Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Hard To Believe, But Watergate Teaches Us That There's No Reason To Give Up Hope For An Impeachment


Ultimately, impeachment is a political act. If there really is an anti-Trump/anti-Ryan tsunami in 2018, the Democrats will win back the House and probably impeach Trump-- even if it means forcing Pelosi and Hoyer, who oppose any such thing, to step down as leaders. Impeachment is like an indictment; there still has to be a trial in the Senate. And 66 votes to convict. That’s not going to happen, even if the Democrats keep all their red state seats and win in Nevada, Arizona and Texas and oust McConnell as Senate leader. Unless the smoking gun is really smoking, there aren’t more than 4 or 5 Republicans predisposed to convict their own president. But, according to a New York Magazine piece by Frank Rich Sunday… never say never.

I was living abroad from the Nixon years and missed his near-impeachment and forced resignation. But Rich was here and remembers it fondly. It was never a sure thing.
“Let others wallow in Watergate, we are going to do our job,” said Richard Nixon with typical unearned self-righteousness in July 1973. By then, more than a year had passed since a slapstick posse of five had been caught in a bungled burglary at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex. It had been nine months since Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein reported in the Washington Post that the break-in was part of a “massive campaign of political spying and sabotage” conducted by all the president’s men against most of their political opponents. Now the nation was emerging from two solid months of Senate Watergate hearings, a riveting cavalcade of White House misfits and misdeeds viewed live by 71 percent of the public.

Even so, Nixon had some reason to hope that Americans would heed his admonition to change the channel. That summer, the Times reported that both Democratic and Republican congressmen back home for recess were finding “a certain numbness” about Watergate and no “public mandate for any action as bold as impeachment.”

For all the months of sensational revelations and criminal indictments (including of his campaign manager and former attorney general, John Mitchell), a Harris poll found that only 22 percent thought Nixon should leave office. Gallup put the president’s approval rating in the upper 30s, roughly where our current president stands now-- lousy, but not apocalyptic. There had yet to be an impeachment resolution filed in Congress by even Nixon’s most partisan adversaries… [A]s it happened, it would take another full year of bombshells and firestorms after the televised Senate hearings before a clear majority of Americans (57 percent) finally told pollsters they wanted the president to go home. Only then did he oblige them, in August 1974.

…[A]mong those of us who want Donald Trump gone from Washington yesterday, there’s a fair amount of fear that he, too, could hang on until the end of a four-year term that stank of corruption from the start. Even if his White House scandals turn out to exceed his predecessor’s-- as the former director of national intelligence James Clapper posited in early June-- impeachment is a political, not a legal, matter, and his political lock on the presidency would seem secure. Unlike Nixon, who had to contend with Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, Trump has the shield of a Republican Congress led by craven enablers terrified of crossing their Dear Leader’s fiercely loyal base. That distinction alone is enough to make anti-Trumpers abandon all hope.

I’m here to say don’t do so just yet. There’s a handy antidote to despair: a thorough wallow in Watergate, the actual story as it unfolded, not the expedited highlight reel that most Americans know from a textbook précis or cultural artifacts like the film version of All the President’s Men. If you look through a sharp Nixonian lens at Trump’s trajectory in office to date, short as it has been, you will discover more of an overlap than you might expect. You will learn that Democratic control of Congress in 1973 was not a crucial factor in Nixon’s downfall and that Republican control of Congress in 2017 may not be a life preserver for Trump. You will find reason to hope that the 45th president’s path through scandal may wind up at the same destination as the 37th’s-- a premature exit from the White House in disgrace-- on a comparable timeline.

The skids of Trump’s collapse are already being greased by some of the same factors that brought down his role model: profound failings of character, disdain for the law (“If the president does it, that means that it is not illegal,” in Nixon’s notorious post-resignation formulation to David Frost), an inability to retain the loyalty of feuding White House aides who will lawyer up to save their own skins (H. R. McMaster may bolt faster than the ultimately imprisoned Nixon chief of staff H. R. Haldeman), and dubious physical health (Trump’s body seems to be bloating in stress as Nixon’s phlebitis-stricken leg did). Further down the road, he’ll no doubt face the desertion of politicians in his own party who hope to cling to power after he’s gone. If the good Lordy hears James Comey’s prayers, there may yet be incriminating tapes as well, Trump’s weirdly worded denial notwithstanding.

The American University historian Allan Lichtman, famous for his lonely prediction of Trump’s electoral victory, has followed up that feat with The Case for Impeachment, a book-length forecast of Trump’s doom. The impeachment, he writes, “will be decided not just in the halls of Congress but in the streets of America.” I’d go further to speculate that Trump’s implosion is more likely to occur before there’s an impeachment vote on the floor of the House-- as was the case with Nixon. But where Nixon’s exit was catalyzed by an empirical recognition that he’d lost the votes he needed to survive a Senate trial, in Trump’s case the trigger will be his childish temper, not the facts. He’s already on record as finding the job to be more work than he bargained for. He’ll tire of being perceived as a loser by nearly everyone except the sort of people he’d never let in the front door of Mar-a-Lago-- and of seeing the Trump brand trashed to the point of jeopardizing his children’s future stake in the family kleptocracy. When he’s had enough, I suspect he’ll find a way to declare “victory,” blame his departure on a conspiracy by America’s (i.e., his) “enemies,” and vow to fight another day on a network TBA.

But as was also true with Nixon, some time and much patience will be required while waiting for the endgame. The span between Nixon’s Second Inaugural and his resignation was almost 19 months. Trump’s presidency already seems as if it’s lasted a lifetime, but it’s only five months old. Never forget that the Watergate auto-da-fé wasn’t built in a day.

…Though there are a number of areas where the Nixon and Trump narratives diverge, in nearly every case Trump’s deviations from the Watergate model make it even less likely that he will survive his presidency. (One exception to the rule: Nixon drank to excess; Trump is a teetotaler.) Nixon was genuinely tough, a self-made man who’d climbed out of what may have been the most Dickensian childhood of any American president. He’d served as a Navy officer in the Pacific theater during World War II. He entered the White House at a younger age than Trump-- 56, not 70-- hardened by decades of political combat as a savage knife-fighter during the McCarthy witch hunts and the explosive American divisions of the 1960s. Nixon actually knew American history, read books, and, unencumbered by ADD, played the long game in life (his courtship of his wife, Pat) as well as in politics. He was a lawyer who repeatedly (and presciently) advised his staff that the cover-up, not the crime, posed the greater legal threat, a lesson he had learned during his star-making turn on the House Un-American Activities Committee; his prey, the State Department official Alger Hiss, was convicted of perjury, not for being a Soviet spy. Nixon was also a far more strategic liar than Trump, crafting sanctimonious and legalistic falsehoods to paper over wrongdoing rather than spewing self-incriminating lies indiscriminately about everything.

