Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Last Call For Redneck Paradise

BuzzFeed's Jane Coaston gets it: the only thing that matters to Republicans in 2017 is "Does it piss off liberals, and how much?"  There's no better symbol of that than musician Kid Rock, who appears to be serious about his Senate run against Debbie Stabenow in Michigan.  The guy has zero credentials or skills other than making albums, but that doesn't really matter in the Age of Trump, does it?

Kid Rock says he wants to be Michigan’s next senator.

Some may think a man who recently sold his 8,300 square foot Balinese-style mansion in Malibu is an unlikely voice for the working people of Michigan, whose swing to the right helped send Donald Trump to the White House. But the author of hits like Black Chick, White Guy("his dick was metal / her pussy was a magnet”) can, in fact, represent the voice of a very specific Republican voter, whose political identity can be summarized as "wants to stick it to liberals."
Pissing off liberals is what the Republican party does best right now. If your political identity is any more conservative than that, you might have a hard time voting for Kid Rock, a supporter of the legalization of all drugs whose position on abortion is “it’s not up to a man to tell a woman what to do.” Take away the commitment to offending liberal snowflakes, and he’s basically Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson, if Johnson had once briefly served as the lead singer for both Metallica and Guns N’ Roses.

Which is to say that Kid Rock is not really a conservative, or even someone who pretends to be one. And that’s just fine with many conservatives. As The Federalist put it, he may currently lack "a cogent list of reasons why he wants the job," but will benefit from "a blood connection through his baby’s momma with African-Americans” — as well as the fact that his Democratic opponent “resembles an overweight, scolding aunt.” Kurt Schlichter, of conservative news site, wrote that Kid Rock deserved to be elected to the Senate for the following reasons: He will annoy liberals, and he will also annoy conservative columnist George Will. "We’re past voting for the ideology," he wrote. "Now we’re ready to vote for the id."

"Vote for the Id" would make a pretty solid tagline for Republican politics circa 2017. The policy conversations and conflicts and basic premises that once governed conservatism — or at least appeared to — have been largely replaced by a set of principles built on the rock-solid foundation of irritating liberals.

After winning a presidential election with a candidate who had no serious conservative bona fides, the Republican Party has come to an important conclusion: Conservatism doesn't sell all that well. Telling Americans in desperate need of affordable health care that free markets will somehow sort it out someday is not a popular policy prescription — and Republicans have essentially given up on trying to enact those changes in the first place, settling instead for gesturing dismissively in its general direction. It turns out that many people, including President Donald Trump, kind of like Big Government, especially when a six-figure hospital bill is staring them down.

So amid the quagmire of the Obamacare repeal effort, Republicans are learning once more that being opposed to something is far easier than building consensus in support of something else. And fortunately for their party, plenty of voters also seem to enjoy focusing their searing anger onto other people and relishing in their apparent suffering, conservative values be damned. 

Once again, as long as the person in question is willing to run to make Obama voters suffer, Republicans will vote for them every time.  There's no hope in courting them by the left, they'll never vote for a Deocrat as long as they live.  But they'll vote for anybody with an R next to their name, anyone, even a faux northern redneck asshole from a millionaire family like Kid Rock, as long as their campaign promise starts with "I will make liberals angry, because screw them."

That's literally the only qualification you need to be a Republican and get 40% of the vote minimum in any election in America, and in about two-thirds of states, that's probably a win.

We'll see what happens in 2018.

Getting Hard-Pressed In The White House

New WHite House Communications Director Tony Scaramucci has one job as far as his boss is concerned (Donald Trump, not WH Chief of Staff Reince Preibus, which is a whole other issue actually) and that's to get heads for leaks to the press.  Scaramucci's first trophy is assistant press secretary Michael Short, along with his own credibility. TPM's Matt Shuham:

Shortly after telling a reporter that he planned on firing assistant White House press secretary Michael Short, White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said it was “unfair” that the public knew about the firing before Short did — even though Scaramucci himself was the source of the news.

The surreal course of events unfolded over a couple of hours Tuesday morning.

First, Politico’s Tara Palmeri reported that Scaramucci had told her, in her words, “that he plans to dismiss assistant press secretary Michael Short,” as part of his early war on White House leakers and other staffers deemed insufficiently supportive of President Donald Trump.

Short did not respond to TPM’s request for comment, but CNN’s Jeremy Diamond reported less than an hour after Palmeri’s article went live that Short had not been informed of his upcoming firing.

