Monday, November 11, 2019

Sen. Thom Tillis Gets Stuck To a Pants Leg


A new species of beggar's lice
You know what beggar's lice is, right? Little seeds that are like sticky burs that will attach themselves to your pants leg or to your roaming house cat. Very hard to pick off.

That's Senator Tillis right now, attached to Twitterman's every whim. AP reporter Gary Robertson wrote a lengthy account of Tillis's conversion to an ardent Trump supporter. The headline writer who put the title on that article used the imagery of beggar's lice: "Tillis Has Latched On To Trump."

Little sticky burs have to suffer some indignity, though, as Tillis did at a Republican fundraiser last Thursday at Twitterman's big fancy hotel in DeeCee (Mugstomp-on-the-Potomac). The president in his remarks called out Tillis sitting in the audience, made him stand up for some public humiliation, said that Senator Tillis "didn't like me at first" but "now he'll kiss my ass on command" (words to that effect). "Admit it! You like me now," Trump said, dangling Tillis over the flames of disapproval like a sinner in the hands of an angry god.

A source inside the room told the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman that Tillis looked “super uncomfortable” during the exchange.

Ritual humiliation for a senator who once thought he could have an independent thought about matters of government. Poor fool!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Ignorance Is Bliss (And Virginia Foxx Lies By Omission)


Congresswoman Virginia Foxx recently complained, “We’re not a banana republic and things should not be done in secret. They should all be out in the open.”

She was moaning about the impeachment inquiry that's been taking depositions behind closed doors. Those depositions are suspicious to Foxx because she personally cannot attend to hear and see them.

Wait. What?

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx sits on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform is one of the three committees holding the impeachment depositions behind closed doors. Both Democratic and Republican members of those committees are not only free to attend, but they can also ask questions. Friggin questions. Virginia Foxx also could but didn't and won't (especially, perhaps, since they're not offering a rolling breakfast buffet).

Her "things done in secret" might have more bite if she wasn't truant. And a liar to boot. She has the unmitigated gall to make a whine out of her own non-attendance. Her fellow North Carolina congressman Mark Meadows has certainly been there (because he also sits on Oversight and Reform). The transcripts show Meadows an active participant, asking questions with gusto.

But Foxx has excuses: “Several depositions have been scheduled when Congress is not in session and other events have been scheduled in North Carolina. Others have had their time changed, conflicting with other responsibilities in Washington, including my work as Republican Leader on the Education and Labor Committee,” she tweeted (since deleted).

Can we get real here, Congresswoman? You're not there in deference to the age-old superstition, "If I don't see it, it doesn't exist." You're in a graveyard at midnight and the moon is full, and what do you do? You keep your eyes on the ground immediately in front of you and look neither left nor right. And you might even whistle, to keep your concentration.

Foxx is like a lot of Trump's support. Willfully ignorant in an effort to keep her difficult balance in the high noon sun.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Another Democrat Wants Thom Tillis's Senate Seat


To date we have Cal Cunningham, Trevor Fuller, Erica Smith, and Steven Williams all of whom have declared they'll be participating in the Democratic primary on March 3rd to take on incumbent Republican Senator Thom Tillis.

Now there's a fifth, Atul Goel, a Raleigh physician who's on a quest to visit all 100 counties and talk to voters. He was born in India, came with his family to this country when he was 10, and he talks knowledgeably about issues, especially health care and how to reform the system.
“We all know we have a health care crisis that needs to be addressed,” he said. “We don’t have affordable health care access for everyone.” 
He said he feels his years of experience in health care equips him to address the issue as a policymaker. 
Involved for a number of years with Democratic party politics in Wake County (he has served, for example, as a precinct chair) Goel said he grew frustrated hearing potential policymakers discuss health care. 
“I can tell they don’t know what they’re talking about,” he said. “I’ve been involved in a wide variety of the health care aspect.” ...

“It’s a serious issue I just feel needs to be addressed,” he said. “I don’t have all the answers, but I understand the issues and want to be part of the team that does something about it.”

