While I am excited at the likely possibility of big D gains next week, I’m also kind of dreading the prospect of the subsequent lame duck. Not so much for federal legislation, if they couldn’t get it together to pass stuff before, I doubt they will now. Plus, they’re going to be preoccupied with the impending leadership battle between my former Congressman Kevin McCarthy and, contrarily, more or less open neoConfederate Steve Scalise. I don’t really have a preference there: either the emptiest man in the world (again: personal experience) can be the new clean white boy enabler of fascism or we go further down the hate rabbit hole. Who cares?

But that’s beside the point. What I’m really dreading is what Republicans in places like Michigan or North Carolina do in the interregnum between when they lose an election and when they lose their power, given that it’s unlikely that Democrats will have unified power to reverse what they pass. Particularly in North Carolina. I’m not well-versed enough in the intricacies of NC state politics but it doesn’t seem at all impossible that Republicans will lose their supermajority–and the ability to override a gubernatorial veto–after this year’s election. Which would be a massive shift: they’d have to try to get along with Roy Cooper! But I am worried about what they’ll try if it happens. Because if they can’t ram stuff in over a veto, then they wouldn’t be able to do much if, say, the North Carolina Supreme Court threw out all their gerrymandered maps. Which would probably happen if Democrats win the race for an open seat on that court this year, making it 5-2 Democrat. Then they’d have a margin–Pennsylvania’s landmark anti-gerrymandering ruling had one dissenting Democrat, after all. The thing is, they know all this. So let’s just hope that their court-packing amendment doesn’t pass. But then again, if it doesn’t, I’m sure they’ll have something else horrible to try on the way out.

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Hope you didn’t donate any money to party committees! I didn’t this year, except the DLCC, which isn’t particularly relevant to this situation. One would think that having to bail Bob’s sorry ass out in the best electoral year for Democrats in our lifetime would use up all the goodwill he has in the Democratic Party and end his career after his next term (I am assuming he’ll still win, not that he deserves to), but I’m not at all convinced of it. Somehow I think we’ll replay this little pantomime in six years’ time. I guess we’ll see.

It really, really sucks, of course, but we did learn some things. We did learn that Cory Booker’s squeaky-clean, anti-corruption image is a sham. He could have held his nose and said nothing, but instead he got out on the campaign trail for Menendez and defended him in positive terms! We learnt that Phil Murphy is hardly the progressive warrior that he wanted us to think he was, but rather just another in a long line of machine pols to run New Jersey, who stick up for other machine pols when things get tough. The progressive trappings were mere affectation. And we got further reinforcement (I wouldn’t say learned) that Chuck Schumer’s mythology as a tough, cutthroat leader is total bullshit. He wants to be Majority Leader so bad that he…immediately moved to let Menendez out of the penalty box after the mistrial verdict, thus lessening the odds of that happening? Some ruthless leader. It’s not all that surprising, as Schumer and Menendez are very much alike–machine politicians from the Northeast who aren’t ideological (or remotely idealistic), and who see politics solely as being about delivering money to the right people–which would naturally spark an affinity. It’s not as though there’s nothing to be said for that sort of politics but in the case of Schumer, it’s as though Kevin Spacey had been replaced on House of Cards with Don Knotts. He’s about as hard as cookie dough. A real ruthless politician would have dumped Menendez at the first opportunity, friend or not.

At any rate, Bob’ll probably still win. I’m sure he’ll behave better in the future, though…

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It would be a perfectly fine heuristic if both sides each valued truth, empiricism, and reasoned debate. And yet only one side largely does, while the other side frequently just dismisses stories they don’t want to hear as false flags and promotes conspiracy theories with not-so-thinly-veiled anti-Semitic tropes behind them. Under such circumstances, believing that the truth always falls somewhere in the middle is a delusion at best, and massive bad faith at worst.

