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Tags: Democrats

Democrats Can Reveal Their Loathing of the South Again



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Michael Tomasky responds to Mary Landrieu’s defeat in Louisiana by assuring Democrats that they don’t need to win anywhere in “almost the entire South” because “practically the whole region has rejected nearly everything that’s good about this country and has become just one big nuclear waste site of choleric, and extremely racialized, resentment.”

Because if we’ve seen anything in the news lately from Berkeley, Calif., Ferguson, Mo., and New York City, it’s that the rest of the country doesn’t have much “choleric, and extremely racialized, resentment.”

He goes on to argue that Democrats might need Florida.

And Virginia.

And perhaps North Carolina.

And he’s optimistic about what the demographic changes in Georgia and Texas mean for Democrats.

But other than that!

The question will be whether, in two, four, or six years, Tomasky resists the siren call of the Democrats’ Great Rural Hope candidates. Because right now, after Democrats have lost in the Southern states, Tomasky and his friends can and will dismiss them as irredeemable racist backwaters full of violence, hatred, and poverty. (Wait, weren’t the Democrats the compassionate ones, who cared about the impoverished?)

In another two years, we’ll probably get another crop of Democratic Great Rural Hope candidates, posing in their pink sneakers and cowboy boots: Another Wendy Davis, another Alison Lundergan Grimes, another Jim Webb, another John Edwards. And then Tomasky’s denunciation of the region will be forgotten. All of the political press in New York and Washington will journey to the South and write their glowing profile pieces about how these new moderate, sensible, populist Democrats can win in Republican-leaning states.

Tags: Mary Landrieu , South , Democrats

The Brutal Truth: As Obama Goes, So Go the Democrats



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John Dickerson, attempting to get Democrats, and Hillary Clinton, to acknowledge the obvious:

Each Democratic candidate who hopes to have a chance will run supporting Obama’s positions on health care, immigration, and climate change. Given those positions on the big things, any move to distance themselves from Obama will seem puny by comparison. In newsrooms, editors will monitor the micrometers between the faintest policy differences, and they will shout emergency orders to make a big deal about it. But despite all the talk about distancing, candidates will learn what Democratic senators up for re-election learned this fall: Resistance is futile. If there is a D next to your name, you can’t really get that far from the president. Over the next two years, if you could capture the relative political distance between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Hyperlapse, it would look like two figures standing in place with a blast from the flash cameras every time one or the other made the smallest wiggle but retaining their essential original posture.

Democrats can’t escape Obama any more than McCain could escape Bush. Running for a metaphorical “third term” is hard, even during a time of relative peace and prosperity. It worked for George H. W. Bush but didn’t work for Al Gore.

How likely is it that the autumn of 2016 seems like a time of peace and prosperity? How likely is it that when Election Day 2016 rolls around, a majority of Americans like the job Obama is doing?

Headwinds.

Tags: Barack Obama , Democrats , Hillary Clinton

Actual Post Headline: ‘Smugness Was Lousy Election Strategy for Democrats’



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Most newspapers printed the morning after Election Day are “put to bed” before all the votes are counted and races are called, so they can only give a partial view of how the night went for each party. But by the time the Thursday papers are put together, the picture of the election is much clearer. And they are, in a year of a Republican landslide, absolutely delicious.

For example, now he tells us:

Yeah, knowing what we know now, the next time a campaign strategist says, “Hey, let’s be smug this year!” the candidate should reject that proposal.

The real problem for Democrats is that “smug” isn’t really their strategy; it’s how they emotionally react to their conclusion that their viewpoint is better, more moral, smarter, wiser, fairer, more sensitive, more compassionate, and so on than the opposition. It’s not a campaign issue; it’s a character issue.

Tags: Democrats , Media , Election

The Politics of Division Come Back to Bite Democrats



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To echo Ramesh and Jonathan Chait…  Since 2008, Democrats have built their policies, identities, and electoral strategies on an appeal to African-Americans, Hispanics, young voters, gays, and single women.

A side effect is that the party has spent little time or effort even considering how to appeal to whites, men, seniors, and married women.

When those demographics show up at the polls in big numbers, as we saw in 2008 and 2012, the Democrats enjoy big, big wins. When they don’t, as in 2010 and 2014, they lose by disastrous margins.

Just because you’re not going to appeal to every demographic equally well doesn’t mean it’s wise to write them off. And for the Democrats, it’s particularly unwise to write off the demographics who are the most reliable voters and most likely to show up in non-presidential election years.

The knee-jerk claim that those who disagree with a particular policy are part of a “war on women”? The exhausted, cynical accusations of racism in every conceivable policy dispute? The constant insistence that those concerned about border security are driven by xenophobia and hatred? All of that has a cost. After 2012, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack declared, rural America was “becoming less and less relevant.” Less relevant to the country as a whole or to the world? Or just less relevant to Democrats?

A crazy idea for either party: Try to devise policies that benefit as many Americans, in all kinds of different demographic groups, as much as possible. Just try it. Let’s see how that goes.

Tags: Democrats

Time for Every Democrat to Panic!



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TIME FOR EVERY DEMOCRAT TO PANIC!

