The Soul Survivors: “Expressway to Your Heart” (1967)

Artist: The Soul SurvivorsWriters/Producers: Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff; Album: When the Whistle Blows, Anything Goes; Genre: Dance/Soul; Label: Crimson 1010; Release Date: July 1967; Chart Position: No. 3 – R&B; No. 4 – Billboard Hot 100 for 1967; B-Side: “Hey, Gyp.”

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Campaign News

The Hill: Outside money pours into marquee House race

KSL.comMcMullin, Provo Mayor Curtis, state lawmakers among potential replacements for Chaffetz

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Rep. Mike Kelly nixes run for Gov., still thinking about Senate

The Texas TribuneTexas Republicans fear federal oversight as voter ID overhaul stalls

Forbes: Paul Ryan could lose a key TrumpCare vote in Montana special election

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Insider elected chair of the California Democratic Party, Sanders wing sings protest song

Eric Baumann

Though not a Bernie Sanders supporter, I thought his candidacy was important and that he represented and continues to represent an essential perspective in American politics.

Lost among many who don’t follow politics obsessively is the importance of elections for the leadership of the party apparatus at the state and national levels. The DNC Chair gets some attention, to be sure, but state party machinery not so much.

As The Hill reports today, “California Democrats on Saturday elected a longtime party activist to become their new chairman, after a contentious day of voting in which a second candidate backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) official political group refused to concede defeat.”

Eric Baumann, the insider, defeated Kimberley Ellis, a party activist and supposed outsider backed by Sanders, by a mere 60 votes out of 3,300 eligible delegates.

Unfortunately, as of Saturday night Ellis had not conceded, saying she “had been in touch with a lawyer.”

Bauman had the support of the vast majority of the Democratic members of the state legislature, most politically active unions and local party organizations. Ellis was backed by Our Revolution, the outgrowth of Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign, and a California nurses union that backed Sanders.

It has been noted that there “were few differences between the two candidates, both of whom adopted much of Sanders’s 2016 platform,” aside from the constituencies the contenders appear to represent.

A story covering the convention in the Los Angeles Times added this:

Earlier in the night, Ellis supporters had gathered in a meeting hall of the convention center as rumors of victory circulated, drawing cheers and hugs and victorious speeches. As it became clear that Ellis had not won, a woman led the crowd in singing, “We shall not be moved.”

Observers have noted that though the results were close, a recount is unlikely to change the outcome. If there are charges of malfeasance, which I have not heard, they should be investigated. If Ellis and her supporters think they should have been victorious because they wanted to win, well, no.

I place a great deal of the unhelpful animosity at the convention with Sen. Sanders who refuses to join the party and who therefore encourages a sense of insurrection among his supporters. If they fail to secure the postions they seek within the party they are too quick to say “screw you and your rules. We are the future.” And they may be, but they have to get the votes first.

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Roger that, “Little Marco”

“People got what they voted for.”

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on Face the Nation (5/21/17), speaking about the turmoil in the WhiteHouse.

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Morning Headlines

Politico: Trump softens his tone in Islam

New York Times: Killing C.I.A. informants, China crippled U.S. spying operations

Washington PostMcMaster does not deny details of Trump’s discussion with Russian officials

NBC News: Consevative media’s alternative take on Trump and Russia

CNN PoliticsDonald Trump just had a(nother) terrible week

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Quotable Quote: Conservatives are getting nervous about how this Trump thing ends

“With a horde of vocal Trump supporters cheering on every inane statement, delusion, lie and bad act, the majority of the American people can be forgiven for thinking the GOP as a whole has lost its mind. The Republicans may soon lose a generation of voters through a combination of the sheer incompetence of Trump and a party rank and file with no ability to control its leader.”

Erick Erickson – Conservative blogger

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2018 Massachusetts gubernatorial race starts to take shape

Mayor Setti Warren of Newton, Massachusetts announced his intention to run for governor of the state on Saturday. So far two other Democratic candidates have announced: Robert Massie, an environmental activist, and Jay Gonzalez, a state budget official under former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick.

They will be running to unseat the very popular and well-funded Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in 2018. Baker hasn’t announced plans to run again, but is expects to.

