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Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? Bernie Sanders wants to know who owns America?

#14461 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-15, 11:59

From Alex Thompson and Elena Schneider at Politico:

Quote

Ganesh Sitaraman is one of Elizabeth Warren’s closest advisors. He’s also one of Pete Buttigieg’s best friends.

How’s that for awkward?

The 37-year-old Vanderbilt Law School professor, who’s been with Warren since before the start of her political career, has been a key architect of the sweeping policy agenda that powered her surge to the top of the Democratic field.

But in his new book, The Great Democracy, the first person Sitaraman acknowledges isn’t Warren. It’s the man she’s been battling fiercely for bragging rights in Iowa.

“Conversations with Pete Buttigieg were invaluable, and this book wouldn’t exist without them or without his characteristically thoughtful advice, encouragement, and friendship,” Sitaraman writes of the South Bend mayor.

Sitaraman ties together two increasingly hostile adversaries who are carving wider ideological and stylistic differences as the presidential primary approaches the voting stage. Sitaraman met both Buttigieg and Warren at Harvard University — Buttigieg was his close friend as an undergraduate, Warren his law school mentor. In 2012, Sitaraman was policy director for Warren first run for Senate. Six years later, he was a groomsman at Buttigieg’s wedding.

And now he is in an uneasy position between two brawling rivals. His book publicist responded enthusiastically to a pitch to interview him for this story. But Sitaraman then asked POLITICO to go through the Warren campaign. The campaign sent a reporter back to Sitaraman.

Ultimately, he declined an on-the-record interview.

Sitaraman’s prolific writings about policy — this is his second book this year — have influenced both campaign’s platforms, formally and informally, to varying degrees.

While not technically on the Warren campaign’s payroll, Sitaraman is an instrumental figure in the senator’s policy braintrust. He has reached out to policy experts and progressive groups on her behalf, recruited talent to her campaign, and has occasionally been dispatched by the campaign to walk reporters through her plans off the record.

After the July debate in Detroit, three Warren aides remained in the spin room until the end: chief strategist Joe Rospars, campaign chief of staff Dan Geldon, and Sitaraman, who like Geldon is a former student of Warren’s at Harvard Law.

“Ganesh Sitaraman is the great thinker of the team, the one who sees context and direction,” Warren wrote in her 2014 book A Fighting Chance, on her 2012 campaign and helping her oversee the bank bailouts in 2008 and 2009. “Like Dan, Ganesh was a close-up partner for most of these battles. Without Dan and Ganesh, the adventures would have been fewer and the successes fewer still.”

She also dubbed the Eagle Scout from Minnesota and son of Indian immigrants “an American success story.”

His influential scholarship also is emblematic of an new generation of progressive thinkers who are increasingly critical of Democratic governance in the era they grew up in and radical in their solutions.

“There should be a political history of Ganesh’s role at the center of the current political moment,” said Kenneth Townsend, who overlapped with Buttigeig as a Rhodes Scholar and Sitaraman as a Truman Scholar following college. “He’s perceptive of talent, political talent, and he’s less interested in the public-facing aspects of being a candidate, so this role for him fits.”

That lofty political thinking started in college. He and Buttigieg, who then went by “Peter,” became close friends. They were members of “ The Order of the Kong,” a joking reference to a Cambridge Chinese restaurant where the pair — along with four other Harvard students — would hang out.

After college and during the prestigious scholarships in England, their intellectual growth formalized. The two were part of a reading and discussion group called the Democratic Renaissance Project, meeting in dorm rooms and in pubs to “read [the] liberal giants of the 20th century and discuss what we can take from those writers and scholars” to “[rethink] the Democratic Party,” after John Kerry’s presidential loss in 2004, said Shadi Hamid, a member of the group.

“We did share this sense that the Democratic Party had lost its way and that there needed to be a bold progressive vision,” added Hamid, who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “One can debate what that means in practice, but that was the starting premise.”

But Buttigieg and Sitaraman took different routes in that effort. Buttigieg joined McKinsey, a corporate consulting firm he’s come under fire for working for in recent days, then ran for Indiana state treasurer in 2010, just a few years after he returned from England. Sitaraman went back to Harvard Law School, and later helped Warren with her oversight of the bank bailouts during the financial crisis and worked on her Senate run.

“If there was going to be a run for office, Peter was more of the sort who would be the candidate and Ganesh would be the mastermind, the strategist,” Townsend said. “That fit their personalities, and that reality is playing out now.”

Buttigieg told POLITICO that “Ganesh is a brilliant person” and remains a “good friend, but we keep the politics out of it.” The mayor also plugged Sitaraman’s earlier 2019 book, Public Option, which the law professor co-authored. “If you talk about public options, usually it's a health care thing, right?” Buttigieg said. But Sitaraman and his co-author have “produced a general theory of public options that I think is really smart.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Warren and Buttigieg both back Medicare public options to begin tackling health care, though in Warren's case she arrived there after months of conflicting answers. Warren has pledged to introduce a full Medicare for All bill by the third year of her first term.

Sitaraman is also the co-author of a 2019 Yale Law Journal article and a preceding 2018 op-ed on Vox arguing to restructure and potentially add six justices to the Supreme Court. Buttigieg was the first presidential candidate to express openness to the idea in February, and in June, he rolled out his own 15-justice court-packing plan that he credited Sitaraman for inspiring.

