longer than usual to come up with a title for this post. I seem to have used up all my Beto puns last year and was reluctant to Beto the ranch on a new one. I consulted with Mr. Google and learned that Sam Peckinpah’s 1972 film of The Getaway was filmed in O’Rourke’s native El Paso. The book on which it’s based was written by pulp icon Jim Thompson and it’s Pulp Fiction Thursday hence the post title.

Another reason The Getaway provides a perfect title for a post about Beto’s belated campaign announcement is that its premise seems to be “vote for the cool kid” and nobody was cooler than Steve McQueen whose nickname just happened to be The King of Cool. Destiny or a fluke? You decide.

I just finished reading Joe Hagan’s ode to Beto in Vanity Fair. Both Hagan and the candidate think O’Rourke is a man of destiny:”I want to be in it. Man, I was born to be in it.”

I’m less certain. As to the tone of the piece itself, I’m inclined to agree with this tweet from Gambit editor and Adrastos crony Kevin Allman:

The puff piece article compares O’Rourke to Obama and JFK. It even hints at a “LBJ only cuter” analogy with an extended discussion of Beto’s father Pat, a failed politician, with whom the candidate had a contentious relationship as did Lyndon and Sam Johnson. It was the most interesting part of Hagan’s hagiography piece and included this bit of myth making:

One night in July 2001 the two had what Beto O’Rourke says was “the best conversation we ever had,” ranging over family, politics, personal history. “We just ate leftovers and drank a bottle of wine in the backyard,” he recalls. The next morning, his father was cycling along a quiet route outside El Paso when he was struck by a car and thrown 70 feet to his death. “I was at work and my mom called me and I just knew,” he says. “Because her voice was shaken and said, ‘Something’s happened with your dad. You should come to the store.’”

Neither Jim Thompson nor Sam Peckinpah could have concocted a more mythic end to this father-son relationship.

I’m already on the record as a “the more the merrier” pundit. Whoever wants to contend for the 2020 Democratic nomination should run and let the voters decide. I, too, think that the ability to defeat Trump should be an important factor BUT given the slippage in the incumbent’s support and the scandals engulfing him, I think that any plausible Democratic candidate has a good chance of beating him.  I’m concerned about governing: Trump’s successor will have an ungodly number of messes to clean up including the rebuilding of the NATO alliance. Being cool is not enough.

The Beto myth did not start with the Vanity Fair puff piece. After his defeat by Ted Cruz, people started comparing him to another politician who lost a senate election and was elected president in the next cycle. Comparisons to Lincoln, Kennedy, and Obama seem a bit over-the-top and even a trifle overwrought. What’s next? Are they going to trot out the old Todd Rundgren album title: A Wizard, A True Star? Annie Leibovitz took a picture of Beto “jamming” with his kids, maybe they can do their own version of that classic 1973 album.

Here’s the deal: I will support any Democratic nominee against anyone the GOP puts forward. I don’t even dislike Beto in the way I dislike Bernie Sanders who I would also support. I’m just skeptical that the guy who lost to Tailgunner Ted who lost to the Insult Comedian is the right person to become the next president. If you want healing, unity, and love, Cory Booker is already sounding those themes. Thematically, Beto is the white Cory, only the latter’s stage mannerisms are not reminiscent of revival tent preachers. I’ll spare you comparisons to Burt Lancaster as Elmer Gantry. The Steve McQueen shtick is enough for one post.

Beto brings another liability to the race. There’s a hunger in the Democratic base for a woman and/or person of color to top the ticket in 2020. Women and minorities drove the party to victory in 2018 and many believe that we should follow suit in 2020.  I remain undecided but I’m inclined to agree.

This post is not intended as a takedown of Robert O’Rourke. I just think he should be subjected to the same scrutiny as the rest of the field. One important question is whether or not he’s ever eaten salad with a comb a la Amy Klobuchar. Repeat after me: being cool is not enough.

Being urged to run by Oprah Winfrey is not a reason for non-celebrities to support a candidate. Thus far, all we really know about O’Rourke is that he’s an excellent campaigner and that the media and some voters are in love with him. It’s unclear what his raison d’être for running for president is: “Vote for Beto because he’s cool” is not enough.

It’s obvious that Oprah and former president Obama urged him to consider running because timing is everything in politics, and O’Rourke was the brightest and shiniest media object in the 2018 campaign. He also lost his race to Ted Cruz a man who is disliked even by those who agree with him. Moral victories are not enough: the stakes are too high.

While I wish that Beto was running against John Cornyn instead of jumping into the crowded presidential field, I understand that the adage “when you’re hot, you’re hot” applies to politics. The people who ran The Getaway‘s PR campaign understood that too. This alternate poster for that movie gets the last word:

Instant Postscript: I mentioned to a friend that I was doing a Beto post centered around the Steve McQueen version of The Getaway. He reminded me that there was a unnecessary and even gratuitous 1994 remake starring SNL Trump impersonator Alec Baldwin. Betomaniacs could argue that McQueen would kick Baldwin’s ass hence O’Rourke could whip Trump. It’s not a bad argument as fictional arguments go. Repeat after me: being cool is not enough.

The Big Picture

There was outrage and shock over the light sentence given to Paul Manafort by Judge TS Ellis last week. I was unhappy with the 47 month sentence but not shocked because I followed the trial closely. Judge Ellis was biased against the prosecution and in favor of Manafort throughout the trial. Several times during the trial, Ellis expressed the opinion that Manafort was a stand-in for Trump so the expressions of shock were either themselves shocking or naive. The light sentence was predictable. Not desirable but predictable.

Judge Ellis is the personification of a federal judge who has served too long. He’s been on senior status since 2007 and has served a total of 32 years. Federal judges tend to have a high opinion of themselves and their legal acumen. Ellis may be an extreme example but the system is pockmarked with high-handed judges who act like demigods in their courtrooms.

I’m inclined to agree with former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti:

The 47-month sentence imposed on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has drawn widespread criticism that Judge T.S. Ellis’s decision to give Manafort a sentence far below the 19.5 to 24.5-year guidelines range was motivated by Manafort’s race and class or by partisan bias. In fact, his flawed decision is a consequence of the vast discretion given to federal judges to issue sentences without real fear of being overturned.

What you might not know is that federal law permitted Judge Ellis to give Manafort a sentence of anywhere between 0 to 80 years in prison. And as long as Ellis did not go above the 24.5-year maximum called for by the sentencing guidelines, an appellate court would almost certainly not reverse his sentence, given the very deferential standard of review.

Some compared Manfort’s 47 month sentence to the 13 year book thrown at my former Congressman Dollar Bill Jefferson by Judge Ellis. One flaw in that reasoning is that was not a tax case but a bribery case. Besides, Dollar Bill’s sentence was reduced to 5 years after a plea bargain in 2017. As I said on the tweeter tube:

Dollar Bill is a corrupt piece of shit who deserved all the jail time he got as I pointed out in a piece I wrote for the Bayou Brief.