…The underside of Nixon’s character, which would eviscerate his virtues and advantages, was very Trumpian. His flaws led to both the creation of the Watergate scandal and the commission of the political and legal mistakes that would entomb him within it. No matter what success he achieved, as Drew wrote, Nixon “never lost his resentments” or “his desire for revenge.” Success also failed to tame his kleptomaniacal tendencies; he was caught using government funds to pay for luxurious improvements to his private residences in Key Biscayne, Florida, and San Clemente, California, and manipulating his tax bill to near zero even as he became a millionaire in office. (Like Trump, he gave virtually nothing to charity.) Devoted to his adult daughters but distant from his wife during his White House years (at times literally so in their living arrangements), Nixon had but one close friend, the Florida businessman Bebe Rebozo. He ridiculed those running government agencies and contemplated curbing the tenure of federal judges. “His attitude was that the only bright, really intelligent fellow in town was himself,” said the CIA chief Richard Helms. Prone to temper tantrums, he ended up with an ever-shrinking Oval Office inner circle restricted to fearful yes-men. As Drew concluded, “There was no one to challenge his assumptions, to set him straight in his confusion of political opponents with enemies. He didn’t recognize boundaries. He never learned to observe limits-- anything went-- and one thing led to another until he was in too deep to extricate himself.”

The genesis of Watergate was Nixon’s desire to sabotage the opposition in the 1972 presidential race at a time when he thought Edmund Muskie, Teddy Kennedy, and George Wallace all posed serious threats to his reelection prospects. It was left to underlings to dream up the various dirty tricks, including the ill-fated efforts to tap phones and steal files at the Democratic National Committee’s office. While we don’t know yet the extent to which Trump or those around him collaborated or colluded with the Russians (and WikiLeaks) in the subterfuge that roiled the 2016 election, the motive, the means, and the goal were roughly the same as Nixon’s: to sabotage the Democrats by stealing the internal communications (emails in lieu of files) of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC. (One should note that Nixon and Trump were both beneficiaries of dirty tricks hatched by Roger Ailes and Roger Stone.) In a move that would have floored Nixon, Trump was stupid enough to publicly ask Russia to hack Clinton on his behalf. If it turns out that Trump’s campaign did collude with a foreign adversary to undermine the election-- whether through hacking or other means-- Clapper and others who judge Trump’s potential crimes as worse than Watergate will be easily vindicated.

Even as the jury remains out on that question, Trump is clumsily mimicking Nixon in orchestrating what looks like a cover-up. He persisted in flattering the jettisoned Flynn, who surely has stories to tell prosecutors in exchange for immunity, much as Nixon made sure to praise his intimates Haldeman and John Ehrlichman as “two of the finest public servants it has been my privilege to know” when he sent them packing. But Trump failed to heed a bigger lesson he might have drawn from Watergate history: Don’t antagonize the FBI and CIA. Trump started insulting both agencies even before he took office. He apparently was unaware that Woodward and Bernstein’s Deep Throat was a Comey of their day-- the FBI’s No. 2, the associate director Mark Felt. If Trump knew history, he also would have known that it was a self-impaling blunder to try to enlist the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, and the NSA director, Mike Rogers, to intervene in an investigation on his behalf. Nixon attempted the same by leaning on Vernon Walters, a loyalist he’d promoted to be deputy director of the CIA. But as John Farrell writes, “Walters’s knowledge and experience” of both Nixon and Washington prompted him to write “self-protective memos (‘Notes to refresh my memory, if I should need it,’ Walters called them) when the White House ordered him to impede the FBI’s investigation.” The memos found their way to the New York Times.

Another counterproductive Watergate defense strategy that Trump emulates is Nixon’s obsessive effort to counteract the daily leaks by trying to discredit the press that reported on them. “Never forget, the press is the enemy,” Nixon told his aides, instructing them to “write that on the blackboard a hundred times.” His notorious communications strategy-- led by Ron Ziegler, a former tour guide on Disneyland’s “Jungle Cruise” ride-- is the template for the Trump White House’s denials: an ad hominem attack on the offending news organization coupled with false claims of exoneration and false charges that the press was ignoring the opposition’s wrongdoing. Here is the Nixon campaign manager Clark MacGregor’s statement responding to a relatively early Washington Post investigative report after the break-in: “Using innuendo, third-person hearsay, unsubstantiated charges, anonymous sources, and huge scare headlines, the Post has maliciously sought to give the appearance of a direct connection between the White House and the Watergate, a charge the Post knows-- and a half-dozen investigations have found-- to be false.” MacGregor went on to complain about how Democratic “disruptions of the president’s campaign” were “buried deep inside the paper.” The Post’s motive, he asserted, was “to divert public and national attention away from the real issues of this campaign-- peace, jobs, foreign policy, welfare, taxes, defense, and national priorities-- and onto phony issues manufactured” by the Post and the McGovern camp. Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway should be embarrassed that they lack the creativity to improve on spin devised nearly a half-century ago.

Nixon’s flunkies, like Trump’s, wielded intimidation along with bluster against the press. The White House tried to challenge the licenses of Florida television stations owned by the Washington Post and was successful in browbeating William Paley, the head of CBS, to truncate a Walter Cronkite special report on Watergate. At the same time that the Nixon administration was trying to hobble what was then derided by conservatives as “the eastern media conspiracy,” it basked in the alternative facts spread by the Limbaughs, Drudges, and Breitbarts of its day-- right-wing radio stars like Clarence Manion and Paul Harvey and their print adjuncts. In the judgment of the weekly publication Human Events, the supposed White House scandals were nothing more than a manufactured Democratic plot, a “legal Putsch” to “countermand the 1972 election results and install a Democrat in the White House.” Or, as the truculent White House spokesman Ken Clawson called it, a “witch hunt” by “people who were completely rejected at the polls” and were “trying to bring down this presidency.”

The constituency for press-bashing and alternative-right-wing media was the populist base that Nixon considered his ultimate insurance policy against being driven from office-- not just Republicans but former George Wallace voters, those disaffected southern white and northern blue-collar Democrats who resented both the antiwar cultural left and blacks empowered by new civil-rights laws. Nixon christened this base “the silent majority,” a retro designation Trump has adopted, and pandered to it by railing against the Establishment, demagoguing what he saw as a national breakdown in “law and order,” and choosing, in Agnew, a vice-president whose only talent was for vilifying the press and black civil-rights advocates. Nixon, too, would seek solace among this faithful at proto–“Make America Great Again” rallies. As he arrived in Nashville for the opening of the new Grand Ole Opry theater, the president was serenaded in a National Guard hangar by a flag-waving crowd singing special lyrics (“Stand up and cheer for Richard Nixon”) to the tune of “Okie From Muskogee.”

In the end, none of this was to any avail. For all the cover-ups, the efforts to stifle the press, and the stoking of his pugilistic base, Nixon failed to save himself. That his demise was not primarily a consequence of the Democrats’ control of Congress is due to the fact that some of his most reliable and powerful allies in both chambers were Democrats. Even as Nixon’s race-baiting “southern strategy” was hastening the realignment of the GOP as a new home for conservative southern Democrats (like the Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond, who had defected to the Republicans in 1964), most in Congress had yet to transition, as typified by the segregationist Mississippi senators James Eastland and John Stennis, both Democrats and firm Nixon supporters. Even Sam Ervin, the North Carolina Democrat who presided over the 1973 Watergate hearings, was a segregationist and Vietnam War hawk who, as the historian Rick Perlstein has pointed out, was “one of the most loyal votes for Nixon in the Senate” and had initially declared that it was “simply inconceivable that Nixon might have been involved” in the White House horrors.