But as Buttigieg cut a more center-left path through the primary this fall, his proposal to reshape the Supreme Court dropped out of his stump speech (he still mentions it in questions about democratic reforms). Warren has also said she’s open to adding seats to the high court.

“I’m very grateful to the mayor for having promoted the article,” said Daniel Epps, the co-author of the piece and an associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis who said Sitarman long ago told him that Buttigieg was a rising star. “He doesn’t just float the ideas but also gives credit.”

As for Sitaraman’s work with Warren instead of his friend Buttigieg during the campaign, Epps said, “You dance with the one who brung you.”

Sitaraman’s new book speaks to some of the broader themes both Warren and Buttigieg have hit on the campaign trail. Its main argument is that the United States and large parts of the world are in the midst of an “epochal transition,” the next swing of the slow-moving pendulum of history.

This matches Warren’s oft-stated belief that Donald Trump’s victory was a symptom of decades of accumulating bipartisan rot. “A country that elects Donald Trump is a country that is in serious trouble,” she has said on the stump. “And we need to pay attention to what’s been broken, not just in the past two-and-a-half years but what’s been broken for decades.”

“I think her general philosophy and worldview has influenced him a lot,” said Professor Morgan Ricks, Sitaraman’s colleague at Vanderbilt.

Buttigieg has dabbled with similar rhetoric about Trump and the need to “win the era.”

A neoliberal era of free market capitalism and economic deregulation began in the 1980s, Sitaraman argues, and it captured Democrats and Republicans alike. The philosophical frame “came with an aggressive emphasis on expanding democracy and human rights, even by military force. Expanding trade and commerce came with little regard for who the winners and losers were — or what the political fallout might be.”

Sitaraman declares in his introduction, however, that “[w]ith the election of Donald Trump, the neoliberal era has reached its end.” He charts several possible paths forward.

Such grand pronouncements and denunciations of “neoliberalism” often draw praise from parts of the left and elicit eyerolls from senior Democratic officials who have been fighting in the trenches the last several decades.

But Buttiegieg said something similar this fall. “I’d say neoliberalism is the political-economic consensus that has governed the last forty years of policy in the US and UK,” he wrote in September in response to a question from a Twitter user. “Its failure helped to produce the Trump moment. Now we have to replace it with something better.”

While Sitaraman’s prognosis may divide people on the left, he does have allies among some Trumpian voices on the right. Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon was a passionate evangelist for the book The Fourth Turning, which similarly argued that a new historical era is coming.

“Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, one commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II,” the amateur historians wrote in the 1997 book. “History is seasonal, and winter is coming.”

More evidence of the overlapping relationships can be found in Buttigieg’s memoir, too. In Shortest Way Home, published last February, Buttigieg noted Sitaraman’s influence in his own book’s acknowledgements, thanking him for his “expert guidance, unvarnished advice, and steady encouragement.”

Sitaraman’s name came ahead of his own future presidential campaign manager, senior advisor and other friends.

It's fun to say stuff like "the neoliberal era of free market capitalism and economic deregulation that began in the 1980s has reached its end" and that we are about to pass through the next great gate in history. But as has been pointed out more than a few times on this thread, voters may not be ready for this yet, in the US anyway.
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14462 User is offline   jjbrr 

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Posted 2019-December-15, 12:41

for the record, diana and barmar arent mods in any legitimate sense. barmar cant be bothered to read any posts, and diana, to my knowledge, doesnt even really understand how internet forums work.
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#14463 User is offline   Chas_P 

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Posted 2019-December-15, 19:42

Best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible,
low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, winter solstice holiday
practiced within the most joyous traditions of the religious persuasion
of your choice, but with respect for the religious persuasion of others
who choose to practice their own religion as well as those who choose
not to practice a religion at all; plus, A fiscally successful, personally
fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the generally
accepted calendar year 2020, but not without due respect for the
calendars of choice of the other cultures whose contributions have
helped make our society great, without regards to the race, creed,
color, religious, or sexual preferences of the wishees.

(disclaimer: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It
implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the
wishes for him/herself or others and no responsibility for any
unintended emotional stress these greetings may bring to those not
caught up in the holiday spirit.)


#14464 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2019-December-16, 08:56

View Posty66, on 2019-December-15, 11:59, said:

From Alex Thompson and Elena Schneider at Politico:


It's fun to say stuff like "the neoliberal era of free market capitalism and economic deregulation that began in the 1980s has reached its end" and that we are about to pass through the next great gate in history. But as has been pointed out more than a few times on this thread, voters may not be ready for this yet, in the US anyway.



The problem might be more basic. The neo what of what?

At lunch the other day, there were six of us, the conversation somehow turned to cartoon shows from our childhood. One of the lunchers could not remember The Roadrunner. and she was pretty sure she never before had heard of him. The rest of us thought it was impossible to grow up in the USA w/o knowing who The Roadrunner was. There would have been much less surprise if someone could not give a thought out opinion of economic policies and the neoliberal era.


There are many more voters who do not know about the economics of the neoliberal era than there are people who do not know who The Roadrunner was. Votes are where you find them.