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Jeff Sessions Will Run for His Old Alabama US Senate Seat


Jeff Sessions can take a punch
and pop back up!
Last night, under the cover of a darkness that passeth understanding, former Trump Attorney General and punching bag Jefferson Beauregard Sessions announced that he will be running again for his old US Senate seat, the one he gave up to become Attorney General and Trump's punching bag.

Thank you Jeremy W. Peters and Maggie Haberman for this tidbit:
"News of Mr. Sessions’s decision to run startled and dismayed national Republicans, who had hoped that he would step aside to avoid the possibility of being vilified by Mr. Trump — and to spare them the headache of a nationalized race in a state they hope to win back."
Alabama Republicans are naturally itching to take back that Senate seat from Doug Jones, who beat young flesh entrepreneur Roy Moore in the special election of 2017. Doug Jones is generally regarded as the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate, because, after all, Alabama.

Those "dismayed national Republicans" have had their eyes on two normal-looking, unpunched-by-Trump Republicans who had already declared their intentions to run in a primary for that Senate seat: Alabama 1st District Congressman Bradley Byrne and former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville (because, after all, Alabama + football). Those two guys were maybe considered frontrunners prior to the entry of Jeff Sessions, though young flesh entrepreneur Roy Moore will also be in that March 3rd primary, and he still has a following among the apocalyptic-minded. (There are even a couple more guys who've announced an intention to run, so that Republican senatorial primary in Alabama will be crowded.)

The big question: Will Twitterman, the one with low impulse control, stay out of that primary? Or will he let his cankers bloom and bash Sessions? Maggie Haberman reports this:
"Mr. Trump ... continues to blame Mr. Sessions for the two-year Russia probe, and last weekend he repeatedly denounced Mr. Sessions, saying he was a “jerk” and making it clear Mr. Sessions would not have his support, according to a person briefed on the discussions.
Alabama, winter is coming!

More Evidence of Antipathy for Trump in the Suburbs


Yes, the Virginia suburbs around Washington DeeCee, Richmond, and Norfolk swept Democrats into the state legislature last Tuesday. And the suburbs around Louisville, Lexington, and south of Cincinnati helped elect a Democratic governor of Kentucky. "In part because of antipathy toward President Trump."

But there were other clear signals from suburbia in another state where only local candidates were on the ballot -- Pennsylvania. In the suburban counties around Philadelphia, Democratic candidates defeated the last Republicans on the five-seat Delaware County Council. Democrats took control of the board of commissioners in Bucks County for the first time since the 1980s, and they took the majority in Chester County.

Election analyst and pollster Rachel Bitecofer is preaching that the turn in suburban America against the party of Trump is not Republicans changing their votes to Democrats. No, it's independent voters and -- more significantly -- new voters coming out against Trumpism at all levels of elective office -- voters who've been disengaged, sporadic in their turn-out, or simply unregistered to vote. The election of Donald Trump has awakened them. They're there for the winning over if Democratic candidates can give them the living contrast to the Party of Trump.

I highlight this paragraph by Trip Gabriel, Jonathan Martin, and Alexander Burns in an article this morning focusing on the very noticeable swing among suburban voters:
"For Mr. Trump and other Republican leaders, the ongoing political realignment of the suburbs — which was essential to Democrats flipping Republican-held congressional seats in 2018 and retaking the House — is a disconcerting disadvantage that they have shown little ability to reverse. Democratic officials, in turn, increasingly believe they can press a center-left agenda with little risk of backlash because moderate voters will remain in their grip as long as Mr. Trump is in office and effectively make the G.O.P. a no-go zone for this demographic." [italics added]

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Republicans, Campaigning on Your Slavishness to Trumpism Will Only Get You So Far


Virginia will now have Democratic majorities in both houses of its state legislature, the first time since 1993. With a Democratic governor, expect new gun control measures, LGBTQ protections, and climate control initiatives guaranteed to give conservatives some acid reflux. Twitterman did not visit Virginia ahead of this election to rally Republicans, but despite his absence, voters did not appear to forget who's president. At least two seats flipped to Democratic in the state senate and at least five flipped in the House of Delegates. One district elected the first Muslim woman to the house.

