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I’ve been wondering what John Delaney’s endgame was here and now that it happened I should have guessed all along. Dude was auditioning to be a FOX News Democrat and now he is one. Congratulations John! I look forward to years of “the Democratic Party left me” more in sorrow than in anger type commentary. Not sure how that makes sense with a guy who became a Congressman like five years ago but okay. It’s a living I guess…oh wait the guy’s a millionaire why’s he even bothering with this shit. Is not being able to be a Republican in this day and age really that unbearable, John?

We’ll always have this though!

Lev filed this under: ,  

The ascent of Boris Johnson has been grimly fascinating, and comparing it to Trump’s is instructive. When Trump attained his quadruple bank-shot election without even managing to win over a plurality of the electorate, the reaction was a swift (and still enduring) “Hell no!” There’s never even been a moment where the broader public has been interested in trusting him, and his approvals have been terrible (though stable) for his entire run. Johnson has similarly been installed in office without the assent of the larger part of the electorate, but the predominant reaction from even the more progressive side of the spectrum there has been to give him a shot, and he’s gotten a poll bump. This is a mistake. Johnson is a known quantity and thinking that he might surprise everyone is just going to give him a freer hand to cause disaster.

This is already clear. Johnson wants to eliminate the Irish backstop from the EU’s offered exit deal. Okay. It is a kludge. But it’s a kludge necessitated by the sloppiness and poor planning of the Brexit side. Considering the effects of Brexit on Ireland never happened, even though part of Ireland is in the UK, and short of re-establishing a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland—which would be a disaster that nobody wants—it’s the next-best solution. It’s hardly a leap of logic to imagine that the sort of person who would be a big Brexit supporter—white, English, nationalistic, xenophobic, older—is the sort of person (probably in many cases the exact same person) who views Ireland with paternalism at best or even outright bigotry at worst. It wasn’t all that long ago that Ireland was the big bogeyman among these folks. The notion, the very idea, of a small island with backward people (so backward that they somehow manage to be ten spaces higher than the UK on the Human Development Index) could dictate the affairs of a great nation has just got to be galling to them. So the backstop must go as an affront to British autonomy. The thing is that the Brexit folks don’t have any alternative to it. There are vague whispers of some sort of magic sensor technology that would solve the problem, but I don’t regard these as serious. Essentially, the Brexit people have a major obstacle standing in the way of their glorious revolution, and no idea on how to deal with it.

Enter Boris Johnson, whose behavior has been typical. He’s tried to bully the Irish PM into capitulating. The Irish PM has not played ball. He does, after all, have to look after Irish interests, which technically Johnson is also supposed to be doing (at least of his part of the island) and he’d rather have an actual solution to the problem foisted upon him. Also, Johnson has no leverage over him. The next predictable step has been for Johnson’s buddies in the right-wing press to unleash a fusillade at Varadkar, the Irish PM, but you really have to wonder if this is even supposed to sway him. What does an Irish politician care if English papers are roasting him? I can’t see how it would hurt him and would probably even help him, though in all likelihood this is probably more to give Brexit supporters a new villain in the ongoing reality show they’re presenting, just to shake things up a bit. The thing is, again, that Johnson has no leverage. If you’re trying to get someone with leukemia to give up their respirator and you promise them instead something hypothetical that you assure them is going to be just as good, they’re not going to give up that respirator! You can scream as loud as you want, it’s not going to happen, and only someone so delusional over their inherent superiority would believe otherwise. I guess we’ll see what the next turn is but it’s hard not to get the impression that this is Johnson’s plan. Bully, attack, that’s it. That’s all he does, it’s all he knows. It’s why the Brexit people love him. But how is this supposed to get him to where he wants to go?

Honestly, given that most Brexiteers don’t care about Ireland (or Scotland, or even Wales), one wonders why it is that they don’t just kick Northern Ireland and be done with it. It would solve the problem! There is the small matter of the government maybe falling if Northern Ireland joins the Republic of Ireland I suppose, but perhaps it will come to that anyway in spite of the risks. Not sure how that would count as a “win” for Johnson though. One would hope that a Johnson-led Brexit would finally destroy the notion that the class system is anything other than an obnoxious fraud. Certainly having it identified with the embodiment of that failed system should make the connection easier to make.

Lev filed this under: , ,  

Tom Steyer is finding it hard to get people to donate to his $100 million ego trip of a campaign. I’m so utterly shocked to hear it. Indeed, it was totally unpredictable that somebody who wasn’t a big name came in and promised to spend a lot of his own money wouldn’t find a lot of people on ActBlue willing to put up a few dollars toward his run. It’s almost as though this wasn’t all that well thought-out.

