Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Last Call For The Long Shadow Of The Hawk(eye)

Unfortunately, I have to agree with Jon Chait here.  The one thing everyone needed from Iowa was a demonstration that our political process was solid and working at least on the Democratic party side and most of that was to stop the Bernie folks from seeding chaos.  We absolutely did not get that last night in Iowa.

One of the oddities of the 2016 presidential race is that, while the Republican Party was taken over by an outsider initially viewed as dangerous and unacceptable by its party elite, it was the Democratic Party that concluded its nominating process had failed. Supporters of Bernie Sanders repeatedly applied his trademark phrase — “rigged” — to explain a primary they clearly lost. Complaints about “rigging” began with an agonizingly narrow Sanders defeat to Clinton in the Iowa caucus four years before. They continued throughout the contest, with every routine snafu — in Nevada, New York, and the possibility that party superdelegates would provide Hillary Clinton the winning margin — held up as more evidence of the conspiracy.

Sanders himself has toggled between cooperating with the party and stoking the paranoia of his supporters
. He never fully abandoned the claim that — despite losing by a double-digit margin — the party robbed him. “Some people say that maybe if the system wasn’t rigged against me, I would’ve won the nomination,” he insisted last year.

The party instituted a number of changes intended to inoculate itself against accusations of rigging. In Iowa, the Democratic caucus instituted new rules, “mandated by the DNC as part of a package of changes sought by Bernie Sanders” and “designed to make the caucus system more transparent.” The new rules required reporting several different sets of numbers from every precinct. This reflected a long-standing proclivity in left-of-center politics to meet every demand for fairness with new layers of complexity. Anybody who has witnessed or participated in a grassroots progressive organization has seen this intricate, rules-based method democracy in action. Monty Python lampooned the tendency in Holy Grail. (“We’re an anarcho-syndicalist commune,” a peasant explains to the impatient King Arthur. “We take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week, but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special biweekly meeting by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs, but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more major …”)

Still, the caucus failure ultimately boiled down to a banal organizational failure. The party attempted to introduce a new app to report precinct results, which its older precinct captains largely failed to master, and its phone-reporting system buckled under the weight of the elevated confusion. There is no evidence voting results themselves have been compromised (at least not beyond the normal levels of confusion produced by the chaotic process).

What may turn a routine bureaucratic failure into a larger Democratic crisis, though, is the Bernie movement’s preexisting suspicion. Sanders is not alone in this — the Biden campaign shamefully issued a statement calling the results into doubt, in a transparent effort to discredit a vote it clearly lost. But the bulk of the suspicions came from Sanders supporters, who quickly reprised their 2016 rigging claims.

Trump has seized upon the Sanders supporters’ propensity toward grievance.
Republicans began spreading the message in mid-January that impeachment was a plot by the party leadership to take Sanders off the campaign trail, a theory also echoed by some of Sanders’s nuttier fans, like Aaron Mate and Krystal Ball. In advance of the Iowa caucus, Republicans switched over to spreading the message that the voting process itself had been rigged. Republicans began circulating baseless claims of vote fraud in Iowa. When the first problems appeared in Iowa Monday night, Republicans like Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, Senator Lindsey Graham, and independent operators of the Trump-family blind trust, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, gleefully charged that it was all rigged to stop Bernie.

Yeah, Biden's camp messed up, but Sanders's camp has had it in for the DNC for four years.  There's no way the primary goes smoothly now.  It's going to be six months of chaos.  If Sanders doesn't win the nomination, he and his supporters will hand the country back to Trump and we'll all lose.

Here's what we should be doing:

Sadly that won't happen.  All five major candidates declared victory last night without results. Six months of guaranteed outrage, Bernie folks screaming at every vote not counted for them as "rigged" and a convention that will devolve into street fighting.

Despite the Sanders folks going from "The DNC is evil and is rigging everything!" to "The DNC is too incompetent to hold a caucus!" and the absolutely laughability of their position, the sound bites will still hurt and Trump will egg on the resentment.

Here's the real tea though: there were reasons enough to abandon the entire idea of caucuses before Monday, and if there is anything remotely good that comes from this, it's the fact that Iowa will be under tremendous pressure to drop the caucus and hold a primary that doesn't disenfranchise thousands of Iowa voters, or lose their first-in-the-nation status.

I think we can all agree on that.

Press The Meat, Con't

An emboldened Trump regime is now fully committed to its war on non-FOX media outlets, regularly excluding them from press events and junkets, and unless the media starts boycotting the regime altogether, Trump is going to pick them off one by one. NPR is still being blacklisted over Mike Pompeo, and Bloomberg News was ejected from Trump's Iowa rally last night as the Trump regime has a standing blacklist order against them.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that President Donald Trump’s campaign ejected Jennifer Jacobs, a reporter for Bloomberg News, out of a campaign event in Iowa.

