CIA Chief says Russia will try to hack mid-terms.
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to resign.
Trump refugee ban partially lifted.
House intel panel to release FBI memo on eavesdropping.
David Beckham to (finally) bring MLS to Miami.
Via the Washington Post:
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) will retire from the Senate at the end of this term, he announced Tuesday, a decision that will bring a decades-long congressional career to an end early next year.
“After much prayer and discussion with family and friends, I’ve decided to retire at the end of this term,” Hatch, 83, said in a video posted on Twitter. Hatch is the president pro tempore of the Senate, as well as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
Hatch’s retirement means an open seat race in his Republican-leaning state in this year’s midterm election. Some Republicans expect Mitt Romney to run for Hatch’s seat, although the former presidential nominee has not made any definitive public statements about his plans.
Good riddance, you pompous, arrogant, self-righteous windbag. And I hope there’s a big fat primary challenge from a Trumpian neo-Nazi against Mitt Romney so a Democrat insurgent can slip through just like Alabama.
Here we go with my annual recap and prognostication for the year. Let’s see how I did a year ago.
I’m still frightened. Nothing — not the Mueller investigation, the revelations coming from various sources, or chatter about impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment — has calmed my fear that he is still capable of doing something that puts us and the rest of the world in peril. As for the second bullet point, we are seeing faint glimmers that disillusionment is happening in the nooks and crannies of America where he can do no wrong, and no amount of tweeting and bullshit from Fox News can turn around his dismal approval numbers. But that just means that fully 1/3 of the electorate still approve of him. Even his failures — Obamacare yet survives and the deportations haven’t happened — haven’t dimmed the hopes of the dim.
Obviously I’m not an economist because if I was I would have known that the economy lags behind and the continued growth and low unemployment rate are a result of Obama’s policies. Of course Trump is taking credit for it.
The Syrian civil war goes on but it’s not dominating the news cycles, and ISIS is a lessening factor. I don’t know if it’s sheer exhaustion. The refugee crisis goes on but with a lesser magnitude.
Trump rescinded some of the Obama administration’s changes in our relations with Cuba but not enough to return us to Cold War status. The blockade, such as it is, enters its 57th year.
Charlottesville and Trump’s tacit support of the Nazis proved that to be true, more’s the pity.
I lost two uncles and a nephew since I wrote that.
They traded Justin Verlander. Yeah, he helped the Astros win the World Series, but…
Okay, now on to predictions.
Okay, friends; it’s your turn.
Now that the Republicans have passed their massive — $1.5 trillion in deficit increase can only be described as massive — tax bill, the vow among a lot of Democrats has been to make the GOP pay for this highway robbery and con game at the polls in 2018 and 2020.
But that won’t happen by itself. We have seen all too often how inertia and propaganda have paralyzed organized opposition from the Democrats who have enough trouble among themselves to get their shit together to mount a campaign. The fact that Doug Jones won in the special election is great, but that he won by less than ten points against an alleged child molester and a proven Constitutional scofflaw means that they still have a lot of hard work to do.
The Republicans will mount a rabid defense of the indefensible, using every means possible to suppress the vote, demonize the candidates, put the fear of Jesus in the hands of the paid-off preachers and religious hypocrites, and channel it all through Fox News at a rate that would make Josef Goebbels blush with pride. And the response from the Democrats and progressives must be swift, organized, and merciless. No Republican should go unchallenged for any seat in Congress, no district should be considered safe, and no state legislature should be unchallenged in their attempts to gerrymander the state into being held hostage by 35% of the popular vote.
Can Democrats and progressives do it? Can they elect enough of their kind to put an end to this regime of smug kleptocracy? They’ve done it in fits and starts in the past, but in the face of this boorish and brazen incompetence and possible treason, the hard truth is that if they cannot, then they don’t deserve to win.
The only disappointment with Doug Jones’s win in Alabama yesterday was that it was so close.
That’s a difference of 20,715 votes; basically the population of Perrysburg, Ohio. Put another way, 650,436 people in Alabama were willing to vote for an outlaw Jesus-shouter with a penchant for teenage girls over a barely liberal Democrat. And there were more votes for a write-in than the margin of victory for Jones.
