• Markets Bounce Back
• Huntsman Resigns Ambassadorship
• Nadler Hasn't Forgotten about Brett Kavanaugh
• More Legal Challenges to New California Law
• Fool Me Once, Part I: Venezuela
• Fool Me Once, Part II: Mississippi Elections
This weekend's mass shootings have focused an uncomfortable spotlight on Donald Trump and his administration. In part, because the El Paso shooter certainly appears to have been influenced (and spurred to action) by the president's rhetoric. And in part, because the administration has promised much but done little to curb gun violence, and has been actively negligent on combating domestic terrorism and white supremacist extremism. The latest revelation on the latter subject comes from former FBI supervisor Dave Gomez, who revealed that "There's some reluctance among [FBI] agents to bring forth an investigation that targets what the president perceives as his base." Anyhow, now that we've exited the constitutionally-mandated 48-hour "thoughts and prayers" period, the spin operation is in full effect, as Republicans (and the media outlets that are friendly to the party) work hard to deflect any blame from Trump, guns, or existing gun laws.
The President, for his part, is doing some deflection, and in his very favorite direction: Barack Obama. Trump is not blaming Obama for the shootings; he's just angry at the statement that Obama posted to Twitter after the shootings:
If you don't care to read the whole thing, the key passage is this one: "We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments." Obama did not mention Trump by name, either in that sentence, or in the statement as a whole, but The Donald saw himself in those words nonetheless, which is probably instructive. He's likely also outraged by the 975,000-plus likes that Obama's tweet got; Trump's personal record is a little less than 575,000, for this tweet sent out on election night. Anyhow, the current president ripped into the former president on Tuesday, while also lamenting how unfair it is that he gets blamed for mass shootings while Obama did not. This was clearly a centrally coordinated talking point coming out of the White House, as Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley repeated it during an appearance on Fox News, as did White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway.
Other Republicans and right-leaning media types, meanwhile, have gone hog wild in trying to redirect the narrative that the shootings were the product of lax gun laws and presidential rhetoric. One Ohio lawmaker, state Rep. Candice Keller (R), earned particular attention (and more than a few guffaws) for laying blame at the feet of, in no particular order, Barack Obama, gay marriage, anti-Semites in the Democratic party, drag queens, video games, and fatherlessness. Fox News' Tucker Carlson, who just hates for anyone to sound more kooky than he, declared that the United States' white supremacy problem "is a hoax, just like the Russia hoax." InfoWars' Kelen McBreen agrees, claiming that the El Paso shooter's manifesto is a fake.
In addition to Keller, Carlson, and McBreen, dozens of other right-leaning folks have come out and pointed the finger at video games, lack of prayer, changing ideas of masculinity, legalized abortion, the press, gun-free zones, and poor mental health care (Media Matters has an excellent catalog here, should you care to see exemplars; Rolling Stone has a pretty good overview, too). When it comes to some of these scapegoats, there is not much we can say about the validity of them. For example, we are not privy to firm proof of God's existence, much less that His will is expressed through horrific acts of violence against innocent people. However, we can say that blaming gun-free zones is dubious, since Texas and Ohio are both open-carry states, and that there is no evidence that video games make people commit violent acts; a question that many studies have examined. In addition, video games are as popular in Europe as in the U.S. and there are many fewer mass shootings there, almost certainly because to get a military weapon there, you have to be an active member of the military.
Meanwhile, in a very predictable turn of events, there has been much whataboutism, rooted in the basic argument that the El Paso shooter was a right winger, but the Dayton shooter was a left winger, and so both political ideologies are equally culpable. For example, Fox News' Greg Gutfeld writes that the Dayton shooting is getting less exposure from the media "because the fiend is a leftist." InfoWars' Paul Joseph Watson wrote the same basic piece, pointing the finger in particular at CNN and the AP. Breitbart highlighted, in particular, the alleged hypocrisy of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
We've made this point previously, but now it's time to make it a little bit more thoroughly and clearly: There are some pretty clear differences between the El Paso shooter and the Dayton shooter, politically speaking. First, the El Paso shooter embraced words and ideas that have also come from the mouths of leading Republicans, most obviously Trump himself. The Dayton shooter's ideas, such as they are, were much further outside the Democratic mainstream. More importantly, the El Paso shooter made very clear that his politics (whether they flowed from Trump or not) prompted his actions. On the other hand, it is not clear that the Dayton shooter was motivated by politics at all. In fact, the early evidence suggests he was more influenced by what the Southern Poverty Law Center calls the "online male supremacist ecosystem" which, to the extent that it's political, is more right-wing than it is left-wing. It is also worth noting that while the El Paso took aim at (and killed) the people he hated politically (i.e., Mexicans), the people targeted by the Dayton shooter appear to have been random.
