Took a look around, see which way the wind blow

Whenever I see an interesting article about a possible Democratic presidential candidate, I’m going to put something up about it here. Unless it’s Joe Biden or Bernie, I think they’re too old.

Here’s a brief one, by George Will of all people, about Eric Garcetti, mayor of LA. I don’t agree with Will on much in general (and don’t appreciate the swipe at Obama), but I think he’s right that being a mayor of a big city is at least as challenging as being a Senator or the governor of a small state. And I like the argument in favor of sanctuary cities.

I’d been ignoring Garcetti because I had him mixed up with the previous mayor of LA, whom I don’t like.

Tell me about any interesting articles about possible presidential candidates in the comments!

And let’s raise a little more money for the DLCC, which is doing a great job helping Democrats take back the state houses.

Goal Thermometer

Get your back up off the wall

Great article by Emma Roller on how Dems need to focus on more than just the presidency:

On Tuesday, Julián Castro became the first somewhat-well-known Democrat to semi-officially toss his hat into the ring…

Julián Castro declined to run for governor of Texas probably because he didn’t think he’d win, and if that’s true, it’s because the Texas Democratic Party is broken. Someone like Castro absolutely would do more good for more people by trying to fix or rebuild the Texas Democratic Party than he will hanging around Iowa for the next two years.

I have nothing against Castro. I hope he becomes the first Latino president of the United states. I don’t know yet if I’ll support him in the 2020 primary. I’m excited about all the possible candidates, except Joe Biden.

But I’d be more likely to support Castro if he’d run for governor.

You lose 100% of the races that you don’t enter.

To me, that’s all the more reason to support Beto O’Rourke, who is running for Senator in Texas. He may not win but he’s doing the right thing, he’s building the party. And if he wins, well, it’s the biggest in Texas politics in quite a long time.

Goal Thermometer

Same goes for Gary Trauner, running for Senator in Wyoming, which is even tougher. He’s a great candidate who almost won a statewide race before. Plus, he’s a Balloon Juice reader.

Goal Thermometer

By the way, we’ve now raised a little over 31K for progressive candidates this year alone. I know this sounds crazy but we are on pace to raise 250K in 2018, and 325K for the 2018 cycle (we raised 75K in 2017). Thanks everybody!

So What’s Our Story?

Over the weekend, Paul Ryan’s now deleted tweet about the woman in Lancaster, PA whose extra $1.50 per week will cover her Costco membership got a fair amount of attention (here and here, for example). I know this went pretty far and wide, since my daughter showed me that it was showing up on her social media feeds, which (unlike mine) aren’t all (or even mostly) politics. So “the millenials” know that Ryan is a clueless twit and that his party’s “tax cut” isn’t enough to pay for one night of drinks at a cheap bar.

The logical follow up to this is a few simple, straightforward words about what Democrats will do differently. How does this sound: “Once we have Congress and the White House, we will roll back the Trump tax cuts on the 1% and give that money to the middle class.” I think it sounds pretty good, but I’ll be god damned if a mainstream Democrat can say it without a bunch of mealy-mouthed qualifications.

So, in 2018 and 2020, are we going to run on something people care about – cutting their taxes, giving them more services (including Medicare for all) and making the rich pay for it? Or is it going to be another year of 100 page position papers with 50 different little proposals that nobody can understand?

That’s an honest question, not a rhetorical one. And, if you’ve seen some good Democratic messaging from one of the many good candidates who’ve stepped up for 2018, please tell us about it in the comments.

You got me running, you got me searching

In keeping with my idea that Democrats don’t talk up their young rising leaders enough, I’d like to run occasional pieces about Democrats who might run for president in 2020. The one I’m most familiar with Gillibrand, so I’ll start with her. I realize she’s controversial but I like her. Here’s a good profile from 538:

So what to make of this impressive litany of flip-flops, her ease in changing her mind? It would appear that Gillibrand is a Democrat above all else. As the party has shifted left, so has she.

In other words, she is good at politics, if by politics we mean sensing the direction of the populace, capturing their sentiments in rhetoric, turning that rhetoric into votes, fundraising off those votes, gaining power and popularity, running for re-election, winning, and doing it all over again.


In the last week of a hard-fought 2006 election to Congress, a police report about a domestic violence incident involving Gillibrand’s Republican opponent surfaced. Gillibrand, New York Magazine later noted, “has never denied that her campaign was the source of the leak despite being asked about it several times. She defeated Sweeney by six points.”

I don’t have time to do a lot of posts so I’m fundraising in all of them. Let’s bust through our goal for Conor Lamb in PA-18.

Goal Thermometer

Release The Memo Metastasizes

The release the memo attempt to discredit the career prosecutors at the DOJ and agents and analysts at the FBI, as well as personnel in the US intelligence community, has metastasized as Special Counselor Mueller’s investigation has gotten closer to the President.

There is now a fake British GCHQ surveillance request memo making the rounds. This is not the Nunes’ memo, which was created by Congressman Nunes and his staff by cherry picking information from classified materials provided to his committee by the DOJ and FBI in order to implicate the DOJ and FBI in some sort of conspiracy against the President. The fake GCHQ memo appears to have been mainstreamed from an article here that is just a hot mess.

I know it is hard to read, but if you look closely at paragraph 3 you can see a reference to MI5 agent Michael Steele.

This is Michael Steele:

He’s from Maryland. Was the Maryland lieutenant governor. He also used to be the chair of the Republican National Committee and is now a contributing political analyst at NBC/MSNBC.