This does get at one major truth of our current era of ultrarich donor dominance of all our politics: the vast majority of big-dollar political donors are contemptible people who have ulterior motives. Some don’t, but most do. I had kind of thought Steyer didn’t but then he had to make it all about him by running and saying dumb, Howard Schultz-ian things about how we shouldn’t tax Beyonce. What’s sad is just how much this bunch of megarich dudes just gets personally hurt by all this talk of inequality. So sad. Really, it is.

Lev filed this under: , ,  

It’s an important question given that Harris’s public record so far has put her squarely on the left of the Democratic Party, more or less in the same ideological space as Sanders and Warren. So why would Wall Street support her to the extent that they do? The best I can come up with is that they figure she might pick up the phone when they call while Warren and Sanders won’t, and that if someone on the left has to win they would rather it be her. At least that’s what I’d be thinking in their place. I’m not sure it’s a reason in and of itself not to support her because it isn’t even about anything she’s done herself, but I’d rather have someone who I know is not picking up the phone when Jamie Dimon calls.

Also I’m not sure it’s accurate to say that Biden even is the establishment candidate. Whatever his fundraising, his endorsement count is pathetic. Admittedly Trump getting the nomination was proof that the oversimplified The Party Decides thesis promoted by the media that holds that endorsements = the nomination is not correct but it’s simply not the case that the top levels of the party have any sort of preference for him. To be sure, it’s easy to see him in this role since he does actually seem to truly believe in the shitty ‘80s DLC sellout brand of the party and defends it often (and usually ineptly). But having barely more endorsements than the rest of the field despite still leading in the polls for the nomination and against Trump says a lot.

Lev filed this under: , ,  

I get why Beto thought that the presidential race was the place to be: a soft frontrunner in Biden, a big field lacking in the sort of energy and charisma that the guy clearly has, and little chance of success in a repeat run for the senate in Texas. But O’Rourke is definitely this cycle’s Jeb! Guy started with big hype and expectations and now his only hope is an Iowa shocker, which I do contend could still somehow happen, but let’s be frank: it’s pretty unlikely. Dude acted impulsively in running when there were plenty of reasons not to: the only criteria to evaluate him on was his bad House voting record (tailored to running statewide in Texas), and the guy really had nothing to offer beyond the emotional aspects of the Obama campaigns. (Does nobody remember that Obama was a ruthless operator when he was a candidate, and that when he was governing everybody wished that candidate Obama would return?) When those weren’t enough he had nothing. And after he (most likely) flops out of the contest, what does he do next? Mayor of El Paso? Hope for a cabinet berth that would be a total act of charity? Not a lot of future for a presidential candidate who comes in with big expectations and then just flops. Maybe he’ll work for his rich father-in-law and try to gentrify his hometown again. As if that sorry episode doesn’t tell you that he’s basically just another Bill Clinton in waiting.

It’s kind of sad because he did actually do a good job running against Ted Cruz. All Democrats loved him for that. Shame he succumbed to the white man’s curse of trying to rule the world.

Lev filed this under: ,  

I never thought for a second that Mueller testifying before Congress would change a thing and that’s now obvious. What might change things is if Nancy Pelosi changes her mind and decides to start actually trying to generate conflict with the Trump Administration. Conflict gets people engaged, but Pelosi (and to be fair, most Democrats of her generation, which is still almost to a person the dominant force running the party) just hates conflict for historical and complicated reasons. She’ll do it if she has no other choice, like in 2005 with the Social Security privatization fight, or this year with the government shutdown. In all fairness, she handled both of those situations well. But during her first speakership she avoided conflict with Bush. Less surprisingly she avoided conflict with Obama with only one real exception: the TPP, which is telling. That thing was so fucking toxic that no Democrats wanted any of that shit. But other than that, she backed the Obama Administration to the hilt on all of their worst-conceived ventures, from Libya to cutting Social Security benefits via chained-CPI. Woman just hates political conflict. She wants to cut deals and go behind the scenes. Admittedly she likes to wield a rhetorical flamethrower but talk is cheap. Actions matter. And the choice this term, as in 2007-8, to avoid conflict is a bad decision by a person who apparently can’t learn from her mistakes.

And so it is that the greatest congressional floor leader of our times is arguably the worst political strategist of our times. She’s ideologically wedded to the assertion that the public will see through the flash and pomp of the other side and reward quiet competence, which it never has. (Not for nothing but flash and substance not mutually opposed.) Meanwhile she avoids any meaningful conflict, which is the only way to get media attention and to get normal people to care about what’s going on. That so many Democrats are bewildered that their “lets avoid fighting with Trump” strategy has made them completely irrelevant is why we need a liberal tea party. Like, yesterday.

