Thursday, January 26, 2017

Last Call For Rebuilding The Bench, Finally

Democrats aren't waiting for the DNC to start moving on 2018 anymore.  We've proven that the leadership of the party (namely Debbie Wasserman Schultz) is too  worried with fundraising and networking to bother to actually run candidates.  It galls me, but Howie Klein over at Down With Tyranny was right all along about her, and the awful House and Senate Dem operations to boot.  Hell, it's been months since Trump won and we still don't have a DNC chair.  They're beyond useless.

So meet the new guys in town, running their own candidate recruitment shop, and they're already at work getting involved in state races around the country.

Kara Lynum was meeting with a client Monday morning when she decided to run for office. The client was an undocumented man from Mexico, and Lynum, who is an immigration lawyer in St. Paul, Minnesota, brought up current events. "I said to him, 'I'm really sad about Trump,' and he said, 'Yeah, you're sad, but I'm really worried about my family,'" she says. Lynum, 35, had joined thousands of protesters at a march through the Twin Cities on Saturday and had spent weeks thinking about what the Trump administration's immigration policies would mean for her clients. 
"He was a nice guy," she says. "He's been here for like 15 years. He's got a 12-year-old daughter. He said that, and I was so upset and I was like, 'You know what? I'm gonna sign up.'" 
So that afternoon, Lynum filled out an online form created by Run for Something, a new political nonprofit founded by two veteran Democratic digital organizers to recruit progressive millennials to run for office. Like many of the people contacting Run for Something, Lynum hasn't thought much about what position she'll end up running for. But she's in good company; according to the group's co-founder, Amanda Litman, more than 650 people contacted it about running in the six days since it launched on Friday. As Democrats wrestle with how to turn mass demonstrations against the new administration into political gains, Run for Something is one of a number of liberal organizations hoping the Trump era ushers in a new wave of first-time office-seekers. 
Run for Something's mission is not to stop Trump in 2020, at least not directly. Its focus is on local races, where Democrats have been creamed over the last eight years, losing some 935 state legislative seats during the Obama era. In 2017, it is focusing its efforts on Virginia and North Carolina, two places where Democratic gains at the state level (the party controls the governor's mansion in both states) are undercut by conservative legislatures. In Virginia, a blue state in the last three presidential elections, Democrats have failed even to show up in some races: 44 of the state's 67 Republican delegates ran unopposed in 2015, including three Republicans in districts carried by Hillary Clinton. Democrats have a long way to go to recoup what they lost, but they've also left a lot of low-hanging fruit on the vine. 
Litman, a Barack Obama campaign veteran who was email director for Clinton's 2016 effort, believes that replenishing the candidate pool has taken a back seat to other party staples, like building a get-out-the-vote program. "Candidate recruitment isn't sexy, it takes a lot of manpower, it takes a lot time, and it needs more concerted effort," she says, "which is why we are stepping up here." 
The idea isn't just to supply candidates where none are currently running; the group believes the bench is too thin everywhere because Democrats are too exclusive in how they pick out candidates. "Parties are usually focused on asking their electeds, their staff, their networks, who they think should run," Litman says. That helps build a pipeline, but it's also an echo chamber that makes it difficult for new faces and voices to penetrate. It can be intimidating, she argues, for a prospective candidate to figure out how to run, without an organization to walk him or her through it. "So we're trying to reach people who, one, might not ever be approached by a party or by a recruitment network, or two, might not be comfortable raising their hand if the party asks who wants to run." In other words, women, people of color, and members the LGBT community—all under the age of 35. 
While Run for Something's founders stress that their efforts are focused on the state level, they view their program (and others like it) as an integral part of a larger rebuilding. As Litman's co-founder, Ross Morales Rocketto, puts it, "When President Obama ran for office originally, he was in his early to mid-30s running for state senate in Illinois."

This is the best goddamn news I've heard in months.  Check them out at

Of course, my big question is WHY AREN'T THE DEMOCRATS DOING THIS ANYWAY.

A Sinking Ship Of State

Things just got very worrisome at the State Department as essentially the entire seventh floor at Foggy Bottom is out the door rather than working for Rex Tillerson and the Trump regime. Josh Rogin at the Washington Post:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s job running the State Department just got considerably more difficult. The entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era. 
Tillerson was actually inside the State Department’s headquarters in Foggy Bottom on Wednesday, taking meetings and getting the lay of the land. I reported Wednesday morning that the Trump team was narrowing its search for his No. 2, and that it was looking to replace the State Department’s long-serving undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy, who has been in that job for nine years, was actively involved in the transition and was angling to keep that job under Tillerson, three State Department officials told me. 
Then suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, Kennedy and three of his top officials resigned unexpectedly, four State Department officials confirmed. Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions, followed him out the door. All are career foreign service officers who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations. 
Kennedy will retire from the foreign service at the end of the month, officials said. The other officials could be given assignments elsewhere in the foreign service. 
In addition, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr retired Jan. 20, and the director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, Lydia Muniz, departed the same day. That amounts to a near-complete housecleaning of all the senior officials that deal with managing the State Department, its overseas posts and its people. 
“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” said David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff under Secretary of State John Kerry. “Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.”

These are the top managers at the department that would have helped Tillerson run the day-to-day operations at State.  They are all gone, and it looks like they are gone under their own volition.  FOr Undersecretary Kennedy to retire and his entire management team to leave?  Something in the Trump regime's foreign policy apparatus is rotten (not that any of it would be good, mind you) and I dearly hope the media keeps on this story to find out why.

