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U.S. Politics: 22 Trillion Problems But An Unsecured Border Ain’t One

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Just now, Maithanet said:

She's on my list of candidates I could see voting for in the primary.  She's definitely hoping that Biden (and to a lesser extent Beto/Bullock/Hickenlooper) don't run.  If she is the only big (medium?) name candidate advocating for the center-left, it definitely increases her relevance in the discussion, as well as avoiding having to split the vote. 

Her path is still pretty narrow.  She has to win Iowa, because I don't see any way she wins NH or SC or NV.  And if you are 0fer on the first four, there's not much chance of Super Tuesday going well for you.  But even winning Iowa isn't necessarily enough, she could still be finished after Super Tuesday if one candidate (Harris or Beto being the most likely) cleans up the delegates in places like CA and TX.  There's a lot of things that have to fall just right for her to emerge out of this field.

But at least she has a path, something I'm increasingly unable to see with about half the candidates in the field. 

 

Yea, I pretty much agree with all of this. She's positioning herself as a pragmatist which is going to fail the purity tests that the Democratic base seems to be pushing more and more on their candidates. Hope she's able to overcome that because the bullshit that Sanders spouts with no idea or plan to implement just drives me fucking nuts.

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14 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

She's on my list of candidates I could see voting for in the primary.  She's definitely hoping that Biden (and to a lesser extent Beto/Bullock/Hickenlooper) don't run.  If she is the only big (medium?) name candidate advocating for the center-left, it definitely increases her relevance in the discussion, as well as avoiding having to split the vote. 

Her path is still pretty narrow.  She has to win Iowa, because I don't see any way she wins NH or SC or NV.  And if you are 0fer on the first four, there's not much chance of Super Tuesday going well for you.  But even winning Iowa isn't necessarily enough, she could still be finished after Super Tuesday if one candidate (Harris or Beto being the most likely) cleans up the delegates in places like CA and TX.  There's a lot of things that have to fall just right for her to emerge out of this field.

But at least she has a path, something I'm increasingly unable to see with about half the candidates in the field. 

 

I actually think she has a pretty strong chance of winning NH (at least as much as anyone else in this overcrowded field), if Sanders and Warren split the voters who want to support a New England candidate. Looking back the competitive Democratic primaries there, it's usually the leading moderate candidate who wins; Sanders blowout in 2016 was an exception and not necessarily a sign that Democrats there have become much more liberal then they were. Clinton won in 2008, Kerry in 2004, Gore in 2000 (Bill Bradley was still running a competitive race at the time), and Tsongas in 1992. 

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Newest NY Times article on Trump and the hush payments.

Quote

As federal prosecutors in Manhattan gathered evidence late last year about President Trump’s role in silencing women with hush payments during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump called Matthew G. Whitaker, his newly installed attorney general, with a question. He asked whether Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and a Trump ally, could be put in charge of the widening investigation, according to several American officials with direct knowledge of the call.

Mr. Whitaker, who had privately told associates that part of his role at the Justice Department was to “jump on a grenade” for the president, knew he could not put Mr. Berman in charge, since Mr. Berman had already recused himself from the investigation. The president soon soured on Mr. Whitaker, as he often does with his aides, and complained about his inability to pull levers at the Justice Department that could make the president’s many legal problems go away.

Trying to install a perceived loyalist atop a widening inquiry is a familiar tactic for Mr. Trump, who has been struggling to beat back the investigations that have consumed his presidency. His efforts have exposed him to accusations of obstruction of justice as Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, finishes his work investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Mr. Trump’s public war on the inquiry has gone on long enough that it is no longer shocking. Mr. Trump rages almost daily to his 58 million Twitter followers that Mr. Mueller is on a “witch hunt” and has adopted the language of Mafia bosses by calling those who cooperate with the special counsel “rats.” His lawyer talks openly about a strategy to smear and discredit the special counsel investigation. The president’s allies in Congress and the conservative media warn of an insidious plot inside the Justice Department and the F.B. I to subvert a democratically elected president.

An examination by The New York Times reveals the extent of an even more sustained, more secretive assault by Mr. Trump on the machinery of federal law enforcement. Interviews with dozens of current and former government officials and others close to Mr. Trump, as well as a review of confidential White House documents, reveal numerous unreported episodes in a two-year drama.