A related misperception that some present-day liberals tend to retrofit to 1973 has it that the Washington Republican leadership of that time included ballsy, principled moderates who would speak truth to their gangster president as the pathetic Trump lackeys Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan will not. If only. A few Republican senators did ask tough questions during the Watergate hearings-- Howard Baker and Lowell Weicker, famously-- but it took even them a year after the Watergate break-in to find their voices, and they were not in the leadership. Then, as now, so-called Establishment Republicans were more likely to gripe about Nixon in private or in not-for-attribution conversations with reporters. In public, they usually cowered, sparing the president their harshest criticism and cordoning him off from impeachable offenses out of fear of him and his base. The Republican minority leader in the House, the Arizona congressman John Rhodes, found his mail running three to one against Nixon until he talked about a possible presidential resignation; then the count flipped to eight to one in Nixon’s favor.

It was not until three months before Nixon did quit that a trio of Republican senators-- all up for election that fall-- called for him either to resign or step aside temporarily under the 25th Amendment. More typical were towers of Jell-O like the secretary of the Interior, Rogers Morton, a former Maryland congressman and chairman of the Republican National Committee. In that same month, May 1974, he told the Times he was having “a very difficult time in living with” what he called “a breakdown in our ethics of government”-- only to pop up in the Post 24 hours later saying that he was “not going to jump off the ship until there’s evidence that the ship is sinking.” (And he still held on tight, surviving in the Cabinet after Gerald Ford assumed the presidency.)

Nor did Nixon’s base ever desert him. At the nadir of Watergate, Nixon’s approval rating fell to 27 percent; by the time he resigned, that number had dropped to 24 percent. In other words, at least a quarter of the American populace had no problem telling pollsters that they were still behind a president who had lied repeatedly and engaged in unambiguously criminal conspiracies. They still saw Nixon as “one of us,” as he billed himself on posters in his first House run in 1946, and as a fighter who took on “them”-- essentially the same elites that Trump inveighs against today.

Trump’s base is roughly the same size as Nixon’s then, or only a shade less. At FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver quantifies that base as voters who “strongly approve” of Trump, a figure that peaked at 30 after the Inaugural and had dropped to 21 to 22 percent by late May. They will no more abandon Trump than their parents and grandparents did Nixon. If anything, Trump’s ascent has once more confirmed that this constituency is a permanent factor in the American political equation. Should Trump follow Nixon into ignominy, that base may in time rally around a more cunning and durable Trump-- a new Nixon, if you will. He will be far scarier than an understudy like Pence, who is unlikely to survive his association with a tainted president any longer than Ford did (if even that long). Future Democrats may be just as ineffectual at stopping the next right-wing populist before he (or she) lands in the White House, but that’s a depression for another day.

What finally did in Nixon-- besides himself-- is what will do in Trump: not the Democrats, or a turncoat base, or brave GOP leaders. “Historians have written that Nixon was persuaded to resign after the arrival at the White House on Wednesday, August 7, of a delegation from the Hill-- Senator Barry Goldwater, Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott, and House Minority Leader John Rhodes-- to tell him he must go,” writes Pat Buchanan in his memoir. “This is myth.” Nixon’s collapse was well under way by then, from the ground up. With the midterms growing ever nearer, garden-variety GOP officeholders, most of them as cowardly as today’s, started to flee. The House Judiciary Committee voted on an article of impeachment on July 27, three days after a unanimous 8-0 Supreme Court, including three Nixon appointees, ruled that the president would have to turn over the White House tapes. Even then there was wavering. The ten Republicans who voted “No” on all the impeachment articles in committee would switch their votes only after the August 5 release of the “smoking gun” (a new coinage then)-- the transcript of a June 23, 1972, tape showing that Nixon had ordered the facts of the Watergate break-in to be covered up six days after it happened despite his repeated public protestations otherwise. One congressman who didn’t bolt even then, Earl Landgrebe, regarded such revelations as fake news (“Don’t confuse me with the facts”), telling the Today show hours before Nixon resigned that he was “sticking with my president even if he and I have to be carried out of this building and shot.” Landgrebe hailed from Indiana’s Second Congressional District, which decades later would send Mike Pence to the House.

As Buchanan and Nixon’s speechwriter Raymond Price (in his 1977 memoir, With Nixon) attested, the president’s resignation speech was already in hand by the time Goldwater & Co. visited the White House on August 7. Rather than the importuning of noble Republican elders, it was the stampede of defections that followed the revelation of the smoking gun that finally convinced him he could not numerically survive a trial in the Senate. By then, it was too late for some of his congressional backers to leap into the lifeboats. On Election Day that November, the GOP would lose four seats in the Senate and 49 in the House. Typical of the losers was Charles Sandman Jr., from New Jersey’s still solidly red second district, which in 2016 voted for Trump over Clinton by a margin of five percentage points. In 1972, Sandman had beaten his Democratic opponent by 23 percentage points; in 1974, after remaining a loyal anti-impeachment advocate until the final week of Nixon’s presidency, he lost by 16 points.

It’s always possible that there’s only smoke, no fire, and Trump will yet save himself, his party, and his country. Perhaps he won’t fire Robert Mueller. Perhaps Mueller will determine that Trump is not guilty of collusion with the Russians (with Trump’s voluntarily released tax returns as confirming evidence) or of obstruction of justice. Perhaps he will uncover no untoward financial dealings or subversive collaborations with the Kremlin and its network by any of the president’s men. Perhaps the courts will find Trump not guilty of violating the “emoluments clause” that restricts a president from profiting from office. (This last was debated as a possible article of impeachment for Nixon.) Perhaps Trump will stay out of trouble, stay off Twitter, miraculously avoid perjury, brilliantly staff up the executive branch, and deliver fabulously on his promises to secure cheap health care for all Americans, cut everyone’s taxes, and rebuild America’s infrastructure. Perhaps Jared Kushner will bring peace to the Middle East and reinvent American government rather than follow his father to prison.

What’s more likely is that the Trump administration will continue to mirror Garry Wills’s description of Nixon’s: “a world of little men using large powers incompetently from a combination of suspicion and panic.” The little men will continue to drive the country into a ditch. And GOP leaders will look the other way right up to that moment when Republicans in the 60 to 80 districts (according to FiveThirtyEight) more competitive than those in last week’s special elections figure out that they may have to choose between the minority of voters who are Trump’s irreducible base and a larger group, including Independents, who will determine whether they keep their jobs.

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Long Missing From The DCCC Equation-- Labor Solidarity


Shockingly, the DCCC doesn't recruit union activists to run for Congress any longer; quite the contrary. They have demonstrated for over a decade that they would rather recruit an "ex"-Republican or a wealthy self-funding careerist than someone who understands the concept of worker solidarity. The Democratic Party talks a good game on unions but under Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, union membership-- and power-- declined precipitously and the power of Wall Street and upper middle class professionals largely became the dominant power focus within the DC Democratic Party establishment. Anti-union twerps like Rahm Emanuel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz went out of their way-- through cult groups like the DLC and New Dems-- to cast unions out of decision-making positions and ostracize unions from all but getting out the vote on election day. Union members, sensing the change, have been increasingly deserting the Democratic Party in response.

Whenever a strong unionist decides to run for Congress, the DCCC and their allies at EMILY's List recruit garbage candidates from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party to run against them and then bury the unionist under piles of corporate money. This is just one example-- there are hundreds-- but is how it works. When Miami union members decided to run Luis Maurice, an ILA 1922 activist, for Congress, a corrupt conservative politician was already anointed by the DCCC, Joe Garcia. The Florida Democratic establishment moved into action quickly, demanding Luis get out of the race. The ultimate bagman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz illegally offered him a state Senate seat and $10,000. The DCCC wound up with Garcia, who disgraced himself and the party, and was beaten by a Republican who still holds the seat.

