Category Archives: Congress

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:

 

The Fog Of Scandal: More Trouble Every Day

Donald Trump insists on being the center of attention even when it’s not in his best interest. His post-election presser was a tangle of pathology. I’ve never seen a party leader trash losing candidates by name. Their sin was a refusal to imbibe this:

Image by Michael F.

Candidates who swilled the nasty shit down also lost House races. Trump’s raw naked emotion yesterday was yet another failure of leadership. It also drew attention to the GOP’s poor performance in House races. The election may not have been the repudiation of Trumpism we hoped for BUT it was a stinging rebuke.

The Insult Comedian once again proved that he’s a fake tough guy by refusing to announce Jeff Bo’s “resignation” at the presser. It would have interfered with yelling at reporters. A genuine tough guy wouldn have faced the media shitstorm head on. The irony is that Jeff Bo was shitcanned for doing the ONLY decent thing he did as Attorney General: recuse himself from overseeing the Kremlingate probe. As to Trumpberius: he’s a pussy, he should grab himself.

The much feared slow motion Saturday Night Massacre began yesterday with the appointment of Iowa cornholer Matt Whitaker as acting Attorney General. I saw him misdescribed as a loyalist and a crony. Whitaker is lackey who was appointed solely to attack the Mueller probe.

Whitaker’s Trumpworld sponsor is Sam Clovis who also brought Carter Page and George Papadopolous to that deranged corner of the political universe. Clovis is a  minor witness in the  Kremlingate probe. That, in and of itself, should force Whitaker to make like Jeff Bo and recuse himself, but his writings and tevee appearances *should* make recusal mandatory:

“It is time for Rosenstein, who is the acting attorney general for the purposes of this investigation, to order Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation to the four corners of the order appointing him special counsel,” he wrote then. “If he doesn’t, then Mueller’s investigation will eventually start to look like a political fishing expedition.”

He subsequently argued that the DOJ should starve the Mueller probe of funding and turn down any requests involving Trump’s finances. He was planted at DOJ to wreak havoc on the investigation. He’s a tumor that has metastasized into full-blown cancer.

It’s unclear what would happen if the DOJ’s ethics office informs Whitaker that he must recuse himself. Indications are that he will refuse to recuse, which could eventually result in disbarment. I hope that such a refusal  leads to targeted resignations and/or a work strike by DOJ lawyers. They’ve sworn an oath to protect and defend the constitution, not a criminal president*.

Does this mean the Kremlingate probe will end? Hell no. Bobby Three Sticks strikes me as someone who has a backup plan for his backup plan.

What we’re seeing here is obstruction of justice in broad daylight. It’s a blatant and premeditated attempt by Team Trump to hijack the constitution. Yes, I said premeditated; usually, the Insult Comedian just wings it. This time is different: it was timed to happen *before* Democrats assume control of the House. The incoming Chairman of the Judiciary Committee is demanding answers:

Anyone who tells you that they know where Demented Donald’s Wild Toady Ride will end up is kidding themselves. The situation is volatile and fluid. Only one thing is certain: these are the actions of a guilty man out to save his worthless ass.

The last word on this chaotic Thursday goes to Frank Zappa and the Mothers:

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: 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:

CZwQ8nYWcAAOHHB

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.

The Buzz Word Election

Buzz words are nothing new in American politics. They’re as old as the Republic itself. The Jeffersonians called John Adams a royalist tool of the English crown.The Federalists, in turn, called Jefferson a Jacobin tool of the French revolutionary rabble. And on and on and on.

The malevolent spirit of the Insult Comedian looms large over the 2018 campaign. Until recently, GOPers claimed that they’d run a campaign on taxes and the economy, which is straight out of the Reaganite playbook. That barely made a dent in the wall of noise and scandal surrounding the leader of their party. Even the author of the House tax cut, Pete Roskam, who is in a tough race, isn’t talking about it. Why? The majority of the country knows it benefits the 1% and nobody else. Besides, the Obama recovery seems poised to become the Trump recession. Trade wars are not easy to win.