In the end, our prediction remains that Donald Trump is going to avoid taking much damage here, since he always avoids taking damage. With that said, there is a lot of pressure on him and on GOP lawmakers right now, and at a time when the NRA is as ineffectual as it's been in decades. So, there may actually be some small-but-long-term change that comes out of this. The next week or so will be pretty critical. (Z)
This was a predictable outcome, based on Dow Jones futures, and now it has come to pass. After a rather disastrous day on Monday, the markets had a moderate bounce back on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones up 312 points, and most other indices showing a similar upturn. That doesn't wipe away Monday's losses, by any stretch, but it does wipe out half of them.
The primary good news on Tuesday, which appears to have buoyed investors, is that China signaled that it isn't planning to fight a currency war with the United States. On Monday, we noted that they had devalued their currency, such that it now takes more than 7 yuan to buy one dollar. However, reader B.B. in Everett, WA, who is an economist, points out that characterization is not quite correct. The yuan's value sank as a result of normal macroeconomic forces, particularly Donald Trump's new round of tariffs (for a primer on the issue, click here). And so, the devalued yuan was not a result of any action by the Xi administration, it was the result of their inaction in choosing not to prop up the currency. Columbia economist and CNN contributor Jeffery Sachs concurs with B.B., and even goes further, declaring that the only "economic manipulator" here is the Trump administration.
(As a sidebar: You will sometimes see Chinese currency referred to as renminbi. That is the metonym for Chinese currency generally, while yuan is the base unit in which that country is apportioned. To translate into Western terms, renminbi is the equivalent of pounds sterling in the U.K. or Federal Reserve Note in the U.S., while yuan is the equivalent of pound or dollar.)
Anyhow, given that China did not actively weaken its currency, and does not plan to take steps to do so, investors are apparently content, though the Trump administration (and anyone else who urged the Xi administration to be labeled currency manipulators, like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY), are left with some egg on their faces. That said, Team Trump surely does not care. The nuances of fiscal policy are undoubtedly lost on 99% of Americans, and now that the stock market is bouncing back, the President can claim he took "strong action" and his base will love him for it.
But will the stock market keep on humming along? Well, Brian Belski, chief investment strategist with BMO Capital Markets said that the markets are overreacting right now, the fundamentals of the economy are sound, and that steady growth is a worst-case scenario, while a 20% jump is entirely possible. On the other hand, chief investment officer of Pence Capital Management Dryden Pence expects a stable market, with no major ups or downs in the near future. Then there is analyst Masanari Takada, of the firm Nomura, who thinks that winter is coming, and that we could soon see a sell-off that makes 2009 look like a day at the park. These analyses are not outliers; we could easily have linked to 10 more pieces in each category published on Tuesday. In other words, nobody really knows why the market does what it does, nor what it's going to do in the future. This does give people who hate Trump but love their 401(k)s a tough decision about what to root for, however.
Although the future of the stock market is cloudy, there is much more of a consensus on two other assertions we made in Monday's piece. First, that the Trump administration's decision to declare China a currency manipulator was an exercise in PR, and not a serious policy decision. Second, that the relationship between the Xi and Trump administrations is so frayed that the trade war will continue through next year's election. How the economy and the voting public respond to that will be among the big stories of 2020. (Z)
In some eras, Jon Huntsman might have been a viable presidential candidate. He's smart, well-spoken, and has a long record of public service in various offices, such that he's got bona fide chops in both domestic and foreign policy. However, he's not a great fit for today's politics, in part because expertise and experience have been devalued, and in part because he's too centrist for many Republican voters, and too Republican for many Democratic voters. Consequently, his 2016 presidential bid never gained traction.
