Open Thread: Martin O’Malley Chooses the Right Targets

John Wagner, at the Washington Post:

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley stepped up his critique of Wall Street excesses here Friday as he began his first swing through Iowa this year with a populist speech to an enthusiastic crowd of close to 300 people attending a Democratic dinner.

O’Malley, who is aggressively positioning himself as an alternative to presumed Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, said that his party “must not allow another Wall Street meltdown to bring down hard-working families.” In a speech broadcast live on C-SPAN, he called for tougher sanctions on banks that break the law and for reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, the Depression-era measure that separated commercial and investment banking…

During O’Malley’s appearance at the Scott County Democrats’ “Red, White and Blue Dinner,” he offered a prescription for “making the dream true again” that includes raising the minimum wage, expanding Social Security benefits, making pre-kindergarten universally available and ensuring equal pay for women. “Sing it with me people,” O’Malley said. “When women succeed, America succeeds.”…

O’Malley’s appearance in Davenport was a homecoming of sorts. He cut his teeth in politics working on Gary Hart’s 1984 presidential bid, spending much of his time in eastern Iowa. As O’Malley has mulled his own White House bid over the past two years, he has poured resources into the state, appearing at 24 campaign events and fundraisers for other Democrats, lending 14 staffers to Democratic candidates and the state party and donating more than $40,000.

Following the address, O’Malley mingled with a few dozen activists from the audience at an Irish bar. O’Malley’s arrival Friday coincided with the publication of an op-ed in the Des Moines Register calling for a greater commitment by his party to Wall Street reforms. “Today, most Republicans in Congress are hell-bent on disassembling the Dodd-Frank Act,” O’Malley wrote, referring to the 2010 law that was intended to help lessen the risk of another financial crisis. ”And too many Democrats have been complicit in the backslide toward less regulation. Seven years after the Wall Street meltdown, Americans are still experiencing the fallout.”

Cold beer and hot attacks on the One Percenters — good old-fashioned Democratic campaigning.

Apart from politics, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Cruz to Skip “Exploratory Committee,” Go Straight for the Grift Top Ticket

Per Theodore Schleifer at the Houston Chronicle:

Sen. Ted Cruz plans to announce Monday that he will run for president of the United States, accelerating his already rapid three-year rise from a tea party insurgent in Texas into a divisive political force in Washington.

Cruz will launch a presidential bid outright rather than form an exploratory committee, said senior advisers with direct knowledge of his plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made yet. They say he is done exploring and is now ready to become the first Republican presidential candidate.

The senator is scheduled to speak Monday at a convocation ceremony at Liberty University in Virginia, where he is expected to declare his campaign for the presidency.

Over the course of the primary campaign, Cruz will aim to raise between $40 million and $50 million, according to advisers, and dominate with the same tea party voters who supported his underdog Senate campaign in 2012. But the key to victory, Cruz advisers believe, is to be the second choice of enough voters in the party’s libertarian and social conservative wings to cobble together a coalition to defeat the chosen candidate of the Republican establishment…

…[C]ritics of Cruz argue that he will have trouble raising high-dollar donations from traditional contributors, will land few endorsements from the nation’s political establishment and be unable to escape comparisons to President Barack Obama, who also ran for president in his first Senate term. And if he advances to a general election, Cruz trails likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton solidly in early public opinion polls.

“I don’t consider him a mainstream candidate, and usually to win you’ve got to be inside the 45-yard lines,” said Greg Valliere, a political adviser to Wall Street firms who believes that if Cruz did earn the nomination, he would not win more than a dozen states in the general election. “The enthusiasm for him will be tremendous in maybe a third of the party, but another third of the party will be strongly opposed and another third of the party will be wary.”… Read more

Fear to defend the ACA

Kevin Drum is a mid-50s guy with cancer.  He is also a daily read for me.  He outlines what the ACA now means to him:

If I lose my job, and Republicans repeal Obamacare, I will be left with a very serious and very expensive medical condition and no insurance to pay for it. And I feel quite certain that Republicans will do nothing to help me out.

Obviously lots of other people are in the same position, and have been for a long time. But there’s nothing like being in the crosshairs yourself to bring it all home. If Republicans win in 2016, my life is likely to take a very hard, very personal turn for the worse.

In a pre-PPACA world or a world where the Republican answer to PPACA is repeal and fuck you, Kevin is uninsurable for anything but a high risk pool plan that will cost him $1,500 a month with $20,000 deductibles and yearly caps of $100,000 or less.  No insurer will touch him if they can medically underwrite policies.

Cancer can hit anyone, and under the Republican plan, a one time cancer diagnosis and recovery screws a person for life.  Under the Democratic current law and future policy plans, that person is not screwed for life.

This is a real and concrete fear.  Use that fear to defend the ACA.

Life Comes At You Fast, Scott Walker

So as far as I can tell, the story around Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker going from “interesting 2016 dark horse” to “steaming pile of horse manure” happened in about 72 hours, and involved tweeting.  It goes something like this:

1) Walker hired GOP consultant Liz Mair as his digital outreach guru on Monday. This was generally viewed as a good idea, since Walker has all the charisma of a room temperature 2-liter bottle of Sam’s Club diet cola.

2) Mair tweeted some stuff about Iowa politics in general and while even Nate Silver agreed with her she was immediately fired.  This was on Tuesday.