When you’re losing, what do you do? Smear your opponents and resort to scare tactics no matter how preposterous. The Insult Comedian has laid the groundwork for the dumber elements of the Republican base to believe almost anything. That’s where buzz words come in handy. Besides, it’s 2 weeks until Halloween. Tick tock, motherfuckers.

In the Arizona Senate race, decorated veteran Martha McSally is running an aughties throwback campaign against her Democratic opponent Krysten Sinema:

Arizona Republican Martha McSally accused her Democratic opponent Kyrsten Sinema of once advocating for “treason” on Monday, calling out her rival’s old comments during the pair’s sole debate to fill the state’s open Senate seat.

“You said it was okay for Americans to join the Taliban to fight against us,” McSally said, raising her voice and pointing emphatically at Sinema, who stood about 10 feet away, as the debate neared its conclusion, referencing a 2003 radio interview. “I will ask right now whether you’re going to apologize to the veterans and me for saying it is okay — it is treason!”

Is it 2002 again? It sure sounds like it to me.  A reminder that there’s a dark side to the current warm and cuddly image being painted (pun intended, it always is) of George W. Bush. His favorite buzz words were “treason” and “soft on terror.” He learned scare tactics at his father’s knee during the 1988 mudbath. It’s not just Trump, y’all. It’s not just Trump.

McSally has resorted to scare tactics because she’s trailing in the polls. In Texas, Ted Cruz has been pulling ahead of Beto O’Rourke but buzz words are his thing. The two candidates debated last night and the non-asshole from El Paso barely got a word in edgewise as Slate’s Jim Newell pointed out this morning:

But I shouldn’t mock: Cruz is leading O’Rourke consistently by five to ten points in the many, many Texas polls that have come out in recent weeks, indicating that his strategy of casting O’Rourke as a far-left extremist in a center-right state is working. He stuck to it on Tuesday night, suffocating O’Rourke with so many allegations to respond to that he barely had the oxygen to tear Cruz apart.

By his closing statement, Cruz had successfully drawn his lines. If O’Rourke had his way, you wouldn’t be able to open your eyes in Texas without seeing an illegal immigrant having a partial-birth abortion. The economy would be in ruins as Democrats, led by Chairman O’Rourke, seized control to turn the nation into a bankrupt welfare factory—for illegal immigrants. Judges, with alarming word-per-minute speeds, would be typing radical left-wing regulations to ration health care and obliterate business. Border walls would come down, allowing the forces of Juarez to conquer El Paso and march to the east. Police? Forget about ’em. Banned.

“Do we choose fear,” Cruz concluded, “or do we choose hope?”

“I believe in hope.”

Tailgunner Ted’s rhetoric is smarmy, cynical, and self-contradictory. BUT he’s an effective debater and Texans have been programmed to believe this nonsense from birth. If he were so inclined, Beto could cite liberal Texans such as Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson but his campaign seems focused on proving that Beto is cool. Look: he skateboards, was in a rock band, and quotes the Clash. Kewl. I don’t think Hispanic voters give a rat’s ass about how cool Beto is, which is why he’s underperforming in that vital demographic.

Here’s the deal: I like Beto. I think he’s an excellent campaigner but his team has focused on bragging about fundraising, yard signs, crowd sizes, and how cool he is. Repeat after me: yard signs don’t vote.

I think Texas will continue to be a Democratic white whale. I hope I’m wrong, but the election seems to be slipping away from Team Beto. The upcoming Trump-Cruz rally may prove to be the last nail in Beto’s very cool coffin. Texas seems poised to choose the Tailgunner over the Skateboarder.

It’s time for national Democrats to focus on other races including that of the uncool but competent Florida Senator Bill Nelson who is fighting off a challenge from Governor Rat Boy. The  good news is that Andrew Gillum’s bid to succeed Scott is generating buzz and he and Nelson should be able to help one another. Synergy is what a corporate puke would call the combination of the moderate white guy and the progressive black guy.  I call it political magic.

I remain cautiously optimistic about the House. I think that Republican voter fuckery and a decade of egregious Gerrymandering will keep our gains to between 25 and 45 seats. But  righteous indignation among women voters and the many gifted Democratic women running for office could change that. But voters will have to wade through a muck of Republican lies and buzz words. Let’s hope thebuzz words don’t sting too badly.