According to WBUR:

An Iraq War veteran who briefly ran for the U.S. Senate in 2011, Warren is touting two ambitious – and potentially expensive – ideas to make what he calls a “generational investment,” and help close the gap between rich and poor: a government-backed single-payer health care system and free tuition at all public colleges and universities including the University of Massachusetts.

Setti also proposes to improve transportation in the state, and to institute a so-called “millionaires’ tax,” which “calls for a 4 percent surtax on any part of an individual’s income above $1 million” to help pay or his programs.”

Massie and Gonzales also support the tax.

A small sample size poll(400 RV) back in September showed Baker ahead of Setti 40 to 17 percent, with 36 percent undecided. At this point, the race has to be considered “Likely Republican” at least.

Governing magazine rates Baker as potentially vulnerable because Massachusetts is an increasingly blue state and though Baker is a moderate Trump and others could cause a polarizing dynamic.

Beyond a strong Democrat taking the plunge, the biggest risk for Baker would be a partisan Democratic backlash against Trump during the 2018 midterm election that filters down the ballot.

Initially perennial crazy person Kurt Schilling was thinking about running against Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate though has now decided not to. Whoever runs, if Trump is still president by then, the race will be polarizing because the Trump-Elizabeth Warren dynamic is so toxic.

Alternately, the Trump White House could encourage a GOP primary challenge [to Baker]  from a more hard-edged conservative, such as 2014 candidate Mark Fisher or state Rep. Geoff Diehl.

But these are theoretical possibilities for now; unless one of these dramatic upheavals comes to pass, Baker looks good to win another term.

2018 will be a complicated year for Republicans, I reckon.

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Joe Scarborough discovers Trump lies constantly, shares “news” with viewers (video)

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Campaign News

Utah Political CapitalHerbert Declares Special Election for Chaffetz’s Seat, Cox Provides Details

NBC NewsHouse Dems smash fundraising records ahead of midterms

FiveThirtyEight: How popular is Donald Trump?

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Voter registration ends this weekend in the Georgia 6th

NBC News: Bernie Sanders heads to Montana for high profile race

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Recount confirms Republican Ralph Norman’s nomination for the South Carolina 5th

The vote was so close in last week’s Republican primary for the South Carolina 5th District that a mandatory recount kicked in.  Lucky for former state Rep. Ralph Norman the recount verified his election night victory over S.C. House Speaker Pro Tem Tommy Pope. The marginwas just over 200 votes out of 35,000 cast. That’s what the political professionals call “close.”

It was always a long shot that Pope would find the votes to overturn the original results, but the law said they had to go through the motions.

Norman will now face Democrat Archie Parnell in the June 20th general election to fill the district’s U.S. House seat. That seat has been vacant since U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney left to become Trump’s budget director.

Norman is a strong conservative who has embraced Trump. Pope is more of a centrist. According to the Post and Courier, Norman’s win might give Democrats chance to hope they can take the seat, although handicappers call it Safe for Republicans.

Curiously, this seat was Democratic since Reconstruction before Mulvaney won it for the Republicans in 2010. It was redistricted in 2012, so maybe that benefitted Republicans as so much redistricting has (South Carolina has strong Republican majorities in their General Assembly).  If that’s not it  (and as there is no incumbent), why are Democrats seen as unlikely to strongly contest here, especially in an environment where support for Trump in these otherwise red districts could be a mixed blessing?

I note that Republican Mulvaney held the seat by just 11 points in 2012, which was after redistricting. I’m just saying this one could be within sniffing distance.

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Trump and the cost of taking on the FBI

Much has been made of the loyalty of Trump’s base as he bumbles and stumbles through the first months of his presidency. All things, however, have their limits.

On Friday, a new Reuters/IPSOS tracking poll showed Trump with a job approval rating of 75 percent among Republicans, which may indicate storm clouds ahead.

The Hill notes that political professionals tend to categorize presidential approval ratings from his own party below 85 percent as worrying and “downright alarming if they go below 80 percent.”

Other polls support the general trend, though not with numbers quite as low as in the Reuters/IPSOS survey, though they were conducted before the special counsel appointment to look into Trump-Russia connections unlike the Reuters poll which was done after.

A great irony in the current political landscape is that a Republican president is doing battle with the FBI and America’s intelligence services when typically Democrats or the left have expressed the most concern with activities of G-men and the like.