The New York TimesNate Cohn says,

In Iowa, the overall early vote is nearly tied in a state where Democrats usually fare well in the early vote. . . . The challenge for Democrats will be making sure that their voters from 2010 ultimately turn out: 42 percent of the Iowa voters who requested but have not returned their absentee ballots are registered Democrats; just 28 percent are registered Republicans.

The last two polls in Colorado had Cory Gardner ahead, and the GOP advantage in the early vote is three times what the state saw in 2010, when Democrat Michael Bennet barely won the Senate race!

The last three polls in Colorado showed Bob Beauprez leading or tied with incumbent Democrat John Hickenlooper!

Tom Cotton has led every poll this month in Arkansas!

Vox Populi has David Perdue ahead of Michelle Nunn by 5 points in Georgia!

Republican Nathan Deal has led the past five polls in Georgia!

What’s more, earlier in the week,

a Georgia judge denied a push from civil rights groups to force the state’s secretary of State to add 40,000 recently registered voters to the rolls, a setback for groups working to register minority voters that could have a big impact on Georgia’s hotly contested races next week.

Mary Landrieu’s at 36 percent in the most recent poll, and almost certain to go to a runoff in Louisiana!

Yesterday American Research Group showed Jeanne Shaheen and Scott Brown tied in New Hampshire!

Greg Orman’s lead over Pat Roberts in the RealClearPolitics average is just 1 point out in Kansas!

Kay Hagan’s lead in the RealClearPolitics average is just 1.6 points!

The Tampa Bay Times poll has Charlie Crist and Rick Scott tied in Florida!

Alison Grimes hasn’t led Mitch McConnell in a single poll this month in Kentucky!

Republican Charlie Baker has led the past five polls in the governor’s race in Massachusetts!

Mia Love’s ahead in that House race in Utah!

In USA Today’s survey,

significant parts of the coalition that re-elected Obama two years ago are poised to stay home. In the poll, just 7% of the likely voters are under 30; those younger voters made up 19% of those who cast ballots two years ago, according to surveys of voters as they left polling places. In contrast, the proportion of voters 65 and older has risen to 27% from 16% in 2012. Conservatives made up 35% of the electorate then; they are 41% of today’s likely voters.

Tags: Democrats , 2014 Midterms , Polling

Latest AP National Poll Is a Nightmare for Democrats



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This new poll from the Associated Press is about as dire a poll as Democrats could imagine two weeks before Election Day.

Democrats are more trusted than the GOP on just two of nine top issues, the poll showed. 

The economy remains the top issue for likely voters — 91 percent call it “extremely” or “very” important. And the GOP has increased its advantage as the party more trusted to handle the issue to a margin of 39 percent to 31 percent.

With control of the Senate at stake, both parties say they are relying on robust voter-turnout operations — and monster campaign spending — to lift their candidates in the final days. But the poll suggests any appeals they’ve made so far haven’t done much to boost turnout among those already registered. The share who report that they are certain to vote in this year’s contests has risen just slightly since September, and interest in news about the campaign has held steady.

Now brace yourself:

The GOP holds a significant lead among those most likely to cast ballots: 47 percent of these voters favor a Republican controlled-Congress, 39 percent a Democratic one. That’s a shift in the GOP’s favor since an AP-GfK poll in late September, when the two parties ran about evenly among likely voters.

Women have moved in the GOP’s direction since September. In last month’s AP-GfK poll, 47 percent of female likely voters said they favored a Democratic-controlled Congress while 40 percent wanted the Republicans to capture control. In the new poll, the two parties are about even among women, 44 percent prefer the Republicans, 42 percent the Democrats.

The gender gap disappearing almost entirely would be a shocking development; at this point, it’s just one poll, but it’s something to look for in future polls. Democrats can console themselves that this is a national poll, and the biggest fights of the midterm — the Senate races — are occurring in about a dozen states. Having said that, almost all of those states are Republican-leaning ones that Romney won. If the national electorate is sour on Democrats, it’s extremely difficult to envision a scenario where Arkansas’s Mark Pryor hangs on despite the pro-GOP atmosphere, and Alaska’s Mark Begich, and Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, and so on for the other endangered red-state Democratic senators. One or two might survive, but the rest . . . 

The polls are grim, Mr. President.

Tags: Democrats , Associated Press , Polling

A Tiny Bit of Law-Breaking by Iowa Democrats



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Also in today’s Jolt:

A Tiny Bit of Law-Breaking by Iowa Democrats

Out in Iowa, the state Democratic party released a web video of Senator Tom Harkin filling out his early-vote ballot:


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According to this news report in Iowa, “taking photos or video of your own marked ballot is illegal in Iowa.”

The law declares: “The use of cameras, cellular telephones, pagers, or other electronic communications devices in the voting booth is prohibited.” The Iowa Democratic party may argue that because Harkin isn’t inside a voting booth, they’re in the clear. But if the law aims to prevent taking pictures of completed ballots, and it’s illegal to take picture of the ballot in the booth on Election Day . . . why is it okay to take a picture of the completed ballot for absentee voting?

Tags: Tom Harkin , Iowa , Democrats

FLASHBACK: In June, House Democrats Opposed U.S. Action in Iraq



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Hey, Didn’t Democrats Once Staunchly Oppose Combat in Iraq? Like, Back in June?

Was it wise for Democrats to vote against funding any U.S. combat operations in Iraq earlier this summer?