The reason I’m more sanguine than many about the Manafort sentence is that I’m a big picture guy. Ellis’ sentence is just the first bite out of the sentencing apple. The DC judge, Amy Berman Jackson, has already taken a hard-line with Manafort by revoking his bail for violating his plea deal with Team Mueller. I expect she’ll throw a heftier book at Manafort with that sentence running consecutively with Ellis’ 47 months, which could be a total of 14+years.

In addition to being a big picture guy, I’m not a fan of hot takes. It’s easier to spout off on social media than it is to think things through before responding to the events of the day. It’s why I’m not a fan of epic “tweet threads.” I’d rather read a coherent discussion of an issue than 25 often disjointed tweets on the same subject. That’s why I’m a blogger, not a tweeter.

In other big picture news, people are obsessing about the 2020 campaign and why certain candidates should or should not run. I think it’s up to the voters to sort things out. Lack of interest is why Mike Bloomberg and Sherrod Brown dropped out, which is a good thing in both cases. Bloomberg will spend his megabucks on issues and Brown will hold on to  a senate seat that would surely tumble to the GOP. The Ohio senator may still end up on the ticket if the nominee is looking for balance: a Harris-Brown ticket could be formidable.

Here’s the deal. I think that Trump and the Republicans will be so consumed with scandal that the Democratic nominee will be a heavy favorite to win the election. For that reason, I think that the ability to govern is just as important as electability, which is why I’m reluctant to support anyone at this point in time. The next Democratic president is going to have an even bigger mess to clean up than the one inherited by Barack Obama, which is why competence and experience are just as important as ideology in 2020.

I’ve seen confident predictions that the Democratic nominee will not be a white man. It’s too soon to tell: who thought an obscure one-term Georgia Governor would be the 1976 nominee? I’d like to make history again BUT we’re the big tent party and need to assemble a coalition that appeals to moderates and independents as well as to the left. Once again, the voters will winnow down the candidates. Whatever happens, the Democratic nominee will be far superior to Trump or anyone else the GOP puts forward.

Former Veep Joe Biden seems to be edging closer to a decision as to whether or not to run. If Biden were 10 years younger, he’d be a prohibitive favorite for the nomination. In his case, experience and likability could trump (pun intended, it always is) ideology. Joey the shark will have to explain some of his past positions but is viewed with personal affection by most Democrats. He’ll also have to rein in his tendency to praise *everyone* including Republicans if he runs. It’s what happens when you’re an epic schmoozer.

I may be a self-proclaimed big picture guy but I’m out of the prediction business. I hope that Trump will be out of office before January 2021 BUT things have been so crazy for the last three years that I hesitate to dust off my crystal ball. All I’m certain of is that it’s going to be interesting on both the legal and political fronts for the foreseeable future.

Horrible Bosses

I’ve never seen the movie Horrible Bosses but, like everyone else, I’ve had some bad bosses. Besides, I know a good title when I see one. I have, however, seen 9 to 5 and it’s hard to imagine them being worse fictional bosses than Dabney Fucking Coleman.

In case you’re wondering where this is going, there was a spate of negative press last week about the latest entrant into the presidential race, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. According to articles in a slew of online publications, she’s a horrible boss.  (Spate & Slew sounds like a shystery law firm.) The fact that there were so many articles right before her announcement ignited my bullshit detector. I don’t believe in coincidences.

There was a lot of melodrama on the tweeter tube about Klobuchar the bad boss. Some even wondered if she could continue in the Senate let alone run for president. I didn’t see anything disqualifying. She’s obviously a very difficult person to work for BUT so are many hard-driving workaholics out there including other Senators. not to mention lawyers, which is the workplace milieu from which Klobuchar comes.

The Klobuchar as bad boss articles are another example of the double standard at work. I don’t recall any MALE presidential contenders being judged on how they treated their staff, but it’s a thing because her name is Amy, not Arnie. She’s a piker, however, compared to LBJ or Trump whose staff is apparently in open rebellion. BTW, George W. Bush was a sweetheart of a boss but he was a horrible president.

Women in professional positions are judged by a higher standard than men. In the legal profession, many men are skeptical that women are tough enough to be lawyers, let alone bosses. Senator Klobuchar is 58 so she had to prove herself tough and worthy to older, often sexist, lawyers. Hence her horrible bossery. It’s not a management style I like, but it’s a dog eat dog world out there and you don’t want to be like Cheers barfly Norm Peterson and wear Milk Bone underwear.

My suggestion to Democratic primary voters is that they consider the information about Klobuchar’s management style alongside her record in office. If you don’t like what you’ve heard, support someone else. There are a lot of good candidates running. So many that I remain undecided.

There’s an upside for Klobuchar from the horrible boss stories: it proves that she’s tough enough to be president despite her Minnesota nice exterior. Additionally, if elected, she’ll work for us, not vice versa. And the American people can be horrible bosses too. Just ask the surviving staff members of the two recent presidents who were not re-elected: Jimmy Carter and Poppy Bush.

The last word goes to Dolly Parton:

Of Stone Cold Liars, Starbucks Fucks, & Sweaty Shysters

This polar vortex is a mean motherfucker. It has led the Insult Comedian to make a stale joke about global warming and vast swaths of the country to freeze their asses off. It’s been in the forties in New Orleans but I’m not complaining after learning that the bars in Wisconsin are closed because of the weather. Now that’s some serious shit.

The news grinds on as Cheeseheads hunker down and Athenae’s cats get more lap time with their people because of the weather. Holy Aaron Brrr, Batman.

Stone Cold Liar: Roger Stone is the first person I’ve ever seen who seems to enjoy being perp-walked and arraigned. Ratfucker Roger loves him some publicity even when it involves a full-tilt raid by federal law enforcement on all his properties. The feds were afraid that he might destroy evidence pertinent to Kremlingate. For all we know, Stone took some selfies of himself and Assange and/or Guccifer 2.0. Hopefully, there aren’t any sex tapes. #shudder

The tough talking Stone claims that he’ll never roll on his pal Trumpberius. It looks like lobbying for a pardon to me. Roger is a stone cold liar. If he’s facing enough jail time, he’ll sing a different tune:

But the speculation that Stone could turn on his longtime client is supported by several factors. For one, Stone has a complicated relationship with Trump. The two met in 1979 when Stone was living at Roy Cohn’s Manhattan town house while working as a young staffer on Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign, and it has rankled Trump that Stone is regarded as his political brain (Stone has claimed he created the “build the wall” slogan). “Stone and Trump are like an old married couple,” the Republican close to Trump explained. “Stone knows Donald isn’t loyal. He calls him ‘Mr. Ingratitude.’”