BeepBeep.
Ken
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#14465 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-December-16, 11:11

View Posty66, on 2019-December-14, 09:28, said:

Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to my fellow posters and a heart full of love for the BBO WC, today I am asking our mods to ban chas_p and hrothgar from this thread until they apologize for personally attacking each other which is ungentlemanly and a clear violation of Article 1 of the WC policy:

Unfortunately, the forum software doesn't provide a way to band someone from a specific thread. We could ban him from the WC entirely, that's the granularity available.

#14466 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-December-16, 11:23

View Postjjbrr, on 2019-December-15, 12:41, said:

for the record, diana and barmar arent mods in any legitimate sense. barmar cant be bothered to read any posts, and diana, to my knowledge, doesnt even really understand how internet forums work.

I plead guilty.

I'm a programmer, not a baby sitter, and my interpersonal skills are typical for a software geek. But when I joined BBO I had 30 years of experience participating in online forums (mostly Usenet), and technical expertise about how they work, so I became the de facto moderator.

I'm happy to deal with mundane stuff like moving threads to more appropriate forums and deleting spam. I'm not really sure how best to deal with the crap that goes on in threads like this. The line between free speech and trolling is fuzzy, and I prefer to err on the side of allowing the free-for-all.

I wish the rest of you would just act like adults in your interactions with Chas. Don't let him bait you (yes, I know I'm also guilty of it). And be the better person: don't sink to the level of name-calling.

While we might not like what Chas is saying, I don't think the tenor of his posts actually violates forum guidelines, while using foul language in response to him does.

#14467 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-16, 14:17

From David Leonhardt at NYT:

Quote

The Commerce Department will announce the latest G.D.P. numbers on Friday, and they’ll probably be solid. The economy seems to be growing at an annual rate of about 2 percent, which isn’t bad for the 11th year of an expansion.

After the numbers come out, something else will probably happen: Pundits will once again express bafflement about the apparent disconnect between the healthy American economy and the sour national mood.

But there is really no disconnect. The fault — with apologies to Shakespeare — is in our stats, not ourselves.

Americans are dissatisfied, and have been for years, largely because the economy as most people experience it has not been booming. G.D.P. — or gross domestic product, the economy’s total output — keeps on rising, but it no longer tracks the well-being of most Americans. Instead, an outsize share of economic growth flows to the wealthy. And yet G.D.P. is treated as a totemic measure of the country’s prosperity.

Consider the true picture: Middle-class income growth has been sluggish for decades. The typical household is still poorer than it was before the financial crisis began in 2007. Most alarming, average life expectancy has recently been declining. No wonder polls show that a majority of Americans has been dissatisfied with the country’s direction for the past 15 years in a row, a period that encompasses the entirety of the current G.D.P. expansion, the longest on record.

So it’s time to stop wondering why Americans are unhappy — and instead create a version of G.D.P. that reflects reality. Which may finally be on the verge of happening.

A team of Commerce Department economists has been working on a new version of G.D.P., one that will show how much of the economy’s bounty is flowing to different income groups. The headline number would still exist, but the new data, known as “distributional accounts,” would make clear who was and wasn’t benefiting. The department expects to publish a prototype statistic next year.

Several members of Congress, meanwhile, have introduced a bill that would require the department to release this distributional data alongside the normal G.D.P. numbers every quarter. That’s important, because it would change the national discussion that occurs whenever G.D.P. is released.

“The government is still using a black-and-white television,” Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate leader, told me. “We gotta catch up, so we get a more accurate picture.” Schumer plans to reintroduce the bill in the coming days, and he said he was hoping that a Republican would co-sponsor it. The expanded version of G.D.P. would include estimates for every decile of the income distribution — 10th percentile, 20th and so on — as well as for the top 1 percent.

If it happens, Heather Boushey, the author of a recent history of the American economy, “Unbound,” says it could be the most significant improvement in economic statistics in decades.

It would also be part of a broader shift. The Federal Reserve created its own distributional accounts recently, to offer more detailed data on wealth. And Australia and the Netherlands have both begun releasing distributional G.D.P. numbers.

The economist who oversaw the first version of G.D.P. in the United States — Simon Kuznets, a future Nobel Prize winner — probably would have been in favor of these developments. Kuznets cautioned that people should not confuse the economy’s total output with economic well-being. “Economic welfare,” he wrote in 1934, “cannot be adequately measured unless the personal distribution of income is known.”

The failure of G.D.P. to include distribution didn’t matter much in the decades after World War II, because economic growth was remarkably inclusive. If anything, the middle class and poor received raises that outpaced economic growth (as you can see in the chart above).

In the mid-1970s, and especially the 1980s, however, the situation changed. The income flowing to everyone but the affluent began to trail economic growth — by a lot.

Why? Labor unions shrank, giving workers less bargaining power. Business executives and investors decided to maximize corporate profits, regardless of the societal effects. The government became more passive about regulating big business. Government also scrimped on investments that create good-paying jobs, like education. And taxes fell much more for the rich than they did for everyone else.

Some academic economists and government agencies publish statistics that describe these trends, of course. But they don’t have the same authority — and don’t always have the same rigor — as G.D.P. That’s why fixing our broken G.D.P. numbers would be a step toward creating an economy that works for most Americans.

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#14468 User is offline   jjbrr 

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Posted 2019-December-16, 18:02

View Postbarmar, on 2019-December-16, 11:23, said:

I plead guilty.

I'm a programmer, not a baby sitter, and my interpersonal skills are typical for a software geek. But when I joined BBO I had 30 years of experience participating in online forums (mostly Usenet), and technical expertise about how they work, so I became the de facto moderator.