In June 2014, Bruce Braley Voted For An Amendment To The Defense Appropriations Bill That Would Have Barred Funding For Any Combat Operations In Iraq. “Lee, D-Calif., amendment that would bar the use of funds in the bill for any combat operations in Iraq.” (H.R. 4870, CQ Vote #325: Rejected in Committee of the Whole 165-250: R 23-206; D 142-44, 6/19/14, Braley Voted Yea)

ROLL CALL: “With President Barack Obama grappling with how to respond to the escalating violence in Iraq and the rapid rise of an insurgent terrorist organization there, House Democrats have spoken: They overwhelmingly want to cut off funding for combat in the region, especially boots on the ground. Late Thursday, 142 Democrats and a handful of Republicans joined forces behind an amendment to the fiscal 2015 defense appropriations bill that would have barred any spending on combat operations in Iraq.” (Emma Dumain, “House Democrats Overwhelmingly Vote Against Funding Combat Operations In Iraq,” Roll Call, 6/20/14)

“Well, that was before ISIS beheaded the captured Americans!” House Democrats might whine in defense.

Yes, precisely.

Braley, a week ago: “ISIS is a threat that must be stopped,” Braley said during a debate Sunday. “Anytime American citizens are attacked by a terrorist group, they need to be brought to justice or to the grave.”

Welcome to the party, pal.

Get a load of how quickly he rewrites history:

He even said he voted to give the president limited authority “to begin strikes against those in Syria and Iraq.” In fact, the resolution that passed Congress two weeks ago was to arm Syrian rebels. Braley’s campaign defended his comment by drawing a distinction between “strikes” and “airstrikes,” saying he was actually referring to the arming of Syrian rebels to fight militants.

He scotched his old position on U.S. combat forces in Iraq.

Tags: Bruce Braley , Democrats , ISIS , Iraq

Funeral Services for the Anti-War Movement Will Be Held Next Week



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Big, busy Morning Jolt to close out the week — an appalling failure of immigration law enforcement, an indictment in that long-forgotten GSA conference scandal, another trip down memory lane for a beloved prematurely-canceled television show, and then this glaring change in our national politics:

Funeral Services for the Anti-War Movement Will Be Held Next Week

Howard Kurtz writes the obituary of the anti-war movement. Born in 2003, the movement experienced sudden difficulties in January 2009, struggled and limped along for the past few years, and finally collapsed in the street in front of the White House least week:

Medea Benjamin of Code Pink was asked why so few on the left oppose Obama. “‘He’s totally defanged us,’ she said, citing his party, his affability — and his race. ‘The black community is traditionally the most antiwar community in this country. He’s defanged that sentiment within the black community, or certainly voicing that sentiment.’”

Defanged. Wow, those are damning words.

Andrew Sullivan, a conservative who largely became an Obama booster, is equally incredulous:

“The way in which Obama supporters have lamely acquiesced to this reckless war fomented by a dangerous executive power-grab is more than a little depressing. It strikes me as uncomfortably close to pure partisanship. I can’t imagine them downplaying the folly of this if a Republican president were in charge.”

As Joe Weisenthal noted, Democrats largely abandoned the antiwar movement the moment Obama took office:

Commander Salamander, back in 2011: “There never was an anti-war movement. Deep down, I think – most of us knew that anyway. It was an anti-Bush movement. War had nothing to do with it – it was all about the Left finding a way to regain power.”

Tags: war , Antiwar Movement , Democrats

Why We Fight



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From the Thursday Morning Jolt:

Why We Fight

Jonah’s always awesome, but this point from yesterday afternoon is really important. He points to some transcripts of ISIS members, cheerfully laughing and appreciating that their rule has re-institated the practice of buying and selling women as sex slaves.

Then Jonah notes:

… the president has done everything he can to claim that his domestic political opponents are engaged in a “war on women.” He won an election largely because he convinced enough women — and pliant journalists — to take this bilge seriously. Just this week the head of his party went on at great length to claim that the Republican governor of Wisconsin has been “giving women the back of his hand.”

Oh, and let us not forget, the president and his supporters work very hard to paint their domestic political opponents as religious extremists because some private businesses and religious groups don’t want to pay for procedures that violate their conscience. 

Now compare this to the people who are celebrating the fact their faith allows them to enslave women. 

Just think about it for a moment. The president surely knows about this. His administration surely knows about this. And yet, the president — this modern incarnation of Lincoln, protector of women and opponent of domestic religious extremism — defines his goal for ISIS as reducing it to a “manageable problem.” Does this mean that if ISIS renounces any designs on attacking the US homeland (an impossibility given the tenets of their faith and ambition for a global caliphate) he will stand by as they continue to barter women as sex slaves and breeders? This is the same man who campaigned in Berlin as a “citizen of the world” and champion of global community. 

Forgive me, but the term, “Lincolnesque” doesn’t immediately spring to mind. 

The disconnect goes beyond mere inconsistency or hypocrisy. It is a moral sickness that is sickening to behold.

Remember President Kennedy’s speech about going to the moon?

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

Whatever else you think of President Kennedy, he grasped that a big part of leadership is persuading people to do things that they would rather not do, often because those tasks are difficult. And a good leader gets people to do those things because they’re needed.

Look at what the president insists upon talking about in his fundraiser speeches and other public events this autumn: Hiking the minimum wage. The “gender pay gap” (that shrinks dramatically once you account for interruptions in a woman’s career for child-rearing). Climate change and “carbon pollution.”