In Kentucky, moderate Democrat Andy Beshear is ahead in the governor race by just over 5,000 votes, but Republican incumbent Matt Bevin, a truculent Trumpist who had sought to turn his reelection campaign into a referendum on Trump, is not conceding. All other state-wide races in Kentucky went to Republicans, a suggestion that it really was the unpopular Bevin who lost and not the Republican Party generally.

But it was the president himself who stood alongside Bevin on Monday night in Lexington to argue that, while the combative governor is “a pain in the ass,” his defeat would send “a really bad message” beyond Kentucky’s borders.

Yep. Message received.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Aimy Steele Is Again Challenging a 10-Term Republican in NCHouse District 82


In 2018, Aimy Steele left her job as principal of Beverly Hills STEM Elementary School in Concord, N.C., to run for the NC House (District 82). That November, she out-performed Democratic expectations in that Cabarrus County district, earning 47.25% of the vote and losing to long-serving incumbent Linda P. Johnson by 1,978 votes out of almost 36,000 total votes cast. (As of January 2018 there were 62,444 registered voters in the district. More on that number below.)

Steele announced way back in January of this year that she "wouldn't be returning to the school house" because she intended to try again in 2020, "buoyed by her experience as a candidate and what she learned along the way."

I went back to read what I wrote about Aimy Steele in 2018. Based on her personal history, I called her a "wonder woman," but I also acknowledged the giant windmill that an entrenched incumbent like Linda Johnson was going to represent. I titled the piece "Donna Quixote." (Too clever by half. So report me.)

FlipNC just rated the 82nd in its second tier of 2020 most flippable districts, saying they expect Democratic prospects to improve there by 3 points in 2020. I dunno. Michael Bitzer admits that after the most recent remapping, Republican strength is down (a measly) 1.60% in the district, but Bitzer still rates the "Predicted Republican Vote Share" in the newly redrawn 82nd at 55.70%. Still a big windmill. Bitzer rates the district as "Lean Republican."

But look here: In the 2018 election, some 26,484 registered voters didn't bother to show up in District 82 -- a total of 35,960 votes cast out of 62,444 registered voters. Wow. That's an untapped source for any candidate who can stir some enthusiasm among the disaffected, the uninterested, the turned-off voters of Cabarrus. That poor voter turnout in 2018 appears to be not just typical of off-year elections in the 82nd, but plain typical. Turnout was higher in 2016, a presidential year, but not that much higher -- 42,636 total votes cast. Still a lot of disengaged votes left on the table (though clearly, from her losing margin in 2018, Aimy Steele got to some of them).

When Steele launched in January, she told Education Week that she would be using "two of the biggest lessons from the 2018 campaign to guide her this time around: start fundraising early and have a better ground game, with early organization and door-knocking in neighborhoods and precincts." With reference to the first, I intend to contribute to her campaign. With reference to the 2nd, "better ground game" is music to my ears. Retail politics. Knock on those doors of voters who aren't typically voting.

But first, you've got to identify them. I hope Steele has a talented computerized data operative as well as a finance director.

Steele's Website
     "      Facebook
     "      Twitter

Monday, November 04, 2019

Ricky Hurtado Takes Up the Democratic Banner in NCHouse 63


On July 10th I was very keen on Erica McAdoo's running again in 2020 in NC House District 63, because as a first-time candidate in 2018, Erica came within 300 votes of beating a strong Republican incumbent. But McAdoo dropped out of the 2020 race on July 18. Ricky Hurtado, the son of Hispanic immigrants, has stepped forward to take McAdoo's place, and he did so with the backing of NC House members Ashton Clemmons, Graig Meyer, Zack Hawkins, and others.

Numbers guru Michael Bitzer rates the remapped district as "Competitive Lean Republican." The "competitive" part of that ranking likely arises from the district's shedding of some 7.50% of its previous registered Republicans in the most recent remapping. FlipNC.org is a good deal more sanguine about the prospects; they list this district as their number one most flippable seat in the NC House for 2020.

Can the son of working-class immigrant parents, even a man with an inspiring story and a big personality like Ricky Hurtado, do as well as Erica McAdoo did in 2018, and do even better, which is what it will take to overcome first-time-candidate status as well as some baked-in cultural resistance in Alamance County?

