Laughing Our Ossoff

It was a big day in Georgia: not only did a woman beat a young, white-male challenger, but she won despite him out-fundraising her 5-to-1. But, you won’t hear the Democrats say that!

Here are the best #ossoff tweets celebrating Handel’s victory:

Donald Trump Jr. got in on it too:

As did the President himself:

Oh, and look who spent $.73 million on Ossoff. Losing big-league:

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Haveman Blasts Schuette for Playing Politics with Flint

Photo: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is being accused of using the Flint water crisis as a political tool, to benefit his own career. He charged two more top officials last week.

Governor Snyder, immediately came out in defense of Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Snyder released a video statement making it clear Lyon would not be suspended and remain “On Duty.”

Jim Haveman, former director of the department has also come to Lyon’s defense, and told MIRS News he believes Schuette is using Flint to aid him in his run for governor.

He blames Schuette for “the sweeping up of persons to blame,” which he argues “should send a chill down the spine of law abiding citizens… while families and careers are destroyed.”

Haveman continued, “Everyone knows he sees his charges of a dozen folks to be a stepping stone as he seeks the GOP nomination for the state’s top office… They are trying to show how tough they can be.”

He concluded the by telling MIRS, “we should be thanking him (Lyon) for his solid leadership and not charging him with manslaughter.”

Snyder said in his video statement last week, “Some state employees were charged over a year ago, and have been suspended from work since that time. They still have not had their day in court. That is not justice for Flint nor for those who have been charged.”

Many conservatives across the state agree with Governor Snyder and Haveman, and are skeptical of Schuette’s investigation. It’s no secret Schuette will likely run for governor, and between these recent charges and the investigation being drawn out, he could be using this tragedy as a political tool to benefit him in the race. If Michigan voters agree with this sentiment, it will be detrimental to his 2018 bid for governor.

Conservatives Traveling the State to Back Trump

Donald Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate Michigan has voted for since 1988. A big part of his success came from a movement of grassroots activists that organized one of the most well-coordinated voter contact efforts in Michigan’s history, giving Trump incredible momentum leading up to the general election.

A new group called Michigan Trump Republicans has announced dates, times, and locations for a statewide tour.

Michigan Trump Republicans are trying to bring together conservatives and grassroots activists to stand up for the President, and combat the leftists that are trying to defeat his agenda.

 An email that went out that listed Meshawn Maddock and Diane Schindlbeck as contacts for the group. Both served as county co-chairs for the Trump campaign, and were two of the most active grassroots supporters and organizers in Michigan.

They made national news during the campaign after organizing “Trump Flash Mobs”, public sign waving events in almost every major Michigan city that attracted thousands of supporters. The Trump Flash Mobs caught on and spread to other states as well.

If the Michigan Trump Republicans are able to keep the same coalition that helped Trump in 2016 engaged, Trump and Republican candidates statewide will have a lot of momentum in upcoming elections.

Sources say they could be part of a larger national grassroots movement to drum up support for Trump, and propel him to victory again in 2020.

It looks as though they’re also being backed by the business community that supported Trump prior to the election. Fricano’s Muskegon Lake, a well-known Muskegon restaurant owned by Ted Fricano, is listed as one of the stopping points. Fricano provided Trump with in-kind office space during the campaign, and he and his brother Doug, also a West Michigan restaurant owner, came out publicly in support of Trump.

Free food and drinks will be provided at each tour stop. Here are the stops that have been announced so far:

June 26, 6-7pm
Troy/Rochester Hills
Avery’s Tavern
2086 Crooks Road

July 10. 6-7pm
Novi
IHOP
43317 Grand River

July 24, 6-7pm
Royal Oak
Duggan’s Irish Pub
31501 Woodward Ave

August 7, 6-7pm
Muskegon
Fricano’s Muskegon Lake
1050 W. Western Ave

August 8, 6-7pm
White Lake
Dave & Amy’s
9595 Highland Road

Russia Called…

… they want their platform back.

