Featured

2020 Democratic Contenders

Let’s pin this to the front page and keep a running list. Hit up the comments any time you come across important updates on the intentions of any of these folks:

*Legitimate Candidates*
Sen. Kamala Harris (California)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (New York)
Former VP Joe Biden

*Legitimate Longshots Worth Following*
Beto O’Rourke (Texas)
Mayor Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles) withdrew late-January 2019 but will consider VP.
Gov. John Hickenlooper (Colorado)
former Gov. Deval Patrick (Massachusetts) withdrew Dec 2018.
Sen. Corey Booker (New Jersey)
Mayor Mitch Landrieu (New Orleans)
Gov. Steve Bullock (Montana),

*Candidates Who are Running for Reasons Other Than to Win*
Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vermont),
former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (Virginia)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (New York)
Rep. Tim Murphy (OH)
Rep. John Delaney (Maryland)
former Attorney General Eric Holder
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (IN)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI)

*Irrelevant Candidates Who Will Be Ignored by Everyone But the Press*
Howard Schulz (Starbucks CEO),
Tom Steyer (billionaire), withdrew January 2019
former Mayor Michael Bloomberg (New York City),
Michael Avenatti (obnoxious lawyer) withdrew Dec 2018
Richard Ojeda (Trump supporting WV Democratic activist)

JANUARY 30 UPDATE:

I added Buttigieg and Gabbard to the list of those running for reasons other than to win, and removed the handful of people who have formally announced that they do not intend to run.

As of today, it seems to me that Biden isn’t likely to be a legitimate contender, both because I don’t think he really wants to run and because I think Kamala Harris will crush him should he choose to. She is to me the very clear front runner as of this moment, and barring some kind of screw up, she is the one most likely to win the whole thing.

Gillibrand has been surprisingly quiet since announcing, and although it is obviously still very very early, it seems to me that she’s going to have a very hard time getting traction so long as Kamala Harris maintains the perception that she’s going to be hard to beat.

Warren….is who she is? I love her as my Senator. I think she’ll be a powerful force for good in the campaign. But no way do I think she wins the nomination. I thought that before she formally announced, and I think it much much more so since.

Tulsi Gabbard unexpectedly threw her hat into the ring, which is bizarre given her truly bizarre past, and it’s all quite predictably gone sideways very quickly (see, for example: https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/29/tulsi-gabbard-2020-election-1134055). Not only is she not going to win the nomination, she’s not likely to make it past the spring, and now she’s got a DailyKos-backed primary challenger to boot. Which is great, because she is truly awful

Schulz, the Starbucks dude, is out there pretending to be a disaffected Democrat preparing to run, but no way he sees this through to the end, and anyway, he’s really just a disaffected moderate Republican confused about how partisanship works in American politics. The fact that he hates what the REpublican Party has become does not even remotely mean he is a Democrat, or that he will appeal to Democrats, or that his influence will somehow help Trump get elected. That’s all very backwards.

Beto is making exactly the kinds of noises that a person who doesn’t want to run but feels sort-of-but-not-really compelled to , so while I’m making predictions, let me put myself down as him formally announcing he will NOT run sometime in late-Spring.

And hey….why not go all in. If I had to bet money today, I’d either go with Harris-O’Rourke or Harris-Hickenlooper.

Change just a few names here and there and imagine how this would play out….

Imagine the world in which Mueller’s report read as follows:

In this investigation, the evidence does not establish that President Clinton was involved in an underlying crime related to Iranian election interference. But the evidence does point to a range of other possible personal motives animating the President’s conduct. These include concerns that continued investigation would call into question the legitimacy of his election and potential uncertainty about whether certain events — such as advance notice of WikiLeaks’s release of hacked information or the June 9, 2016 meeting between senior campaign officials and Iranians— could be seen as criminal activity by the President, her campaign, her family, or her family’s charitable foundation….

The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate her.”

My response would be white hot rage at the Clinton team, including a demand that she leave office. My Republican friends would of course feel the same. That they do not here simply because Trump is “theri guy” tells you everything you ever need to know about the role of principles in their political lives. Never forget this.

Source: Mueller report: the case Trump obstructed justice, in one paragraph – Vox

My Standard Is Always the Same: Reverse the Roles, and How Would I Feel?

There’s honestly no better way to evaluate a political controversy than to ask yourself how you would feel if the roles were reversed.  Think power should be wielded more forcefully? How would you feel if your opponents were doing it in service of something you vehemently opposed? Think your opponents claims of corruption are unwarranted? How would you feel if you saw your opponents doing something nearly identical but in different circumstances? Flipping the script like that tends to clarify a lot of things while avoiding a whole lot of special pleading.

