Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Last Call For Making The Case

The FOX-ification of the American political landscape has so poisoned the country to the very idea that government can ever work, that even a year into the Trump era, the Democrats have their worst brand polling since Reagan/Bush.

Favorable views of the Democratic Party have dropped to their lowest mark in more than a quarter century of polling, according to new numbers from a CNN poll conducted by SSRS
Only 37% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Democrats, down from 44% in March of this year. A majority, 54%, have an unfavorable view, matching their highest mark in polls from CNN and SSRS, CNN/ORC and CNN/USA Today/Gallup stretching back to 1992. 
The rating includes low favorable ratings from some core Democratic groups, including nonwhites (48%) and people under 35 years old (33%). The numbers come amid recent feuds and divisions in the Democratic Party, as former interim chair Donna Brazile's new book has unveiled new questions about infighting during the 2016 presidential campaign.
But the Republican Party isn't doing any better, with just 30% of Americans holding a favorable view. That's essentially the same as September, when the rating hit its lowest point in polling back to 1992, but down from 42% in March. A broad 6 in 10, 61%, have an unfavorable opinion. 
This means both parties sit at or near rock bottom as voters go to the polls across the country on Tuesday, most prominently in governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey, as well as dozens of local and mayoral races nationwide. 
A substantial 33% of liberals and 41% of conservatives have unfavorable views of the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively. Plus, 4 in 10 independents, 42%, say they have an unfavorable view of both parties vs. only 8% who say they have a favorable view of both. 
Indeed, a bare majority of Americans, 51%, say it's bad for the country that the Republican Party is in control of Congress. Only 38% say GOP control is good for the nation. That's worse than at any point in CNN's polling on the Democratic majority in Congress between 2007 and 2010.

Democratic approval isn't going to get better anytime soon either, not with Millennials polling the Dems at 33%.  America's younger voters have essentially given up on the two-party system as is after Obama.  They're done with both parties, the Republicans come in at a worse 28% among Millennials.

But frankly, Ralph Northam just whipped Ed Gillespie's ass tonight ANYWAY.

We won.  BIG.

Dems in 2018.

The Other Races Today

Virginia's gubernatorial race today has gotten a lot of coverage, but as Matt Yglesias reminds us, other state issues and several mayoral races will have a major impact on 2018 and 2020 politics.

National media coverage of Tuesday’s elections has focused fairly overwhelmingly on the governor’s race in Virginia, which seems to be close and features some interesting storylines about Ed Gillespie’s race-baiting electioneering tactics, which, if successful, will likely prove to be a model for Republicans nationwide. 
But the policy stakes outside Virginia — in the not-so-close gubernatorial election in New Jersey, a Washington state Senate special election, and a Maine ballot initiative to expand Medicaid — are equally high. These other races haven’t attracted as much attention because they’re less interesting from a horse-race perspective. The New Jersey race looks set to be a Democratic blowout, the state Senate special in the suburbs of Seattle is lightly polled but also seems to clearly favor Democrats, and the paucity of polling in Maine makes it hard to construct any kind of narrative. 
Yet Democratic victories in these three races have huge effects. An expected Democratic win in New Jersey would create a Democratic trifecta in a blue state — potentially unleashing a wave of progressive policymaking that’s been stifled by eight years of Chris Christie. Flipping Washington’s state Senate from a one-vote GOP majority to a one-vote Democratic majority will also create a Democratic trifecta; a narrow legislative margin but one that creates new opportunities when combined with Washington state’s stronger fiscal position. Medicaid expansion in Maine would be a huge deal for the estimated 70,000 Mainers newly qualified for the program and a shot in the arm to rural hospitals.

And this is big news because Dems getting full control of New Jersey and Washington State back means they'll be much better equipped to battle Trump regime nonsense going into next year and in 2020 when redistricting and the White House are both on the line.  Dems need all the help they can get.

