Sunday, July 05, 2015

Fourth Funnies

Trump: I didn't expect the backlash to be "quite this severe"

We should know later today, Angela.

"The British government remained willing to conceive of Native Americans as subjects of the crown, similar to colonists," Ethan Schmidt writes in Native Americans in the American Revolution. "American colonists … refused to see Indians as fellow subjects. Instead, they viewed them as obstacles in the way of their dreams of land ownership and trading wealth." This view is reflected in the Declaration of Independence, which attacks King George III for backing "merciless Indian Savages."

-- "Three Reasons the American Revolution Was a Mistake", from Dylan Matthews at Vox.  The thing to keep in mind here is that one man's treason is another's righteous rebellion.  The Tea Party is hardly different from the Occupy movement in this regard.  And history, as we well know, is written by the victors.

Friday, July 03, 2015

DNC kills Texas Two-Step to protect Clinton from being Obama'ed by Sanders

That's my premise, anyway.

Seven years after Barack Obama earned the majority of Texas' delegates despite losing the primary to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic National Committee has put an end to the state's hybrid presidential nominating process, saying it "had the potential to confuse voters."

Under the two-step process, two-thirds of a candidate's convention delegates are awarded on the basis of the primary election results. The remaining third are chosen at caucuses, which are held after the polls closed on primary night.

Now, at the direction of the national party, delegates will be based solely on the primary results, a shift some party members lamented Tuesday.

"It's not the way we would prefer to do it," said Harris County Democratic Party Chair Lane Lewis. "I still think that there is plenty of opportunity for individuals who want to participate in the delegate process to be able to participate."

The Frontloading blog agrees with me.

As a side note, it hard to resist viewing the denied waiver request as a signal of if not the Clinton campaign's pull on the Rules and Bylaws Committee, then the reality that there are folks on the committee (Harold Ickes comes to mind) that are or have in the past been aligned with the Clintons. That comment is not meant as some form of conspiracy theory. That is how the Democratic process has worked: Surrogates of the various campaigns get involved in the rules process. Given that Clinton folks were not fans of the two-step (and for arguably legitimate reasons) after 2008, it is not a real shock that it would meet its end now.

But why now and not four years ago? Parties holding the White House tend not to tinker as much with their delegate selection rules. And by extension, those in the White House at the head of their parties often prefer to maintain the same combination of rules that got them to the White House in the first place. The denied Texas request is as much about the DNC transitioning to life after Obama as it is about Clinton (and company) not liking the two-step because of 2008.

Back in Part One of my thesis on Bernie Sanders' even-more-difficult-than-you-may-think path to the Democratic nomination (Part Two is still under construction), I mentioned that Democratic muckety-mucks would start jamming Sanders if he began to get traction.  Well, he's been getting some serious traction, and sure enough, they're changing the rules to protect HRC and thwart him.

If you think this is not the case, I'd like to read your argument against it in the comments.

Update: Still don't think the insiders are working against him?

Richard Trumka has a message for state and local AFL-CIO leaders tempted to endorse Bernie Sanders: Don’t.

In a memo this week to state, central and area divisions of the labor federation, and obtained by POLITICO, the AFL-CIO chief reminded the groups that its bylaws don’t permit them to “endorse a presidential candidate” or “introduce, consider, debate, or pass resolutions or statements that indicate a preference for one candidate over another.” Even “‘personal’ statements” of candidate preference are verboten, Trumka said.

The memo comes amid signs of a growing split between national union leaders — mindful of the fact that Clinton remains the undisputed favorite for the nomination — and local officials and rank and file, who are increasingly drawn to the Democratic Party’s growing progressive wing, for whom Sanders is the latest standard-bearer.


His message wasn’t anything new for the federation’s state leaders: They know that endorsement decisions belong to the national leadership. Still, it was unusual for Trumka to call them out in a memo. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one before like this,” said Jeff Johnson, the president of the AFL-CIO’s Washington state labor council.

Johnson agreed that it was important for the AFL-CIO to speak with a single voice. But “there’s a lot of anxiety out there in the labor movement,” he said, “and we’re desperately searching for a candidate that actually speaks to working-class values. The Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders camp is very, very attractive to many of our members and to many of us as leaders, because they’re talking about the things that need to happen in this country.”

Similarly, Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman said he agreed that Trumka had to lay down the law. More tellingly, though, he added: “Bernie Sanders has spent his life actually fighting for working people. He’s made no secret of it, and he’s used it as his mantra. And that I respect very much.” When asked about Clinton’s candidacy, Tolman was less effusive: “Who? Who? Please. I mean with all respect, huh?”

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Paxton faces first-degree felony indictment

The water just got hotter for the state's top law enforcement officer (who double-dips as minister of state religion).

The criminal investigation against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has taken a more serious turn, with special prosecutors now planning to present a first-degree felony securities fraud case against him to a Collin County grand jury, News 8 has learned.

Special prosecutor Kent Schaffer told News 8 Wednesday afternoon that the Texas Rangers uncovered new evidence during the investigation that led to the securities fraud allegations against the sitting attorney general.

"The Rangers went out to investigate one thing, and they came back with information on something else," Schaffer told News 8. "It's turned into something different than when they started."

Schaffer, a Houston criminal defense attorney, said the securities fraud allegations involve amounts well in excess of $100,000. He declined to comment specifics of the fraud allegations.

A first-degree felony conviction is punishable by up to life in prison.