At the risk of being repetitive, Harold Lloyd in Safety Last gets the last word:

I am guilty of using my last word mantra as a buzz word. I think we need some inspirational music. Ain’t nothing more inspirational than the Boss:

The Kavanaugh Mess: The Mess We’re In

Sorry for using the word mess twice in the post title. It does, however, describe the state of the nation after the messy confirmation of Justice* Bro. He earned his asterisk by lying to the Senate and the way the Feebs took the I out of the FBI.  To paraphrase the late Sue Grafton, I was NOT for Investigation.

GOPers have been celebrating like high school jocks since Chinless Mitch and his minions “rammed” the nomination through. SNL had a locker room celebration sketch as its cold opening. It was an excellent idea that was poorly executed. The #BeersForBrett meme on twitter was much funnier albeit unintentionally so. You know my thoughts about that: ain’t nothing funnier than unintentional comedy.

On Friday, I wrote about Susan Collins’ long-winded apologia for Brett Kavanaugh. I have to give her credit for making a Supreme Court nomination about her instead of the nominee. Her Sunday show appearance did not exactly cover her in glory:

This line has gone from being a wacky conspiracy theory promulgated by Kav krony Ed Whelan to the GOP CW: conventional wisdom, not country & western. Its adoption does make me want to cry tears in my beer…

The “I believe she was attacked but he didn’t do it” line makes no sense whatsoever. But we’re living in the age of the YUGE LIE so logic is out the window. Little Joe Goebbels would be very proud of Republicans.

I said on Friday that “Susan Collins is horrible” I have an addendum: Lindsey Graham is even worse. He spiked the ball on the tweeter tube after the vote:

Then he doubled down on teevee the morning after:

Stay classy, Senator.

I am not among those shocked by Lindsey Graham’s transformation from John McCain’s wingman to all-out Trump sycophant. He’s a people pleaser who is drawn to power. Power in the GOP is concentrated in the Insult Comedian and the MAGA Maggots. Lindsey is like a moth to flame. This moth is up for re-election in 2020.

The key to Lindsey Graham’s character can be found in a New York Magazine profile I quoted a few weeks back in an Odds & Sods outing:

It is perhaps useful to know that Graham grew up in a bar. His parents owned the Sanitary Cafe, a watering hole and pool hall popular with local textile workers, in a town called Central, in a region known as the Upcountry in the northwest of the state, a budding Appalachia.

<SNIP>

Graham, his parents, and his sister, Darline, 13 years younger, slept in one room behind the bar, and Graham worked at the bar after school. There he honed the skills that have defined him in politics: Always be charming, ready with a joke and a story; don’t make enemies; keep grudges private; defuse open conflict and resolve fights out back.

Repeat after me: Graham is a people pleaser. The people he wants to please are the president* and his horrible base. Senator McCain has left the building. A reminder: McCain patched up things with George W Bush during the run up to the Iraq War to maintain his viability in the Republican Party. In fairness, I doubt he would have gone over to Trump or attacked CBF with the vehemence of his former sidekick. He had more integrity than that. Graham has none. He’s a pussy, he should grab himself.

Where do we go from here? I understand the temptation to form a circular firing squad and start shooting at other Dems. I’m mad at Joe Manchin too. His vote *was* cast in a cowardly manner BUT we need the numbers if the Dems have any chance at taking the Senate. I understand why people want to cut him off but I’m keeping my eyes on the prize, which is a Senate majority. It remains daunting but it’s well-nigh impossible without Manchin and Phil Bredesen in Tennessee. I affixed a clothespin to my nose while writing this paragraph. You gotta do what you gotta do. I completely understand if others don’t feel this way.

My assumption has always been that the losing side in the Justice Bro* war would benefit the most politically. Republicans got what they wanted, it’s more of a sugar rush that may dim in the next month. If it helps them, it helps them more in the Senate than in House races.

Something else that will help Democrats when the sugar rush wears off  is Trump’s inability not to brag and take credit for the Kavanaugh victory. His tendency to overplay his hand may well lead to a backlash. We’re in the age of the backlash, after all.

