Wednesday, November 02, 2016


At The New Republic, Brian Beutler reminds us that Republican power in Congress -- to threaten Hillary Clinton with a blockade of her judicial appointees if she's elected president, to compel the FBI to embarrass Clinton shortly before the election with more talk of emails -- derives from Democratic voters' decision to stay home in large numbers in the 2010 and 2014 midterms. The FBI, Beutler says, has no fear of recriminations because Republicans control both houses of Congress:
FBI agents can leak damaging information about Clinton with impunity in part because a Republican Congress is never going to investigate or push back on partisan law-enforcement interventions on their behalf, even if they’re wildly inappropriate. Controlling even one house of Congress would’ve allowed Democrats to place a check on this kind of activity, but they ceded the entire body two years ago.

As a result, Comey understood that there’d be hell to pay on Capitol Hill if he withheld the letter he sent congressional investigators on Friday for any length of time, because Republicans control the oversight apparatus and the subpoena power that comes with it. “It doesn’t surprise me, though, in a way that he did this,” Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House oversight committee told CNN Monday, “because I don’t think the American people have a clue as to how hard the Republicans, particularly on my committee, have been on the FBI.”
Yes, people who are outraged by this should vote for a Democratic president and for Democrats in the House and Senate.

But polls, even now, suggest that Democrats are on course to hold the White House and win back the Senate. So why isn't fear of Democratic electoral gains preventing the FBI from acting on behalf of Republicans? Remember, Comey dropped his email stink bomb into the election at a time when a Clinton landslide seemed possible and there was talk about Democrats retaking the House as well as the Senate.

The reason is that nobody fears Democrats. No one expects Democrats to wield power effectively and settle scores. And Democrats shouldn't be feared, because Republicans are better at this, on offense and on defense.

Democrats controlled Congress after the 2006 elections, and maintained control for the first two years of Barack Obama's presidency. They didn't wield that power against Republicans, even though there were plenty of juicy targets in the Bush administration. Nancy Pelosi took impeachment off the table in 2007. President Obama subsequently said he didn't want to look back. There's no reason to think Democrats would be more aggressive now, especially with a much more tentative hold on power in Congress.

And if they are more aggressive, any investigations will be denounced by Fox and talk radio as a tyrannical abuse of power masterminded from the top by the career criminal, traitor, and murderess Hillary Clinton. Denunciations from Republican officeholders and officials will be somewhat less fevered, but will appear in elite newspapers and on Sunday talk shows far outside the conservative bubble. As those denouncers insist that it's all a partisan witch hunt, their interviewers will nod thoughtfully.

Republicans, of course, will have the backing of GOP base voters, who remain in a state of campaign-level outrage even between elections, thanks to the partisan media they consume at all times. Eventually, all we'll be talking about is whether it's appropriate to be investigating at all.

And if none of this prevents Democrats from turning up real abuses, the conservative infrastructure will probably ensure that any wrongdoer lands on his feet. Jobs will be offered. So will book contracts. They'll all be fine.

So, sure, these guys are acting with impunity while Republicans control Congress. But it's not at all clear that increased Democratic power would restrain them.


Feud Turgidson said...

I'm not nearly close to as dismissal as Beutler. His word "ceded" is way too strong a condemnation of the Ds; it implies that they had more control over their fate in the midterms than is borne out on the facts, especially the facts of systemic & contrived gerrymandering. He also implies an equivalency between the respective parties' bases and tactics which just doesn't exist.

The D operation is a completely different sort of coalition compared to the R Base and business modeal, and the D party has a much better claim to being the "law" party, with the Rs only being able make something of a claim on "order", but even that's increasingly elided to Stasi-type authoritarianism.

A number of factors, not just institutional, insulate Comey in flexing his partisan muscle. Among those I'll note just two, both sufficient to immunize him from being disciplined:

a) Comey gained his "unimpeachable integrity" Eagle Scout badge off the 2004 incident of Cheney & his thugs sending then WH counsel Alberto Gonzales to AG Ashcroft's hospital bed to try to bully an extremely sick man into signing off on one of more egregious GWB admin civil rights abuses (Some have argued it was the one on torture, but no: it was about unwarranted seizures of electronic communications. Comey mostly went along with the worst of the GWB abuses, particularly Cheney's "enhanced interrogation" bullcrap.)