 

 

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No Excuse For Political Violence

The Briefing, Vol. V, Issue 25 – This week:

  • No excuse for political violence
  • Gillespie squeaks by in Virginia, showing continued anti-establishment sentiment
  • Georgia, South Carolina House races decided on Tuesday

Outlook

“[T]he Americans, having once admitted the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people, apply it with perfect sincerity. It was never their intention out of elements which are changing every day to create institutions that should last forever; and there is consequently nothing criminal in an attack upon the existing laws, provided a violent infraction of them is not intended.”

— Alexis de Tocqueville

At times, some people come to believe that their political cause is so righteous that it is worth shedding blood over. This may have been the case at various times and in various places in human history. But it is most certainly not the case in U.S. domestic politics today.

In a nation where free speech is both prized and well-protected by the law, there is no reason to take up arms to prove one’s point, whatever it might be. This is all the more true given that our society and political culture both provide a constitutional mechanism for change, and have shown a willingness to adapt to the popular will. Not everyone’s side can win every election, but no one is silenced or oppressed so badly that their message cannot be heard. This is why our political battles in twenty-first century America are fought with ballots, not bullets. The freedom of political expression and the real possibility of political change through election obviate violent revolution, and thus do more to prevent it than an entire occupying army could.

Unfortunately, not everyone sees things clearly. And today, with so many people in the mainstream of society losing their minds over the election of Donald Trump, it was only a matter of time before someone lacking self-control stepped forward to do something regrettable.

Fortunately, the Bernie Sanders volunteer who assaulted the Republican practice for the Congressional baseball charity game failed to kill anyone.

It would be a big mistake to suggest that Sanders-ites are generally violent, or that the Left has a monopoly on political violence, or even that the general tone of political rhetoric led to this result. It’s perfectly fair for people to be passionate about their disagreements; it’s not their passion that is to blame for the occasional nut who does something like this.

But this shooting incident, with its unmistakable political motive and ideological overtone, serves as a warning about what happens when people fail to keep things in perspective. Anyone who believes their political cause must succeed by any means necessary is a threat to the civil order that has made America great and prosperous.

Assuming the survival of House Majority White Steve Scalise, R-La. — upgraded from “critical” to “serious” over the weekend — the deceased shooter failed in his mission to end the lives of the unarmed Republicans he happened across on the baseball diamond. The Capitol Police contingent that guards Scalise can be thanked for this.

Even if American politics is important, it is not worth killing one’s opponents over. The nation is divided, and people have disagreements. But we have a Constitution and laws that provide means for settling them in a civilized manner. And the notion that the manner can always be civilized has never been truer than it is today. There is no excuse for this sort of attack.

Governor 2017

Virginia: Polls of primary elections in Virginia, it appears, cannot be taken very seriously. Perhaps the lessons of former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s 2014 defeat were not taken to heart as they should have been.

The supposedly up-and-coming progressive wing of the Democratic Party suffered a defeat last week as Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam defeated former Rep. Tom Perriello in the primary for governor by a healthy 12-point margin — a 20-point swing from a late poll showing Perriello comfortably ahead.

Northam benefited from the Washington Post’s endorsement, surely, but not by that much. In the late stages of the race, it really seemed like Perriello had the momentum and he had begun taking a lead in a number of polls.

Yet Virginia Democrats ignored the endorsements of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, various Obama administration officials, and left-wing SuperPACs that got involved in the race. They made the safer, more conventional choice, and it wasn’t even close.

On the Republican side, things were even more interesting. Yes, former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie won as expected. But it was by the slightest of margins, just over a percentage point, despite a massive polling lead that had seemed insurmountable.

His opponent, Prince William County Executive Corey Stewart, carried the Trump banner in this race, even if he did not enjoy President Trump’s support. Stewart, recall, was booted from Trump’s campaign team last year after he staged an unauthorized picket outside the Republican National Committee’s headquarters to protest the party’s supposed lack of support for Trump. Before any of that, he was well-known as an immigration hardliner, and in this race, he had vocally opposed the removal of Confederate monuments in Virginia.