Hurtado has an appealing video posted on Twitter in which both he and his wife Yazmin talk straight to the camera about themselves as Burlington natives who went on to distinguish themselves via higher education and productive, community-oriented careers. Don't understand why but so far that video hasn't appeared on Hurtado's Facebook page nor on his website.

Perhaps he'll add policy positions going forward, but so far Hurtado's website is devoid of any issue advocacy. He's a blank slate, and as much as I want to believe that his outstanding eleemosynary involvement in his community makes him the candidate for my values, I'd still like to see a few things spelled out.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

"Stand Against Trumpism!" Democrats Should Forget About Fading to "Pabulum Moderate"


The General Elections are now a year away, and it's a time for high anxiety in both camps. I won't characterize what gives both sides the willies. You know who you are. You know what scares you.

I was reading Rachel Bitecofer's analysis* about next Tuesday's election in the state directly to the north of us: "High Stakes in Virginia General Assembly Election will Preview 2020 Presidential." Bitecofer's a numbers gal, and I generally trust people who work with numbers.
*Rachel Bitecofer has become a political prognosticator to rival Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight. Bitecofer is assistant director of the Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. In 2018 she predicted a 42-seat "blue wave" in the US House. Dems took 40 seats. No one else came close to her accuracy, including Nate Silver. She regularly offers opinions on Twitter.
Bitecofer saw the 2017 Virginia Blue Wave coming. That localized surge heralded the 2018 Blue Wave in the rest of the country. In Virginia in 2017, Democrats picked up some 15 seats in the state House and a handful in the Senate, putting them within single digits of having control of both chambers. Some Trump-lite Republican incumbents immediately went into a political crouch. A few -- enough as it turned out -- flinched on health care, broke ranks to join Democrats in passing an expansion of Medicaid. Many another suburban Republican temporarily forgot the name Trump and showed some bland interest in gun reform. Then what followed immediately? The Virginia Blue Wave of 2018 flipped three US House seats and absolutely buried Senator Tim Caine's hyper-conservative opponent. Scared out of their wits, Republican candidates running up-hill races this year are suddenly going hard right to keep their troops in line. We'll see Tuesday if that tactic worked.

Bitecofer's great discovery (still undiscovered by too many Democratic candidates): It was not suburban Republicans who made the Blue Wave in 2018. It was "a whole different pool of voters" -- largely independents -- who hadn't been voting, or who only voted inconsistently, who suddenly showed up at the polls: "college-educated women; millennials and Gen Z voters; minority voters; and Independents who 'lean' left or at least don’t 'lean' right." What motivated them? "These voters, whether they know it or not, have been galvanized to the polls via negative partisanship because of the election of Donald J. Trump. Trump has shaken into action a sleeping demographic giant...."

In Virginia and elsewhere.

Bitecofer's lesson which some Democratic candidates refuse to learn: Winning over Republican voters doesn't make a wave. Winning new voters makes the wave. Bitecofer: Where Republicans voted in 2018 in huge numbers, they voted for Republicans. Democrats can't and won't win them. It's new voters that Democrats need, and you don't win new voters in the Age of Trump by going "moderate Democrat." The new voters are enraged by Trump. You harness their rage by showing you're willing to stand and fight Trumpism with progressive ideas. You strongly reassert the traditional American values that Trump has shat upon. (If only Dan McCready had believed the Bitecofer data! If only he had gone full progressive warrior, instead of pabulum moderate.)

Here's the Bitecofer revelation about 2018: "...in many districts, especially where the candidates were focusing on being moderate, the Democratic turnout still underperformed its potential, and still underperformed turnout among Republicans...." The pathetic loss in the NC-9 special election in September could have been reversed if Dan McCready had inspired more enthusiasm among non-traditional voters. That's a warning for Cal Cunningham running for US Senate next year.

Basic algebra: If the election of Trump woke a giant, the impeachment of Trump -- and his acquittal by Republican lickspittles in the Senate -- surely won't put the giant to sleep. Will it?

The substance of things already achieved is less than the evidence of things not yet seen.