Thursday Morning Open Thread: Elizabeth Warren Is Having A Moment

Yes, I would be embarrassed by my obvious selection bias, but right at this moment in time it’s easier to find interesting stories about Warren than about her worthy competitors. So, if you have links to share concerning Harris, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Booker, O’Rourke, Gillibrand, et al — even Joe Biden! — please leave a comment, or contact me at annelaurie (dot) bj (at) gmail (dot) com, TIA.

(Besides, the alternative for today’s early-morning uplift was the Steve King / Diamond & Silk ‘press conference’ fiasco.)

Paul Waldman, at the Washington Post, “Why Elizabeth Warren is surging”:

Overinterpreting small movements in polls is always dangerous, but if she does continue to rise — and right now she looks like one of the only Democratic candidates who is gaining support — there are some particular reasons why, reasons that may help us understand what primary voters are thinking and how the media are shaping the race…

… Warren, a senator from Massachusetts, is drawing some of the largest crowds as she campaigns across the state. Those attending her events testify to her skill in winning people over, her ability to describe policy challenges through effective storytelling, and her seemingly inexhaustible energy and enthusiasm.

Then there’s the role of the media. For a variety of reasons, Warren has become the favored candidate of the liberal opinion-writing elite. Even those (such as myself) who aren’t endorsing any candidate have been complimenting Warren for a while, writing and talking about her in ways that may be having an impact on how everyone else sees her and her candidacy…

There’s something else Warren has that wins respect from those who have covered lots of campaigns, and winds up producing better media coverage in subtle ways: A clear, coherent message of the kind most of the other candidates are lacking.
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Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Be Of Good Cheer (Srsly)

The Repubs have a decompensating narcissist who only took his current position with the help of voter suppression and foreign money… and they’re all too terrified to challenge him. We have half a dozen excellent candidates, and several perfectly competent backups. Also, people like confidence!


And this would be bad… because?!?








Late Night Open Thread: Nice “Work” If You Can Get It…

Jon Chait, NYMag, “Why Are Republican Small Donors So Easy to Swindle?”:

Republicans have long complained, usually in private, that their fundraising apparatus is overrun with fraudsters. National Review’s Jim Geraghty has a column, “The Right’s Grifter Problem,” saying what many of them have been whispering. Many of President Trump’s most publicly strident loyalists are in the business of raising money for political projects that spend virtually all their funds on operating expenses…

Grifters go where the marks are:

A former pro football player who serves on the National Rifle Association board was paid $400,000 by the group in recent years for public outreach and firearms training. Another board member, a writer in New Mexico, collected more than $28,000 for articles in NRA publications. Yet another board member sold ammunition from his private company to the NRA for an undisclosed sum.

The NRA, which has been rocked by allegations of exorbitant spending by top executives, also directed money in recent years that went to board members — the very people tasked with overseeing the organization’s finances.

In all, 18 members of the NRA’s 76-member board, who are not paid as directors, collected money from the group during the past three years, according to tax filings, state charitable reports and NRA correspondence reviewed by The Washington Post.

The payments received by about one-quarter of board members, the extent of which has not previously been reported, deepen questions about the rigor of the board’s oversight as it steered the country’s largest and most powerful gun rights group, according to tax experts and some longtime members…

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Open Thread: Save the Iowans – Kill the Caucuses!

There are supposed to be no fewer than 19 presidential candidates at the Cedar Rapids Democratic Hall of Fame Dinner this weekend, so there are liable to be some embarrassing anecdotes that don’t involve Steve King…

Campaigns are costly affairs, both financially and emotionally, and Iowans pay the price for this without receiving the benefits. Presidential campaigns cause burnout among volunteers and voters alike, and they fail to make any lasting contributions to our state while they’re here.

Being able to get a selfie with whichever presidential candidate is in town doesn’t outweigh this cost.

In the 2018 midterm elections, I spent a majority of my time volunteering for Abby Finkenauer’s congressional campaign. Her campaign was exciting — a 29 year-old progressive woman against an incumbent Tea Party Republican. I couldn’t have felt more energized.

Not everyone felt the same.

When I would call or knock on the doors of other Democrats to ask them to volunteer on the campaign, I was frequently told that they were still too exhausted from the 2016 caucuses to get back into politics.

MacKenzie Bills, a lifelong Iowa Democrat currently working for the State Department, explained that the situation is basically unavoidable.

“While there’s a great diversity of political ideologies in Iowa, there’s just not a lot of people here,” she said. “Campaigns today are very metrics driven. In order to get the numbers that they want in our small state, you have to try to get as much out of each person as possible.”
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Slowly at First, and Then Suddenly: How the Trump Election Conspiracy Unraveled

This weekend, the New York Times published a stunning report about a plan floated by a longtime emissary for the Saudis and the UAE in early August 2016, when Trump had just grabbed the GOP nomination but faced an uphill campaign against Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump Jr., aide Stephen Miller and Erik Prince, founder of the notorious mercenary outfit once know as Blackwater, listened intently as the emissary offered Team Trump millions of dollars in assistance, including a covert social-media campaign, to help Trump win that would be run by a former Israeli spy who specializes in psychological warfare, or psywar.

“The emissary, George Nader, told Donald Trump Jr. that the princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president,” the Times reported. Some key elements — exactly who was behind the plan, and what parts, if any, were carried out — remain murky.

But like a lot of Trump scandals, the smoke from any alleged fire was clearly visible. Nader became a Trump ally who met frequently with key players like then-national security adviser (and future felon) Michael Flynn. He also, according to the Times, later made a large payment to the ex-spy Joel Zamel, as much as $2 million. After Trump was elected, Erik Prince attended a then-secret meeting in the Seychelles believed to have been brokered by UAE to cement ties with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. After Trump became president, American foreign policy has been almost unwaveringly consistent in fighting for the foreign policy goals of nations believed to have supported his 2016 election: Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE — most notably with Trump’s rejection of the Iran nuclear deal that is seriously destabilizing the Middle East. These dealings increasingly appear to have benefited the Trumps and Kushners not just politically but financially — even as they are not helpful, and even counterproductive at times, to the American people whom Trump was allegedly elected to represent.
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