Friday Reads: Political Crazy SeasonPosted: September 19, 2014 Filed under: 2014 elections, morning reads | Tags: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC, Kansas, Kobach 37 Comments
There are some interesting items out there for folks that find politics fascinating. I guess I’m getting more in the mood to read about these things since I’ve been phonebanking and canvassing to GOTV for Senator Mary Landrieu here in New Orleans.
I’m not wild about doing either of these activities but I learned to buckle down and do it when I ran for office like 20 years ago. It’s important this year. I don’t want to see Republicans take over the Senate. I don’t agree with Landrieu on a lot of things but the alternative would be a disaster.
I will be canvassing on Saturday and then going to a forum about Women’s issues presented by my Congressoman Cedric Richmond with speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday afternoon. I will try to live blog the forum. I was thrilled to be invited even though I still consider myself an independent. Really, the Republicans give me fewer reasons to consider them as serious candidates each election even though the Dems do not thrill me at all.
So, first up, the whacky state of Kansas continues to provide some interesting goings on. Usually reliably Republican, but also reliably practical, Kansas voters appear ready to get rid of their Republican Governor Sam Brownback. who has basically followed the Koch formula and the discredited economic policies of Arthur Laffer. They also look to be getting rid of their long-time Senator for an Independent. The Democrat left the race and The Kansas Supreme Court decided it was fine to remove his name from the ballot. The highly panicked Republican party has been scrambling to get anyone’s name back in the race so they could possibly profit from a three way split. Kansas’ Secretary of State has been nakedly partisan. (BTW, my father was born in Kansas and I spent a good deal of my childhood going back and forth between the Kansas City suburbs of Kansas and Kansas City Missouri where my mother was born and all her relatives lived. I know both states very well.
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Democratic Senate nominee Chad Taylor’s name should be removed from the ballot in November, overruling Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R).
The much-anticipated ruling in one of the most-watched Senate races of 2014 means national Democrats are closer to their perceived goal of clearing the field for independent candidate Greg Orman. Polling suggests that Orman, who had briefly run as a Democrat in 2008 and is open to caucusing with either party, is better positioned to knock off the vulnerable Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts.
But the matter might not be fully resolved.
After the ruling, Kobach quickly moved to put another obstacle in the way of Democrats’ plan. Kobach reiterated his position that the Democratic Party is required under state law to replace Taylor on the ballot. He said he had notified the party chair that Taylor should be replaced and moved the mailing date for ballots from Sept. 20 to Sept. 27 to give Democrats time to pick a new nominee.
Election law expert Rick Hasen said on his blog that Kobach would likely have to sue the Democratic Party to force it to replace Taylor. A Democratic Party spokesperson did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.
The court said Thursday that it did not need to address whether Taylor should be replaced under state law because that issue was not before it.
Kobach had declared earlier this month that Taylor’s name would have to remain on the ballot, despite his attempt to withdraw. Taylor then sued Kobach to reverse his decision, and the court sided with Taylor on Thursday.
“Our determination that the uncontroverted contents of Taylor’s September 3 letter timely satisfy the statutory requirements for withdrawal now leads us to Kobach’s clearly defined duty imposed by the law,” the court wrote in its unanimous decision. “Kobach’s attorney admitted at oral arguments that if the letter was held to comply with the statute, Kobach would have no discretion.”
So Kobach first argued that today was a drop dead date since the ballots would go to print. The Court delivered the verdict at close of business indicating that the ballot would contain no Democrat. Kobach has now changed the drop dead date for 8 days from now and has told the Democrats they must deliver a candidate name to him by then. This is something that was never implied in the verdict.
This whole mess could have been avoided if Taylor would have done a better job with his letter, or if Kobach did not push the issue—and the evidence that his office had accepted non-complying letters before was damning to his case. The Court noted that Kobach submitted those letters after the deadline for filings, but seemed to praise him for doing it out of an “ethical obligation” to the court. In other words, if he just sat on letters his office just found which showed the inconsistent treatment of withdrawal letters in the past, it would have been deceptive to the court.