The lesson in Stewart’s near-miss against a strong second-time statewide candidate is that the same anti-establishment fervor that handed Trump the nomination remains unexpectedly strong among the Republican rank-and-file. This should put a bit of fear into the hearts of many Republican incumbents who face 2018 primary challenges. Even now, as Trump faces grave challenges and even threats to his young presidency, the message and attitude that propelled him to the White House continues to hold sway within the party he took over.

Gillespie emerges from the primary a battered nominee in a very harsh environment for the GOP, and Stewart did not commit to support him. It is also not a good sign that Democratic turnout last week was considerably higher than Republican turnout — although this could be due to the fact that Republicans haven’t had a gubernatorial primary in 12 years, and haven’t had a competitive one in even longer than that.

House 2017

Georgia: The polls generally do not look good for Republican Karen Handel, although one local media poll shows her recovering from a seven point deficit to pull even in this wild race. Once again, she will likely have to overcome a large advantage for Democrat Jon Ossoff in the early vote with votes cast on election day.

Democrats want and need this scalp. After many disappointing defeats, it is their best opportunity by far to put points on the board in the first quarter of Trump’s presidency. If Handel wins, the frustration and recriminations will be deafening.

South Carolina: Republicans really need to hold the former seat of OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, and they most likely will. Former Republican state Rep. Ralph Norman should be considered a strong favorite over Democrat Archie Parnell in a district that is quite unlike the one in Georgia that will be decided the same night.

Whereas Georgia’s Sixth district moved away from the Trump GOP, giving Hillary Clinton much better results than Barack Obama had gotten in 2012, this district did the opposite, showing its Trump-esque streak in November. The fact that the parties and outside groups haven’t been spending here is the clearest indicator.

House 2018

Idaho-1: As we expected, former state Sen. Russ Fulcher is abandoning his run for governor and running for this seat instead. He is deferring in the governor’s race to the seat’s current occupant, Rep. Raul Labrador, with whom he is personally close and who endorsed Fulcher immediately to succeed him. If Labrador and Fulcher both win their respective offices — a very strong possibility — it will swing the state’s Republican-dominated politics dramatically rightward from where it is now.

J.B. Pritzker’s Campaign in Turmoil Just Months After Gubernatorial Announcement

PC: Phil Velasquez / Chicago Tribune

J.B. Pritzker announced he was running for governor in April. Since then his campaign has had very little to celebrate, and has taken some major blows, which call into question Pritzker’s character and ability to lead.

Shortly after he announced, news broke that Pritzker was using shady tactics to save thousands of dollars on his property taxes, likely to help fund his campaign. He saved $230,000 in property tax breaks and refunds, on a multimillion dollar mansion he bought and let fall into a state of disrepair, next door to the mansion he was already living in with his family.

A few weeks later, the Chicago Tribune released FBI wiretaps of conversations between Pritzker and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich, is currently doing 14 years in federal prison for attempting to sell Barrack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.

Pritzker’s longstanding relationship with the corrupt governor was never a secret, but the newly released audio reveals he was playing along with Blagojevich, and trying to use him to further his own political career.

On the recordings, Blagojevich and Pritzker can be heard discussing potential candidates to fill Obama’s U.S. Senate seat, and how it might benefit the governor politically.

Previously released audio from the 2010 trial featured a call between Blagojevich and then-advisor Doug Scofield. Pritzker was on Blagojevich’s short list for the vacated Senate seat, and he believed he could get a high-paying job as the leader of a private foundation funded by Pritzker if he appointed him.

Blagojevich said Pritzker could easily raise “10, 15, 20 million dollars.”

“I betcha J.B. can raise me money like that,” Blagojevich said. “If I can get J.B. to do somethin’ like that, is it worth, ah, givin’ him the Senate seat? Incidentally, he, he asked me for it. Don’t repeat that.”

With the release of the new audio, it turns out Prtizker wasn’t really interested in the Senate seat. When it came up, he asked Blagojevich to consider appointing him state treasurer instead.

“Ooh, interesting,” Blagojevich responded. “Let’s think about that. You interested in that?”

“Yeah,” Pritzker answered, “that’s the one I would want.”