That's why the stench of fear emanating from 430 So. Capitol St., SE (DCCC headquarters), is wafting over DC this week. The grassroots enthusiasm for Wisconsin iron worker and union activist is driving Ben Ray Lujan and his recruitment committee henchmen Denny Heck (New Dem-WA) and Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL) up the wall. An independent-minded union Democrat with a grassroots following is the last thing in the world the Democratic establishment wants to see in Congress. Today DFA endorsed Randy.

DFA's chairman, Jim Dean: "Randy Bryce’s down-to-earth, people-oriented progressivism is a breath of fresh air. While Paul Ryan’s agenda is driven by the lobbyists who can afford to buy his time, Randy’s views on the issues are forged by his time working the iron. He support for single payer health care is informed by his concern for keeping his family covered. His commitment to racial and economic justice is drawn from firsthand knowledge of how they affect his neighbors and co-workers. We need more people like Randy, who reflect and understand their communities, to step forward and run for office across the country. Against the right person running a progressive, issue-based grassroots campaign, no amount of lobbyist and corporate backing can save Republicans in the House from losing their jobs. Our members are excited to prove that by pouring their energy into Randy Bryce’s campaign to replace Paul Ryan."

In his own endorsement for Bryce over the weekend, former Congressman Alan Grayson pointed out that "If you read what Randy Bryce wrote for DWT, you’ll find two things that are lacking in most Congressional candidates: (1) an understanding about how ordinary people (not rich lawyers or businessmen) live, and (2) common sense." BINGO! Ro Khanna's endorsement also hit it out of the ballpark: "We need leaders connected to the community who can speak with authenticity about the need for universal healthcare, better wages, and good jobs. Randy has a bold vision that is rooted in his life experience. It's heartening to see people like Randy step up to serve. That is what our founders envisioned." Too bad Pelosi, Hoyer, Crowley, Wasserman Schultz and the rest of the party leadership don't understand that need for authenticity and think it doesn't matter to voters. It very much matters.

I've been watching how progressive candidates who don't know each other are rallying around each other's campaigns on Twitter this cycle. Randy seems to have formed twitter bonds with Doug Applegate-- a strong union supporter from a military background in San Diego running for Darrell Issa's seat-- and working class North Carolina candidates Matt Coffey and Jenny Marshall. They'll make up the nexus of a strong block of anti-establishment freshmen in the 2019 Congress.

Jenny Marshall is running for the North Carolina seat help by virulently anti-union fanatic Virginia Foxx. This afternoon, Jenny told us that she "became a teacher to help those kids who fell through the cracks. I wanted to be an advocate for them and their education. So, it shouldn't be a shock to learn that I teach from a social justice perspective and believe when something is wrong you must stand up and fight back. You take it to the school board, to the city council, to the legislature, and to the streets if need be. In 2011 the GOP decided to attack public education and, more specifically, the teachers' union in Indiana. My fellow educators and I stood up to their assault and several of us created spaces where we could actively push back against their agenda and build solidarity. It was then that I started a Facebook page that grew to over 9,000 people and focused on policy and lobbying for public education. It became a go-to site for people who wanted their voice heard and empowered people to action while building solidarity among workers who continued to come together and collectively fight for a better future. We worked with labor unions and civic groups to create rallys, town halls, letter writing campaigns, etc to effect change. We ended up thwarting some of the horrible things they were trying to pass with our grass roots efforts and by bringing working class people together. Then, the very next year, they attacked organized labor turning Indiana into a right to work state. I was there in the statehouse standing in solidarity against this anti-union legislation which sought to divide working people and their families. We must be willing to stand up for each other in times of prosperity and need. We must advocate for those who hold the same ideals. We are all brothers and sisters in this fight against corporate greed and the wealthy elitism that unfortunately has corrupted both sides of the aisle. Labor used to have a heavy influence in the Democratic Party and because of this, the party represented working people. However, over the decades big business and the wealthiest of our country, who don't represent the interests of working people, have taken over both parties. We need people who know what it means to stand strong for labor, build solidarity and bring working families together. That is why I am running for Congress. I will stand up for justice and represent the working people and the most vulnerable of our communities, not the greedy interests of the 1%."

A couple of hours ago, Charles Pierce, writing for Esquire published a piece, that shouldn't-- but probably will-- make DCCC recruiters uncomfortable: An Afternoon At the Union Hall With Randy Bryce, The Anti-Paul Ryan. Pelosi should be embracing tis kind of message for her party, not fleeing it. "The hall belonging to the United Autoworkers, Local 72," wrote Pierce, "is a bell jar of days gone by, and candidates long past. There are photos of the young Walter Reuther, his skull bleeding from a policeman's nightstick, and buttons and posters, fading now from the indirect light, of candidates who came here when labor support could make or break their campaigns. Randy Bryce is kicking off his campaign in the hall on a bright Saturday afternoon. The crowd is an intriguing mixture of elderly people, obvious Wisconsin liberals and, here and there, a smattering of the kind of people for whom Randy Bryce seems more like someone you'd run into on a Friday night around the keg at a fish fry. This is the kind of crowd that all of the smart folks are saying the Democratic party needs to bring itself back from the brink." But not Pelosi, not Ben Ray Lujan-- and certainly not DCCC recruitment committee heads, the very conservative Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL) and Denny Heck (New Dem-WA), who are all in for "ex"-Republicans and rich self-funders.

This is how it works these days: You're a politically active union steelworker from, say, Caledonia, Wisconsin, even though you were brought up on the south side of Milwaukee in the days when that part of town was the home of thousands of people who worked at places like International Harvester, Allen-Bradley, Allis-Chalmers, Briggs and Stratton, Harley-Davidson, or one of the several dozen breweries that helped make the city famous... You have this lost history in your bones, which is why you became politically active in the first place. So, in a moment of clarity, after a couple of losing campaigns for local office, you decide to shoot the moon and run for Congress against the sitting Speaker of the House of Representatives, a man named Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin.

So one of the first things you do is you hire some folks to make a video to announce your candidacy and to introduce yourself to your potential constituents. They do a good job. The music is evocative. There are sweeping landscapes of southern Wisconsin. There are lots of shots of people embracing each other. The folks get to meet your mom, who has multiple sclerosis. There are shots of you in your hardhat, working the steel, and wearing a shirt with an actual blue collar. And there is a tagline that people remember.
I think it's time. Let's trade places. Paul Ryan, you can come work the iron and I'll go to D.C.
It rings up 450,000 views on YouTube, and you end up on MSNBC twice in a week. Whoopi Goldberg gives you a shout-out on The View. Your phone starts ringing off the hook and the 2018 midterm congressional elections begin right there on your doorstep. Your mustache, and the Twitter handle it spawned-- @ironstach-- are both judged to be cool by the mysterious unwritten standards of the Intertoobz. Suddenly, the country knows you're an Army veteran who served in Central America during the Reagan years, and that you've already beaten testicular cancer. That's how it works these days if you're Randy Bryce and people say that you're "blowing up" a year and a half before anyone votes for anybody.

If you were casting a character to run for office to address all the Democratic concerns about the white working-class-- whom, as we know, are the only voters that matter-- you would pick someone who's been an ironworker for 20 years on projects all over southeastern Wisconsin, who can look at the Milwaukee skyline and tell you how it got that way.

