Disruptive Politics

For the latest I've written on the UK elections, its posted over on Alternet. I came across one of the more interesting articles I've read about the Tea Party, by Medea Benjamin, Many in the Tea Party Crowd Have Little Appetite for War and Empire. Through Code Pink, she interviewed about 50 Tea Partiers at a recent gathering, and shared the findings.

There's a part of the Democratic partisans that are obsessed with creating the meme that all Tea Partiers are racist ignorant idiots. Its about as shallow thinking as displayed by the partisan tools propping up the Bush era, that clubbed together all of the netroots as unpatriotic anti-american elites. Both represent a sort of knee-jerk viewpoint of partisanship as the equivalent to ideology.

Its a poor strategic move by Democratic activists to focus on the Tea Party with negative branding. At the end of the day, there will be a few places where the Tea Party makes a difference, and that will be in places like Kentucky and Utah, deep within the Republican primary. Come post-Labour Day, they'll fold back into the Republican Party for the most part, and all the idiotic things such as infiltration of the Tea Party will have been wasted on something that isn't there at the end of the day.

The Tea Party is a fleeting phenomenon. Its attracting all sorts of people that are glued together by mobilization of mass media tactics and voices against the status quo of power. The energy is coming from the conservatives now, similar in development with how the netroots was coming out of a more progressive voice in the '00's.

The common the desire for a bit of disruption in their politics. I'd like to think that Medea correct, in laying out how "How libertarians and social progressives can make common cause against expansive -- and expensive -- empire.' But as she points out, its been smoothed over as a difference in the Tea Party following; and within the Democratic Party, Obama has bought the military empire a few more years of occupation time with his bait, switches, and broken promises.

The parallel I'm drawing from the sort of disruptive politics that are happening right now in the UK, is that very likely, we'll see it back here again in Presidential politics, sooner than you think too.

Haley Barbour 2012!

It has been almost 10 months since the last round of speculation surrounding a potential Presidential bid by former RNC Chairman and lobbyist turned Mississippi Governor, so apparently the powers at be inside the establishment media think it's time for another round.

POLITICO has learned that Barbour is weighing the prospect of a 2012 White House bid and convened a private meeting April 8 with a group of some of his oldest and closest advisers, some of whom flew in from the East Coast to Jackson, Miss. The gathering stretched for six hours, during which time the topic of a presidential run was discussed.

There is no mention in this long-ish article from Jonathan Martin that as of the most recent polling, in the field this past fall, that nearly two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) told Gallup that they would not seriously consider voting for Barbour for President in 2012 -- an even greater share than said the same of Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin (both of whom were ruled out by 63 percent of the public). There is also no mention of the even more recent polling, from just a few days ago, showing Barbour earning the support of just 1 percent of Republicans.

Nevertheless, with the press, and apparently some DC Republicans, taking Barbour 2012 seriously, I am reminded of a great post from Atrios back in November:

Politicians Are All From The South

This was true for so many years that the politician archetype in pop culture was always some middle aged white dude with at least a modest southern accent.

For some reason, that period just seems so outdated -- which is odd considering that 2008 was the first Presidential election since 1972 in which neither party's ticket featured at least one Southerner (and since 1944, if you count Maryland's Spiro Agnew as a Southerner, which isn't such a stretch considering the kind of role played and rhetoric used by the candidate in the 1968 and 1972 Nixon campaigns). Yet at the same time, one doesn't get the sense that the American people are itching for a return to Southern dominance of Presidential politics. Which is all to say, Barbour may be an anachronism.

The End May Be Nigh for John Ensign's Political Career

Nevada's top political journalist, Jon Ralston, reports:

In the federal penal code, it is known as "structuring."

And it is a word Sen. John Ensign should remember because it is very likely to be on any indictment with his name on it.

That’s what I am told by a reliable source familiar with the deliberations occurring inside the Justice Department as federal authorities in Washington try to do with Ensign what they could not do with former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens: Get their man. Or, because they had Stevens and then lost him because of misconduct, Justice wants to make sure if it goes to the next step with Ensign, the charges stick.

Indictment? Don't mind if I do. (Remember, it was the abysmal Bush DOJ that fumbled the Stevens prosecution.) So what is "structuring?"

Structuring is a broad term that refers to the crime of creating financial transactions to evade reporting requirements — for example, a $96,000 payment to your mistress laundered through a trust controlled by your parents and calling it a “gift” instead of what it obviously was: a severance payment that had to be reported.

Based on the facts already in public domain, it seems there may be enough for an indictment.

Two former federal prosecutors in the past two weeks have said there is enough evidence to indict Ensign. “Just based on what the senator has said himself and what Mr. (Doug) Hampton has said … under the federal standard of probable cause, there’s enough to indict the senator now,” ex-prosecutor Stan Hunterton, a well-respected local attorney, said March 19 on “Face to Face.” Then, Thursday on the program, Melanie Sloan, the former federal prosecutor who now heads a D.C. watchdog group that has filed several complaints against Ensign, said, “I completely think” Hunterton is right. ...