That’s a better nickname than any coined by the Insult Comedian. Stay tuned.

Howard The Starbucks Fuck: It’s been a long time since there was such a rotten campaign launch. Howard Schultz does not seem to have thought his campaign through very well. It’s unclear why he’s running: the last thing the country needs is another inexperienced rich egomaniac in the White House. If Trump doesn’t cure us of the “we need a CEO to run guvmint like a bidness” delusion, nothing will.

Speaking of delusions, Schultz is guilty of a venerable one that’s part of the country’s creation myth. He believes that political parties are the problem. He’s half-right in that instance: the GOP has been going crazy for the last half-century and their lunacy was perfected with the election* of the Current Occupant.

If Schultz were a lifelong conservative Republican who would take votes from Trump, I’d be down with his independent candidacy BUT he’s not, so he should follow that heckler’s advice:

“Don’t help elect Trump, you egotistical, billionaire asshole. Go back to getting ratioed on Twitter. Go back to Davos with the other billionaire élites who think they know how to run the world.”

Word.

The Case of the Sweaty Shyster: The president* may have appointed Matt Whitaker acting AG to throw monkey wrenches at the Mueller probe but it hasn’t gone to plan. Rod Rosenstein has continued to supervise the investigation and the indictments and guilty pleas keep coming. So much for Trump’s attempt to rig the “rigged witch hunt.”

There was a flurry of MSM gullibility when Whitaker claimed that the investigation was nearly over. It was a vague, unsubstantiated claim but the MSM fell for it even though there are obviously more shoes to drop, especially if Stone turns on Mr. Ingratitude. Additionally, congressional Democrats seem to think that a bunch of Trumpers lied under oath, which is what Rog is charged with.

I don’t believe Whitaker, in part, because he sweated at that presser like Bogie in the greenhouse scene in The Big Sleep. A friend of mine captured the moment on twitter:

That’s one sweaty shyster.

The last word goes to glam rockers Mott the Hoople with a song released during the misrule of Roger Stone’s favorite Oval One, Richard Milhous Nixon:

 

Stop Electing CEOs

They’re bad at this because government isn’t a business: 

Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO, says in a 60 Minutes interview already recorded but airing on Sunday that he is thinking very seriously about a presidential run—but he stops short of a full announcement.

He makes clear, however, that if he moves forward, he will do so as an independent.

Of course, because parties and principles and coherent platforms are just, like, bullshit, man, and he alone can see that the true way forward is to split the baby: Half of it in an immigration cage.

We just recently rid ourselves, in Illinois, of the odious Bruce Rauner, who believed he could abuse teachers into doing his bidding because as head of a company all he had to do was say, “Do it” and people would jump. When you’re the sole guy in charge you can do that.

Trump’s the same way: I can yell at my employees the right way to make them do what I want. Well, Nancy Pelosi doesn’t work for you, Brad, and frankly neither do any of the Republicans, not that they remember that. In government there are all these other little fiefdoms to navigate and they require negotiation, not just giving orders.

A governor, a senator, shit even a state rep knows nothing works like that, so next time around let’s elect somebody who has experience in the system they want to run.

A.

The More The Merrier

Welcome to the latest post wherein I steal the title of an old movie. The More The Merrier was a brilliant 1943 comedy about the wartime housing shortage in Washington D.C. It’s noteworthy as the last comedy directed by George Stevens before going off to war. Stevens was among the first Americans to see a Nazi death camp and stuck to more serious subjects after the war. As much as I love A Place In The Sun, Shane, and Giant, I wish Stevens had done some comedies after the war. Nobody did them better and his post Giant output defined the phrase mixed bag. That concludes the film buff portion of the post.

Let’s turn out attention to the 2020 presidential campaign. There’s some hand wringing among Democrats about the number of candidates who plan to run. I say the more the merrier. A diverse field of candidates shows the strength of our party. And a large field gives us a better chance to pick a candidate who will reflect the nation’s mood in November 2020.

It’s been forgotten what a large field of talented candidates ran for the 2008 Democratic nomination. It quickly boiled down to Obama versus Clinton, but John Edwards was a serious contender early on. We dodged that bullet but we could have found ourselves stuck with Edwards when the National Enquirer baby daddy story hit.

We know what worked in the 2018 midterms: new faces, especially women and minority candidates. That might be the right formula for 2020 as well but an experienced old hand such as Joe Biden might be appealing to voters sick of Trumpian incompetence by the time the election rolls around. Or maybe not. It’s hard to tell this far out from the election. Repeat after me: the more the merrier.

I remain undecided about 2020 but I find much to like in the candidacies of Warren, Harris,  Castro, and Gillibrand as well as the thus far undeclared cohort of Booker, Klobuchar, Brown, Beto, and others who are flirting with running. It’s a veritable cast of thousands: the more the merrier.

As to Mike Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders, I’m a fan of neither but let them run and see how they do. Bloomberg’s wanderings from Democrat to Republican to Independent and back to Democrat gives this hardcore Democrat pause. Similarly, Sanders’ status as a stubborn Independent is vexatious. I’m also unconvinced that a passion candidate like Bernie will do as well the second time around, BUT if both he and Bloomberg want to run, I say the more the merrier. Let the voters decide.

Everyone who is a native-born citizen over the age of 35 has the right to run for president even Tulsi Gabbard. I’m mystified as to why she thinks that running on a platform of compromising with Trump, Obama bashing, and Kremlingate skepticism will appeal to Democratic voters. I’ll skip detailing her anti-LGBT past, which has already crippled her candidacy.

Speaking of the Current Occupant, he’s the elephant in the room. If Trump runs for re-election, he will be the GOP nominee even if he faces a primary challenge. But I remain uncertain that he’ll be on the ballot in 2020. As a partisan Democrat, I hope the Insult Comedian runs because he looks beatable in the wake of the midterms, but as a patriot I hope he’s out of office ASAP.

Democrats need to be prepared to run against another Republican nominee, be it Pence or someone else. That’s another reason to be glad that the Democratic field will be so large. We need options. The more the merrier.

The last word goes to The Mighty Sparrow:

 

Mississippi Goddam

Source: Cindy Hyde-Smith’s Facebook page via the Bayou Brief.

I feel like an interloper to this story. Athenae wrote a slam-bang post about it yesterday and my friend and Bayou Brief publisher, Lamar White Jr. broke the story of Cindy Hyde-Smith’s bigoted comments. I also could not resist using the Nina Simone song for the post title. I know I’m not the first to do so, my friend Kat did it at Sky Dancing. I am a derivative motherfucker. I do, however, have talented friends.

