Cigarette and Coffee Breakfast 2/7/14

– There seems to be a little bit of a diplomatic kerfuffle over a top State Department official being recorded in a phone conversation saying, among other things, “Fuck the European Union”. You see, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was discussing the current political crisis in the Ukraine, where four people have already died, with the United States Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. It would seem Nuland and Pyatt think the European Union has done a poor job keeping the situation under wraps to this point, certainly not a wild accusation with four people dead, and the recent history of the institution’s dysfunction. It would also seem that one State Department employee discussing diplomatic goings on with another State Department employee in terms of what benefits America is entirely appropriate.

– The DSCC has a new effort, dubbed the “Bannock Street Project” which aims to do just what i discussed yesterday, mobilize likely Democratic voters who are at present unlikely to vote. This is a departure from the usual tactics of trying to persuade independents and Republicans. According to the New York Times, the project, “includes a $60 million investment and requires more than 4,000 paid staff members. And the effort will need all of that — and perhaps more — to achieve its goal, which is nothing short of changing the character of the electorate in a midterm cycle.” With the plan, Democrats hope to reverse their fortunes in off-year elections, where the lack of a big-ticket presidential election serves to drive turnout down and help the other side tremendously.

– Republicans in the Senate rejected the Democrat’s third attempt to extend lapsed unemployment benefits. The final vote was 58-40 in favor of extending the benefits, but here in our majoritarian system, having 58% of the votes is not good enough. The Republicans placed a filibuster on the bill, of course, and Democrats will need to round up at least two more votes even to pass the bill through the Democratic controlled Senate, not to mention the Republican controlled house.

– Minority Leader of the Senate Nancy Pelosi finally said what a lot of people have probably been thinking, before the Olympic Torch has even been lit. The IOC made a “very bad choice” in Sochi as a site for the Olympics. From the security concerns, stray dogs, the lack of hotel rooms, to blatantly homophobic legislation, this Olympics has already lost a lot of its luster.

– Another poll out of Kentucky has Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell down to Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes 46-42. There’s still a long way to go in this fight, and Democrats will remember that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid found himself in an even worse situation several years ago, and managed to pull out a close victory. However, one has to imagine that Grimes will not spend the campaign discussing ways consumers could trade farm animals in lieu of cash for medical services under her health plan, as Reid’s opponent Sue Lowden did.

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