Monday, January 13, 2020

Last Call For Another Hat Leaves The Ring, Con't

Sen. Cory Booker announced Monday that he will end his campaign after failing to qualify for the Democratic debate planned for Tuesday in Iowa. 
"It was a difficult decision to make, but I got in this race to win, and I've always said I wouldn't continue if there was no longer a path to victory," Booker said in an email to supporters Monday. 
The New Jersey Democrat's announcement came a day before six presidential candidates will participate in the CNN/Des Moines Register's debate in Des Moines, Iowa. He did not qualify for the event. It also came as the Senate gears up for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. 
"Our campaign has reached the point where we need more money to scale up and continue building a campaign that can win -- money we don't have, and money that is harder to raise because I won't be on the next debate stage and because the urgent business of impeachment will rightly be keeping me in Washington," Booker wrote. 
His announcement marks another departure of a high-profile black candidate from the 2020 race. After not making the December debate, Booker criticized the rules that kept him from qualifying for the event and was outspoken about the growing lack of diversity on stage.

It's that last part that's a genuine problem for Democrats. A party that is almost majority non-white having long-shots Andrew Yang and Deval Patrick as the only non-white presidential hopefuls heading into Iowa in three weeks is not the situation I'd hoped the Dems would be in.

Booker will continue to fight for criminal justice reform along with Kamala Harris and I wish him well, but it was clear that this remains a problem.  Biden is still the safe and comfortable choice increasingly for black voters like myself who are afraid that we will greatly suffer if Trump wins a second term, and nobody seems to want to address this situation directly to show us that they're any better.

I don't ever want to vote out of fear, but hope.  I understand those who do, however.  Especially in 2020.

It's a matter of survival.

Impeachment Reached, Con't

Voters here in Northern Kentucky understand full well that Donald Trump's fate is in the hands of Mitch McConnell, and they not only expect him to engineer Trump's acquittal, they demand that he does it.  Anything less would be the end of his Senate career come November and everyone knows it.

As the process unfolds, the pressure on McConnell is expected to intensify. Several Republican senators - including Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, the latter of whom is expected to face a tough reelection fight - have either expressed misgivings about their leader's intentions or said directly that they want key witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton, to testify.

"We have to take that step back from being hand-in-glove with the defense," Murkowski told an Alaska radio station late last month, adding that she was "disturbed" by McConnell's coziness with the administration on impeachment.

But for now, McConnell - who can afford to lose up to three votes while retaining a working majority - has the support he needs to call the shots. The political calculus on McConnell's home front offers him little room to compromise, even if he wanted to.

To Trump's backers here in northern Kentucky - the small cities, affluent suburbs and rolling hill country that fans out just across the muddy Ohio River from Cincinnati - that is just how they like it. Many have long been wary of McConnell, deeming him overly willing to cut a deal and insufficiently committed to the president's agenda. His management of the president's trial, they say, will be a test.

"How he handles this impeachment is going to be the big determinant of whether people get behind him," said Kevin Gordon, a talk radio host and activist.

Impeachment, Gordon said, was tantamount to "an active coup" and should be given as little credence as possible.

"They should dismiss the charges outright. It's a sham," Gordon said. "If McConnell runs the trial the way the Democrats want, people here are not going to be happy."

So far, conservatives said they like what they have seen.

State Sen. John Schickel credited McConnell for his "steady hand" and for staying, by and large, in the good graces of Trump voters who are "very, very, very passionate" in their defense of the president. But he also said McConnell is "walking a tightrope."

"He definitely has to watch his right flank. He's always had to," said Schickel, who recently penned an opinion piece describing 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal workers, which was agreed to by McConnell's Senate, as "another step toward socialism."

"The party leadership in northern Kentucky is very conservative and doesn't always like what he does," Schickel said.

Last year's gubernatorial race offers a cautionary tale of what happens when a Kentucky politician, even a Republican one, takes the state's conservative voters for granted.

Bevin was infamous for his insults and bullying - especially of opponents, but even of Republican allies. That caught up to him as the governor sought a second term. Bevin won the primary, but in the general election, matched against a relatively moderate Democrat with a deep pedigree in Kentucky politics, many steadfast Republicans sat the contest out.