So while this is fine (fuck Sean Spicer!), it doesn’t really solve the problem. Sure, CNN won’t hire Sarah Sanders and other propagandists who worked for the administration, but they’re happy to hire propagandists who?didn’t work for the administration, like poor Jeffrey Lord, may he rest in peace, will this deadly war on politically incorrect conservatives never end? The media thinks there’s some sort of distinction to be made here but there really isn’t. Either your product is the truth or it isn’t. It provably isn’t for CNN and the rest of the MSM. So what actually is it?

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No more Merkel. Interesting.

Obviously a lot of hate for her isn’t really based on what she really did. But between slow and indecisive leadership on the financial collapse, gunpoint austerity to Southern Europe, and similarly slow and indecisive leadership on the migrant crisis that probably made it worse politically than it had to be, there’s plenty not to like even if you’re not Steve Bannon. Plus there were those bizarrely desperate moves to stay in power (i.e. giving all the powerful ministries to the Social Democrats to remain the figurehead) that I’m sure must have made a lot of senior Christian Democrats who wanted those ministries unhappy, or ultimately abandoning the refugees and trashing her legacy in the process, which was worth a few more months before the axe fell I guess. Nothing less dignified than a politician losing power, and yet so few leave on their own terms in a dignified manner!

A mediocre leader, I think, and such an inflexible defender of German privilege at the expense of all others that she’s taken the EU to the brink of oblivion. Obviously you can’t pin it all on her (certainly not something like Brexit) and to a large degree it is broader forces, but all that “leader of the free world” stuff galled. She always sucked.

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It’s going to be interesting to see how the Democratic Party will change in a week. It will be the first real hint of what its institutional post-Obama identity is going to be. The fact is that virtually every single Democrat in Congress now was there under Obama, with a few exceptions like Conor Lamb or Doug Jones. Some were liberal then, others less so, but aside from small shifts, few have meaningfully changed in terms of ideology or tactics. The people who voted for BernieCare last year would have done so five years earlier too. But few realized the possibilities of the Trump resistance and most have gone on as before. (Speaking of which: this is sad.?I guess Sherrod Brown tops my wish list now along with Elizabeth Warren.) Some clearly do get it, others clearly don’t, but the party’s attitudes have barely changed since the Obama days.

The influx of new Democrats is therefore going to be interesting. Obviously not all are going to be left-wing and all will be backbenchers to start with, but the context of the times is so different, which can’t help but have an effect. I have a dedicated email address that I use just for political donations and I’m on a ton of mailing lists, often from people I never donated to or even heard about. Sometimes I go through them just to see what kind of appeals they’re using. From Dianne Feinstein, for example, it’s the same old shit. From the new candidates it’s been fairly encouraging. It is pretty amazing just how unremarkable certain stances are, almost without regard for where the race is. Single-payer is extremely prevalent in the messages I see, for example. Gun control also. A decade ago, this was not at all the case! Back then we had all that “what works for Massachusetts doesn’t work for Mississippi” rhetoric, which doesn’t even make any sense. If Massachusetts believes that guns kill people, then Mississippi not believing that is simply wrong! So many emphasize rejecting not only PAC money, but all corporate donations, which is in itself reflective of the self-awareness that many new politicians have about money and influence that the post-Clinton Democratic Party typically lacks. Virtually all revolve strongly around fighting Trump directly, which is good. I do think there is a difference between fighting and opposing. Fighting is trying to stymie the bad things Trump is trying to do. Opposing is issuing a press release. Hardball politics are not always the optimal choice, but lacking that club means that the other side knows it can walk all over you with impunity. It’s how, say, dozens of reactionary lifetime judicial appointments are confirmed with minority assent when there are plenty of ways to delay them, even without the judicial filibuster. I’d certainly like to see less of that.

