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Democrats

Rep. Mia Love’s best strategy in Utah is to do nothing

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Utah may be a traditionally red state, but that mostly applies to the presidency. While true that a Republican currently sits in each of the state’s federal offices, that comes more easily to some congressional districts than others.

Utah’s 4th District stands out as the Beehive State’s biggest congressional anomaly for a number of reasons, including close races, odd voter turnout, and recent start-up. The 4th District held its first elections in 2012, 30 years after the creation of the 3rd District, and it is the only one of Utah’s districts to begin with a Democratic representative in office.

Current Representative Mia Love (R) ran in that initial race, losing to Democrat Jim Matheson by 0.3%, or just over 750 votes out of more than 245,000. Love tried her luck again in 2014 following Matheson’s retirement, and this time she bested her Democratic opponent, Doug Owens, by a slightly better margin of 50.9% to 45.8%. Still, in a state with congressional spreads averaging around 65-70% Republican over 25-30% Democrat in recent years, that’s not a comfortable lead by any means. Even more interestingly, the 2014 election turned out only 147,000 voters, 98,000 fewer than the previous election. Owens challenged Love to a rematch in 2016, faring slightly worse with a loss of 53.8% to 41.3%, voter turnout skyrocketing to 274,500.

Love’s victory wasn’t a blowout, but it followed projections. Ballotpedia had marked her seat as “Lean R” according to two leading polls, contrasted with each of her fellow Utah representatives, ranked “Solid R” and “Safe R” based on the same polls. Predictions for her contemporaries in the 2018 election have remained consistent, but this time Love’s base has increased, improving to “Safe R” and “Likely R” — not quite as assured as other Utah Republicans, but certainly closer to their league.

And now, to capitalize on this promising field position, what should Love do if she wants to win in 2018? As little as possible. Basically nothing. Not to say that this plan helps her constituents, but it’s her best bet to retain her seat, and she’s delivering quite nicely. To win in Utah, you need three things: be a Republican, stay in the middle, and remain so invisible that everyone forgets you exist and they just vote for the incumbent.

Utah voters are only subconsciously looking for items two and three, but they’re very aware of their search for number one: Republicans. As we learned in 2016, Utah doesn’t like Trump, but it voted for pro-Trump congressmen at precisely the same rate it voted for never-Trump congressmen. As long as you’re a Republican in the general election, you’ll probably win. And no one has announced their intent to primary Love in 2018.

That said, as I’ve previously opined, Utah is drifting to port; being Republican is only half the battle now. If Love wants to pull out a win, she has to anchor herself somewhere in the middle and stay there. Again, she’s sticking to that plan. She talks like a Republican but votes like a Democrat; she voted for the AHCA, which Democrats and Republicans both disliked for very different reasons, placing her in the crossfire but away from politically hazardous extremes; her Conservative Review Liberty Score is 50%, the lowest of any Utah representative in the House and obviously right in the middle.

Might this only upset both sides? Not really. For Democrats, a 50% Republican is a Republican they can stomach. For Republicans, a 50% Republican is still better than a Democrat. Playing both sides results in a net gain of zero, so it’s essentially the same as doing nothing. And as long as Love isn’t too public about her inactivity, she can get away with it. It’s all about keeping up appearances.

Love steps into the spotlight exactly as often as she needs to do and says exactly what she needs to — she campaigned with the Tea Party initially before settling into moderate politics once elected; she spoke at a rally against hatred following the Charlottesville terrorist attack by a white supremacist; she speaks out regularly in opposition to abortion but approved a budget placing no restrictions on Planned Parenthood in order to avoid a government shutdown. Love famously refuses to hold town hall meetings, preferring personal office interviews with her constituents. But as one writer suggests, this actually results in far less interaction with voters and prevents Love from hearing the collective voice of her district. That might be true, but one-on-one chats with voters seems like a more involved approach, so it works in Love’s favor.

Then she shrinks back to Incumbent Land, where you have a 97% chance of reelection as long as you don’t do anything extremely stupid.

Like I said, to win in Utah, you need three things: be a Republican, toe the line, and stay out of the public eye. Love is hitting the mark on all three. Is that the most helpful approach for improving our country? Not in the slightest, but who said that was Congress’s plan?

