Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Excellent Choice, Ms. Abrams!

Per the Washington Post:

Abrams, speaking at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades in Las Vegas, announced a 20-state voter protection initiative, using her experience challenging voting laws during her gubernatorial campaign last year in Georgia, which included widespread irregularities.

“We’re going to have a fair fight in 2020 because my mission is to make certain that no one has to go through in 2020 what we went through in 2018,” Abrams said…

The effort, expected to cost between $4 million and $5 million, will target 20 states, most of them battlegrounds in the Midwest and Southeast, and three states with gubernatorial elections this year: Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi…

In past election cycles, campaigns and state parties tended to wait until the start of general election campaigning to put together voter protection programs, which were often dismantled after elections. But with ongoing efforts by Republican state lawmakers to pass more restrictive voting laws, Groh-Wargo said, it was important that Democrats start working now to be ready to help voters navigate potential hurdles. Similarly, some states, such as Michigan and Nevada, have recently passed laws to expand access to voting, and party leaders and activists in those states need to make sure voters can take advantage of the changes…

The majority of the program will be run by Fair Fight PAC. Depending on the campaign finance laws of individual states, Fair Fight will make direct cash donations or will help groups raise money to hire staff, set up voter hotlines and develop public information campaigns…

Read the whole thing — it’s really uplifting!


Read more








At This Point, Michelle Goldberg Is the Only Reason to Read the NY Times Op-Ed Page

She’s a national treasure:

Trump Is a White Nationalist Who Inspires Terrorism – Don’t pretend his teleprompter speech changes anything.

Surrendering to political necessity, Trump gave a brief speech on Monday decrying white supremacist terror: “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.” He read these words robotically from a teleprompter, much as he did after the racist riot in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, when, under pressure, he said, “Racism is evil — and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs.”

Back then, it took about a day for the awkward mask of minimal decency to drop; soon, he was ranting about the “very fine people” among the neo-Nazis. Nevertheless, on Monday some insisted on pretending that Trump’s words marked a turning point. “He really did set a different tone than he did in the past when it comes to condemning this hate,” said Weijia Jiang, White House correspondent for CBS News.

If history is any guide, it won’t be long before the president returns to tweeting racist invective and encouraging jingoist hatreds at his rallies. In the meantime, everyone should be clear that what Trump said on Monday wasn’t nearly enough. He has stoked right-wing violence and his administration has actively opposed efforts to fight it. Further, he’s escalating his incitement of racial grievance as he runs for re-election, as shown by his attacks on the four congresswomen of color known as the squad, as well as the African-American congressman Elijah Cummings. One desultory speech does not erase Trump’s politics of arson, or the complicity of the Republicans who continue to enable it.

Just the facts. Not prettying it up in both sides bullshit to appease the fascists.








Friday Morning Open Thread: Lining Up the Votes

My junior senator and my personal rep have joined the choir:

Clark actually took over Markey’s old job when he switched from the House to the Senate. You’d think calling for impeachment would be a relatively low-risk stance here in the People’s Republic Commonwealth, but both of them are big worriers about cybersecurity, and I’ve gotten the impression they’re suspicious Trump would further encourage Putin’s IRA to interfere with our elections down to the local levels if he feels threatened. If that’s their viewpoint, better to protect the state-level firewalls and drag out the discussions until closer to November 2020.

Counter-argument about Mueller’s ‘ineffective’ appearance from former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, for Politico“Actually, Robert Mueller Was Awesome”:

In the long view, the verdict of history depends most of all on Mueller being seen as nonpartisan, measured and above the fray—an operator whose work is unimpeachable and can be relied on (now, or after Trump’s term, or years from now) as a bulletproof statement of fact. So all the little details of the case that members were trying to ferret out pale in comparison to his ability to maintain that status and be seen as a reliable agent of impartiality. During the hearing, that was clearly his goal. In doing that, he succeeded, and history can thank him for it…

His monotonal yes and no answers might not have made for the most dramatic viewing, but they weren’t without effect. In five minutes, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff walked Mueller through the most damning details of Volume 1 of his report. Mueller’s answers were short—“that did occur,” “accurate,” “that is correct”—but what he affirmed was that Russia engaged in a systematic effort to help Trump win in 2016, that Trump and his campaign welcomed Russian aid, and that Trump lied to the American people about his business dealings in Russia.

When Mueller wanted to say more, he did. He described in detail the threat posed by the Russian attack on our electoral process, testifying that “they’re doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it during the next campaign.” He warned that “many more countries are developing the capability to replicate what the Russians had done.” When Mueller had the rare opportunity to testify about matters that were not partisan—matters that should concern all Americans—he testified freely and strongly.

At times, Mueller faced harsh questioning from Republicans who lashed him and his team as biased or worse. His calm demeanor was another sign of his professionalism. It would have been easy for Mueller to fight back—he has in previous appearances, after all—but that would have pulled him into the fray. It was not weakness but rather quiet strength that caused Mueller to do nothing more than calmly reply, “I take your question,” in response to GOP Congressman Louie Gohmert’s hyperbolic charge that he “perpetuated injustice.”…

… Mueller got to say what he wanted to say, which is that there is “substantial” evidence to support counts of obstruction, without being forced to say that he concluded Trump obstructed justice. Despite hours of questioning by dozens of members of Congress, Mueller was never backed into a corner or forced to explain the most important legal decision he made.