Having failed as a presidential candidate, Huntsman has spent the last several years as the Trump administration's ambassador to Russia. It was a strange choice at the time; while Huntsman is a generally competent fellow, he neither speaks Russian nor had any expertise related to that nation prior to accepting the assignment. Meanwhile, he's not Trump's cup of tea, particularly after Huntsman slammed The Donald for the "grab 'em by the pu**y" tape. Exactly why the administration made the pick, given that it's theoretically one of the two or three most critical posts in the foreign service right now, has never been made clear. Perhaps Team Trump was following in the footsteps of Andrew Jackson, who mystified partisans when he appointed James Buchanan to the post 170 years ago. Buchanan was similarly unqualified, and similarly not Jackson's cup of tea. However, Old Hickory's thinking on the subject was actually quite clear: "It was as far away as I could possibly send him. If we kept a minister at the North Pole, I would have sent him there."
In any event, Huntsman's term as ambassador is now over, as he has resigned, effective Oct. 3. There are rumors he's planning to run for the Utah governor's mansion, which he occupied from 2005 to 2009, and which will be vacant due to the decision by Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT) not to run for reelection. Meanwhile, Trump will need to find a new ambassador at a time when the relationship between the U.S. and Russia is particularly fraught, and there will be a lot more attention to the President's pick. Maybe Yakov Smirnoff is available; he was pretty good on TV back in the 1980s. (Z)
House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) occupies much of his time, these days, with matters related to Russiagate. However, he hasn't forgotten other incidents that outraged Democrats, but that they were powerless to do anything about while they were in the minority. On Tuesday, he and his Judiciary Committee colleague Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) sent a letter to the National Archives requesting vast quantities of documents from Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh's time in the George W. Bush White House, most of which were not made available during his confirmation hearings.
Undoubtedly, the Trump administration will try to stop the request from being fulfilled, though they are on shaky legal ground here. Asserting executive privilege (which is the administration's current tactic) stretches that doctrine to its limits and beyond, since Kavanaugh worked for Bush and not Trump. Similarly, documents can be classified if their publication presents a risk to national security, but that is not the area Kavanaugh generally worked in (he assisted Ken Starr with the Clinton investigation, coordinated the Bush administration's response to the Enron scandal, and helped manage John Roberts' appointment as chief justice). Strengthening Nadler's and Johnson's claim is the fact that the Kavanaugh records will become public information in 2021 anyhow, so they're just asking for the timeline to be shortened a bit.
Exactly what Nadler is planning, if he does get the documents (after the inevitable lawsuits), is not entirely clear. His goal might just be to undermine confidence in Kavanaugh and Team Trump. Slate's Paul Horvitz thinks the goal might be to shine a light on the confirmation process, and in particular the current situation that once someone is confirmed to the Supreme Court, they are bulletproof, regardless of any black marks on their record. That, in turn could lead to some sort of reform. Yet another possibility is that Nadler is considering impeachment for Kavanaugh, if he can be shown to have perjured himself in his hearings before Congress. And still another is indictment and conviction for perjury in a regular court. That might not technically remove Kavanaugh from office, but it would be awfully hard for him to do his job from jail. Only the Chair knows for sure what his plans are; for now Democrats will content themselves with the knowledge that this is yet more dirty laundry that is likely to be aired during the height of election season. (Z)
The legal challenges to California's new law, which requires presidential and gubernatorial candidates to submit their tax returns if they want to appear on the state's primary ballots, continue to mount. Judicial Watch filed one, with four California voters as plaintiffs. So too did perennial candidate Rocky de la Fuente, who was previously a Democrat and an independent, but says he's running for president as a Republican in 2020. And now Donald Trump has joined the party, as his attorneys filed a suit in federal court on Tuesday.
What this means is that the question of standing is no longer an issue (and it may not have been, in any case—as reader R.W. in San Francisco points out, the courts ruled in 1989's Erum v. Cayetano that voters can challenge ballot access laws). That means that Trump, et al., have two primary things to worry about: Will the courts buy their argument that the new law creates an unconstitutional qualification for office, and will the courts resolve the matter prior to California's November 25 deadline? As we have noted multiple times, we think the plaintiffs should not be optimistic on either front. (Z)
Bear with us, because we're about to try to connect the Trump administration's policy in Venezuela with Tuesday night's election results in Mississippi. Whether it works or not, we can promise you won't find any other sites trying to pull off that parallel.
