consultants are sandburs

Saturday, March 17, 2018


Strib local coverage, not a wire feed:

Local Liberians rally to salvage deportation protection program - As program expires, many cite jobs, deep ties to Minnesota, By Mila Koumpilova, Star Tribune staff, March 16, 2018

Liberians in Minnesota are making a last-ditch push to save a little-known deportation reprieve program, lobbying on Capitol Hill and issuing a plea to local employers.

The March 31 expiration date of the program, which has allowed natives of the West African country to stay and work in the United States since 2007, has spurred anxiety in one of North America's largest Liberian enclaves. Community efforts led U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, a Republican, to team up with Democrats in the state's congressional delegation in urging the Trump administration to extend the program — called Deferred Enforced Departure, or DED.

[... Trump administration] decisions make DED's prospects murky, local Liberians say, even as they tout the program participants' deep community ties and outsized role in the metro's workforce in nursing homes and other health care sectors.

"We all live in fear," said Christina Wilson, a north metro DED recipient. "We don't know what will happen after the 31st."

With a bachelor's degree in management from her home country, Wilson started work as a nursing assistant at the Saint Therese Senior Services home in New Hope more than 15 years ago — a job she says she fell in love with. She sent money to her three children, who stayed back in Liberia with their grandmother.

In 2007, several years after Liberia's civil war ended, former President George W. Bush ended TPS for Liberia but allowed those in the program to remain on DED.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services doesn't know the number of people in the program, but back in 2007, the agency estimated about 4,200 Liberians would be eligible. Some community leaders in the Twin Cities believe as many as several thousand live in the metro, primarily in the north suburbs.

Dan Cadman, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, an influential Washington, D.C., group that advocates for reducing immigration, says it's time to end DED as well. [...] "Despite the idea that DED is a 'temporary' reprieve, it has existed for years and years — something not lost on the American people, and exactly the kind of thing that erodes confidence in the rule of law," Cadman said.

Local Liberians counter that after years of living legally in the United States, DED recipients are deeply enmeshed in the Twin Cities community. Some run small businesses and have children who are U.S. citizens.

Jamie Gulley, president of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, says more than 1,000 of the union's 35,000 members are Liberian, including Wilson, and that at least several thousand Liberians work in health care locally.

The union doesn't know how many rely on DED, but members are anxious about the expiration date. [...]

"These members are a vital part of our health care system," Gulley said. "This would have a pretty significant impact on the care Minnesotans rely on."

BOTTOM LINE: The strong Liberian presence in the nursing home 24/7 care segment is necessary for that segment of workforce need to be met.

Nursing home attendant work is not the appealing high-paying jobs the Trump alt-right whining middle-age white male folks whine over being lost in the U.S. of A. It is work they would not take. It is shift work, it is dealing with grandma and grandpa who might not have any remaining good control of body function, and handling other people's soiled Depends and assisting elderly when needed in toilet function gets done, thanks in large measure to regular hard working Liberians who within their sub-community have come to concentrate in nursing home care in a greater proportion than they represent, state wide.

Readers having kin in an elder care facility likely already understand the problem the Liberian workers face. The understanding needs to become more widespread. Other media outlets beyond Strib should inform themselves of the situation's dimensions, so that the public in general could be better informed.

The Strib article mentions Paulsen and Ellison on board; so where's my Rep. (for whom I never voted but am stuck with), Sir Thomas Emmer who is in DC in the House with a vote.

Readers, lobby Emmer to join the effort, please.

In Anoka, [HD 35A], one of the more recently built and well managed facilities is The Homestead, a VOA facility between the Anoka Northstar stop to the south and the former county mental homesite, north of The Homestead. It is expanding its facilities and the range of care offered in parallel with the body of elderly in the metro area needing to make the hard decision that it is time to give up general housing and enter a care-giving situation. The Homestead also offers intermediate care for those between hospitalization and return to home and regular activity. Liberian workers assist both functions.

Readers presently unfamiliar are urged to visit and talk to human resource people at The Homestead or another elder care site, to ask about the dependence upon Liberian workers within that segment of the job force. It would be an eye-opener for many.

Also, we are not talking about only low skill workers. In fairness to the range of skills within the Liberian community beyond attendant work, there are those who have attained nursing credentials. The Homestead employs several Liberian nurses, including one who is a wound care specialist nurse from within the metro Liberian community. However, it might be that those with advanced skill sets have an easier path to citizenship and permanent residency. It is those relying on DED who are on tenterhooks.

With the impression that Rep. Emmer and Stanley Hubbard are conversant with one another, getting either concerned would help getting both on board - Emmer in the House, Hubbard in media-information areas.

The situation needs attention and humane reactions. The Liberian workers themselves have sometimes for years been residents in our county and in the workforce while not accorded permanent residence status. The decade and a half of elder care work of Ms. Wilson as highlighted by Strib is but one instance. A caring view is that even apart from the compelling need for the work they do it is humane and decent to help lessen unnecessary stress within the Liberian community. Then, viewed from the lens of what they mean to the expanding elderly population of the metro area, there is more cause to support their remaining in country.

Please help.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Trump and Zinke's wad of sickos.

Strib carrying a March 15 AP item. If they be such macho thrill killers they should junket to Afghanistan and hunt Taliban enemies, who would shoot back. The government could park the killer drones. Let Bawana Rayn, the Trump sons, and their rat pack of deranged rich men do it. Sad.

Going international in attention and coverage are States with top-two mixed primaries where two Democrats or two Republicans could reach the general election, with the Economist taking notice.

Online here, with readers urged to read the item.

After describing the Texas CD 07 District, Democrat side, via use of very neutrally worded reporting, the Economist continues:

Ms Fletcher, who is backed by Emily’s list, will probably win the run-off in the seventh district. But the DCCC’s intervention is likely to have two consequences in the run-up to the mid-terms. Ms Moser’s campaign is now more likely than ever to highlight and inflame divisions between the progressive and establishment wings of her party. And further afield other candidates in crowded fields may be emboldened to continue their campaigns, even if their party tries to dissuade them.

This will not stop party strategists from trying to weed crowded fields, though.

Take California, where the stakes are particularly high. In the primary on June 5th the two candidates who garner the most votes in each district will go forward to contest the general election, no matter which party they represent. That means that in a crowded contest Democrats could split their votes, so that only Republicans go forward. In a district in San Diego four Democrats are running to replace Darrell Issa, a Republican who is retiring (a fourth dropped out last week citing concerns that a crowded field would play into the hands of Republicans). East of Los Angeles eight Democrats want to replace Edward Royce, another retiring Republican.

Daraka Larimore-Hall, the state party’s vice chairman, made a speech aimed at congressional candidates who are polling below 10% at its convention last month. “If you step aside today to make sure we don’t send two Republicans to the general, you will be my hero,” he is reported to have said. “If you put your career before your party...I will not support you for fucking dogcatcher.”

Reflecting on the recent past the Clintons most surely put personal ambition ahead of the good of the party and its having a future, and while neither seems inclined toward catching or able to catch a dog, a like attitude could extend to both and beyond to Chealsea, who is younger and more fit. The entrenched innner party types, beltway ones in particular, likely harbor a mirrored dislike toward Bernie, but he ran for a party in the hole, deeply so, to have a future, and they'd rather keep ambitions; the future be damned. There is Biden.

Bernie attracted massive crowds of young enthusiasts for whom his agenda resonated. The Clintons held fundraisers for moneyed ones to whom her agenda represented no threat, (and as it turned out, no promise). The two most unpopular candidates of all of America's history were offered. It was Lesser Evil redux, it was same old same old, and people wanting better stayed home. Is there a lesson about Biden?

This is for those liking understatement; The Nation (all links in original):

The defining characteristic of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for too many years now has been its well-honed ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Drowning in conventional wisdom, disconnected from realities on the ground, and instinctively inclined to react to Republicans rather than to set its own agenda, the DCCC is such a bumbling enterprise that even the chairman of the Democratic National Committee recently distanced himself from its so-called “strategies.”

When DNC chair Tom Perez was asked his opinion of a ham-handed move by the DCCC to circulate selectively edited and disingenuously framed opposition research against Texas Democrat Laura Moser, a popular progressive running in the party’s crowded primary in the Houston area’s 7th Congressional District, he replied: “I wouldn’t have done it.”