"We were downtown at NPR today, at that new Northwestern Mutual tower-- I was on that last winter," Bryce told me on Saturday. "We were in a swing stage, hanging off the side, 500 feet up, in wintertime, and we had like a blow-dryer to warm your hands so you could feel your fingers. And Miller Park, there's a wall there with the names of all the workers. My name's on there. And then the Hoan Bridge, there's a spot in the middle that goes over the river where you can actually walk in, so I not only worked on the bridge, but I worked in the bridge.

"I hear Donald Trump talk about being 'a builder,' and I laugh. No, I laugh because I'd love to take him on a job with me. Here, put a hard hat on and follow me, and we'll see what you can really build. Driving around the district, I can point out things. For the last 20 years, I've been building things, changing the way it works for the better, while Paul Ryan is taking things away from us."

Goal Thermometer Truth be told, despite its spectacularly fast start, it's a long haul up a dirt road for Bryce's campaign. First of all, a sitting Speaker has lost for re-election only three times in the country's history, most recently in 1994, when Democratic Speaker Tom Foley lost to Republican George Nethercutt. (The other two, Galusha Grow and William Pennington, got beat during the turmoil immediately preceding the Civil War.) Second, Bryce is facing a three-way primary and one of the other candidates, David Yankovich, moved from Ohio to Kenosha specifically to run against Ryan.

Already, there's been some intra-party turmoil. Some Yankovich people complained on the electric Twitter machine about being denied entry to an event hosted by the Wisconsin branch of Our Revolution, touching off one of those delightful mini-reenactments of the 2016 Democratic primaries that we all love so very much. (For the record, Bryce supported Sanders in the primary and worked for Hillary Rodham Clinton in the general election.) And last, of course, is the fact that Paul Ryan is the coddled child of America's plutocrats and will likely have so much money to spend on his re-election that god will ask him to float a loan.

Bryce's ready answer is that all that money is an anchor, not an engine. Ryan, he points out, hasn't been seen in the district for a while and that he's more interested in entertaining the country's oligarchs than he is in tending to business back in the Wisconsin 1st.

"He's not even here to listen to what people need," Bryce said. "It's been over 600 days, and somebody will send me something. Hey, guess what, he's going to be in Chattanooga, getting a picture taken, you know, $10,000. Now they have this new thing where they won't even tell you the location because they don't want to see you. You have to RSVP, which means you have to pay the $2,500 to put your name on a list, then they'll you where it is.

"We've had two local town halls and we had to ask Mark Pocan [the Democratic congressman from the Wisconsin 2nd] to come in, when they were first talking about the repeal of Obamacare in Congress. Nobody knows how it's going to affect us, so we had to have Mark Pocan come and we filled UAW 72. People are concerned. This is their lives we're taking about."

The central political event in Wisconsin in recent years, of course, has been the use of the state as a lab rat for conservative policies; the ascension of Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage this particular Midwest subsidiary, and his pet Republican state legislature has had the most profound effect on the state's politics since Robert LaFollette and the Progressives changed everything for the better at the beginning of the 20th century. The Walker years are a photographic negative of everything that Wisconsin had been about for nearly a century, and it all began in 2011 with Act 10, Walker's successful push to destroy the public-employee unions in the state. This touched off mass demonstrations in Madison, and an unsuccessful attempt to recall Walker. It tore a great gap in the state's political fabric between what had come before, and what came afterwards. Bryce was one of the first labor voices to stand with the demonstrators outside the Capitol because he knew that Walker and the legislature had no plans to stop merely with the public unions.

"Politically, 'labor' always has been a means to attack us," Bryce said. "Pensions, healthcare. Personally, it's always been taking care of other people, because what I do for a living is pretty dangerous. I'm used to, if I'm welding over here, and my hood's down, and a crane swings something over my head, there's another worker there to say, 'Randy, watch out. Look out over your head.' Ironworkers had one of the first protests, in Horicon. We had 250 people that met at the Machinists lodge, even though we were a private sector union and weren't going to be affected at all by Act 10, we knew we needed people to come together."

Bryce was right. During his re-election campaign, Walker dodged the question of whether or not he would sign a bill making Wisconsin a right-to-work state, saying that he didn't expect such a law to land on his desk. Almost as soon as he began his second term, a right-to-work bill indeed did hit his desk and Walker signed it. (The law is still being litigated but remains in effect.) Bryce had watched Walker operate since the governor took office, and he'd known what was coming ever since those cold days on the lawn of the state capitol.

"As soon as he said that in the campaign," Bryce said, "I knew it was a done deal."

Ryan, of course, is the apotheosis of this new, conservative Wisconsin. In fact, he got there far ahead of the rest of the state, banging the drum for radical conservative politics while Scott Walker was still a Milwaukee County executive with an office full of two-bit grifters. He is a National Figure. If he's going to get beaten, or even if someone is going to give him a serious run, it helps if that person has become a kind of National Figure almost overnight.

"The way it blew up," Bryce said. "It said a lot for me. I knew it was going to be good, because I've seen those guys' work before. I could tell right away. I knew it was going to be positive. It was just telling a story but what's opened my eyes is that how that's been everywhere, and everybody wants to ask about it.

"In the last election, there was this thirst for this Donald Trump-sounding, working class populism. It was there. Guys were, like, 'He's going to help us.' I mean, come on. A billionaire is going to help you-- a guy who has a history of screwing his workers. And there are some guys who worked on jobs of his. We had a crew when I was working on Northwestern Mutual, we had a crew from Local 63 from Chicago who had worked on Trump Tower in Vegas, and just hearing stories about stiffing the workers. I mean, come on. Really?"

"One thing you will never say," Rob Zerban, who ran against Ryan in 2012 and 2014, tells the crowd in the UAW hall, "is that Randy Bryce is an errand boy for Donald Trump."

"Randy has a much better chance of winning in 2018 than I ever stood," Zerban said. "Randy was able to capitalize on his exposure as a community organizer and as a labor activist, he had a built-in infrastructure that helped his campaign get off the ground. You've seen him on a national level already. So many people here know him-- they know he's fighting for the right cause and they know what Paul Ryan is. He can't get anything passed. People are desperate for change, in this district. I saw it in 2012 when I was running, and it's gotten worse."

At the end of the speeches, with the requisite John Cougar Mellencamp tune bouncing off the walls, Randy Bryce walks through the crowd with his mother, who is leaning on a cane because of her MS. Like in his now-famous video, there are a lot of people embracing each other, and something is very warm here that goes far beyond the YouTube hotness of a single video. It is the start of something, the heat of first things, fueled by possibilities nobody yet understands.
The DCCC is launching a new "university." They tried hiring a friend mine to teach but he told them he'd just as soon work at Trump University and that he's not interested in working with people who follow an agenda that has led to a consistent pattern of losses. Does that rally need to be further baked into the Democratic cake? One course I'm sure they will never teach at DCCC University is anything about labor solidarity-- because it isn't something they know about or understand or encourage.

