The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

White House stonewalls Congress

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, would like the White House to provide documents. Any documents:

I have sent 12 letters to the White House on a half-dozen topics — some routine and some relating to our core national security interests. In response, the White House has refused to hand over any documents or produce any witnesses for interviews.

Let me underscore that point: The White House has not turned over a single piece of paper to our committee or made a single official available for testimony during the 116th Congress.

As a reminder of what used to be “normal,” previous presidential administrations turned over tens of thousands of pages of documents in response to Oversight Committee investigations under both parties just a few years ago. The George W. Bush White House gave us more than 20,000 pages relating to Hurricane Katrina; numerous documents and witnesses relating to the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity; and nearly 1,500 pages of emails between senior White House officials about the death of Pat Tillman. Similarly, the Obama White House produced many documents and emails relating to the Solyndra controversy, as well as witnesses and documents regarding the Benghazi, Libya, attacks, including communication between top White House officials and National Security Council staff.

By contrast, the complete refusal by the Trump White House to produce any documents or witnesses to the primary investigative committee in the House reflects a decision at the highest levels to deny congressional oversight altogether. The president dictated this approach the day after the election when he threatened a “warlike posture” against Democrats and then vowed that, at the end of two years, “I’m just going to blame them.”

President Trump’s actions violate our Constitution’s fundamental principle of checks and balances. If our committee must resort to issuing subpoenas, there should be no doubt about why. This has nothing to do with presidential harassment and everything to do with unprecedented obstruction.

You don't want Congress to issue subpoenas if you're the president, because then you've lost control over what they'll see. My guess is that Rep. Cummings fired this shot across the White House's bow to let them know subpoenas are coming soon.

Stuff that piled up this week

I've had a lot going on this week, including seeing an excellent production of Elektra at Lyric Opera of Chicago last night, so I haven't had time to read all of these articles:

And I shall begin reading these...soon. Maybe tomorrow. Sigh.

Queued up for later

Some questions:

And finally, when can I take a nap?

So how did I do?

In this past election cycle, I gave money to eight candidates and two committees. Here's my record:

Candidate Race Result
Cindy Axne IA-3 Won
Sean Casten IL-6 Won
Brendan Kelly IL-12 Lost
Claire McCaskill Senate - MO Lost
Bill Nelson Senate - FL Lost
Beto O'Rourke Senate - TX Lost
Jacky Rosen Senate - NV Won
Harley Rouda CA-48 Won
DCCC US House Won
DSCC US Senate Lost

(Bold text means the parties flipped.)

So, not bad. Half won, four half lost, and one is still being recounted. But really, five of seven flipped the way I hoped. And thanks to three of my candidates (and 35 others), we took the House back.

And we'll see what happens in Florida.

Update, November 19th to reflect that Bill Nelson conceded. Boo.

Lunchtime reading

I didn't have a moment to write any code from 9am until now, so my lunch will include doing the stuff I didn't do in all those meetings. At some point I'll get to these:

Now, back to writing code, as soon as I make yet another vet appointment for my bête noir.

Why we're not hearing right-wingnut crap from Arizona

Josh Marshall points out that Republican US Senate candidate Martha McSally, who has fallen behind in the (still ongoing) vote count against Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema, has avoided raising a hue and cry about voter fraud or similar bullshit such as we're hearing from Florida and Georgia. That's because she's probably going to get the other Arizona Senate seat:

She’s not claiming the election is being stolen or making allegations of voter fraud. She’s basically letting the counting go on. That has reportedly angered national Republicans who want her to do just that. Good for her. But it’s important to note that McSally’s interests are really not aligned with those of the national party.

It is widely assumed that if McSally loses to Sinema she will be appointed to John McCain’s seat. (Former and now again-current Senator Jon Kyl is just there as a placeholder.) In other words, McSally will almost certainly be in the Senate next year regardless of the outcome of this race.

The national GOP wants an additional seat. But McSally really just wants a seat herself. At least that’s her highest priority. So she has little interest in or incentive to disgrace herself with voter fraud conspiracy theories.

Other Republicans, however, who couldn't get elected on the merits, are going nuts with the stuff.

In other words, they're babies. But since McSally sees she's getting the candy if she stays quiet, she's staying quiet.

Scott Walker's greed

David Dayen lays out how ousted Wisconsin governor Scott Walker got greedy, which cost him his election Tuesday:

Not content to simply do the bidding of corporate interests through low tax rates and deregulation, he embarked on one of the biggest economic disasters in recent history. After Tuesday’s elections, we can say it was one of the biggest political ones as well.

In July 2017, Walker inked a deal with Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer known for being so punishing to its workers that it had to install nets to prevent suicides. Foxconn would build a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, producing LCD screens for large-panel televisions—a first for North America. The company claimed this would create 13,000 good-paying jobs and $10 billion in investment. In exchange, Walker offered $3 billion in state subsidies.

“The Foxconn campus will be large enough to hold 11 Lambeau Fields,” Walker gushed when announcing the agreement. His approval ratings had sagged after a lackluster presidential run, and he had failed to keep his first-term promise of creating 250,000 new jobs. The Foxconn deal would be the capstone of his tenure, a public-private partnership to create a high-tech hub in the upper Midwest—a real legacy item.