Anyhow, we had a brief item yesterday about the Trump administration's decision to place a total embargo on the nation of Venezuela, as part of its ongoing effort to undermine president Nicolás Maduro. As is the case with labeling China a currency manipulator, this new policy is largely for show, as there was already a near-total embargo, and that nation's assets in the U.S. were already frozen.
In any event, we really should have done a better job yesterday of explaining the underlying dynamics here. There are two men, Maduro and Juan Guaidó, who both claim to be the legitimate leader of Venezuela. Maduro has been twice elected, once after the death of Hugo Chávez in 2013, and a second time in 2018. In his time in office, he has done some very unpleasant things, from reorganizing the government to consolidate his hold on power, to summarily changing the schedule for the 2018 election, to cracking down on his opponents so harshly that he's been accused by Amnesty International of "committing some of the worst human rights violations in Venezuela's history." There is, not surprisingly, much opposition to the Maduro administration in Venezuela. Guaidó's claim to the presidency is based primarily on this opposition, and on the contention that the 2018 election results were not legitimate (which is definitely possible, but has not been proven).
Most major nations of the world have lined up on one side of this dispute, or the other. The Chinese and the Russians, in particular, support Maduro. The U.S., the U.K., France, and most other major western nations support Guaidó. The exact motivations of each nation are somewhat opaque, and differ on a case-by-case basis, but undoubtedly "my enemy's enemy is my friend" plays a major role. In other words, it may be that the U.K. does not support Guaidó as much as they support whomever Russia opposes.
Donald Trump's position on all of this is even trickier to unravel. As we know well by now, he does not reflexively support that which the allies support, nor does he reflexively take a position in opposition to Russia. Further, he's pretty famously demonstrated his tolerance, or even admiration, for anti-democratic leaders. Even if we assume that Maduro's actions somehow offend Trump much more than those of, say, Mohammad Bin Salman, there are other leaders in South America who are equally worthy of censure, and yet whom Trump never mentions. The most plausible explanation is that this is a particularly useful opportunity for Trump to show off and to flex his muscles. That's right: it's basically PR. Maduro is a socialist, he's Latino, and unlike bin Salman or Putin or Kim Jong-Un in North Korea, he is not really a military threat to the U.S., nor is his country particularly important to the U.S. economy. So, Trump can hammer on him without fear of serious consequences.
Another piece of the puzzle here is NSA John Bolton, who by all accounts is driving the administration's Venezuela policy. What are his motivations? To explain our thesis, we must now turn to...Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt was a hawk's hawk, and around 1890, he decided it would be a peachy idea for the United States to go to war against...well, anyone. He tried to rally American support for a war with Chile during the Baltimore crisis of 1891. He tried to rally support for a war with Britain during...yes, that's right...the Venezuelan crisis of 1895. Finally, TR got his wish in 1898, due to the Spanish Empire's brutal suppression of the ongoing rebellion in Cuba.
John Bolton is also a hawk's hawk, and also appears to be eager to start a war with...well, anyone. Throughout the NSA's entire public career, his three bugaboos have consistently been North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela. And this appears to be because those are the three places that are likeliest to give him his war, just as TR thought that Chile, Venezuela, and Cuba were likely to give him his. And note that we wrote all of this before noticing that the most recent tweet from Bolton is this one:
As Roosevelt said: “It is not the critic who counts … the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…” Over 50 countries gathered in Lima in recognition of Interim President Guaido as the Venezuelan people’s “man in the arena” and as the uniting voice for freedom.— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) August 6, 2019
It would seem we're not the only ones who see more than a little TR in Bolton (though in the Rough Rider's defense, he was a vastly more skilled politician, and he also felt he was doing good by bringing American culture to the rest of the world).