Fifty minutes later, Time’s Zeke Miller reported that Scaramucci said leakers were “unpatriotic” and that Scaramucci refused to confirm Short’s firing, saying it would be inappropriate to speak publicly about the matter — even though, as Miller pointed out, he already had.

Then, Scaramucci blamed “leaking” for the fact that reporters, and thus the general public, knew about Short’s potential firing before Short himself did, even though Politico cited Scaramucci as the source of the information.

In the stunning statement reported by Miller and The Hill, in which Scaramucci blamed leaks for his own actions, he seemed to “leak” yet again, putting forward the hypothetical, “Let’s say I’m firing Michael Short today. The fact that you guys know about it before he does really upsets me as a human being and as a Roman Catholic.”

As comical as Tony the Mooch is, what the White House is doing isn't funny.  Looking closely at yesterday's Washington Post story on Jeff Sessions is that Sessions himself says that investigations and possibly prosecutions are coming for leakers.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will reportedly make an announcement about several criminal leak investigations within days.

Officials told The Washington Post about the forthcoming news from the Justice Department. The investigations will be centered around news reports containing sensitive material about intelligence, the report said. 
The news comes as newly-appointed White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci publicly decried leaks coming from within the West Wing in his first week on the job and vowed to fire staffers who continue talking to reporters.

The impending announcement also comes as Trump grows publicly unhappy with Sessions, last week criticized the attorney general for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.  

If there's one thing that will get Trump off Sessions's back, it's Evil Keebler Elf announcing heads are going to roll over leaks, which Trump takes to Twitter to scream about two or three mornings per week these days.  We'll see where this goes, but my guess is that this is how Sessions keeps his job.

Until the next major leak about Mueller's investigation hits the Washington Post and New York Times, that is.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Here in Cincinnati, the political aftermath of the two mistrials of former U of C campus police officer Ray Tensing over the shooting death of unarmed black motorist Sam Dubose is coming to a head. Now that the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office has dropped charges against Tensing after refusing a third trial, Cincinnati Police have decided that County Prosecutor Joe Deters needs to be dismissed and odds are very good that Deters is in real trouble.

Cincinnati police officers have taken the extraordinary step of issuing a vote of no confidence in the county prosecutor and another that directed their union leader to withdraw from a group working to refresh the city's Collaborative Agreement. 
Both votes, taken late Monday, stem from anger at how Cincinnati Police Sgt. Shannon Heine was treated in the wake of her testimony in the trial of former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing. She said under oath that she believed his actions were justified. 
A jury couldn't come to a unanimous agreement last week on murder or voluntary murder charges brought against Tensing in the fatal shooting of Sam DuBose during a traffic stop, resulting in a mistrial.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said his office was "blindsided" by Heine's testimony and that it changed the direction of the prosecution's case.

An internal affairs report released by the police department Friday found Heine did not deceive prosecutors, but the Citizen Complaint Authority also has received a complaint against Heine. It was filed by Al Gerhardstein, who represents the DuBose family, on behalf of the Black United Front. 
“I’m especially disturbed by Mr. Gerhardstein’s baseless accusations that Sgt. Heine conspired with the defense. That’s a huge accusation. There’s no evidence of it whatsoever, it’s just they did not like her opinion in that case,” Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 69 President Dan Hils said. 
Deters said Tuesday he remains committed to doing the best job as prosecutor he can and that "I have full confidence in the Cincinnati Police Department.”

The vote of no confidence is believed to be the first of its kind and was shocking because Deters has long enjoyed support from the law enforcement community for his tough-on-crime stances. 
The Tensing case was the first he lost while in the top job at the prosecutor's office, but he told the Enquirer he stood by his decision, despite criticism that he over-charged Tensing. 
The Collaborative Agreement refresh was championed by Mayor John Cranley to revisit the police-community agreement that is seen as a national model. Cranley brought back monitor Saul Green for an eight-month look at the agreement with the support of original signers including community activist Iris Roley, Gerhardstein and the police department.

Understand that the issue with Sgt. Heine's testimony is a smokescreen, the issue is that Deters dared to ever indict Tensing.  The police union is making it very clear that the collaborative agreement between the police, the City Council, the Mayor, and the black community is dead unless Deters is fired, and that's something Mayor Cranley can't afford to let crumble as he faces re-election.

That puts Cincinnati in a very bad place.  If the police union bails from the Collaborative Agreement, Cranley is toast and he knows it.

How long Deters survives as County Prosecutor is anyone's guess if the FOP has turned on him.

We'll see.


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