Blagojevich also told Pritzker attorney general might be another option, if the state treasurer position didn’t work out. Blagojevich was still considering appointing current AG Lisa Madigan to the Senate, which would leave an opening for AG. Pritzker indicated he might be interested in that as well.

Pritzker’s campaign has tried distancing themselves from Blagojevich and the illegal activity that landed him in prison.

“There was nothing untoward about J.B. Pritzker’s conversations and throughout his career he has considered different ways he could serve the people of Illinois. The record is clear that Rod Blagojevich was having dozens of conversations with both elected officials and private citizens, including members of President Obama’s transition team, which is why he is currently in prison. J.B. has been a proud supporter of hundreds of progressive and Democratic leaders and organizations in Illinois and across the country, especially those who have been supporters of early childhood education,” said campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen.

It’s a difficult argument to make, considering their public relationship goes back two decades. Blagojevich has been one of Pritzker’s greatest political ally’s, standing behind him even when it wasn’t glamorous or popular. After Pritzker lost his congressional race in 1988, Blagojevich told the Chicago Tribune,

“We are going to hear a lot more from J.B. Pritzker, because ultimately, in the long haul, quality will emerge, (as will) J.B.’s knowledge of issues and his commitment to those issues. This was a good first start and I think J.B. has a tremendous future. Remember, Abraham Lincoln didn’t win his first election and Mario Cuomo lost several races before he got elected. For J.B., this is only the beginning,”

Pritzker has repaid Blagojevich’s undying loyalty and political favors with financial gifts. The Pritzker family donated at least $140,000 to Blagojevich’s gubernatorial campaigns between 2002 and 2006. And in 2006, Pritzker donated $500,000 to help Governor Blagojevich rebuild a fire-damaged Pilgrim Baptist Church. He was named chief fundraiser for the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center later that year.

Pritzker was looking for the ultimate political favor in asking the governor for the state treasurer appointment. Based on their conversations, it seemed that the governor was committed to finding Pritzker a suitable position in the Illinois government. It would have been difficult for him to say no to somebody that had his back financially for many years.

There are a lot of questions that need to be answered by Pritzker and his campaign. Just a few months in, Pritzker is already looking like the ultimate insider, with his hands in places that should be cause for concern. He’s losing the trust of voters in Illinois, and it’s only a matter of time before more of his corrupt background becomes clear.

 

 

Game of Politics, 9th Cir. Edition

Parker Brothers’ smash hit since 1935, revised an updated for the 9th Circuit Court!

 

 

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What Britain’s election says about Trump’s GOP

The Briefing, Vol. V, Issue 24 – This week:

  • What the UK election might mean for the GOP
  • Comey’s testimony a double-edged sword
  • Ossoff closing strong in Georgia, to Republicans’ dismay

Trump coalition: The UK Conservative Party’s disappointing election result last week might not seem at all related to American politics. But in fact, it is a lot more relevant than you might think. Bear with us for a moment as we explain why.

First, think back to the British elections of 2015. They were widely expected to produce a “hung parliament” — a situation where no party is strong enough to build a governing coalition in parliament. But that’s not how it ended up happening.

Instead, the 2015 election saw the UK Independence Party or UKIP — the party advocating for British exit from the European Union — had a strong nationwide showing that surprisingly and in key places came mostly at the expense of the center-left Labour Party.

One might have expected — and many did — that a party like UKIP would gobble up Conservative votes. It might have in some cases, but where it counted UKIP gobbled up the votes of working-class Britons in England. (Labour also suffered from the Scottish nationalists crushing them throughout Scotland, but there’s no analogy between that and the current situation on this side of the pond.)

In retrospect, and mutatis mutandis, that 2015 election demonstrated that something resembling Trumpism resided among center-left parties’ voters. UKIP performed far better than expected in many Labour strongholds, but failed to win seats. Instead, it made Labour seats more competitive for the Conservatives, who in many cases came out on top.

Fast-forward to 2017. The so-called “Brexit” question has already been put to bed, making UKIP a victim of its own success. Its vote share plummeted throughout Britain, and it won no seats at all in Parliament. This did not come as a surprise.