While I’m giving credit where it’s due, there’s a remarkable piece in the Jackson Free Press by Ashton Pittman (names don’t get more Southern than that) that fills in many of the blanks about Cindy Hyde-Smith aka the Racist Lady. Nobody should be shocked that, not only did the appointed senator attend a “segregation academy,” she sent her daughter there. And yes, she was an elected official when her daughter matriculated. It doesn’t matter to prosperous white Mississippians. It’s what they do, y’all. Cannot mix with “those people.”

Another note about Lamar’s reporting. He tells us exactly who and what, Greg Stewart, the guy in the Facebook pictures with the Racist Lady, is:

In the early 2000s, Stewart was specifically identified as a leader of a recognized hate group- Free Mississippi- by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group went defunct, and as a result, it was de-listed by the SPLC. But you can still find his name on their database. He  served as the group’s “parliamentarian.”

You can also still easily find him on Facebook, where he makes it abundantly clear that he is very much still involved in the business of the Lost Cause. (Stewart enthusiastically supported Chris McDaniel in the general election and is now cheering on Hyde-Smith).

McDaniel is the arch teabagger and Lost Causer who opposed Thad Cochran in 2014. He’s also the creep whose supporter harassed the Senator’s elderly wife in her nursing home. I am not making this up.

Back to Cindy Hyde-Smith. I wish I could say that her racist remarks and inept campaign will defeat her but I don’t think they will. Her Democratic opponent, Mike Espy, is infinitely more intelligent and qualified to serve in the Senate. He’s also black and the vast majority of white Mississippians will never vote for a Democrat let alone a black Democrat. It’s the party of “those people.”

I’ve watched with amusement people who know nothing about the South opine on cable news about the Mississippi runoff. I saw one otherwise intelligent person say on AM JOY that Espy will win because there was not supposed to be a runoff in this race. Wrong. Chris McDaniel nearly unseated an incumbent Senator in the 2014 GOP primary. He only got 17% of the vote this time, in part, because Trump supported the Racist Lady in the first round. He’s still popular with white voters in the Magnolia state, alas.

What Cindy Hyde-Smith’s bigoted bumbling has done is to make the runoff closer than it should be. Republican political pros are nervous about the race but think she’ll pull it out after Trump rallies the peckerwoods later today. Their mantra is: “We don’t want an Alabama.”

They’re referring to Senator Doug Jones’ thrilling win last year in his race against Judge Pervert. I think that’s unlikely for reasons stated on the tweeter tube:

Alabama is NOT a progressive paradise but it has some big cities, a major medical research hub in Birmingham, and the rocket eggheads in Huntsville to partially offset the rural peckerwoods and rednecks. Also, Doug Jones is white. An African American candidate would not have beaten Judge Pervert, alas. The Bradley effect remains in effect in the South, as we saw in Florida where many white voters could not bring themselves to vote for Andrew Gillum.

I think Mike Espy has a good chance to get 45% of the vote if his GOTV effort is strong, otherwise he’ll hover at around 40%. If it’s the former, it’s a Beto-style moral victory. I hope I’m wrong and we wake up to an upset victory on Wednesday morning.

One thing that national Democrats seem to have learned this year is to CONTEST every race even those that look difficult. You never know when an inept candidate will talk about hanging or disenfranchising their opponents. In another state, those comments would have destroyed the appointed senator’s campaign. It’s a sign of progress that they damaged it severely. And in Mississippi of all places. Goddam.

The last word goes to the great Nina Simone:

Campaign Notes: Concessions & Patience

It seemed only fitting to begin this post with a visual pun. Who among us doesn’t like that kind of concession? There was, however, the time I ate way too many Milk Duds whilst seeing Boyz In The Hood, a great movie that left me with a great bellyache.

Where the hell was I? Oh yeah, the aftermath of the 2018 midterms. One lesson I’ve drawn from them is that candidates in close races should *never* concede early. His subsequently retracted concession has left Florida’s Andrew Gillum in an awkward position in his ongoing electoral dispute with Trump Mini-Me Ron DeSantis. Bill Nelson may be dull but he was wily enough to refuse to concede, which has left him in a stronger political position than the charismatic Tallahassee Mayor.

An obvious lesson of the midterms is that the Republicans are the party of voter fuckery and mendacious fraud claims. Democrats should be the “COUNT EVERY VOTE” party. That’s why early concessions are for the birds. What difference does it make if a candidate concedes on election night? Never forget how that came back to bite Al Gore in the ass. There were even recount tchotchkes:

Another lesson to be drawn from the midterms is that voters, pundits, and pols need to learn patience, which is extra-difficult in the age of instant gratification. We all want things to be clear when Kornacki is working the big board on election night. The way votes are cast and counted in 2018 requires us to take a deep breath and be patient. Krysten Sinema’s victory was not confirmed until nearly a week later, which resulted in the coolest concession of the cycle featuring  a dog named Boomer:

Martha could afford to be gracious. She’s widely expected to McSally forth and be appointed to replace Jon Kyl in the late John McCain’s Senate seat. I guess they couldn’t find another guy named John or Jon.

Back to the virtue of patience. I, too, was impatient in calling my election wrap up post, Split Decision. It was instead a slow motion blue wave. House Democrats are on target to gain 38-40 seats, which is the most the party has gained since the 1974 post-Watergate wave. The worst case scenario in the Senate is a loss of two instead of the feared 4-6. Democrats are on track to win the national popular vote by 7+ points, which tops 2006 as well as the GOP wave years of 1994 and 2010. Absent Gerrymandering and Republican election fuckery, it would have been a slow motion tsunami.

Unlike some observers, I am more interested in the progress of the incoming 116th Congress than in speculating about who will run for president in 2020. Unfortunately, the MSM is more interested in horse races than in the reform agenda already being offered by House Democrats.

After two very grim years, these are heady times for Democrats. My fingers are crossed that they won’t blow it with foolish rebellions against the leadership. We’re in a national crisis. This is no time to replace Nancy Smash with a rookie leader. Do House Democrats need to figure out a long-term leadership succession plan? Absolutely, but now is not the time. It’s time to take the battle to the Republicans, not form a circular firing squad.

As a concession to the beginning of the post, let’s all go to the lobby:

 

Florida’s Gotta Florida

It’s not over until it’s over in a Florida election. Election weirdness has been discovered in heavily Democratic Broward County where there were some 24K fewer ballots cast for the Senatorial candidates than Goober guys, Gillum and DeSantis. Oops.

This could be incompetence instead of Brian Kemp-style fuckery but that remains unclear. What is clear that we’re in for a good old fashioned political brawl ala the 2000 Gore-Bush recount battle. Will there be a second Brooks Brothers riot without Roger Stone to stage it?