Even if some think Mueller has lost a step since he last appeared before Congress six years ago, he still looked a step or two ahead of most of his questioners on Wednesday. Most importantly, he appeared above the fray, cautious, and fair in the face of bitter partisan rancor. That is what we should expect from prosecutors, and it is the legacy that Mueller leaves behind.

But it’s not really about Robert Mueller…








MuellerWars Open Thread: Good for Evan Hurst & Wonkette

This is a gem, and also completely true:

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now. A lot of the Robert Mueller testimony was boring, especially in the House Judiciary Committee. Mueller seemed old (he turns 75 in two weeks) and, true to what he said he was going to do, he declined to answer a lot of questions, staying within “the four corners of his report” and letting it “speak for itself.” And with that, we have acknowledged and given the proper respect to every VALID right-wing criticism (and too-cool-for-school leftist criticism) that exists. It did not send the thrill up the leg, and in our American culture, which demands shiny things in order to keep its attention, it fell kinda flat…

Beltway journalists (some of them, at least) were also so booooooooored, like are we there yet?

Are you hearing all this stuff and giving in to an inclination to agree that yesterday was just terrible and the Democrats are terrible and Robert Mueller was the worst and now you’ll never get your pony?

Stop it.

As former DOJ official Chuck Rosenberg said on MSNBC not long after the Judiciary Committee hearing, “There’s a difference between exciting and important. There are things that are exciting that are not important, and there are things that are important that are not particularly exciting.” Yesterday’s hearings were important. And if you slogged through all of it — even the boring parts — some really crucial things came out, some of them for the first time.

We can start with Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler’s opening five minutes, which really covered most of the ground that the hearing on obstruction of justice needed to cover. In rapid fire questioning, Nadler had Mueller confirm that Donald Trump and his minions are lying every single time they say the investigation found NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION and TOTAL EXONERATION. Mueller also added a new phrase to the lexicon: “Does Not Exculpate.”

Nadler also had Mueller confirm that Donald Trump can absolutely be prosecuted for his crimes after he is dropkicked out of office, though it didn’t really resonate at that point, because we guess half of America hadn’t had its coffee yet. It was under questioning from GOP Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, where Buck seemed just FLABBERGASTED at that notion, and asked Mueller to repeat himself. Did you really just say our shithole garbage king could be LOCK HER UP-PED after he has been de-throned?…
Read more








Open Thread: Barney Frank Should Live A Thousand Years

[For the record: I had this in draft *before* BettyC’s last post.]

In the New Yorker, Isaac Chotiner — who is usually smarter than this — get his lunch handed to him: “Barney Frank Defends Nancy Pelosi from Her Critics“:

To discuss the state of the Democratic Party, and Pelosi’s leadership, I spoke by phone on Monday with Barney Frank, the former congressman, who represented his district in Massachusetts for more than three decades in the House before retiring, in 2013. He is best known for his outspokenness and his role in crafting the eponymous Dodd-Frank Act, which sought to regulate the financial industry after the crash last decade. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed why he thinks the criticism of Pelosi is unfair, whether there is a divide in the Democratic Party, and his belief that this dispute is not really a generational one.

What have you made of the internal split between Pelosi and some of her members?

I’m disappointed by it. I think the first thing to say is that it is not nearly as big a split as people think. They are a fraction, a splinter. The overwhelming majority of the Democrats agree with [Pelosi]. Frankly, I think there is a conspiracy among Ocasio-Cortez, the media, and the Republican Party to make her look much more influential than she is. Every time I debate a Republican, they want to talk about them. And I think, in fact, that there is not such a big splinter. There have always been, on the Democratic side—Howard Dean, etc.—people who are very passionate and are frustrated because reality isn’t as pliable as they wish. They are people who I think make the fundamental mistake—I often agree with them on substance—but they make the fundamental mistake of thinking the general public is much more in agreement with them than it is, and forget about or just reject the notion of trying to figure out how to get things done.

I agree with you that Ocasio-Cortez represents a minority of the Party, even though I think she is probably fairly similar on politics to [Bernie] Sanders and [Elizabeth] Warren, who I think combined make up a somewhat—

No, here’s the fundamental difference. I said I agree with a lot of them on substance. The issue is not substance. I have worked very closely with Elizabeth Warren. The fundamental difference is that these people—certainly Ocasio-Cortez—they appear to think that the majority is ready to adopt what they want, and it’s a strategic and tactical difference.

Elizabeth Warren would never have had a sit-in protesting Nancy Pelosi. It’s a matter of how you go about things. It is their view that the only reason that their platform isn’t being adopted is the political timidity, maybe the malign influence of money. The notion that there is significant political opposition among many people, including maybe a majority on some issues, they disregard that and denounce other Democrats, saying they don’t have the courage. It’s not the courage. We don’t have the votes sometimes. Sanders did that a little bit more. Elizabeth never does that…

I understand not wanting to do impeachment, even if you think the President deserves to be impeached. I understand—

By the way, two-thirds of the House Democrats agree with [Pelosi].
Read more