Just ponder that last sentence for a moment before we proceed.  It's nice to have friends in high places, like Rick Perry, when you screw up and break the law.

News 8 also learned Wednesday that Paxton had hired a former federal district judge.

"I met with General Paxton and he had retained me to look into the matter," said Joe Kendall, who practices in Dallas. "I am honored that he did. He's a good man."

Kendall told News 8 that he met with Paxton "very recently" in Dallas and confirmed that he was hired within the past two days.

"I'm going to be helping look into the matter," Kendall said, declining to comment further.

Yes, he's a good Christian man, one who has advised county clerks across Texas in recent days to violate their oaths (sworn on a Bible, mind you) and refuse to process marriage applications if they have religious objections to the people who wish to be married.  Never mind that state law defines this function of county clerks and their surrogates as ministerial, a definition everyone ought to acquaint themselves with.  Paxton's been forced to fold his tent for the most part in this regard, although he is still 'fighting the good fight', like a Japanese soldier hiding in a cave years after his nation's surrender in WWII.

As with our illustrious former governor and erstwhile presidential candidate, Paxton could still skate across the thin ice, since the Lege emasculated the Public Integrity Unit in Travis County, and the proceedings now will be heard in his home county of Collin.  It's the good old grand jury 'pick-a-pal' system that may save him, the perverse details of which earned the Houston Chronicle's Lisa Falkenberg a Pulitzer earlier this year, and which compelled the Lege to pass and the governor to sign into law a statute that eliminates it.  (That law does not go into effect until September.)

I can't bet against Paxton hanging on to his job.  God is on his side, after all, and the prayers of something in excess of 50% of registered Republicans in the state may lift him up to even more exalted status in the wake of all these "libruls" persecuting him.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

How many fundraising e-mails did you get?

Did you delete them without reading them?  Did you actually make any contributions?

This is what democracy looks like now.

Enter to Win: Who doesn't love a shot at winning something? Ted Cruz invited supporters to "come shooting with me." It was free to enter the contest to win a shooting outing with the Texas senator, but Cruz told supporters: "After you've entered, make a generous Shoot With Ted contribution of $35, $50, $100 or more to my campaign." Jeb Bush threw a $3 contest promising that three winners would get a photo of Bush and his father "battling it out on the tennis court," signed by both the candidate and the former president.

Fake Deadlines: Tuesday's end-of-quarter fundraising deadline is the real deal. The candidates all have to report how much cash they've raised during the quarter and then face judgment on what those numbers say about their viability. But, hey, why wait for a real deadline when you can make up one? Marco Rubio's campaign urged supporters to help raise $44,000 in a day in honor of his 44th birthday. Columba Bush asked people to contribute to her husband in the first 24 hours of his campaign because "everyone is watching to see how much support we have out the gate."

Pivot Off the News: Republican candidates turned last week's Supreme Court rulings in support of the president's health care law and same-sex marriage into a barrage of fundraising emails. One Rand Paul subject line on the health care ruling: "I'm afraid this is bad news, Fellow Conservative." Rick Santorum took aim at the gay marriage ruling in a fundraising email urging supporters to help rescue America because "the relentless liberal agenda knows no pause." $100, please.

Family Affair: Candidates trot out glowing endorsements from spouses and kids to gin up cash. Rick Perry's wife, Anita, told supporters: "He's the most principled man I've ever known" — and please donate to "have a front row seat to history."

Size Matters: Big contributions are nice, but the little ones add up — and can say something about the depth of support for a candidate. Bernie Sanders made a decidedly lowball pitch as a way of making a statement in his Democratic campaign. "Stand up to the Super PAC attacking us by making a $3 contribution to our campaign today, and send a powerful message that you have had enough of the billionaire class buying elections," he wrote.

Don't Ask: Sometimes, it's nice to check in with supporters without hitting them up for cash. Supporters are more likely to keep opening a candidate's emails if it's not always about the money. There's no purchase necessary to enter Hillary Rodham Clinton's contest to win dinner with the Democratic candidate, for example. And Carly Fiorina's campaign sent out a chatty email from her friend and former business colleague Deb Bowker describing the Republican candidate as "a strong, determined, optimistic woman with a heart filled with a passion for service." There's no "ask" in either email. But recipients will surely be hearing more.

Since we also have a municipal election going on in Houston, some of us also got a daily boxcar load of e-mail solicitations from mayoral hopefuls, council candidates, and even judicials running for office in 2016 (some of them are trying to scare off primary challengers).

Nobody seems the least bit embarrassed by all of this money-grubbing.  A recent NYT poll showed...

  • More than four in five Americans say money plays too great a role in political campaigns;
  • Two-thirds say that the wealthy have more of a chance to influence elections than other Americans;
  • This is true across the partisan divide: Republicans were almost as likely as Democrats to favor restrictions on campaign donations;
  • Despite all this – almost no one in the poll ranked money in politics as the most important issue facing the country.

So what's it going to take the change it?  I just don't believe that voting for the same old people in the same old two parties over the years has done much to fix it, despite what few mumblings are being uttered.  Do we just keep on bumping down the road with a flat tire and nobody in the car willing to stop and get out and change it?  That's not what we teach our teenagers to do: ignore your problems, hope they'll resolve themselves.

There are other better options on your ballot; we just need more people to come to that realization and stop perpetuating the decay.  Because what we've been doing in the past isn't going to produce a result any different than what we have previously gotten.  Definition of insanity and all that.