Saturday, June 13, 2020

Last Call For Who Ditches Mitch?

The Kentucky Democratic Senate primary to go up against Mitch McConnell was all about former fighter pilot Amy McGrath, who made a solid run at knocking off Andy Barr in Lexington in a 51-48% loss in 2018 and has spent the last 18 months girding up for taking on the Turtle. McGrath has acted all along like she had already won the primary and has a considerable war chest to prove it.

I say was because the primary, just ten days away now, is about to get competitive here in the home stretch.

Amy McGrath is a national Democratic icon for her bid to take out Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader and reviled figure on the left, raising tens of millions of dollars to fuel her campaign.

But McConnell isn't the opponent McGrath, a former fight pilot, is sweating most right now. Instead, it's her rival in the June 23 Democratic primary: Charles Booker, a state lawmaker who was virtually ignored for months but now has all the momentum in the closing days of the election.
Booker has been endorsed by Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Kentucky’s two largest newspapers. And the recent protests over racial injustice and police misconduct in Louisville, Booker's hometown, has shined a spotlight on a candidate who otherwise might have been left in the wake of McGrath's television ad blitz.

McGrath is the favorite of the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm and many sitting senators, and it’s hard to imagine she could lose a primary in which she’s outspent her opponents combined by a nearly 30-1 margin through early June. But there are signs it's turning into a real race: Booker is panning McGrath as a bland national Democrat who is predictably tacking to the center, while McGrath is biting back at Booker, accusing him of talking a big game on health care and voting rights but not backing it up.

"I don't really know what position Amy McGrath takes because she goes back and forth on everything depending on what consultants seem to say,” Booker said in an interview. “I know that Kentuckians can smell BS from miles away.”

“I’m not, as Mr. Booker claims, 'a pro-Trump Democrat.' I’m pro-Kentucky and pro-America,” McGrath said, refuting her top opponent in a POLITICO interview after months of keeping her fire trained on McConnell.

McGrath's position as McConnell's leading challenger and the then-viral advertising for her failed 2018 House bid have made her a darling of Democratic small donors. As of early June, she had a staggering $19 million in cash on hand, more than McConnell's 2014 opponent, then-Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, spent for the entire election — and that's after already running more than $8 million in TV ads.

She's not just using that spending advantage to pummel voters with advertising. She's also touting her campaign’s high wages, generous health care and efforts to inform people about changes to voting amid the pandemic — contrasting herself with Booker and underdog Mike Broihier.

“It’s really disappointing that I’m the only candidate in the Democratic primary that has the integrity to lead on these issues within their own campaigns," she said.
But beneath her powerhouse fundraising, there are signs of struggles. McGrath had a bumpy rollout last year, saying in one of her first interviews that she would have supported Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, only to reverse herself later that day. More recently, Republican governors and Cindy McCain, the late Sen. John McCain’s widow, condemned ads of hers using their images to attack McConnell.

And McGrath has few substantial in-state endorsements, while Booker has been endorsed by prominent Kentucky media and close to two-dozen elected officials.

“There's not a lot of enthusiasm for Amy among Democrats. Charles’ supporters are very enthusiastic,” said one prominent Kentucky Democrat, who requested anonymity to speak candidly.

Booker has taken the lead on Black Lives Matter issues in the state after the murder of Breonna Taylor at the hands of the LMPD while McGrath has been concentrating on McConnell, and the ground has absolutely shifted under her feet in the last three weeks.

The real question is who has the best shot at dethroning Mitch McConnell, when both of them are long shots at best?

My brain says McGrath can keep it close, but Booker would be an amazing shift.  I just don't think he can beat Mitch.

We'll see.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

It seems somebody at the White House managed to convince Trump that Stephen Miller's too-clever-by-half idea of Trump resuming his racist roadshow rallies starting in Tulsa on Juneteenth was in fact a horrific idea that was going to get his hatefest blacked out or boycotted by the networks, and that apparently was enough to convince him to reschedule.

President Donald Trump announced late Friday night that he is rescheduling a rally that was to be held on June 19 -- Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States -- "out of respect for this holiday." 
Trump's decision to hold his first campaign rally in months on the holiday was met with widespread criticism amid the national outcry following George Floyd's death at the hands of police officers and nationwide protests about police brutality and racial inequality. 
"We had previously scheduled our #MAGA Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for June 19th -- a big deal," Trump tweeted. "Unfortunately, however, this would fall on the Juneteenth Holiday. Many of my African American friends and supporters have reached out to suggest that we consider changing the date out of respect for this Holiday, and in observance of this important occasion and all that it represents. I have therefore decided to move our rally to Saturday, June 20th, in order to honor their requests." 
Earlier Friday, Trump denied in an interview with Fox News that the rally was purposefully scheduled for June 19 in Tulsa -- the site of one of the worst atrocities against African Americans in the nation's history a century ago -- and instead said it should be thought of as a "celebration."

