Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Last Call For The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

The continued flight of suburban white women away from the GOP thanks to Donald Trump has cost the party any semblance of hope on the West Coast as state Republican parties in California, Oregon, and Washington are about as politically dead as they come.

The last Republican presidential candidate that California went for was George H.W. Bush. For both Oregon and Washington, it was Ronald Reagan. Now, Republicans are struggling to hold seats in Congress, statehouses and city councils up and down the coast.

California, Washington and Oregon will hold their presidential primaries on March 3, March 10 and May 19 respectively, and which Democratic candidates they favor will become clear. But this much is certain: In November, none of the three states is apt to go for President Donald Trump, and there is little hope Republicans will claw back much ground in other contests.

Political districts have flipped in population centers, from San Diego in the south to Seattle in the north.

“There is no way out,” Chris Vance, a former Washington state Republican Party chairman and legislator, said in a telephone interview.

In San Diego, by the U.S.-Mexico border, each of the nine city council districts now has more registered Democrats than registered Republicans, including one that until recently leaned strongly Republican.

In 1980, Orange County, near Los Angeles, was 80% white and a GOP stronghold. Today, Orange County is mostly Hispanic and Asian, with many displeased by Republicans’ hard stance on immigration. In 2018, voters there dealt a stunning defeat to a two-term GOP congresswoman.

The California GOP wound up losing six other U.S. House seats that year, leading a former Republican leader in the state to declare: “The California Republican Party isn’t salvageable at this time.”

Democrats also hold the California governor’s office, both U.S. Senate seats and almost complete control of the Legislature.

In Seattle, tens of thousands of tech employees have flooded into the city and its suburbs, hired by Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook. The influx of highly educated workers over the past decade helped fuel a population boom that made many communities much more diverse and affluent, and turned them away from the GOP and toward Democrats.

The result: The GOP has lost all the statehouse seats it once held in Seattle’s eastern suburbs.

Vance blames the area’s exodus of college-educated white voters, particularly women, from the GOP on the party’s turn toward more fundamentalist values under Trump. Vance himself abandoned the party in 2017 after an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate as the Republican candidate.

“This was the party of nerdy, wonky, tweedy capitalists who cared about economic growth. Now it is the party of populists: alt-right, let’s keep the immigrants out, truck- and rifle-populists,” Vance said. “That works in Mississippi and Arkansas and stuff, but it does not work in the Seattle area.”

As horrible as Democrats have it here in the Ohio/KY/Indiana tri-state area, Sherrod Brown is popular in Ohio as a Democratic senator and Andy Beshear won as Governor here in Kentucky.  Even Joe Manchin keeps winning in West Virginia, Doug Jones squeaked by in Alabama, and Dems are making gains in Kansas, Iowa, Texas and Georgia.  North Carolina and Florida are increasingly in play due to changing demographics.

That's not what's happening to Republicans on the West Coast.  They're getting stomped and they keep losing and losing badly, local, state, and federal contests.  There's nothing to give them hope here.

Keep that in mind as we head into the election in November.

Collecting Talking Heads

James O'Keefe and his merry band of assholes at Project Veritas have one goal, and that's to get every journalist in America who doesn't like Donald Trump fired for bias.  Normally they fall on their faces and have to be disavowed by Republicans, but this time they've apparently been able to actually collect a head: ABC News correspondent David Wright.

ABC News suspended one of its veteran correspondents late Tuesday for unguarded remarks he made in a video by operatives of Project Veritas, the conservative group that records “undercover” footage of mainstream journalists to bolster its accusations of media bias.

The network disciplined David Wright, who reports for ABC’s signature news programs, including “World News Tonight,” “Good Morning America” and “Nightline,” several people confirmed late Tuesday.

The choppy, poorly shot video, released Wednesday morning by Project Veritas, captured Wright on what appeared to be a hidden camera, seeming to complain in general terms about political coverage.

“I don’t think we’re terribly interested in voters,” he said, echoing gripes about the superficiality of some aspects of White House and campaign coverage that have been raised by journalists for decades. Also: “Commercial imperative is incompatible with news.”

At one point he says: “We don’t hold him to account. We also don’t give him credit for what things he does do.” In subtitles, Project Veritas indicated that “him” stood for President Trump. He refers to Trump at another point as “the f-----g president.”

Oh, but here's why ABC actually kicked Wright back down to the minor leagues:

But ABC probably was also alarmed at Wright’s criticism of ABC News, which is owned by the Disney Co. At another point, he raises another longstanding critique of ABC News — that it blends news with promotion of Disney-owned movies and TV programs.

“Like now you can’t watch ‘Good Morning America’ without there being a Disney princess or a Marvel Avenger appearing,” he says. “It’s all self-promotional.”

In a statement Wednesday, ABC News said, “Any action that damages our reputation for fairness and impartiality or gives the appearance of compromising it harms ABC News and the individuals involved. David Wright has been suspended, and to avoid any possible appearance of bias, he will be reassigned away from political coverage when he returns.”

The House of Mouse doesn't like things like that, you see.  The real story here is that Wright is correct, ABC does tend to push Marvel, Disney, Pixar, and Star Wars properties an awful lot on its news programs.  It would be ideal if Disney learned from this, but then again, they won't.  And Project Veritas knows now they can hurt the corporate Village news.  They won't back off.

It also means that journalists, reporters, and correspondents are going to be told to mind their manners off the air as well as on it, which is O'Keefe's real goal: to make the press miserable enough that they crack.  Expecting journalists not to have personal opinions is ludicrous, but then again so is the concept of Donald Trump in the White House.

We live in ludicrous times.

Trump Goes Viral, Con't

Regardless of what Dear Leader may want his government organs to say to the public about how everything's fine with Wuhan coronavirus and the danger is passed, the few actual scientists that have yet to be purged from the regime are now openly warning Americans to get ready for a major national pandemic.

Trump administration health officials urged the public Tuesday to prepare for the “inevitable” spread of the coronavirus within the United States, escalating warnings about a growing threat from the virus to Americans’ everyday lives.
The urgent new tone from leaders of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health came in response to a rapid surge in cases in new locations outside mainland China in the past several days, including new cases without a known source of exposure in Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. It came as stock markets dived for the second straight day on fears of the virus spreading.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said officials cautioned during a closed-door briefing with senators that there was a “very strong chance of an extremely serious outbreak of the coronavirus here in the United States.”

Separately, on a conference call with reporters, public health officials repeated dire warnings.

“Ultimately we expect we will see community spread in the United States. It’s not a question of if this will happen, but when this will happen, and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses,” said Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Messonnier said evidence of so-called “community spread” far beyond mainland China is triggering new strategies to blunt the impact of illness and slow the spread of the respiratory virus. There is growing evidence that efforts to contain the spread of the virus outside of China have failed. There are now almost 1,000 cases in South Korea, at least 15 people have died in Iran, and cases were reported for the first time in Switzerland, Austria, and at a luxury resort in Spain.

The CDC said the agency would be focusing on containing the spread of the virus in the United States, as well as warning people to prepare. Health officials are urging businesses, health-care facilities and even schools to plan now for ways to limit the impact of the illness when it spreads in the community.

Businesses need to consider replacing in-person meetings with telework. Schools should consider ways to limit face-to-face contact, such as dividing students into smaller groups, school closures and Internet-based learning. Local officials should consider modifying, postponing or canceling large gatherings. Hospitals should consider ways to triage patients who do not need urgent care and recommend patients delay elective surgery.

School closures may be among the most effective ways to limit person-to-person spread, which is the main way coronavirus is transmitted. But it is also the one likely to cause the most unwanted consequences and disruptions from missed work and loss of income, Messonnier said.
“Disruptions to everyday life may be severe, but people might want to start thinking about that now,” she said. She said parents may want to call their local school offices to see what kinds of plans they have in place and consider what they would do if they had no child care. Messonnier added that she called her children’s superintendent office to find out what plans the school system had. These kinds of questions will help everyone be better prepared, she said.

The Dow Jones average has lost more than 1,800 points this week alone, or well over six percent in two days, and when the CDC is openly saying "yeah, you might want to check on your company's plans for working at home" and prepping kids staying home from school for a while, this isn't just idle chatter.

Meanwhile, Congress is grilling the DHS on what the federal government actually does plan to do, and even GOP lawmakers are coming away scared and pissed off at the coming disaster.

The Department of Homeland Security is coordinating the U.S. government’s response to the increasing threat of the novel coronavirus. The agency has also been under the control of acting head Chad Wolf for more than four months, with no full-time replacement selected.

And Wolf gave a performance Tuesday morning that wasn’t exactly confidence-inspiring — particularly for one GOP senator.

Appearing in front of a Senate appropriations subcommittee, Wolf was on the receiving end of a brutal line of questioning from Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.). Throughout the exchange, Wolf struggled to produce basic facts and projections about the disease. Perhaps most strikingly, the performance came at a time of heightened fears about the disease, with the stock market plunging over new estimates about its spread into the United States. It’s a moment in which you’d expect such things to be top of mind for someone in Wolf’s position.
Wolf got started on the wrong foot almost immediately, when Kennedy asked him how many cases of the coronavirus there were in the United States. Wolf stated there were 14 but was uncertain about how many cases had been repatriated back to the United States from cruise ships, placing the number at “20- or 30-some-odd.”

Asked how many DHS was anticipating, Wolf didn’t have an answer and suggested this was the Department of Health and Human Services’ territory. “We do anticipate the number will grow; I don’t have an exact figure for you, though,” Wolf said.

“You’re head of Homeland Security, and your job is to keep us safe,” Kennedy responded, asking him again what the estimates might be. Wolf talked around the question, which led Kennedy to say, “Don’t you think you ought to check on that, as the head of Homeland Security?”

In an ideal world, Kennedy would come out and say that there would be no more rubber stamp approvals of massively unqualified Trump cronies to Senate confirmation-level positions like Homeland Security Secretary.  Wolf was confirmed for a DHS  undersecretary job back in November on a 54-41 vote, where he almost immediately became acting head of the agency just hours later.  Senate Republicans were well aware of this, and Kennedy of course voted yes anyway.

But now of course it actually matter what DHS does as far as the continued safety of the American people. (It always did of course, that's the rub.)  Suddenly having an acting DHS head with no business dealing with a crisis of this magnitude is a political problem for Republicans as well as an existential problem for the American people, and only now is Wolf being asked tough questions by Republicans.

The coronavirus outbreak is going to be bad.  Trump's cronyism and purge of competent government people who will be on the front lines fighting it will make it exponentially worse.  He will be blamed when things go wrong and thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people die.

And he knows it.


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