I'm happy to deal with mundane stuff like moving threads to more appropriate forums and deleting spam. I'm not really sure how best to deal with the crap that goes on in threads like this. The line between free speech and trolling is fuzzy, and I prefer to err on the side of allowing the free-for-all.

I wish the rest of you would just act like adults in your interactions with Chas. Don't let him bait you (yes, I know I'm also guilty of it). And be the better person: don't sink to the level of name-calling.

While we might not like what Chas is saying, I don't think the tenor of his posts actually violates forum guidelines, while using foul language in response to him does.


i apologize for being critical. i appreciate the free speech approach, but i happen to think it's gone too far for too long in some cases. I think everyone here lived through, for example, the lurpoa BS, and I think a heavier hand would have saved a lot of stress.

i dont think there's any question about how much you've contributed to these forums and others. i also regret that we've never met up at an nabc and had a beer together, in the midnights or otherwise. i plan to come out of retirement in Columbus for a day or two, so maybe I can change that.
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#14469 User is offline   jjbrr 

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Posted 2019-December-16, 18:04

so thank you, barmar, is what I'm trying to say. you deserve a pat on the back from all of us.
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#14470 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-December-16, 22:37

View Posty66, on 2019-December-16, 14:17, said:

From David Leonhardt at NYT:


Quote

In the mid-1970s, and especially the 1980s, however, the situation changed. The income flowing to everyone but the affluent began to trail economic growth — by a lot.

Why? Labor unions shrank, giving workers less bargaining power. Business executives and investors decided to maximize corporate profits, regardless of the societal effects. The government became more passive about regulating big business. Government also scrimped on investments that create good-paying jobs, like education. And taxes fell much more for the rich than they did for everyone else.


Shorter version: Reagan was elected.
“It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,” Trump whines
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#14471 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-17, 09:27

View PostWinstonm, on 2019-December-16, 22:37, said:

Shorter version: Reagan was elected.

launching the era of free-market-ism aka neoliberalism for which the "bold progressive vision" of Ganesh Sitaraman, Warren's closest adviser and Buttigieg's groomsman, is viewed by some as a necessary antidote and by many others as something voters aren't ready for yet which is why Dems will likely go with Joe Biden.
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#14472 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-December-17, 10:26

View Postjjbrr, on 2019-December-16, 18:04, said:

so thank you, barmar, is what I'm trying to say. you deserve a pat on the back from all of us.

No fair! This is supposed to be a thankless job. :)

#14473 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-December-17, 10:30

View Postjjbrr, on 2019-December-16, 18:02, said:

i also regret that we've never met up at an nabc and had a beer together, in the midnights or otherwise. i plan to come out of retirement in Columbus for a day or two, so maybe I can change that.

I finally met Phil Clayton at the bridge table in SF. We helped him win the Mini Blue Ribbon (gave him a top and 60% on day 2).

#14474 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2019-December-17, 12:39

View Postbarmar, on 2019-December-17, 10:30, said:

I finally met Phil Clayton at the bridge table in SF. We helped him win the Mini Blue Ribbon (gave him a top and 60% on day 2).


Ask not what your opponents can do for you, ask what you can do for your opponents. .Many are grateful to me for similar reasons.

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#14475 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-17, 20:35

Laurence Tribe @laurencetribe said:

It’d better be both, @ezraklein, or it’ll mean we’re totally f#cked.

Ezra Klein @ezraklein said:

I don't think it's Trump's abuses of power that will shock future generations. It's his obvious unfitness for office, displayed in letters like this one, and the way the Republican Party rationalized it as authenticity and plain-spokenness.

https://documentclou...rump-Final.html

Until we figure out the antidote for polarization, I suspect future generations will be too busy being shocked by the politics of their day to spend much time being shocked by these events. But yeah, it's pretty ugly.
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#14476 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-17, 20:52

From Caitlin Andrews and Michael Shepherd at the Bangor Daily News (Dec 15):

Quote

LEWISTON, Maine — House Democrats are nearly certain to impeach President Donald Trump this week. Senate Republicans — barring a major shift — would acquit him. Few have as much riding on the proceedings as two Mainers with mirroring political problems in 2020.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, is set to stand for a fifth term in a nationally targeted race in a Democratic-leaning state. Rep. Jared Golden, a freshman Democrat, must run for re-election in the 2nd Congressional District — won easily by Trump in 2016. Votes with their parties could alienate majorities. Votes against them may dampen support in potentially close races.

It’s a unique situation for two politicians from different parties and the same state. There may be no good political choice. Both have careful approaches and the faith of former Maine Sen. William Cohen, a Republican who cast a key vote on a House panel against President Richard Nixon during similar proceedings in 1974 and has called Trump’s conduct impeachable.

“I have great faith in Senator Collins and Congressman Golden as do the people of Maine,” Cohen said in an email. “Whatever decision they reach will be based on their careful review of the facts and their own good judgment.”

Golden voted with his party in October to endorse the process, though he says he has not decided how he will vote in the end. He must decide this week, when House Democrats are expected to approve two impeachment articles. Collins has largely declined comment on the process, citing an eventual role in a Senate trial on removal, which would take a two-thirds vote.

