Harry Reid Won’t Seek Reelection

So the GOP won’t have Harry Reid to crap on after 2016. Well, Reid is an older guy, and he almost lost an eye falling off an exercise-cycle recently, so you can hardly blame him for wanting to retire to whatever godforsaken tumbleweed farm he hails from.

But this is truly the end of an era. Reid could be frustratingly cautious at times and combative when warranted. Overall, Reid played the shitty hand he was dealt pretty well. It can’t have been easy playing opposition leader to a pack of rabid psychopaths.

He was fortunate to win his last election and almost surely would have lost had the GOP not nominated a drooling loon (the “chickens for checkups” lady was the SANE one in that primary) to oppose him. What are the chances the Dems can hold his seat?

The article linked above says Chuck Schumer is Reid’s most likely successor. That sucks. Schumer is way too cozy with Wall Street, and he’ll make a shitty standard-bearer if the Dems focus on income inequality in 2016, which they absolutely must.


[H/T: Valued commenters Raven and Mustang Bobby]

Open Thread: Louie Gohmert Will Not Have Other People “Playing God” on His Turf

Yeah, now it’s officially Silly Season, and it’s not even April Fool’s Day:

Conservative firebrand Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) told The Hill that he might run for president in 2016…

“Conservative firebrand” sounds so much more presidential than Charles P. Pierce’s cruelly accurate moniker for Gohmert: “Emperor for Life of the Crazy People.”

Gohmert indicated he might launch an exploratory committee for president when originally asked if he would support Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) White House bid.

“Ted is a good friend and would be an outstanding President; however, I haven’t ruled out an exploratory committee myself,” Gohmert said in a statement to The Hill

Punk newbie be stealing precious media attention, and on Gohmert’s own Texan turf!

Gohmert is a frequent guest on Fox News and is known around the Capitol for his lengthy, extemporaneous speeches to a usually empty House chamber on weekly basis. He logged the most speaking time on the House floor last year out of any other lawmaker: a whopping 29 hours.

Gohmert’s 29 hours of floor time last year far outstripped the runner-up, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who spoke just 10 hours…

Ah, Steve “Pigslurry” King, another fierce competitor for the Crazy People throne, getting the spotlight just because his pitiful little state has a lock on the early caucuses. Louie Gohmert will not be ignored!!!!

No matter how much of spectacle he has to make of himself, he surely will not be ignored. Per the Washington Post‘s tech section:

It was a fairly sleepy congressional hearing, the last in a two-week marathon of appearances by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler before lawmakers to defend his agency’s net neutrality rules. But then Louie Gohmert chimed in.

Gohmert (R-Tex.), an outspoken critic of the agency’s rules that prevent Internet providers from blocking Web sites or speeding some of them up over others, exploded during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday. His voice rising to a shout, Gohmert threw a stream of accusations at Wheeler, complaining that the FCC had cut off Internet providers’ ability to find new ways of making money.

“Before the FCC came in, everybody could explore new business models,” Gohmert said. “You’re playing God with the Internet … That’s not your job.

“Congress wasn’t asking you to take over the Internet,” he added, referring to the FCC’s congressional charter…

And for all that energy expended, I’ve yet to see so much as a mocking .gif of Gohmert’s tantrum.

Open Thread: Martin O’Malley Goes to Iowa

O’Malley has a reputation as a plugger, and it’s serving him well in a state where the local Democrats have been hungering for some attention. Here’s CNN:

[I]t’s in Iowa where O’Malley must stake his ground. Failure here would almost certainly doom his campaign. But if he manages to do better than expected — or even stage an upset — O’Malley could emerge as a real challenger for Clinton.

Given his reception here this past weekend, there could be a sliver of an opening.

After O’Malley delivered a red meat political speech to a room packed with union workers, Keefer left with several O’Malley political signs tucked under her arms.

“He said a lot of things that I wanted to hear and got me all revved up to get out there and get the vote out for Democrats,” said Keefer, who noted that O’Malley had given her second thoughts about who she might support in next year’s Democratic caucus. “He was wonderful tonight. Just wonderful and I never heard of him.”

A similar scene played out several times over O’Malley’s two-day trip to Iowa this past weekend, as he criss-crossed the state, meeting with influential early Democratic voters. He entered many rooms as a blank slate and often walked out to favorable reviews…

“When you start off as potential candidate for president and your name recognition is low, you have to just go from county to county, from town to town and engage people in order to change that around,” O’Malley said in an interview with CNN following a Democratic meeting in Tipton. “I guess another way to say it is this: Look, it is not unusual for there to be an inevitable front-runner early in a contest who has fantastic name recognition, and is therefore inevitable right up until he or she is no longer inevitable.”