Like a gyroscope spinning so fast it never deviates from its axis in space-time, Paul Ryan spins about the Conor Lamb victory. It's good to see the insincerity of the effort showing, but it is not the spin I want to see from Ryan.

I want to see the spin on a November Wednesday subsequent to a Randy Bryce Congressional election win, First District of Wisconsin. That is the one that would light my Schadenfreude.

But awaiting that cherished event, there is this:

Paul Ryan says Conor Lamb, who ran against the GOP tax plan, ran “as a conservative”
I asked Paul Ryan to explain a major contradiction in the GOP’s Pennsylvania spin. He cut me off.
By Tara Golshan Mar 14, 2018

The Pennsylvania special election should be a wakeup call for Republicans, but all House Speaker Paul Ryan has is some excuses.

On Tuesday night, Republican House candidate Rick Saccone failed to secure a win in a special election for a Pennsylvania district that went for Donald Trump by 20 points in 2016. The race stretched into Wednesday afternoon, when Democrat Conor Lamb, a 33-year-old former Marine, officially won the race in a stunning upset. Pennsylvania law does not mandate a recount in district-level elections.

Yet Ryan said he wasn’t surprised by the results. Lamb ran as a “conservative,” he said.

“The candidate who is going to win this race is the candidate who ran as a pro-life, pro-gun, anti-Nancy Pelosi, conservative,” Ryan said at his weekly press conference in the Capitol.

It’s one of a long list of justifications Republicans have rattled off to explain Saccone’s performance: from deriding Saccone’s electability to saying the Pennsylvania 18th was a Democratic district in the first place (it’s not), or that eventually voters would see the benefits of their economic policy.

Pennsylvania uncovered an uncomfortable reality for Republicans, who tried to push their tax cuts in this race, with outside groups spending more than $7 million largely on that message. Lamb, as moderate as he was, didn’t try to mirror Republicans on their agenda.

I tried to ask Ryan about this Wednesday morning: How can it be that tax cuts are a winning message and that Conor Lamb, who ran against the GOP tax law, is winning because he was a “conservative”?

Ryan, apparently growing tired at this line of questioning, cut me off and refused to answer.

[...] Republicans were ready to ward off any insinuation that the Pennsylvania special election was a bad omen for November.

GOP staffers said Saccone was a bad candidate, despite the 60-year-old state legislator and military veteran seemingly having a similar track record to that of many elected Republicans.

Strategists said he was an unorganized campaigner who failed to adequately fundraise.

[...] It’s true that Lamb’s campaign outspent Saccone’s and had a much more robust fundraising effort. But money wasn’t an issue for the Republican candidate, who saw more than $7 million spent in his name from a variety of outside groups.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy noted that the district had more registered Democrats than Republicans. The district has historically trended Republican for many years. Democrats didn’t even challenge the Republican seat in 2014 and 2016.

[Washington Rep. and House Republican conference chair Cathy] McMorris Rodgers made sure to say the country hadn’t yet experienced the “full momentum of tax reform.” Once the voters truly see what the corporate tax cuts could do for them, the tide would change, she said.

As for Lamb, Ryan made his point very clear: He could have been the Republican.

The great contradiction in Republicans’ message
Republicans have hitched their cart to tax cuts.

The GOP tax bill loomed large over Saccone’s campaign. Republican groups spent millions trying to sell the policy to the district’s Republican voters. Trump came to the district early to tout the policy’s successes.

It didn’t stick. In the final weeks, pro-Saccone advertising began focusing largely on immigration, crime, and tying Lamb to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — whom Republicans have long used as the Democratic boogeywoman.

Now, as the party watches Saccone fall behind, Republicans have changed their tune on one front. Lamb is no longer a Pelosi liberal. He might as well have been a “conservative” Republican, Ryan said.

Put together, these Republican messages raise a major contradiction.

There’s no question that Lamb ran on a more moderate Democratic platform. He has shied away from criticizing Trump and said he would not support Pelosi for speaker. He came out against an assault weapons ban but supports stronger background check laws.

He is personally pro-life but supports the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize abortion. He does not support a ban on abortions at 20 weeks. In other words, on policy, Lamb is a pro-choice Democrat.

The clear divisions between Lamb and the Republicans land on the core pillars of the Republican agenda. Lamb is opposed to repealing Obamacare and called the GOP tax bill a “giveaway” to the wealthy.

“We didn’t need to add a penny to our debt to have the tax cut for our working- and middle-class people,” Lamb said at a debate, butting heads with Saccone.

Throwing table scraps off the elite table, to the dogs afoot, might please real dogs, but not working people who see themselves as several cuts above dogs to the rich while the national debt burden on their children and grandchildren will be the Republican tax cut legacy the workers of Pennsylvania, through all the smoke screen, saw all too well.

They saw it while Lamb gave assurances that Social Security was, in fact as sacrosanct as the Gipper gave lip service to it in the '80's with Sir Ryan of the fat table presently and steadily saying, "Not so, not so. Underfunded."

Spinning, no matter how fast and furious, is seen for what it is by those standing aside and watching, and not spinning along.

Ryan's fault is not insufficient trying. It is a clear insufficiency of sincerity when lying through his insipid, forced smile.

Vox, in a separate item, noted:

Along with Wisconsin and Michigan, the Keystone State carried Trump to victory on Election Day 2016. It’s a story he often recounts at rallies, including the one he held for Saccone in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, on Saturday.

Voting for Saccone is exactly what the president wanted his supporters to do. Trump cared enough about Saccone winning that he joined him on the campaign trail multiple times and sent Vice President Mike Pence and members of his family, including son Donald Trump Jr. and daughter Ivanka Trump, to stump.

He even pushed a controversial announcement on steel and aluminum import tariffs so it would land a week before the special election.

None of it worked.

How vigorous the putsch was is unclear at a distance in Minnesota, but pulling out all the stops would perhaps have had Ivanka in a kissing booth to raise bucks for Saccone, and that level of dedication appears to have not prevailed. Resuming the report text coverage:

Lamb’s campaign was not against Trump. The former federal prosecutor rarely mentioned the president at his events, instead focusing on issues like protecting entitlements such as Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare and ending Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis, for which Gov. Tom Wolf recently declared a state of emergency — in other words, many of the same themes Trump echoed during his 2016 presidential campaign.

From the beginning of his campaign, Trump vowed not to cut entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. Then when he got into office, his 2019 budget proposed cutting Medicare by $236 billion over 10 years. (Those cuts have not been enacted.)

Trump promised many times to end the opioid crisis that’s ravaging Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and other Rust Belt states. In 2016, it claimed more American lives than the entire Vietnam War.

The president’s response has been to declare the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, but little else. The administration has largely ignored the recommendations of Trump’s opioids commission, Trump has twice tried to strip his Office of National Drug Control Policy of funding and proposed the death penalty for drug dealers. Congress recently appropriated $6 billion for treatment, which experts say falls dramatically short of what’s needed.

[...] Trump was never supposed to win Pennsylvania; the fact that he claimed the state in 2016 became an integral part of his narrative, one that he repeated at Saccone’s Saturday rally.

“On November 8, Pennsylvania is the state that gave us the 45th president of the United States,” Trump said, as the crowd cheered.

“You’re one of us!” one crowd member yelled.

“They said we couldn’t get elected,” Trump continued. “I say we ... because some of you had never voted before, but you love the country. Remember, they said, ‘You cannot win.’ Remember the famous 270? Remember, they said he cannot get to 270. And we didn’t; we got to 306.”

For Republicans, there was a mad dash to pour cash into the race so they didn’t embarrass themselves by losing a district that Democrats were never even supposed to be competitive in. But for Trump, the impetus was much more personal.

Trump’s push wasn’t about Saccone, it was about hanging on to “Trump country” in southwestern Pennsylvania — and with it, the very narrative that put him in the White House. For the president who prizes loyalty, this race was the ultimate test.

Hindsight suggests they should have used the Ivanka kissing booth, but Trump only with ceremony offered his ring.

WaPo offering its report of the spin without a win:

Many Republicans, including Ryan, have sought to isolate the president from the implications of that shift, insisting that his visit to the region Saturday helped turn a relatively easy Democratic win into a narrow one.

On CNN Tuesday night, former Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller put it this way:

“Well, I think they’re going to be pointing to the fact of the big Trump bump that Saccone got on the home stretch,” Miller said. “The fact that they closed the five-point gap, and you talk about some of the other things the Trump folks did behind the scenes: There was a robo-call from the president yesterday.”

