All Eyes on Pence

The gay son of newly sworn in Senator Doug Jones was giving the eyeball to Mike Pence during the swearing in ceremony. SFGate reportsPence, a strict conservative who reportedly will not eat meals in the company of women other than his wife and who once penned a column about the destructive moral influence of Disney’s “Mulan,” has a record of opposing gay rights as a member of Congress and as governor of Indiana.

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As a reminder that every vote counts, Republican David Yancey just won a tie breaker for a Virginia Assembly seat. That allows Republicans to maintain control of the Legislature by 51-49. Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds each received 11,607 votes. NPR reports that: the state election board shall “determine by lot which of the candidates shall be declared elected.

Interestingly Pence has been raising a ton of money for his PAC- a bit unusual for a VP. WSJ quotes a former spokesman for (soon to be Utah Senator) Mitt Romney: Mr. Pence is a “safe choice, whereas Trump is a total wild card.” Pence is certainly set up to run in 2020 if Trump implodes or quits.

If the Dems take back the House in 2018, they will need to knock off people like Jeff Denham. He won reelection in a District that Hillary carried in 2016. SacBee writes about some of the challengers to Denham.

Trump had his lawyer try and convince Jeff Sessions to not recuse himself from the Russia probe. From Time: The conversation between Don McGahn, the president’s White House counsel, and Sessions took place on the president’s orders and occurred just before the attorney general announced that he would step aside from the ongoing inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to a person with knowledge of the interaction. It is amazing the lengths to which Trump has gone to try and derail the investigation of his ties to Putin and Russia. But hey, nothing to see, nothing to see.

Fortune reports that my good friend Mike Tyson is looking to open a giant weed ranch…err “Cannabis Resort”. Iron Mike is going to join with all the lawmakers who totally bummed about Jeff Sessions’ decision to start enforcing marijuana laws even in states that have legalized it. Time mentions  that this could even prompt Congress to legalize marijuana. Hopefully Sessions would then light up a giant blunt to celebrate.

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So much fire, so much fury

I went ahead and ordered it on Amazon- it is like a new Harry Potter book coming out:

 

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Ivanka for President….

The Michael Wolff excerpts in NY Mag just have so much good stuff in them. Another favorite is that Jared and Ivanka are plotting her path to the Presidency: “Balancing risk against reward, both Jared and Ivanka decided to accept roles in the West Wing over the advice of almost everyone they knew. It was a joint decision by the couple, and, in some sense, a joint job. Between themselves, the two had made an earnest deal: If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she’d be the one to run for president. The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump.”

And the White House attacking the book will helps sales and resulted in an earlier release date:

The WSJ reports that Breitbart’s owners are considering firing Bannon and that Trump’s lawyers are trying to stop the book’s release….Can we just give Wolff a Pulitzer now?

Apparently even White House aides think that Trump’s tweeting might result in a nuclear war according to the Daily Beast: “It’s a running joke [in the West Wing] that nuclear war could start from the private residence during Fox [News] prime time,” one senior Trump aide told The Daily Beast. “Sometimes the joking includes more uncomfortable [or] nervous laughter than other times.

Jeff Sessions is trying to roll back Obama guidelines that relaxed efforts to prosecute marijuana crimes. Good luck with that.

Trump’s voter fraud commission produced a whole lot of nothing and he has now disbanded it. Guess maybe Hillary won the popular vote after all. Politico quoted Chuck Shumer: “The commission never had anything to do with election integrity.  It was instead a front to suppress the vote, perpetrate dangerous and baseless claims, and was ridiculed from one end of the country to the other. This shows that ill-founded proposals that just appeal to a narrow group of people won’t work, and we hope they’ll learn this lesson elsewhere.”

And lawmakers recently met with a Yale psychiatry professor to discuss Trump’s mental health. Politico speculates that there is a growing sentiment to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump.

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Trump and Bannon go off on each other

Hard to know who root for…. Vox reports on Bannon dropping some major accusations in a forthcoming book: In the excerpts, Bannon says he thinks Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer in search of dirt on Hillary Clinton was “treasonous,” speculates that the elder Trump may have been involved in the meeting too, and asserts that Jared Kushner is involved in some “greasy” business that could expose him to money laundering charges.

Trump responds:  “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” the statement reads in part. “Steve doesn’t represent my base — he’s only in it for himself.”

The good news is that perhaps this distracts Trump from using his stubby little fingers to try and start a nuclear war with North Korea via Twitter.

Fascinating article in NY mag about how Trump and his campaign never actually expected to win: Even though the numbers in a few key states had appeared to be changing to Trump’s advantage, neither Conway nor Trump himself nor his son-in-law, Jared Kushner — the effective head of the campaign — ­wavered in their certainty: Their unexpected adventure would soon be over. Not only would Trump not be president, almost everyone in the campaign agreed, he should probably not be.

End of the day, Trump ran to stroke his own ego and he thought it would make him some money.

Salon article on howFlorida has 1.7 million citizens who cannot vote because they’ve been convicted of a felony at some point. Hillary lost Florida by 120,000 votes- that certainly could have been the difference. Salon reports that there is a strong movement afoot to restore voting rights in Florida. Restoring voting rights is a step towards integrating people back in to society…and yeah Democrats do well when more people vote.

