Nancy Pelosi should stay

Instinctively obsessed with parity, the Washington press corps turns to classic boilerplate both-sidesism when covering what it thinks is a internecine bloodbath between House Democrats who ran against Nancy Pelosi as speaker and senescent reactionaries. Josh Marshall has the stakes exactly right:

First, I’m ambivalent about Nancy Pelosi becoming Speaker again. Turnovers in leadership are good. The dozens of new House Democrats converging on Capitol Hill this week visibly shows the power of generational succession. The Democrats’ current House leadership has been in place for more than 15 years, an extraordinary length of time by historical standards.

 

There’s a separate matter. Somewhat like Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi has been so consistently vilified and caricatured by national Republicans that she has become, objectively, a highly charged figure as the face of national Democrats. We can lament that, think it’s the product of things that are vicious and unfair. I do. But that doesn’t make it not true.

 

At the same time, there are very few people who understand the inner workings of the House, what caucus leaders do and what she managed to get done between 2007 and 2011 who don’t think she’s a legislative leader of extraordinary ability. She also has critical support from a broad array of the parties different factions, in and out of Congress. As important as anything, Pelosi is tough, something particularly important facing Donald Trump for the next two years.

From my vantage point in a moneyed suburb in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, it’s the fault of Pelosi, Hoyer, et. al. for not promoting a new generation of leaders who’ll replace their septuagenarian asses,a point also raised in Marshall’s essay. Otherwise the argument that Pelosi Must Go makes no sense. At this moment she’s irreplaceable. The smarter young guns who ran on replacing her should follow the lead of Alexandra Ocasio-Sanchez, who staged a protest at the minority leader’s office that strengthened her young-fresh cred.

So keep Nancy Pelosi. The most effective speaker since John W. McCormack is the only person tactically shrewd enough to exploit the awed contempt in which she’s held by the GOP (Paul Ryan and the rest attack her precisely because they understand how good she is at her job), not to mention the skills to pass legislation and reduce talking points to essentials. Let her serve one term as speaker with the promise of letting a younger replacement shadow her — I don’t care. But the moment requires a leader who understands the stakes.

2018’s first worst political clichés

The ending of a political cycle doesn’t mean that reporters and pundits have retired the old clothes they’ve worn for two years and longer. At the cost of my health I exposed myself to four hours straight of cable news television because I’m compulsive about blogging as MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki is about correctly pronouncing county names.

Here are five of the worst political clichés this season:

1. Soccer moms

2. “Alienating women.” Because women get alienated. Men get…angry?

3. “Not appealing to the middle.” Voters’ positions are a sour mishmash because unlike politicians they can’t pay the rent and for a focus group out of one check.

4. “Race to the bottom”

5. The quiet mourning of pundits, mostly white, for the death of the rural white Democratic voter. White voters will not leave Trump, and we should stop hoping so because they’re racists and our coalition doesn’t need them. Plus, they’re old and will die of emphysema and eating processed cheese. Fuck’em. I mean, why on earth would you want them leaving Trump? You think the separation will stop their racism? Many those racists voted for Obama. They were still racists.

Midterm 2018: Is America ready for me?

11:17 p.m. I’ll repeat: as a Floridian, it’s weird to live in a county where the Republican incumbent and the open seat held by a Republican since 1989 went down yet the governor and Senate races went to a Democrat. Meanwhile Nancy Pelosi will be speaker, it looks like. My state will live with more red tide, more gutting of environmental regulation, and more gutting of the state treasury.

11:00 p.m. Hello. Been eating chocolate. Gillum concedes, but Antonio Delgado in Illinois, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Abby Finkenauer of Iowa, and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey will win.

10:29 p.m. I can’t stress how weird this is that the evening is going in our direction but Florida is not.

10:23 p.m. Democrats will take the house, NBC declares.

10:12 p.m. What a weird night. Florida may fall to the GOP, but so far the last thirty minutes has seen race after race fall to the Democrats. Texas has seen perhaps ten state race pickups despite what I just heard was a O’Rourke loss. At last the Dems are competitive in Texas.

9:59 p.m. Although the competition for Worst Governor in the United States is fierce, what Sam Brownback did to Kansas has no precedent. At last a Democratic governor can pick up the mess.

9:53. Sharice Davids picks up a race in Kansas. She’s Native American and gay.

9:47 p.m. Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell defeats Republican Carlos Curbelo. HOLY FUCK.

9:45 p.m. Look, I can’t lie: the Florida news has been enervating. What will perk me up if news doesn’t improve from Broward County makeup votes is the series of House races that remain to be called.

9:41 p.m. Conor Lamb wins in Pennsylvania.

9:33 p.m. I’m having a martini. Because why not?

9:28 p.m. Jason Crow beats Mike Coffmann in Colorado Sixth District. Another pickup.

9:23 p.m. Carlos Curbelo still clinging by his teeth, behind by a point and a half.