That argument was reiterated on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends” Wednesday morning.

“Last week, it looked like Mr. Lamb was going to win by six points,” host Steve Doocy said. “So something drew it closer together, if you believe in polls. Maybe it was the president’s visit and the visit from the Trump family.”

Maybe! Or maybe these are generous misreads of the polling.

After a diversion on polling presumptions and caveats, the narrative continued, quoting a key pollster:

[..B]ased on the turnout, Monmouth’s poll would have shown a smaller-than-six-point advantage for Lamb. And on top of that, the poll had a margin of error of about five percentage points.

Murray explained that their surge model incorporated assumptions based on those past special elections. Had Monmouth’s model used only individual voter history and data from the survey itself, they would have given Lamb a two-point lead.

But Murray also noted evidence that Trump helped shift things slightly to Saccone. In the more Republican part of the district, the results were close to what Monmouth modeled in its poll’s Democratic-surge scenario. In the more Democratic parts, including in Allegheny County, Lamb underperformed, relative to that scenario.

“Trump’s visit may have countered the extra Dem surge we postulated was possible,” Murray wrote, “but the outcome was pretty close to what we showed using a standard turnout model.” Trump might have had some impact — but he didn’t shift the race by five points.

[...] So the best spin at hand? Saccone at least didn’t get walloped, and maybe Trump’s visit helped tug the final results slightly back to the middle.

But there’s a flip side to that. Democratic enthusiasm in 2018 — enthusiasm which is largely responsible for tugging a 20-point Republican district to the left — is primarily a function of Trump’s unpopularity with everyone besides fervent Republicans.

ABC Eyewitness News noting the spin effort, here. Similarly, CBS News. Additional coverage: The Atlantic. The Hill. Politico. Fence straddling, by DallasNews.

Having at least scanned the linked items, I nonetheless cannot clear my mind of the child's tale of the fox who could not have reached the grapes, diminishing them next, probably sour anyway.

After the Conor Lamb showing [call it victory unless a recount proves otherwise] in a "red" Pennsylvania district, what does it mean? In particular, what in this can we infer about Laura Moser in Texas? Clearly, Moser needs independent small-donor progressive and labor contributions to win against a Dem-establishment backed candidate from an anti-union law firm that litigated against SEIU. What in that is a common ground with Lamb in the special election in an east coast gerrymandered district?

First, where did Conor Lamb get his money? And how might it compromise him, or show something beyond a strong special election outcome for a Democrat in a "red" gerrymandered district?

"Money" seems a question absent in reporting. However, OpenSecrets notes Lamb raised $3,869,247, spent $3,031,838, Cash on Hand: $837,409; small donors providing half of that, and large donors paying a whopping forty-three and a third percent. That was the scorecard, without identifying the small donor cutoff, and without naming Lamb's large donors. Per OpenSecrets, Lamb by a large margin out-raised and out-spent Saccone. That is apart from expenditures by entities outside of reported campaign-raised money, i.e., it is campaign spending, only.

Quickly, NY Times day-after, long item, money mentioned only once, this context:

Mr. Lamb, 33, defied political geography and appeared on the verge of capturing the state’s 18th District despite a torrent of Republican money and Mr. Trump’s personal intervention. At a rally Saturday, Mr. Trump mocked Mr. Lamb as “Lamb the Sham,” promised that Mr. Saccone would “vote for us all the time,” and rambled about his own achievements as he sought to transfer his own political success to the Republican candidate.

In the end, none of it seemed to be enough. Democratic enthusiasm appeared to overwhelm a part of the state that has long been a Republican stronghold. For the president, the vote is an ominous echo of Democratic victories in Virginia and Alabama, where his political efforts were shrugged off or counterproductive.

The tally was also a blunt rejection of the president’s political calculation that tax cuts and steel tariffs would persuade voters in a region once dominated by the steel industry to embrace the Trump agenda on behalf of Mr. Saccone. “Steel is back,” he repeatedly said at the rally, apparently to little effect.

Time was heavy in reporting money, but the focus was on outside Republican money and its ineffectiveness; this mention of Lamb and money in the same paragraph;

Lamb had the advantage when it came to small donors. Over half of Lamb’s total individual contributions were unitemized, or less than $200, in comparison with 24 percent of Saccone’s. Lamb also declined to accept money from corporate Political Action Committees.

[italics added] Saccone was a right-to-work advocate, Lamb had union backing including foot-soldiers, and his $220,115 PAC money (per OpenSecrets) then had to have come from union PACs; with "large donors" being those giving over $200.

As an example in more detail, this Vox item involves a conversation between the author and an in-state political guru, where that status is accorded by the author to the interviewee, and here taken as gospel for purposes of analysis. Searching the item for "money" yielded only two hits in a single sentence, in context the guru spoke - Scott the questioner, Field gives the answers - bolding in original:

Dylan Scott
That makes me wonder about the candidates. The conventional wisdom is that Lamb was pretty effective at positioning himself as a moderate to conservative, pro-union Democrat. Saccone was a lackluster right-to-work candidate.

There is always this debate about whether fundamentals or candidates determine a race. How much do you think the candidates made a difference versus the fundamentals of the district?

Nick Field
I always feel it’s more of the fundamentals versus a national environment, more than most people. If you look at the last year in special elections, they’ve really moved toward Democrats. The whole history of midterms since the Civil War is that the minority party is going to do well.

In terms of candidates, Lamb did well. He steered clear of any controversy. They tried to pin House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on him, which is the classic move, and he held her at arm’s length. Maybe more than that, he pushed her away. He ran as a centrist, even as the progressives fell out of love with him over guns.

With Saccone, you would hear this feeling even late even among people in Harrisburg: I wonder why they choose him. He was the most conservative candidate. That was the narrative: They chose the most conservative candidate, and that should work. Obviously, they’ve criticized him for weak fundraising. It was difficult for him to fundraise.

So he had to spend all that outside money, whereas Lamb got the money directly and then the party silently helped him.

Dylan Scott
On the issues, there’s been a lot of coverage of how the Republican tax bill didn’t gain traction and there has been interesting polling on Lamb, who moderated himself in a lot of ways but was pretty defensive of the Affordable Care Act. Does it surprise you, or is it not all that surprising, that with this district and this electorate, the tax bill fell flat whereas health care was more resonant?

Nick Field
I think the lesson with health care is whoever the mover is on health care, whoever tries to change something, will lose. Obamacare was never popular. Conservatives hate it. A lot of progressives don’t think it goes far enough. Then as soon as Obama leaves, it starts to get popular. You try to repeal it, it gets more popular.

In terms of the tax cut, its polling was terrible as it went through, and then it started to improve. But I think it’s very easy for Democrats to say this is a tax cut for the wealthy. That was their message with the Bush tax cuts; it’s a very familiar message. I think it’s something voters would assume Republicans would do. I don’t think that’s a tough sell.

I think Republicans want that tax message to work, but the results haven’t been what they wanted.

Dylan Scott
So, of course, this district isn’t going to exist in a couple of months after redistricting. As a more mechanical matter, what is redistricting going to do to this district, and what races are we going to see in the fall when we’ve totally changed the map?

Nick Field
I think Lamb is going to run in the 17th. Saccone could very well run in the 14th. I don’t know how much this has hurt his credibility, locally and nationally. It would be something if they both run those races and they both end up serving in Congress next year. It’s a possibility.

In terms of redistricting statewide, it’s a huge, prime opportunity for Democrats. If it’s a really incredible year for them, you could swing six seats potentially.

Dylan Scott
Does last night make it seem more possible?

Nick Field
I think so. The map and the result make sure that Pennsylvania will be a central focus. If the magic number is still 24 for Democrats to take the House, if they swing six seats in Pennsylvania, you’re one-quarter of the way there in one state. I think it’s going to be a huge part of the Democrats’ midterm plan.

Dylan Scott
Are there other districts that share a profile with the 18th? Other candidates that can run on a Conor Lamb playbook?

Nick Field
I think in the more conservative areas, that’s the playbook to use. There’s that debate about where Democrats should go: to old areas where they had an advantage decades ago? Or should they look at new areas? Obviously, the answer is both areas. I think in the first instance, this is the playbook. I think most other races there won’t be as much of an uphill battle where Democrats don’t have to run as much to the middle. They can run more openly against the president.

