Election 2020 Open Thread: Seth Moulton Drops Out

Rep. Moulton is now free to take my advice (worth every penny I was paid for it!), join forces with Bill Weld, and run against Trump on the venerable, if nearly extinct, New England Republican ticket. But actually, he’s going home to protect his current seat from at least three challengers… and just possibly to position himself for a run at Elizabeth Warren’s Senate seat, should it happen to open up, along with manymanymany others…

Or then again — who knows? — maybe that nice Joe Biden will be looking for a young well-spoken military vet as a VP!

Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts has dropped out of the presidential race, ending a candidacy that emphasized Mr. Moulton’s centrist politics and military service but gained no traction with Democratic primary voters.

Mr. Moulton, 40, said in an interview that he had no immediate plans to endorse another candidate, but he warmly praised former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Moulton announced the end of his campaign in a formal speech before the Democratic National Committee on Friday…

“I think it’s evident that this is now a three-way race between Biden, Warren and Sanders, and really it’s a debate about how far left the party should go,” Mr. Moulton said…

Mr. Moulton said he would also relaunch his political action committee, Serve America, to promote issues related to veterans and the military. Those issues, he said, were not “getting the attention they deserve” in the presidential race…

A combat veteran who served in the Iraq War, Mr. Moulton campaigned on themes of strengthening national defense and promoting public service, and criticizing Mr. Trump for damaging the country’s most vital alliances. In May, he revealed that he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from war, and called for new policies to attend to the mental health issues of soldiers and veterans. Stanley McChrystal, the retired general who led American forces in Afghanistan, endorsed Mr. Moulton’s campaign.

But Mr. Moulton entered the race late, in a strategic choice he now concedes was a mistake. He announced his candidacy in late April, days before Mr. Biden became a candidate and overshadowed much of the rest of the Democratic field.
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Sunday Afternoon Open Thread: Jason Kander Is Doing Well

Not so many months ago, Jason Kander was spending his life on airplanes. The picture of youth and energy, Kander was in demand from Democratic groups across the U.S., a military veteran from middle America making a powerful case for generational change in his party, possibly with an eye toward a 2020 presidential run.

But beneath the swagger, something inside Kander’s head weighed on him — nightmares, paranoia, even suicidal thoughts. Like so many veterans, he was carrying the unspoken burden of post-traumatic stress disorder, and suddenly last fall he detailed his personal struggles and dropped from public view.

Now, Kander is re-emerging with a healthier mental state and a new focus on helping other veterans, leading the national expansion of a program in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, called Veterans Community Project. At the same time he’s easing back into the fringes of politics — doing national TV interviews, appearing with Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg during the candidate’s visit to Kansas City (though he hasn’t endorsed any specific candidate), and talking candidly about his experience reconciling trauma, healing and political ambition.

“I feel the best I’ve felt in a very, very long time,” Kander told The Associated Press. “I’m really enjoying life.”…

Kander’s involvement with Veterans Community Project began as a client. Even with a law degree and years of government experience, he was “a little bit overwhelmed” by the confusing maze of paperwork and bureaucracy as he sought help through the VA. He turned to the group’s outreach center, which matches veterans with needed services at no charge.

Soon, he was volunteering there. The project’s co-founder and CEO Bryan Meyer said that when the organization decided to go national, Kander, who founded the voting rights group Let America Vote in 2017, was a natural choice…

More about Veterans Community Project here.








Beto O’ Rourke Demonstrates a Statistical Concept

Many moons ago in statistics courses as a young, skinny, eager to learn graduate student, we discussed the statistical concept of regression to the mean. I will just put it in layman’s terms, which is that if in statistics you happen across an outlier and subsequent measurements have it closer to the mean, it is known as regression to the mean. Again, I am paraphrasing and not getting into linear regression or any of the more complicated things- you statisticians and math whizzes can clarify anything I have argle-bargled in the comments. At any rate, regression to the mean has a number of colloquial names, one of which is reversion to mediocrity.

Beto O’Rourke really looked like an outlier in his Senate campaign in 2016- people were whispering Barack 2 and there was a huge buzz about him running for President, and blah blah blah you remember the campaign. As time has shown us, running against the most hated man in the Senate who was potentially not only the Zodiac Killer but the son of the man who killed JFK really helped out Beto. Since then it has been a steep decline into a shitty brand of travelogue videos and unforced errors and, well, this:

Which gets me to the point of this post, which is Beto’s announcement today:

Non-military households would pay a “war tax” to help cover the health care of veterans of newly-authorized wars under a plan Beto O’Rourke’s campaign unveiled Monday.