A reminder that Democrats should NOT run on impeachment of either Trump or Kavanaugh. That *will* extend the GOP sugar rush. Besides, it’s what they want us to do. When your opponent sets an obvious trap, you should sidestep it. Two words Democrats *should* run on are: OVERSIGHT and INVESTIGATION. Those are promises we can keep: even a Democratic Senate will not be able to convict an impeached president* or justice*.

It’s time for us to get both mad and even. That’s not an easy feat but we need to get our base out as well as wooing suburban women who dislike Trump and are disturbed by the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. Women are the key to this election: I’m going to get out of the way and let y’all do your thing.

Repeat after me: Resist Smart.

The last word goes to Los Lobos:

Moderates Not Gonna Moderate, or, This Didn’t Just Happen

One of the architects of the current disaster deplores the terrible blueprints he drew:

I’ve written many, many times about the passivity with which we characterize our current political moment. How everyone from congressional pages on up to the Wall Street Journal editorial board talks about our country becoming divided, our politics becoming rancorous, our society growing polarized, ALL THE WHILE FUCKING IGNORING THE PEOPLE WHO DIVIDED AND POLARIZED US AND PROFITED OFF OF IT ALL.

Good God. I know it’s never fun to think of yourself as having been at the mercy of a system you do not control but please take an honest look around and ask yourself who’s gained and kept power in the past decade and who’s made money off that power. Look around you. Who’s divided America? Who got richer off that division?

Someone DID THIS TO US and we’re acting like it’s the weather, like it’s a fucking UFO sighting, like we just have no idea how this could have happened and would you just look at that, Bobby Ray, have you ever seen such a sight?

It’s not like they’ve been keeping it a secret. Lee Atwater laid it out years ago and they’ve been telling us ever since, in louder and louder voices. They know exactly what they’re doing but we’re still out here all Earnest Editorials about The Appearance Of The Thing and The Sacredness of Ideas.

The Supreme Court’s legitimacy depends on most Americans viewing it as above the partisan fray, an institution whose decisions are driven by legal reasoning, not by the justices’ partisan leanings.

Spare me, by the way, the sanctifying of a court that upheld slavery and internment and every abuse of the war on terror, that told women they couldn’t vote and black Americans they were worth 3/5 of all others. This court is full of monsters, and it’s been so before, and we should question its legitimacy all the damn time. It should try to BE legitimate, not just be seen to be. Not that that matters to the fascisti who control it now.

It’s not even that we’re being lied to because they don’t respect us enough to lie anymore. It’s that we’re being told the truth, and we earnestly repeat last decade’s fiction because believing that means we don’t have to hurt or think or work or change.

Flake, up there. Collins, may she rot in hell. Sasse and Corker who were oh, so appalled until women talking appalled them further. They stand up there and pretend to deplore it all, the awful partisanship, counting on us all to believe our lying eyes. Our entire world hangs on their words and their words are empty, and we refuse to name them for what they are.

Frauds and cowards, all. We didn’t just get here. We were taken here, and the moderates drove stick.

A.

The Kavanaugh Mess: Susan Collins Is Horrible

I lasted for 2/3 of Collins’ speech and couldn’t take any more. It was not the speech of someone who agonized over her vote; except for lip service to Roe, it was a speech Senators Cornhole or Graslley could have given. She sounded like Kavanaugh’s floor manager instead of a reluctant yes.

It’s high time for the MSM to stop calling Collins a moderate. She’s a conservative and always has been one. Enough.

Kavanaugh will be confirmed tomorrow but the mess isn’t over. It’s time to take the fight to the hustings and get our voters ready to turn out in massive numbers.  I eagerly await the many investigations the House will unleash on the GOP; one of which should be about the Kavanaugh mess.

Repeat after me: Susan Collins is horrible.

The Kavanaugh Mess: Best Protest Ever

As the Kavanaugh kloture vote looms, NBC’s Kasie Hunt was on the job early this morning:

Then someone tweeted this clip:

I laughed for a full five minutes when I saw Kasie’s tweet. Perhaps the Reader’s Fucking Digest is right and laughter *is* the best medicine. A no vote would be even better.