Meanwhile, ISIS is planning to murder us.

The quasi-isolationist vibe going through the Democratic Party since, oh, late 2003 or so reflects their desire to avoid doing things that are hard. If we absolutely must intervene in Libya, we’ll “lead from behind.” If we absolutely must kill someone, better for the president to have a personal, secret “kill list” and launch unmanned drone strikes in far-off lands, so the American people don’t have to hear about it and have to think about it.

Are drone strikes enough to contain militant Islam? Look at the evidence around us. Look at Libya. Look at Syria. Look at Iraq. Look at Pakistan. God forbid, look somewhere closer someday soon.

But persuading the American people to accept a more aggressive policy would be hard, particularly after this president spent years assuring them that “the tide of war is receding” and “al-Qaeda is on the run.”

Democrats – and perhaps almost all of Washington – shy away from doing things that are hard.

Stopping Putin? That’s hard. Pushing back against the rising tide of virulent anti-Semitism in Europe? That’s hard. Addressing the insufficient skill-set of the American workforce in a rapidly-changing, globalized economy? Really hard. Creating a culture of opportunity, responsibility and accountability in the worst neighborhoods in the inner cities? Nothing’s worked wonders yet. Ensuring every child is raised in a loving home? That’s hard.

Entitlement reform? Too difficult to even mention. The national debt? Too big and difficult to even think about.

Cleaning out the dead wood from the federal bureaucracy and instituting a new culture of accountability and results? That’s really hard.

It’s much easier to fume at length about Todd Akin and “binders full of women” and what Phil Robertson said on “Duck Dynasty” and sneer at gun owners and religious Christians. Vast swaths of our public debate revolve around metronomic “Can you believe what this person said?” outrages. Any ill-tempered comment from any little-known “GOP lawmaker” anywhere in the country can set off a couple news cycles of ritualistic denunciation.

Driving the guy at Mozilla out of his job is relatively easy. Making a figure so controversial that they’re metaphorically radioactive is easy.

Considering what liberals claim to care about, they have every reason to focus their fury upon militant Islam… but they don’t. Liberals claim to care about underprivileged children and the importance of education, so they have every reason to lash out at status-quo-defending teacher’s unions and demand public school choice for every parent everywhere in the country… but most of them don’t. Liberals claim to care about low-income Americans, so they have every reason to oppose allowing more unskilled or low-skilled workers to enter the country illegally… but they don’t. Liberals claim they want to help the little guy, so they have every reason to want to reduce the amount of red tape and paperwork that a new small business faces… but they don’t.

All of those tasks would require them doing something difficult – oftentimes, confronting a part of their own coalition for the status quo.

Every once in a while, Democrats do try something difficult. “Hey, let’s set up a system that guarantees health insurance to every single American!” Of course, that usually proves to be way, way, way harder than they expected and creating more problems, or worse problems, than when they started.

Remember my “Progressive Aristocracy” series, here and here and here and here and here? The Progressive Aristocracy doesn’t want to do that much, other than tell you how to live your life.

Yes, the Republican Party has its flaws. It often earns its nickname of “the Stupid Party” and it has its weak leaders, its loudmouths too much in love with the sound of their own voices, its craven types eager to find that sweet post-elected office lobbying deal, and its boring old white men with comb-overs, speaking in legislative-ese.

But by and large, the Republicans are worried about the right problems – the big problems: crazy people who want to kill us, a skyrocketing debt, a growing culture of dependency, an avalanche of red tape strangling the entrepreneurial lifeblood of the economy and an unsecure border.

That’s why this November, we’ve got to elect as many of these guys as we can. Not because they’re perfect, or even all that great; not because their ideas are perfect or even have a good chance of getting past an Obama veto… but because they’re at least looking at the real problems, instead of telling us our eyes are deceiving us and it’s not as bad as it looks

A great country deserves great leadership.

Tags: Democrats , Progressives , Barack Obama

Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink, Drive, and Remain Prosecutors



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink, Drive, and Remain in a Prosecutor’s Office

From Right Now Strategies:

Here’s the gist:

A day after a grand jury indicted him on two felony charges, a defiant Rick Perry on Saturday called the prosecution of his conduct a “farce” and “abuse of power.”

The governor promised to fight the charges and concluded brief remarks by bluntly saying, “I intend to win.”

During a news conference at the Capitol broadcast live on national TV, Perry blamed partisan politics for the indictment and focused, in part, on the behavior of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, whose drunken driving arrest last year prompted him to seek her resignation.

“We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country,” Perry said.

Perry faces charges of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant, which together carry maximum sentences of 109 years in prison and $20,000 in fines. He has not yet turned himself in at the Travis County Jail but is expected to do so in the next several days, when he will be fingerprinted and photographed.

Travis County grand jurors delivered the indictment 14 months after Perry said he would withhold a $7.5 million, two-year state allotment to Lehmberg’s office unless she stepped down.

Lehmberg did not resign, and Perry carried out that threat, saying he would not grant the appropriation because Lehmberg had lost the public’s confidence with her DWI arrest. Her blood alcohol level was 0.239, and while in jail, the district attorney was belligerent.