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Paul Ryan Wants To Kick 23 Million Of Us Off Healthcare-- Randy Bryce Says He'll Co-Sponsor John Conyers' Medicare-For-All Bill


Have you been enjoying DWT the last few weeks? I’ve been writing it from Paris. I just got home. It’s tough to write 5 posts a day while you’re on vacation... in Paris! But I rented a beautiful old townhouse in Montmartre from a French writer and the house is filled with books and art and writer vibes and my office was right off a huge, second story veranda with a fantastic hanging garden where birds were frolicking like they owned the place. Anyway, I just got home and I want to continue the momentum we’ve helping to build for Randy Bryce. If you’re a regular DWT reader, you heard about him way before he announced he was running for Paul Ryan’s seat and way before he became a media darling. When we first started writing about him, he had 6,000 twitter followers. Last time I looked, before I got on the flight home, @IronStache had just crossed the 90,000 mark! He’s really catching on-- and the DCCC is panicking that Ryan may be facing a real challenge in 2018, something Pelosi has always been able to fight off in the past. In fact, on Monday Randy even made it into GQ-- an interview by Jack Moore, the kind of publicity neither money nor the DCCC’s venal anti-progressive press department can buy.

“Last week,” wrote Moore, “the Internet, and America met and fell in love with iron worker Randy Bryce, a Wisconsin man who is running for Congress. His campaign's launch video went viral and made his intentions clear: He wants to take down Paul Ryan in 2018. An Army veteran during the Cold War ("Ronald Reagan was president at the time, and we were trained to protect the country against the Soviets, and now here we have Donald Trump inviting the top Russian spy into the Oval Office. It just blows my mind!"), Bryce is running on a platform that aggressively champions blue collar issues. We got to chat with the man known as @IronStache on Twitter-- where he's now facing all the scrutiny that comes with being a public figure-- and ask him some questions about what he stands for and where he thinks, not just the Democratic party, but the country as a whole needs to go.
How did you get into public service? What made you want to run for office?

Well it pretty much stemmed from when Scott Walker took over in Wisconsin in 2011. I had always been involved with workers' issues, even before Scott Walker was elected, but more so after I saw what he was going to do. We had an idea from when he was county executive, based on how he treated the county workers, that he was not going to be a friend to working people. So I got more involved with [what was] going on in Madison, and then the next round of elections, minority leader Peter Barca approached me and asked if I would run for state assembly. I was like, “I never did anything like this before, but I’ll give it a shot,” not really knowing what I was getting into.

So I’ve read you lost your first two state-level runs…

Yeah, so I came to find out there was a lady, Melissa Lemke, who was already running for the Assembly who had the support of the local county party. So here I was running against somebody that I genuinely liked and agreed with all their positions. It just seemed to be a little snafu due to them trying to get as many people to run as possible. So I wasn’t successful in the primary running against her. She was an Emerge graduate and I mean, just worked her tail off and did a really good job.

I learned a lot from that and then in 2014 I was asked by State Senator Wirch to run for state senate. And after learning some lessons in the assembly, I said, “Have you looked at this district? It’s horrible. It’s one of the most gerrymandered districts in Wisconsin.” And he was like “yeah, but there’s this John Doe thing [*Ed. note: An investigation into Scott Walker’s campaign*) that’s going to blow up, and we want to have a good candidate in place in case it does.” So I figured it would give me a good opportunity to also get out my message and help Mary Burke in her run for Governor. You know, it would mean more people on the ground, knocking doors and what not. And that was unsuccessful. I didn’t win that one.

So after two less than ideal results, what made you decide to dive back in against Paul Ryan?

So you know Paul Ryan did very well in his last election, and there wasn’t a lot of money raised for the Democrats, so people were starting to approach me, saying they needed a good candidate. And I was flattered they were asking me, but I wanted to think about it... So I did think about it. And you know I’ve lived in the district my entire life, and being a veteran, seeing how veterans are being affected by decisions in Washington… And then they pulled this health care garbage. And with all the good-paying auto jobs leaving Janesville, leaving Kenosha, and the factory jobs going to Canada from Waukesha, I was like, this is really crappy. I’ve spent my time as an iron worker literally building this area, while Paul Ryan is out there taking stuff away from us. People here are working harder and getting less as a result. But he’s not even around. It’s been over 600 days since he’s held a local town hall. It’s just horrible. He’s not doing his job. We need somebody who cares.

Obviously, right now everyone is talking about health care. What’s your platform on it?

Goal Thermometer Well, I like the protections that Obamacare put in place, but I want to work towards universal health care. And look, you hear people say that and then do one thing at a time. But first I want to make sure people are covered and have something going on. To be honest with you, there are things about Obamacare that need to be fixed. From the building trade standpoint, we’ve been self-insured, but we were penalized with the “Cadillac tax” for having it. And I don’t think people who have been doing the right thing should be penalized. So there are things that I see that could be corrected with it. But that emergency room plan that we had wasn’t the answer. If you have somebody who doesn’t have health care and can’t see somebody when they notice something’s wrong, and have it addressed when it’s a minor issue, they’re going to wait until it’s a big thing and they’ll end up going to the emergency room. Well if they can’t afford to go see a doctor for preventive care, how in the heck can we expect them to pay the extra fees at the emergency room? So we need protections. We need to not penalize people for having pre-existing conditions. The system is extremely flawed now, and there’s no reason why every single person, should not have some form of health care.

Opioid addiction is obviously a huge problem nationwide, and I’d imagine in an industry like yours that requires so much physical labor, you see a lot of it. How do you see the intersection of that problem and the health care crisis were already going through?

Look, I can’t remember where I read this, or even the exact numbers, but if you look at the amount of opioids that are prescribed worldwide, a huge percentage of them is right here in the United States. And I think that’s also a reflection of not being able to see a doctor for check-ups. That shows me that when something’s wrong or someone gets hurt they can’t afford to get treatment so it’s like, “Here’s something to ease the pain.” And I think it’s something that’s ingrained in our culture. We don’t get checked-up regularly. I know I don’t and I know a lot of people I work with don’t. They’re like, “Well, I’d have to take off work, which means we lose money, and then the doctor is going to cost us more money that we really can’t afford.” So it’s an entire culture of wellness we need to work on.

As a veteran, what changes would you like to see in the way we treat our soldiers returning home?

Well, they’re trying to privatize the VA, which is not the way to go. There are some things that need to be looked at and addressed, but it just blows my mind the amount of money they spend to send us to war… The amount of money they spend to blow other countries up… The amount of money the government spends to rebuild other countries, and then how little they spend on us once we come back and return to civilian life. It’s like they don’t care about us unless we’re dodging bullets for them. That’s when we stop being soldiers for them. If they can afford to send us to war, then they can afford to take care of us when we come home.

The Democrats have been in a bit of a soul searching period, and one of the major talking points has been why Hillary wasn’t able to reach the white working class. As an iron worker, where do you feel the future of the Democratic party lies and how do you see yourself fitting into it?

Well, I would point you to our campaign launch to give you an example of where I think the Democratic party needs to go. We need more people like us running for office. More people like us to represent ourselves. That seems to be the big thing. The feedback I’ve been getting is, “It’s so great to see one of us running for office.” I think that’s the key, because we need working people making decisions for working people.

Can you talk about the response to your campaign launch video? It seemed to blow up in a huge way.

Yeah. Within 24 hours, we had raised over $100,000. And that’s not even making a phone call and asking for anything. And the thing that I’m really proud are the number of donors, over 30,000 people and the average contribution is under $30. Because I know how hard it is to earn money these days. Just seeing that it’s not a lot of rich people donating money so they can try to tell me what to do. It’s other working people sending like an hour’s worth of pay from wherever they live. And that means so much.

Also, I don’t really watch The View but I heard Whoopi gave me a shout out. And I was on with Lawrence [O’Donnell] and Don Lemon. I mean the way it took off was just beyond my wildest expectations.