But remember how Comey's testimony came before Congress? Thru Sen. Chuck Schumer, not even the ranking member of the Judiciary committee. And in the spring of 2007, right after the Wave midterms of 2006 that put Pelosi in as Speaker and leveled the power seesaw in the Senate. Comey's a political creature: he'd jumped the GWB sinking ship by leaving the DoJ in 2005, went into some serious Wingnut Welfare running/lobbying for Boeing, then turned his affections towards the top money man & best bet for a future Senate Majority Leader when it became clear the Ds were going to take full control out of the 2008 elections & to pave his way back into Washington. Comey was looking at a possible SCOTUS appointment (Several people have told me Schumer dangled that possibility, among others; but then of course Sen. Leahy determined to dedicate his dotage to the Senate, so director of the FBI was what he had to settle for.).

Point being, he and Schumer have a mutually beneficial relationship going back decades, which means each can depend on the other to be a Loyal Friend in High Authority. Buddies!

Comey's not ever halfway thru his 10 year term as FBI director. If Trump were to win, Comey'd be a candidate for the SCOTUS, but if Hillary wins, he's dogmeat for anything like that (At most, he MIGHT get a DC circuit district court level appointment, IF he were to offer to Hillary to leave early & lobby to the max for her hand-picked choice as his successor at the Bureau.). Why is he dogmeat if HRC wins? Coney was Ken Starr's assistant during the special prosecution crappy nightmare the Clintons were put thru in the 1990s when Bill was president.

People have such short memories. The meme since this summer is that Comey offered to save Lynch's bacon after TarmacGate. Bull. Crap. Asst AG Sally Yates could have handled the Lynch conflict way more professionally. What happened is that Comey saw his opening and grabbed it.

But walked Comey stupid unethical unprofessional line so erratically, he's come to realize since he's got no trip to the Show in his future is HRC is elected.

"Man of Integrity" my ass.

CF2K said...

This is why Republicans are going all out to stop Hillary: she will.

Feud Turgidson said...

This is nominally in response to CF2K, but I'm really taking a pre-emptive shot at a possible characteristically Steve M. Sky's Falling post on the subject of how pre-election polling is going.

Regulars here know I favor Sam Wang at PEC on reading the tea leaves on polling. Last night he posted a link to this on his Twitter feed:

I could go on an on about that YouGov post, but I'm sure the regulars here, all but KenAltRight anyway, are bright enough to get it.

In any event, reading that is next to doing a sack of weed or a fistfull of 'ludes, in terms of instilling a sense of calm about the apparent freak-ride the polls are now. Read it & you'll stop seeing dead people.

The one room for a big Debbie Downer this linked post feeds, however, is it's easy to see the strategic basis for Trump's "rigged election" horse manure. Given how institutionally opportunistic, lazy & irresponsible the MSM is, the idea of early voting & mail-in voting having the unintended consequence of encouraging "phantoms" to take over most pollsters' samples is bound to be a hard sell. Authoritarian power seizures, of course, depend on just such 'cooperation' in the commercial media.

Anyway, I've now managed to convince myself that there's no friggin' way Trump will concede this election, meaning There Will Be Blood, I'm afraid: it looks damn near pre-ordained.

Feud Turgidson said...

Left this out; sorry.

The other things that have me convinced that Trump's "rigged election" campaign is really what he's all about are these:

1. This post up at Sam Wang's PEC website this morning:

Wang knows his stuff, and all other truly professional pollsters realize that, even the like of Gallup, Rasmussen, IDB & Frank Luntz. What this means is that shrinking white (supremacist & authoritarian) majority has ALREADY run out of time for winning any more presidential elections by fair democratic means. Even gerrymandering & state-run voter ID & registration purses & other forms of vote suppression have resulted and can only work in future in delaying the inevitable. They HAVE to win this election, no choice, by any means possible, in order to fix the SCOTUS & the federal court system more broadly with a permanent majority of extreme rightwingers. For the Republican party, the time is alt-right now or never pretending to win by anything remotely looking like fair presidential elections.

2. This may seem a flimsy factoid to prop up any hypothesis, but I think there's a very good chance that there's more behind Trump & the Trump campaign stiffing one his main pollsters than just Trump being Trump.