Perry’s argument: “I very clearly, I very publicly said that as long as that individual was going to be running that agency — I had lost confidence in her, the public had lost confidence in her,” Perry said. “I did what every governor has done for decades, which is make a decision about whether it was a proper use of state money to go to that agency. And I vetoed it. That’s what the rule of law is really about, Shannon. And I stood up for the rule of law in the state of Texas. And if I had to do it again I would make exactly the same decision.”

Quite a few folks on the Left don’t think there’s a legitimate criminal case here, and that we’re witnessing a reckless attempt to paint routine acts of politics – i.e., vetoing a budget as leverage – represents corruption.

New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait:

The conventions of reporting —  which treat the fact of an indictment as the primary news, and its merit as a secondary analytic question —  make it difficult for people reading the news to grasp just how farfetched this indictment is…

The prosecutors claim that, while vetoing the bill may be an official action, threatening a veto is not. Of course the threat of the veto is an integral part of its function. The legislature can hardly negotiate with the governor if he won’t tell them in advance what he plans to veto. This is why, when you say the word “veto,” the next word that springs to mind is “threat.” That’s how vetoes work.

The theory behind the indictment is flexible enough that almost any kind of political conflict could be defined as a “misuse” of power or “coercion” of one’s opponents. To describe the indictment as “frivolous” gives it far more credence than it deserves.

Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod: “Unless he was demonstrably trying to scrap the ethics unit for other than his stated reason, Perry indictment seems pretty sketchy.”

Alan Dershowitz: “ ‘This is another example of the criminalization of party differences, said Dershowitz, a prominent scholar on United States constitutional law and criminal law who writes the “Legally Speaking” column for Newsmax. ‘This idea of an indictment is an extremely dangerous trend in America, whether directed at [former House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay or [former President] Bill Clinton.’”

Remember Tom DeLay? Another prominent Republican who was charged with iffy crimes by an outspoken prosecutor. DeLay was indicted in 2005. Then there were literally years of delays and legal efforts to get the charges dismissed. The jury reached its verdict in 2010. DeLay was convicted of one charge of money laundering and one charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering… and then in 2013, the convictions were overturned by the Texas Court of Appeals. So we may be watching the first shots of a legal battle that will go on for years, maybe a nearly a decade.

There’s been a lot of buzz that this could actually rebound to Perry’s benefit, if he intends to run for president in 2016. He’ll be able to point to this as an example of the politicization of law enforcement and, in related controversies, the U.S. Department of Justice.

Or… in light of the lengthy but fruitless “John Doe investigation” of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, this appears to be the progressives’ newest form of “lawfare”: take routine activities of governors and insist, before a grand jury, that they are crimes. Sometimes, like in the case of Chris Christie, a GOP governor or his staff will give his opponents a scandalous opportunity. But even if the charges are baseless, the headlines of “GOVERNOR INDICTED” inflicts the political damage the progressives seek.

Tags: Rick Perry , Scandals , Democrats , Laws

An Awkward Complication for the Democrats’ Favorite Narrative



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Hmmm. 

How has this not been widely discussed before?

Tags: Democrats , African-Americans

Those Strange Hipsters Who Prefer Hamas...



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Young Americans (age 18 to 29) blame Israel more than Hamas for the current violence — 29 percent to 21 percent, and Democrats are about evenly split on who is more responsible for the current violence — 26 percent blame Israel, 29 percent blame Hamas. Liberals split evenly, 30 percent to 30 percent, on who is more responsible. 

For all of those young liberal Democrats angrier at Israel than Hamas… 

Tags: Hamas , Israel , Democrats , Young Voters

Environmentalist Billionaire Made His Fortune From Asian Coal Mines



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It’s a safe bet that environmentalist billionaire and big-time Democratic donor Tom Steyer has a bigger carbon footprint than you do:

Steyer, 56, stepped down as co-managing partner of Farallon in 2012 to devote himself to full-time activism because, as he later wrote, he “no longer felt comfortable being at a firm that was invested in every single sector of the global economy, including tar sands and oil.”

But he has provided few details of the extent of those fossil fuel investments or how he profited from them. He said in July 2013 that when he had left Farallon, which manages much of his estimated $1.6 billion wealth, he had instructed the fund to divest his holdings in fossil fuels. Neither he nor Farallon has said whether that process has been completed. Farallon declined to comment.

A spokesman for Steyer declined to comment for this article.

Until now, most of the conservative ire against Steyer has focused on Farallon’s energy investment record in the United States. Little attention has been paid to foreign investments such as its forays into Asian coal.

During Steyer’s tenure, Farallon helped finance coal project acquisitions in Indonesia and Australia valued at more than $2 billion and covering some of the region’s biggest mines, some of which swiftly ramped up production afterward, according to a close examination by Reuters of company disclosures and interviews with people involved in the deals.

Of course, Steyer made clear that this year he would not run ads against Democrats who voted to build the Keystone Pipeline — even though that’s at the heart of his objection to Republicans. Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, who advises Steyer, told The Hill that Steyer’s group would not run ads against Democrats, even if they support Keystone. “We aren’t going to go in to try to undermine and hurt Democrats.”

To sum up, it’s okay for him to make a fortune from Asian coal mines, and it’s okay for Democrats to vote to build the Keystone Pipeline; all of our environmental problems can be blamed on Republicans and you eating a Big Mac today.