Admittedly, the fear would be that they go through whatever process Democratic politicians seem to go through that renders them boring and incapable of connecting to normal people. Folks, John Kerry was once a very charismatic guy! He was a grassroots activist once upon a time who was so successful he was a national figure. You have to be at least a little interesting to be somebody like that. There clearly is a process, almost certainly involving consultants, that seems to leech it out of them. Obviously there are some exceptions to it even now, like a Warren or a Bernie Sanders. The internal culture of the party, though, is still very heavily bent on producing leaders who David Brooks would think are okay people. Fair enough for ultra-red states, but beyond that, I’ve really had enough of that. I guess my greatest hope would be that the class of 2018 stops playing that game, stops carrying about what fascist-enabling “moderate” Republicans like Brooks and Susan Collins want to hear. That’s my dream for all the Democrats!

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Can Trump overrule the text of the Constitution via an Executive Order, which is a thing that isn’t even mentioned in the Constitution? I guess we’ll see. But if it passes legal muster with this Supreme Court and Democratic leaders still continue to respect Norms and Traditions for our self-appointed rulers in robes, then they all need to be shown the door.

Admittedly, the premise can be disputed, and it’s entirely possible (likely even) that Trump knows it’ll get knocked down and he just wants the big headline, knowing that the legal rejection will be quieter and at any rate irrelevant to FOX Nation. I guess that’s what law and order is all about…

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This is pretty good. The thing about Newt was that he wasn’t really a legislator and few ever really saw him that way. He was really more of a party media strategist who just happened to be in Congress. He largely played the media in the same ways that Trump did, and was ultimately the same sort of fraud that Trump is (different styles but same effects).?The Atlantic deserves some credit because they give him at long last some just criticism, but then as now, the media still often gives him the headlines and copy he wants.

At any rate, Trump is doing to the presidency what Gingrich did to the House and McConnell did to the Senate. But Newt did it first.

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I was very, very incensed by how the Obama Administration handled Libya, and I still am. It was really dumb, and I remain convinced that the people who wanted it were in some way trying to make a distinction between “bad” regime change (a la Iraq) and “good” regime change that simply didn’t wash. What they “learned” from Iraq wasn’t that regime change was always fraught with the risk of getting something worse or that monkeying around in Middle East politics was a bad idea, but that the Bush people had just done a bad job of it. Which they did! But, as we saw also after 2016, hardly anybody in power actually changed their views based on what had happened and disaster ensued.

That said, in retrospect, it was how they handled Syria that was the bigger problem. They clearly saw it as another opportunity for “good” regime change, a chance to get rid of an autocrat they didn’t like and make another Arab country safe for democracy. So Obama had his John Wayne turn, issuing threats and “red lines” and talking about how Assad had to go, and then spending years trying and failing to find those mythical moderate rebels. Which, of course, led to the refugee crisis, which destabilized European liberalism while buttressing right-wing extremism and probably played some role in doing it here too. The counterfactual game is tricky but it’s not at all hard to argue that, if Obama had set aside the regime change fantasies altogether and committed himself 100% to diplomacy in Syria, trying to bring the conflict to an end instead of egging it on by playing sides and supplying random groups we don’t understand, things would look a little different. Perhaps none of the bad stuff would have happened! Also, more Syrian people might still be alive and in their homes, which would be a good thing, no?

Sure, you can blame the media and election year stupidity and all that, but frankly, I do honestly wonder why Susan Rice has such a positive reputation among progressives. Probably? has to do with how BENGHAZI! was hung on her by the right wing, which I do get. Those conspiracy theories were ridiculous. But without Rice there would have been no BENGHAZI!, and very likely a less horrible Syrian disaster, with less baleful impact on the West. Then again, you can’t pin it all on Rice. A good amount has to go to the guy who stressed his anti-war credentials to win the Democratic nomination, took office at a point where hawkish militarism was at a low ebb, and then failed to meaningfully change the way that American foreign policy worked, or even to try to do so. Not that it was all bad, the Cuba opening and the Iranian nuclear deal were great! But, alas, they were exceptions.

Obama’s share of responsibility for the disaster of 2016 is surely dwarfed by that of Comey and any given mainstream media company president. But it is non-zero.

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