Josh Marshall focused on the Governor Bat Boy factor:

Things are getting ugly fast in Florida. Rick Scott, clearly thinking he’s going to fall behind in the vote count and lose his campaign for Senate, is both filing lawsuits to stop the vote counting in South Florida and using his police powers as governor to do so. As in Georgia, having the candidate oversee the election has real shortcomings.

<SNIP>

Scott actually said this …

“Late Tuesday night our win was projected about 57,000 votes. By Wednesday morning that lead dropped to 38,000 votes. By Wednesday evening, it was around 30,000 votes. This morning, it was around 21,000. Now, it is 15,000,.”

And then this.

“Every Floridan should be concerned that their could be rampant fraud happening in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.”

It looks like I’m going to lose … ergo there must be ‘rampant fraud’ … ergo I’m ordering the state police to investigate the election administrators.

I should apologize for the long quote but the man nailed it. It’s too early for me to use a hammer even if I had a Hankering Aaron to do so.

Josh’s post is titled Getting Ugly Fast. Anything involving Rick Scott is de facto ugly:

Ain’t nothing like a Michael F image in the morning. It’s almost as good as a cuppa Tom Petty style Joe. Why TP? Gainesville, y’all, Gainesville. Dig the Florida Gator guitar wielded by Heartbreaker Mike Campbell in this clip from their 40th anniversary show in Gainesville:

Back to Florida election weirdness. I’m feeling as low energy as former Governor Jeb Bush, so I’ll post two tweets I fired off last night:

Bill Nelson has run statewide in Florida 6 times, winning 5 elections. He knows his shit, y’all. Mayor Gillum should follow suit and pronto.

Repeat after me: it’s feeling like 2000 in Florida.

Campaign Notes: Split Decision

I can’t let go of my beloved tick tock image of Harold Lloyd in Safety Last. I decided to give it an encore after a long night of watching/following the election returns. It still aptly describe the state of a nation with a Republican senate and lunatic president*.

Overall, it was a good night for Democrats: the House was the Big Kahuna. But it has so many moving parts that it’s harder for the average person to follow. Still, Democrats won the majority and there were upsets galore in Virginia, New York, Iowa, California, Texas and a real shocker with Kendra Horn’s win in Oklahoma. There will be more than 100 women in the next Congress. That’s genuine progress.

Like Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, and Ella Fitzgerald,  I prefer to accentuate the positive:

Anyone with a lick of sense knew how difficult the Senate would be since 2/3 of the seats up were held by Democrats. It was worse than expected since three of the No on Kavanaugh red state senators Donnelly, Heitkamp, and McCaskill were defeated. Montana Senator John Tester’s race was just called in his favor, which means that Washington will be spared another real estate developer in office.

I think Democratic expectations were too high last night. It’s going to take more than one election to turn things around. The GOP’s post-2006 comeback took five election cycles. The House fell first for the GOP in 2010 because it’s more democratic. The Senate was never intended to be a democratic institution. Its members were elected by state leges until 100 years ago, after all.

I’m going to use the ultra-punditty “takeaway” format for the rest of the post. It’s otherwise known in these parts as Odds & Sods or First Draft Potpourri. I’ve been stirring the potpourri here for nine years, so why stop now?

Shooting Stars: The three most exciting candidates of the cycle were Beto O’Rourke, Andrew Gillum, and Stacey Abrams. They all got the fuzzy end of the electoral lollipop. Ms. Abrams, quite rightly, has refused to concede.

Since I was skeptical of Betomania, I’m more impressed by the results than the idolators.  It has been 28 years since a Democratic candidate received 48% of the vote in a statewide race in ruby red Texas. That candidate was, of course, Ann Richards and if there’s an afterlife I know she’s “so fucking proud” of Beto. Democrats made advances in the state lege, knocked off two House GOP committee chairman, and now believe they can win statewide. I think every race should be run the way Beto ran his: with courage, inspiration, and passion.

We re-learned two important lessons last night with Andrew Gillum’s narrow defeat:

  • Florida is still where political hearts go to be broken.
  • The Bradley effect is still in effect.

The Bradley in question is former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley. He appeared to have a substantial lead over of GOPer George Deukmejian in the 1982 race to succeed Jerry Brown as California Governor. Bradley lost. The Bradley effect was born. To be fair, Bradley was more of a black Bill Nelson but, as Bob Marley would surely say at this point, who the cap fit, let them wear it.

I don’t think we’ve heard the last of Beto O’Rourke or Andrew Gillum. As to the other shooting star, Stacey Abrams has, quite rightly, refused to concede to Thievin’ Brian Kemp for reasons we’ll go into in our next segment.

The Power Of Red State Election Fuckery: Brian Kemp was up to his old vote suppression tricks on election day in Georgia. There were missing power cords, power outages, and other mishaps yesterday. They all seemed to occur in heavily Democratic areas. Incompetence or election fuckery? I think it was both.

Stacey Abrams refuses to concede until all the votes are counted in the hopes of winning enough to force a run-off. She has good reason to keep at it: there are 400K disputed votes.

We all seem to have underestimated the staying power of voter fuckery. Barack Obama and Eric Holder are right on this issue. Their effort to dial back voter suppression is not mere wonkery but crucial to the future of our democracy. The good news is that Dems flipped some state leges and won a raft of Governorships. That will help kickstart the repair work. It’s time to unfuck the electoral system.

Good News: Some really odious people were defeated yesterday. This calls for bullet points, not bullets, since we’re non-violent gun grabber types around here:

  • Dana Rohrabacher got a Harley Rouda awakening.
  • Dave Brat is still the worst.
  • Kris Kobach
  • Dean Heller
  • Corey Stewart
  • Bruce Rauner
  • Claudia Tenney
  • Scott Walker

I saved the best for last. My friend and colleague Scout Prime posted a tweet thread about the defeat of the man Doc calls Governor Deadeyes:

Click on the date at the bottom of the tweet image to read the whole thread. Well done, amiga.

While we’re posting tweets, here are the publisher lady’s thoughts on the killjoys who want to spoil our festive mood:

People seem to underestimate the magnitude of flipping the House. There are some aggressive incoming chairs with itchy subpoena fingers: Jerry Nadler, Maxine Waters, Adam Schiff, and Elijah Cummings to name a few. In between bragging about his “victory,” the Insult Comedian understands the threat, which led him to issue one of his own:

So much for that “softer tone” thing. Then there was this bit of projection:

The battle has been joined. No retreat, no surrender.

A split decision is much better than losing everything. Two years are an eternity in politics. Team Mueller has been in time-out for the last month. I expect them to make some noise in the near future that will harsh the Insult Comedian’s buzz.

One more thing. The funniest result yesterday was out of Nevada: Dennis Hof won a state assembly seat. It’s noteworthy because of his occupation and another salient fact. Here’s my headline:

DEAD PIMP WINS

How can I possibly top that?