So what happens next depends upon Kobach’s next move. He has said he would sue Democrats to get them to name a replacement, but given the time frame now, and the fact that it may not be in Republicans’ political interests to let this fester any more, this may be the end. [Update: Byran Lowry reports: “Kobach says Dem chair has been informed that she has 8 days to select a replacement candidate. #ksleg#KSSen#kseln.” It is not clear how the 8 days fits into the existing ballot printing timeframe.] [Second update: Kobach is moving the mailing to 9/27. What does this say about what he represented to court about deadlines? Wow wow wow.]
Addendum: If Democrats refuse to name or no candidate agrees to serve, then what? It seems like it would be a tough First Amendment claim to FORCE a party to name a replacement. Perhaps if Democrats do nothing Kobach will realize there’s not much he can do and drop the issue. We will see.
What other craziness is popping up in elections across the country? How about a GOP congressional candidate that wants to go to war with Mexico over undocumented immigration?
The latest candidate to sign up for the hard-fought America’s Dumbest Congressman competition is Republican Mark Walker, who’s running for North Carolina’s deep-red 6th Congressional district. Walker is the one who previously vowed that he would impeach Barack Obama, if given the chance, and is generally of the Michele Bachmann “you must be this paranoid to enter Congress” wing of the party, worried about Sharia law and/or Obama declaring martial law and/or whatever else you got. You know, a tea partier.
But I don’t think that prepared any of us for the revelation that Mark Walker’s answer to undocumented immigrants is to “go laser or blitz somebody” in Mexico, as he told a local Rockingham County tea party group called Will of the People on June 26th of this year. Ye Gods, man:
Question: Mr Walker, I want to ask you how you feel about military, using the military to secure our southern border? I know a lot of people holler Posse Comitatus, that’s when the military out enforcing local laws, guarding the border is not the same thing. And we’ve got other people, other countries going, “Why can’t we guard our own?”
Walker: Well, my first answer for that is we need to utilize the National Guard as much as we can. But, I will tell you If you have foreigners who are sneaking in with drug cartels to me that is a national threat and if we got to go laser or blitz somebody with a couple of fighter jets for a little while to make our point, I don’t have a problem with that either. So yea, whatever you need to do.“
Moderator: “I hope you wouldn’t have any qualms about starting up a little war with Mexico.”
Walker: “Well, we did it before, if we need to do it again, I don’t have a qualm about it.”
I realize our standards for who should be in Congress these days have been thoroughly dismantled by the likes of Bachmann, Steve Stockman and Louie Gohmert, but shouldn’t a theoretical national leader have just a few qualms about going to war with Mexico in order to prove a rather nebulous not-sure? Just a wee bit of qualms? (And what does it mean to “go laser” somebody? Will that make it into the congressional resolution, that the Congress of the United States hereby demands we “go laser” someone? Either I am not hep to modern tea party lingo or this man is a bonafide imbecile.)
This is really a bad timing situation for the DNC. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was the subject of a Politico Hit piece that included some really horrid insider comments. One has to wonder if sexism was involved but her position seems to be in jeopardy as a result.
Based on interviews with DNC staffers — both former and current — the piece described Wasserman Schultz as something of a modern-day Tracy Flick: over-eager, disloyal and not shy about promoting her ambitions. It would be fair to say that she sounds like, well, a lot like other politicians. And this would be accurate. But the wholesale bashing of Wasserman Schultz at every level of the party — White House, Congress, donors, aides in her own shop — is especially rough, even given the reality of Beltway politics.
She comes across as a woman without a party, holding a job that could be a stepping stone, but now seems more like a trap door. (As Philip Bump notes, it might be a stepping stone no matter how it ends.) This is a public firing, Washington-style.
A few of the harsher passages:
One example that sources point to as particularly troubling: Wasserman Schultz repeatedly trying to get the DNC to cover the costs of her wardrobe.
Many expect a nascent Clinton campaign will engineer her ouster. Hurt feelings go back to spring 2008, when while serving as a co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Wasserman Schultz secretly reached out to the Obama campaign to pledge her support once the primary was over, sources say.
For even the occasional Obama briefing by the heads of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, she is not invited.
“We say the big ‘D’ is for Democratic,” one member joked to others at the House Democratic retreat on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in February, according to one of the members. “For her, the big ‘D’ is always for Debbie.”
Instead, the DNC chairwoman stakes out the president of the United States at the end of photo lines at events and fundraisers. “You need another picture, Debbie?” Obama tends to say, according to people who’ve been there for the encounters.