 

Edited by Mexal

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https://oversight.house.gov/news/press-releases/multiple-whistleblowers-raise-grave-concerns-with-white-house-efforts-to

 

Quote

Multiple Whistleblowers Raise Grave Concerns with White House Efforts to Transfer Sensitive U.S. Nuclear Technology to Saudi Arabia

Feb 19, 2019
Press Release
Cummings Releases Interim Staff Report and Corroborating Documents, Launches Investigation of White House, Agencies, and Others

Washington, D.C. (Feb. 19, 2019)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, issued an interim staff report after multiple whistleblowers came forward to warn about efforts inside the White House to rush the transfer of highly sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in potential violation of the Atomic Energy Act and without review by Congress as required by law—efforts that may be ongoing to this day.  The report states:

“The whistleblowers who came forward have expressed significant concerns about the potential procedural and legal violations connected with rushing through a plan to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.  They have warned of conflicts of interest among top White House advisers that could implicate federal criminal statutes.  They have also warned about a working environment inside the White House marked by chaos, dysfunction, and backbiting.  And they have warned about political appointees ignoring directives from top ethics advisors at the White House who repeatedly and unsuccessfully ordered senior Trump Administration officials to halt their efforts.”

The report warns that that White House efforts to transfer sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia may be accelerating after meetings last week at the White House and ahead of a planned visit to Saudi Arabia by the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner:

laughs in republican white collar criminal

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15 hours ago, Altherion said:

Vox has an interesting article about the California high-speed rail mess and why the infrastructure construction asked for in the Green New Deal is very unlikely to happen unless massive changes are made to how such projects are executed. Basically, the route of the train was designed to get the maximum amount of political support and included detours which made it both expensive and impractical. Furthermore, they knew that there would be delays and cost overruns and thus they started with building the network from the middle (i.e. by connecting two small relatively small cities rather than extending the rail network from Los Angeles or San Francisco) in the hopes that the entire project would become too big to fail. The end result is that the federal government has spent $3B on something that is unlikely to be useful to anyone in the near future.

Yglesias is an east coast writer and alon Levy is as well, like most of them they have been incredibly wrong in reporting on the high speed rail. Levy and the mentioned Clem tiller are crayonists (a self adopted term for rail enthusiasts that draw colorful fantasy rail routes on maps that look like “crayon” lines), and as crayonists they still cannot let go of online arguments they were part of twelve years ago about the routing of the high speed rail.

to correct Yglesias’s most egregious error, the HSR was ALWAYS routed through the Central Valley, it was never once studied as a route following interstate 5, primarily because of the laws of physics: the curve radius of a 65mph interstate is much tighter than the curve radius of a 200mph HSR track, so literally every time that that the interstate had the slightest curve variance away from straight as an arrow the HSR track would have to perform that curve variance about 1.5 miles before the curve appears on the interstate and it would probably result in crisscrossing the freeway via expensive bridge work for fifty percent of the interstate curves. It’s actually an engineering nightmare to try to stay on the interstate corridor. So the route always was aligned to the rail corridors that went north south through the Central Valley, which generally were much straighter. But that hasn’t made the rail corridors easy as both BNSF and Union Pacific have been pretty actively hostile to sharing their federal rail easements for parallel HSR tracks. most of the 5 billion cost escalation for the Central Valley segments are comprised of acceding to the demands and changes required to get the cooperation of the railroads.

and ygelsias is completely wrong in asserting that stimulus money forced the Central Valley route to be chosen, no federal money was involved in routing issues. And yes some of the accelerated spending patterns of the federal money was suboptimal but that’s because the federal money could not be awarded unless they were building a train capable of operating at its top speed, the only place to do that is in the Central Valley spine as various speed restrictions are in place for the major cities at either end of the project due to safety concerns and track curvature constraints of the built environment. So they weren’t eligible for initial federal funds.

Yglesias is correct in that the project management of the mega project has been fairly inept, for instance, one bridge had to be torn down because the MSE stabilizing mesh  was done first and then support piles were drilled through that mesh causing the entire abutment to fail. A total project management sequencing failure, But that’s one abutment (of two) of an overall twenty million bridge, hardly billions in overruns, but lots of little logistics timing issues that are not to that scale can add up enormously over the scope of years. What is one big cost overruns is that consultant companies (like consultant  alon Levy who somehow always avoids mentioning that the biggest line item in rail costs overruns is always consultants like himself) are extracting massive amounts in rent (hundreds of millions per annum) from the project for work that should probably be done by salaried in house employees by the state or contractor.