And the item ends there. Did you even catch the sentence having "money" and "Lamb" in a sentence together, during your quick read? Lamb had raised and spent over three million, and that's not a part of the VOX discussion/analysis?

Readers can web-search, and see Trump Sr. and Jr. went to the district to tub-thump for Saccone, with Pence there too holding a fundraiser:

The Republican candidate, state Rep. Rick Saccone, was joined today by Pence for both a public campaign event and a private fundraiser in Bethel Park, south of Pittsburgh. The closed reception, which charged $10,000 and $5,400 for two levels of attendees, could result in a much-needed injection of cash for Saccone, who logged $214,000 in donations in the fourth quarter of 2017, compared with over $560,000 for Democrat Conor Lamb.

Post-electon, Daily Beast reported:

Tim Waters, the director of the United Steelworkers Political Action Committee, told The Daily Beast on Monday that the committee had hoped its canvassers would surpass 20,000 voter contacts at their doors by the time people headed to the polls.

“This is not a fair fight,” Waters told The Daily Beast. “The way this district was drawn, it was drawn to keep [Rep.] Tim Murphy in for the rest of his life.”

While Republican outside groups and leaders like McDaniel attempted to tie Lamb to the national Democratic Party and specifically House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), he ran a campaign primarily avoiding the pitfalls that come with nationalizing a race in a red district. Much of Lamb’s rhetoric on the stump was devoted to protecting Social Security and Medicare as opposed to more hot-button social issues that could have proved fatal in the conservative southwestern Pennsylvania district.

Lamb’s enormous fundraising haul allowed him to match Saccone on the air and gave him the opportunity to introduce himself to voters on his own terms, challenging the narrative that had been created about him from GOP groups. His early support for labor, combined with Saccone’s backing of right-to-work legislation, earned Lamb plaudits from union households who organized in great numbers to push him over the line.

The candidate shied away from associations with national Democrats but got a boost from a few high-profile surrogates in recent weeks, including former vice president Joe Biden, who campaigned on Lamb’s behalf as the election drew nearer.

The frustration of tracing Lamb money is mirrored by a CNBC item which, despite a headline "Democrat Lamb pounds Republican Saccone in fundraising for critical House election;" declines to get into reporting where, precisely, the funds came from.

The role of DCCC in Lamb-related events? McClatchy reported:

Publicly, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee did little to help Conor Lamb.

Behind the scenes was a different story.

The Democratic nominee in Pennsylvania’s special House election — whom polls suggest is poised to pull off a shock upset in Tuesday’s race over Republican Rick Saccone — benefited from a quiet but determined DCCC effort to boost his candidacy, according to local party officials and a source with knowledge of the spending strategy.

The group’s multi-pronged effort totaled more than $1 million and included significant investments in field staff, NFL-themed digital ads, and a last-minute get-out-the-vote effort to pull Lamb across the finish line. It also included a nearly $450,000 infusion into the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, money used to fund voter outreach.

So DCCC allowed Lamb to craft a local candidacy without any ham-handed interference, even while putting cash behind the one Democrat standing. That was so, and Lamb did not run as a corporatist- Clintonian GOP-lite person, but one staking a claim to his own way. That was so whether you agree or disagree that Lamb is a "Joe Biden - Tom Perez - DNC - DCCC - inner-party beltway-entrenched establishment" conservative Dem for a "red" district; thus fitting the establishment formula, a/k/a back an on the surface Blue Dog, yet ideally one with compelling union support incentives.

THIS BRINGS US TO LAURA MOSER: First, why connect the special election win against a conservative Republican with Moser facing a two-candidate primary among two female Democrats? That is easy, Moser's campaign is doing it. In an emailing:

Last night in Pennsylvania, Democrat Conor Lamb scored a big upset in Congressional District 18, where Trump won by 20 points in 2016. This is a huge, huge deal — and a sign of good things to come if we put in the work every day until November.

Lamb didn’t let the past stop him from charging unapologetically into the future. He ran in a western Pennsylvania district that hadn’t elected a Democrat in 15 years. A district that had Democrats so spooked that they didn’t run any candidates in the previous two elections.

[...] These are exceptional times, and — if there is one thing we have learned over and over again — there is not a set formula for the type of candidate who can win, either in rural Pennsylvania or here in Houston.

It’s time to let the locals run their races. And that means, over the next two months, national Democrats need to let the people of TX-07 choose who will take this fight to John Culberson in November.

I’ve made it this far not because I’m a cookie-cutter Democrat (neither was Lamb!), but because I’ve stood up for my values, which I believe the majority of Americans — and TX-07 residents — share.

If you read that as DCCC hands off, you read it correctly. Here, Intercept reporting seems helpful (and if you do not recall earlier Crabgrass posting about Moser then follow links in the item's opening paragraph for key background):

Labor Rallies Behind Laura Moser After She Overcomes Party Effort to Stomp Out Her Congressional Bid - by Zaid Jilani, Ryan Grim - 2018-03-07

Laura Moser, despite an attack from her own party, made it through the first round of a Texas primary on Tuesday, winning a place in a runoff against Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, an EMILY’s List-backed candidate.

Moser, in the May runoff in the state’s 7th Congressional District, will have the support of organized labor, which stridently opposes Fletcher, a partner in a law firm that represents employers and has played a significant role in targeting unions in the state. During the primary, the state AFL-CIO voted to anti-endorse Fletcher, meaning members were urged to vote for anyone but her. With just one candidate now running against Fletcher, Moser’s endorsement is all but assured. “The Texas AFL will have to formally endorse her, but it is a given,” said one high-ranking union official.

“Lizzie Fletcher’s law firm, and Lizzie herself as a partner, profited from the pain and loss of immigrant women janitors,” Joe Dinkin, a spokesperson for the Working Families Party, told The Intercept after the results were called. “That’s not right. If Democrats are going to win in November, we need candidates who fight for working families, not fight against them.”

Dinkin said the WFP would be spending money against Fletcher in the runoff, as it did already.

Fletcher finished first, with 31 percent of the vote, with Moser edging out progressive cancer researcher Jason Westin with 22 percent to his 20 percent. Had the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent money to boost Westin’s campaign instead of going negative against Moser, Westin may have moved forward into the runoff. Indeed, had the DCCC done nothing at all, Westin may have survived — The Intercept noted on the morning of the party committee’s intervention that he was surging in the final weeks of the campaign, as his progressive platform, impressive medical credentials, and endorsement by the Houston Chronicle combined to give him a last-minute boost.

Voter-turnout expert Ben Tribbett argued that the DCCC pushed Moser over the top.

[...] Alex Triantaphyllis, who told voters he was recruited by the DCCC and raised twice as much money as Westin, ran a centrist campaign and finished fourth, with 16 percent. Ivan Sanchez, Josh Butler, and James Cargas rounded out the pack.

Fletcher earned the un-endorsement for her work as a partner at AZA Law, a firm that largely represents employers and won a major case against local janitorial workers represented by the SEIU, who were predominantly immigrants. AZA Law boasted, in its effort to attract future business from employers, that it won the case in part by studying the social media feeds of the jury pool to make sure the jury was stacked with Donald Trump supporters.

The case was ideologically motivated to destroy labor: PJS, the firm’s client, was involved with Empower Texans, a right-wing group working to undermine organized labor in Texas.

The Working Families Party seized on this work and ran social media ads costing $20,000 to target Fletcher over her employment at AZA

Here is the link to the anti-Fletcher ad.

With that, the Intercept's report wraps up by reiterating the unusual DCCC intervention with which the story opened:

The DCCC, the campaign arm of House Democrats, made an unusual intervention into the race by going nuclear and dropping a public opposition research document against Moser, arguing, among other things, that flippant pieces of writing she’d published in Washington would make her unelectable in the general.

Moser raised almost $90,000 after the DCCC’s attack, which turned her into something of a folk hero.

The runoff will take place on May 22.

Two things to note: the DCCC hands off mood of the email has a basis; and Moser like Lamb presents a strong motive for labor to support her against an opponent with negative history against the interests of organized labor; workers in general, immigrant workers in particular in Moser's case.