9:15 p.m. I can’t escape the gloom at my blogging station. But no more House races have been called yet.

9:05 p.m. Amendment 4 in Florida, restoring felon voting rights, has passed by a comfortable margin.

8:59 p.m. Joe Manchin holds. Now he can feel better about voting for Brett Kavanaugh.

8:55: Mike Braun beats Joe Donnelly in Indiana.

8:48 p.m. https://twitter.com/jerryiannelli/status/1059984539915878400

8:45 p.m. Beto O’Rourke at 66 percent at the early vote in Texas.

8:41 p.m. I’m back.

8:26 p.m. Still waiting for Florida.

8:17 p.m. Nelson and Scott are at 50.0 each, according to MSNBC. More wine!

8:13 p.m. Rick Scott up by 10,000 votes in Florida.

8:10 p.m. Jerry Iannelli of Miami New Times: Miami-Dade’s vote-by-mail and early-voting results just came in, Democrats cleaned up in Dade County early voting, which is typical for early votes but still could be a sign of more blue votes to come 1/x

8:04 p.m. Impressively, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is ahead of Carlos Curbelo, one of the few GOP congressman who won in a Clinton district in 2016.

7:59 p.m. Donna Shalala wins! A huge sigh of relief. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s former district, a GOP moderate stronghold, is now firmly Democratic.

7:57 p.m. Steve Schmidt, while I appreciate your betrayal of conservative values, theoretically, “fidelitous” is a word one uses the way I use “rebarbative.”

7:55 p.m. From 538:

CLARE MALONE 7:54 PM
An interesting little tidbit from the preliminary exit polls out of Indiana, where Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is fighting for his seat: 53 percent said that Donnelly’s vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation was important in deciding their midterm vote.

7:53 p.m. MSNBC projects Sherrod Brown as winner in Ohio. No one much discussed this race. What matters is Richard Cordray, former head of the former Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, beating his challenger.

7:50 p.m. I may accept a piece of dark chocolate. Help me.

7:48 p.m. Second refill. Right ring finger still throbbing. I am a martyr for blogging, though.

7:45 p.m. If Gillum and Nelson win — more full disclosure — you will have seen a transformation of Florida the likes of which I haven’t seen in my lifetime. The only comparison: if Beto wins his race in Texas and Abrams in Georgia.

7:41 p.m. Full disclosure: friend Alan Gomez gets interviewed on MSNBC on Hispanic voter trends in Florida.

7:40 p.m. Nelson and Gillum still doing very well, the latter clobbering in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

7:38 p.m. Barbara Comstock gone, Jennifer Wexton wins VA-10. First sip of red wine.

7:36 p.m. Amy McGrath jumping to a lead in the unfortunately named KY-6 60-39 against Andy Barr.

7:35 p.m. What you want, dear readers, is to follow a Negroni with red wine. What an acerbic taste combo!

7:31 p.m. Spanberger leads Brat in VA-7. Comstock behind by double digits in VA-10.

7:26 pm. Nelson 52, Gillum 51. Please, powers that be. Chuck Todd, that Miami native son, has acknowledged that Gillum and Stacey Abrams victories “have transformed” how Democrats run in the South. Well, yeah.

7:24 p.m. My posts will accumulate as the returns do.

7:23 p.m. My right ring finger, damaged by falling blender last night, is throbbing. Bear with me.

7:21 p.m. Andrew Gillum well above Hilary Clinton levels in Miami-Dade County and Broward.

6:23 p.m. MSNBC, whose coverage I will watch for a couple hours, has unleashed Steve Kornacki, a thirtysomething already mocked for his almost pneumatic enthusiasm. He wears a blue longsleeved shirt. I suspect he wears several undershirts for the sweat.

6:17 p.m. I ate leftover fricase de pollo I cooked yesterday, accompanied by a side arugula salad, the latter as comforting as a cup of coffee. My laptop is charged. I’ve read the requisite number of pages of the Olivier bio I checked out last week. I’ve graded thirty essays submitted in three classes. Is America ready for me?

From the annals of early voting lore

Ninety minutes ago, walking into my regional library and early voting location to pick up a copy of an Olivier bio, a well-chosen Cuban mulatto no older than 21 or 22 wearing a Vance Aloupis shirt asked if I’d voted.

“I hope you voted Republican.”

“Sure didn’t,” I said.

“I thought you wanted bipartisan solutions. To make this country great.”

“I don’t. I want to be as partisan as possible.”

His mouth fell open and he walked away. Clearly this wasn’t in the scripted responses he expected.

Life is made of small victories.