The department is being very deliberate in assembling a case against Ensign. But Justice has a mountain of documents and e-mails that, combined with the senator’s own admissions or statements in e-mails, would seem to amount to a formidable case. And last week’s New York Times story, showing how Ensign’s contacts with a local company (similar to several other interactions), show how far the senator was willing to go to get Hampton work, mostly while he was employed by ex-Ensign aides who had formed a lobbying/consulting firm. The structure, so to speak, is becoming more transparent all the time.

Beyond Ensign's dire and deserved legal fate, what are the political implications?

If Ensign gets indicted, he will become a national and state nightmare for the GOP. National Democrats will brandish him as a symbol of corruption (they may anyhow) and local Democrats will wrap the junior senator around the GOP Senate nominee’s neck, especially because Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian foolishly have said they would welcome his support. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid directly go after his pal to boost his sagging fortunes. I can hear it now: “Sorry, John. But now you know how Doug Hampton feels — how it feels to be screwed over by your best friend.”

Why are the national and state Republicans mute? Cowardice, perhaps? Or is it, as NBC political guru Chuck Todd tweeted Friday, repeating something he previously said on “Face to Face” a couple of weeks ago: “NV/DC GOPers desperate to wait for Gov. Gibbons to be out of office before pushing Ensign out but can they really (http://nyti.ms/91kElt)?”

The Web link in Todd’s tweet is to last week’s Times story, emphasizing the point that if the Republicans wait too long, their silence could be very costly. And if Ensign gets indicted and no prominent Republican has called for him to resign, there’s no way to structure that deal to the GOP’s benefit.

Ensign and Washington Republicans can continue to do what they've been doing all along - ignore, ignore, ignore. But they might not be able to run out the clock on Election Day 2010 - still seven months away - before indictments come down. And, as Ralston points out, if the Washington Republican establishment stays mum on all of this, the issue becomes a matter of the entire Party coddling its corrupt members. Hmmmm, Republican Culture of Corruption, where have I heard that before? And that's on top of the already-competitive gubernatorial and Senate races in Nevada, which is also a key 2012 swing state, don't forget. (Lowden's and Tarkanian's poorly thought out statements welcoming Ensign's support will no doubt bite them in the backside if either is the Republican nominee against Majority Leader Harry Reid. The political ad writes itself.)

Particularly as it relates to the 2010 Senate races, the Senate Republican caucus is the Ensign-Vitter caucus. Every Republican incumbent Senator and candidate for U.S. Senate should be asked by their local media if they think hypocritical lawbreakers like John Ensign and David Vitter should resign their seats. They should be forced to call for the ouster of these hypocritical, lawbreaking Republicans or be forced to serve as apologists for them and let the voters decide. Though the media around the country largely may be dropping the ball on their responsibility, it appears federal investigators aren't. The national media that gave a relentless week of news coverage to the Eric Massa absurdity still hasn't fully given the Ensign matter (or the Vitter matter) its due. However, the handing down of indictments, should that come to pass, will be national news and should force the issue for every Republican seeking federal office in 2010.

For news and analysis on the U.S. Senate races around the country, regularly read Senate Guru.

Political Disenchantment Affects 2012 GOP Hopefuls

Bumped. -N

Nation-wide discontentment with politics and politicians isn’t unique Democrats. Populists and workers are ticked at both parties. According to PPP, only four of the 38 Senators they’ve polled on have approval ratings above 50%.

To be fair, three of those four are Republicans, and all six of the Senators with disapprovals above 50% are Democrats. All six, however, are tainted or conservative Democrats, expressing the progressive base’s frustration with inaction as much as the nation’s frustration with politics.

I don’t want to read too much into this and say that the main problem is that Democrats aren’t progressive enough. That would be too much like the Republicans who said Obama only won because the Republican Party wasn’t conservative enough. It should be noted, though, that save John Thune, 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls are no more shielded from this discontent than are Democrats. This really is a political backlash, not a partisan backlash. For example, according to Politico, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s approval rating is at an all-time low.

An analysis of over 70 public polls — 50 of which came from SurveUSA — since Pawlenty took office more than seven years ago conducted by the University of Minnesota shows that the governor's 42 percent approval rating in a recent poll of 500 Minnesotans is his low point.

The poll was conducted March 1-3 and was sponsored by the ABC affiliate in Minneapolis. Pawlenty's previous low came in July 2005, when 43 percent of Minnesotan's approved of his performance as governor.

Pawlenty might be the only 2012 hopeful at an all-time low, but while he may be the only one below the barrel’s bottom, there are still several at the bottom. His nosedive comes on the heels of Mitt Romney losing the CPAC straw poll for the first time since 2005. Mike Huckabee’s chances were severely damaged when a criminal whose sentence he commuted as Governor killed several Seattle police officers. And we’re all familiar with polls that show even a majority of Republicans don’t consider qualified for the job. Unfortunately I can’t find current data on Haley Barbour or Mitch Daniels.

There’s no predicting a presidential race almost three years out. I’m not going to say that this means we’re more likely to see a nominee Thune than a nominee Pawlenty. What I will say is that anyone who thinks something more than three weeks away is ever a sealed deal in politics, including the Democrats’ fate in 2010 and 2012, stayed too long at a Wonderland 3D debut party.

Where is the return on Barack Obama?


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