Sunday, May 12, 2019

Last Call For Meanwhile In Bevinstan, Con't...

Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel comes to Kentucky to look at the Democratic primary on May 21 and the three Democrats waiting to take on GOP Gov. Matt Bevin.  If the argument is "white guys can win against extremely unpopular Republicans in Trump Country" then there's no better test case.

There's an even better test case because all three Democrats are running on different platforms: State House minority leader Rocky Adkins is a pro-life conservative who's won consistently, AG Andy Beshear is a moderate who has kept his office but lost in 2015 to Bevin by double-digits, and businessman Adam Edelen is a liberal who wants to bring in new industries and jobs.

Bevin, whose years-long battles with teachers and public-sector unions has made him wildly unpopular, is seen as vulnerable despite his party's political dominance in the state. He has been tied up in court over an attempt to add work requirements for Medicaid recipients and over bipartisan efforts to ban abortion; he earned the wrong kind of national attention after speculatingthat a teacher's strike led to a child's death. He's facing a primary challenge from Robert Goforth, a state legislator who says Bevin has squandered his opportunities; at the same time, he has presided over Republican gains that replaced a Democratic state House with a GOP supermajority.

“I have never led in any poll or been popular in any survey that has ever been done,” he said this year, after one survey pegged him as the least-popular governor in America. "Polls, schmolls."

Kentucky Democrats held onto power longer than their counterparts in any other Southern state and are eager to prove that the party can win again in "Trump Country." But they're hurtling toward a May 21 gubernatorial primary with three very different theories of recovery. Adkins, who has held onto a rural Appalachian district amid a Democratic wipeout, is antiabortion and says he could compete for social conservatives. Beshear, whose father was a popular two-term governor, talks about stopping Bevin's biggest excesses in court and getting the state back to balance.

And Edelen, who blames the “quiet, tired pablum of the past” for his party's decline, argues that Bevin can be beaten by a new economic agenda of renewable energy, rural broadband and decriminalized marijuana — not giving up on rural Kentucky, but boosting turnout in suburbs that have turned on the modern GOP. To push back against the idea that the governor's unpopularity will sink him, Edelen invokes the double whammy of 2015 and 2016, two elections that his party thought were impossible to lose, until they lost them.

“Matt Bevin was an early predictor of Donald Trump in both form and fashion, and the campaign we ran against him clearly sought to disqualify him,” Edelen said in an interview. “It was: 'Oh, this guy is crazy! He can't be governor! He's too radical.' And the people of Kentucky listened to his message and delivered him a victory in a landslide, which is what happened again nationally in 2016.” 
Every candidate's case against Bevin starts with the teachers. A year ago, with Republicans in full control of the legislative agenda, Bevin replaced teachers's pension plans with less-generous investment portfolios, then vetoed a budget that would have raised education spending. After protests, a bipartisan coalition overrode the veto; after a lawsuit, the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned the pension plan. Adkins and Beshear, who battled Bevin from different parts of the capitol, have made those victories the centerpieces of their campaigns.

“There's no place to hide on that House floor,” Adkins told supporters at a Saturday night rally in his hometown. “You go toe to toe with the governor.” In an interview, and everywhere he goes, Beshear recalls just how badly Bevin lost the pensions fight: “We took him to court and we beat him, seven to nothing.”

Bevin's reelection argument rhymes with the one the president is planning for 2020. He's right, the left is wrong, and the state's booming economy can prove it. In Bevin's first TV ad, the first image of the governor is from a meeting with Trump. (The president even tapped Bevin's pollster for his 2016 campaign.)

If Democrats can win here in KY and beat Bevin, there's an argument to be made that they can win nationally.  The problem is I don't think they can with any of the three candidates, because they'll all be buried as fascist Socialist enemies of the state and I don't think any of the three of them know how to fight back without coming across at petulant kids.

There's also the problem that Kentucky has far fewer black voters than the national average.  Unlike Southern states, there's not a big bloc of black voters here that can help the Dems.  Like it or not, Kentucky isn't California.  These are the candidates we have, and I'm tired of blue states giving us up for dead all the time.

Polling shows the primary is Beshear's to lose.  We'll see in a week and change.

The Reach To Impeach, Con't

Jerry Nadler and House Judiciary Democrats are running out of "DO SOMETHING" options that aren't impeachment at this point, while the Trump regime just laughs and keeps flipping the table over again and again.

A growing number of Democratic committee members are pushing Nadler to take more aggressive steps to force President Donald Trump and top administration officials to comply with a host of congressional subpoenas. Some lawmakers even want Congress to dust off its little-used authority to fine or even jail witnesses, something that the House hasn't done in more than 80 years and is ill-prepared to execute.

But Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team worry that such moves, while pleasing to a party base that loathes the president, would backfire and boost Trump politically.

Caught in the middle is Nadler, a 71-year-old Democrat who has long been a thorn in Trump's side. Anything he does will displease some key constituency — either at home in his New York City district, in his committee room in the Rayburn House Office Building or in the Capitol’s leadership suites.

The new push inside the Judiciary Committee to use its “inherent contempt” power against Trump administration officials underscores the larger challenge facing House Democrats in responding to the president's blanket stonewalling.