This is also Michael Steel (no finale e):

He was a senior advisor for the Jeb! 2016 campaign, was Speaker Boehnnor’s spokesperson, and is also a contributing political analyst for NBC/MSNBC. They do try not to book them at the same time so as not to confuse anyone (because they were clearly separated at birth!).

This is Christopher Steele:

Christopher Steele is the retired MI6 officer, and former head of their Russia Desk, who was hired by Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research during the 2016 campaign.

One final note, MI5 is Britain’s domestic security service, roughly equivalent to the FBI. Michael Steele, Michael Steel, and Christopher Steele never worked for MI5.

Aside from this easily debunked mess of a forged GCHQ request memo, apparently the FBI Special Agent Strzok and FBI attorney Page saga has also metastasized. According to Senator Johnson, he has whistleblower testimony that there is a secret society within the FBI. And it was meeting off site from FBI headquarters to plot something having to do with preventing the President from becoming the President or to overthrow him now that he is President or something. The FBI secret society conspiracy theory developed out of text messages sent between Strzok and Page on their work phones while having an affair during the 2016 election. My best guess is someone overheard Strzok and Page, who were planning to get together, because they were having an affair, with reference to their “place” or their “secret place” or their “secret site” and decided that 2+2 = 763. Or it may be that Senator Johnson is just making it up completely.

And, because where would we be without an Alex Jones-Rush Limbaugh meeting of the minds, Jones did a show yesterday claiming to have Nunes’ memo. What Jones actually had was a 99 page declassified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinion in regard to Section 702 violations. It has been declassified and posted online since April 2016 and served as the basis for several breathless conspiracy mongering articles by John Solomon and Sara Carter in an attempt to gin up an Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign scandal. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court memo says no such thing. It is basically a catalogue of 702 violations, when they happened, by which agency, and the Court’s position on what needed to be done to rectify the violations. That’s it. (This is also a good example of just how the oversight rules for Section 702 work and what the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court does when violations are discovered.)

Limbaugh has decided to follow Jones’ lead and gone full tin foil (Never go full tin foil! Unless you’re a baked potato.) He’s now claiming that the deep state fabricated the WMD intelligence to destroy President Bush (43). And that this somehow ties into support for President Obama, who was a state senator at the time, and President Obama’s conspiracy with former FBI Director Comey to protect Secretary Clinton and sabotage the current President and his campaign. Or something like that, because honestly I’ve read the transcript three times and I’m still not sure I’ve got it right. I’m beginning to wonder what is actually in those cigars Limbaugh smokes all the time.

What we’re seeing here is an attempt to throw every type of wild, crazy, and half baked conspiracy theory at the wall in an attempt to discredit the Department of Justice, the FBI, the US intelligence community, and by extension Special Counselor Mueller and his team. We now know, because Fox News reporters actually did reporting, that it wasn’t just the information on Strzok’s and Page’s FBI issued Samsung work phones that wasn’t captured by the DOJ/FBI information archiving system. Rather thousands of cell phones issued to FBI personnel had the same problem.

Just don’t expect to see this get much coverage after 5 PM on Fox News. Or by Limbaugh. Or by Solomon and Carter. Or on Sinclair’s local news media holdings. Or mentioned by any GOP members of the House Special Committee on Intelligence. Or by members of the House Freedom Caucus. Or Senator Johnson. The closer it appears that Mueller is getting, the more of this insanity we’re going to see. I honestly never thought I’d live long enough to see Republican elected and appointed officials, as well as their proxies from a variety of conservative organizations, media outlets, and think tanks turn on the FBI and the US intelligence committee. If they ever figure out that 16 of the 18 agencies within the US intelligence community are US military agencies, I expect they’ll finally turn on the troops. Or their heads will explode.

Updated at 5:50 PM EST:

Commenter lgerard makes a good catch that I’d missed. The source for the fake GCHQ memo is Hal Turner:

Hal Turner, a former FBI agent who worked with the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) between 2003-2008, explains that contacts in the international Intelligence Community (IC) provided him with the leak.

“In that role, I worked with many people in the Intelligence Community (IC) including folks in the military and law enforcement, in many countries around the world.  The relationships I forged with these folks endure to this day.

“Thanks to my contacts in the IC, I have now obtained the TOP SECRET MEMO from inside British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) proving the facts laid out about above concerning spying on President Trump.”

Stay frosty!

Open thread.




Expanding the electorate

Two pieces of good news today.

First in Florida:

And then in Michigan:

Open thread

Medicaid as a cost savers

Matthew Martin makes a very cogent point about CHIP reauthorization yesterday:

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored CHIP as a deficit reducer over ten years because the CBO figured that if there was no CHIP, some parents and kids would access Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies. Those subsidies would cost the government as much or more than CHIP to cover fewer people.

ACA plans tend to pay their networks somewhere between Medicare and Commercial rates. CHIP tends to pay somewhere between Medicaid and Medicare rates for their doctors. This matters a lot. I am touching back on a recent Health Affairs article on what a standard office visit costs by type of insurance.

Medicaid pays significantly less per unit of service than an Exchange plan. That means the total premium for an identical risk pool is substantially less for a CHIP/Medicaid program than for an Exchange based program. And since states and individuals often kick in a higher percentage of premium for CHIP the Federal costs are significantly lower.

Covering more people through Medicaid or CHIP buy-in is a net expense reducer for the federal government. States may scream unless there is an adjustment to the matching funds rate as right now people who are covered on the Exchange cost the state budget nothing and moving people to CHIP or Medicaid would shift significant costs to the states.