Yes, Alabama is a deeply red state. The last Democrat elected to the Senate was 25 years ago, and he was a Southern Democrat, a distinction that made them a party unto themselves, and he switched to the GOP shortly thereafter. (Southern Democrats were a hold-over from the days of Reconstruction who began to leave the party after the election of FDR and continued for the exit with Strom Thurmond in 1948. They slammed the door shut after LBJ signed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts in 1964 and 1965. They took their robes and crosses to the GOP in 1968 under Nixon’s Southern Strategy and took up permanent residence with Reagan in 1980.) But one would hope that with such a deeply flawed candidate supported by an equally repulsive president, they would at least think twice about supporting their party’s nominee. I take some comfort in the large number of write-ins, but a vote for Teddy the Wonder Lizard or Cap’n Crunch was still not a vote for Mr. Jones.
Mr. Jones will have to run again in 2020. I hope by then he can convince a few more Alabamaians that he’s worth their trust. But for now, I’ll take the win.
It is very good news that Ralph Northam won the Virginia governor’s race, showing that “Trumpism without Trump” — championing his issues without embracing the man — doesn’t sell. But even more important in the long run is that the Democrats made huge gains in the Virginia House of Delegates, their version of the state legislature.
Unofficial returns showed Democrats unseating at least 11 Republicans and flipping three seats that had been occupied by GOP incumbents who didn’t seek reelection. Four other races were so close that they qualify for a recount, and results will determine control of the chamber. The results marked the most sweeping shift in control of the legislature since the Watergate era.
Republicans, who have controlled the chamber since 2000, went into Tuesday holding 66 of 100 seats.
Several winners made history in a year in which a record number of women ran and Democrats fielded the most candidates in recent memory.
One Democrat became Virginia’s first openly transgender person to win elective office, unseating an opponent of LGBT rights. The election signaled a major shift in the gender of a body long dominated by men: Of the 14 seats Democrats flipped, all were held by men and 10 were won by women. And two of those women, both from Prince William County, became the first Latinas elected to the General Assembly.
“This is an unbelievable night,” said House Minority Leader David J. Toscano (D-Charlottesville) in an interview an hour after polls closed. “There were districts we didn’t think we had much of a shot in.”
The final results may not be known for a while since a number of the races are still too close to call and will need recounts, but even if the Republicans hang on, this is a major shift at the state level.
That is where it really matters. State legislatures are where voting district lines are drawn and where gerrymandering takes place, creating GOP strongholds when there are a majority of Democrats in the region. Medicare expansion, school funding, and infrastructure spending is determined by the state, doling out federal dollars as they see fit. Gun laws, restrictions on reproductive rights, and even rules on who can pee in certain places all come out of the state capitol. (It’s especially glorious that the Republican who proposed Virginia’s anti-transgender bathroom bill was defeated by Danica Roem, the state’s — and the nation’s — first openly transgender candidate. Karma, ya done good.)
So while it is important who wins the presidency and who’s running the House and Senate in Washington, it’s at the state and local elections where the real work — and influence — gets done.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) joins a small group of Republicans who are saying that Trump has gone too far and that they are now going to speak out. He, along with his fellow Arizonan John McCain and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) have taken to the airwaves and the social networks to express their outrage, disappointment, and they’re not going to take it anymore.
That’s all well and good, but chances are that if this was October 24, 2016, it might make a difference. Instead, all three of them voted for Trump, supported his agenda, voted to put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, voted against everything Obama, and shrugged off Trump’s Russia connection. But now they’ve had enough? Where have they been?
Not only that, Flake and Corker are dropping out of their re-election races in 2018, and McCain has a terminal illness. They may now feel liberated to speak up, but now it doesn’t matter because they won’t be around to pick up the pieces; we’re the ones who have to live with the horror. Thanks a lot.
Here’s the key concluding line from Charlie Cook’s article on the Corker meltdown: “Last week’s news reduced the odds of the GOP retaining its majority from a good bet to even money.”
So Cook, one of the best known election predictors, says it’s 50/50 who controls the Senate after the 2018 midterm.
A lot of good things would have to fall into place for it to happen, including the Trumpistas primarying moderate Republicans like Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada out of the race and replacing them with bug-eyed neo-Nazis, which would open the race for a well-engineered Democrat to swoop in and pick up disenchanted Republicans and energized Democrats. As it is, the Democrats are defending an inordinate number of seats already.
However, stranger things have happened. As Josh Marshall notes, in 2012 Claire McCaskill was not supposed to win re-election in Missouri until her opponent, Todd Akin, spoke up on “legitimate rape,” and Joe Donnelly of Indiana won a squeaker because his Republican shoe-in, Richard Mourdock, hadn’t fallen into the same trap. But the Democrats have to do their part: they have to come up with strong candidates who can convince the voters on their own merits and visions rather than wait for their opponent to turn into Wile E. Coyote.