The Morning Jolt


Michael Avenatti Bites the Dust

Michael Avenatti attends the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding in Clear Lake, Iowa, August 10, 2018. (KC McGinnis/Reuters)

Making the click-through worthwhile: Michael Avenatti, self-styled fighter, finds that karma has a hell of a counterpunch; why Nancy Pelosi is somewhat overrated as a House leader; New York governor Andrew Cuomo belatedly realizes that his state has high taxes that drive away businesses; and Kyrsten Sinema gets an early start on breaking campaign promises. Today’s a special “Democrats are awful” edition.

Karma Punches Back

Apparently karma punches back twice as hard, too.

Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing Stormy Daniels in her legal battle with President Donald Trump, was arrested Wednesday in the Los Angeles area on suspicion of domestic violence. He was released on bail hours later.

The police report was filed Tuesday night by an unidentified victim at a residence on the 10000 block of Santa Monica Boulevard in Century City, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The LAPD tweeted that it was an “ongoing investigation.” The department would not reveal the identity of the reporting party or the exact nature of the person’s injuries.

Avenatti was arrested and booked on felony domestic charges Wednesday afternoon, police said. He was released from custody around 5:30 p.m. and his bail was set at $50,000, according to jail records.

Avenatti calls the charges “completely bogus.”

Yes, it’s possible this is a false accusation. The accuser is apparently convincing enough to persuade the LAPD to pursue charges. If the short-tempered angry guy who kept talking about how tough he was and how he was a fighter and touts mottos like “If you can’t take a punch, you don’t belong in the ring” and “Don’t tell me what cases you’ve won, tell me who you’ve beaten” ended up having a violent temper . . . it wouldn’t be the most shocking twist in the world. The man’s political-action committee is called “Fight PAC.” If you always boast about how strong you are with metaphors of physical violence, people might start to think you’re physically violent.

Unsurprisingly, groups such as the Vermont Democratic party are beginning to recognize Avenatti’s potential radioactivity:

Vermont Democrats, who planned to host two events with the lawyer Friday and Saturday, will refund ticketholders, said R. Christopher Di Mezzo, the party’s communications director, on Wednesday evening. Avenatti has said he would pursue the Democratic Party nomination for president in 2020. 

There was a time when the selection of a party’s presidential contenders consisted mostly of familiar figures from Washington and state capitols — senators and governors and the occasional ambassador or House member thrown in the mix. These figures could be well-known and boring, but that old system had some advantages. The figures who rose to the top were generally known quantities. They had been covered by the press for a long time, their backgrounds had been investigated, and the local rumor-mill checked out.

Those with certain character flaws were generally weeded out by the process to get to that level of political power. Perhaps figures like Thomas Eagleton and Edmund Muskie were treated too harshly by the national press. But we were deciding who would have access to “the button” during the Cold War — this was no position for a man who was temperamental, moody, short-tempered, or who had trouble controlling his emotions. We were hiring the leader of the free world, not casting the protagonist of a drama series.

We can argue about when exactly it changed — Richard Nixon, Gary Hart, Bill Clinton — but it clearly has changed, and I’d argue the country is worse off for that change. Just because anyone can run for president doesn’t mean that anyone should run for president.

Is Nancy Pelosi Really that Good of a Leader of House Democrats?

Insufferable gun-control activist David Hogg, a few months ago: “Older Democrats just won’t move the [expletive] off the plate and let us take control. Nancy Pelosi is old.”

(Hogg sure disappeared in recent months, didn’t he?)

Lefty Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman can’t quite believe that Democrats are even considering anyone else:

What’s truly absurd about this is the fact that everyone — both her supporters and her opponents — agrees that not only does no one else have Pelosi’s combination of skills and experience, but also that she might be the most effective congressional leader of the past half-century or so. The current speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, had to struggle to pass a tax cut through a Republican-led House; when Pelosi was speaker she passed cap and trade, a huge stimulus, banking reform, and a whole lot else besides. And of course, the Affordable Care Act — the most important issue in the election we just had? It never would have passed in 2010, at a moment when other Democrats were ready to give up, had it not been for Pelosi’s skill and determination.

Er . . . Democrats had 257 seats beginning in 2009! That’s a huge margin — getting 218 votes in that environment isn’t particularly difficult. You can have 15 percent of your caucus vote “no” and still pass a bill. By comparison, Paul Ryan began this last Congress with 241 Republicans and by March 1, 2017, it was down to 237 because of presidential appointments and other vacancies. By May of this year, Ryan was down to 235. Ryan could never lose more than 9 percent or so of House Republicans and still pass a bill.

Waldman makes a fairer point when he observes that as of this writing, there’s no clear alternative to Pelosi among House Democrats. When it comes to knocking off a well-established front-runner, it’s like that story of certain native cultures using the much simpler counting system of “one, two, many” and that all numbers beyond two are indistinguishable. If the House Democratic leadership fight becomes Nancy Pelosi vs. One Alternative Younger New Option, she can be beaten. If the fight becomes Pelosi vs. A Bunch of Other House Democrats, she’ll win easily.

Andrew Cuomo: Whoa, I Just Realized My Own State’s Taxes Are High

These are the sorts of statements that just make you want to scream at people:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended the deal, arguing that New York has to offer incentives because of its comparatively high taxes. At 6.5 percent, New York’s corporate income-tax rate is only modestly higher than Virginia’s 6 percent, according to the Tax Foundation. But other business and individual taxes are higher in New York.

“It’s not a level playing field to begin with,” Mr. Cuomo said in an interview Tuesday. “All things being equal, if we do nothing, they’re going to Texas.”

First, what about all the companies in New York that don’t get a special deal the way Amazon does? Why is it okay for them to pay the high taxes, but not Amazon?

Second, if Andrew Cuomo thinks that his state’s taxes are too high and are scaring away businesses, why doesn’t he try to lower them?

ADDENDUM: Kyrsten Sinema, July 2: “I am not going to vote for him,” she said matter of factly when pressed on her view of Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. Notice that there are no caveats, conditions, or wiggle room.

Schumer was reelected as Democrats’ leader in the Senate on Wednesday. Newly elected Arizona Senator Sinema: “Had there been a challenger for minority leader, I would have considered new leadership and a fresh perspective.”

A broken promise on her first day — way to go, Arizonans!


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