Saturday, June 24, 2017

Last Call For Awful Ossoff

Salon's Andrew O'Hehir has a pretty damning analysis of the failure of Democrats in Georgia's 6th district special election last Tuesday.

Furthermore, as I hinted earlier, the dominant liberal narrative about what happened in the Georgia Sixth is somewhere between highly misleading and complete fiction. If you’ve gotten the impression that the commuter hellscape of the northern Atlanta ‘burbs saw a surge of anti-Trump, pro-Democratic enthusiasm that wasn’t quiteenough to put Ossoff over the top, that’s 100 percent fake news. Want to know how many votes Ossoff picked up with all those millions of dollars in outside donations and all those doorbell-ringing volunteers? I will tell you: Essentially none.

No, it’s true. Ossoff received almost exactly the same vote total as the district’s previous Democratic nominee got against Tom Price in 2016. (In fact, he got 24 fewer votes than that guy. Twenty-four!) The race was close because Karen Handel underperformed drastically, getting about 66,000 fewer votes than Price did in November. I’m going to say that again: There were no Democratic gains in that district at all. The “vote shift” was entirely a matter of bummed-out Republicans staying home. The dynamic in Montana was similar, if slightly worse for both sides: Democrat Rob Quist got 40,000 fewer votes than the last defeated Democrat, while the infamous Greg Gianforte fell 95,000 votes short of previous GOP incumbent Ryan Zinke.

Maybe that’s the grand Democratic strategy for 2018: Depressed voter turnout! Republicans are bewildered about Trump, and if you can run somebody so bland and inoffensive that they don’t get pissed off, they might not show up at all. It would be a measure of karmic payback for the Koch brothers, I guess.

More seriously, those startling numbers from Georgia call into question the apparently reasonable premise that the only way Democrats could possibly compete there was to run a milquetoast moderate with no discernible ideology. You can’t win in an archetypal “Panera district” like that one (the theory holds) by terrifying the polite, professional white folks with vows to tax the rich, provide health care for all and jack up the price of that Cinnamon Dolce Light Frappuccino with a $15 minimum wage.

That might all be true, as a matter of electoral calculus. But if the Democrats are now playing the Republicans’ game of trying to shrink the opposing voter base instead of expanding their own, another Rubicon has been crossed in the degradation of democracy. Maybe an activist firebrand candidate might have expanded the Democratic base or motivated the district’s modest African-American population or done something, anything, beyond spending vast sums of money to accomplish literally nothing. Such a candidate might also might have sparked an intense Republican response and lost anyway, to be sure. But isn’t it better, in terms of morale and long-term strategy, to go down fighting on principle than to go down as a calculated nonentity?

Jon Ossoff was not a whole bunch of things: He had no political experience and no discernible ideology. He did not actually live in the district where he ran for Congress. (He did not look old enough to shave.) To his credit, he was not Donald Trump, not a Republican, not vicious or venal or insane, and those things formed the entire text of his campaign. Ossoff also did not win, and it would not have mattered much if he had. Instead of engineering a symbolic victory, his campaign drained an immense amount of money and activist energy into a black hole of disappointment and defeat.

It's really hard for me to look at Ossoff's loss at this point as anything other than a massive failure.  His biggest problem was running to get Romney voters, and they simply stayed home.  Not enough of them for Ossoff to win however, and there was every indication that if he did win, we'd have ended up with another useless Democrat like Kyrsten Sinema.

I'm not as cynical as Andrew here, but I do agree that the goal here must be to expand the Democratic base, not trade in base voters for Republicans sick of Trump.  We've gotten multiple attempts at failure now running like that.  Could another candidate have done better?  Maybe.  2018 is another attempt.  I hope the lesson is learned.

Time to act like Democrats, and not Republicans.  Even in Republican districts, we have to give voters a Democratic choice.

California Love (Not Hate)

California has had a state travel and business ban in place for four states over LGBT discrimination.  Now the sixth-largest economy on earth will no longer do business with four more states, including Texas and here in Kentucky.

Decrying a “scourge of discrimination” against LGBT individuals in four states, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Thursday doubled the number of states subject to California’s state-sponsored travel ban.

Speaking in San Francisco, Becerra increased the number of states that California state employees cannot travel to on official government business from four to eight.

The four additions — Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas — each passed state legislation that took effect starting in March that Becerra alleged discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families.

“The state of California is not going to participate in discriminatory conduct by other states,” Becerra said.

The states join Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee on California’s list of banned states. The first four were put in place by then-Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Thursday marked Becerra’s first action on the matter since he took office, and he blamed the delayed rollout on the complications of analyzing four separate pieces of state legislation.

Under a California law that took effect in January, there are a number of exemptions to the ban on travel. The restrictions do apply to the University of California and other state schools.

