Forget this. Joe Manchin knows as well as anyone what a joke Pompeo is as Secretary of State, this is just the dignified bullshit that he has to put out because he was successfully blackmailed by Mitch McConnell with the threat of actually spending more days doing the job they were elected to do, instead of getting the customary several months’ off to just campaign. It’s actually sort of hilarious. One presumes that these guys could have called his bluff by using the time to introduce popular bills that would remind their constituencies of just how good they are in the Senate, but apparently they’re going to Jake Gittes this bitch and do as little as possible. Great.

The reason why conservaDems are so bad is because they’re so deferred to. The theme song of the Democratic Party during the Obama years was “No Expectations” and they got what they asked for. That goes double for conservative Democrats, for whom the party will cut endless slack. (The Republicans, incidentally, don’t cut them nearly as much, and yet they continue to have plenty of blue-state members.) If anybody gets to attacking them too much someone like Jon Chait will step in and say we have to let them be because of the pressures they face. But while Manchin/Heitkamp/Donnelly/Jones are all better than nothing, the argument that they have to be allowed not to stop bad Trump nominees now so that they may stop bad Trump nominees after re-election makes zero sense, it’s little more than a con. There’s always going to be pressure, and this presumes that they’re actually interested in advancing a moderate-progressive worldview, instead of just getting onto the Armed Forces and/or Ag committees and then doing the will of the respective horrible corporations that dominate those areas, and otherwise demanding that Democrats never do anything that they don’t want them to (which amounts to most everything). It wasn’t a great idea and the results sucked, but let’s do it again, I guess.

I suppose they’ll be voting for Haskel too. And whatever Gorsuch clone Trump picks to replace Kennedy. Anybody want to take the other side of that bet?

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There are enough think pieces out there about campaign books. It’s not that difficult to understand their existence: perfunctory product that makes its only statement by existing, and is purchased by the hardcore supporters of the candidate (as well as by people in politics, I suppose). I do think that it might be interesting for a 2020 candidate to play with that convention a bit, perhaps by including a less-than-airbrushed biography, or by using the book to advocate something unexpected and unusual, but that probably won’t happen. The audiences for these books have no expectations, and they get what they expect.

But other political books I don’t really get. I’m not talking about serious histories or analysis, I’m talking about Mark Steyn’s new book, Rachel Maddow’s new book, James Comey’s new book, that sort of thing. Comey’s is?au courant, and also different from the rest.?Comey doesn’t have a political apparatus like the other two have, one that buys up their books so that they can pretend that they were bestsellers (this is more a phenomenon of the right than the left as they’re obsessed with that New York Times bestseller list, but it happens on both sides), and while people in politics and normal people who buy into Comey’s bullshit mythology are the natural constituencies for the book, the former doesn’t make it a bestseller and the latter I imagine could fit comfortably into the Milwaukee Bucks’ basketball arena. So why are “normal” people buying the book? Best explanation I can come up with is the possibility of bitchy tales about Trump. But do these people not know that all the best ones will be picked over on the internet anyway? You can get all that for free, without all the self-pitying whining. I didn’t read it, but at the very least it seemed like that Michael Wolff book delivered on constant sleazy Trump tales that he promised. That’s integrity of a sort! Comey’s book is just going to be endless self-justifying pages about more in sorrow than in anger self-justifying pabulum, no matter what the “buzz” about it will be. I wonder how many people even read through it to the end.

Also, Comey is one of the great villains of this century. Can’t be said enough.

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I complain enough about the guy that it seems only fair to point out when he does something good. The only reason so far as I can tell as to why marijuana legalization isn’t the default, widespread view of elected Democrats is that a lot of old white men in the Democratic Party are forever spooked over the issue. So for that reason,?this is deserving of praise.

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This could be meaningful:

California billionaire Tom Steyer?endorsed state Sen. Kevin de Leon on Wednesday in his uphill?challenge to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Steyer’s backing could bring an influx of cash de Leon badly needs to increase his name recognition. But right now he has no “concrete plans” to form an independent expenditure in support of de Leon, he told?the Los Angeles Times.

Of course, it must be said that it’s hardly good for Democracy that a solitary billionaire can have a decisive impact on an election–it brings the idea of an “owned man” into a whole other level of meaning. That said, Feinstein’s main advantage has always been her access to big money–her husband’s ultrarich and (naturally) has lots of ultrarich buds, who have spent much time and money getting out this phony message that she was this feminist trailblazer. Without that,?she’s a do-nothing Senator who’s well to the right of the state and whose age makes another prospective six-year stint a pretty big gamble. Obviously she’s going to have big money, but if Steyer does actually pony up some dough, this could get interesting. If he doesn’t, well, then that nation-wrecking epidemic of drugs that look like candy may just have met its match.

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My reaction to the political events of the past few years have led me in a couple of directions, one of which is to read the canon of African-American literature. It’s not that I hadn’t read anything in it, but there’s a lot that I don’t know, and considering the climate, it felt like the right time to make a concerted effort to tackle this corpus. So I’ll be hitting all the biggest stuff:?Native Son, James Baldwin,?Invisible Man, all of it. And writing about it too, though irregularly after a point after I run out of back catalogue, as I’m sort of a slow reader of books (in part because I’m always reading so many at once). So, expect that starting next Friday.

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I do get that even the worst Democrat at this point in time is better than the best Republican given polarization, though Heitkamp really seems to want to set new standards for the definition of “worst.”?I get the play, but she must see that the substance of such a bad confirmation outweighs the momentary lift (if even that) that this move gets her. It’s no guarantee that Democrats win the Senate next year, but if they do, does anybody really believe that she holds the line against an anti-choice Trump nominee to replace Kennedy? This assumes a lot but, honestly, if she’s unwilling to stand up on a matter that means nothing to voters, why would she stand up to the majority of voters in her state on a matter of principle next time?

Sure, of the four Democrats who voted for Gorsuch, Manchin-Heitkamp-Donnelly are all up this year and perhaps all will survive thanks to the off-year out-party turnout dynamics. But Doug Jones wasn’t around then and he’ll be up in 2020. Perhaps Jones will give up on trying to be the Joe Manchin of Alabama and the other three will figure they won re-election so they can oppose it. Could happen! If you believe that, though, you’re much more of an optimist than me.

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I suppose the brightest hope for getting affordable housing in California is that mass home ownership is doomed thanks to Baby Boomers deciding we all needed more “skin in the game” in the name of college debt that they didn’t have to pay, so a politics of sucking up to suburban homeowners is dubious if there aren’t many suburban homeowners. Then again, given how eager state legislators were to kowtow to the rich dicks at the expense of everybody else, the relative quantity may not matter at all.

Seriously, people, don’t move here. We seem to be incapable of fixing our problems. I hate everybody.

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Bob Corker doesn’t regret voting for the tax bill, he regrets voting for it with the appearance that he only did it because he personally benefited from changes added specifically to bring him on board. Who knows, maybe they really didn’t have anything to do with his vote. Perhaps the ghost of ol’ Ronnie brought him back. But this is the most annoying thing politicians do. You had literally nothing to lose by voting against it, Bob, as you were retiring anyway. And you’re already rich! You’ve deserved your legacy being defined as a pile of sleaze. Onto the next one…

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