Trump is stiffing the Anthony Fabrizio polling outfit. Tony F. is, believe it or not, one of the better pollsters around. I have no hesitation at all in suggesting he knows all about how early voting & mail-in ballot, especially in a year like this where we're seeing a better than 100% increase in resort to both, has the effect of creating phantom effects. I also have zero doubt that he's told this to the Trump campaign.

That is, Trump has known for WEEKS if not MONTHS that his polling was bound to SEEM to improve, steadily & increasingly dramatically, over the last few weeks before Election Day. Trump KNOWS and has known for some time that this effect was bound to kick in. It's not that Trump's any genius, it's that he's a grifter, and grifters are SHREWD. That is, Trump by his very nature could see what could be done with the Ghosts In The Sampling Machines effect. All that was necessary for him to learn about, as Fabrizio or any pollster could inform him, is whether the trend towards early and mail-in voting was at, or below, or above the levels in the 2012 election, when Romney & Priebus & Rove & the rest learned their hard lesson about phantoms taking over late polls.

Finally ... I'm tempted to go all conspiracy theory here. If this IS INDEED the R party's last shot at the White House by anything resembling fair democratic election (It is.), AND the R party knows it (They do.), then why isn't it possible that what's REALLY going on here is for Trump & Breitbart to NULLIFY the coming election result & facilitate a full takeover of all 3 branches of the federal government by the Republican controlled Congress?

And I mean NOW - THIS YEAR!

Steve M. said...

Thanks for that YouGov link -- it is reassuring to know that a big reason for poll swings is changes in the willingness of partisans to answer pollsters. I'd vaguely known that people reply to pollsters less when things are going poorly for their candidates (or respond more when things are going well), but I didn't think of it as a major reason for the most recent wave of good polls for Trump. But, I suppose it is.

I'm not sure about this, though:

[Republicans] HAVE to win this election, no choice, by any means possible, in order to fix the SCOTUS & the federal court system more broadly with a permanent majority of extreme rightwingers.

They can block every single judicial nominee throughout Clinton's term. That would work, too.

And yes, I think there might be an attempt to steal this thing, as I've said in several posts.

CH said...

It's an interesting phenomenon: if I understand the data from at least the last decade correctly, the more education a person has, the more likely that person is to vote D (broadly speaking), and vice versa. Yet, over and over again, the supposedly better-educated D base fails to show in midterms (exhibiting, it would seem, a shaky grasp of the importance of Congress in the federal scheme of things), while the supposedly less well-educated R base shows up and keeps Congress red most of the time (thus showing, or seeming to show, an excellent grasp of how to stymie any D president).

Feud Turgidson said...

Steve M.: "They can block every single judicial nominee throughout Clinton's term. That would work, too."

I agree with you on that. But what long term good does it do them if they can no longer get a nominator in chief into the White House?

That, after all, is the message in Sam Wang's post up this morning. His post looks at 2024 - only 8 years hence, this election plus the next, that's all - & points out that STRUCTURALLY whoever gets the D nom is basically starting the general election with a 300 EV lead - LEAD, not total! That means the contest is over pretty by Super Tuesday, which these days is pretty much the date by which one D primary candidate wrests control of the DNC nomination.

Green Eagle said...

You still don't get it. Comey is doing what he is doing not because he is afraid of Republicans, but because he is a Republican. He is not a victim here, he is one of the perpetrators. I never thought I would see you not being cynical enough.

Feud Turgidson said...

CH, I'll assume your good faith in your comment, but surely even you can see the flaw in your thinking.

D party supporters are more liberal with more education, sure. But as you go right along the theoretical continuum, you start at the left-most with the egghead academics & socialists, then as you travel right you move past the progressives, then right of those you go by to the elites & party workers, and pretty much all of those are going to be college educated. But as you go still right of all those, you finally get to to a huge swath of Dem party's presidential years voter support which is, on the whole, LESS well educated than the GOP establishment and whatever passes for moderates in the R party.