I have to ask about the “Iron Stache” thing. Where’d the nickname come from?

It’s kind of a thing that came up when I was talking about doing social media with a friend. He was saying I should really get on Twitter. And I figured I should give it a shot. I mean, why not? And people have always made comments, calling me Iron Man or whatever, you know being an iron worker, and then the 'stache was always brought up. So it was like a hybrid… silly combination of the two. So I said, “What about Iron Stache?” and he was immediately like “Go with it! That’s gold!”

And then we were talking, too. You know, like should we come up with a different campaign thing. Like Randy Bryce for Congress. And I was like, no. I’m me. I’m not changing anything. I’m going to be genuine, and if people don’t like it, then they don’t like it. Then it won’t go over. But it’s part of me. And you know, I’ve seen so many comments like, “The dude’s twitter handle is IronStache, he’s got my vote already!” So it’s fun.

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No, Folks Being Destroyed By Trump's Broken Promises In Red States Do NOT Deserve What They're Getting Now


West Virginia was one of Señor Trumpanzee’s best-performing states. He buried Clinton-- 489,371(68.5%) to a pathetic 188,794 (26.4%). She didn’t campaign there and she didn’t have a message for West Virginia’s working families that might lead them to believe life might improve for them if they voted for her. Today you hear some people-- who identify themselves as “progressives”-- saying that West Virginia’s poor deserve Medicaid cuts because the state voted so overwhelmingly for Trump. Take that you awful resident of a state that backed Trump. It’s pretty disgusting, like all forms of collective punishment.

The biggest county in the state is Kanawha, home of the state’s biggest city, Charleston, where Bernie’s Save Our Health Care rally drew a couple of thousand enthusiastic West Virginians Sunday night. Trump beat Hillary badly in Kanawha-- 43,464 (58.0%) to 27,985 (37.3%). She was the wrong candidate. And folks there told Democrats that in the primary. Bernie won in the primary. In fact, he took every single county in the state-- 123,860 (51.4%) to 86,354 (35.8%). Trump got more votes than Bernie did in Kanawha, but not many more. Trump got 13,936 votes and Bernie got 13,480 votes. Close-- a lot closer than Trump/Clinton.

Other counties in West Virginia showed that people were hungry for a populist message of hope and more people turned out for Bernie than for Trump. Some were very close, like Brooke County, where Bernie got 1,966 votes and Señor Trumpanzee did nearly as well with 1,963 votes. And, no, that’s not because the Republican field was so strong; quite the contrary. Ted Cruz was the runner up in Boone and he only got 176 votes. Hillary came in second and she got 1,489 votes. Across the state, the Republicans were much more unified behind Trump, while Democrats preferred Bernie but with virtually all counties giving Hillary far better numbers than the other Republicans competing. In Brooke, for example, this was the score:

And I just grabbed Brooke County randomly because it’s a couple of miles from Pennsylvania to the east and Ohio to the west. Let’s look at some other West Virginia counties that looked at the candidates and went to the primary and picked Bernie over both Hillary and Trump.
Boone: Bernie- 2,410; Trumpanzee- 1,388
Braxton: Bernie- 1,321;Trumpanzee- 861
Calhoun: Bernie- 803; Trumpanzee- 480
Clay: Bernie- 754; Trumpanzee- 568
Fayette: Bernie- 3,585; Trumpanzee- 2,683
Gilmer: Bernie- 643; Trumpanzee- 433
Lincoln: Bernie- 1,510; Trumpanzee- 1,193
Logan: Bernie- 3,201; Trumpanzee- 1,665
Marion: Bernie- 5,324; Trumpanzee- 4,035
McDowell: Bernie- 1,473; Trumpanzee- 760
Mingo: Bernie-2,425; Trumpanzee- 1,161
Monongalia: Bernie- 8,096; Trumpanzee- 5.971
Randolph: Bernie- 2,492; Trumpanzee- 2,206
Wayne: Bernie- 2,898; Trumpanzee- 2,662
Webster: Bernie- 837; Trumpanzee- 423
Wetzel: Bernie- 1744; Trumpanzee- 1.096
And, no, these are not all college towns. This is a cross section of West Virginia counties, where people were eager to hear a message that would left their families’ lives. They heard it most convincingly not from Clinton and not even from Trump, but from Bernie. Monongalia, for example, whose county seat in Morgantown, is the third biggest county in the state. Bernie killed Trump there. Mingo is smack up against Kentucky in the southwest corner of the state-- "the bloodiest county in America,” where Obama only got 8% of the primary vote in 2008. The is coal county, as are Logan and McDowell, both right next door. And all 3 gave far more votes to Bernie that day than to Señor Trumpanzee. They wanted change… but most of them wanted good change, not bad change.

No, these people don’t “deserve” the misery Trumpcare is going to bury them in. This is ground zero in the opioid epidemic. These desperate folks need help-- the kind of help Bernie promised, not the thin tissue of lies Trump spouted off to them only to be served the nightmare of Trumnpcare now.

And, by the way… even though Bernie crush Hillary in the primary, Wassermann Schultz had the rules all fixed up nice so that he only won one more delegate than she did. With friends like that behind the curtain, who needs a message? And who needs to bother campaigning? No wonder so many Bernie primary voters, pulled their levers for Trump rather than Hillary in the general election! They recognized Wassermann Schultz was fucking the country-- and after she got fired from the DNC, Hillary gave her a job in her campaign. The crooked monstrosity is still in Congress too-- help Tim Canova beat her in the Democratic primary here.

Ready for some tears?

A lot of desperate Trump voters-- who couldn’t connect to Clinton and didn’t trust something about her for some reason-- may be starting to feel a little buyers’ remorse. Not the dyed-in-the-wool racist scum… that part of his base would rather die from lack of healthcare than see a black president’s policies make life better for their own families, but enough of them to make a difference if the Democrats don’t run another establishment corporate shill next time. Look at those poor Carrier workers in Indiana, for example. Do you think some of them got suckered by the breezy Trumpanzee lies tisane their jobs? They’re learning what Trump’s word means now. CBS News just reported that Trump’s lies are coming back to bite his voters in the ass as 600 of their jobs head south to Monterey, Mexico, along with millions of dollars then-Governor Pence paid Carrier to keep the plant open. 600… that’s a lot of families who just figured out that working people can’t count on Trump or Pence or the GOP.
A promise made before Christmas is fizzling before the Fourth of July.

In December, then-President-elect Trump told hundreds of workers at the Carrier manufacturing plant that he had worked out a deal to save their jobs.

But it's not working out that way. A steady downpour today did little to wash away the fact that the jobs of 600 union employees are going south.

"They're going to Monterrey, Mexico," said Robert James, president of the local union.

Reynolds said he felt betrayed, since Mr. Trump told workers during his December visit to the plant that 1,100 jobs would be saved.

"And by the way, that number is going to go up very substantially as they expand this area, this plant," Mr. Trump said. "So the 1,100 is going to be a minimum number."

Blasting companies for moving American jobs abroad was a feature of the Trump campaign, and saving the Carrier jobs was touted as a sign of Mr. Trump's bargaining prowess.

"You're going to have a good Christmas," he said at the plant.

But the truth is that 400 of the 1,100 jobs Mr. Trump mentioned were white-collar positions that were never going away.

Only 700 union jobs were saved. Six hundred others will be lost, and Carrier is not paying a price. The company actually received a $7 million incentive package from Indiana to keep the plant open with a reduced work force.