O’Malley said that’s why he spent two days meeting with Democratic voters in both large and small settings in a state that can propel a candidate to the top of the leader board…

At least one reporter, at the Daily Iowan, seems to have been convinced… maybe even a little swept away:

Martin O’Malley can work a room, they say: Whether it’s an expansive hotel ballroom with several hundred in attendance or a dimly lit restaurant and bar over pizza.

He’s careful and precise in his articulation of speech and “someone you can believe in.”

He packs the executive leadership often craved by presidential voters: eight years at the helm of Maryland government and before that as mayor of Baltimore, where, supporters say, he reversed the Eastern industrial city’s decline.

Then there’s his dashing smile, an appetite for tech (he’s an avid user of Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter), and youthful age. Read more

Open Thread: It’s the Little Plutocrats Who Suffer…

Cue the tiny violins, per the Washington Post:

Many fundraisers, once treated like royalty because of their extensive donor networks,are left pining for their lost prestige. Can they still have impact in a world where Jeb Bush asks big donors to please not give more than $1 million to his super PAC right now? Will they ever be in the inner circle again?…

Consider the scene last weekend in South Florida, where top supporters of the Republican National Committee gathered for their spring retreat at a luxury resort in Boca Raton. In the past, members of the RNC’s Regent and Team 100 donor programs attracted the focused attention of presidential aspirants. But this time, there were distractions.

A number of White House contenders in attendance — including former Texas governor Rick Perry and Govs. Scott Walker (Wis.), Chris Christie (N.J.) and Bobby Jindal (La.) — devoted much of their time to private meetings with high rollers, according to people familiar with their schedules. Bush came to Boca Raton after an afternoon super PAC fundraiser in Miami.

Then on Sunday, the governors made a pilgrimage to Palm Beach for a private Republican Governors Association fundraiser hosted by billionaire industrialist David Koch at his 30,000-square-foot beachfront mansion…

This is Good News for Democrats — and even progressives!

Seriously. Remember, the Washington Post is the paper for a company town whose monopoly industry is politics. They have a proprietary interest in every race, off-cycle and on, because it’s the congressional staffers and permanent bureaucrats who rent in D.C. or buy homes in Alexandria. David Koch or Sheldon Adelson may rent a convention center every four years, but it’s the “small” bundlers with the car dealerships and construction companies that keep the Beltway buzzing along.

It’s quite a shift since the bundler system was elevated by advisers to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who rebranded the laborious work of dialing for low-dollar contributions into an elite effort that showered top performers with perks. The Pioneer program, launched in the run-up to Bush’s 2000 White House campaign, gave fundraisers four-digit tracking numbers to measure their performance, with regular reports to show how they stacked up.

“If you put a structure on it, you’re not really trying to raise big money, you’re trying to raise a lot of fundraisers,” said Texas consultant James B. Francis Jr., one of the strategists who came up with the idea. “It created an urgency among money-raisers to get their job done.”…

Say what you will about Lee Atwater’s ethos, the man knew how to motivate. Bundlers busting hump to get their Dubya branding irons & special convention perks are people who are not only donating, they’re voting — and making sure every one of their family members, employees, business associates & fellow HOA board members gets to the right polling place on the proper Tuesday, too.

On the other hand, if Jeb Bush and his fellow billionaire-schmoozers convince their former stalwarts that the GOP just doesn’t care about anyone not already in the .001%… well, there’s a lot of other hobbies a mere multi-millionaire can take up, make a splash as the biggest frog in a smaller pond. The GOP is doing all they can to suppress voter turnout among Mitt Romney’s 47%, but they may finally be reaching the stage of discouraging their own voters.

Coats Of (Up In) Arms

Apparently Indiana GOP Sen. Dan Coats is not running in 2016, meaning there’s an open seat in a Midwest state where Democrats can win a statewide race (the Hoosier State’s other senator is Democrat Joe Donnelly).  That’s the good news.

“Today I am announcing that I will not seek re-election to the United States Senate,” Coats said in a statement. “This was not an easy decision. While I believe I am well-positioned to run a successful campaign for another six-year term, I have concluded that the time has come to pass this demanding job to the next generation of leaders.”

Coats’s decision to retire may set off a Republican scramble for the open seat. While the GOP would seem to have the early edge, it is now another state they must defend in a presidential year where they’re almost entirely playing defense to protect their new Senate majority.

Potential Republican candidates include Reps. Todd Young and Susan Brooks, both of whom have long been viewed as having statewide ambitions, as well as Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and Reps. Todd Rokita, Jackie Walorski and Marlin Stutzman.

An aide to Rep. Luke Messer told The Hill he wouldn’t seek the Senate seat.