Conservatism and law-and-order go hand-in-hand in America, and there are few agencies in American life that exemplify law-and-order more than the FBI. Trump may get some cover by connecting the intelligence community with the Washington swamp and the deep state but butting heads with the house J. Edgar built may not be the best way to keep his base on side.

By the way, in the old films I remember it was always the FBI as the good guys chasing around Russians/Communists as the bad guys. That may have been a long time ago but it still puts Trump on the wrong side of a certain kind of national memory in a country he is trying to lead, especially amongst older voters.

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Morning Headlines

Politico: Comey agrees to testify in a public session at the Senate Intelligence Committee

New York Times: Trump told Russians that firing ‘nut job’ Comey eased pressure from investigation

CNN Politics: Russian officials bragged they could use Flynn to influence Trump, sources say

The Hill: Trump arrives in Saudi Arabia on first overseas trip

CBS News: Notre Dame students plan walk out during Pence speech

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New super PAC ad attacks Rob Quist (D) in the Montana special House election

The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF)  has released one last ad on behalf of Republican Greg Gianforte in the Montana state-wide special House election before the May 25th Election Day. The spot attacks Democratic candidate Rob Quist for various fiduciary improprieties. The CFL is a super PAC aligned with the House Republican leadership.

Quist is a musician, a folksinger, so the ad opens with him singing because nothing frightens conservatives more than a man with guitar who is not Ted Nugent. And of course the spot connects Quist with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi because no GOP ad is complete without a shout out to evil Nancy.

“Montanans know actions speak louder than words. Despite his song lyrics, Quist has proved he would stand with Nancy Pelosi’s failed liberal agenda, not with Montanans.”

The CLF’s is spending big money in the race  — $2.5 million on advertising and a field program to make sure this traditionally red seats remains red. Democrats have tried to keep up but not quite so enthusiastically.

The seat needs to be filled because Trump picked then-Rep. Ryan Zinke for secretary of the Interior.

Word is that the race is tightening, though a Democratic pickup would be epic, and highly unlikely as Republicans have held the seat for decades.

A note on the ad: I can’t comment on Quist’s business dealings or whether he has always paid for services rendered, as the ad suggests he has not, but isn’t that the method Trump has so consistently used to make his billions? Seems like an odd charge for the GOP to draw attention to.

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This Day in America: May 19, 1921 – The Emergency Quota/Immigration Act is enacted

According to John Higham in Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism: 1860-1925 (1963), the Act “proved in the long run the most important turning-point in American immigration policy” as it instituted numerical limits on immigration and a quota.

According to U.S. Immigration Legislation Online.

The objective of this act was to temporarily limit the numbers of immigrants to the United States by imposing quotas based on country of birth. Annual allowable quotas for each country of origin were calculated at 3 percent of the total number of foreign-born persons from that country recorded in the 1910 United States Census.

Exceptions to the quotas were made for government official and their families, aliens who were passing through the US or visiting as tourists or temporary workers, immigrants from countries in the Western hemisphere, and minor children of US citizens. The Quota Act also did not apply to countries with bilateral agreements with the US on immigration, or to countries in the Asiatic Barred Zone (as defined in the 1917 Immigration Act).

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Being insufficiently Trump in the Alabama 2nd Congressional District

Some Republican politicians deemed not sufficiently supportive of the president will almost certainly be getting a primary challenge from their right.

Alabama Rep. Martha Roby (AL-2nd) is getting this treatment from State Rep. Barry Moore who has said he made the decision when she criticized Trump over the “Access Hollywood” embarrassment. You know, grab her by the p&*%y.

She called Trump to step aside after his crude comments, and Moore was clearly offended, not by Trump  but by Roby.

It’s impossible to know what kind of coattails Trump will have in 2018 but Roby was re-elected in 2016 with less than 50 percent of the vote in a consistently red district after a pro-Trump write-in protest vote against Roby siphoned off 10 percent. She beat her Democratic opponent by only 8 points.

Roby has apparently been anxious to repair damage done to her Trump fan club credentials by saying she has “consistently supported President Trump’s policy initiatives and has said time and again that she wants our president to be successful,” among other things.