"That is what he said was not going to happen," James said. "That's what he told all of us."

"And a lot of these people voted for Mr. Trump" with the understanding that he would save their jobs, James added.

Duane Oreskovic voted for the president, and is among those losing their jobs.

"I liked this job. This was a job that I actually wanted to retire from," Oreskovic said. "It's not going to happen any more."

At the White House Friday, press secretary Sean Spicer said the job cuts here were long-planned and nothing new.

The first round of layoffs will take effect next month, and the second in December-- three days before Christmas.

I know what you want to know now-- who won the primary in Indiana. Yeah, Bernie beat Hillary there too-- 335,256 (52.5%) to 303,382 (47.5%). Wassermann Schultz struck there too, of course. Bernie’s victory brought him 44 convention delegates… almost as many as Clinton’s loss brought her (47). And in Monroe County, where Bloomington is the county seat, Bernie beat Hillary 15,166 (65.3%) to 8,063 (34.7%) while Trump got fewer votes than either of them (7,259). In fact, Bernie beat the combined vote of all 9 Republicans on the ballot combined! And in Marion County, where the Carrier plant is, Hillary and Bernie were in a virtual dead heat in the primary-- but each of them beat Trump by around 10,000 votes. In fact, Hillary and Bernie beat Trump and Cruz 128,448 to 89,392.

UPDATE: Marist Poll

The new poll released this morning-- but taken before the CBO report was released yesterday-- shows that just 17% of Americans approve of the TrumpCare bill McConnell had to postpone voting on. Only 8% of Democrats, 13% of Independents and even just a sad 35% of Republicans like this quintessential Republican bill! Those are startlingly low numbers that will probably go down once people focus on the warnings of danger to society inherent in the CBO report. The poll also shows that independent voters are increasingly souring on the way Trump is handling the economy, a plurality of all Americans now agreeing that he and his team of plutocrats and misfits have weakened it.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

GOP Senators Still Struggling With The Consequences Of Voting For The Hated TrumpCare Bill


Paid for by Mike Pence

Sunday afternoon we asked a question about Trump’s deranged, uncontrolled vengefulness in regard to the GOP’s ability to hold onto the crucial Nevada Senate seat of Dean Heller who has flatly stated he won’t vote for TrumpCare. A very shady Trump/Pence controlled SuperPAC, America First Policies, announced they would retaliate against Heller with a million dollars worth of TV, online ads and a very lame social media effort that has completely and hilariously backfired, tying him to Schumer and Pelosi, just about the worst thing you can say about a Republican in the claustrophobic little world of Trump die-hards. (By the way, it's illegal for Trump and Pence to be coordinating with a SuperPAC.) The goal is probably not to get Heller to change his vote-- he’s probably been granted dispensation by Myrtle the Turtle in light of his uphill reelection prospects-- as much as it is to punish him and to warn other Republicans-- particularly Susan Collins (R-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH) Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK)-- not to mess with Señor Trumpanzee. Trump despises Heller, because Heller told the media he won’t vote for him in the 2016 election, and doesn’t care if he’s jeopardizing his seat or not. He just wants revenge, something driving McConnell-- who threw his hands up in disgust today-- insane, driving him to postpone the vote until... they can round up enough Republicans to vote for this turd. Meanwhile, McConnell made sure tp blame it all on Trump's lack of ability as a closer.

America First Policies has already launched a social media campaign to turn Trump supporters against Heller for “standing with Pelosi” and warning him-- and other senators-- “If you’re opposed to this bill, we’re opposed to you.” The NRSC is supposedly furious at the White House and feel this is a pure Bannon move that plays directly into Trump’s infantile id. Trump is revealing in their discomfort since he blames them for the disaster his Regime has already turned into and for his inability to snap his fingers and get whatever he wants immediately and without question. One DSCC staffer told me this is completely demoralizing and that his wife is urging him to quit for the sake of his own emotional stability. “We’ve been spending an inordinate amount of energy trying to save this seat and-- poof, in one stroke, Bannon has destroyed all of our efforts… I doubt that even Collins or Portman will be bullied by this and I know for a fact that Murkowski won’t be.”

Others are blaming Mike Pence, since, as their chief fundraiser, he’s been in control of the America First Policies purse-strings and because Pence staffers are calling the shots for the group. The Pence people were chastised by Bannon for not being aggressive enough against the small handful of mainstream Republicans who opposed TrumpCare in the House and insisted America First Policies make up for it in the Senate, irrespective of the fact that senators are very prickly creatures who don’t take kindly to being pushed around, especially not publicly.

John Ralston was rather definitive about Heller’s situation. Heller, he wrote Sunday, “is dead. Five hundred days before voters decide his fate, Nevada’s senior senator needed a life preserver. So with his poll numbers in the subterranean region, below President Trump’s in Nevada, Heller grabbed onto one named Brian Sandoval, an immensely popular governor. It’s hard to describe the surreality of Friday’s scene in which Sandoval, who was the first GOP governor to expand Medicaid and who has credited it with putting 200,000 more Nevadans on the health care rolls, protecting Heller, who has more than once called for a phase-out of the program. Suddenly, the protean Heller was against the cessation of expanded Medicaid after he was for it, against the new Obamacare repeal after saying he wanted to get to yes, and against losing his Senate seat after being willing to give it up to run for the job his new protector holds. (Heller really wants to be governor, not U.S. senator.)”
Politics is no different than life: If you try to please everyone, you please no one.

And that is where Heller is now: He has a base problem because he was similarly equivocal during 2016 about the president and now is on record opposing the bill Donald Trump supports. And even though he is now on the side that indies and Democrats like on health care, they don’t trust him to stick to his word.

…People can say that Heller did this out of raw political expediency and doesn’t believe anything he said Friday. He has earned that skepticism… [S]ome of Heller’s biggest backers are billionaires who work on Las Vegas Boulevard South, and they can be none too happy that their man just came out against their tax cuts.

A billionaire here and a billionaire there and pretty soon you’re talking about real money against him… Of course, any anger directed at Heller by these donors is foolish. If they would pause counting their money for a few minutes and stop obsessing about how much more lucre they need, they might realize that the only chance to keep that seat in GOP hands is for Heller to do what he did.
Heller is a mainstream conservative, what the media loves calling a “moderate” (which he really isn’t). No one will ever refer to Iowa freshman senator Joni Ernst as a moderate or as remotely mainstream. She’s a far right walking freak show who has been firmly allied with Trump. But she’s also coming to grips with the swingy nature of her state and has been noticeably quiet on whether or not she’s support the Senate version ion TrumpCare. No one ever mentions her name as someone who might not. But Sunday The Hill reported that she’s decided to poll Iowans on how she should vote. Iowans strongly oppose TrumpCare so this should be an interesting-- and probably dishonest-- exercise.

She e-mailed Iowans-- which Iowans I’m not certain-- with a typical GOP talking points slam against the Affordable Care Act, hoping, no doubt, for a vote in favor of TrumpCare. I doubt we’ll ever find out the results of her poll and no one expects her to vote against it no matter what. Meanwhile, next door in Nebraska, the very conservative and very anti-Trump senator, Ben Sasse was at the Koch brothers summit over the weekend and echoed their line that TrumpCare isn’t conservative enough. He says he’s not committed to voting for it. I would call it extremely unlikely that Sasse will vote no.

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