The last word goes to Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton:

Album Cover Art Wednesday will return next week.

Campaign Notes: The Homestretch

The reason I’ve always been optimistic about the midterms is that Americans like divided government. I prefer Democratic control of all the political branches but most Americans like checks and balances, especially with an unbalanced president*. The electorate appears poised to flip the House and I still think the Senate is in play. I’m confident of the former but tentative about the latter, which is strictly based on my gut instincts and what Poppy Bush called “The Big Mo,” which seems to be hanging out with Democrats right now.

I put absolutely no stock in generic Congressional polls. Reliance upon them strikes me as a fool’s game given the past decade of frenetic gerrymandering and red state voter fuckery. I remain a devotee of Tip O’Neill’s adage “all politics is local” as well as that of the late Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders owner Al Davis “just win baby.” I know Al has been dead for 9 years but my love-hate relationship with the old villain has ripened into affectionate remembrance.

I am also skeptical about reliance on early vote totals. I remain uncertain as to what impact they have on election day turnout. I prefer voting on election day: the same poll workers have staffed my polling place since at least 2008. Many of them are neighbors with whom I’ve had front porch/stoop conversations.

The early vote obsession is the contemporary equivalent of exit poll mania. I remember 2004 when the exit polls leaked and I thought John Kerry had won. It was much worse when we found out that he’d lost. The only good thing about that result is that we were spared having John Edwards as Veep. I am still convinced that Kerry’s own first choice, Dick Gephardt, might have made the difference in Midwestern swing states but that’s 14-year-old graveyard whistling.

Graveyard Whistling is the name of the most recent Old 97’s album. They’re originally from Dallas, Texas, which provides an awkward transition into a final look at Betomania.

I remain a Beto skeptic. I think he’s an excellent candidate who has run a good race but the idolatry on the part of some people is OTT. I’ve been a good boy and haven’t yelled at anyone who mentions Beto yard signs as proof that he’s going to win. Repeat after me: YARD SIGNS DON’T VOTE. That bit of virtual yelling felt good.

A side benefit of Betomania is that Texas Dems have a chance to flip some House seats including that of 11-term incumbent Pete Sessions in the Mixmaster metro area. That’s suburban Dallas to the uninitiated. Suburbia is fertile soil for Democrats in this cycle. Trump’s manners or lack thereof *do* matter to educated suburban voters, especially women. The gender gap will be something to behold tomorrow.

Until proven otherwise, Texas remains a white whale for Democrats. My skepticism is rooted in Team Beto’s reliance on young voters and Hispanic voters; groups that do not usually turn out in great numbers. Additionally, Hispanic voters are more conservative than many Democrats think they are. A substantial percentage of Hispanic men are inclined to raise the drawbridge to future immigrants. Sad but true.

I hope to be proven wrong about Texas. I think that it will eventually become a purple state and this election cycle has helped that along. Other than the 1964 LBJ landslide, my native California went Republican in every presidential election between 1952 and 1988. Now it’s a socialist hellhole according to Fox News. I wonder if the Foxers have ever called Jerry Brown a Blue Meanie?

I’ve also been avidly following the race in the Virginia 7th. It pits the aptly named teabagger Dave Brat against former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger. Dr. A and I have family and friends in that district and they’re hoping to have a Democratic Congresscritter.

Retired Republican Senator John Warner thinks Spanberger’s the best and Brat’s the wurst.  In addition to endorsing other Democrats, including the man who should be Veep, Tim Kaine, the former Armed Services committee chair and Navy Secretary has also denounced the Insult Comedian:

“It’s a very serious time for the country. I did not support Trump,” he said, and “I’m deeply troubled by the central issues. So much of my life has been devoted to the intelligence work and national security — and I’m just not comfortable with the way he’s handling these national security issues,” said Warner.

“He has no inner compass at all,” Warner said of Trump. “He’s put a tremendous divide in this country.”

I understand from a friend who used to work for Warner that he swears like a Marine when he discusses Trumpy behind closed doors.

John Warner is a patriot who believes in putting country before party. Unfortunately, there are few conservatives like him nowadays. Let’s hope that those who are vote Democratic to put a brake on an out of control president*.

I am excited about election day but will be glad when it’s over. I think the Democrats will gain anywhere from 25 to 50 seats in the House. The upside involves the hope that most of the close races will go our way. It’s what tends to happen when Big Mo has your back.

As to the Senate, I think we’ll do better than expected but fall short of a majority unless we run the table on the close races. John Ralston has convinced me that Dean Heller is going down in Nevada. Absent the return of the Bradley effect in Florida, I think Andrew Gillum will pull Senator Bill Nelson to victory. Btw, I think Gillum had the quote of the cycle, “I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying that the racists believe he’s a racist. ” Yeah you right, Mister Mayor.

I am also cautiously optimistic about Joe Donnelly in Hoosierland and Claire McCaskill in the Show Me State. I may be one of the few pundits who thinks Heidi Heitkamp could pull off another upset as she did in 2012:

The crazy Peach State Governor’s race seems headed to a run-off thereby keeping Georgia on my mind. Democrats are clearly gaining statehouses this cycle. I know Athenae will be pleased not to have Bruce Rauner to kick around anymore. Let’s all hope that First Draft alums Scout, Jude, and Doc will have a new Governor. It’s time to watch Scotty lose.

I understand why rank and file Democrats are nervous about tomorrow’s election. They’re still traumatized by 2016. Here’s the deal: I’m old enough to have lived through the White House wilderness years when we lost 5 of 6 presidential elections. It gave me thick political skin and a suspicion of political idolatry. I fell hard as a 14-year-old for George McGovern. That did not turn out well. The country preferred Nixon until it didn’t. A reminder from John Dean that the Kaiser of Chaos is worse than Tricky Dick:

While I’ve liked many candidates since 1972, I don’t fall in love with them. I prefer to keep a wary distance. I do, however, love my country, which is why I hope for a big turnout tomorrow and in all future elections.

It’s a cliché at this point, but this *is* the most important midterm election of our lifetime.  Its chance to vote for hope, not fear; the future, not the past; diversity, not bigotry. It’s time to give Fortunate Son Donald Trump and his enablers their comeuppance. Repeat after me: To Hell With The Trump Base.

Let’s end this omnibus homestretch post on an inspirational note with a Bruce Springsteen song that a certain valiant losing candidate used as his theme song in 2004.

The last word is a quote from one of my favorite movies:

Campaign Notes: Running Scared

Harry Truman has long been the patron saint of underdogs. As you can see, Senator Heidi Heitkamp had a Trumaneque election night moment in 2012. The North Dakota GOP has been working overtime to prevent another Heitkamp upset with an effort to suppress the Native American vote. The Senator is still fighting the good fight as the title of a profile of her by Irin Carmon illustrates: Heidi Heitkamp Doesn’t Care That You Think She’s Going To Lose. Here’s hoping that political lightning strikes again.