"Bevin treated his conservative supporters terribly," said Phyllis Sparks, a 58-year-old Republican activist who declined to vote for either of the top contenders in the governor's race. "He didn't represent me or my values."

Because of voters like Sparks, Bevin's support collapsed statewide, but most notably in northern Kentucky

McConnell's not going to let witnesses happen.  It's entirely possible by this time next week, we'll be discussing the aftermath of Trump's acquittal.  McConnell knows that Matt Bevin lost in November because Northern Kentucky turned on him, specifically Boone and Kenton Counties.  He will not risk the same thing happening.  He's already unpopular here because he's not supportive of Trump enough for Republicans, and of course is the devil incarnate for everyone else.

We'll see what happens but it won't take long, however it plays out.

Pressed The Meat, Con't

More than a dozen former White House communications and press officials from both parties have banded together to argue that the Trump regime actually needs a press secretary conducting regular press briefings, considering the White House is now going on its tenth consecutive month without one.

All of us have experienced the challenges of a regular press briefing whether at the White House, the State Department or the Pentagon. We all had days where the last place we wanted to be was behind one of those podiums. But day after day, we persisted. 
We believed that regular briefings were good for the American people, important for the administrations we served, and critical for the governing of our great country. 
We'd like to share what we mean by that. In any great democracy, an informed public strengthens the nation. The public has a right to know what its government is doing, and the government has a duty to explain what it is doing. 
For the president and the administration this is a matter of both self-interest and national interest. The presidents we served believed a better-informed public would be more supportive of the president's policy and political objectives. 
And a well-informed citizenry would be better equipped to understand the difficult choices and decisions presidents must make, especially in times of crisis and challenge. Bringing the American people in on the process, early and often, makes for better democracy. 
An informed press corps strengthens our ability to govern. Yes, presidents are now able to communicate directly via the internet, social media and tweets. But most Americans will learn about the work of the White House in the reports they see, read, and hear in what we collectively call "the press." 
The press will report a story to the best of their ability whether they are briefed by the administration or not. But regular briefings generally lead to better and more responsible reporting. 
The process of preparing for regular briefings makes the government run better. The sharing of information, known as official guidance, among government officials and agencies helps ensure that an administration speaks with one voice, telling one story, however compelling it might be. 
Regular briefings also force a certain discipline on government decision making. Knowing there are briefings scheduled is a powerful incentive for administration officials to complete a policy process on time. Put another way, no presidents want their briefers to say, day after day, we haven't figured that one out yet. 

Current WH press flack Stephanie Grisham has one job, and that's to appear on FOX News State TV and launder information, and this information blackout makes 100% sense when you realize that of all the benefits of regular press briefings as maintenance of the body politic, the Trump regime wants precisely none of them.

Grisham responded Sunday night to the piece, and it was exactly what you expected.

"This is groupthink at its finest. The press has unprecedented access to President Trump, yet they continue to complain because they can't grandstand on TV," Grisham told Axios in response to the opinion piece. "They're not looking for information, they're looking for a moment. This President is unorthodox in everything he's done. He's rewritten the rules of politics. His press secretary and everyone else in the administration is reflective of that."

The Trump regime doesn't want a "well-informed citizenry" because an informed public would know the regime is lying to them constantly.

The Trump regime doesn't want to "strengthen our ability to govern" because it wants autocracy and fealty to the Cult of Trump.

The Trump regime doesn't want to make the "government run better" because it wants a broken government unable to resist it.

The Trump regime especially doesn't want to "force a certain discipline on government decision making" because it has no discipline and no goal other than to serve Donald Trump and his family.

Besides, Trump can tweet and use FOX, Rush Limbaugh, Breitbart, and whatever else he has in his propaganda arsenal to make the rest of the world play catch-up.  Here's a perfect example:

This regime will most likely never hold another press briefing again.  It doesn't need to.  It wants the press gone so it can never be held accountable.  Our press still refuses to believe this.  Maybe it will happen out of Trump caprice once every few months, but even that looks more and more unlikely now.

And most of the fault of that situation rests entirely on the shoulders of the people who cover the White House, and the people who served as mouthpieces for them, in other words, the very people attaching their names to this piece.


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