The only thing that’s green in this picture is the background.

 

 

Tags: Tom Steyer , Global Warming , Democrats

Are Democrats Just Unable to Get Out the Vote in Midterms, Period?



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From the final Morning Jolt of the week:

Can Obama’s Usual Get-Out-The-Vote Tools Work in a Midterm Year?

Clip and save: Nate Cohn, writing in the New York Times, writes that the usual Obama campaign turnout tools can’t and won’t be effective on a large scale in a midterm election:

Much of the optimism on Democratic turnout stems from Mr. Obama’s successful turnout operation in 2012, or from experiments showing large increases in turnout when voters receive targeted mailers or contacts. But political scientists and campaign operatives found that even Mr. Obama’s impressive ground operation was worth less than one point in his presidential elections.

Boy, that conclusion hasn’t permeated the conventional wisdom about 2012, has it? Here’s Ryan Enos and Anthony Fowler, writing at the site of GW political-science professor John Sides:

Among these select groups, we estimate massive campaign effects of 15.4 percentage points for registered Democrats and 13.8 percentage points for Republicans. These numbers suggest impressively effective mobilization efforts by BOTH the Obama and Romney campaigns.

Despite all the celebration of the Obama campaign’s technological and other superiority, their campaign only had a 1.6 percentage point advantage over Romney in turning out party registrants. Of course, we don’t know whether Democratic registrants are inherently more difficult to mobilize than Republican registrants (although we find similar effects in 2008 before the Obama campaign had adopted the technological innovations of 2012, casting further doubt on the importance of these innovations). Also, keep in mind that the 1.6 percentage point difference that we detect may have been enough tip the election in a very close state like North Carolina in 2008, so the Obama mobilization effort may have helped to pad Obama’s victory. Nonetheless, these preliminary results suggest that the praise for Obama’s 2012 campaign may be overblown. Both campaigns appear to have been effective in mobilizing voters, and the 2012 Obama campaign was not dramatically more effective than Romney’s campaign or Obama’s 2008 campaign.

The thing is, wouldn’t a get-out-the-vote effort be minimally effective in a hugely covered mega-event like a modern presidential campaign, compared to a midterm election, off-year election, or special election? In other words, if an election is big enough, most people don’t need to be reminded to come out and vote, while they would in the less-covered, lower-profile election years.

Back to Cohn:

And those experiments are usually conducted in extremely low-turnout elections, like a local mayoral race, in which there are many more marginal voters. Finding people who are potential voters but not existing voters in a national election is harder.

Even Democratic operatives know the limits of the ground game. In a New Republic cover article that otherwise suggested that a strong turnout operation could solve Democratic problems, Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, conceded that field operations would “only solve our problem if the election is a close one.”

He discusses Terry McAuliffe’s efforts in Virginia in 2013 and notes:

But Mr. McAuliffe’s win was narrow — especially considering the tepid Republican effort. And no Democratic turnout effort will revitalize the so-called Obama coalition of young and nonwhite voters in an off-year election. The levels of voter interest in a midterm election and presidential election are simply too different. Indeed, Mr. Kreisberg said the McAuliffe campaign didn’t aim to match 2012 turnout; it was mainly focused on outperforming turnout in 2009.

He adds, “Democrats won the 2006 midterms in a landslide partly by winning voters over 60.” Gallup observed earlier this year:

U.S seniors — those aged 65 and older — have moved from a reliably Democratic group to a reliably Republican one over the past two decades. From 1992 through 2006, seniors had been solidly Democratic and significantly U.S seniors — those aged 65 and older — have moved from a reliably Democratic group to a reliably Republican one over the past two decades. From 1992 through 2006, seniors had been solidly Democratic and significantly more Democratic than younger Americans. Over the last seven years, seniors have become less Democratic, and have shown an outright preference for the Republican Party since 2010. more Democratic than younger Americans. Over the last seven years, seniors have become less Democratic, and have shown an outright preference for the Republican Party since 2010.

And here come the Obama administration’s home-health-care Medicaid cuts.

Coming soon to a voting booth near you: Irate senior citizens.

Tags: Obama , Midterm , Democrats , Get-Out-The-Vote

The Coming Huge Fight Over Abortion — Among Democrats



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From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Get Ready for a Massive Fight Over Abortion — Among Democrats!

So at what point can we declare that there’s a civil war within the Democratic party over abortion? Because West Virginia Democrats in the state legislature just voted to ban abortion after 20 weeks. Are the Democrats elsewhere just going to avert their eyes? Will NARAL give them a pass because there’s a D after their name?

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat and perhaps the worst governor you’ve never heard of, is now going to be one of the most scrutinized governors in the country:

Another bill Tomblin said he would carefully scrutinize is House Bill 4588, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. That bill bans abortions after 20 weeks except in the case of non-viable pregnancies. The law is similar to others that have passed state legislatures across the country, but some of those bills have faced legal challenges. The attorney for the Senate Judiciary Committee last week cautioned against passing the bill to the full Senate, saying it is unconstitutional.

“The abortion bill obviously is one that causes me some concern because the legislative attorneys and others have said the bill is unconstitutional,” Tomblin said. “So I’ll be looking at all those aspects of it once I receive the bill.”