The last word goes to Judge Bro:

One More Tweet For The Road:

The Kavanaugh Mess: The Curious Case Of The Last-Minute Op-Ed Article

I did not plan to write about the Kavanaugh Mess again tonight. The last piece was written on the fly. It was quite literally instant analysis: I wrote it in 30 minutes. Not bad for a rush job if I say so myself, and I do.

That blog post was written and posted before I heard about the latest weird twist in this dizzy drama: Kavanaugh’s Wall Street Journal op-ed article. This is yet another unprecedented development: Supreme Court nominees do NOT write articles defending their demeanor and judgment:

“I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad. I testified with five people foremost in my mind: my mom, my dad, my wife, and most of all my daughters.

“Going forward, you can count on me to be the same kind of judge and person I have been for my entire 28-year legal career: hardworking, even-keeled, open-minded, independent and dedicated to the Constitution and the public good. As a judge, I have always treated colleagues and litigants with the utmost respect. I have been known for my courtesy on and off the bench. I have not changed. I will continue to be the same kind of judge I have been for the last 12 years. “

The piece feels like a bad rush job. It weaves together elements from Kavanaugh’s opening statement at the pre-sexual assault allegation hearing with new material. It seems to have been assembled this afternoon as protesters swarmed about Capitol Hill.

The op-ed feebly attempts to address many of the questions that Judge Bro’s ranty testimony gave rise to. There’s not a judge in the country who would tolerate such behavior in their courtroom, including Brett Kavanaugh. Who among us can forget this exchange with Senator Amy Klobuchar:

The only reason for the last-minute op-ed is that someone needs help getting to yes. I’m done trying to read the minds of conservative Republican Senators, but Kav’s handlers wouldn’t have pulled this stunt if they had the votes. They might have them by the time of the cloture vote but they didn’t have them as of 7:30 EST tonight. I’m not getting my hopes up but the situation remains fluid. A friend of mine described fluid as my F-word.

This whole thing gets curiouser and curiouser each day. That’s why I call it the Kavanaugh Mess.

That concludes this episode of Instant Analysis Theatre.

The Kavanaugh Mess: W Is For Whitewash

Jeff Flake got what he wanted: political cover to vote aye on the Kavanaugh nomination. I hope Susan Collins writes him a nice thank you note: if she votes aye, it will reduce the odds of a primary challenger in 2020. Collins lives to get re-elected: she doesn’t do anything with the power she has as a Senator, after all. Collins has described the FBI probe as “a thorough investigation,” which means the country is thoroughly screwed.

The investigation was cursory at best, a cover-up at worst. Instead of summoning our “better angels,” the Kavanaugh Mess has shown American politics at its worst. As far as I’m concerned, Trumpism and sadism are synonymous. Adam Serwer makes the same point in an Atlantic article: The Cruellty is the Point.

It should matter that retired Justice John Paul Stevens has come out against the nomination. Former Supremes do not do such things. Unfortunately, it does not matter: all that matters is that Mitch McConnell has the hammer and he’s using it to damage the customs and traditions of the Senate. He’s every bit as radical as the president* he pretends to disdain, but serves oh so well.

It should matter that a Yale classmate of Debbie Ramirez is willing to corroborate her story on the record. It does not matter: the White House is the FBI’s client and they’re doing as they’re told. So much for the Deep State. W is for Whitewash.

I hope I’m wrong about tomorrow’s cloture vote but they appear to have the votes. Jeff Flake is Hamletting and Joe Manchin is hoping not to cast the decisive vote. As to Collins and Murkowski, the sham investigation has given them political cover. Change one word in cover and you have cower. That’s what these supposedly decent people are doing: cowering in the face of Trumpism.

The last word goes to the junior Senator from North Dakota, a woman who  knows the meaning of political courage:

The Kavanaugh Mess: It’s Over (Not Quite)

The mess itself is not over but the possibility of defeating the nomination died this morning when, predictably, the Senator from Arizona flaked out. There are a few holding out hope that Collins and Murkowski remain undecided but I am no longer among them. Absent a miracle, the confirmation fight is over.