The articles revolve around the July call between Trump and the Ukrainian leader, in which the U.S. president mentioned aid to the European nation and his desire for it to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading Democratic candidate to face Trump in the 2020 election.

Golden said in October that he’ll be focused on Trump’s intent in his evaluation of impeachment — whether the president put “personal gain above the best interest of the country” or if he believed “this was what he should be doing” to further U.S. foreign policy interests. He is one of 60 House Democrats who have not said how they will vote, according to The Washington Post.

The nuance in Golden’s stated position has not mattered to three of his Republican opponents, who have hammered him on his October vote and raced to embrace Trump. Two of them appeared at a Wednesday anti-impeachment rally outside Golden’s office in Bangor.

Collins will face her biggest vote since backing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. That vote motivated Democrats to prioritize her seat in 2020. Republicans, including those who hit her after 2017 moves to preserve the Affordable Care Act, rallied around her. Of her four Democratic opponents, only one, lobbyist Betsy Sweet, has called for Trump’s removal.

In 1999, Collins was one of four Republicans who voted to acquit former President Bill Clinton on two impeachment articles, calling removal “an extraordinary action” reserved for when a president “so injures the fabric of democracy” that there is no other option.

For Golden, an impeachment vote will send Republicans into overdrive to label him an obstructionist. He may face a tougher vote than Collins because he is more undefined. She is already in a race with an unprecedented level of advertising so early in a Maine campaign.

But Ray Richardson, a conservative radio host and self-described “Trumpster” from Westbrook, had a permissive stance on Collins’ decision, citing her vote on Kavanaugh as an example of how she “stood strong and did what she thought was right” under heavy pressure.

“If I respected her for that, then I have to respect her for whatever decision she makes here,” he said.

Golden, he said, is in a “no-win situation.” Richardson said an impeachment vote would likely cost him his seat, which “may or may not be fair, but that is an unabashed Trump district.”

Linda Homer of Southwest Harbor, a member of the progressive group Indivisible MDI, doubts Collins will vote to convict because of past votes with Trump. If she did, Homer said the vote would likely be calculated with top Republicans and “really wouldn’t matter.”

She said she’s holding Collins and Golden to the same standard on the matter, which she said comes down to a simple question: whether it’s wrong to ask a foreign power to investigate a rival. In Golden’s case, she said the answer shouldn’t come down to the lean of his district.

“This one, I don’t think, is up to the constituents,” Homer said. “This is him and his oath, and I hope he will do the right thing.”

Among the breakfast crowd at Simones’ Hot Dog Stand in Lewiston on Friday was former Lewiston city councilor and police officer Nelson Peters, who said Collins was “doing this” on impeachment, licking a finger and holding it in the air. Golden is doing the same, he said.

Peters, a Republican, said he would probably vote for Collins regardless of her choice. “She sways” on issues, he said, but he added that “maybe she has to in order to stay elected.”

Bob Couture of Lewiston said Trump should be impeached and while Golden might be toeing a careful line to in a nod to his district, politicians “should be able to tell the truth.”

“I’d be pissed off” if Golden doesn’t vote for impeachment, Couture said. “Trump hasn’t done the right thing. It’s the moral, obvious thing to do.”

Golden announced today that he will vote for Article 1, abuse of power, and against Article 2, obstruction of Congress. I suspect Collins will toe the line and vote to acquit on both counts.
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#14477 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-18, 08:23

From Patricia Mazzei at NYT:

Quote

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. — Kathryn Whitaker’s support for impeaching President Trump makes sense in this relatively liberal corner of South Carolina: She is a Democrat and a candidate for the State Senate.

“The president really put his personal interests and professional interests over the country’s,” said Ms. Whitaker, 37. “He was caught abusing his power.”

But her position is complicated by the most intimate relationship in her life: Her husband of 15 years, Gabe Whitaker, is a Republican who thinks impeachment is “a huge waste of time.”

“Just the conversation is creating division, which is what each party tries to do,” said Mr. Whitaker, 41. “I’m getting sick of all that.”

The polarizing political moment in Washington, where the House of Representatives is expected to vote on Wednesday to impeach a president for only the third time in history, has pitted lawmakers against one another in hearing rooms and on cable news screens. But the sharp divisions in the nation’s capital have also emerged on smaller stages throughout the country.

With opposing views — but far less grandstanding — the battle over impeachment is playing out from block to block, house to house and even across shared dinner tables.

Perhaps no one expects the Senate to remove Mr. Trump from office. But the lack of suspense over the outcome has hardly diminished the passionately held opinions about impeachment, especially in places like the suburbs of Charleston, which anchors South Carolina’s most competitive congressional district, a Republican-leaning sliver of coast represented in Congress by a Democrat.

Representative Joe Cunningham, a freshman in a district where Republicans have a 10-point advantage, spent much of the past few weeks in the cross hairs of a debate across his district.

A TV ad campaign in Charleston urged constituents to call his office and demand that he vote no. The ad played on Sunday even during the mildest of programming: a network airing of “The Sound of Music.”

Democratic voters, meanwhile, cautioned that while they could forgive their congressman for breaking with the party on some issues, they would not be quite as understanding on a vote as consequential as impeachment.

Mr. Cunningham announced on Monday along with other moderate Democrats that he would vote in favor of impeachment. But in a country that already seems weary of hearing about the topic, the intense debate here in the Charleston area has led to meaningful discussions between friends over lunch, relatives at family gatherings and neighbors at parties — the rare instance where a political issue has lingered beyond a fleeting news cycle.