 

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Ron Brownstein on 2018 being a referendum on Trump has this interesting tidbit: “In last month’s CNN poll, 84% of Trump approvers said they intended to vote Republican for Congress, while 83% of Trump disapprovers said they intended to vote Democratic.”  Combine that with Trump’s 15-20 net disapproval rating, and the math looks promising for a 2018 wave.

Samantha Micelli- more important now than ever- Alyssa Milano’s tweet thread on people running for office has some cool candidates:

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Reminded me of this article from the co-founder of Run for Something on why Dems need to run everywhere in 2018: “We didn’t know that a young lesbian schoolteacher in Oklahoma would win a special election by 31 votes, flipping a state senate seat in a district Trump had won by 40 points. We didn’t predict that 15,000 people would find their voice and sign up with us to run for office since inauguration day. And we certainly didn’t predict that two transgender women would win groundbreaking elections in 2017, that a proud Sikh man would be elected mayor of Hoboken, or that the amount of women contacting Emily’s List to run would increase 22 times this year. “

Good perspective from a LA Times editorial on how the 2018 election can block Trump…but let’s be aware of the long-lasting damage he has already done: “Even if Gorsuch is Trump’s only Supreme Court nomination, Trump is getting federal judges confirmed at a record rate. He’s packing the lower courts with young, reactionary and, in some cases, comically unqualified judges who will affect American jurisprudence for the worse.”

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti is thinking about running for President in 2020. No Mayor has ever directly won the Presidency, but 2016 proved that old rules don’t matter.

And Elizabeth Warren is gearing up for a possible 2020 run according to this Politico article. It would certainly help her if Bernie Sanders did not run against her: And while the Vermont senator may still run for president again, he and Warren have recently teamed up for a series of videos and a New York Times op-ed of their own blasting the GOP agenda on Capitol Hill.If there was any political tension between the two, it hasn’t translated to the screen.

After filming one of the December videos, on the federal budget, Sanders posted a photo on Instagram of the pair smiling.

“Today I had a chat with my favorite senator,” he wrote. “Elizabeth Warren.”

 

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Goodbye 2017 (Mooch and Spicey edition)

Former DNC Chair Ed Rendell (who was also Governor of Pennsylvania and Mayor of Philadelphia) says that Joe Biden is the best choice for Dems in 2020. The Hill reports on a  radio interview: “To me it’s clear-cut – Joe Biden is our superstar. If he decides to run I think he will win overwhelmingly,” he added.

Daily Show clip in memory of the Trump staffers who left us before the end of 2017- we miss you Spicey and Mooch!

Vice President Pence greeted with #MAGA signs…

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Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thinks we are closer to nuclear war with North Korea than we have ever been. Hill article quotes him: “I don’t see the opportunities how to solve this diplomatically at this particular point,” he continued.

Vox explains “chain migration” and why Trump is aiming to end it. In simple form, chain migration is extended families who over time are able to immigrate. Makes a lot more sense than isolating people…

Thanks for reading and see you in 2018!

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Putin helping Rocket man….

  • But there was no collusion. None. CNBC reports that Russian tankers have provided fuel to the North Korean regime in recent months, in violation of UN sanctions.
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  • So many bizarre things from Trump’s interview with the NY Times, but this is at the top of the list:

    TRUMP: Yeah. Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion. And even these committees that have been set up. If you look at what’s going on — and in fact, what it’s done is, it’s really angered the base and made the base stronger. My base is stronger than it’s ever been. Great congressmen, in particular, some of the congressmen have been unbelievable in pointing out what a witch hunt the whole thing is. So, I think it’s been proven that there is no collusion.

  • White House staff is freaking out about the interview- apparently it was arranged by a Mar-a-Lago club member. WaPo describes an aide: “What interview? Today?” Another frustrated aide called it “embarrassing.”
  • Warriors Coach Steve Kerr spoke with USA Today and gave his rationale for speaking out against Trump:” That’s one of the reasons our country has been so successful is we have these institutions in place to protect us from ourselves, and so the institutions have to win out. The only way that’s going to happen is if we keep calling b——-, so that’s my approach. I just have to join the coalition that’s calling b——-. “
  • AP reports that the Trump Administration is working to roll back regulations on off-shore drilling. You know, the ones that were in response to explosion at Deepwater Horizon (I do recommend the Marky Mark movie). “The Obama rules targeted blowout preventers, massive valve-like devices designed to prevent spills from wells on the ocean floor. The preventer used by BP failed. The rules required more frequent inspections of those and other devices and dictated that experts onshore monitor drilling of highly complex wells in real time.” images
  • Post Doug Jones, the next targeted race is a Pennsylvania special election to replace GOP Rep. Tim Murphy. Murphy is the charming, ultra pro-life guy who resigned when it came out he was trying to force his pregnant mistress to have an abortion. Conor Lamb is the Democratic candidate trying to win a Trump-leaning, blue collar district.
  • Matt Yglesias argues that the resistance is working- Trump’s worst efforts have been largely blocked: “Trump has signed fewer bills than any of his recent predecessors, and has gotten nothing at all done that requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. That’s despite the numerous Democratic senators holding down seats in red states who might be persuaded to back a nominally bipartisan bill.”
  • And in a reminder that there are still massive loopholes in campaign finance laws, corporations are able to dump unlimited money in to gubernatorial races via the Governors Associations. WSJ reports that when Maryland Republican Larry Hogan needed money for his race, chicken processor Mountaire funneled  $250,000 for him through the RGA. It paid off: “On inauguration day, Mr. Hogan blocked the proposal opposed by the poultry industry.”

 

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