The bad news: Democrats need somebody moderate enough to win in Indiana, with name recognition, and enough cash on hand to run for Senate.  Guess who that means might be back?

Their best recruit would likely be former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who chose to retire rather than facing a tough race in 2010 and still has close to $10 million in the bank for a potential return to politics. Bayh has ruled out a run for governor but hasn’t closed the door on a Senate run.

Ahh yes, Mr. No Labels himself. Boy howdy it’ll be fun rooting for him in order to try to get the Dems back in power.

Excuse me while I go find a bucket to puke in.

Wednesday Morning Open Thread

hannibal gop inaugural luckovich

(Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)

Crazy, maybe; stupid, well… Eric Wemple, at the Washington Post:

Here’s some interesting accountability journalism: CNN’s Dana Bash asked Sen. Ted Cruz, a freshly announced 2016 presidential candidate, how his family would get health insurance now that his wife has taken an unpaid leave from her job at Goldman Sachs. “We’ll be getting new health insurance and we’ll presumably do it through my job with the Senate, and so we’ll be on the federal exchange with millions of others on the federal exchange,” the Texas Republican told her.

Yes, there’s irony there, as Bash noted in her interview. Cruz’s statement means that he’ll be getting insurance through the Affordable Care Act, the same law he has committed himself to repealing….

Next issue: Will he take the federal “subsidy” that others on Capitol Hill accept to defray their costs? asked Bash. “We will follow the text of the law,” Cruz said. “I strongly oppose the exemption that President Obama illegally put in place for members of Congress because Harry Reid and Senate Democrats didn’t want to be under the same rules as the American people.” So Bash wanted to know if Cruz would accept the “subsidy.” “I believe we should follow the text of the law,” said Cruz, repeating himself…

A formulation that reminded me of a former GOP stalwart who, despite undergoing surgery to remove cancerous polyps from his colon, insisted that he’d never had cancer. “I had something inside of me that had cancer in it, and it was removed,” he insisted. So, in that sense, I guess you could call Ted Cruz… Reagan-esque.

Apart from more GOP performance art, what’s on the agenda for the day?

Scott Walker, Friend to All Paranoid Conservative Billionaires

Via Mr. Charles P. Pierce, Michael Isikoff has produced a most interesting Yahoo report on his “Scott Walker dark-money probe“:

John Menard Jr. is widely known as the richest man in Wisconsin. A tough-minded, staunchly conservative 75-year-old billionaire, he owns a highly profitable chain of hardware stores throughout the Midwest. He’s also famously publicity-shy — rarely speaking in public or giving interviews.

So a little more than three years ago, when Menard wanted to back Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — and help advance his pro-business agenda — he found the perfect way to do so without attracting any attention: He wrote more than $1.5 million in checks to a pro-Walker political advocacy group that pledged to keep its donors secret, three sources directly familiar with the transactions told Yahoo News.

Menard’s previously unreported six-figure contributions to the Wisconsin Club for Growth — a group that spent heavily to defend Walker during a bitter 2012 recall election — seem to have paid off for the businessman and his company. In the past two years, Menard’s company has been awarded up to $1.8 million in special tax credits from a state economic development corporation that Walker chairs, according to state records.

And in his five years in office, Walker’s appointees have sharply scaled back enforcement actions by the state Department of Natural Resources — a top Menard priority. The agency had repeatedly clashed with Menard and his company under previous governors over citations for violating state environmental laws and had levied a $1.7 million fine against Menard personally, as well as his company, for illegally dumping hazardous wastes…

The contributions by Menard, made in 2011 and 2012, were uncovered among hundreds of emails and internal documents seized by state prosecutors in the course of a wide-ranging criminal investigation into whether Walker’s campaign committee violated state campaign finance laws — including those requiring public disclosure — by funneling large donations to outside, nondisclosing advocacy groups, such as the Wisconsin Club for Growth, with which they were believed to be closely coordinating their efforts, sources knowledgeable about the investigation told Yahoo News

More details, timelines & flowcharts at the link. The Koch Brothers have poured a lot of money into grooming Scott Walker as their 2016 candidate, but it looks like Walker’s political affections can be rented by any right-wing “conservative” with a big enough bankroll and a low enough threshold. To quote Mr. Pierce, at Esquire:

This is Walker’s modus operandi. This is the essential dynamic of his entire political career, although what Isikoff describes demonstrates that Walker’s playing with a bigger stack of house money than has been the case in the past, in which his rise to power was fueled by sad little exercises in penny-ante grifting by the junior members of the firm, like swiping money meant to take war orphans to the zoo so you can treat yourself to a tropical vacation…

… And Scott Walker is the the kind of person who is taken very seriously by about half of the American political elite.