Mount Pleasant, S.C., is part of South Carolina’s most competitive congressional district, a Republican-leaning sliver of coast represented in Congress by a Democrat. Credit...Sean Rayford for The New York Times

At the Whitakers’ brick house on a peaceful cul-de-sac in Mount Pleasant, polite disagreement over impeachment is hardly unusual for a couple whose relationship began when they were not yet adults.

As with other couples, the two of them evolved over the years in their political views. Ms. Whitaker became more liberal, more engaged in politics and more eager to share her opinions. Mr. Whitaker remained more conservative and echoed the hesitation of many others who worry that speaking publicly about contentious political matters can cause friction — and nothing has been more fraught lately than the question of whether lawmakers should try to remove the president from office.

“I’m not excited to talk about this,” Mr. Whitaker said.

The couple met in their hometown, rural Cameron, S.C. He went to The Citadel, the famed Southern military college, and she to Clemson University, a land-grant school known for engineering and other sciences. “She was a College Republican when we dated, so I don’t know what happened,” he said with a laugh. By the time she became a Democrat, after interning for Charleston’s long-serving Democratic mayor, Joseph P. Riley, “I was already hooked,” Mr. Whitaker said.

Ms. Whitaker was used to politically mixed relationships. Growing up, her father was a Democrat and her mother a Republican. The day after President Bill Clinton was elected in 1992, her mother awoke her by banging drawers in frustration. A similar scene played out in her own home after the 2016 election, when a similarly disappointed Ms. Whitaker had to inform her own daughter, Hannah, now 12, that a woman had not been elected president.

Now that another presidential election is at hand, the Whitakers have agreed to disagree on impeachment, though Mr. Whitaker, who works in highway construction and voted for Mr. Trump, said he was unsure how he would vote in 2020. “I don’t see him acting like the commander in chief I’d like to have,” he said of the president.

“We have a lot of conversations,” said Ms. Whitaker, a legal marketing and business development consultant. “But my husband has said, ‘Let’s not always talk politics, please!’”

With Ms. Whitaker running for office and so much attention focused on Mr. Cunningham’s impeachment vote, the issue has been hard to ignore. The Whitakers and other families are doing their best to navigate the treacherous terrain.

Patrick Garrison, 33, said his mother had banned any impeachment talk from the Thanksgiving table. But Mr. Garrison, a Republican who works in commercial real estate, said the issue inevitably came up after dinner at a recent family wedding and on a road trip to Asheville, N.C., with one of his cousins, James Shelley, a Democrat.

“Truthfully, I appreciated the opportunity to talk to somebody who also follows it closely but has a different media diet than I do,” said Mr. Shelley, 30, an account representative for a software company who lives in North Charleston. “I value his opinion. He arrived at it through thoughtful consideration, just like I did.”

Quipped Mr. Garrison: “We’d rather talk about politics instead of football.” (He is a University of South Carolina fan; Mr. Shelley roots for Clemson, which has recently had far more success on the gridiron.)

Mr. Shelley, whose interest in politics was piqued when he discovered “The West Wing” on Netflix six or seven years ago, said he had donated $10 to Mr. Cunningham’s re-election campaign on Tuesday, as a thank you for his impeachment vote.

“Using my tax dollars to try to secure political favors from a foreign government to ensure his re-election, the continuation of his power, scares me,” Mr. Shelley said of Mr. Trump. “I think there’s a reason we have this clause in the Constitution, and it’s because we don’t want a king.”

Mr. Garrison, who volunteered for his first political campaign when he was just 13, said he liked that Mr. Cunningham had pushed for an offshore oil drilling ban and to deepen the Port of Charleston. But he is less likely to support him next year because of his decision to vote yes on impeachment.

“It just feels like Washington is out of touch with its voters — and that’s with both parties,” Mr. Garrison said. “The issues that voters want to be tackled, they’re not even getting looked at because they’re so worried about what the media is perceiving, what the national parties are perceiving, what the whips and majority leaders are perceiving to be these big issues, instead of what their local constituents want.”

Not everyone in the high-stakes district has been able to keep their relations quite as cordial. Jen Gibson, a 45-year-old Democrat who lives in the part of Charleston that sits in more conservative Berkeley County, said that after the last presidential election, she mostly cut off contact with relatives who kept posting pro-Trump memes on social media.

Having grown up in West Virginia as the granddaughter of an illiterate coal miner, Ms. Gibson said she found Mr. Trump’s policies — and her family members’ posts — to be callous. “I don’t understand how they can forsake people that are just like us,” she said.

But in a city known for Southern gentility, many neighbors seem proud to remain above the political fray. Allyson Kirkpatrick called impeachment “unreasonable” but did not want to dwell on divisive politics when one of her closest friends, who lives next door, worked for the Obama administration.

“We are citizens of Charleston first,” said Ms. Kirkpatrick, who lives on a street of stately homes near the lower shores of the Charleston peninsula and has bonded with neighbors over shared concerns such as street flooding. “We meet at the dog park, and we just don’t talk politics.”

Her neighbors include Anna Laszlo and Gil Kerlikowske, a former commissioner of Customs and Border Protection appointed by President Barack Obama. Their foyer prominently displays photos of the couple’s time in Washington, though this being the South, Ms. Laszlo said, most people are too well-mannered to ask many pointed political questions.