The tragic events of the last week have stalled GOP momentum in the campaign. Even the ordinarily obtuse and insensitive president* has noticed. Of course, he’s been whining about it instead of placing it in proper perspective and accepting his share of the blame because of his abhorrent behavior. The Insult Comedian is not big on perspective or accepting responsibility. He thinks the world revolves around him, not the sun. Believing your own rhetoric is hazardous to your political health, especially when it’s a tissue of lies.

As to the post title, Democrats are running scared and Republicans are running scary. Trump is incapable of running a positive campaign and not talking about himself. He is also scared to death that Team Mueller will come after him after election day. Count on it, asshole.

I remain optimistic about our chances in the House. The Senate map remains tough but if enough suburban voters are repelled by Trump’s hateful and hate-filled rhetoric there could be a surprise. The GOP deserves a comeuppance for foisting this third-rate strong man on us. Let’s hope they get what Bush called “a thumping” in 2006 and Obama called “a shellacking” in 2010.

Trump’s rhetoric gets more extreme by the day. He’s even dragging the military into politics by sending troops to counter the so-called caravan invaders:

Restating his vow to deploy thousands more troops to the southwest border, Trump fumed over border-crossers and said he had instructed U.S. military personnel to “consider it a rifle” if incoming migrants hurl stones at them: “Anybody throwing stones, rocks … we will consider that a firearm because there’s not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock.”

I have a lot of respect for our armed forces. I’ve never met a single officer who would order their soldiers to fire on unarmed civilians for throwing rocks. It’s time for a musical antidote to the bigoted GOP campaign:

Trump knows nothing about the military. Not only did he not serve, NO MEMBER of the Trump family has ever worn a uniform; not even in World War II. Fred Trump was too busy screwing the poor to take up arms in defense of our country. All the military age men in my immigrant  family served in World War II and my Uncle Bill was killed in action in Italy. I take this personally.

They may be unwilling to go on the record but many GOPers expect Trump’s bigoted rhetoric to backfire bigly:

…but congressional Republicans battling for political survival in swing districts with large clusters of college-educated voters and women have grown increasingly worried that such groups are having trouble stomaching what Trump is dishing up.

“The kind of voters Trump is talking to right now, there aren’t enough of them in these areas to get us over the finish line,” said one GOP campaign official.

“We understand this is an issue that motivates his base, but the economic issues are what we really need to win these swing voters because they are who’s going to decide who controls the House,” the official told POLITICO, adding that Trump “is solidifying swing voters who were already leaning Democratic and are now definitely going vote for Democratic candidates.”

Make it so, voters. Make it so. The last word goes to the late, great Roy Orbison.

Oops, I forgot something:

4 DAYS UNTIL THE MIDTERMS. TICK TOCK, MOTHERFUCKERS.

Cruel Crazy Beautiful World

The mind reels over how much has been going on in the news. Election run-ups are usually action packed but 2018 has been frenetic.

The word of the day is nativism. I know, that’s always the word of the day at the Trump White House, but they’ve gotten loud even for them. They’re not only letting their xenophobic freak flag fly, they’re waving it wildly.

I had Johnny Clegg’s song Cruel Crazy Beautiful World in my head all day yesterday. It lends itself to the rush of events:

You have to wash with the crocodile in the river
You have to swim with the sharks in the sea
You have to live with the crooked politician

Clegg came to worldwide attention as a political/cultural dissident in apartheid era South Africa. His crime was to be a white man who made music with black musicians. It was a Cruel Crazy Beautiful World then and it still is. If anything, the Current Occupant has made it crueller and crazier. The beauty is supplied by the resistance.

We begin with the Cruel. Trump famously floated the notion of banning birthright citizenship by executive order in an interview with Axios, which is best described as Politico Lite. That was not shocking, what was shocking was the gullible response by many people: they bought it and freaked out. I assumed it was clear to most people that this was Trump throwing shit against the wall to see what would stick. He’s been trying to change the subject to Trumper friendly ground ever since the MAGA Bomber story broke.

While there are apparently a handful of wingnut lawyers who believe that birthright citizenship can be abolished by executive order, they’re full of shit. The right is enshrined in the 14th amendment and was affirmed by the Supreme Court in the Wong Kim Ark case. It’s a 120 year old precedent that the current Court is unlikely to overrule but that’s what must be done, either in court or via the amendment process. Even the conservative Weekly Standard agrees.

One more thing. Trump claimed that the US is the only country with birthright citizenship. Wrong again, you lying asshole. There are at least 30; many of which are in Latin America. Beware of the brown peril: they’re rushing our borders as I write this. #sarcasm

Trump may think he’s a dictator but he’s not one as long as there’s a free press and an independent judiciary. The phantom executive order is a moral abomination. It’s also unclear if this intervention is helpful in electoral terms. Many of the toss-up House seats are in suburban districts where voters find this sort of nativist raw meat politicking indigestible. One Pennsylvania GOPer even called it “political malpractice.”

There are signs that the ties that bind establishment Republicans to Trumpberius are beginning to fray. The administration was unable to find any congressional leaders to go to Pittsburgh with him. I think they were afraid that he’d go into Insult Comedian mode and get all squirrely on Squirrel Hill.

Let’s move on to the Crazy. For days there were twitter rumors that some anti-Mueller shit was going to hit the fan and splatter all over the Special Counsel. The ringleaders were a right-wing lobbyist/conspiracy theorist and a pipsqueak twitter personality/blogger named Jacob Wohl. They figured they’d capitalize on the #MeToo moment and claim that the straight-laced Bobby Three Sticks was a rapey motherfucker. Everyone would believe their story, right? Wrong again, you lying assholes. Team Mueller has referred this matter to the FBI for investigation. The wingnuts are crawfishing like, well, Crazy. Natasha Bertrand broke the story, so get thee to the Atlantic.com. 

White Nationalist Congressman Steve King has always been cruel and crazy. Who among us will ever forget the “calves like cantaloupes” remark? Yesterday, there was some Beautiful news involving the Hawkeye Horror: he’s in political trouble.

House GOP campaign honcho Steve Stivers denounced the King of Bigots:

It’s a sign that the nativist campaign is not working as well as the Kaiser of Chaos thinks it is.

Additionally, Land O’ Lakes support for King has melted.  No more butter for the Hawkeye Horror. Apparently, pandering to European neo-Nazis isn’t all it’s cut out to be.

One final Beautiful note. King is in a statistical tie with his Democratic challenger JD Sholten.  He won re-election by 23% in the Trumptastic year of 2016. Even if he prevails, the mere fact that he’s in trouble indicates that the House GOP majority is in deep shit and sinking fast.