In any event, with Trump and Bolton on the same page, the U.S. has cracked down on Venezuela as harshly as is possible, short of the military invasion that Bolton so badly wants (and that is not out of the question, since Trump has expressed cautious support for the idea). Since Bolton says the "time for dialogue is over," then the total embargo will presumably remain the status quo until one of three things happens: (1) a military strike; (2) Maduro leaves office; or (3) Trump leaves office.
It is at this point that we return to the headline. The whole quote, of course, is "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." Because our piece yesterday was so brief, we did not do justice to how bad a foreign policy decision this appears to be, and how thoroughly it flies in the face of past experience. To start, sanctions like these almost never work. It is instructive that in justifying the new policy, Bolton invoked the example of Cuba, announcing that extreme economic pressure will "work in Venezuela and it will work in Cuba." Surely, readers are aware that the U.S. has had sanctions against Cuba in place for more than 50 years (since 1962), and yet the Castro family is still running the show, and that nation is still communist. In other words, if Cuba is your best example for the efficacy of your policy, then your policy is wanting. Indeed, the only thing an embargo does is impose suffering on the populace. Either way, Maduro will continue to dine on Oysters Rockefeller, or caviar, or Lobster Thermidor, or Butter Beer, or whatever it is that powerful leaders dine on. In fact, there is some consensus that the embargo will be counterproductive, as it could allow Maduro to pass some of the blame for his leadership failures on to Trump and/or the United States, a message that much of his populace is primed to hear.
Of course, sanctions are not the only thing that have not worked out so well for the U.S. in the past. The nation's participation in regime change, of various sorts, has a long history littered with failures. That's true worldwide, but it's particularly true in Central and South America, where the Americans have meddled in nearly every country, usually with poor results. Yes, there are occasional successes, like Panama in 1901 or Japan after World War II. But when your success rate is something like 10%, that makes these sorts of machinations a very bad bet. One would think that Trump would have learned that 9/1 odds aren't very good in his time as a casino owner. Maybe that's why his casinos went out of business.
This is, of course, a very complicated issue. So much so that there is a whole website devoted to it, brought to our attention by reader S.K. in Canandaigua, NY. We are just scratching the surface. When it comes to American politics, however, one takeaway is that Trump is setting himself up to be remembered as one of the worst foreign policy presidents in American history. Usually it takes an unpopular war to drive a chief executive to the bottom of the list (think Lyndon Johnson or Harry S. Truman), but Trump has done so much to make the situations in Iran, Venezuela, Syria, Ukraine, China, etc. worse that he may outpace those two. The second takeaway is that when all is said and done, Trump may end up with a war on his hands, after all. With so many hotspots being pushed to the boiling point, and with folks like Bolton egging him on, it is well within the realm of possibility. (Z)
So, what do Mississippi and Venezuela have to do with each other? Well, as the headline suggests, they are both case studies in politicians (and, in both cases, Republicans) not learning their lessons despite numerous trials.
In the case of Mississippi, the issue is not sanctions or regime change, but extreme tax cuts pursued in service of a supply-side economic policy. Supply-side economics has an even lower success rate than regime change does. The latest state to learn this was Kansas, where steep tax cuts wrecked the state's economy and essentially forced Gov. Sam Brownback (R) out of office (and ultimately cost the GOP the governor's mansion). The Kansans restored their taxes to the pre-supply-side levels, and guess what: everyone's calling them the comeback story of 2019.
It would seem that Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R-MS) did not get the message, because in his time in office, he's overseen dramatic tax cuts, to the tune of billions of dollars (in Mississippi, as in many other Southern states, the lieutenant governor has much more control over economic policy than the governor does, by virtue of presiding over the state senate). Billions in tax cuts would be a hefty total in a wealthy state like California, but in Mississippi, which is one of the poorest states, it's truly enormous. And the deleterious effects have been obvious: teacher turnover, inadequate law enforcement, crumbling infrastructure, etc.
Current Mississippi governor Phil Bryant (R-MS) is term-limited, and under normal circumstances, Reeves would be near-automatic to succeed him in the governor's mansion. However, in substantial part because of the tax cuts, a strong anti-Reeves sentiment has emerged among Mississippi's voters. "We need a gas-tax increase. Everybody knows it." said GOP operative Mike Retzer. "Tate had an opportunity, a great opportunity to do some good for our state. Republicans are against taxes, but our roads and bridges are in trouble. Now we're totally locked in."
