Thursday, November 14, 2019

Deval Patrick and Michael Bloomberg are not going to help their constituency win the nomination

I think both Deval Patrick and Michael Bloomberg are symptoms of the panic within the really rich people faction in the Democratic coalition over both the perceived weakness of the Biden campaign and the perception that Warren seems to have staying power among the front runners.

Sure, Sanders has always been up in the top or second tier, but he was still viewed as a long-shot to actually win. Warren has a more plausible path to the nomination. Warren is not just doing better than Sanders, and she is the second choice for most Democratic primary voters (which is super-important considering that the field will narrow considerably before the majority of Democratic primary voters get their turn to vote). Plus, if you combine the Warren and Sanders support, that puts about 40% of the Democrats supporting as their first choice candidates who are running with an overtly anti-plutocrat message. It is understandable why that would disturb the Democratic-leaning plutocrats.

What is less clear to me is why the rich Democrats didn't throw its support behind, say Cory Booker. Booker is also closely tied to the financial industry. He could easily be the "moderate" (i.e. Democrat who won't raise taxes to institute a single payer system, won't impose a wealth tax, and won't try to regulate the financial industry) nominee. As many have noted, Micheal Bloomberg's campaign is likely going nowhere, but he could have had a much greater impact if he spent "whatever it takes" to support a Booker candidacy instead of running himself. If both Bloomberg and the rest of the moneybags faction coalesced around Booker, he would get an enormous boost, without any of the latecomer liabilities that Bloomberg and Patrick bring to the table. Plus because both Bloomberg and Patrick are running (and other "moderates" like Biden, Buttigieg, and Booker, are still in the race), that faction's vote is going to be divided.

The Patrick and Bloomberg candidacy are a sign of panic within a powerful portion of the Democratic coalition. But it also makes it less likely that that faction will win.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Not surprisingly, not so easy

This is an interesting idea, but I don't think it would work:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will immediately move to hold a trial to adjudicate the articles of impeachment if and when the Senate receives them from the House of Representatives. Article I, Section 3, of the Constitution does not set many parameters for the trial, except to say that “the Chief Justice shall preside,” and “no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.” That means the Senate has sole authority to draft its own rules for the impeachment trial, without judicial or executive branch oversight.

...[A]ccording to current Senate procedure, McConnell will still need a simple majority—51 of the 53 Senate Republicans—to support any resolution outlining rules governing the trial. That means that if only three Republican senators were to break from the caucus, they could block any rule they didn’t like. (Vice President Mike Pence can’t break ties in impeachment matters.) Those three senators, in turn, could demand a secret ballot and condition their approval of the rest of the rules on getting one.
First, it is not 100% clear to me that Trump would be convicted in a secret ballot vote (although secret ballots would definitely increase the chances).

But second, and more importantly, wouldn't the three Republican Senators needed to join the unanimous Democrats to approve a secret ballot be viewed as traitors by the Republican rank-and-file? Sure, a secret ballot on the question of conviction would protect the Senators in that vote from a backlash from the Trump-loyal base. But just getting to a secret ballot would require three Republicans to publicly stick their neck out in a very high-profile vote. Based on the Senator's behavior in the Trump era, I just don't think there are three who would do that.

(via Memeorandum)

Monday, November 11, 2019

Those sloppy Russians!

The NYT reports that the Russian government is meddling in elections all over the world:
But Russia’s forays abroad have been far from flawless. For all its efforts, the operation in Madagascar missed its mark at first, plagued by a startling incompetence and corruption that undercuts Russia’s image as a master political manipulator.

Campaign materials were riddled with grammatical mistakes. Ballpoint pens meant as election giveaways misspelled Mr. Rajaonarimampianina’s name.
Not to excuse election meddling by anyone, but I'm not going to think worse of the Russians for misspelling Heri Rajaonarimampianina’s name.

Friday, November 08, 2019


I do have my doubts about the credibility of "anonymous."  But whether it is the observation of an actual insider or something someone made up because they think it is believable, this part should not surprise anyone:
[N]ormal people who spend any time with Donald Trump are uncomfortable by what they witness. He stumbles, slurs, gets confused, is easily irritated, and has trouble synthesizing information, not occasionally but with regularity. Those who would claim otherwise are lying to themselves or to the country.
On some level everyone who pays attention knows that the President is not mentally competent. Whether it is because of dementia or for some other reason, this account by anonymous just echoes what many others have already said, and what anyone can see in some of the video footage of the President.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

A World Turned Upside-Down

It's pretty crazy just how many otherwise big news stories are getting almost no coverage because our news media is preoccupied by the demented racist who has taken over our government. There have been massive protests in Chile, Lebanon, Iraq, Hong Kong (which has gotten some coverage), Pakistan, Spain, Russia, Egypt, Algeria, Ecuador, Ethiopia, and no doubt more that I've either forgotten or never heard about. The Prime Minister of Lebanon resigned last week because of that country's protests. That would have been a big news story before the giant orange distraction took over our lives.

Not that I'm blaming the American news media for focusing all its attention on Trump. Like it or not, the shit he does is probably the most important thing in America right now. I just try to remind myself whenever I get sucked in that the rest of the world hasn't stopped moving while the U.S. has focused all its attention on its own navel.

Monday, November 04, 2019

I'm shocked that entering a contest run by a grifter turned out to be a grift

About two years ago, I read about an online effort to get people to register for free tickets to a Trump rally and then not show up, producing images of Trump speaking before an empty arena. There have been several of these efforts over the past few years. I don't think any have really worked. But that one two years ago was the first one I saw and at that time I thought it was a great idea. So I signed up. To register, I had to provide an email address to the campaign. I gave my Russian email address. Yes, I have an email address that ends with .ru. I picked it up in Kazakhstan in 2010, and using a clearly Russian address to register was a bonus joke to my attempt to participate in a prank of the President.

As I mentioned, I don't think these schemes for anti-Trump people to grab MAGA-rally tickets have ever worked. I am guessing the Trump campaign massively overbooks the rallies, which means the people who get tickets and don't show are not noticed. The rally I got tickets for two years ago never produced any pictures of empty stands. At least not that I saw. But it did get me on the Trump campaign email blast list. Ever since them, just about every day, and often several times a day, I get emails from the Trump campaign.

These days, I get little else in my Russian email inbox other than MAGA spam. A lot of those messages are contests "donate X amount to the campaign and win a chance to have lunch/dinner with Trump!"I didn't think about those contests very much. Lots of candidates use schemes like that to raise money. But someone looked into it, and it looks like (unlike other candidates' contests) Trump's contests seem to be scams.

Friday, November 01, 2019

not just a tool, he's an ISIS recruitment tool

It's weird to quote the Islamic State, but honestly, this is a pretty effective sales pitch to Americans for a group that otherwise doesn't have a lot going for it anymore:
Don’t you see how you became the laughingstock of the nations, and an old and crazy man controls your fate, whose opinion changes between morning and evening?
That works a lot better than: Join Daesh, after you're killed, your family will be left stateless diseased and half-starving in a third-world prison in the middle of a war zone!