The former Texas congressman and 2020 Democratic presidential contender’s proposal is part of a series of health and economic measures aimed at improving care for veterans.

O’Rourke is in Tampa on Monday for a veterans’ roundtable, where he is expected to discuss his plan for the first time. It comes before the Democratic field holds its first debate Wednesday and Thursday nights in Miami.

O’Rourke is also calling for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with half the money currently being spent there redirected to programs for veterans of those wars.

Money collected through the “war tax” — which he is proposing for future wars — would go into a new trust fund for veterans established at the outset of each war.

I will fully admit that I have not kept up with everything that has oozed out of Seth Moulton’s piehole or followed Tulsi Gabbard’s grift in detail, so I can not say this with 100% certainty, but this is the dumbest fucking thing that I have observed any Democratic candidate propose this election cycle. It’s so stupid I’m sure I can’t cover all the ways it is bad.

First and foremost, we already have a crisis with our military- it’s been volunteer for so long that we now have generations of professional soldiers with children who are now professional soldiers, and it has become the family business. On top of our already jingoistic authoritarianism that is so prevalent (fucking every sporting event is brought to you by the military/industrial complex, military discounts, sappy commercialism, fucking spots at Lowe’s reserved for veterans, and all the other bullshit), we’ve gotten to the point that a number of soldiers and veterans ALREADY think they are better than the rest of the country. That’s bad.

Second, non-military families already pay a war tax, and it is called THE FEDERAL INCOME TAX.

Third, we already set aside money for special things. Perhaps you have heard of social security. That money is safe and secure, right?

And on and on and on. Maybe Beto thinks this will slow down future calls for war. He’s wrong. Only one thing, and one thing only, will do that- bring back the draft.

What he is proposing is a bad idea. Only someone not qualified for President would look at this and say “sure, that makes sense.” Only someone manifestly unfit to be President would then PRESENT THE IDEA AS HIS OWN. Just stop sending fucking people off to pointless wars and stop electing Republicans who want to cut VA funding and privatize it. The End.

***

So Beto O’Rourke, as it turns out, is very fucking average. And I don’t say that as an insult. I consider myself a very average person. I remember a conversation I had last year with my doctor when he was talking about blood pressure medicine and rare possible side effects, and I just stopped him and told him- “I’ve discovered over the years that I am a very average person. What I mean by that is if a drug, or exercise regimen, or rehab plan, or basically anything works for 95/100 people if they follow it, it will work for me. I’m never one of the 5/100 who has complications.” Everything about me is rather unremarkable- even my blood type is O+, the most common blood type there is. I have very average goals in life, I have very average interests. My intellect may be a little above your average bear, but I have made up for that with decades of booze and a degree in street pharmacology, with a little laziness and by being easily distracted by pretty things and animals.

And I am perfectly ok with that! I know I sound angry a great deal, but it’s because I am usually ranting when you read me, but for the most part I am very happy and content and ok with my lot in life. I like blending in, I like not being the center of attention. I lived with some overachievers in undergraduate- guys who were in student government and fancied themselves leaders and wanted to be the best at everything and you know the type. Went off to be lawyers, work on Wall Street, try to conquer the world and the like. They all are 50-51, just quit their jobs because they are burnt out and miserable, and are really struggling trying to figure things out- what do I want to do, where do I want to live, how do I find meaning, all that kind of shit. I try to tell them to get some dogs and a garden and some birdfeeders and to live more in the moment and stop worrying about what other people think, and if they really want to be humbled and gain some perspective on their place in the universe, get a cat. But they don’t listen and are talking about STARTING A NONPROFIT or GOING TO CULINARY SCHOOL or GIVING BACK.

So average and mediocre aren’t insults- it’s the norm. And it is ok.

Unfortunately for Beto, though, we don’t need an average President. So maybe just pencil in some time for skateboarding or haircuts in 2020. I also hear there is a Senate seat in Texas you could run for.








Independence Day Planning Open Thread: Get Your Tee Now!

Of course, his minions will do their best to protect Lord Smallgloves from knowing about this. But when the MAGAts are faced with the conundrum of choosing between ‘defending Dear Leader’ and ‘supporting Our Sacred Military’… well, if it’s actually possible for heads to explode, Garden State Fireworks and Fireworks by Grucci may have some competition on the National Mall!








Foreign Affairs Open Thread: Which #@%^ Keeps Queuing Up ‘Moldy Oldies’ on the History Channel?!?

Is there a ‘President Eisehower face-palm’ gif out there somewhere?


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