Note that the legislative votes weren’t even close:

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, HB 4588, passed in the West Virginia Senate on the final day of the session, Saturday, March 8, by a vote of 29-5. The Senate approved an amended version of the bill, which had been passed earlier by the House of Delegates. The House had to concur with the Senate changes before final passage, 83-15.

Just in case there wasn’t enough pressure on Tomblin:

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is “supportive” of a West Virginia bill banning abortions after 20 weeks and is considering backing a similar federal ban in the Senate.

“I am pro-life and supportive of the principles in the bill that was just passed in the West Virginia Legislature,” Manchin said in a statement.

Tags: Abortion , West Virginia , Democrats

Montana Democrats: We Demand to See the Birth Certificate!



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Remember when this sort of thing was ipso facto evidence that someone was a lunatic, a conspiracy theorist, a hate-monger, and unfit for public discourse?

The Montana Democratic Party today called on Congressman Steve Daines, who claims in his latest TV ad to be a “fifth-generation Montanan,” to clear up confusion about his roots by releasing his birth certificate.

Daines’ latest ad asserts he “grew up in Bozeman, a fifth-generation Montanan,” which directly contradicts earlier versions of his biography when he claimed: “I’m a third-generation Montanan, kind of that classic Montana kid.”

So the dispute is really whether Daines’s great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were Montanans, huh? Really? Does Daines need to dig up their birth certificates, too? Do we need to dig deep into his Ancestry.com profile to get to the bottom of this?

Democrats insist Daines isn’t really a Montanan, because he was born in California and lived there . . . until he was two.

Everything in Montana’s going so hunky-dory that you guys have nothing else to worry about, huh? Anything else going on in that state?

Yeah, something like that.

Tags: Montana , Democrats , Steve Daines

Democrats Sell Holiday Mug With Misspelled Word



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In yesterday’s Morning Jolt, we looked at the gift options from MyDemocraticStore.com. There’s a terrific new wrinkle to one gift . . . 

Merry Christmas Happy Generic Late-December Holidays from the DNC!

Getting down to the wire for Christmas shopping! Let’s check out the DNC’s store to see what they’re offering as last-minute gift ideas . . . 

A mug that says “Happy Holidays” and offers greetings in many languages, but not “Merry Christmas.” Perfect for that decorated veteran of the War on Christmas!

German-speaking Morning Jolt reader Dieter notes the Democratic merchandisers “couldn’t even spell ‘Frohe Feiertage’ in German correctly. Seriously? They misspelled it ‘Forhe’.” Clearly a continuation of the “judge us by our good intentions, not our bad results” philosophy that brought us Obamacare.

Other gifts available from the Democrats:

A “Speaker Pelosi” magnet pin. What, are these left over from 2010? $1.99. If you find one of these in your stockings, it is a sign Santa just didn’t give a damn this year.

“I heart Obamacare” sweatshirts. Can’t believe they didn’t sell out!

You love equality, but not capitalization.

For $49.95, you can buy a framed photo of President Obama and Nancy Pelosi at the signing ceremony for Obamacare:

You know, the National Republican Senatorial Committee might buy one; they’ll be using that image in their ads over and over again in the coming year . . . 

Tags: Democrats , Something Lighter

A Lame Attempt to Blame Republicans for Obamacare’s Mess



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Jamelle Bouie, writing in The Daily Beast: “Before we blame the problems with Healthcare.gov on ‘big government’ or ‘liberalism,’ we should remember that the Affordable Care Act needed GOP cooperation to succeed.”

Why? As Robert Gamble noted, “If your plan requires complete control and no opposition, then it isn’t a plan, it’s a wish.”

If “the Affordable Care Act needed GOP cooperation to succeed,” why did President Obama, Senate majority leader Harry Reid, and then-House speaker Nancy Pelosi go forward with the bill when it was clear that no Republican in the House or Senate would vote for the bill as written? Why alienate people whose cooperation is absolutely necessary?

If Republicans thought the law was a terrible idea before it was signed into law in March 2010, why would they be obligated to drop their opposition to it afterwards?

What is this insane notion that once a law is passed, its opponents must drop their objections and meekly cooperate in enacting it? That is not the way the Democrats greeted Republican decisions such as the Iraq War or the Bush tax cuts. That is not the way gay-marriage supporters reacted to the Defense of Marriage Act.

Bouie writes: “What’s frustrating about the current conversation over Obamacare is the extent to which there’s been collective amnesia regarding the GOP’s categorical opposition to the law.” That may be what’s particularly frustrating to him at this moment, but I think that “collective amnesia” is rather less frustrating to the public than an expensive website that doesn’t work; unexpected cancellation notices after presidential assurances; sticker shock from high premiums, deductibles and co-pays under the new plans; a more limited selection of doctors and hospitals under the new plans; confusing, rapidly changing rules for “grandfathering” the old plans; the possibility of the “death spiral” for insurance companies; and of course, identity thieves and cybersecurity worries.

He asks, “How would the status quo look if Republican states embraced the Medicaid expansion and worked to build their own exchanges (Kentucky, for instance)?” Well, it depends if those other Republican states built their exchanges and had a decent, working exchange, like Kentucky, or if they had one like Oregon’s, which has yet to sign up anyone. Still. The Medicaid expansion is expensive and does not do anything to help the exchanges or ward off the death spiral.