Richie Angel is a Co-Editor in Chief of The New Guards. Follow him and The New Guards on Twitter, and check out The New Guards on Facebook.

Richie Angel is a Co-Editor in Chief of The New Guards, Co-Host of The New Guards Podcast, lifelong fan of the Anaheim Ducks, and proud Hufflepuff. He graduated Magna Cum Laude in English from Brigham Young University in 2017. One day later, his wife gave birth to a beautiful daughter. Richie is a constitutional conservative and doesn't see any compassion in violating other people's rights.

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Democrats

Al Franken gets hit with two more accusations of inappropriate touching

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Al Franken gets hit with two more accusations of inappropriate touching

Huffington Post is reporting accusations number three and four against Senator Al Franken from Minnesota. The embattled Democrat has been in the hot seat ever since reports surfaced that he made unwanted advances on model Leeann Tweeden, including a damaging image of the former comedian groping her while she slept.

Senator Frankencreep: Leeann Tweeden accuses Senator Al Franken of sexual assault

https://noqreport.com/2017/11/16/senator-frankencreep-leeann-tweeden-accuses-senator-al-franken-sexual-assault/Tweeden’s article on KABC is startlingly detailed, accusing the former comedian of forcefully kissing her without permission. He then participated in a “funny” picture showing him groping the former Playboy model while she slept.

Should she be believed? According to Franken last month, yes.

The second accusation came out Monday when Lindsay Menz accused him of groping her while he was a Senator.

2nd Al Franken accuser Lindsay Menz on why she went public with her story

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/2nd-al-franken-accuser-lindsay-menz-public-story/story?id=51320842“My husband steps away from us to take the photo. I stand next to Sen. Franken and he pulls me into him and then he moves his hand to my butt,” Menz, 33, told ABC News’ chief national correspondent Tom Llamas. “I was shocked.”

She added, “I was surprised and kind of wondering, did that really just happen?”

The latest accusations move this into the realm of “serial” sexual misconduct, according to conservative news aggregator Drudge Report. The top headline of Matt Drudge’s site is “Getting Serial,” referencing the notion that this isn’t the case of a couple of isolated incidents spanning many years. This may be Franken’s modus operandi:

Drudge Report Al Franken

Though the two new reports are coming in from a single article, the women claim to not know each other. Their identities are being withheld, but HuffPo claims to have researched them thoroughly and discovered similarities in the accounts. Moreover, the women have been telling this story privately for years, well before the recent allegations came to light.

The incidents in question happened during Franken’s first campaign for Senate. One accusation is similar to the one made by Menz, stating “he grabbed my buttocks during a photo op.”

The other accuser said he cupped her buttocks and suggested the two of them visit the bathroom together at a Democratic fundraiser in Minneapolis.

“My immediate reaction was disgust,” the second woman said. “But my secondary reaction was disappointment. I was excited to be there and to meet him. And so to have that happen really deflated me. It felt like: ‘Is this really the person who is going to be in a position of power to represent our community?’”

My Take

Franken, a rising star in the Democratic Party and one of the most covered members of the Senate, needs to step down. Just as calls are being made for Republican Roy Moore to step aside in his Senate run, so too should calls be made for this Senator to vacate his seat immediately.

Further Reading

Two More Women Accuse Sen. Al Franken Of Inappropriate Touching

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/al-franken-two-more-women-groping_us_5a15a455e4b09650540ec295The first woman, who spoke to HuffPost on condition of anonymity because she’s worried she’ll be harassed online for making the allegation, said Franken groped her when they posed for a photo after a June 25, 2007, event hosted by the Minnesota Women’s Political Caucus in Minneapolis.

“My story is eerily similar to Lindsay Menz’s story,” the first woman said. “He grabbed my buttocks during a photo op.”

The second woman told HuffPost that Franken cupped her butt with his hand at a 2008 Democratic fundraiser in Minneapolis, then suggested the two visit the bathroom together. She spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear that the allegation could affect her position at work.

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Culture and Religion

Beware of the dark side

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Many have started down the dark path.

Regardless of what you think of Roy Moore, I hope you reached that conclusion objectively. Unfortunately, those who dominate my news feed did not.

I saw bloodthirsty cries for him to drop out of the Senate race as soon as the first allegations were made, just as I witnessed stubborn declarations of innocence and that it was all a political smear. Both sides had more in common than not: their positions had nothing to do with the credibility of the allegations, but with the existence of the allegations alone.