3) Liz Mair has a lot of friends over in right-wing blogger country.  She also has a lot of enemies. They got into a big ol’ fight over whether Liz was treated unfairly or if she was a squishy amnesty RINO.  This happened Wednesday.

4) And all this has led directly to today, where conservatives are now openly wondering if Walker should now even bother to continue his campaign:

Forcing Mair out was like amputating your finger to deal with a paper cut. Instead of having a problem with a few Iowans and a writer at, Walker has now baffled his admirers across the right. Mair’s resignation signaled that Walker’s team either didn’t do its homework before hiring Mair, or that it was too spineless to defend her. It is hard to believe the former, since Mair consulted for Walker before during his 2012 recall.

Walker’s unwillingness to defend his own hire will give other consultants and policy experts jitters before joining the team. It totally undercuts his reputation as a tough-minded fighter who stands on principle. And it may contribute to an alternate interpretation of Walker as a ‘fraidy cat. Earlier this month, Walker caved to Iowa ethanol interests by reversing his position on the federal mandate.

The problem, in other words, wasn’t the tweets of a single staffer, but the way Iowa’s parochial concerns act like kryptonite on Walker’s convictions and reputation. He can certainly recover from this, but if Walker thinks his path to the nomination runs through Iowa, he needs to figure out how to win that state’s caucuses without turning into Tom Vilsack before he arrives in Nashua, New Hampshire.

So yeah, apparently last week Walker was somebody who may have been a contender.  As of today, he’s dog food.  It just reinforces the notion that whoever survives So You Wanna Be A Candidate 2016 here is going to be completely unelectable in the general.

Open Thread: The Cutting Edge, Artisanal GOP Grifter

So many grifters, so many marks. Rand Paul, updating his old man’s “political” grift for a new generation… or, as the NYTimes puts it, “Rand Paul Is Capturing an Audience; the Challenge Is Winning Votes“:

AUSTIN, Tex. — While his rivals were slogging their way across New Hampshire this weekend, Senator Rand Paul was here, some 1,700 miles away at the South by Southwest festival, where he was competing for oxygen not with other Republicans but with a Judd Apatow premiere and with Grumpy Cat — the Internet meme, in the fur.

Mr. Paul dropped by a cocktail bar for a concert. He fielded questions in a Twitter “town hall” and almost filled two hotel ballrooms with intrigued festivalgoers who came to hear him speak on Sunday night. His staff made sure it was all documented for his Snapchat followers.

Who is the Republican front-runner for 2016? It is often hard to tell. But there is little debate about who is the biggest curiosity in the race: Mr. Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky, who has been building the most unorthodox campaign for the Republican nomination, bringing his brand of libertarian conservatism to audiences that are more inclined to vote Democratic…

Mr. Paul and his advisers have set a tentative date of April 7 to announce the campaign so they can take advantage of the second-quarter fund-raising calendar, which begins on April 1. Mr. Paul, like other prospective Republican candidates, has found that potential donors are reluctant to give to him until he formally declares a candidacy…

Ore-gonna Get You To Vote

Oregon’s new Governor, Kate Brown, used to be Secretary of State and in charge of voting.  It makes sense that the first major piece of legislation that she’s going to sign is the state’s new automatic Motor Voter registration bill.

Sweeping first-in-the nation legislation making voter registration automatic in Oregon was signed into law on Monday by Governor Kate Brown, potentially adding 300,000 new voters to state rolls.

The so-called Motor Voter legislation will use state Department of Motor Vehicles data to automatically register eligible voters whose information is contained in the DMV system, with a 21-day opt-out period for those who wish to be taken off the registry.

It seems to me that this is brilliantly beating the GOP at its own voter suppression law game.  You want to protect the sanctity of the vote by requiring a state ID like a driver’s license to vote? Fine, then let’s make it so that getting a driver’s license gets you registered automatically. Naturally, Republicans are freaking out over this.

“A one-size-fits-all approach to voter registration does not work for our most vulnerable citizens that could be endangered if their personal information is suddenly made public,” Republican state Senator Kim Thatcher said in a statement.

Maybe Republicans should have thought about that before requiring a “one-size-fits-all” approach to making government information being necessary to vote in two dozen states. Yes, I know a Motor Voter bill like this will never pass GOP state legislatures because the whole point is to keep people from voting at all, but then again this kind of proves the point about GOP Voter ID laws being about suppression, doesn’t it?

Liking Kate Brown already, hasn’t even been on the job for more than a few weeks and she’s already making a difference.

Monday Evening Open Thread: Always with the Grift, GOP

Mike Huckabee is a stone Repub grifter, top-level marketing leader in the Downhome Godly Heartland Folks(tm) branch of the Party.

Tweeter Barney Keller, per the Google…

During his tenure at the Club, Barney helped lead the organization’s issue advocacy campaigns and acted as their primary spokesman. He also served as a political and communications adviser to the Club’s affiliated PAC and Super-PAC, contributing to the election of US Senators and Congressmen, including Senators Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and Ben Sasse.

Prior to joining the Club for Growth, Barney worked for Pat Toomey’s winning Senate campaign, Rick Lazio’s campaign for Governor, as well as the Massachusetts and New Hampshire Republican Parties.

… would seem to be a high-ranking worker bee in the East Coast Wall Street Beltway Establishment Money(tm) branch.

Can we start agitating for a REPUBS IN DISARRAY meme yet?