While that is key, there is more to say about Moser. KOS notes Moser endorsed along with Randy Bryce's run against Paul Ryan in Wisconsin, by Democracy for America. HuffPo in noting eight women inspired by Donald Trump's election to seek office leads its report with Moser. Alternet in an item mentioning the unprevoked DCCC atack against Moser, interestingly noted the cliquish attitude of beltway and other inner party operatives:

An Insider Game

The Unity Commission’s sensible reforms could meet with similar resistance from party insiders. The DNC basically operates to raise money from deep-pocket donors then spend it on its preferred candidates, and their entrenched circle of consultants. Insurgents, new energy, and the possibility of new coalitions are instinctively scorned.

Think of it as a modern-day, nationwide version of the blunt message a Democratic Committeeman in Chicago gave to a young man named Abner Mikva in 1948. When the future federal judge and law professor showed up at his neighborhood ward office, asking to volunteer, he was told, “We don’t want nobody that nobody sent.”

This kind of inside-the-beltway attitude is a far remove from the vision of a real political party that has activist members and chapters who choose their leaders in open elections, debate and establish principles and platform, and seek to build continued grassroots organizing and activism.

The Unity Commission’s recommendations won’t create that vision. But they will open the doors of the party a bit more, make it more transparent and more accessible. Now the DNC’s members must decide if they see democracy “with a small d” as a boon or a threat.

BoingBoing publishes, "Don't give a dime to the DCCC, they'll just use to front DINOs and smear Justice Democrats." The Nation publishes, "When the DCCC Calls, Hang Up the Phone -- After the committee savaged candidate Laura Moser in Houston, it’s clear progressives are better off supporting other organizations."

While those are links of interest, with politics being local Texarkana Gazette published:

Eleven Texas congressional races will feature May Democratic primary runoffs, including four of the races the DCCC is targeting. The committee is working on races to unseat GOP Reps. Will Hurd, John Culberson, Pete Sessions and John Carter, as well as the race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Lamar Smith.

The national Democratic party faces pushback in the primaries from groups who want the party to pick more progressive candidates, ones who they hope will excited [sic] a dormant base of Democrats in Texas.

"Texas is not a red state so much as a low voter turnout state," said Chris Kutalik-Cauthern, statewide coordinator for the Bernie Sanders-backed group Our Revolution Texas. "With the decades (of) defeat and weakness and centrist strategy you haven't even been able to mobilize the type of constituencies that would typically vote for the Democratic Party (in Texas)."

Our Revolution endorsed 14 politically progressive candidates in Democratic primaries, including Laura Moser, the Democrat the DCCC attacked in the race to challenge Culberson.

The committee's moves in that race could underscore an even bigger problem for national Democrats.

Moser raised roughly $100,000 following the attack, a sign the party brand could be in rough shape, even among its most loyal supporters. She's now running aggressively against "party bosses," and attracting grass-roots attention with her complaints about the national party.

"If they were trying to put their finger on the scale, it's working the other way," Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said of national Democrats.

Among the grass roots, "Indivisible" groups that popped up with fervor after President Donald Trump's election bristle at the association with Democrats, despite backing what the groups call "progressive policies."

They want to court new political activists who disagree with Trump, but aren't yet ready to affiliate with a party that's failed to win a statewide race in more than two decades in Texas.

That is a short quote from a lengthy but interesting article, and a fit ending to a lengthy post here. More could be said, perhaps in later posting, but the bottom line of progressives and labor both having motive to small-donor seed the Moser campaign is clear.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

After the Conor Lamb - Rick Saccone ballot count in yesterday's Pennsylvania special election - the great news is paper ballots exist for a recount.

Lamb declared victory.

As in Minnesota, paper ballots - at least the "absentee" early voting option - exist and are run through an optical scanner.

Presuming the same paper-scanner method was used at polling places, there is a paper trail.

For trust in elections there should always be that paper trail to check again, if needed. Surely ballots can be lost or stowed, fault being either negligence or intent, but with electronic only voting, go figure. You can have an electronic failure, and what do you go back to?

Nationwide use of paper ballots is not a luxury with lower-cost options to be sold for some corporation's profits. They are a necessity.

And last, a look at Minnesota's CD2 and the Blue Wave likelihood/possibility -- Jason Lewis is not the stiff Saccone seems to be, he IS glib, where some might say to a fault. Yet one thing learned from the Pennsylvania special election - park Air Force One out of district if you are a Republican seeking to keep or win a House seat.

Do you remember at the end of the second W term, how Air Force One was parked after the housing bubble scuttled W and he had super low popularity? This time arguably will be "W keep out of my district" redux. And W for all his faults did not have the fault of being an egotistical wholly sociopathic blowhard with Stormy Daniels baggage to boot.

If the Dems take majorities in both houses of Congress, expect a Speaker other than Pelosi, third in line in succession to the Presidency, with the only roadblock being how to unseat Pence from his second place in line. Perhaps God will give Pence the message Michele Bachmann received this go-round and he will defer. Perhaps pigs will fly, given how Pence ambition far outstrips Pence ability.

So how can Pence be scuttled? No Stormy Daniels help there, so how? What? How can Pence be Spiro Agnewed?

Compare and contrast styles.

First, Conor Lamb [not Connor as previoiusly written], a 30-sec sound bite advertisement - this past special election; last election, and an Angie Craig 30-sec sound bite advertisement. Conor looks at the camera and speaks and you get a feel of a candidate you can believe and who has his mind right. Craig, moving around an office with an insipid smile and doing a voiceover. Craig in this cycle's two candidate forum events has shown an equal trustworthy and dedicated persona to what she says she believes and aims for. Go figure. Some idiot scripted and charged big buck for that awful turn-off Craig thing, and should be keel hauled.

Next, first step the DC banking lobbyist does is locally shake the money tree and then heads to Florida to shake another money tree, and has not even yet told people he intends to run for jack.

Phony is as phony does. Yet Craig is not the phony-looking smiling cardboard image her 30 sec thing implied. With the Conor Lamb showing in a western Pennsylvania red district, the Blue Wave seems to be coming, doubt that then ask Roy Moore. Hence, Craig or Erdmann which one is endorsed since each has said he/she would abide, have a shot to win the seat in Congress Jason Lewis now holds, by running on Lewis' record, in tune with Paul Ryan and Trump/Pence.

AGAIN - There are two candidate forum events online, YouTube, here and here. (In reverse chronological order?)

Phony is as phony does. Pawlenty is as Pawlenty does.

DC - lobbying. Florida - money. Are there any questions about that? Compare and contrast that man with either of the CD2 DFL candidates.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Is Ms. McCain correct?

The Hill, here.

Connor Lamb. The non-Pelosi.

Not a primary opponent for the term limits poster child, rather on the other side of the nation, running interesting ads.

YouTube here and here.

He really does not say much on healthcare, minimun wage, student debt or income disparity, but still . . .

UPDATE: A link. Deep pockets, much spending.

Republican outside groups have dropped more than $10 million into the district.

But the latest polls show Lamb closing in on Saccone — or even passing him. Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016, but a new Monmouth poll released Monday showed Lamb leading.

Those numbers are stoking concerns among Republicans worried that a loss could shake the GOP ahead of the midterms.

“I have a very, very bad feeling in my gut about this one. I don’t think this is going to go well for Saccone,” said one Pennsylvania Republican strategist who asked for anonymity to give a candid impression of the race. “At some point, I saw [Saccone] as a guy in a rowboat in the middle of the Atlantic. They were rowing like hell, but they weren’t making any headway.”

Saccone has tied himself tightly to Trump in the final days of the race, a last-minute appeal to Trump voters, including many registered Democrats, who turned out in droves for the president less than two years ago.

Sitting with Saccone at a popular local candy shop, Trump Jr. called for Republicans to react to the recent polls by casting their ballots for Saccone.

FURTHER: Polls are premature except after polling places close, and votes are counted.

Broadcom acquiring Qualcomm was blocked by Trump on a "national security" claim with Bloomberg pointing to Huawei as the anchor worry.

This link. The presidential order does not detail a technological basis for worry. It just says no, killing the thought of that deal happening.


He could stay there. The sun would shine brighter here, if he did. MPR:

Florida fundraiser, new account point to Pawlenty run for governor - Brian Bakst - St. Paul - Mar 12, 2018

Republican Tim Pawlenty is fundraising toward a now-likely campaign for Minnesota governor.

A fundraising invitation obtained Monday by MPR News contains a "Pawlenty for Governor" committee disclaimer. It advertises a Naples, Fla., fundraiser next week that seeks up to the maximum donation of $4,000 per person.