The state with the prettiest name: October update

“We’ve lost our self-respect,” said the woman to the Publix cashier on Sunday in Cuban Spanish. “Sooner rather than later we’re going to deal with socialism.” Who “we” was is unclear: Floridians? Cubans? Americans? All of them, like as not. The robust paranoia of the Cuban exile mind specializes in the collapsing of referents.  Continue reading

Hysteria breeds hysteria

Charles Pierce:

This constituency wasn’t created out of the air. It did not spring fully grown from the brow of the president*. It was carefully created and nurtured over the past four decades by a conservative movement bankrolled by oligarchs who were and are perfectly fine with having murderous, angry grunts out there doing the dirty work for them, the way the fine upstanding Alabama burghers of the White Citizens Council were content to have the Klan round up misfits to blow up churches and kill little girls.

And then, in 2016, lo and behold, the perfect vessel for all of this carefully fashioned rage comes along and he wins a freak election, ends up in the White House, and now everybody’s shocked down to their expensive loafers that there’s a large body of their fellow citizens who believe in, and are willing to act upon, the doomstruck fantasies that they have been so conscientiously fed over the past 40 years?

I remembered the Palmer Raids, the hysteria after the armistice ending the Great War, triggered — no other word — by a series of bombs left by anarchists at the doorsteps of men who included Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt. The government arrested ten thousand people.

The midterm elections are in thirteen days.

Length /= Proof

So, I’m a partisan, but I’m trying to figure out what crime Andrew Gillum committed by accepting Hamilton tickets from an FBI agent other than possibly lying about where he got them? What quid pro quo happened? The POLITICO story, naturally, buries the lead twenty-five paragraphs down with a quote from a federal prosecutor:

Zimet said the acceptance of gifts by Gillum is “probably not” a federal “theft of honest services” crime “if there’s not some quid pro quo attached to it,” and a quid pro quo can either be a vote “or a promise to do something that gets you closer to criminality.”

The Tallahassee Democrat‘s story, detailing evenings of booze, trips to Costa Rica, and rooms at the Millennium Hotel, is more thorough, but all I get from this document dump is how, to quote the story, lobbyist Adam Corey, under FBI investigation, “assisted Gillum in positioning himself for a run at statewide office.” The story’s length adduces its seriousness.

It’s the kind of political reporting that drives me bonkers: narrative without analysis, reminiscent of the direst of 2016 coverage.

Cuban-Americans: lived long, learned nothing

The Miami Herald made too much of this protest, but, still, don’t ever accuse Cuban-Americans of living in the past:

Some of the demonstrators also condemned Democrats because they said they ignore how Cubans on the island and other oppressed people suffer — some lacking basic needs like toilet paper. It’s a charge members of the party, especially those in Miami, strongly deny.

No matter. The protesters denounced Democrats as “commies” and waved signs supporting Republican candidate Ron DeSantis, who is running for governor, and running mate Jeanette Núñez. But Miami-Dade County Republican Party Chairman Nelson Diaz said protesters weren’t officially affiliated with any group, and that, as far as he knew, nobody had paid them to be there.

Diaz said the group came together because they’re all against dictators in countries such as Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba. Protesters acted angrily, he said, because they’re offended that Shalala and Mucarsel-Powell invited Lee to Miami. Opponent Maria Elvira Salazar was quoted in the Miami Herald Wednesday explaining that she’d like President Donald Trump to meet with Raúl Castro, but the protestors had no vitriol for the Republican candidate.

“There is nothing worse in this country than Barbara Lee,” Diaz said.

Barbara Lee is worse than Ron DeSantis, who addresses racists; Rick Scott, CEO of a company responsible for the largest Medicare fraud in American history ; and, of course, Donald Trump, who adores the strongmen whom they deplore. Cuban-Americans of my grandmother’s generation, this confirms, would replace one dictator with another. They consider themselves white because the United States has encouraged them to think so. They have lived long and learned nothing.

As for the protest, remember the Brooks Brothers riot of 2000?

It’s about time

After yet another Donald Trump supporter gets caught for being the grifter and charlatan he is, Elizabeth Warren’s latest policy proposal makes as much sense as the Pure Food and Drug Act:

In pursuit of ending “both the appearance and the potential for financial conflicts of interest,” Warren’s bill would prohibit federal lawmakers, judges, Cabinet secretaries and other senior congressional staff from owning individual stocks while in office. It would also bar all government officials from holding stocks the value of which might be influenced by their work in office.

“Enough of the spectacle of HHS secretaries and herds of congressmen caught up in insider trading schemes,” Warren said in the speech.

As an apparent alternative to individual stock ownership, the bill would create “conflict-free investment opportunities for federal officials with new investment accounts,” according to a synopsis of the bill obtained by CNBC.

“They can put their savings in conflict-free investments like mutual funds or they can pick a different line of work,” Warren said.

These accounts would be managed by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, an independent agency established during the Reagan administration that boasts fewer than 300 employees.

She calls it the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act. Another provision: forcing candidates to release years of tax returns and thereafter should they win. Warren has a higher probability of passing on malaria than this bill passing Congress before November, but that’s the point: if Dems want, they can run on commonsense ways of dealing with systemic corruption, like they did in 2006 against K Street and Tom DeLay.