So levy can’t let go of his crayon drawing, but this route is a settled issue since 2007 and cannot be changed. The literal ballot measure language requires a stop in Palmdale and a stop in Gilroy which means the Tehachapi route instead of Tejon and the Pacheco route instead of Altamont. And in spite of out of touch east coast journalists and consultants stating otherwise Newsom is not reorienting the project around a route change nor is a route change legally possible without a new ballot measure, but people like levy and poorly informed journalists like yglesias continue to bang the drum of argument lines they were repeating twelve years ago, rather than grappling with the realities of what is currently both legal to build and is currently being built. And for all of newsoms fanfare he didn’t and isn’t changing anything he just stated what the current project is (a minimal operating segment in the Central Valley) and created six segments with separate goal structures, some administrative laundry in other words. But what got trumpeted around the world was his insanely bad phrasing that made everyone think he was canceling the project, he’s spent two weeks doing damage control trying to communicate that he’s not canceling it.

and Newsom has committed to building out the 172 miles from Bakersfield to Merced, which there is enough money for. What poorly informed journalists have all missed and the Newsom administration isn’t enlightening them, is that the environmental review for the route into Merced is part of the Merced wye segment of the project, this will entail building 26 miles west parallel to the extremely straight SR152 as part of the construction package bid to get to Merced—since both parts of the wye west and north are combined in the environmental review they have to be built together, building them separately would trigger a new environmental review which would take an additional two years and would cause them to miss their federal deadline for environmental reviews and then California would be forced to return the federal money—so they will be building this 26 mile westward stub for about 198 miles of total HSR built with the initial 15 billion in funding for a per mile cost of about 76 million per mile, which considering American infrastructure costs is not that bad a per mile cost.

and ultimately that will leave a fifty mile gap to be closed to reach Gilroy, and once they reach Gilroy they have HSR access to all of San Jose and San Francisco via blended service on the cal train tracks. All California will have to do to reach newsoms stated goal of valley to valley service is find enough money to close that gap, which should be doable within the state or with the help of the feds.

if there’s a big headline to newsom bombshell it’s that Los Angeles is shit out of luck, there’s almost no way they’ll ever get enough money to build the mountain crossing required, not without the feds footing most of the cost.

Edited by lokisnow

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1 hour ago, Maithanet said:

Interesting that Klobuchar staked out the moderate lane in her Town Hall last night.  

What other lane was she gonna stake out?  How wide do you think this road is?!?

50 minutes ago, Fez said:

Personally, it's the closest so far to the agenda I want to see Democrats to try to enact; Medicare-for-All and the Green New Deal, as currently understood, would be massive political disasters if there was an attempt to actually put them in place. 

The Green New Deal will never be on a president's legislative agenda.  At least not in it's entirety.  It's simply too much.  As for Medicare-for-All, there may be avenues for that, and basically every candidate had hedged and said they support "some" form of it, if not single payer.  That seems the logical next step, and almost certainly will be the top domestic priority on the next Dem president's agenda, regardless of their lane.

44 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

She's on my list of candidates I could see voting for in the primary.  She's definitely hoping that Biden (and to a lesser extent Beto/Bullock/Hickenlooper) don't run.  If she is the only big (medium?) name candidate advocating for the center-left, it definitely increases her relevance in the discussion, as well as avoiding having to split the vote. 

Her path is still pretty narrow.  She has to win Iowa, because I don't see any way she wins NH or SC or NV. 

 

I'd describe her a "medium" name.  One you didn't mention is Brown, who seems to be signaling that's the route he'll go if he runs.  Which I think is weird cuz I've always thought of him as a pretty leftist/populist Dem.

She'll have to win Iowa or NH, yes.  She's not winning SC or Nevada unless this primary ends up, like, 1968.

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12 minutes ago, DMC said:

How wide do you think this road is?!?

Something we haven't seen yet, and, to be clear, I don't think we will since it involves too much raw politicking, is someone running an explicitly center/center-right campaign to appeal to suburban Romney voters who flipped. There's not nearly enough of them to win the nomination, even with the field divided as much as it is, but there are enough to win maybe a couple dozen delegates if they stay all the way through and can got those flipped voters to participate in the primary process at all. And the hope for this candidate would be that this is the year there's finally a brokered convention and those delegates are important enough that they can shift a couple pieces of the party platform and a promise of a cabinet nomination.