Pawlenty was known to travel to Naples for past fundraising swings when he was previously governor for two terms and during an abbreviated run for president in 2012. The area is known as a winter retreat for many well-off Minnesotans.

Pawlenty has yet to announce a formal campaign for the office, which won't have an incumbent on November's ballot. But all signs point to a campaign, including his decision to leave a high-paid Washington D.C. job lobbying for financial services companies.

He's also fundraising in Minnesota. He has 14 days to create a campaign committee with the state campaign finance board after he raises or spends $750.

Pawlenty adviser Brian McClung said Monday the former governor has been encouraged to seek the job again but had not decided.

[...] DFL Party Chair Ken Martin seized at a chance to jab the former governor

"A $500-per-plate fundraiser in Florida? Not exactly the best way to kick off your campaign to be governor of Minnesota. But after years making millions on Wall Street, I guess he couldn't be bothered to first announce his candidacy to people he hopes elect him," Martin said in a statement.

The race for governor promises to be highly competitive. Incumbent Gov. Mark Dayton is retiring. Three Democrats are in the race currently, as is Republican Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson.

The man has the ability to make Jeff Johnson look good.

Yesterday the DFL put out a memo about Pawlenty. It was not favorable. Read it to see detail.

NEWS: LIEBLING SUSPENDS CAMPAIGN FOR GOVERNOR: When absolutely despising Facebook and everything about it, it is hard to have to link to Liebling's post but it's where the screencapture originated.

Facebook is worse than a dose of castor oil, and with that said:

By reckoning, the field is now Murphy, Otto, and Walz. Did I miss anyone?

With Liebling out, the sidebar is altered. Of the three, Murphy, Otto, and Walz, one of them against Pawlenty more likely than not, it is currently wait and see. How the Liebling supporters align, myself included, is not finalized at this time.

Defeating the GOP is the essential thing; but how does that square with liking one of the three more than the others?

When the DFL convenes, the three appear set to abide by the endorsement, so an answer is not too far away. Right now the feeling here is: Erin Murphy. Her length of service with the nurses and their national activism matter. Otto has enemies up north and it could mean defeat. Walz is more the moderate of the three.

UPDATE: Presumably Liebling leaving the contest for governor means she will pursue reelection to her legislative seat. Where she will be appreciated as one of the good guys. Presumably the same holds for Thissen.

FURTHER: Another source, besides Facebook, on the Liebling decision.

FURTHER: Per MinnPost:

On the Republican side, some banking big-wig lying in the weeds after years lobbying in DC for millions of dollars and a fellow named Johnson; one going the endorsement path and the other perhaps rattling before he strikes; perhaps not.

FACEBOOK AGAIN, BUT THIS TIME GOOD NEWS: Our Revolution Duluth endorses Leah Phifer; Jason Metsa is the hindquarters of the candidate list (to nobody's surprise).

Again, by screencapture (click the image to enlarge and read):

this link

Good News. AND -

Metsa disdains progressives; so vice-versa fits his attitude and persona well.

Our Revolution Duluth published questionnaire responses of the cooperative candidates (all but Metsa), this link. Even if outside of CD8 and lacking a vote, go ahead and pick a favorite.

Remember that even if not having a vote there you can contribute toward the success of any candidate or cause you support, and Phifer does not have the Metsa-Stauber mining money behind her. She is the candidate of the bunch to which I have contributed, and may again help.

Indeed, individual contributions will matter more for those several candidates who are apart from the Metsa-Stauber love-in with sulfide mining, where that love-in is reciprocal and will determine where the mining money is focused. Metsa and Stauber are the gung ho, damn the consequences advocates for mining without meaningful qualifications and protections; the other candidates being more cautious and conservative about sulfide mining. As is clear from the published questionnaire responses.

Whether Metsa will abide by the DFL endorsement process, if the endorsed candidate is anyone other than him, is unclear to me.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Pressed for details about the oil well deal in his deposition, Trump Jr. indicated he wasn't well versed in the oil-and-gas business. "You know, I put some money with a friend," he testified.

The above headline is a run-together of the final two paragraphs of Strib carrying an AP feed, "Trump Jr. partners with donor who pitched government - By JAKE PEARSON Associated Press = March 12, 2018 — 5:25am." Of interest, two chums, one seeming to take advantage of tax sheltering:

Last October, Beach incorporated a business called Future Venture LLC in Delaware without listing any Trump connection, signing himself as the entity's agent.

But a disclosure report filed with New York City officials and obtained by AP via a public records request shows Trump Jr. is named as the president, secretary and treasurer of the company.

The purpose of the limited liability company could not be determined from the filings. The Trump Organization said it was set up to pursue technology investments.

Previously unreported court documents show that the two men, each a godfather to one of the other's sons, did business together well before they formed Future Venture.

In a 2010 deposition, Trump Jr. testified that he had twice made investments in ventures that Beach had an interest in: $200,000 in a dry Texas oil well managed by Beach's father and an undisclosed amount in a failed mining stock affiliated with Beach's uncle.

In August 2008, while the two men were golfing together in New York, Beach suggested Trump Jr. sell his shares in the tanking stock "if you need the tax loss," according to a copy of his testimony filed in a long running civil lawsuit between Beach and a former employer, hedge funder Paul Touradji.

Beach's father, Gary Beach, was convicted last month of federal bankruptcy fraud after a seven-day trial in Dallas.

A dry oil well and a failed mining stock surely sounds as if tax sheltering was part of the mood. This is only a part of a longer report, so read the original, at Strib. The film, The Producers, comes to mind. ... and then the thing made money ...

If nothing else, there are the practical considerations. When are teachers to train with firearms? Every teacher I know (including myself) struggle at points to keep their workloads manageable. Lesson planning, grading papers, coaching, helping students put together résumés, work on SAT prep, and then a weekend at the pistol range? Had I wanted to continue carrying a firearm at work, I would’ve stayed in the service or chosen a different profession after my enlistment. Having worked with high-school students for several years now, I understand that my ability to be effective as a teacher is predicated on the existence of an environment conducive to learning and trust building. This environment will not exist in a schoolhouse where teachers double as armed guards.

The headline is the closing two paragraphs, run together, from this Atlantic item.

A brick is smarter.

This websearch. A brick also is far less dangerous. It is passive not aggressive.

Two views of getting the VA's mind right. Right as in "correct," not as in "right-wing stupid" privatization, per Koch-Hegseth.

Axios, this link, and a hat tip to a friend for emailing the link. Painting a tenuous picture for Shulkin's clean-up effort:

It took a few weeks to land on his radar, but President Trump now views Veterans Affairs Sec. David Shulkin as a major problem. Trump has been telling associates he doesn't know what's happened at the VA, but he doesn't like what he's hearing and he may have to fire Shulkin if the situation further deteriorates.

[...] John Kelly met with Shulkin at the White House on Monday afternoon. Shulkin brought along his deputy Tom Bowman and his chief of staff Peter O'Rourke, according to three sources with direct knowledge.

= Kelly told Shulkin he's got to end the drama at the VA and stop fighting with his staff. Kelly's sick and tired of Shulkin freelancing and talking directly to the press. He wants Shulkin to just shut up and stop causing drama, those sources say.
= Kelly's bottom line message to Shulkin: Continue your mission and get back to work. We can't keep going on like this. (But Kelly did tell Shulkin he'd help him deal with the personnel problems at the VA.)

Right after his meeting with Kelly, Shulkin was brought into the Oval Office to talk to Trump. The conversation quickly turned to discussing important legislation to reform the VA health care system.

= Trump surprised Shulkin by dialing in Fox & Friends host Pete Hegseth on speaker phone to get his opinion of the legislation, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation. [...]
= The Hegseth call put Shulkin in an awkward spot, according to those sources. Hegseth competed for Shulkin's job and favors more aggressive reform for the VA. Trump talks to Hegseth regularly and enjoys watching him on Fox and Friends.

What came next shocked Kelly: After visiting the White House, Shulkin spoke to The New York Times. He declared victory, announced he had the power to can insubordinate political appointees, and said he had the White House’s full support.

[...] Shulkin remains in a perilous position. He has cut off communication with about a half dozen key people at the VA. They include Press Secretary Curt Cashour, Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs John Ullyot, Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs Brooks Tucker, senior adviser Jake Leinenkugel, and a senior adviser at the Veterans Health Administration Camilo Sandoval. And now, his relationship with the White House is more frayed than ever.

