Senate Minority Leader

Just a Question About “Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government”

I feel kind of silly because I can’t figure out―

In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government ― a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity. The public has a right to know this information. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public. There is no danger to American interests from releasing it. And yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information.

―if Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) just dropped a headline. It is, to be certain, a breathtaking maneuver by FBI Director James Comey to so deliberately unsettle the presidential election, and Mr. Reid seems rather quite upset by the circumstance. Still, though, what am I missing? Because the bit about “coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government” just begs for attention. Please do, sir, tell us more.

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Reid, Harry. Letter to James Comey. 30 October 2016.

Reilly, Ryan J. “Harry Reid Blasts FBI Director James Comey Over Handling Of Clinton Email Probe”. The Huffington Post. 30 October 2016.

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A Sour Grape of Wrath (…?)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).Something about market demand goes here. To the one, it is easy enough to mourn last month’s midterm election. To the other, sure, there is certainly some custom suggesting the dignified thing to do would be to move on. The beeblebrox, however, might suggest that the machinations of history during any given period are defined by the contemporary literary record. And if we want a fourth to raise while we sit around licking ourselves we might also wonder whether future considerations of our own contemporary literary record will account for marketplace demand in the context of various interests attempting to shape the historical record.

To wit, it is one thing to consider a legacy of history, another to attempt to manipulate our own legacies as we live our lives. And it is another thing altogether that our society includes a cottage industry dedicated to the shaping of historical narratives.

msnbcRepublicans might have been better off – which is to say, they would have ended up with a more conservative outcome – if they’d actually compromised and taken governing seriously in some key areas.

But McConnell thought it’d be easier to win through scorched-earth obstructionism.

Again, as of next month, he’ll be the Senate Majority Leader, so maybe he doesn’t care about the substantive setbacks. But for all the GOP gains at the ballot box, it’s Obama, not Republicans, moving a policy agenda forward.

(Benen)

The question of punditry takes on an interesting context when experts in subjective rhetoric enjoy increased marketplace demand while actual expert consultation faces public sector hostility.

But it is all ultimately part of the same narrative. Mr. Benen might sound akin to grasping at straws, but the 2014 midterm really was phenomenally demonstrative of something. Nobody is certain just what, but consider this context within the narrative: What does playing the centrist game get liberals? Trounced by rightist extremism.

Really, though, just how liberal are Democrats? Really?

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Benen, Steve. “Mitch McConnell and the limits of scorched-earth obstructionism”. msnbc. 1 December 2014.

Abrams, Lindsay. “House Republicans just passed a bill forbidding scientists from advising the EPA on their own research“. Salon. 19 November 2014.

Mitch and the Mailers

A Kentucky GOP mailer intended to deceive voters in the 2014 election.

Narratives.

Detail: Eric Lewis, "Animal Nuz #223".  1 November 2014.  Via Daily Kos.Eric Lewis certainly shows confidence, titling his latest installment of Animal News (#223), “Buh-Bye Mitch Edition”. And whatever we might believe about the polling, the averages, the aggregators, the modelers, year-six elections, or Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s advantage in the numbers heading into election day, it really does seem as if the incumbent’s campaign senses greater insecurity in those numbers; of all the close races leading toward what is predicted to be a Republican triumph, the senior senator from Kentucky has one of the most visible advantages.

Then again, he did fall back to trying to cover his Social Security gaffe with an astoundingly innovatinve campaign argument: “I’m not announcing what the agenda would be in advance.” Far be it for us to pretend to be any arbiter of all things, but something seems amiss about that formulation.

And that would have been what it was, except, well, Lewis has a point with is sensational “headline”:

Senator McTurtle’s illeglally deceptive mailer is just one of many signs his campaign is starting to panic.”

(more…)

The Future, Revealed?

Jobs, jobs, jobs ... j'abortion!

We might for a moment pause to recall 2010. Republicans achieved a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, but the real story was in the state houses, where the GOP made astounding gains by hammering away at the economic instability their Congressional partners worked so hard to create.

And then they tacked away from jobs. As Rachel Maddow memorably put it, “Jobs, jobs jobs … j’abortion”. State-level Republicans passed record numbers of anti-abortion bills, knowing that most of them were unconstitutional. And it is certainly an old conservative scheme, to tilt windmills, lose, and then bawl that the sky is falling because the Constitution is Sauron and Democrats and liberals the armies of Mordor.

With many predicting a Republican blowout in the 2014 midterms, some are looking ahead to figure out just what that will means in terms of policy and governance. And some of those are Republicans.

Yet there is a week left; perhaps this isn’t the best time to be telegraphing the Hell they intend to call down upon the Earth.

Or, as Lauren French and Anna Palmer of Politico explain:

Conservatives in Congress are drawing up their wish list for a Republican Senate, including “pure” bills, like a full repeal of Obamacare, border security and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline — unlikely to win over many Democrats and sure to torment GOP leaders looking to prove they can govern.

Interviews with more than a dozen conservative lawmakers and senior aides found a consensus among the right wing of the Republican Party: If Republicans take the Senate, they want to push an agenda they believe was hamstrung by the Democratic-controlled chamber, even if their bills end up getting vetoed by President Barack Obama.