Since 1848, the DNC has only had three women at the helm, and part of the reason (maybe the biggest reason), Wasserman Schultz landed the role andkept it is gender. Her selling point, according to people familiar with the initial deliberations, was that she was good with donor and had deep ties to Clinton supporters (read: white women) who Obama needed to keep on board in 2012. It also helped — a lot — that she is Jewish and from Florida, a big important state with lots of money for the fundraising.
Wasserman Schultz embraced the “war on women” lingo early on, and as DNC chair she helped to elevate it nationally. And though DNC insiders weren’t ever sold on her TV skills, she was good on the stump, pumping up grassroots activists and helping them feel connected to the campaign.
Perhaps the biggest fight over the “war on women” will happen in Colorado where Mark Udall is slugging it out with Republican Cory Gardner. This is one race that looks safe for the Dems but they are really depending on women and minorities. This is a similar situation for Mary Landrieu in Louisiana.
Like all competitive Senate races, the neck-and-neck contest in Colorado may determine which party controls the Senate, but the race is also the central battleground for the fight between Republicans and Democrats over female voters. Will Democrats win by returning to the tested playbook of focusing on reproductive issues to run up their support with women, or have Republicans found a way to blunt that attack? The outcome will render a verdict on the principal strategic gambit of the Democratic Party, and it will contribute to a running debate within Republican ranks. Can the GOP win in competitive states—and even a national presidential contest—with its current positions, or must its candidates do more than offer cosmetic changes to core beliefs?
In two days this week, three new ads were launched in this Colorado race. In one, Udall spoke directly to the camera, saying his opponent is “promoting harsh anti-abortion laws and a bill to outlaw birth control.” The Democratic outside group NextGen Climate ran an apocalyptic ad in which it claimed Gardner’s position on contraception meant “he’d like to make your most private choices for you.” The pro-Republican group Crossroads GPS put up its own ad in which four women standing around a kitchen island bemoan that Udall wasn’t talking about issues that matter.
These ads are only the most recent volleys over a set of issues that have dominated the campaign since April. Two of Udall’s first three ads hammered Gardner on his conservative position on abortion and past support for the state’s “personhood” initiatives, which would grant a fetus rights and protections that apply to people. National Democratic organizations have been hammering these issues too, as has Planned Parenthood. “There’s been so much advertising touching on so-called ‘women’s issues’ in this race that it’s noticeable when a Democratic ad doesn’tmention them,” says Elizabeth Wilner, vice president of Kantar Media Ad Intelligence, which tracks campaign and issue advertising.
Democrats need women to turn out to vote in all of their toughest races, including Colorado. (Women are so important in the contested states that in my notes from interviewing one top Democratic strategist who described the key factors in each of those races, I scribbled the Venus symbol next to seven of them.) The challenge is to get women to turn out in a nonpresidential year. In 2010, 22 million fewer unmarried women voted than in 2008, according to a study by the Voter Participation Center and Lake Research Partners. Among married women, the drop-off was 10 million.
This is going to be a really interesting midterm election and it’s important. That’s why I’ve decided to work my ass off. I don’t want to think that I could’ve done something and sat home.
It certainly looks like it isn’t going to quiet down any time soon. It will probably get uglier. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Weiner Agrees to Seek TreatmentPosted: June 11, 2011 Filed under: Democratic Politics, Surreality, The DNC, U.S. Politics | Tags: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrats, Facebook, internet, politics, rehab, Rep. Anthony Weiner, sex scandals, sexual addiction, Twitter 48 Comments
The New York Times is reporting that Rep. Anthony Weiner is going to go into rehab for his alleged Twitter/Facebook/texting compulsion.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Weiner said he would request a leave of absence from the House and seek treatment, but provided no further details.
“Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person,” said the spokeswoman, Risa Heller. “In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well.
“Congressman Weiner takes the views of his colleagues very seriously and has determined that he needs this time to get healthy and make the best decision possible for himself, his family and his constituents.”
I’m sure Weiner could use some therapy, but I still don’t get why he is being singled out for this kind of public outrage when David Vitter wasn’t. As far as we know Weiner didn’t act out any of his fantasies with these women. I would think that hiring prostitutes to spank you when you’re wearing diapers would elicit more calls for “treatment” than Twitter and Facebook flirtations. But what do I know? Maybe a lot of Congressman like to wear diapers and have sex with prostitutes.