[bolding, link, and italics in original]

Jake Leinenkugel? A Wisconsin beer baron who likely was a Trump bundler; boycott his beer. He's as much a Koch idiot as Hegseth.

The linked NYT item:

For now at least, it appears moderation has prevailed, with the Veterans Affairs secretary, David J. Shulkin, thwarting a pitched conservative push to drive him out.

“It’s my job as secretary to get the organization singly focused on making the V.A. work better for vets,” the secretary, a physician and holdover from the Obama administration, said in an interview on Monday, after the latest in a string of meetings with the White House chief of staff. “I’ve been making it clear to the organization that we will not be distracted as we have in the last couple weeks.”

“People need to get on board with that or need to leave,” he added.

For weeks now, Dr. Shulkin, a political moderate who was confirmed by the Senate 100 to 0, has been locked in a bitter and unusually public battle with a band of Trump administration officials who he said were out to overthrow him. The plotters included White House officials and the two men charged with safeguarding the secretary’s public image — who instead worked to undercut it, according to loyalists of the secretary.

Offstage lurked Concerned Veterans for America, part of the constellation of political groups funded by the billionaire libertarian-leaning activists Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch, in this case to push the department away from government-run veterans’ care and toward private care subsidized by the government.

Dr. Shulkin forced the fight into the open, running a one-man media operation via his own cellphone while betting that the White House would eventually offer reinforcements. On Monday, after meeting with the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, Dr. Shulkin signaled that his gamble had paid off.

He said in an interview that President Trump and Mr. Kelly supported his making changes at the department, including the removal of any staff members who did not support him. Mr. Kelly made no mention of finding a new secretary, Dr. Shulkin said, and the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, publicly expressed her support.

Staff changes could be announced on Wednesday, Dr. Shulkin said, without providing details.

[italics added] NYT did not name Hegseth, but instead named the should-be-defunct Koch inspired, Hegseth fronted, faux Veterans advocacy operation.

Hopefully Shulkin has Kelly's approval to mop up the mess and institute progress and better ways and means. And Hegseth, he's like a FOX funded throbbing hemorrhoid causing undue pain on the body politic.

Links: Here, here, Stars and Stripes, and pages, home, new top gun, and meddling. While opinions can differ, any veteran who buys that brand is a fool, of a tool.

___________FURTUER UPDATE___________
If you get the flavor of as a Republican front organization, look to two field staff organizers, Russ Duerstine and Tom Greer.

Would a Democrat touch that operation? Likely not a real one. A blue dog perhaps, perhaps not.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Power to the people. (In a clean cost-efficient manner.)

Using the '60's phrase as an intro to a Conservation Minnesota item; with the home page

and with the item title: Minnesota is in the midst of a massive and historic energy transformation; this excerpt, links omitted:

According to the 2017 Clean Jobs Midwest report, Greater Minnesota is home to more than 17,000 clean energy jobs, representing 30 percent of the state’s total clean energy workforce. Energy efficiency improvements, along with investments into wind and solar, are spurring rural economic development, reducing energy costs, and providing important tax revenue to communities across the state.

In the last year alone, Minnesota added 467 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity — enough to power 53,000 homes and nearly tripling the capacity added in 2016. This growth was also accompanied by an exceptional 48 percent increase in solar industry jobs as found in The Solar Foundation’s latest Solar Jobs Census. Looking ahead, there are several exciting projects under way that will further accelerate the delivery of clean energy and the creation of more jobs.

What is responsible for Minnesota’s explosive growth? Policy leadership has played a strong role in our success. Consistent and forward-looking policies that value clean energy deployment have fostered significant business investment in this sector.

As a result, the share of energy generated by renewables has risen sharply over the past five years; renewable energy now provides 25 percent of the state’s electricity generation. This has put Minnesota on track to meet, or exceed, its 2025 Renewable Energy Standard and has also provided the “go” signal that companies and investors need when deciding to invest in new business opportunities.

While these sweeping changes are occurring, Minnesota is rapidly adding jobs in the energy efficiency and clean energy sector at a rate nearly four times faster than all other job types in the state – as well as enjoying retail electricity bills that are lower than the national average.

Minnesota can also count among its successes a consistent ranking in the top 10 of all 50 states for our overall energy efficiency programs.
Long-term smart jobs, not short-term dumb jobs polluting that which is pristine. What is there not to like about that?

UPDATE NOTE: The item is a republishing of an original MinnPost report, same title, this link. So the main hat tip goes to MinnPost.

March posting by Dan Burns at MN Progressive Project is of interest.

This link. See what you think.

"Raiders of the lost tobacco settlement pretty piqued about 3M pollution settlement firewall."

The headline above is the headline used by Sorensen, at Bluestem Prairie in a recent post, where the meaning is fleshed out.

Homelessness relief one step at a time in Anoka County.

This ECM Publishing link. The County HRA helping private sector aid givers is fine enough, but the responsibility to meet homelessness adequately is a government responsibility. At the heart of the problem this is so.

Handing off to well motivated and well managed private sector piecemeal effort is part of the fight, and helpful, but the core need and responsibility must be acknowledged by all.

Update on the tempest raging at VA, or call it a palace coup attempt, so far.

Earlier, this Crabgrass link. A WaPo March 9 feed titled, "Ugly power struggle paralyzes Trump’s plan to fix veterans’ care," reports:

This portrait of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ leadership crisis is based on interviews with 16 administration officials and other observers. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer candid views.

It is an extraordinary state of affairs at the massive federal agency – only the Defense Department is bigger – whose mission is etched outside its headquarters a block from the White House: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle.” Some of the secretary’s aides, many of whom spent decades following orders in the military, have for weeks openly defied their VA chain of command.

[...] Shulkin’s critics deny they are plotting a coup. Rather, they say they are airing differences over a controversial policy priority for the president – that veterans have greater ability to choose private doctors at VA’s expense.

Though popular in the White House, the effort is viewed skeptically by the American Legion and other veterans groups that fear it will lead to VA’s downsizing. Shulkin and his deputy, Thomas Bowman, have backed a bipartisan compromise in the Senate that would remove some restrictions on private care but keep VA in charge of deciding whether veterans can choose private doctors.

Their stance has been a disappointment to the White House, Shulkin’s critics say.

“The president said he believes veterans have the right to choose,” said Pete Hegseth, a former chief executive of Concerned Veterans for America, a conservative advocacy group backed by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. An Iraq War veteran, Hegseth is now co-host of “Fox & Friends Weekend.”

“Shulkin has talked a good game on Choice,” Hegseth said, referring to an existing program that allows veterans to see private doctors, but with restrictions. “But he’s sided with the permanent bureaucracy, the traditional veterans groups and the unions. This is a litmus test of whether he is truly a reformer who will drain the swamp at VA.”

VA employs 360,000 people and accounts for $186 billion annually. Its sprawling health-care and benefits system, which Trump blasted on the campaign trail as a wasteful, inefficient failure, churns away. But the dysfunction, observers say, has jeopardized legislation to extend the Choice program and a separate initiative to overhaul VA’s aging electronic health-records system.

[italics added] I recall the term showing up at times in published law cases, "officious intermeddler." Aside from that, it appears there is a putsch to privatize, which is not necessarily sound intent. The nation, by a substantial polling margin, wants universal coverage, i.e., what the veterans now solely enjoy, for everybody; including veterans before service, cradle to grave coverage run and financed by the federal government. And most believing that to be best policy also understand it is lobbyist/health-industrial-complex pressure [and politician buying] that so far has stood in the way of the public's majority wish. Something that should be ended ASAP.

Friday, March 09, 2018

DC bank lobbyist/loyalist Tim Pawlenty reportedly is shaking his mega-money tree as if coming in late to a Minnesota political contest.

This websearch. Multiple reports online of this. The Koch brothers, Norm Coleman's slush fund, Freedom Club, which bloc(s) of influence buyers is his focus upon? And what evil will result for the people of Minnesota if the man pole vaults past all the inner party caucusing and conventioning, and runs a mega-money primary? Democracy winces.

So, who precisely are the deep pocketed malefactors of great wealth with whom he is coconspiring to inflict a beltway candidacy upon us?