He asks, “What if, instead of casting endless repeal votes, GOP lawmakers worked with Democrats to fix problems in the law?” Like what? What change to the law has President Obama asked for that Republicans have refused? Obama’s been making all of the changes to the law unilaterally. He’s issuing veto threats to the Upton plan and similar plans in the Senate.

He asks, “What does the political situation look like in a world where Republicans don’t attack the Affordable Care Act as a step on the road to serfdom?” It’s a better political situation for Democrats, but I don’t see why that goal should be a priority for Republicans. You might as well ask what the political situation looks like in a world where the Obama campaign didn’t attack Mitt Romney as a heartless plutocrat who causes cancer in blue-collar workers’ spouses. I suppose that world could be sort of one’s “happy place” to retreat into when reality becomes too much to bear.

He concludes, “If conservatives could let go of their Obama hatred and partisan pique, they might see the real opportunities that exist for center-right health reform.” What’s unclear is why Republicans have to, or should even try to, enact their center-right health reforms within a rapidly-failing Obamacare infrastructure. Scrap this whole damn thing and start over.

Tags: Obamacare , Barack Obama , Republicans , Democrats

The First Four Obamacare Train Wrecks… With Many More to Come



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From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

The First Four Obamacare Train Wrecks… With Many More to Come

Look, Democrats. You fouled up on Obamacare. You fouled up big time, and time is running out to mitigate the damage.

You said you had to pass the bill in order to see what’s in it. Apparently it was like the Ark of the Covenant.

Yes, this is a train wreck. It’s a train wreck upon another train wreck, upon another train wreck… it’s train wrecks all the way down.

For starters, it’s a fragmentation grenade to the full-time job market. CNBC:

With open enrollment for Obamacare about to begin, small- and medium-sized businesses are not hiring because of uncertainty surrounding the implementation of the law, the CEO of nation’s fifth-largest staffing company said on Monday.

“Companies are really not interested in hiring full-time people. That’s really the issue with Obamacare,” Express Employment Professionals boss Bob Funk told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday.

Funk, a former chairman of the Kansas City Federal Reserve, admitted that this trend is a “boon” for his business, but “not healthy for the country as a whole.”

Secondly, the Wall Street Journal reports that the software doesn’t work. These geniuses have spent oodles of taxpayer money encouraging people to sign up for the exchanges, only to find out the software to run the exchanges isn’t working:

Less than two weeks before the launch of insurance marketplaces created by the federal health overhaul, the government’s software can’t reliably determine how much people need to pay for coverage, according to insurance executives and people familiar with the program.

Government officials and insurers were scrambling to iron out the pricing quirks quickly, according to the people, to avoid alienating the initial wave of consumers.

A failure by consumers to sign up online in the hotly anticipated early days of the “exchanges” is worrisome to insurers, which are counting on enrollees for growth, and to the Obama administration, which made the exchanges a centerpiece of its sweeping health-care legislation.

If not resolved by the Oct. 1 launch date, the problems could affect consumers in 36 states where the federal government is running all or part of the exchanges. About 32 million uninsured people live in those states, but only a fraction of them are expected to sign up in the next year.

Thirdly, it botched coverage for working families. USA Today:

A so-called “family glitch” in the 2010 health care law threatens to cost some families thousands of dollars in health insurance costs and leave up to 500,000 children without coverage, insurance and health care analysts say.

That’s unless Congress fixes the problem, which seems unlikely given the House’s latest move Friday to strip funding from the law, which is also called the Affordable Care Act.

Congress defined “affordable” as 9.5% or less of an employee’s wages, mostly to make sure people did not leave their workplace plans for subsidized coverage through the exchanges. But the “error” was that it only applies to the employee — and not his or her family. So, if an employer offers a woman affordable insurance, but doesn’t provide it for her family, they cannot get subsidized help through the state health exchanges.

That can make a huge difference; the Kaiser Family Foundation said an average plan for an individual is about $5,600, but it goes up to $15,700 for families. Most employers help out with those costs, but not all.

Fourth, Obamacare is so poorly-constructed, it manages to louse up coverage and payments for the working-class employees who actually have good plans and care right now. President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Kathleen Sebelius managed to be so astonishingly incompetent in designing, building, and implementing this program, they’ve managed to screw over their most stalwart allies. From the Center for Public Integrity:

Many union workers are in health plans with solid benefits and relatively low copayments and coinsurance obligations. Democrats drafting the law bought the insurance-industry’s argument that Americans need to have more “skin in the game,” meaning they should pay more for care out of their own pockets even if they’re insured.

I’ve talked to union members who have not had a raise in years because of rising health care costs. They’ve been willing to forego wage increases at the bargaining table in exchange for keeping decent health insurance.

Obamacare provides employers with a disincentive to continue to offer health plans that exceed a certain value. Such plans will be subject to a premium tax… Another unintended consequence of the law will mean that many other union workers — especially those in the building trades — will have to pay more for coverage than they do now.

I’ll give you a moment to chuckle at Obama-backing union members finding their health coverage is now all loused up, but it goes to illustrate just how badly this legislative and regulatory monstrosity is going to hit everyone – even the folks it would be most expected to help.

Now, if a plan is so bad that it hurts so many of the Americans it’s supposed to help… why are we implementing it?

Tags: Obamacare , Democrats , Barack Obama , Unions , Kathleen Sebelius , Nancy Pelosi

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