The state held its gubernatorial primary last night, and while Reeves took more votes than any other candidate (48.9%), he did not win the 50.01% necessary to avoid a runoff. So, in a few weeks, he'll face off against Bill Waller, who took 33.4% of the vote on Tuesday. Folks who follow Mississippi politics suggest that "anyone but Reeves" sentiment is strong enough that Waller could knock him off.
Does that create a potential opening for the Democrats, then? Maybe so. First of all, they also held their primary last night, and state AG Jim Hood sailed to victory with 69.0% of the vote. So, there will be no runoff for him. Meanwhile, he's got political experience (Waller, if he is the candidate, does not), and Hood is willing to raise taxes and pay for things the people of Mississippi want. Oh, and Hood's already won four statewide elections in Mississippi.
To a large extent, then, the election is going to be dictated by the extent to which Reeves and/or Waller is willing to carefully examine the past experience of Kansas, and of other states that tried supply-side economics, and to accept that supply-side doesn't work. Reeves appears to have made his choice, and to have adopted the mantra "supply-side or die." The extent of Waller's commitment to Republican orthodoxy is less clear, though he's a notable and outspoken opponent of Obamacare, so he may be in lockstep with Reeves on taxes. Anyhow, as with the Trump administration and Venezuela, it could well be that those who fail to learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them, to their own detriment. (Z)
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug06 Things Go From Bad to Worse with China...
Aug06 ...And Venezuela, Too
Aug06 Mueller Redactions May Soon Be Unredacted
Aug06 Impeachment Recommendation May Be Coming
Aug06 California Tax Return Law Officially Challenged in Court
Aug06 Democratic Party Starts Hiring Staff
Aug05 Thoughts and Prayers, Part 251
Aug05 Another Trump Nominee Goes Down in Flames
Aug05 New Poll: Debate Changed Nothing
Aug05 Another Texas House Republican Hangs Up His Cowboy Hat
Aug05 Are Immigrants Useful?
Aug05 Trump Plans to Woo Black Voters
Aug05 Buttigieg's Fundraising Secret: New Bundlers
Aug05 Colorado Republicans Are Fighting a Rear-Guard Action against the NPV Compact
Aug05 Gravel Meets the Dirt
Aug05 Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows--and Enemies
Aug05 Monday Q&A
Aug02 Debate Postmortem
Aug02 Bettors Are Betting on Biden
Aug02 More than Half of House Democrats Now Support Impeachment
Aug02 Trump Will Impose New Tariffs on China
Aug02 Trump Rallies in Cincinnati
Aug02 Soros Creates a Democratic Super PAC
Aug02 Kelly Craft Is Confirmed as Ambassador to the United Nations
Aug02 Hearing Set in Fight over Trump's New York State Tax Returns
Aug02 Lewandowski May Run for the Senate in New Hampshire
Aug02 Hurd Joins the Herd Heading for the Doors
Aug02 Friday Q&A
Aug01 10 More Democrats Debate in Detroit
Aug01 Fed Cuts Interest Rates
Aug01 Today's Racism News, Part I
Aug01 Today's Racism News, Part II
Aug01 Yet Another GOP House Retirement
Jul31 Democrats Debate in Detroit
Jul31 Second Debate Figures to Be Different From the First
Jul31 Trump Gets Another Court Victory
Jul31 California Will Require Presidential Candidates to Provide Tax Returns
Jul31 Today in Bad Optics, Part I: Trump's Speech
Jul31 Today in Bad Optics, Part II: McConnell's Donors
Jul31 Today in Bad Optics, Part III: Tax Cuts
Jul30 Trump Feels Threatened...
Jul30 ...And So Does McConnell
Jul30 Time for Democratic Debates, Round Two
Jul30 Polls Are Mostly Good News for Biden
Jul30 Another Republican Is Leaving the House
Jul30 DCCC a Mess Right Now
Jul29 Trump's Attacks on the Squad and Cummings Are No Accident
Jul29 Good Economy May Help the Democrats in the Midwest
Jul29 Black Democrats Want a Public Option