Pawlenty is weighing a campaign for his old job and is convening a group of Republican donors and political movers this month as he seeks advice about entering a governor's race without a clear favorite.

Pawlenty sent emails on Wednesday to a select group, inviting them for a morning gathering on Feb. 12 at an undisclosed Minneapolis location with the agenda as "important meeting regarding Minnesota's future."

The email obtained independently by MPR News and later verified as authentic by a Pawlenty adviser asks the recipients to reserve the time and promises details on the location later.

Brian McClung, a former top aide and longtime adviser to Pawlenty, confirmed it is is an indication of his active consideration of a bid. McClung said Pawlenty "will be talking with Minnesotans over the coming weeks to assess support and gather advice."

Pawlenty, [...] didn't return a message left directly with him seeking comment.

I can imagine Betsy DeVos putting a pile of money into a Pawlenty escapade. Wilbur Ross. The Starkey crowd. Cummins. Hubbard. All those who view regular people as pliant fools. Many pliant fools, and the disaster of Pawlenty again being governor could actually happen.

Big banks, payday lenders, credit card usurers might all rejoice. Get in and Scott Walker the good State of Minnesota, Timmy, the money will back you and in turn you will have obligations.

Parallel coverage, carrying the MPR story:

“I am very interested in public service and service for the common good, there are a lot of different ways to do that, but I’ll tell you today that running for the United States Senate in 2018 won’t be part of those plans,” Pawlenty told the Fox Business Network in January.

Since leaving office, Pawlenty ran unsuccessfully for president and for the past several years has led the Financial Services Roundtable, a Washington-based trade association and lobbying arm for the banking and insurance industries.

Pawlenty, 58, is the last Republican to win a statewide race in Minnesota. He narrowly won a second term in 2006 in a three-way contest.

He even looks like Scott Walker.

Strib, local coverage, not carrying a feed:

A group of about 100 of Minnesota's richest, most politically engaged Republicans filed into a common room last week. The host was former Gov. Tim Pawlenty. He was offering an opportunity to get in on his own potential comeback bid in a gubernatorial race shaping up as the most significant and wide open in years.

I had a friend, since deceased, who said, "I never buy anything unless I know what it costs and exactly what I'm getting."

A hundred donors. This is not unexpected. But expecting bad news is less depressing than seeing it happen.

A Reddit thread.

UPDATE: The likely benefactor of this movement at this time is Tim Walz. It could impact some DFL State Convention minds as a shift from, "Who do I like the most and think would make the best Governor," to "Who has the best chance of killing a skunk."

FURTHER: Alternate headlining was in mind, "Daddy Bankbucks makes his move. Summons Punjab and The Asp." However, some of the young readers might not get it.

FURTHER: Opening image added, a Financial Services Roundtable (FSR) image. Hold that in mind throughout the Pawlenty - Minnesota intrusion - his organization's using that image. Moreover, states:

Who We Are

Financial Services Roundtable (FSR) is the leading advocacy organization for America’s financial services industry. With a 100- year tradition of service and accomplishment, FSR is a dynamic, forward-looking association advocating for the top financial services companies, keeping them informed on the vital policy and regulatory matters that impact their business.
FSR members include the leading banking, insurance, asset management, finance and credit card companies in America. We are financing the American economy — creating jobs, expanding businesses, securing homes, businesses and retirement, insuring growth and building consumer confidence.
With expanding Washington involvement in our industry, forming relationships and engaging with public officials and policymakers is critical to helping our members see around the curve, understand policies and regulations, and provide input to help shape them.
FSR is driven at the CEO level giving us a unique and influential voice in Washington. At every level of the government, FSR is working to ensure that our members’ interests are well represented.

And that is who Tim Pawlenty is. (Who he always was.) Weigh that thought. No more phony posing allowed.

FURTHER: As to phony pretenses, Strib's report:

The rich Rolodex that allowed Pawlenty to pull together the big donors is a double-edged sword. The DFL is already hammering him on his life in “retirement” from politics, during which he has been a Washington-based lobbyist for the nation’s biggest banks, earning $2.7 million in 2016, according to IRS documents.

Mike McFadden, a wealthy investment banker and the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2014, played a leading role in the private discussion, according to other participants. (McFadden did not return a message Monday.)

The meeting comprised both politics and policy.

On the policy front, Pawlenty covered taxes and regulation, health care, education and the imperative that government be ready to embrace but also plan for changes in technology.

A meeting attendee was inspired: “Tim gave a great talk about education and poor kids not getting a fair shot in this state. I loved the passion.”

[...] A primary strategy will require big money, although Pawlenty would go into the race with the advantage of being well known to Republican primary voters.

[bolding added] The DC beltway insider maybe really is laundering the flannel plaid shirt for more "Sam's Club" promising. To the likes of Mike McFadden, presumably also a Sam's Club shopper. A room full of Sam's Club shoppers, ya betcha. Pawlenty is "well known" but to report that as an advantage is an insult to Republican primary voters; but the proof may be in the pudding; i.e., an earned insult.

The beat goes on. Which closet, which residence, was the old hockey gear stowed? Can he even remember the name of his Lt. Governor?

Thursday, March 08, 2018

The long knives are out to upend [privatize] the VA. Veterans, get up, stand up, stand up for your rights.

Daily Beast mentions Hegseth and the Marvel comic book head honcho, neither of which responded directly or by delegated spokespersons.

The VA is empowered to negotiate drug prices and is socialized medicine that has worked over decades in a nation where nobody else is allowed the benefits of socialized - single payer - medical care.

What is needed is a cradle to grave base coverage that is more than barebones, for eveery citizen, regardless of career path chosen, volunteer military or civilian. Everybody, fair healthcare as a right, universal, government run government paid. Any medical professional dissatisfied with such an arrangement once implemented would be free to go to Botswana or wherever single payer universal coverage does not exist (places Trump called "shithole countries" likely without healthcare insufficiencies in mind).

Fine, conceptually. But will it work in Milwaukee, Terre Haute, and Pittsburgh? Or in McConnell-Rand Paul stomping grounds?

With a photoshopped lead image, this:

Trump Voters Welcome

Working in the districts we work, we hear two things all the time.

First, we hear Trump voters express disappointment. They’re disappointed about a lot of things, but mostly they’re disappointed that the President has abandoned his populist campaign rhetoric and turned into just another trickle-down Republican.

“He said he was going to raise taxes on hedge fund guys, pay for things we need,” a cop in Illinois told us. “And then he went and cut their taxes huge and now they’re talking about not having enough money for Social Security.”

The other thing we hear is Democrats sneering at Trump voters. We’re terrible about that. On healthcare, for example, we scorn areas that both benefited from the ACA and voted heavily for Trump, who promised to kill it. The jokes write themselves, and ridicule provides some satisfaction after a loss that still grinds.

But this is politics, and the goal of politics is to win elections. You don’t win elections by driving people away.

People’s House Project works in the red swath of the country from western Iowa to the beaches of Virginia. There are more Trump voters across that band than there are Hillary voters, but their disappointment in Trump is a huge opportunity for Democrats. People are listening who haven’t in decades. They’re hungry for some way out of their economic wilderness. Trump got their hopes up, and in the end let them down.

The only way we’re going to be able to get Trump voters is if make them feel welcome. That doesn’t mean we have to accept everything the Trump coalition holds dear. There are white nationalists we would never tolerate, to pick an extreme example. But the Trump supporters within our reach are people who thought Trump cared about their economic problems and wanted to help.

If there’s going to be a Blue Wave in November, a lot of those Trump voters are going to have to like what they hear from us. If we offer only a steady diet of ridicule and smug triumphalism, they’ll turn their backs. But if we listen to their concerns, if we respect their beliefs, and if we deliver a classically Progressive message of empowerment, respect, and dignity, we may be able to capture them forever.

The Democratic Party claims to be the party of working people, of the powerless, of the forgotten. We’ve maintained that rhetoric but lost touch with the soul of what that means, in the process losing the parts of the country that used to provide our strength. Regaining that soul starts with a spirit of welcome.

There is a place for everyone at our table, even those who voted against us last time.

Join us.
Commentary - 03/07/2018

Are these souls doomed to perpetual purgatory, to a Ground Hogs Day again and again, or is there an upward slopping learning curve among a substantial percentage of the non-alt-right body of people who bought the sales pitch and now might show regret. Blue Wave thundering across a nation, or . . .