The last word goes to Johnny Clegg with a double dose of Cruel Crazy Beautiful World:

It’s a cruel crazy beautiful world
Every time you wake up I hope it’s under a blue sky
It’s a cruel crazy beautiful world
One day when you wake up I will have to say goodbye
Goodbye — it’s your world so live in it!


6 days until the midterms. Tick tock, motherfuckers.

The MAGA Bomber’s Enemies List

As of this writing, here’s who the MAGA Bomber is telling to pipe down by mailing them a pipe bomb:

  • George Soros
  • The Clintons
  • The Obamas
  • Eric Holder
  • John Brennan 
  • Debbie Wasserman Schultz
  • Maxine Waters
  • Joe Biden
  • Robert DeNiro

Robert Fucking DeNiro? It’s a good thing that he’s not in his prime or he just might go Raging Bull or even Taxi Driver on someone’s ass.  I guess that makes him the Paul Newman of this dangerously crazy incident: the salad dressing mogul was on Nixon’s enemies list. Bobby D is in good company.

Trump made a statement yesterday at the White House. Here’s how some wise ass described it on the tweeter tube:

He was back in full tilt Insult Comedian mode at a rally in Wisconsin last night and tweeted this out this morning:

He seems to think his tiny hands are clean. They are not. I know incitement speech when I hear it. The MAGA Bomber has been paying attention to Trump’s stump rantings: the members of the enemies list have all been attacked by the president*. In a word, disgusting.

There’s evidence that the MAGA Bomber comes from the creepy world of Pepe the Frog:

The pipe bomb discovered Wednesday and addressed to former CIA director John Brennan via CNN features a parody of the ISIS flag with the words “get ‘er done,” a common right-wing meme, according to a Wednesday NBC report.

On the fake flag, the Arabic words are replaced by suggestive female silhouettes. The meme reportedly originated on a far-right parody site called World News Bureau.
So much for false flaggery. Pipe bomb trutherism is a pipe dream but Rush Limbaugh is still pushing it as were these MAGA Maggots yesterday in Florida:

We’ve had periods of political violence before in our history but the incitement never came from the White House. That’s what makes this moment in time so fraught with peril. Here’s how Charlie Pierce put it yesterday:
In the 1970s, there were no national politicians encouraging the Weathermen to involve themselves in the political process. Bernadine Dohrn didn’t get to visit the White House. Of course, in the 1950s and the 1960s, there were southern state politicians a’plenty who knew the people who were setting off the bombs, but the national government was pretty much on the other side; even though it was often dilatory in that regard, it got there eventually. (In 2002 and 2003, the last two culprits in the Birmingham church bombing were finally convicted by Doug Jones, now a senator from Alabama.)
The current president* of the United States trafficks in imaginary threats and encourages, by word and deed, feelings of dread and isolation and deep, familiar paranoia, the entire Hofstadter buffet. And there is an entire media infrastructure dedicated to reinforcing those feelings, 24-7, on all platforms of the modern communications industry. The Weathermen didn’t have their own TV network.
There’s only one palliative for the pernicious and mendacious fearmongering by the Party of Trump; VOTE on November 6th, and in every election thereafter. Democratic control of at least one House of Congress means oversight and investigations. A Republican victory means an emboldened president*, a cowed Congress, an expanded enemies list, and more right-wing domestic terrorism.

Fear Itself

It’s getting ugly out there. We already knew that the only way the Insult Comedian knows how to run for office is by scaring his supporters shitless. We’re used to the GOP running a disgusting base election: they’ve been doing it since at least 1988, but it’s reached new heights (depths?) 30 years later.

Donald Trump is a real estate developer. The phrase “soft sell” is not in his limited lexicon. Watching him on the stump is like lumping together the worst used car salescreeps you’ve ever dealt with and multiplying it by a factor of 10.

The Insult Comedian goes past the hard sell to the racist sell. He’s finally come out of the closet of horrors as a an unabashed nationalist. That’s white nationalist to people like us, even though the salesman has the orange glow of the tanning bed or spray tan.

We’re hearing a lot about the “illegal immigrant” caravan; the timing of which is suspicious to me but unlike the president* and his ilk, I prefer not to level unsubstantiated charges. On second thought, if the caravan is being financed by an American fat cat, it’s more likely to be a Robert Mercer-type than a George Soros-type even if the latter is so omnipotent that some fucker tried to bomb his house.

Whipping up anti-Hispanic xenophobia is not enough, now they’re claiming that there are “unknown Middle Easterners” marching north. Another day, another lie.

The Trumper base is so terrified that one of them said this to the Failing New York Times:

But Mr. Trump’s dystopian imagery has clearly left an impression with some. Carol Shields, 75, a Republican in northern Minnesota, said she was afraid that migrant gangs could take over people’s summer lake homes in the state.

“What’s to stop them?” said Ms. Shields, a retired accountant. “We have a lot of people who live on lakes in the summer and winter someplace else. When they come back in the spring, their house would be occupied.”

I guess the Latins will become squatters at some lake houses and the “unknown Middle Easterners” will bomb the rest. They’re clearly taking a bead on Minnesota: they’re into middleness, will their next stop after the Midwest be Middle Earth? The “unknown Middle Easterners” may even be armed with bone saws for all we know.

Nobody should be surprised that Donald Trump’s midterm strategy involves throwing lies against the wall and seeing how many stick. It reminds me of the spaghetti scene in The Odd Couple:

“Now it’s garbage” aptly describes Donald Trump’s entire political career and this campaign in particular. The next president is going to have a helluva mess to clean up. I’m sure Felix will be glad to help.

There’s a whiff of panic in the air among Democrats. That’s what the MSM and the GOP expect from us. It’s time for everyone to redouble their efforts to retake the House and defend vulnerable Democratic Senate seats in Florida, Indiana, Montana, and Missouri. We’re going to need fighters like Claire McCaskill and Jon Tester next year whether we’re in the majority or not.

I remain convinced that the key issues in 2018 are health care and the need to reign in a rogue regime. The Republicans are whipping their shrinking base into a frenzy. Let them do the panicking for a change. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: To Hell With The Trump Base.

In 13 days we will learn how many bigoted assholes there are in the country. Here’s hoping that enough voters will ignore the fear mongering of 45 and heed the words of the 32nd president and founder of the modern Democratic party, Franklin Delano Roosevelt:

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INSTANT UPDATE: Some Trump inspired motherfucker sent explosive devices to the Clinton’s house and Barack Obama’s office. The devices have been defused, the plot has been foiled. It’s to get both mad *and even.

UPDATE TOO: If you’re jittery about the election, Josh Marshall has a post up called: Everything Shows a GOP Resurgence Except for the Evidence. Shorter Adrastos: What Josh Said.