This is a big one, guys.  Career foreign service people just don't walk out the door like this. If Tillerson and the Trump regime made it clear they were all gone out of spite (as these are all appointed positions that would require Senate confirmation) that's terrifying.  And if Tillerson is so incompetent that they left rather than serve, that's terrifying too.

I'm not sure which scenario is worse.

EDIT: CNN is reporting Kennedy and his staff were all fired by the Trump regime Wednesday afternoon.

Two senior administration officials said Thursday that the Trump administration fired four top State Department management officials as part of an effort to "clean house" at Foggy Bottom. 
Patrick Kennedy, who served for nine years as the undersecretary for management, Assistant Secretary for Administration and Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Ambassador Gentry Smith, director of the Office for Foreign Missions, were sent letters by the White House that their service was no longer required, the sources told CNN. 
All four submitted letters of resignation, per tradition at the beginning of the administration. The letters from the White House said that their resignations were accepted and they were thanked for their service.

Whether or not that really happened?  With this White House?  Who knows?

Death Of The DREAM

Leaked copies of Trump regime draft orders have been circulating among the media and have panned out so far on things like The Wall™ and sanctuary cities, so Vox is making the choice to publish additional draft orders.  These orders detail a massive and abrupt about face in Obama policy in what amounts to a brutal Trump regime crackdown on immigration, both legal and undocumented.

The four remaining draft orders obtained by Vox focus on immigration, terrorism, and refugee policy. They wouldn't ban all Muslim immigration to the US, breaking a Trump promise from early in his campaign, but they would temporarily ban entries from seven majority-Muslim countries and bar all refugees from coming to the US for several months. They would make it harder for immigrants to come to the US to work, make it easier to deport them if they use public services, and put an end to the Obama administration program that protected young "DREAMer" immigrants from deportation.
In all, the combined documents would represent one of the harshest crackdowns on immigrants — both those here and those who want to come here — in memory. 
The draft executive order limiting immigration from certain Muslim-majority countries, formally titled, "Protecting the Nation From Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals," suspends entry into the United States from selected countries starting 30 days after the executive order's issuance
On the campaign trail, Trump made comments about banning Muslims from the United States. This order is reminiscent of that promise but falls far short of it, as most Muslim-majority countries, including the most populous ones (Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Pakistan), are not included on the list of barred countries. 
The countries in question are those included in the State Department's list of terrorism-sponsoring countries (Iran, Sudan, and Syria), those designated by the Department of Homeland Security as countries of concern (Libya, Somalia, and Yemen), and Iraq, which is specially designated in the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, the law from which the executive order gets its list of barred countries. (Syria is specially designated too, but it’s already banned due to the terrorism list.) 
That law simply limited travel from countries whose residents normally don't need a visa to visit the US (which tend to be rich countries like the UK, France, and Germany) if they had previously traveled to a country of concern, like Iran or Yemen or Iraq. Trump's executive order uses that list and bars all immigration from those countries outright. 
As this ban is being implemented, the secretary of homeland security, along with the secretary of state and director of national intelligence, is instructed to evaluate which countries do and don't provide enough information about visa applicants for the US to vet them for terrorism risk. Any countries that don't provide enough information, according to the secretary of homeland security, will be given 60 days to start doing so. After those 60 days, the secretary of homeland security will provide to the president a list of any countries still judged to not be providing enough information. The president will then issue a proclamation prohibiting nationals of those countries from entering the United States. This list will replace the one based on the 2015 law.

That's just the first order, widely expected today:  A moratorium on all refugees, a revocation of visas from selected countries (even spouses of US citizens) and a complete ban on entry from these countries starting on or about March 1.  It's madness and the list omits Saudi Arabia, where the 9/11 attackers were based, and this list will only grow.

And that's just the start.

Another apparent order draft, titled “Ending unconstitutional executive amnesties,” would end a major Obama program that has effectively protected more than 740,000 unauthorized immigrants from deportation since 2012. 
This program — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — was aimed at people who came to the US when they were younger than 16 years old, who either had pursued or were pursuing education and had no felony convictions, among other conditions. It let them get temporary protection from deportation and permits to work in the US. 
But the order would end the DACA program. Now, it says that work permits already issued under the program will remain valid. However, these permits are all already set to expire at some point in the next two years, and once they expire, they will not be renewed, according to the order. Starting very soon, a trickle of immigrants would start to lose their DACA protections — and by January 2019, barring a policy reversal or an act of Congress, all of them would. 
Even while still protected by DACA, the order says, the government will not grant them “advance parole.” That means that should they leave the country, they would not be allowed to return. 
Finally, this draft order would also put the nail in the coffin of Obama’s 2014 attempt to extend that program to cover a broader group of unauthorized immigrants — DAPA — which had already been blocked in court. All in all, if implemented, the order would roll back President Obama’s most significant legacy on immigration.

In other words, the Trump regime is planning to take information on three-quarters of a million people and almost certainly use it to start rounding them up and deporting them.  Between this and the sanctuary city order yesterday, the path of mass deportations is very painfully clear here.

The other two orders are designed to limit legal immigration into the US, the first by completely changing the way L1 and H1-B visas work, and to crack down on foreign students at US colleges and universities, and the second would deny public government services to undocumented immigrants and to anyone on visas and deport them if they are receiving any government benefits whatsoever.

In other words, the US is closing its doors over the next few days.  This is not the America I grew up in anymore.


Related Posts with Thumbnails