Not to mention tens of thousands of Mainers getting access to health care, in a state that has been badly abused by the racist austerity idiocy of GOP Gov. Paul LePage.  A vote to expand Medicaid in the Trump era would send shockwaves through all 50 states, period.

Here's hoping that I have good news to report tomorrow as well.

The Smarmy Army Of Harvey

Ronan Farrow, the one-time MSNBC wunderkind host unceremoniously booted out for low ratings, has redeemed himself with breaking the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault file wide open.  But Farrow isn't done with Weinstein's awful legacy just yet, dropping yet another New Yorker bombshell on how the disgraced media mogul turned to ex-Mossad agents for hire in order to run his own intelligence operation against the women he had assaulted.

In the fall of 2016, Harvey Weinstein set out to suppress allegations that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women. He began to hire private security agencies to collect information on the women and the journalists trying to expose the allegations. According to dozens of pages of documents, and seven people directly involved in the effort, the firms that Weinstein hired included Kroll, which is one of the world’s largest corporate-intelligence companies, and Black Cube, an enterprise run largely by former officers of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies. Black Cube, which has branches in Tel Aviv, London, and Paris, offers its clients the skills of operatives “highly experienced and trained in Israel’s elite military and governmental intelligence units,” according to its literature. 
Two private investigators from Black Cube, using false identities, met with the actress Rose McGowan, who eventually publicly accused Weinstein of rape, to extract information from her. One of the investigators pretended to be a women’s-rights advocate and secretly recorded at least four meetings with McGowan. The same operative, using a different false identity and implying that she had an allegation against Weinstein, met twice with a journalist to find out which women were talking to the press. In other cases, journalists directed by Weinstein or the private investigators interviewed women and reported back the details. 
The explicit goal of the investigations, laid out in one contract with Black Cube, signed in July, was to stop the publication of the abuse allegations against Weinstein that eventually emerged in the New York Times and The New YorkerOver the course of a year, Weinstein had the agencies “target,” or collect information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focussed on their personal or sexual histories. Weinstein monitored the progress of the investigations personally. He also enlisted former employees from his film enterprises to join in the effort, collecting names and placing calls that, according to some sources who received them, felt intimidating. 
In some cases, the investigative effort was run through Weinstein’s lawyers, including David Boies, a celebrated attorney who represented Al Gore in the 2000 Presidential-election dispute and argued for marriage equality before the U.S. Supreme Court. Boies personally signed the contract directing Black Cube to attempt to uncover information that would stop the publication of a Times story about Weinstein’s abuses, while his firm was also representing the Times, including in a libel case. 
Boies confirmed that his firm contracted with and paid two of the agencies and that investigators from one of them sent him reports, which were then passed on to Weinstein. He said that he did not select the firms or direct the investigators’ work. He also denied that the work regarding the Times story represented a conflict of interest. Boies said that his firm’s involvement with the investigators was a mistake. “We should not have been contracting with and paying investigators that we did not select and direct,” he told me. “At the time, it seemed a reasonable accommodation for a client, but it was not thought through, and that was my mistake. It was a mistake at the time.” 
Techniques like the ones used by the agencies on Weinstein’s behalf are almost always kept secret, and, because such relationships are often run through law firms, the investigations are theoretically protected by attorney-client privilege, which could prevent them from being disclosed in court. The documents and sources reveal the tools and tactics available to powerful individuals to suppress negative stories and, in some cases, forestall criminal investigations. 
In a statement, Weinstein’s spokesperson, Sallie Hofmeister, said, “It is a fiction to suggest that any individuals were targeted or suppressed at any time.”

In other words, Weinstein had a paid, world-class intelligence network at his disposal with the express intent of gaining leverage over anyone who might have spilled his story into the public spotlight.  He also had his former employees working for him, intimidated into being his eyes and ears.

In the end, it failed and Farrow was able to break the original story as well as this one.

Maybe the kid actually knows what he's doing.


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