Apparently, the final straw for Democrats was the revelation that Weiner tweeted a 17-year-old Delaware girl, even though the girl’s mother said Weiner had not said anything inappropriate in these Twitter messages.
Delaware police said Friday they were investigating the reported communications, had interviewed the teen, and that “she has made no disclosure of criminal activity nor inappropriate contact by the Congressman.”
Neverthless Weiner’s colleagues in Congress are horrified and outraged. Here is what DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz had to say:
“It is with great disappointment that I call on Representative Anthony Weiner to resign,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement issued by the Democratic National Committee, which she has led since the beginning of May. She’s President Barack Obama’s representative as DNC chairwoman.
“The behavior he has exhibited is indefensible and Representative Weiner’s continued service in Congress is untenable.
“This sordid affair has become an unacceptable distraction for Representative Weiner, his family, his constituents and the House – and for the good of all, he should step aside and address those things that should be most important: his and his family’s well-being.”
According to Fox News, the police in Delaware are still investigating. The girls parents have turned her laptop over for inspection, but their attorney says there’s nothing to find.
“The Tweets in question between the student in question and the congressman were not salacious or in any manner inappropriate, said Daniel McElhatton, the attorney representing the girl’s family. “No photographs were ever sent to her or from her.”
Weiner spokeswoman Risa Heller also said that Weiner’s interactions with the girl “were neither explicit nor indecent.”
The police are trying to verify that, McElhatton said.
Fox News claims to have been told by “sources” that much of the interchange between the girl and Weiner had been deleted from her computer. Fox is obviously hoping the police can find something salacious on the girl’s hard drive. I sure hope Weiner didn’t send anything sexual or suggestive to her.
The girl’s high school posted on her now defunct Tumblr blog a quote that appears to be from her direct messages with Weiner.
“I came back strong. Large. In charge. Tights and cape s—… My favorite congressman,” she wrote, adding a heart emoticon after “congressman.”
Seven days earlier, she posted a YouTube video of Weiner giving a speech and wrote, “My true love.”
Poor kid. It’s a shame she had to get dragged into this.
As an antidote to having to watch politicians call for their smelling salts and fainting couches, I recommend this story from NPR’s Weekend Edition: Zombies Walk the Halls of Congress.
NPR can now confirm that there are zombies in the U.S. Capitol.
OK, not the kind that pop out of graves and eat brains, but a different kind of undead — the undead political career. This week New York Rep. Anthony Weiner said he is staying put, even though some top Democrats have publicly called for him to resign.
He’s not the first one to stay in politics after serious ethics violations, trying to revive a seemingly lifeless career.
In this contrived scenario, there are three categories of Congressional Zombies:
— those who survived a scandal to live again,
— those who are wounded by scandal but stay in Congress (the real zombies),
— and those who hung on for a while but eventually got buried.
According to NPR, both Charlie Rangel and David Vitter are real zombies.
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), who was a client of a Washington prostitution ring. He was never charged because the news came out after the statute of limitations had expired. Two of Vitter’s calls to the madam were made during votes on the floor.
He apologized in 2007 — “I want to again offer my deep sincere apologies to all those who I’ve let down and disappointed with these actions from my past” — and neatly won a second term in the Senate.
Good grief! Vitter called the DC Madam from the Senate floor? Did he get a sudden urge for punishment? Please explain to me why he didn’t need to enter a treatment facility after his colleagues learned about his illegal behavior?
I’m pretty disgusted by Weiner’s behavior at this point, but I still wish I never had had to find out about it. I still don’t see any reason why it needed to be revealed either. Sure the guy acted like a silly adolescent, but how many of us would look dignified if our sexual fantasies were spread all over the internet and the media? I think this kind of scandal-mongering has gone way too far, and I’d like to see a lot more approbation about Andrew Breitbart’s repulsive behavior. I’d also like to see similar outrage against Congresspeople who take money from lobbyists and vote accordingly.
This scandal appears to be setting a whole new precedent for the kinds of activities that can get a politician in trouble. As far as we know, Weiner’s activities were all in cyberspace. Now if it turns out he behaved inappropriately with an underage girl, I’ll have to revise my opinion.