Instead, the deal was just a way to flush out taxpayer money, without getting much from Foxconn in return. Walker was nothing but a bagman for a coordinated hit on Wisconsin’s treasury, and he paid for it. On Tuesday, he ran into a little-understood fact of modern political life: corporate welfare is deeply unpopular.

It didn't take a Marquette University dropout to realize that Foxconn was going to renege on their deal with the state and, essentially, pocket the money. We could hear Foxconn laughing all the way down here in Chicago. But ol' Scotty never was much of a student. Or much of a governor.

About last night...

Gosh, where do we begin?

What last night showed, as clearly as day following night, is that the Republican Party simply can't win on the merits. And they know it. Yesterday demonstrated how effective their multi-year anti-democratic efforts have been.

Democratic candidates at each level in the aggregate won millions more votes than the Republican field. We lost three of our most vulnerable sitting Senators: Heidi Heidtkamp (D-ND), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic candidate challenging the odious Ted Cruz (R-TX), nearly won, coming within 220,000 votes out of 8.2 million cast. But we picked up a compensatory seat in Nevada. We broke Republican supermajorities in the legislatures of North Carolina, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, and flipped them entirely in Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Maine, and New York. We kicked out Republican governors by huge margins in Wisconsin and Illinois, won several others, and still have a fighting chance to elect the nation's first female African-American governor in Georgia.

I get Aaron Blake's complaint that it's a "bogus stat" that 12% more people voted for Democratic US Senate candidates than Republican ones. Except it's not. Democrats out-voted Republicans in 2016 and 2014 as well, even while returning Republican majorities to Congress.

Look at Georgia. The person responsible for counting votes, Republican Brian Kemp, was a candidate for governor, and he did everything in his power (some of them beyond his legal authority) to suppress the vote for his challenger, including purging 1.4 million voter registrations and suspending 53,000 more last month.

But also look at Kansas. Kris Kobach, who taught Brian Kemp everything he knows, and who tried unsuccessfully to bring his brand of voter suppression to the country at large, got handed his hat and shown the door. This, despite allowing Democratic-leaning Dodge City to put its lone polling place a mile from public transit, as just one example.

And look at Florida. Democrat Bill Nelson is exercising his right to a recount as sitting governor Rick Scott appears to have received only 35,000 more votes out of 8 million cast. But that's not the big story out of that state. No, the really big story, with consequences for the 2020 race, is that voters passed Proposition 4, re-enfranchising 1.5 million felons—most of whom are African-American—who have completed their sentences.

The Republican Party will try to spin yesterday as a vote of confidence in President Trump. They would do that if they lost by 30 million votes as long as they held the Senate and a couple of state houses. But be clear: between voter suppression, extreme gerrymandering, voter intimidation, and the Senate being specifically designed to protect minority and small-state rights, they have a lot less support than the election suggests.

Like the Afrikaaner National Party from 1948 to 1990, the Republican Party knows it can't win the argument, so it isn't even trying. Over the next few years we'll see them grab everything they can, and use every tactic they think of to hold onto power. They know their time is limited, but like every dying party in history (including George Washington's), they're not going to go quietly. As Trump has shown us, the GOP's strategy will be scorched earth until they finally disappear into dust like their predecessors, the Know-Nothings.

Let's use our new House majority to finally get answers about how much the Trump family has profited from being in office, about how cabinet secretaries are lining their pockets while handing our future to the industries they supposedly regulate, and about how the governing party is taking a match to liberal democracy in order to forestall their own irrelevance.

So let's keep up the fight.

Oh, and Chicago voted to ban plastic straws. I just...why?

Distilling the Congress

Adam Shepherd points out that this election will make things worse, not better, regardless of the result—at least for the next two years:

Theoretically, divided government could lead to compromise, since Trump would need Democrats to pass legislation. With 2020 approaching, the thinking goes, he would be incentivized to make deals that show that he can get things done (on infrastructure, for instance). But Trump has shown no interest in this kind of politics. Yes, he has flirted with bipartisanship in the past, but has always ultimately demurred, either due to pressure from aides and donors or from a preternatural devotion to his base. When pressed, Trump has eschewed dealmaking and calls for unity and doubled down on attacks on the media and his Democratic opposition.

Over the last two years, despite controlling Washington, Republicans have done little with their power. Their only major legislative achievement was the $1.5 trillion tax cut, largely benefiting corporations and the wealthy, which appears to represent the entirety of the party’s ideas. The GOP’s policy apathy has become apparent over the last two months, as candidates across the country have embraced the president’s ethno-nationalism and racist immigration policy. With defeat looming, the GOP sees fear-mongering as the only way to get their aging white base to the polls—a strategy that worked two years ago. Expect Republicans to employ these tactics even in defeat.

In fact, they may employ them especially if they lose. The most likely Republicans to lose in Tuesday’s midterms are the most moderate members of Congress, those in suburban districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. “That means that your ordinary Freedom Caucus member is going to get reelected even in a blue wave, while the vulnerable members are the more moderate ones who represent swing districts,” Paul Waldman wrote in The Washington Post on Monday. “This will produce a somewhat ironic result in the next Congress: The bigger the blue wave, the more conservative the Republican caucus will end up being when it’s over, and the less equipped the GOP will be to run a different kind of campaign in 2020.”

Meanwhile:

Tonight will be a nail-biter. I hope I get some sleep.