Purely from a poli-sci perspective it'd be fun to see.

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3 minutes ago, Fez said:

Something we haven't seen yet, and, to be clear, I don't think we will since it involves too much raw politicking, is someone running an explicitly center/center-right campaign to appeal to suburban Romney voters who flipped. There's not nearly enough of them to win the nomination, even with the field divided as much as it is, but there are enough to win maybe a couple dozen delegates if they stay all the way through and can got those flipped voters to participate in the primary process at all. And the hope for this candidate would be that this is the year there's finally a brokered convention and those delegates are important enough that they can shift a couple pieces of the party platform and a promise of a cabinet nomination. 

Purely from a poli-sci perspective it'd be fun to see. 

Isn't that more or less what Bloomburg is doing?  I mean, not specifically to get delegates in a brokered convention, but running explicitly as a centerist. 

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1 minute ago, Fez said:

Purely from a poli-sci perspective it'd be fun to see.

I've given up on that dream.  Especially with all the opportunities we've seen recently that haven't even come close to fruition once people start actually voting (Dems 2004; both 2008; GOP 2012; GOP 2016).

Just now, Maithanet said:

Isn't that more or less what Bloomburg is doing?  I mean, not specifically to get delegates in a brokered convention, but running explicitly as a centerist. 

That is what he would be doing, but I don't expect him to run.  If he's smart he'll try to hitch his wagon to someone at the right time to angle for a VP bid.

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2 minutes ago, DMC said:

That is what he would be doing, but I don't expect him to run. 

We'll see.  It's hard to believe Bloomburg wouldn't have better things to do than lose badly in the Democratic primary, but billionaires usually love hearing themselves talk. 

Quote

If he's smart he'll try to hitch his wagon to someone at the right time to angle for a VP bid. 

As for the VP nod, I think that Bloomburg would be a terrible choice for almost any candidate.  I don't think Democrats are the only ones tired of hearing about how billionaires can solve all their problems. 

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1 minute ago, Maithanet said:

As for the VP nod, I think that Bloomburg would be a terrible choice for almost any candidate.  I don't think Democrats are the only ones tired of hearing about how billionaires can solve all their problems. 

Oh, I wasn't saying anyone should choose him, just that that's his most likely successful path to being relevant on the national level.  I mean, maybe he'd want a Cabinet post - SoS or Treasury? - but I don't see why.

2 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

We'll see.  It's hard to believe Bloomburg wouldn't have better things to do than lose badly in the Democratic primary, but billionaires usually love hearing themselves talk.

Based on Bloomberg's very pointed reaction to Schultz dipping his toes in the other week, I think it's actually clear now he was very serious about running in the past and decided against it because he paid for real research that showed he didn't have a chance at winning.  Dunno how any research would make this cycle more compelling - if anything it's clearly less.

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Just now, DMC said:

Based on Bloomberg's very pointed reaction to Schultz dipping his toes in the other week, I think it's actually clear now he was very serious about running in the past and decided against it because he paid for real research that showed he didn't have a chance at winning.  Dunno how any research would make this cycle more compelling - if anything it's clearly less.

But wasn't that a previous independent run?  If he's running this time it would be as a Democrat.  That carries much less of a downside, because he wouldn't risk splitting the non-crazy vote and electing Trump. 

I mean, I agree he has no chance of winning the Democratic primary, but he could convince himself otherwise.  After all, what's a hundred million dollars wasted, when you have billions? 

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2 minutes ago, DMC said:

Oh, I wasn't saying anyone should choose him, just that that's his most likely successful path to being relevant on the national level.  I mean, maybe he'd want a Cabinet post - SoS or Treasury? - but I don't see why.

I don't know why folks like Wilbur Ross or Rex Tillerson wanted to be part of Trump's cabinet either, but here we are. I think some wealthy folks have a skewed view of the glamor of cabinet positions. Even the current opportunities for corruption aren't that enticing once you're that rich. And, as folks like Sheldon Adelson have shown over and over; you don't need to be part of the cabinet to get in on the really important corruption.

 

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5 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

But wasn't that a previous independent run?  If he's running this time it would be as a Democrat.  That carries much less of a downside, because he wouldn't risk splitting the non-crazy vote and electing Trump. 

I mean, I agree he has no chance of winning the Democratic primary, but he could convince himself otherwise.  After all, what's a hundred million dollars wasted, when you have billions? 

