Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Blanking Out Manchin

West Virginia Senate Dem Joe Manchin is vulnerable in 2018 to the point where anything national Democrats do will only hurt him.  He's chosen to run against the party and made an effort to support Trump at times in the state where Trump is the most popular.  If Dems are going to lose any Senate seat in 2018 to the GOP, it's going to be his (although Jon Tester in Montana and Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota are roughly in the same boat and are in real trouble as well.)

Luckily for the Democrats, Republicans are in full panic mode as the WV GOP is about to pull a Roy Moore and nominate the one guy who would almost certainly lose to Manchin in November, convicted coal baron Don Blankenship.

National Republicans — on the heels of the Roy Moore and Rick Saccone debacles — worry they’re staring down their latest potential midterm election fiasco: coal baron and recent federal prisoner Don Blankenship. 
With Blankenship skyrocketing in the West Virginia Republican Senate primary and blanketing the airwaves with ads assailing his fractured field of rivals as career politicians, senior party officials are wrestling with how, or even whether, to intervene. Many of them are convinced that Blankenship, who served a one-year sentence after the deadly 2010 explosion at his Upper Big Branch Mine, would be a surefire loser against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin — and potentially become a national stain for the party.
The discussions have intensified over the past few weeks. During separate meetings with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, aides to Blankenship’s two primary opponents, Rep. Evan Jenkins and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, pointed to Blankenship’s traction and questioned what could be done to stop him. The Senate GOP campaign arm, which heard out the appeals, recently commissioned a survey to gauge the coal king’s electoral strength and determine his staying power in the race. 
Those familiar with the party’s deliberations say the results are clear: With a little more than a month until the May 8 primary, Blankenship, a towering figure in West Virginia politics long before this campaign and an avid opponent of unions, has vaulted into essentially a three-way tie with his rivals and is positioned to move ahead.

Blankenship is essentially buying a Senate office in the poorest state in the nation.

Blankenship’s rise has been driven in part by his self-financed TV ads. Since launching his campaign in late November, Blankenship has spent over $1.1 million on roughly a dozen commercials, according to media buying totals, far surpassing his opponents. Morrisey has so far spent nothing on TV ads and Jenkins only about $38,000. 
Blankenship has used the ads to paint his rivals as insufficiently conservative, blasting Jenkins over his positions on Obamacare and climate change and Morrisey on abortion. He’s positioned himself as an unshakable ally of President Donald Trump, who received 68 percent of the vote in the state. 
Yet he has also undertaken an effort to clear his name. 
The spots have accused the Obama administration and Manchin — who was governor at the time of the mine disaster and has said Blankenship has “blood on his hands” — of conspiring to imprison him. He has also featured testimonials from his daughter, Jennifer, who’s described her father as a soft-hearted family man and provider for West Virginians. 
Even before he entered the race late last year, Blankenship was a familiar face on West Virginia TV sets. After being released from prison in 2017, he invested around $600,000 on a slate of commercials aimed at redeeming himself. 
“He’s running ads, he has money. He’s not a wallflower,” said Hoppy Kercheval, an influential radio show host in the state. “He’s a puncher and a counterpuncher.” 
“He’s the guy that’s on the move. He’s the guy that’s gaining traction in this wide open race,” Kercheval added. “I think it has this everyman appeal in West Virginia.”

Sure, because the average "everyman" in West Virginia is a billionaire coal magnate whose lax corporate safety record resulted in the deaths of 29 people.

Please proceed, WV GOP.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

Republican strategist Rick Tyler asserted on Monday that President Donald Trump will eventually find a way to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and Republicans in Congress will do “nothing” about it.

During a panel discussion on MSNBC, host Stephanie Ruhle asked Tyler if Trump was running a campaign to “discredit” special counsel Robert Mueller.

“Here’s what’s going to happen, I’m going to go out on a limb,” Tyler began. “The president has calculated now — and I think it’s true — is the reaction from the Republicans. He is going to fire Robert Mueller. And you know what’s going to happen? Nothing. That’s what’s going to happen. There will be no response from Republican leadership, from Congress.”

Tyler continued as the other guests looked on in amazement.

“He is now going about — the reason to fire [former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe], the reason to deny him his retirement is he has to discredit him,” Tyler said. “And he has to systematically discredit everybody who’s involved in this Russia investigation. And he has now seen that he can do these things without any recourse. The Congress is not going to rein him in.”

The GOP strategist predicted Mueller’s firing would come “sooner rather than later, before he can get any further… on money laundering or other tangential issues.”

Every bone in my body tells me that Rick Tyler is correct on the first count and 99.97% correct on the second.  Now, what happens after that will decide whether or not we get to, as Ben Franklin warned, still maintain "a republic, if you can keep it."

Mueller is closing in, so Trump will move quickly once he exhausts his thinly veiled hints that Mueller should end the investigation.

President Trump’s attorneys have provided the special counsel’s office with written descriptions that chronicle key moments under investigation in hopes of curtailing the scope of a presidential interview, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Trump’s legal team recently shared the documents in an effort to limit any session between the president and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to a few select topics, the people said. The lawyers are worried that Trump, who has a penchant for making erroneous claims, would be vulnerable in an hours-long interview.

The decision to share materials with Mueller’s team is part of an effort by Trump’s lawyers to minimize his exposure to the special counsel, whom the president recently attacked in a series of tweets.

Trump has told aides he is “champing at the bit” to sit for an interview, according to one person. But his lawyers, who are carefully negotiating the terms of a sit-down, recognize the extraordinarily high stakes.

As part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Mueller is probing whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia and whether the president obstructed justice by trying to block the investigation. In particular, his team is focused on Trump’s firing of his national security adviser and the FBI director, according to people familiar with the inquiry.

When it becomes clear that Mueller will not stick to those "few select topics" (which consist of how everyone but Trump and his family are guilty) and that Mueller will proceed into the Russian lection meddling and money laundering, and the obstruction of justice by Trump, he'll make the order out of increasingly unstable rage and then expect his lackeys to clean up the mess.

That fight, when it comes, will determine the future of America as a democracy or something far more sinister and authoritarian.


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