IOW it's not a bell curve, it's a snakes and ladders board: way up at the top, then gently snaking down a bit, then snaking down even less steady, THEN a precipitous drop (still among the Ds), then as you first encounter the GOP a steep ladder up into the caves where GOP activists & faithful establishment meerkats live, then a fairly gentle slope down to the business types and GOP apparatchiks, then a fairly steep drop-off the Religious Right partners and them a freaking snake trying and failing to fly down to the workn' stiff, CM fans & then finally a levelling or slightly down to the deplorables.

So it's BOTH parties that experience erosion of their least-well-educated elements sloughing off from their presidential cycle peaks. It's not that the GOP INCREASES their turn-out in mid-terms, it's that a big percentage of the most rightward D supporters take the midterms off, and the biggest source of erosion in the R party base is also from IT's most rightward voters, the GOP doesn't slough their nuts off at the same rate as the D's do.

You didn't know this already? It's really basic, and notorious.

CH said...

Thanks for assuming my good faith, but you can keep the condescension. I cited the phenomenon as an honest query, not as a disguised way to state an argument of some kind.

Feud Turgidson said...

Ohhhhh kayyyyyyy then... but you get it NOW, right?

I mean, you're taking offense from my defaulting to the some mysterious, unknown, possibly unknowable, under the laws of physics that pertain in this universe perhaps impossible alternative to your post being either disingenuous, or moronic, or naive, but you can SEE that now, right? You can SEE that that exhausts the alternatives, right?

This isn't "me" 'bullying', or even truly condescension on 'my' part. This comment is being posted ANONYMOUSLY, on a mostly obscure blog (also, despite the blog's unloveable name, we all agree Steve M. runs a pretty adorable blog). This is an online avatar with a goofy name in online conversation with an online avatar that ... could be CH as in Chicago, or CH as in charge, or CH as in chaos, or CH as in Club de Hockey, NO ONE KNOWS! An avatar can't hurt another avatar's FEELINGS (!), FCOL.

Look, I - my stupid deplorably drunken disorderly avatar, at least - screw up posts constantly. I can't see worth crap so I constantly make spellos and grammos and logicos. Which, if other online avatars, or even actual anonymous people, wanna make fun of or hold my avatar's feet to the fire for, well, "I" own that, it's on "me". But if someone fellow poster sez, Nope, Feud, your logic is screwed, or you're working off wrong facts, I ALSO have no probelm with anyone mocking Feud over that, because Feud is OBLIVIOUS to criticism, he's Teflon to barbs, because he's a fiction.

That's why I say to "you", CH...there you go again. And the I Me Human that's part of what makes up this disorderly drugged out whack job Feud Turgidson and his moronically giant foam Clem Kadiddlehopper hat worn inside out and upside down on the wrong extremity and lookinf like Trump's comb-over took a dump over one of Feud's orifices & now it's got sepsis, jeezuz H, CH; YOU'RE an online avator, where do you get off claiming to have fee-fees?

Feud Turgidson said...

Steve M., both you and most regulars here will recall that I've expressed more respect for the takes of HotAir's Allapundit than any other blogger/twittertweeter on the definitely rightwing.

So take a look at this:

That's Allahpundit recognizing & adopting the YouGov analysis we've discussed on this thread, to explain the whacked-out poll for Virginia released today by pollsters housed at Hampton University.

Hampton U comes out of the post Civil War "freed men" tradition, but if you look at their poll, it suffers from PRECISELY the concerns expressed by the two YouGov pollster in their article about Ghosts, and makes the exact mistake the YouGov pros warn against: they fail to factor in any adjustment for the shrinkery of the Virginia voter pool of those who've yet to vote.

Then factor in that there are actually TWO Virginia, Santa Claus - the northern Virginia of DC and DC-oriented white collar government-centric professionals, who skew liberal, vote D, vote early, and don't have landlines to facilitate live on telephone interview polling models, and the southern Virginia that's more akin to the isolated largely white conservative occupied hills and valleys of northeast North Carolina.

I do admit that if someone asked me who among the better known bloggers on the determined rightwing of the internet I'd expect to actually read and factor in the YouGov article, I'd pick Allahpundit as the most likely (David Frum also, but I'm not convinced "rightwing" really captures who Frum is - he's in a special tribe of neocons & centrist foreign policy hawks, who don't give a fart for the social intolerance of the Republicons), so maybe this is too low a bar from which to draw much solace. But at least the IDEA is starting to get put about.

Dennis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.