“I’m hoping what people will see is, ‘Well, Anna and Gil are more like us than different from us,’” she said. “‘Maybe there’s something there that not all Democrats are bad.’”

Later this week, Ms. Kirkpatrick is having a cocktail party, and she has invited friends from the neighborhood. Among them are Ms. Laszlo and Mr. Kerlikowske.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14478 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-18, 08:40

From Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux and Laura Bronner at 538:

Quote

The House of Representatives is on the brink of making President Trump the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. It will likely be a deeply divided vote, too, as no Republicans voted in favor of either of the two articles of impeachment approved by the House Judiciary Committee last week.

This is perhaps unsurprising considering the country is also deeply divided on this question. In our impeachment polling tracker, 47 percent of Americans say they support impeachment and 47 percent are opposed. This stalemate is also captured in the latest installment of our survey with Ipsos, which uses Ipsos’s KnowledgePanel to repeatedly poll the same group of respondents over time. Public opinion on whether Trump committed an impeachable offense is essentially unchanged since the impeachment hearings started: 57 percent of Americans now think he committed an impeachable offense, compared with 56 percent in mid-November.

That said, our poll did find that a majority of Americans (54 percent in both cases) think there’s sufficient evidence to impeach Trump over his conduct on Ukraine and his refusal to cooperate with Congress in the impeachment inquiry. Those issues are at the heart of the articles of impeachment the House will soon be voting on; Trump is charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. However, there is still a significant chunk of voters in our survey — 10 percent of respondents overall and 12 percent of Democrats — who think Trump committed an impeachable offense but say his fate should be decided by voters in the 2020 election rather than by Congress.1
What most Americans think is impeachable

Just after the House Judiciary Committee drew up and voted on its two articles of impeachment, we asked respondents in our survey if there was enough evidence to impeach Trump based on:

  • His actions regarding Ukraine.
  • His actions regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election as described in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
  • His refusal to comply with the impeachment inquiry and efforts to block witnesses from complying with subpoenas.
  • His financial conflicts of interest.

Although a majority of Americans think there’s enough evidence to impeach Trump over his actions regarding Ukraine and his refusal to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, a majority of respondents said they didn’t think there was enough evidence to support impeachment based on Trump’s actions as described in the Mueller report, or his financial conflicts of interest.

What do Americans think is impeachable?

Responses to the question “Based on what you’ve read and heard, do you think there is enough evidence to impeach President Trump on the following matters?” by party in a FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll

SHARE WHO SAID “YES”

MATTER ALL / DEMS / REPS

  • Refusal to cooperate with impeachment inquiry and efforts to block witnesses from complying with subpoenas 54.3% 86.1% 17.4%
  • Actions regarding Ukraine 53.6 85.6 16.5
  • Financial conflicts of interest 44.4 72.1 12.5
  • Russian interference in 2016 election as outlined in the Mueller report 42.7 69.5 11.6

From a poll with 1588 respondents, conducted from Dec. 13 to Dec. 16.

In other words, it may have been a smart move for Democrats to focus narrowly on Trump’s behavior regarding Ukraine, rather than casting a wider net that included evidence from the Mueller report or their own investigations of Trump’s finances.

However, perhaps predictably, there is a wide partisan divide on whether there’s sufficient evidence to impeach Trump on these charges. Majorities of Democrats think there is enough evidence to impeach Trump on all charges, including his conduct related to the Mueller report and his financial conflicts of interest, while majorities of Republicans think there isn’t evidence to support impeaching him on any of the actions we asked about.

Public opinion hasn’t really shifted

As we reinterview respondents in each new wave of our survey, we’ve also been looking for any changes in whether respondents think key events Democrats have focused on in the impeachment inquiry occurred, or whether respondents would consider those actions inappropriate or impeachable. In the latest wave of our survey, however, we found that despite a month of public hearings in two different House committees, there’s been very little change in opinion. Most Americans continue to believe that Trump did ask Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter — and majorities even agree that Trump withheld military aid to pressure the Ukrainians into opening the investigation, and that he tried to cover up his actions regarding Ukraine. Public opinion is more divided on whether these actions are impeachable, although a majority of all respondents say that Trump withholding aid or covering up his actions on Ukraine would be impeachable.

Why have Americans’ perspectives on impeachment been so consistent? It’s likely because, as we noted in November, the people who say they’re less certain of whether Trump committed an impeachable offense are also less likely to be paying close attention to the proceedings. And we found in the second wave of our survey that while a majority (58 percent) of people said the hearings did affect their thinking about impeachment, almost all of those people simply became more convinced of their original opinion — suggesting that it will be increasingly difficult to change the minds of people tuning in at this stage.

There also wasn’t much of a shift on what respondents said should happen to Trump after the impeachment process is over. In our most recent survey, just under half (49 percent) of Americans think he should be impeached by the House and removed by the Senate, while a nearly identical share (48 percent) think his fate should be decided by voters in the 2020 election. In the previous round of the survey, by comparison, 51 percent of respondents said Trump’s fate should be decided in the 2020 election, while 47 percent said he should be impeached by the House and removed by the Senate. That does mean a few more respondents are supporting impeachment and removal now, but the shift also fell within the poll’s margin of error, so it’s hard to know whether there was an actual change of opinion.