But the Conservative election plan — to gobble up all of the newly politically conscious UKIP voters — failed abysmally. In critical places all over England and Wales, those voters went back to Labour, whose message in this election under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn was considerably more left-leaning and populist than it had been in 2015. The working class was satisfied that Brexit was over, and reverted to their prior voting habits.

As a result, the Conservatives lost their parliamentary majority. They must now rely on a small regional party from Northern Ireland to survive a no-confidence vote.

So, how does this have anything to do with U.S. politics? Here’s how: It offers a vision of one possible future of the Trump coalition — a future where it breaks up and returns Democrats to power.

We have been writing for three solid years about how the Democratic Party faced a bleak future after Obama — a future with lower black voter turnout and less loyalty from young and non-white voters, and also no strong party candidates for president. And this theme has proven to be the unsung anthem of that period. But the British elections put a similar question to the Republicans. Yes, they have a coalition, but how stable is it?

In his 2016 election, President Trump assembled what seemed like a very unlikely coalition of the typical Middle Class Republican voter and the Working Class Democratic voter. It was exactly what Trump promised to do, but no one believed he could do it until the moment it happened. Downscale and economically neglected areas in states all over America — but especially in the region stretching around the Great Lakes from the Upper Midwest to Northern Maine — flipped from Obama to Trump.

That was good news for Republicans in 2016, but it isn’t necessarily a permanent change they can bank on, the way they often seem to think when they discuss the white working-class voter. Just as conservatives were wrong to believe that UKIP voters had somehow come rightward, so might Republicans be wrong to assume that they can keep Trump’s coalition together after, for example, he does something about NAFTA that takes the edge off their interest in the GOP.

Another way of putting this: If Republicans don’t take Trump’s message for the economically downtrodden seriously and figure out how it worked and what policies can keep it relevant, then the voters who embraced Trump’s right-leaning populism could easily turn around and go back to voting for the same left-wing populism they supported for generations.

This is not guaranteed, obviously, and we present no proof here that it will happen. But it is one possible future that Republicans need to take seriously and, if possible, avoid. Because it’s the future we just saw happen in the UK, much to the detriment of the conservative cause there..

Comey testimony: Former FBI director James Comey’s testimony last week was a double- edged sword.

Team Trump has decided that attacking Comey personally is the way to defuse the controversy. This seems doubtful.

Comey’s testimony actually dispelled some negative rumors about Trump. It probably knocked down most of the basis for any belief that there’s evidence out there of direct collusion between him and the Russian government to affect the 2016 election outcome. It also vindicated his claim that he was not under investigation at the time Comey was fired, as well as his claim that Comey had told him as much on three occasions.

It did not leave the impression that Trump had tried to squelch the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Plus, for any doubters, Comey made clear that he had always operated on the understanding that he could be fired at any time for any reason by the president.

That all seems like enough of a win for Trump that he could have just run with what was said and be satisfied. So why stage a propaganda campaign against Comey, including paid advertising, suggesting that he is untrustworthy or just a political animal?

The problem is that Comey testified to more than just the above. The part that Democrats are especially latching on to is his claim that Trump had specifically tried to get him to leave former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn alone after his firing from the administration. This could just be a case of Trump showing his loyalty and also his lack of understanding of what’s proper to ask of an FBI director. Or it could be obstruction of justice.

But here’s the thing: Even if there’s a new, less grandiose case for Trump malfeasance now, the bigger and more robust case that called the election’s legitimacy into question is already dead. Trump was peeved that the FBI director was unwilling to vindicate him in public as he had done in private, instead leaving a cloud over his head as he tried to do his new and very challenging job. This might be understandable.

Was he out of line in some of his requests? Perhaps, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller will take up that question. But those hoping for an impeachment-worthy offense to surface soon are now forced to abandon what they had been hoping for up to now, and to embrace a new set of facts inconsistent with their optimistic expectations.

The result is that everyone loses. Trump, in aggressively going after Comey, knocks down a man who is nearly vouching for him; and his critics, in hyping Comey, have seen their anti-Trump expectations deflated.