Yeah you kind of answered your own question there.  Sure, it was as an independent previously, but he basically ruled that out in his reaction to Schultz.  In which case he'd have to win the Dem primary, which his prospects of winning right now are certainly even less realistic than his prospects of winning as a 3rd party candidate in 2016 (which was one of the best opportunities for a centrist to run as an independent in modern presidential history).  So, if we're basing this on his past decisions, seems very counter-intuitive.  Of course, he's getting old and has money to burn, so yeah fair enough, maybe he says fuck you rationality.

2 minutes ago, Fez said:

I don't know why folks like Wilbur Ross or Rex Tillerson wanted to be part of Trump's cabinet either, but here we are.

Neither Ross nor TIllerson are nearly as wealthy as Bloomberg, nor have ever had the control over a conglomerate the size of Bloomberg's to keep him busy.

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Oh puke! Just watched Trump say what a fine person Bernie Sanders is and oh my how badly Hilary Clinton disrespected him.

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2 minutes ago, Fragile Bird said:

Oh puke! Just watched Trump say what a fine person Bernie Sanders is and oh my how badly Hilary Clinton disrespected him.

 

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Sanders at least got his fellow senator from Vermont to endorse him on day one, something that he couldn't do last time. That speaks to potentially him playing the game a bit better than last time. 

I still suspect that his primary weakness is his inability and lack of desire to do any kind of coalition building. He has a message, he is fine with people jumping on his bandwagon and thinks they should, and is entirely uninterested in compromise or making deals. That's great for someone running to lose, but not particularly useful in a system that may result in a lot of delegates assigned to other candidates. 

And just for the record, Sanders being a frontrunner is not nearly as big a deal in the Dem primaries as it is in the winner-take-all system of the Republican primaries. Dem primaries mean proportional allocation, and those delegates stay pledged until the first round in the convention. If Sanders gets 30%, that's a big deal, but it also means he'll either have to make deals or hope someone else doesn't. And if he can't get the first ballot nomination, the superdelegates will come into play as well. 

My gut feeling is that Sanders, once again, will get completely humiliated in the South and one or two candidates are going to get a monstrous haul there. If that happens for Harris and she gets to Cali, those two things could put her so far over the top of Sanders that he has no reasonable way of winning, and most dems would happily support Harris over Sanders in the second+ ballot. 

Edited by Kalbear

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16 hours ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

Yeah, some poor people and non-whites do commit crime. Look, I could understand critiquing how Harris did her job in LE, but please, it sounds as if you’re ready to condemn based off of her having had the job in the first place(which is unfair we do need prosecutors) and prosecuted individuals from certain demographics.

If you judge the criminal justice system in this country to be fundamentally unjust and in need of major reform, then of course a prosecutor who upheld the status quo automatically has a strike against her.  I'm not sure what this is so controversial.  Having the job in the first place IS the critique.

3 hours ago, Cas Stark said:

Since I rarely agree with the CW on here...let me agree now.  It is mind boggling that both Dems and Republicans continue to treat Saudi Arabia and their poisonous wahhabism as an ally.  They are absolutely, by far, the worst ally we have or have had in decades.

Just wanted to chime in to agree the alliance with Saudi Arabia sucks.  It's time to either phase this out or push them to not be terrible.  And certainly not the time to give them help in the nuclear department.

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11 minutes ago, larrytheimp said:

If you judge the criminal justice system in this country to be fundamentally unjust and in need of major reform, then of course a prosecutor who upheld the status quo automatically has a strike against her.  I'm not sure what this is so controversial.  Having the job in the first place IS the critique

It's "controversial" in so far as the argument that it's disqualifying for a candidate, which is both unfair and entirely stupid for trying to recruit quality candidates.

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I hate the staggered nature of the primaries. It is the worst way of winnowing out the field, except for all the others (like democracy itself).

The candidates will be spending an oversized amount of time getting Democrats to know them in Iowa (a state almost lost to them), and maybe New Hampshire (a state with fewer electoral college votes that probably doesn't matter that much in the grand scheme of things. No offense. And they do that weird split anyway). This is a structural disadvantage the ultimate winner also faces, having spent all that money and time in these low-yield states when the groundwork for the general could be laid down much earlier across the midwest and parts of the south. I'd rather there be 3-4 super Tuesdays and be done with the primaries.

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