How Americans feel about the process

So if the impeachment hearings haven’t really changed Americans’ minds, what do people think about the way the process has unfolded so far? In our most recent survey, we tried to dig into how Americans feel about the inquiry by asking them to give us three words or phrases they associate with the impeachment process.

“Waste” was the single most common word mentioned in response.2 In all, 165 people — about 10 percent of respondents — mentioned some variation of “waste,” including 78 who mentioned of “waste of time.” But nearly everyone who listed “waste” as a response was a Republican. In fact, 18 percent of Republicans included the word “waste” or “wasteful,” compared to just 4 percent of Democrats.3 Other common responses from Republicans included “political” and “witch hunt.” By comparison, the responses were a bit more varied among Democrats, who used words like “long,” “Constitution” and “quid pro quo” to describe the process. Overall, the most common one-word response among Democrats was “necessary” — 7 percent (56 people) listed that. There wasn’t much overlap in the responses between parties, other than the words “partisan” and “Trump,” which were mentioned a similar number of times by Republicans and Democrats.

As the House prepares for its historic impeachment vote, these findings highlight how little common ground there is between Republicans and Democrats — other than a general consensus that the process has been partisan. And based on what we’ve found so far, it’s unlikely that this will change. The impeachment vote and (assuming Trump is impeached) the upcoming Senate trial will probably entrench those divisions even further.

Methodology: All the data presented here come from polling done by Ipsos for FiveThirtyEight, using Ipsos’s KnowledgePanel, a probability-based online panel that is recruited to be representative of the U.S. population. For this study, the same group of respondents is contacted for an interview six times — roughly every two weeks for three months — to track whether and how their answers changed; this is the third wave of this panel survey, conducted from Dec. 13 to Dec. 16 among a general population sample of adults with an oversample of independents, garnering 1,588 respondents. The study weighting included an adjustment for party identification so that results reflect the general population of U.S. adults. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points.

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#14479 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2019-December-18, 13:47

From Rick Gates' sentencing:

Quote

Gates’ debriefings, his multiple incriminatory bits of evidence on matters of grave and international importance are a reminder that there was an ample basis for the decision makers at the highest level of the United States Department of Justice — the United States Department of Justice of this administration — to authorize and pursue a law enforcement investigation into whether there was any coordination between the campaign and the known foreign interference in the election, as well as into whether there had been any attempt to obstruct that investigation, and to leave no stone unturned, no matter what the prosecutors determined they had evidence to prove at the end of that investigation.




Quote

Gates’ information alone warranted, indeed demanded, further investigation from the standpoint of our national security, the integrity of our elections and the enforcement of our criminal laws.


And it is difficult to imagine how anyone (Bill Barr especially) could come to a "no collusion" conclusion with this in evidence and proven:

Quote

One cannot possibly maintain that this was all exculpatory information. It included firsthand information about confidential campaign polling data being transmitted at the direction of the head of the campaign to one of those individuals to be shared with Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs.
my emphasis

“It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,” Trump whines
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#14480 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2019-December-18, 14:23

From Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg:

Quote

As the House prepares to vote on articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Wednesday, I’m going to take inspiration from Politico’s Jack Shafer and write angry. Not about Trump. Nor about the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the Democrats or Republicans, House or Senate.

Nope. I’m going to write angry about John Bolton — and about everyone else who has relevant information about the president’s misconduct and has chosen to stay silent.

Bolton was the president’s national security adviser as the Ukraine scandal unfolded, when Trump was demanding that his Ukrainian counterpart dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden in return for special favors, such as a White House meeting and (allegedly) the release of promised military aid. Bolton certainly has pertinent information. He may even have a definitive answer to the question of which Ukraine story is accurate.

It’s possible that Bolton can confirm the Republican version, which is that Trump was keenly interested in fighting corruption in Ukraine and withheld the meeting and congressionally appropriated military funding to pressure its government to reform. Maybe Bolton heard Trump talk about Ukrainian corruption in private even though he never mentioned it publicly. Maybe he can explain why, in a crucial call with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Trump talked only about Biden and an absurd conspiracy theory related to the 2016 election. If so, then Bolton is allowing impeachment to go forward despite knowing it’s based on flawed information.

Of course, it’s also possible — indeed, more likely — that Bolton can confirm the Democrats’ version: that Trump didn’t care about corruption at all but was instead abusing his office to smear a political opponent. If so, not only is Bolton allowing a guilty president to get away with it, but he’s helping someone willing to sell out the nation for private gain to remain in office.

Either way, he’s doing the country a grave disservice by staying silent.

And for what? Trump’s current staffers, at least, have their jobs on the line. They might also argue that they’re defending the president’s ability to run the executive branch as he sees fit. For former staffers, those rationales are far less compelling. Bolton isn’t bound by White House instructions not to testify; that’s his choice. For that matter, he’s not bound by Senator Mitch McConnell’s efforts to prevent testimony at Trump’s Senate trial. Bolton could give an interview today explaining exactly what he knows.

I’ve never shared Bolton’s foreign-policy views, but I’ve always thought that he was genuinely motivated by a desire to keep the nation safe and to promote what he saw as necessary national-security policies. I can’t see how his current silence, even while others similarly situated have divulged what they know, could possibly help achieve those goals.

It’s long past time for Bolton, and everyone else who has relevant information, to end the silence.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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