Good Friday Morning! Last week, the political world was roiling around the child molestation allegations against AL Senate candidate Roy Moore (R). This week, as those claims continue to swirl, MN Senator Al Franken (D) is now being accused, with photographic evidence, of harassing/assaulting a woman while on a USO tour. I’ll get into why this is only the beginning of a storm about to open up on Capitol Hill.
I’ll also cover the concerted effort by establishment Democrats to rid the party of the Clinton’s, and a handful of stories I noticed this week that could be harbingers of the next recession or bubble pop in the economy. Links follow.
New this week at the Conservative Institute
Last week I hinted that the allegations against AL Senate candidate Roy Moore (R) were bombshells and potentially disqualifying. After reading through those claims and seeing his defense, or lack thereof, I lay out why the Alabama GOP should either try to remove him from the ballot (legally tricky) or ensure he loses. He’s not worth the price of defending and should get cut loose.
The Looming Sexual Harassment Storm Brewing on Capitol Hill
The Roy Moore story was a starting pistol going off in DC for victims to come forward. At this point, we should have expected more victims and the exposure of more predators, but Capitol Hill’s scandals are just getting started.
The latest story involves Senator Al Franken, MN (D) being accused, with photographic evidence, of groping and forcibly kissing Leeann Tweeden. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has requested an ethics probe be opened regarding the incident. There is a reason to believe an ethics probe could be damaging to Franken because a case can be made what he did was a sexual battery (depending on the jurisdiction). If the Franken story follows other patterns, we can expect more victims to come forward.
Roy Moore and Al Franken are interesting case studies for the left and right to see if they practice what they preach with regards to sexual assault and harassment. You won’t hear many complaints from me about keeping Moore out or removing Franken.
Unfortunately for Congress, this is only the beginning. Two stories surfaced this week that lead me to think we’ll see exposure and change on the Hill. First, the existence of a “Creep List,” similar to one circulated about news media members, surfaced after Moore and Franken’s allegations made waves. The news media list took out many journalists and editors, and I have little doubt the Capitol Hill list will do the same.
Second, it’s emerged that Congress has a secret compliance office that handles settlements between victims and accusors, silently paying off victims with taxpayer money. There’s no transparency behind the office, and no one knows how much of the $20 million was used to pay settlements for sexual harassment. But given the existence of the “Creep List,” you know some amount of taxpayer money is being used to provide cover for these workplace violations.
You have to think the lid gets blown off this entire process eventually. The question is who will catch part of the blowback and get knocked out as part of the process. Much like Harvey Weinstein’s allegations have ripped Hollywood apart at the seams, Roy Moore and Al Franken could begin the same process for Washington D.C.
The Democratic Campaign to Oust the Clintons
While the Democratic Party has yet to do an autopsy of the 2016 Election, the establishment wing of the party has decided to signal to supporters that the Clintons are no longer welcome.
The key person here is Donna Brazile, former head of the DNC who wrote a recent book trashing the Clintons and pretending to be an innocent bystander to the Clinton takeover of the DNC. Not only has she attacked Hilary Clinton, but she’s also said that Bill Clinton’s sexual assault accusers deserve to be heard, breaking with decades of Democratic Party norms.
Brazile’s move against the Clintons opened the floodgates to liberal criticism of the Clintons and Bill’s accusers. These Democrats, sensing that the Clintons power base is weakened, are using this as an opportunity to take power for themselves within the party. Even the left’s intellectual writers in the NYT jumped in penning pieces like, “I believe Juanita.”
I’ve written in the past that I believed the Democratic Party was headed towards an internal civil war, with no central power enforcing some party discipline or unity. Brazile’s first shots here are the first attempts by the establishment to push back against the Clintons while holding the Bernie Sanders wing at bay.
Given the unity and concerted effort to drive this same message against the Clintons, I believe Brazile’s book and the pundit class happily following along tells us three things. First, the power struggle in the party is beginning to spill out into the open. Second, for all his popularity, it’s incredible to see how little power Barack Obama has within the party right now. , Brazile and other Democrats would only attack the Clintons if they believed one of two scenarios
Finally, Brazile and other Democrats would only attack the Clintons if they thought one of two situations. A) That Hilary Clinton was planning on running again, and Democrats are terrified they’ll lose still in 2020, or B) Democrats believe the Clintons are holding onto power in the party to pave a pathway for Chelsea Clinton to run for office and eventually the Presidency. If you think the Clintons represent a threat to the future of the Democratic Party, you have to act now like Brazile.
Those fracture lines are only going to grow, even if Democrats retake the House in 2018. Brazile is smart to try and head off the problem now; the question is whether or not Democratic voters are ready to quit the Clintons.
Early signs of a slow down or recession?
I noticed four stories this week touching on various economic sectors that all said the same thing: debt is unnaturally high in some segments of the world economy. And that high debt could become a big problem if we experience another recession. Here are the stories:
- America’s ‘Retail Apocalypse’ Is Really Just Beginning – Bloomberg
- Auto loan delinquencies rise as drivers splurge on pricey cars – CNBC
- Australia, Brazil, China, and Korea all have debt-service ratios beyond what is the historical norm – IMF
- China’s economy continues a cooling trend – ABC
All of these stories emerged in a market where everything is, for the most part, excellent. The Recovery continues with a falling unemployment rate. None of these stories is an imminent threat to the US economy. However, these stories do show you where high debt is an issue.
Things like car loans aren’t an issue now, but if the retail sector continues to show more bankruptcies and refinancings, it will impact people who have car loans. China’s economy slowing down affects vast swaths of American businesses which depend on China for cheap labor and parts. And if multiple countries are struggling with high debt, that could change how they handle future downturns and bailout efforts.
The other debt bubble lurking behind all of these stories in the United States is the Student Loan bubble. If a downturn occurs, and jobs like retail shrivel up, that will cause more delinquencies on student loans and car loans.
Broad takeaway: Nothing is wrong with the economy right now, but there are potential signs that things aren’t entirely healthy in some segments and sectors.
Best links of the week
Campus Conservatives Should Check Their Own Trolling: Want serious discourse? Invite serious people. – Nick Philips, The American Conservative
Alabama Senate Fiasco for GOP: While Washington Republicans scheme how to avoid seating Roy Moore, their counterparts in Alabama think Doug Jones could become the state’s first Democratic senator since 1997. – Josh Kraushaar, The National Journal
The ugly echo chamber of Hannity and Breitbart is why women wait so long to report abuse – Margaret Sullivan, The Washington Post
Why The #NeverTrump Movement Died Last November 9 – Bethany Mandel, Forward Magazine
Don’t Confuse ‘Wave Elections’ With Mandates – Reed Galen, RealClearPolitics
Evangelicals, Where Is Your Faith? – David French, National Review
Roy Moore Should Drop Out – The Editors, National Review
Being a Female Comic in Louis C.K.’s World – Laurie Kilmartin, The New York Times
Spies Suspect Kremlin Is Pushing Dozens of Fake Trump Sex Tapes – John R. Schindler, The Observer
Democrats Missed A Chance To Draw A Line In The Sand On Sexual Misconduct – Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight
Satire piece of the week
Man Encounters Morning Traffic, Immediately Loses Salvation – The Babylon Bee
LOS ANGELES, CA—Upon encountering a morning traffic jam on the way into his office Tuesday, local believer Paul Wilson immediately lost his salvation due to his extreme outburst of anger, sources confirmed.
Shortly after taking 30 minutes to merge onto the 405 freeway, Wilson exploded in a flurry of profanity and cursing, sacrificing his eternal salvation thanks to the sudden transformation into a flaming ball of rage.
Thanks for reading!