Lev filed this under: ,  

I read a great book a few years ago,?A Spy Among Friends. It’s a bit of a Trojan horse of a book: it fools you into thinking it’s about spies and traitors and all that but really it’s about the British class system, and it was completely successful in getting me to utterly despise it on a gut level. The book is about Kim Philby, the British MI6 agent who was all the while a spy for the Soviet Union. I was vaguely aware of his story, mainly from John Le Carre’s?Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which was inspired by the case. But Le Carre (who blurbed the book) actually kind of lightened Philby’s story for his own book, obviously to make it more plausible. In Le Carre’s book, the Philby character actually had a seemingly great career, albeit one due entirely to the KGB, who always ensured he blew operations they didn’t care about, and sabotaged ones they desperately needed to fail. In real life, Philby’s career was one failure after another. Even fake, manufactured victories didn’t even happen. Philby’s career didn’t even look good on the page, and yet he was regularly promoted and groomed for better things because he was posh. And what’s more, a number of people figured him out before he was finally figured out for good (and tacitly allowed to defect), but these people were invariably of a lower class than Philby, so their arguments and facts were easily ignored. Hell, the news of Philby’s defection winds up being a cathartic moment, as his many defenders suddenly have to answer for their disastrous actions in defending a murderous traitor. Well, somewhat.

Boris Johnson isn’t a traitor like Philby. But there are similarities. At every turn he has been protected by the very same class system that protected Philby, one that has rarely taken a critical look at him (because that would require doing the same of themselves). He displays, constantly, the sophistication and intellect of an average twelve year old boy.?He is manifestly unsuitable to hold power of any sort, as proximity to it has already clearly begun to change him into an even more reckless asshole who acts with impunity and this will continue to develop, without a doubt. But none of that matters. Indeed, it’s simply a fact that the British class system alone has handed him power, given the makeup of the Tory party membership. The voters certainly haven’t. And almost everything we’ve heard about Boris’s intentions is completely insane, particularly given that the man has zero electoral legitimacy. But he’ll no doubt get praised for being bold and audacious and then the UK will be laid waste by a no-deal Brexit and won’t that be nice!

Also, I’m pretty sure that Boris is much dumber than Trump. Don’t let the accent fool you.

Lev filed this under: , ,  

This apparently:

One particularly fraught issue surrounded the promotion of DCCC staff member Tayhlor Coleman, an African American woman whom Bustos tapped to head up a minority outreach initiative. Some Democrats were puzzled by the move because Coleman had previously served in the committee’s finance division and had last done outreach work in 2016, before joining the DCCC. Some also raised concerns about seemingly biased tweets she had sent nearly a decade ago while in college; Coleman apologized after they?received attention?in the conservative media earlier this year.

First off, never tweet. Secondly, back when I was a conservative I didn’t say bigoted things because I didn’t feel bigoted things, which was no small part of why I ultimately felt I didn’t fit in there. The Iraq War was basically just an updated version of the white man’s burden and the genteel racism of it beautifully complemented the intense grassroots right-wing bigotry toward Arabs that was obvious even then, but that is another story. Thirdly, just wow. I’ll admit that I don’t fully understand why people hate Cheri Bustos so much from reading this article but not fully understanding it says something in and of itself. There are some people out there in the world whose actual misdeeds are fairly minor but who are so totally tactless, tone-deaf, and ultimately clueless that they seem to have a talent for pissing people off by not doing much of anything at all. That’s what the Post‘s story reads like to me.

Bustos is not as old as the current leadership generation of the Democratic Party, which is almost entirely people born during or just after WWII, but these people are all going to be gone real soon and they’re going to want to try to put in place proteges who are younger than they are but who have the exact same ideology and propensities as they do. Joe Crowley was one such before his shock defeat by AOC destroyed his political career. Bustos definitely seems like another: lip service toward greater representation while not doing very much of that, standing by noxious (and connected) friends like Dan Lipinski and just generally the sort of low-ambition underachieving politics that lets us settle with someone like him, and a set of reactions for dealing with teh base from ignoring to placating of actually listening to them. Luckily for us she seems altogether toxic and incompetent to a degree that one wonders what kind of power she’s really going to be able to accumulate. The gossip I’ve read is that the intention is for her to take Dick Durbin’s seat when the old Obama mentor/AIPAC Hall of Famer leaves the stage, but running the DCCC is the sort of job that’s theoretically supposed to catapault you to greater power by accumulating chits for you to cash later, and in the case of Bustos she’s presiding over an ugly implosion that the media is covering as a major story. Couldn’t have happened to a better person.

Also, who thought it was a good idea to pick a No Labels person for a forthrightly partisan position? I guess the prospect of playing nothing but defense running the DCCC did not have all that much appeal to anybody better. Needless to say that the DCCC is a bad organization and while I don’t know that the “systemic reform” that is being proposed will fix it, you never know.

Lev filed this under: , ,  
 
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