"It's an interesting date. It wasn't done for that reason, but it's an interesting date," he said.

I'm betting Ivanka and Jared pointed this out to the old man, and that convinced him that Stephen Miller was putting one over on him. What really convinced Trump though is that whoever did tell him this must have pointed out that the networks would be under massive pressure not to carry him if he went through on the 19th, but they would have to if he rescheduled for later in the month.

Maybe it was Hannity, maybe it was Ben Carson or Jerome Adams, maybe it was a wealthy black Republican donor like BET's Bob Johnson who called him up, I don't know. But somebody sure talked him out of this Friday night.

Trump loves revenge more than anything and a rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth was definitely a message of vengeance and punishment to the Black community, but if there is something he loves more than petty vengeance, it's his own image in the press as the great white savior of Black America. Trump wants to believe that we black folk love him, because his malignant narcissism demands it, and that delusion is about the only thing that can stand up to his constant desire for destroying everyone who doesn't love him.

Of course, it means the man in the Oval Office is easily manipulated by others, a fact not lost on, well, every foe the United States has (and basically all of our allies).

The Country Goes Viral, Con't

The US could suffer 130,000 coronavirus deaths by July 4, according to a projection released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
And Covid-19 cases could rise this summer as states reopen, the CDC's deputy director for infectious diseases said during a conference call with reporters. 
"If anything, we must be overprepared for what we might face later this year," said Dr. Jay Butler. "Getting the flu vaccine will be more important than ever, as flu and Covid-19 could be circulating together as we move into the fall and winter months." 
More cities and states have reported increasing rates of new coronavirus cases per day as the nationwide total number of cases passed 2 million this week. 
According to a CNN analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, 19 states have increasing case rates, several of which have seen record or near-record highs. And for the first time, rising caseloads have led some officials to delay phased re-opening plans. 
Months into the pandemic, more than 114,300 people in the US have died, according to Johns Hopkins, with about 1,000 deaths reported each day. 
"We know the pandemic is not over," Butler said.

That 130,000 number makes sense if you expect the 1,000/day number to remain constant or drop slightly, but I think the number of deaths is going to rise significantly before July 4 and keep rising throughout next month as hospitals are overwhelmed.  New York planned for the worst *and* made a lot of mistakes, but they got lucky.  Texas, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, these places are opening back up restaurants and theaters at full capacity in the next week or two and it's going to get bad fast.

Social distancing is all but dead.

It's going to take another massive wave of deaths to fix that.

The Mustache's Revenge

John Bolton's Mustache's book will be out in under two weeks, and we're already getting leaks of the story of Trump's disaster circus through his impeachment.

John Bolton taunts President Trump, his former boss, on the back cover of his forthcoming book: "Game on." 
In a memoir coming June 23 that the White House has tried to delay, former national security adviser Bolton will offer multiple revelations about Trump’s conduct in office, with direct quotes by the president and senior officials, according to a source familiar with the book.

Why it matters: Bolton, who was U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under President George W. Bush, is a lifelong conservative and longtime Fox News contributor who is well-known by the Trump base, the source pointed out. 
In "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir," Bolton will go beyond Ukraine, and argue there was "Trump misconduct with other countries," the source said. 
Axios agreed to grant anonymity to the source in order to give readers a window into the book ahead of publication.

Behind the scenes: People close to Trump have been worried about the book because Bolton was known as the most prolific note taker in high-level meetings, Jonathan Swan reports. 
Bolton would sit there, filling yellow legal pad after yellow legal pad with notes.
In short: Bolton saw a lot, and he wrote it down in real time. And when he left, the White House never got those notes back.

The juiciest parts of the book will end up in the press, I'm sure.  But all this explains why Trump wants to get out and have at least one rally before Bolton ruins the rest of his summer, not that Trump isn't doing an amazing job of ruining everyone's summer by himself.

Of course, Bolton refused to release this information when it could have actually been used to stop the man he purportedly hates so much, but then again he wouldn't be getting this big fat check for his book advance, huh.

It's always a grift with Republicans.  Always.
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