Saturday, August 29, 2015

Last Call For Bushwhacked On The Campaign Trail

There's another sign — if you needed one — that Jeb Bush is sucking wind in the Republican primary: Three top fundraisers from Bush's home base of Florida have left the campaign.

The particulars of the split are up for debate, according to Politico's Alex Isenstadt and Marc Caputo, who broke the news. But regardless of the proximate cause, it's a big deal because it suggests two larger issues for Bush's campaign: He's dug a big hole and there's concern in his own camp that he won't be able to dig his way out.

It also comes less than three months after Bush shook up his staff and installed Danny Diaz, a veteran Washington operative, as campaign manager.

In the last public national poll, conducted by Quinnipiac, Bush was tied for third place, behind Donald Trump and Ben Carson, at 7 percent. Ironically, fundraising prowess has been Bush's calling card in a campaign that was supposed to blow his rivals out of the water. Even Mitt Romney, who had to fend off a rotating set of ill-fated front-runners like Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain, enjoyed a pretty steady rise in polling. Not Bush.

The three fundraising aides left after clashing with national campaign staff, Politico reported, and it's not clear whether they will continue to have a role with Bush's Right to Rise super PAC. But what is clear is this: It's rare for three high-profile staffers to bolt a campaign they see as likely to land the candidate in the White House, and it's equally rare for a winning campaign to shed three high-profile aides.

Especially since Jeb!'s super power is superior fundraising and a war chest that dominates his foes, to see three fundraisers leave the campaign is a massive (one might even say "yooooge") admission that money isn't going to save him.

And if money can't save him, then he's got...what, exactly?

Trump continues to roll and roil over his opponents.  He's the monster unleashed and the normal rules simply don't apply anymore.

The person that hurts the most of course is Jebby.

I don't think Bush is going anywhere and will stay in the race, that's something his money does afford him.  But he's polling in single digits. like a giant loser.  And nobody likes a loser.

From The Delta To The DNC

Both Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley are furious at DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, accusing her of rigging the limited number of Democratic party primaries in order to give non-Clinton candidates as little national exposure as possible.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) believes the Democratic Party is using its limited primary debate schedule to rig the nomination process.

“I do,” Sanders reportedly responded when asked Friday whether he agrees with former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s assertion that the debate system is “rigged.”

The two Democratic presidential candidates were speaking at the summer meeting of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in Minneapolis on Friday.

“This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before,” O’Malley said in his speech earlier Friday.

The DNC has drawn criticism for scheduling only four debates before the early-primary states cast their votes, and six total throughout the election cycle.

DNC spokeswoman Holly Shulman defended the schedule, saying it will “give plenty of opportunity for the candidates to be seen side-by-side.”

“I’m sure there will be lots of other forums for the candidates to make their case to voters, and that they will make the most out of every opportunity,” Shulman said in a statement, according to The Washington Post.

On one hand, Sanders and O'Malley have a point.  The DNC is certainly doing everything it can to hold a grand coronation for Hillary.  On the other hand, Democrats have already started tuning out politics even more (2014 turnout, anyone?) and the infighting is already tiresome even 15 months before the election.

No real good answer here, frankly.  The Democrats do need a solid debate about issues and carrying on President Obama's legacy (the overwhelmingly positive parts, not so much the lousy ones) but I don't think "more debates" is automatically the answer.

We'll see.

PS, how the hell is DWS still in charge of the DNC?

Wild, Wasted West Virginia

A bit of a Sunday Long Read on Saturday, but an excellent story nonetheless from HuffPo's Mariah Blake on what DuPont has done to the town of Parkersburg, West Virginia, and it isn't a pretty sight. People like Joe and Darlene Kiger have been fighting the chemical plant giant for decades over health issues and birth defects that DuPont's factory in Parkersburg created, and despite winning a lawsuit against the company, the cleanup may never actually happen.

When I met Joe and Darlene Kiger this summer, Joe was carrying the bulging satchel of C8 papers that he refers to as his “Bible.” He takes it everywhere, even on family vacations. Because, despite winning a historic lawsuit against formidable odds, the fight is far from over. These days, Joe is pouring his energies into a new organization, Keep Your Promises, which aims to ensure that DuPont fulfills its obligations to the local community. It is proving to be a daunting mission.