But the attorney general’s office would not say whether the rules would prevent an athletic team — the California Golden Bears, for example — from playing an away game at one of the affected states. A representative said the office was reviewing the matter.

Asked about the consequences for California in refusing to do business with those states — especially Texas, which boasts the second-largest economy in the United States behind only California — Becerra paused.

“Texas is a big state,” he said, but “the consequences are real” for LGBT people in Texas and elsewhere.

He said he would not rule out adding more states.

California refusing to do business with Texas is a big, big story.  California's GDP is over two trillion yearly, Texas is just under that number.  If that ban does include college sports, well, that's going to be a major issue, especially here in Kentucky.

But there's consequences for codifying into law that LGBT citizens are second-class and can be discriminated against in every way in the name of "religious liberty".  I'm really hoping Eric Schneiderman and New York follow suit soon, especially in regards to Texas.  States no longer having access to Wall Street or Silicon Valley investments just might make them think twice.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

The other major development this week in the Trump/Russia story comes from Senate Intelligence Committee hearings this week, as senators wanted to get the FBI's director of counterintelligence operations, Bill Priestap, under oath.

A top FBI official investigating the Russian cyberattacks on the 2016 election would not say Wednesday whether President Donald Trump acted as an “unwitting agent” of the Kremlin during his presidential campaign. 
Bill Priestap, assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Moscow “employed a multifaceted approach intended to undermine confidence in our democratic process,” including efforts to “discredit” Hillary Clinton and help elect Trump. 
Citing Priestap’s description of Russian efforts to “sow discord” in the United States, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) asked Priestap about the term “unwitting agent,” meaning an official duped into doing the bidding of a foreign power. 
Did Donald Trump become an unwitting agent of the Russians?” Heinrich asked. 
Priestap paused for several seconds, with the hearing room silent. 
I can’t really comment on that,” he said. 
“I don’t blame you for not answering that question,” Heinrich replied, to laughter.

Not really a laughing matter, but parsing Priestap's answer reveals that he easily could have said no if Trump wasn't an agent for Moscow.  He did not say that.

This appears to mean that Donald Trump was either working for Russia as a dupe...or on purpose and for other reasons.

Either scenario is absolutely shocking and should immediately disqualify Trump from the Oval Office.   You'd better believe both the FBI and Robert Mueller know damn well that Trump was working for his real boss Vlad. When this dam bursts folks, it's going to wipe out the GOP for a generation, but they keep plugging the leaks and praying that the dam holds.

It will not save them when the flood comes.

A Potentially Fatal Case Of Moscow Fatigue

This is how Trump gets away with it: America is getting tired of Trump's Russian perfidy and voters are starting to tune it out.  They want Congress to end the investigations and get back to "real" issues.

A majority of voters believe the Russia investigations are damaging to the country and are eager to see Congress shift its focus to healthcare, terrorism, national security, the economy and jobs. 
Those are the findings of the latest Harvard-Harris poll, provided exclusively to The Hill, which paint a complicated picture of voters’ opinions about the myriad probes that have engulfed the White House. 
Sixty-four percent of voters said the investigations into President Trump and Russia are hurting the country. Fifty-six percent of voters said it’s time for Congress and the media to move on to other issues, compared to 44 percent who said the focus should stay on Russia. 
But other surveys have found strong support for the special counsel investigating the Russia probe. A Harvard-Harris poll released last month found 75 percent support for former FBI Robert Mueller’s investigation. 
There is evidence in the Harvard-Harris survey that voters are taking the investigations seriously: 58 percent say they’re concerned by allegations of obstruction of justice against Trump, with the same number worried about possible dealings between Trump and the Russian government.

But far more — 73 percent — say they’re concerned that the Russia probes have caused Congress to lose focus on the issues important to them. That figure encompasses 81 percent of Republicans, 74 percent of independents and 68 percent of Democrats. 
“While the voters have a keen interest in any Russian election interference, they are concerned that the investigations have become a distraction for the president and Congress that is hurting rather than helping the country,” said Harvard-Harris co-director Mark Penn. “Most voters believe that the president's actions don't rise to the level of impeachable offenses, even if some of them were inappropriate.”

There's a reason that the right was more than eager to use the attacks on the Russia probe by the far left as cover, and this is the exact outcome showing exactly why.

Not only is my prediction that Trump will escape impeachment coming true, it looks like that America won't give a damn if the entire investigation is dropped and Mueller fired.  Indeed, the House Oversight Committee is already dropping its Russia probe. If that happens for the Senate as well, this country is done.

Meanwhile that package of tough new Senate sanctions against Russia just ran into the buzzsaw that is the House GOP, as they are now claiming the bill is null and void because it should have originated in the House, so nothing will happen there.

This is about as grim as it gets, guys.
Related Posts with Thumbnails