House 2017

Georgia-6: Republican Karen Handel’s inability to break away from Democrat Jon Ossoff — or even to demonstrate a lead of any kind, for that matter — is a troubling sign for Republicans.

The district, which went heavily for Mitt Romney in 2012, had never provided them with any trouble before this year. But the most expensive House race in history appears to be shifting in Democrats’ favor, and the clock is running short.

A win for Ossoff would give Democrats points on the board and a big victory to rally around. It would also come as the first clear indication of the trouble Republicans face in an unusually hostile political environment that Republicans. Election Day is June 20.

Governor 2018

Colorado: It might be a bit odd that left-wing Rep. Jared Polis, D, is suddenly running for governor. On at least one level, though, it’s easy to understand.

Polis, who is very wealthy, ran up against Democratic opposition while trying to fund and promote environmental ballot measures in Colorado against fracking. Democrats such as Gov. John Hickenlooper wanted to keep the issue off the ballot lest Democrats suffer from it, and Polis somehow felt obligated to defer to them.

How do you seize control of your party’s message on the issues? Can you think of a better way than to run for governor and win?

Kansas: Secretary of State Kris Kobach, R, who is known primarily on the national level for his hard-line on immigration and his involvement in developing a controversial Arizona immigration law, has declared his candidacy for governor. He will be running in a very tough environment for Republicans, given term-limited Gov. Sam Brownback’s deep unpopularity.

Brownback’s tax reductions have just been repealed, with his veto overridden by the legislature. The local political situation probably gave Democrats a leg up in their unsuccessful yet vigorous challenge for the Fourth District House seat in mid-April.

Recall, on the other hand, that in 2014 the national left-wing media clamored for Kobach’s defeat. They hyped his opponents in the primary and general to an embarrassing degree, only to watch Kobach win his primary by 30 point and his general election by 20.

Ready. Aim…

Fire!

 

 

 
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Lena Epstein Calls on Debbie Stabenow to Match $500,000 Fine for Illegal Campaign Activity that Helped Elect Her Over Many Decades

AP Photo / Paul Sancya

Michigan Democrats are in a state of disarray after being hit with a $500,000 fine by the Federal Election Commission. The scandal was first reported by the Detroit Free Press, and it marks largest penalties ever levied by that office.

Sarah Anderson, spokeswoman for the Michigan Republican Party told the Detroit Free Press,

“This is further evidence of the Democrats’ inability to represent anyone, even those willing to invest their hard-earned money. They are a party in total disarray,” she said. “The magnitude of the fine demonstrates that this is not a simple bookkeeping error. It appears to be a systematic mishandling of funds.”

The illegal funds helped to elect Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow, and will be a huge blow to her reelection bid in 2018.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Lena Epstein has already called for her opponent to immediately match the $500,000 fine with a charitable contribution. She said in her statement:

“The Democrats have now admitted that they illegally reported and used millions of dollars to help elect Debbie Stabenow over her more than 20 years in Washington D.C. and 43 years as an elected official.  This is one of the largest fines ever levied by the Federal Election Commission and these crimes go back decades.  Michigan voters deserve an exact accounting of how much of this money was spent to help Debbie Stabenow over this time period.  I am publicly calling on Debbie Stabenow to immediately donate $500,000 to charity to match the fine levied by the FEC for illegal money that was used to help elect her.”

This is a great sign for Republicans in Michigan, who haven’t won a U.S. Senate seat in almost two decades. In recent years, Republican candidates have come off as weak, and unwilling to say the things necessary to regain a seat in the Senate.

When Epstein announced, respected political pundit Bill Ballenger called her a “skilled public speaker” and the “toughest Republican Stabenow has ever faced in her 42-year career in elected office.”

As a surrogate for the Trump campaign, she was never afraid to attack Hillary Clinton. Today, she is taking her first public shot at incumbent Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow and it appears she won’t be pulling any punches.

Former Trump campaign officials and business owners have quickly come out in support of her campaign. She also raised a record breaking $100,000 her first day as a candidate.