Under the class-action settlement, DuPont was required to pay for a medical monitoring program to regularly screen locals for the conditions that the science panel linked to C8. The plaintiff’s attorneys wanted Brookmar to administer this program. Instead, DuPont maneuvered to have it run by Michael Rozen, then a partner at the New York law firm Feinberg Rozen, which administered the fund to settle claims arising from BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Multiple Gulf Coast residents have sued Feinberg Rozen, accusing it of delaying payment for as long as possible and then offering financially desperate claimants a fraction of the money they were entitled to. 
Kiger and others believe that Rozen is deploying a similar strategy in his work for DuPont. Rozen kicked off the monitoring program with two town hall meetings at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. on a Friday, when many people in this blue-collar community were working. Residents also say that enrollment packets are unnecessarily complicated, and that people who do manage to enroll are sometimes billed for testing that DuPont is supposed to cover. So far, few people have taken part. As of January 2015, DuPont had paid Feinberg Rozen about $9 million to administer the program, but only $50,000 had been spent on medical claims. 
Brooks believes DuPont wants the program to fail. “They poisoned the world,” he says. “A successful medical monitoring program would give us much better data on the links between this chemical and various diseases, and DuPont would have so much liability that it couldn’t possibly compensate everyone.” 
Rozen bristles at these allegations, and says that he has done his best to encourage participation. He also stresses that some of the plaintiffs have died or moved away in the decade since the settlement was reached. “The benefit that is being provided to the class is exactly what was prescribed and then some, by the parties themselves in their negotiated settlement,” he told me. 
Meanwhile, this past July, DuPont spun off its specialty chemicals division into a separate company called Chemours. The new enterprise will assume the liability for DuPont’s most polluted sites, including Washington Works—but it will only have one-quarter of DuPont’s revenue. Many people with cases pending against DuPont worry that it will use this arrangement to avoid paying damages or, at the very least, stall any resulting payouts. “I’m sure part of their theory is the longer they delay, the more people will die,” said Deitzler, the Parkersburg-based lawyer. “It’s already worked. Before we could even file cases, many of the people who’ve been affected passed on.”

And DuPont is basically going to get away with it.  Parkersburg is still a toxic mess.  And the people whose lives were ruined will almost certainly never see justice.

What Actual Judicial Activism Looks Like

Republicans have no problem with "judicial activism" when they go to federal court to try to block every Obama-era federal regulation that they don't like (which is all of them).  This week's injunction comes on the Clean Water Act.

A federal judge in North Dakota acted late Thursday to block the Obama administration’s controversial water pollution rule, hours before it was due to take effect. 
Judge Ralph Erickson of the District Court for the District of North Dakota found that the 13 states suing to block the rule met the conditions necessary for a preliminary injunction, including that they would likely be harmed if courts didn't act and that they are likely to succeed when their underlying lawsuit against the rule is decided.

The decision is a major roadblock for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers, who were planning Friday to begin enforcing the Waters of the United States rule, expanding federal jurisdiction over small waterways like streams and wetlands. 
But the Obama administration says it will largely enforce the regulation as planned, arguing that the Thursday decision only applies to the 13 states that requested the injunction. 
“Once the rule takes effect, the states will lose their sovereignty over intrastate waters that will then be subject to the scope of the Clean Water Act,” Erickson wrote in his order. 
“While the exact amount of land that would be subject to the increase is hotly disputed, the agencies admit to an increase in control over those traditional state-regulated waters of between 2.84 to 4.65 percent. Immediately upon the rule taking effect, the rule will irreparably diminish the states’ power over their waters,” he continued, calling the Obama administration's interpretation of its jurisdiction "exceptionally expansive." 
The states and the federal government argued over how to judge the likelihood opponents of the rule would win their case. But Erickson decided that the regulation is not “likely” to stand up to full court consideration. 
In a statement shortly after the ruling, the EPA was defiant and said that the injunction only applies in the thirteen states that filed for it: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Pretty easy to find at least one federal judge that hates Obama to block the rule from ever taking effect and run out the clock until the next administration.  They've done it before on ozone and power plant emissions and mercury emission regulations got all the way to the Supreme Court earlier this summer before those were struck down over cost benefit analysis, so yeah, it's no surprise that enforcing Clean Water Act rules are being blocked too.

This is what real "judicial activism" and "legislation from the bench" looks like:  Corporate controlled Republicans constantly using the courts to block executive branch enforcement of laws that Congress passed to give the executive branch the power to enforce.

But only against Obama.
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