While Pelosi and her lieutenants have all but ruled out impeaching Trump — despite incessant calls to do so from party activists and some lawmakers — the White House keeps upping the stakes by refusing to comply with House probes into Trump’s finances and conduct. That leaves Democrats with few tools to respond effectively short of taking Trump to court, a risky and time-consuming process that could take months or years to resolve.

But doing nothing isn’t an option for Democrats, who don’t want to look feckless in the face of Trump’s defiance.

Trump "certainly is the best argument for impeachment there is," said Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the Judiciary and Oversight panels. "This is the most impeachable president in the history of the United States of America. But that still leaves us a whole bunch of questions about what to do and when to do it."

The problem is outside of impeachment, there's no enforcement mechanism to compel Republicans to actually do anything that won't be tied up in courts until after the election, and even with impeachment, there's zero chance Trump is removed from office.

Practically, it doesn't matter what Nadler chooses to do here when it comes to Trump remaining in office.

It won't make a lick of difference either way with the GOP.

Now, with Democrats, that's a different story.  We'll see.

Sunday Long Read: We Gotta Face The Face(Book), Con't

FaceBook co-founder Chris Hughes takes to the NY Times this week to make the case that Mark Zuckerberg has too much personal power over the planet's social media and culture and that Zuck's repeated failures in safeguarding privacy means that government must step in and break the company up for the good of humanity.

He is absolutely correct in this regard.

The last time I saw Mark Zuckerberg was in the summer of 2017, several months before the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. We met at Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., office and drove to his house, in a quiet, leafy neighborhood. We spent an hour or two together while his toddler daughter cruised around. We talked politics mostly, a little about Facebook, a bit about our families. When the shadows grew long, I had to head out. I hugged his wife, Priscilla, and said goodbye to Mark.

Since then, Mark’s personal reputation and the reputation of Facebook have taken a nose-dive. The company’s mistakes — the sloppy privacy practices that dropped tens of millions of users’ data into a political consulting firm’s lap; the slow response to Russian agents, violent rhetoric and fake news; and the unbounded drive to capture ever more of our time and attention — dominate the headlines. It’s been 15 years since I co-founded Facebook at Harvard, and I haven’t worked at the company in a decade. But I feel a sense of anger and responsibility.

Mark is still the same person I watched hug his parents as they left our dorm’s common room at the beginning of our sophomore year. He is the same person who procrastinated studying for tests, fell in love with his future wife while in line for the bathroom at a party and slept on a mattress on the floor in a small apartment years after he could have afforded much more. In other words, he’s human. But it’s his very humanity that makes his unchecked power so problematic.

Mark’s influence is staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government. He controls three core communications platforms — Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — that billions of people use every day. Facebook’s board works more like an advisory committee than an overseer, because Mark controls around 60 percent of voting shares. Mark alone can decide how to configure Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get delivered. He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it.

Mark is a good, kind person. But I’m angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks. I’m disappointed in myself and the early Facebook team for not thinking more about how the News Feed algorithm could change our culture, influence elections and empower nationalist leaders. And I’m worried that Mark has surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them.

The government must hold Mark accountable. For too long, lawmakers have marveled at Facebook’s explosive growth and overlooked their responsibility to ensure that Americans are protected and markets are competitive. Any day now, the Federal Trade Commission is expected to impose a $5 billion fine on the company, but that is not enough; nor is Facebook’s offer to appoint some kind of privacy czar. After Mark’s congressional testimony last year, there should have been calls for him to truly reckon with his mistakes. Instead the legislators who questioned him were derided as too old and out of touch to understand how tech works. That’s the impression Mark wanted Americans to have, because it means little will change.

We are a nation with a tradition of reining in monopolies, no matter how well intentioned the leaders of these companies may be. Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American.

It is time to break up Facebook

Hughes lays out the case as to why this needs to be done, and he makes an excellent argument.  With great power comes great responsibility, as Peter Parker's uncle told him.  Mark Zuckerberg has proven himself incapable of handling that responsibility, so that great power must be taken from him.
Breaking up Facebook is only a partial solution given bigger issues like Citizens United and, you know, the GOP, but getting Facebook out of Zuck's hands is an imperative.

It's All About Revenge Now, Con't

Trump regime state TV moved closer to calling for mass roundups of Democrats in Congress with Donald Trump's personal favorite "legal expert" Jeanine Pirro announcing that House was "stolen" by the Democrats last year and that they will absolutely try to "steal" the election in 2020.

Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro claimed the House of Representatives had been “stolen” during her opening statement on Saturday.

“They’ve stolen the House, the people’s House,” Pirro claimed. “That hallowed chamber our forefathers created to represent the people as well as be closest to the people.”

“They hijacked it to maintain power for themselves,” she continued. “They don’t work for or represent you.”

“These radicals who have forfeited their job representing you, continue to resist, create havoc and claim Constitutional crisis,” she argued.

“Most important, start gearing up for 2020. We need a House of Representatives that represents the people in this great nation. The people who want to remake America and maintain their own power. God help us and God help us if we elect these same people and they stay in control of our country,” she concluded.

Expect Donald Trump to start repeating this utter nonsense, along with several House GOP luminaries like Louie Gohmert and Steve King before the end of the month.

The ground is being laid for mass arrests, guys.  We're watching it happen in real time here.

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