There were several reports last night that a “gang of four” including the aforementioned GOPers and Joe Manchin plan to vote as a bloc. The first time I saw that I knew that Judge Bro would be promoted to Justice Bro. I feel sorry for the three women justices and even sorrier for the country.

Nothing that Judiciary Committee Democrats did or said yesterday mattered. The Senate has been fundamentally changed by Mitch McConnell, what the minority thinks no longer matters.

The fact that the American Bar Association wants an investigation does not matter either. Angry white men want one of their own on SCOTUS and they will get their wish.

The fact that Republicans applied criminal law standards of corroboration and reasonable doubt to what is really a job interview shows that they followed the Thomas-Hill playbook. The only difference was that Senators did not yell at Christine Blasey Ford. They let Brett Kavanaugh and Lindsey Graham do the yelling instead.

I’m feeling alternately angry and numb this morning. I put a lot into covering this story. I made the mistake of thinking that Senate Republicans would act like rational politicians looking at the next election. Instead, they put all their chips on promoting Judge Bro to the Supreme Court. The voters need to make them pay for their short-sighted thinking.

Even though yesterday’s hearing was as much Kabuki theatre as Kangaroo court, Michael F provided me with an alternate image. I hate to waste such generosity. Here’s the earless version:

Image by Michael F

The last word goes to Roy Orbison. We could all use some beauty in our lives right now even if it comes from a sad song.

UPDATE: As of 1:45 CST, Senators Flake and Murkowski are withholding an aye vote on the nomination unless there’s a one-week long FBI investigation. That’s my current understanding but the situation is FLUID and CONFUSING. It’s up to the White House to re-open the background check.

The Kavanaugh Mess: Act Two Instant Analysis

My earlier post illustrates the perils of instant analysis. Christine Blasey Ford (CBF) was such an outstanding witness that I let my guard down and became overly optimistic as to the fate of the Kavanaugh nomination. The situation remains fluid but committee GOPers regained their equilibrium after the second act.

It’s not that Kavanaugh was a good witness: he was not. He yelled and spent his testimony defending his resume, not his character. Initially, I thought his lack of judicial decorum meant that he expected to lose. It turned out that he was playing to an audience of one: a man with even less class than Kavanaugh exhibited today. Despite crying and refusing to blow his nose, Judge Bro seems to have held on to the president’s* support.

I’ve never seen a judicial nominee be rude to senators and act like an Insult Comedian Junior. Kavanaugh even insulted the personification of Minnesota nice; Senator Amy Klobuchar. Judge Bro realized he’d gone too far and apologized to her. Wise choice: she’s one of the best liked members of Senate on both sides of the aisle. I suspect Don McGahn pointed out that Klobuchar is fairly tight with Collins and Murkowski. The Alaska senator remains a possible no vote but I’m putting away my crystal ball. She will not be the only Republican to vote no, which only gets us to 50-50 with Pence holding the tiebreaker.

It was easy to see the belligerent drunk described by CBF and many others as Kavanaugh shouted his way through his testy tetchy testimony. Hardcore Trumpers loved his act and Republican solons seemed re-invigorated by all the nastiness. It’s hard to doze off when a red-faced bro is shouting at you, after all.

Other high points were watching Chuck Grassley lose his shit and Lindsey Graham pitch an epic hissy fit: Bless his heart. Since Republicans clearly regard women as dispensable, they dispensed with the services of prosecutor Rachel Mitchell during the second act without so much as a thank you.

Where do we stand now? Unfortunately, I think we find ourselves where we started the day despite the compelling testimony of CBF. Kavanaugh is damaged goods, but he *might* have the votes. Then, again he might not. I am no longer certain of the outcome. It depends on how Kavanaugh’s ranty testimony went over with the undecided Republican Senators. The ball is in their court:  one of them, Ben Sasse, sounded like an aye vote during the hearing. I already covered Murkowski: she needs Republican company. As to Jeff Flake, his fine words rarely translates into action but anything can happen in this political environment.

I still think the political damage to Republican candidates caused by the hearing will be severe. In any other time and place, the Kavanaugh nomination would have been pulled. But we’re in the Trump era where the shameless run the show and the majority of GOP solons simply do not care about allegations of sexual assault. You cannot shame the shameless.