Their vision could create problems for congressional leaders who want to show they aren’t just the party of “hell no.” And while conservatives say they agree with that goal, their early priorities will test how well John Boehner and Mitch McConnell can keep the party united.

Two points: Swing voters can’t say they weren’t warned. And conservative voters complaining about gridlock should admit that’s what they’re after.

(more…)

A Fallacy in Motion

The President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Charles Lipson is a walking fallcy, a professor of political science who prefers to use that credential that he might promote crackpot theses that ignore the details. To wit:

Charles LipsonWhen presidents become unpopular, they are no longer welcome on the campaign trail. They’re trapped in Washington, watching their party abandon them. It happened to Lyndon B. Johnson, whose presidency collapsed amid protests over Vietnam. He left Washington only to visit his Texas ranch and assorted military bases, where he gave patriotic speeches to silent battalions. Richard Nixon, drowning in Watergate, was confined to Camp David and a few foreign capitals, where he was greeted as a global strategist. Jimmy Carter, crushed by the Iranian hostage crisis and a bad economy, stopped traveling beyond the Rose Garden.

Now, the same oppressive walls are closing in on President Barack Obama. He is welcome only in the palatial homes of Hollywood stars and hedge-fund billionaires or the well-kept fairways of Martha’s Vineyard.

Well-written, indeed, if it was listed as fiction. But it’s not, and that means it’s a fraud.

The simple fact is that President Obama is avoiding states where Democrats are running competitively but against the odds. To wit, why would Alison Lundergan Grimes want President Obama onstage with her? She’s running against one of the most powerful Republicans in the country, Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader who has so botched his handling of the Senate Republican Conference that Grimes can even run close.

Lipson’s criticism about palatial homes is unusual; most political science professors would suggest it very unwise to ignore rich donors during an election season, but Lipson would prefer you believe otherwise because it helps his poisonous narrative. Christopher Keating noted that Obama’s second trip to Connecticut in a week—a scheduled rally—was cancelled because, well, he’s the president and has a job to do. You know, ebola and all that. The palatial home Lipson refers to would appear to be in Greenwich, where Obama spoke at a fundraiser for Gov. Malloy.

The president is also welcome in Wisconsin, hoping to boost support for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke.

One wonders what the political science would say of someplace like Kansas? Would the president’s presence in the Sunflower State help or hurt Democratic gubernatorial challenger Paul Davis? Given that the incumbent Republican presently has the slightest edge in an otherwise dead heat (less than a percent), the question might be how Gov. Sam Brownback found himself in such a weakened position that he must actually face the possibility of losing. Then again, it’s not much of a question: Brownback and his Republican allies have wrecked the states finances.

In that context, it’s hard to lose faith in Obama if one never had any.

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Yet Another Republican Disaster

The face of corruption, a Ron Paul devotee.

“I’m sort of holding my nose for two years because what we’re doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand in ’16, so that’s my long vision.”

Jesse Benton

Okay, this is what you need to know about the above quote: Jesse Benton is married to Ron Paul’s granddaughter, worked on the former Texas congressman’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, and left the service of Rand Paul in order to work for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Like a turkey in the headlights.A former Iowa state senator, Kent Sorenson, has pled guilty to charges that he accepted a bribe to abandon his endorsement of and services as state campaign manager to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN06), in order to endorse and work for the Ron Paul campaign.

Mr. Sorenson has named Mr. Benton as a participant in arranging the bribes.

It would seem that what he did for McConnell that will help the junior senator from Kentucky in his 2016 presidential quest is be running the campaign for the senior senator from Kentucky’s re-election when the bribery scandal finally catches up to him.

After a while, it’s kind of like the stories about how everyone else but Dr. Paul wrote those racist newsletters with his name on them. What is it with this family, its political ambition, its willingness to rile people over the traditional corruption of politics, and apparently astounding accidental associations among anfractuous allies?

Y’know. As the saying goes, just sayin’.

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Weigel, David. “Mitch McConnell’s Campaign Manager Resigns After Being Ensnared in Iowa Ron Paul Scandal”. Slate. 29 August 2014.

Your Quote of the Day: McConnell Bites

Like a turkey in the headlights.So Steve Benen gets the early nod for your Quote of the Day, and yes, it is fair to say, “Oh, for ffff―! Boo! Hiss!”

But hearing Mitch McConnell complain about Capitol Hill dysfunction is a bit like hearing Uruguay’s Luis Suarez complaining about biting in soccer. It requires a failure of self-awareness that’s almost too staggering to contemplate.

I mean, really. Talk about going with the obvious. But, yes, Mitch McConnell is complaining about dysfunction in the United States Senate.

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Benen, Steve. “Mitch McConnell and ‘a new level of dysfunction'”. MSNBC. 25 January 2014.

Hulse, Carl and Adam Nagourney. “Senate G.O.P. Leader Finds Weapon in Unity”. The New York Times. 16 March 2010.

Marcos, Cristina. “McConnell: Obama’s bill-signing pen is ‘starting to rust'” The Hill. 24 June 2014.