I guess the point here is that rumours about Trump’s political death could be greatly exaggerated. House Republicans in safe red seats won’t be taking any chances. There are going to be places in the country where they will always really love him.

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Campaign News

Governing: Scott Walker is a top target for Democrats. So why can’t they find someone to run against him?

The  Hill: Democrat in Montana special election breaks $5M fundraising mark

Roll Call: Army Reserve lawyer to challenge Peters in California (CA-52th)

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Georgia 6th: DNC to hire 10 new staffers to boost Ossoff’s campaign

Gallup: Americans’ financial anxieties ease in 2017

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Joe Biden would have beaten Trump

At a conference in Vegas yesterday former Vice President Joe Biden said what I now  believe is painfully clear, which is in essence that he could have beaten Donald Trump. What he said specifically was this of Clinton:  “I never thought she was a great candidate. I thought I was a great candidate.”

But, as Chris Cillizza at CNN notes, that wasn’t the first time Joe took a shot at HRC. He previously said this:

“What happened was that this was the first campaign that I can recall where my party did not talk about what it always stood for — and that was how to maintain a burgeoning middle class. You didn’t hear a single solitary sentence in the last campaign about that guy working on the assembly line making $60,000 bucks a year and a wife making $32,000 as a hostess in restaurant.”

Let’s state the obvious: increasingly national politics is about the justifiable anxiety of increasing numbers of Americans that they are being left behind. It doesn’t matter that Donald Trump is lying to them now and was lying to them during the campaign. He spoke to their anxieties and they bought the line.

Hillary Clinton, whatever the significant value of her policy ideas, was never able to connect with America’s concerns. Sure, she came close in the election, but it should never have been close.   In a general sense on the larger stage she simply doesn’t relate to people very well at all, and that’s a problem at any time. When people are frightened the inability to connect is fatal.

Bernie Sanders was able to connect. Joe Biden has that skill. I was sure HRC was the less risky choice, and that turned out not to be true. I’m even starting to think Sanders could have beaten Trump.

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Morning Headliines

Talking Points Memo: How Al Franken unleashed a special counsel on Donald Trump

Politico: Republicans shove Chaffetz on his way out

New  York Times: Trump, citing ‘a Witch Hunt,’ denies any collusion with Russia

CNN Politics: Besieged at home, Trump sets off for ‘do-or-die’ foreign trip

The Hill: GOP tries to keep the spotlight on taxes

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Look for a closer-than-expected outcome in the Montana special House election

It’s easy to forget that while things are imploding around Trump, some semblance of normal politics continues around the country.

The Montana state-wide special House election is a week away and though this should be an easy win for Republicans, it seems the party faithful are taking no chances.

Politico is reporting that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is making a last-ditch $200,000 ad buy in support of Republican candidate Greg Gianforte. The spot will run from now through Election Day on May 25.

A fair amount of money has poured into a race the outcome of which should never have been in doubt. Over $8 million has been spent so far, mostly on the GOP side.

Democratic groups have mostly stayed on the sidelines, saving their money for more realistic targets down the road.

Rob Quist is the Democrat, in case you were wondering. The seat is vacant because former Rep. Rob Zinke agreed to be Trump’s  Secretary of the Interior.

A recent special election in redder-than-red Kansas was closer than Republicans liked. The Georgia 6th is a toss-up, also previously a GOP stronghold. And Mulvaney’s South Carolina seat will stay Republican but dwindling margins of victory matter in a political world looking for signals that Trump will end up being a bad dream.

In Montana, serious Republican money is being spent to make sure the signal is relatively ambiguous for now. They’ll win that seat but the 2018 midterms really are just around the corner and a bloodbath could await.

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NJ Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy: First day with the new mouth

As I wrote earlier in the week, Phil Murphy is generally considered the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for New Jersey governor. He’s a former Goldman Sachs executive and Obama ambassador to Germany. The primary is June 6th. If he gets to the general election, he might be in good shape to win given how toxic Chris Chistie has made Republicans in the state.

The ad is mostly a nothing-burger except for the totally creepy way Murphy smiles, like he’s being hit with a cattle prod to remind him to shine his pearly whites. Either that or he’s an alien learning how to bare his teeth to fit in with the earthlings. That could be it.

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