So that’s how I’ve been handling this whole Trump/Russia thing. If, for example, Hillary Clinton had been shown to be indirectly benefiting from Iranian interference in our electoral processes while also negotiating a lucrative deal with them for her foundation, how would I have felt? And how would her opponents have felt?

The answer to both questions is the same: white-hot outrage. My Republican friends know this about me, and this know this about themselves. What’s so sad is that how few of them are willing to apply this same standard in reverse. And in particular, how few of the Christians are will to do so. Because replace “Trump” with “Clinton” and “Russia” with “Iran” but keep all the other major details in the Mueller report the same and she would’ve been impeached so quickly your head wouldn’t even have time to spin.

So as I always say in moments like these: remember this. Remember that their principled-sounding arguments aren’t principled but situational. Remember that the standards they demand Democrats must adhere to when in power are standards that they cheerfully ignore when they hold the reigns. Remember this the next time Democrats are in power. Remember this and IGNORE THEIR ARGUMENTS while pursuing the greater good. Maybe one day they’ll be willing to work with us again in a network of trans-partisan norms and standards, but they are not willing to do so now. They broke the game, and it cannot be repaired until both sides want to repair it together. REMEMBER THIS and ACT APPROPRIATELY.

Source: Mueller report: winners and losers – Vox

“by the end of the day, however…”

That will be the key phrase in nearly every report written attempting to summarize the upcoming day’s events. Don’t stay glued to your TVs and Twitter and Facebook. Let the early part of the day pass without notice of the spin. Ignore it until until people have had time to read and digest the report. By the end of the day, central components of the morning and early afternoon’s conventional wisdom will have been obliterated. Until then, put your focus on places you can make a difference. Thats my advice for the day.

“Why is Obama always so divisive,” they used to wail. I tried to tell everyone it wasn’t honest criticism. You believe me now?

From over the weekend:

Days after he posted an edited video to Twitter trying to link Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to the 9/11 attacks, President Donald Trump made it through a Tax Day business roundtable in the first-term Congress member home state on Monday without mentioning her. Afterward, however, Trump told a local reporter he had no regrets about his incendiary, misleading, and dangerous tweet — even though she’s faced death threats from his supporters.

www.vox.com/2019/4/16/18395065/trump-ilhan-omar-death-threats

They don’t want unity. Or rather, they only want unity when it helps them get what they want. It’s not a genuine complaint, and it never has been. If a member of congress getting death threats thanks to the President’s comments doesn’t convince you of that, nothing ever will.

About the IRS, oversight, and tax returns.

Y’all, this isn’t even close to hard. Congress created the IRS under its Article I, Section 8 constitutional authority. Of course it has oversight authority over the agency and the taxes and returns it collects. The executive branch only has the IRS and its returns because congress passed the laws that brought them into existence. And more to the point, since tax returns are only subject to privacy protections because of the will of congress, the idea that there’s some right to privacy beyond which congress cannot legally reach is absurd.

And it’s not just the courts. Even the civil servants most likely to agree with Trump aren’t doing what he says.

Trump tells border agents to ignore the law in order to block asylum seekers from legally entering the United States. Unsurprisingly, those same border agents were told by their bosses to ignore the president and follow the law, lest they themselves get arrested.

This too was predictable in a system with a strong, independent judiciary, no matter the partisan leanings of the judges. Why? Because no matter how much those judges share some of Trump’s concerns, their won self-interest is much more directed towards protecting the rule of law. And yeah, when the president starts telling people to ignore judges and their rulings, nothing is going to matter more to those judges than defending the rule of law. And yeah, the men and women who serve in the border patrol are smart enough to figure that out, no matter what anyone else might say.

talkingpointsmemo.com/news/report-border-agents-leaders-told-them-to-disobey-presidents-direction-on-migrants

“A federal court blocked the Trump Administration’s implementation of…”

In the long run, that will be history’s primary interpretation of this era. Because the law as it is written is the law, for better or for worse, with conservative justices or liberal ones. The rest of it is just noise.

And that, more than anything, is why I never know what to blog about anymore. We’ve reached the point in the disjunction during which everything ends up having been for nothing but suffering and exhaustion.

In case you were wondering what it was like to live through the Carter Administration in the late 1970s? It was like this. Only now it’s Republicans causing the chaos and Democrats preparing to figure out how in hell this mess gets addressed.