While it may be an insult to kangaroos to call this hearing a kangaroo court, I asked my friend and colleague Michael F to “help a brother out” with an image:

kanga_roo_doll_1

Image by Michael F

The Kavanaugh Mess: Act One Instant Analysis

Christine Brasley Ford (hereinafter CBF) is a superb witness. She’s smart, emotional, wise, and absolutely credible. As a scientist, she is able to explain the science behind her own PTSD. As the husband of a med school professor, I am not surprised: they need to know how to present and explain things in terms that people can understand. Btw, I hate to fly but will do so if need be so I get what CBF said on that subject.

As to the GOP’s gambit to have Rachel Mitchell do the questioning, it’s a flop. The choppy format makes it impossible for her to get a rhythm going. She’s actually *helped* CBF’s credbility. That was not their intention.

Chairman Grassely is a blowhard and raging, gaping asshole. His incessant talk of procedure is off-putting and self-defeating Plus, he’s lost his shit more than once. The first time was with Minnesota Senator and former District Attorney, Amy Klobuchar. It’s bound to happen with Kamala Harris as well. I cannot wait.

I remain astonished that Republicans went ahead with this hearing. Even Fox News’ Chris Wallace is calling it a disaster for Republicans. As to the Insult Comedian:

I did not think they had the votes to confirm Kavanaugh before CBF’s testimony. Unless Kavanaugh gives the best performance of his life, nothing has happened to nudge undecided Senators to vote aye.

I’ve heard many people talk about the GOP’s willingness to commit political suicide over a Supreme Court seat. Nonsense. They’re politicians. Politicians always look at the next election. There is no way that the Turtle and GOP committee chairs are willing to cede power so Brett Fucking Kavanaugh can sit on the Supreme Court. Right-wing judges are a dime a dozen.

I can hear the knives sharpening at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.  Someone is going to knife Kavanaugh later in the day.

Stay tuned.

Quote Of The Day: Invective Edition

I rarely quote conservative pundits but I’m making an exception in this case. It comes from a colloquy between NYT columnists Gail Collins and Brett Stephens. The never-Trump conservative turns out to like Beto O’Rourke and despise Ted Cruz:

Because he’s like a serpent covered in Vaseline. Because he treats the American people like two-bit suckers in 10-gallon hats. Because he sucks up to the guy who insulted his wife — by retweet, no less. Because of his phony piety and even phonier principles. Because I see him as the spiritual love child of the 1980s televangelist Jimmy Swaggart and Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Shining.” Because his ethics are purely situational. Because he makes Donald Trump look like a human being by comparison. Because “New York values.” Because his fellow politicians detest him, and that’s just among Republicans. Because he never got over being the smartest kid in eighth grade. Because he’s conniving enough to try to put one over you, but not perceptive enough to realize that you see right through him. Because he’s the type of man who would sell his family into slavery if that’s what it took to get elected. And that he would use said slavery as a sob story to get himself re-elected.

Otherwise, you might say I’m his No. 1 fan.

Tell us how you really feel, Brett.

A serpent covered in Vaseline? I might have to steal that line. I’m also considering stealing the theatrical joke in this tweet:

I’m also terribly fond of Travesties; the Stoppard play wherein Lenin meets Tristan Tzara the daddy of Dada. It contains a line I’ve often swiped over the years: “My art belongs to Dada.”

War Of The Gosars: “Stalin Would Be Proud”

In between obsessing about Rod Rosenstein’s unfiring and the Kavanaugh mess, I’ve continued to monitor the fight for the House of Representatives.

I love campaign ads; at least the first time I see them. The ad of the year ran in Arizona. It features the siblings of wingnut dentist/Congresscritter Paul Gosar. They are NOT supporting their brother’s re-election bid:

Ouch. Dr/Congressman/MAGA Maggot Gosar was not amused.

I’m not sure what’s Stalinist about affordable health care for rural Arizonans. At least Gosar  didn’t call for his siblings to be liquidated. Now that would be Stalinist.

The fact that Gosar is a dentist tickles my fancy. That’s why Steve Martin gets the last word: