Thursday, March 5, 2020

Last Call For Warren's Peace, Con't

Senator Elizabeth Warren entered the 2020 race with expansive plans to use the federal government to remake American society, pressing to strip power and wealth from a moneyed class that she saw as fundamentally corrupting the country’s economic and political order.

She exited on Thursday after her avalanche of progressive policy proposals, which briefly elevated her to front-runner status last fall, failed to attract a broader political coalition in a Democratic Party increasingly, if not singularly, focused on defeating President Trump.

Her departure means that a Democratic field that began as the most diverse in American history — and included six women — is now essentially down to two white men: former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Ms. Warren said that from the start, she had been told there were only two true lanes in the 2020 contest: a liberal one dominated by Mr. Sanders, 78, and a moderate one led by Mr. Biden, 77.

“I thought that wasn’t right,” Ms. Warren said in front of her house in Cambridge as she suspended her campaign, “But evidently I was wrong.”

Though her vision energized many liberals — the unlikely chant of “big, structural change” rang out at her rallies — it did not find a wide enough audience among the party’s working-class and diverse base. Now her potential endorsement is highly sought, and both Mr. Sanders and Mr. Biden have spoken with her in the days since Super Tuesday losses sealed her political fate, though she revealed precious little of her intentions on Thursday.

“I need some space around this,” she said.

Ms. Warren’s impact on the race was far greater than just the outcome for her own candidacy. Her policy plans drove the agenda. She effectively pushed former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, a centrist billionaire, out of the race with a dominant debate performance last month.

And her ability to raise well over $100 million and fully fund a presidential campaign without holding high-dollar fund-raisers demonstrated that other candidates, beyond Mr. Sanders and his intensely loyal small-dollar donors, could do so in the future.

Warren had the best mix of policies, temperament, and experience in my judgment of the folks left in the race.  It doesn't mean she would have won the primary or beaten Trump though.

I hate to say that beating Trump is the only thing that matters, but...beating Trump is the only thing that matters.  That and flipping the Senate.

As to who she will endorse, she is wisely keeping those cards close to her vest for now.  That may be end up being her biggest mark on this race.

Back In The Sandbox, Con't

Last year the Trump regime went to great lengths to stop an International Criminal Court investigation into US war crimes in Afghanistan, going so far as to revoke visas of investigators from The Hague and refusing to cooperate.  The court later decided to drop the investigation, but the appeals process by human rights groups has restarted the probe.

Senior judges at the international criminal court have authorised an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, overturning an earlier rejection of the inquiry.

The ICC investigation will look at actions by US, Afghan and Taliban troops. It is possible, however, that allegations relating to UK troops could emerge in that process.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, on Thursday attacked the ruling by the ICC’s appeals chamber as “reckless” and said it would outline measures in the coming weeks to prevent US citizens being brought before the court.

“This is a truly breathtaking action by an unaccountable political institution masquerading as a legal body,” Pompeo told a news conference following the ruling.

“All the more reckless for this ruling to come just days after the United States signed a historic peace deal on Afghanistan, which is the best chance for peace in a generation.”

The ICC judges also approved that the scope of the investigation should include CIA black sites operated in Poland, Lithuania, and Romania, where detainees were taken.
The court had last year rejected the request to open an investigation and said any prosecution was unlikely to be successful because the expectation was that those targeted, including the US, Afghan authorities and the Taliban, would not cooperate.

Pompeo said at the time that Washington would revoke or deny visas to ICC staff seeking to investigate alleged war crimes and other abuses committed by US forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere. The court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, later confirmed that her US visa had been revoked.

But on Thursday the ICC’s appeals chamber said the lower court had misinterpreted some of the court’s rules, and it declared that the investigation should be allowed to go ahead.

Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s human rights programme, said: “This decision vindicates the rule of law and gives hope to the thousands of victims seeking accountability when domestic courts and authorities have failed them.

“While the road ahead is still long and bumpy, this decision is a significant milestone that bolsters the ICC’s independence in the face of the Trump administration’s bullying tactics

This is rather huge.  The Trump regime will certainly take action to punish the ICC and the United Nations, but it can't keep investigators out of European sites or out of the Middle East.  As I keep saying, eventually the world is going to get tired of Donald Trump, and if America doesn't do something about him, the rest of the world will.

The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

Democrats are finally getting serious about getting the Senate back, and that means Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock is now reversing course and is expected to challenge GOP Sen. Steve Daines in November.

Democrats are increasingly optimistic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock will run for Senate this year, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.

Bullock has repeatedly denied interest in running for the Senate, both when he launched his presidential campaign last year and after he dropped out of the race after failing to gain traction. But in recent days, Democrats are starting to believe the two-term governor could jump in the race to challenge GOP Sen. Steve Daines, a move that would expand the Senate map for Democrats by giving them another battleground target in their bid to take back the chamber.

Bullock has not publicly indicated an interest in the race, and it is not certain Bullock will run, according to multiple Democratic sources. But the increased interest marks a serious departure from the previous widespread belief that recruiting Bullock into the race was a long shot. After his presidential run, he said he would not be running for Senate, and it was “just not what I want to do.”

Still, the governor has taken steps that indicate he’s reconsidered. Last month, he met with former President Barack Obama in Washington and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in Montana. The filing deadline for the seat is Monday.
Matt McKenna, a longtime adviser to Bullock, did not address a potential bid in a statement to Politico. “I don’t have anything for you,” McKenna said.

The comment is a departure from previous denials that Bullock had any interest in the Senate race, including immediately after the Obama meeting last month, when McKenna told Politico “there will be a candidate for U.S. Senate in Montana against Steve Daines. It will not be Steve Bullock.”

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said the state of play is “pretty much the same. I think that they haven’t said yes; they haven’t said no.”

Some Democrats in the state are hopeful there has been a shift.

“I know that he’s taken the response he’s gotten from Montanans very seriously. And I know that he knows quite vitally what’s at stake, and he’s got a decision to make,” said Jon Sesso, minority leader of the state Senate.

Sesso stressed that he has not talked to Bullock about the race in recent days. “I hope to hell he takes a run at it for two reasons: One, he can win. And No. 2, he’d be a hell of a senator for the state of Montana.”

“Montanans — will all due respect to the cadre of candidates that have entered the race so far — we believe in Gov. Bullock,” Sesso added. “He has demonstrated his ability to win a statewide race against formidable opposition, and so certainly Montanans have encouraged him in a significant way to consider it.”

Bullock has already more than proven he can win a statewide race in Montana.  He would make a great partner to Sen. Tester for the Democrats and while I wouldn't expect him to vote for absolutely everything put in front of him by a Democratic president and Nancy Pelosi, he'd be a damn sight better than Daines, who votes with Trump over 85% of the time.

Again, nothing a Democratic president wants to do in 2021 will happen if Mitch McConnell is still Senate Majority Leader in January.  No federal judges will be confirmed.  Certainly no Supreme Court justices nominated will even get a vote.  Hell, a Democratic president probably won't get any cabinet officials nominated.  All the federal agencies will still have Trump people running them.

So yes, going after every GOP Senate seat possible is the name of the game.

New PPP polls find Sara Gideon leading Susan Collins 47-43 in the Maine Senate race and Mark Kelly leading Martha McSally 47-42 in the Arizona Senate race. Additionally a PPP poll for a private client last week found Cal Cunningham leading Thom Tillis 46-41 in the North Carolina Senate race, and when PPP last polled the Colorado Senate race John Hickenlooper led Cory Gardner 51-38. This makes four Republican held US Senate seats where PPP has found Democratic challengers with at least a 4 point lead.
The Maine result is most interesting. When PPP first polled the Gideon-Collins match up for a private client last spring, Collins led by 18 points at 51-33. The reason for the 22 point shift since then is that in the wake of opposing impeachment, Collins has lost most of the crossover Democratic support she’s relied on for her success over the years. Last April Collins had a 32% approval rating with Hillary Clinton voters, and trailed Gideon only 59-28 with them head to head. Now she has just a 9% approval rating with Clinton voters, and trails Gideon 81-10 with them head to head.

Flipping four seats would be enough.  Flipping five with Bullock would be better.  Flipping Mitch out here in KY...dare I dream?


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