Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Last Call For The First Pebble In The Avalanche

There's been a lot of discussion around here in general about whether or not Republicans will eventually find Trump so distasteful that they will no longer be able to support him in November.  I'm very skeptical of this view, as I believe Trump is an inevitable symptom of a terminal GOP. Eight years Republicans looking the other way on thinly-veiled racism, homophobia, misogyny, Islamophobia and worse, preceded by eight years of Bush/Cheney weaponized partisanship, which in turn was preceded by eight years of Clinton Derangement Syndrome and the rise of Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and the FOX News juggernaut, all lead me to believe that Republicans saying that Donald Trump is somehow too much will not happen. Twenty-four years of enabling this behavior is not something soon forgotten, even for "moderate" Republicans.

And then a Republican comes along and maybe, maybe proves me wrong.

U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna, a three-term Republican, said Tuesday he will vote for Hillary Clinton for president because Donald Trump is "unfit to serve our party and cannot lead this country." 
Hanna becomes the first Republican member of Congress to publicly declare he will vote for Clinton in November. 
Other GOP members of Congress have refused to endorse Trump, but until now none had promised to vote for his Democratic opponent. 
Hanna announced his decision Tuesday morning in an op-ed and interview exclusive to Syracuse.com. The retiring congressman previously said he could never support Trump, but he had stopped short of backing Clinton. 
Now Hanna's decision could give political cover in the coming weeks to other like-minded GOP members of Congress who have criticized Trump, but have not said whether they would support Clinton. 
Hanna, who represents an eight-county district in Upstate New York, said in an interview that he considered giving his support to Clinton for several months. He decided to take action this week after watching Trump criticize the Muslim American parents of a U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq, he said.

Granted, Rich Hanna is a blue-state Republican in a barely red upstate district who is retiring anyway, so it's not like he's going to cost himself the election.  But...but....if there's anyone who does have enough cover to say "Peace out, screw Trump" it's this guy.

So the question now is this: are there any other Republican members of Congress willing to jump off the SS Trumptanic before it hits the iceberg, or are they going to continue to rearrange the deck chairs?

I still don't have much hope, but it's more than the zero hope I had before. Frankly I think it's far more likely that defecting Republicans will flock to the Libertarian ticket and Gary Johnson just like I expect the Berniebro hardliners to go to Jill Stein, and that we'll see 10-15% of America vote for a third party ticket this year, or that even more likely, both groups will simply not vote at all and give us one of the lowest turnouts in presidential contest history.

What that will mean for the electoral map will come into focus as we get closer to November.

Gaming Out Rio

It's starting to look like the 2016 Summer Games in Rio may be an even bigger disaster than the 2014 Sochi winter version with the opening ceremonies just a few days away.

The Olympic Village has been declared “uninhabitable” by some, a private security firm has been sacked due to incompetence, and some competition venues are filled with shit, while others are simply collapsing. 
The Australian team has had it the worst. Last week, the team refused to stay in the Village when, upon arrival, the athletes were faced with “blocked toilets, leaking pipes, exposed wiring, darkened stairwells where no lighting has been installed and dirty floors in need of a massive clean,” said Australian Olympic Committee Chef De Mission Kitty Chiller, in addition to “large puddles on the floor around cabling and wiring” in operations areas. 
The team stayed in nearby hotels until the accommodations were complete, and moved in last Wednesday. The honeymoon phase didn’t last long, though. On Friday, a small fire in their building led to an evacuation, and while the team was gone from their rooms a laptop and team shirts were stolen.

Oh, but it gets worse:

Other athletes have had security concerns too. Shortly after arriving to Rio, Chinese hurdler Shi Dongpeng checked into his hotel with a cameraman in tow when a drunk local approached him and vomited all over Shi. The cameraman chased the drunk man away while Shi went to clean up, and when they returned, all of their camera equipment and luggage had been stolen. 
According to Inside the Games, when the two men went to the police station to report the crime, they had to wait for over two hours in line because there were so many other mugging victims there. An Argentinian official actually believed his team’s rooms had been sabotaged they were so subpar. 
With only four days until the Opening Ceremonies, Rio and the International Olympic Games are frantically working to beef up security and upgrade accommodations for athletes and members of the media. On Saturday, the Ministry of Justice fired a private security firm that had been in charge of venue security because of “incompetence and irresponsibility.” As of last Monday, only 12 of the 31 buildings in the Olympic Athlete’s Village had passed safety inspection.

Let's not forget Sochi ended up a ghost town, with a light rail system that nobody uses, a classic example of Putin-era cronyism and mismanagement.  Brazil isn't doing much better with suspended President Dilma Rousseff facing calls for her formal removal before the Games begin.

Luckily the 2018 winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea and the 2020 Tokyo summer games seem to be on track for a much better performance, for now.

That's little help for Rio, however.

Debbie's Double Trouble

Getting unceremoniously (and rightfully) booted out of the DNC driver's seat last month, Debbie Wasserman Schultz now faces a primary challenge from Tim Canova who may very well unseat her from her long-time Florida district as she faces the first real political fight she's had in ages.

Her House seat is on the line in a primary race against well-funded challenger Tim Canova, and the battle is heating up amid the fallout from her resignation following the leak of hacked emails that showed DNC officials plotting to undermine Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) presidential campaign in the Democratic primary. 
Some think the race has changed after the former chairwoman’s tough week. 
“I think this has really shifted the race,” said Kathryn DePalo, a political science professor at Florida International University. “I think she’s going to have a tough fight. I think she’s probably going to win, but it’ll be close.” 
She added that a Canova victory would not be a surprise. “I think that’s how devastating these email leaks have been,” DePalo said. 
Wasserman Schultz was booed off the stage by Sanders supporters at the Florida delegation breakfast on the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week. 
“The constant refrain that I heard is she can eke it out,” said Susan MacManus, a political science professor at University of South Florida in Tampa. 
But MacManus said it won’t be without a fight. 
“She’s got to come home and work her constituency,” she said. “She hasn’t had to for years.

For his part, challenger Tim Canova says his polling shows him within eight points.

The poll showed that Wasserman Schultz leads 46-38 percent with 16 percent undecided. Her lead narrows after the pollster provided positive and negative information about the candidates, but the press release from Canova's campaign didn't reveal the information provided to voters. 
Canova and Wasserman Schultz are competing in a Democratic primary in the Broward/Miami-Dade Congressional District 23. The primary is Aug. 30th but voters are already casting ballots by mail. 
The poll showed that 52 percent of respondents view Wasserman Schultz favorably and 35 percent unfavorably while 13 percent have no opinion of her or never heard of her. For Canova, his favorable-unfavorable split is 32-8 percent. 
But the poll shows Canova's biggest weakness: 60 percent of voters have no opinion/never heard of him. Despite his national media exposure due to Bernie Sanders endorsing him and his prolific fundraising, he is a first-time candidate who isn't well known in the district. Wasserman Schultz has been an elected official for more than two decades -- first in the state Legislature and elected to Congress in 2004.

Frankly, I'm alright with DWS being in Congress, it's not my call if the people in her district want to be represented by her.  My problem was that she was an abysmal party chair, and now that's over and done with.  Driving her out of Congress completely was plan B as far as I was concerned, as long as she was ousted as chair.  She of course was.

Canova of course is welcome to challenge her and is doing so.  We'll see what the voters decide.


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