The decision, according to the report, is in accordance with the campaign’s “pledge no longer to approve credentials for the news organization.”
Trump cracked down on credentials for the organization as its CEO, Michael Bloomberg, has mounted a campaign for president and blanketed the airwaves across the country with advertisements slamming the president.

The president’s relationship with the press has always been among the most hostile of any modern chief executive, with Trump repeatedly referring to reporters as “enemies of the people” and advocating that America should “open up libel laws” to allow politicians to retaliate against reporters who cover them. His White House previously drew controversy for revoking the press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta, a move that was blocked by a federal judge he had appointed

Now Trump is excluding CNN from its pre-SOTU lunch today.

President Donald Trump's targeting of CNN is moving to yet another arena: The annual presidential lunch with television network anchors. 
CNN anchors are being excluded from Tuesday's lunch, three sources said on Monday night. 
Trump, like presidents before him, typically invites anchors from all the major networks to dine with him at the White House in advance of his State of the Union address. The lunch conversation is considered off the record, but it gives the anchors a sense of the president's state of mind before they anchor SOTU coverage. "Despite Trump's persistent attacks on the news media, he's kept up such traditions," Politico pointed out last year
CNN's Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer attended last year's lunch. Blitzer has been attending these lunches longer than almost any other anchor — 20 years in a row. 
Journalists from other networks are still planning on attending Tuesday's session, according to sources at those networks. 
This is the first time in recent memory that a president has singled out one network and opted not invite any anchors from there. 
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham did not respond to a request for comment on Monday night.

This will keep up until non-FOX outlets are forced to come crawling individually to the White House to regain access, and the price will be to provide 100% favorable coverage to Trump. (and to attack Democrats all the time).

And Trump won't need them at all anymore should he win reelection.

Impeachment Reached, Con't

As senators take to the chamber well to explain to the American people why Donald Trump is allowed to be a despot today, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is leading the charge slow embarrassed shuffle towards a Senate censure measure, in an effort to try to shame his GOP colleagues into admitting Trump did something wrong.

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), a moderate who is friendly with the White House, on Monday asked his colleagues to consider censuring President Trump as the Senate moves toward votes on impeachment.

“I do believe a bipartisan majority of this body would vote to censure President Trump for his action in this matter. Censure would allow this body to unite across party lines,” Manchin said in a speech on the Senate floor. “His behavior cannot go unchecked by the Senate and censure would allow a bipartisan statement condemning his unacceptable behavior in the strongest terms.”

It is an effort that could put pressure on some Republican senators as they mull whether to reprimand Trump in coming weeks, even if they vote Wednesday to acquit him on the House’s two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

But Manchin’s proposal will face obstacles as lawmakers in both parties resist the idea and hew to their leadership’s position on how to respond to Trump’s conduct.

Manchin has prepared a censure resolution for fellow senators to review in coming days, which would be a less severe rebuke than removal from office for Trump’s involvement in pressuring Ukraine to investigate a domestic political rival, former vice president Joe Biden.

“What the president did was wrong,” Manchin said in his speech.

The crux of the case against Trump is the allegation that he withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter. Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, while his father was vice president.

The resolution was shared with The Washington Post by a person close to Manchin who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk freely.

Manchin is trying to provide a fig leaf, the question is for whom.  The measure will never get a Senate floor vote, Mitch McConnell will see to that.  If that's the point, to shame the GOP twice, then I guess it will have just as much effect as the first time, which is none at all.

But what I think may very well happen is Manchin will trade his acquittal vote and the vote of several Democratic senators for bringing the censure measure to the floor.  Trump badly wants "bipartisan" acquittal and Manchin doesn't want to go down as voting to convict in a state where Trump won by 24 points in 2016 and will win by a similar margin in November.

In other words, this is going to be cover for Democrats to vote to acquit.  And when Mitch sabotages the censure vote, Manchin and his friends will end up holding the bag.  At this point there's no reason to trust McConnell at all.

That might change next January with a smaller GOP margin or, the universe willing, a Democratic-led Senate.  But for now, McConnell no longer needs Manchin for anything.

Both of them know it.


Only one story this morning.

The Iowa Democratic Caucuses were a complete disaster last night.

More later today.

Well, make that two stories, Rush Limbaugh has advanced lung cancer.

Have a nice one.
Related Posts with Thumbnails