Democrats and RINOs want him gone, so he must be innocent. Flyover Republicans want him elected, so he must be guilty.

From there, no amount of evidence on either side could penetrate stubborn skulls. The filter of confirmation bias tainted any appearance of guilt or innocence, and once again tribal politics reigned supreme.

But because God has a sense of humor, He threw Stuart Smalley into the mix.

Once the Al Franken (D-MN) groping photo surfaced, it was nothing if not comical to watch the tides reverse. Suddenly Moore’s tribal defenders started arbitrarily calling for Franken’s resignation, and Democratic loyalists rushed to protect him from fallout.

Bear in mind, I’m still not talking about those who’ve evaluated the evidence at hand and reached an objective conclusion. This is about the moral relativists who claim that sexual harassment and assault warrant swift impeachment and that women should be believed, not scrutinized — unless it’s happening to their guy.

Suddenly Democrats yell, “But we can’t afford to lose a pro-choice vote, no matter who it comes from!” And as Babylon Bee satirized, evangelicals would vote for Satan if he ran as a pro-life Republican.

Everyone, it seems, has forsaken principle.

I’m sick of arbitrary virtue, and, as always, there’s a Star Wars analogy for that.

In Episode III, Revenge of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker kills a disarmed (well, dishanded) Count Dooku at the prodding of his friend, Palpatine (or his pal, Friend-patine. I’ll stop now, I promise). While Palpatine insists, “He was too dangerous to be kept alive,” Anakin laments, “It’s not the Jedi way.”

Later, when Palpatine finds himself at the tip of Mace Windu’s lightsaber, Anakin demands that Palpatine stand trial. Because it’s the Jedi way? Not quite.

In a chilling echo, Master Windu counters, “He’s too dangerous to be kept alive” — the exact phrase used earlier by the Sith Lord.

(I could write an entire piece on how the Jedi and Sith are akin to the increasingly similar Republican and Democratic Parties, but I won’t go down that rabbit hole just yet.)

In fairness, I actually agree in both cases that the villains should have been killed. That’s my principle. And if Anakin opposed Palpatine’s death based on the Jedi way of not killing an unarmed opponent (are you still unarmed if you can shoot lightning from your fingertips?), that would have been his principle. It’s possible for two principled people to disagree.

But that wasn’t Anakin’s objection. As Windu draws back for the kill, Anakin confesses his true motive. Not “the Jedi way,” not due process, not even further interrogation or hostage bargaining. Seconds before the final blow, Anakin cries out, “I need him!”

Anakin severs Windu’s hand, Palpatine’s lightning thrusts the Jedi Master from the shattered window, and Anakin’s turn to the dark side is complete.

Anakin’s fall is a painfully recognizable warning in contemporary American politics — not just in 2017 or even 2016, but for decades of political discourse.

“I don’t care if he’s a child molester; I need him!”

“I don’t care if he assaulted women; I need him!”

“I don’t care if he left a woman to drown in Chappaquiddick,” and “I don’t care what he grabs women by.”

The chorus echoes loud and clear: “I need him!”

This is how you fall to the dark side, and as Padmé notes only moments later, “this is how liberty dies.” Ultimately, this moment proves the destruction of the entire republic.

When the wicked rule, the people mourn. Without consistent principles, we are in danger of sacrificing every blessing of freedom we enjoy. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.

My warning to you is the same caution Master Yoda gives to Luke on Dagobah decades after the rise of the Empire: “Beware of the dark side. … If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.”

Richie Angel is a Co-Editor in Chief of The New Guards. Follow him and The New Guards on Twitter, and check out The New Guards on Facebook.

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Democrats

John Conyers’ denial of wrongdoing is exactly what’s wrong with abusive men in power

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John Conyers denial of wrongdoing is exactly whats wrong with abusive men in power

The longest-sitting member of Congress, Democrat John Conyers of Michigan, is “expressly and vehemently” denying any wrongdoing following Buzzfeed’s blockbuster report that he paid off a former employee by three extra months of pay after firing her for what she claims was opposition to his sexual advances.

She Said A Powerful Congressman Harassed Her. Here’s Why You Didn’t Hear Her Story.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/paulmcleod/she-complained-that-a-powerful-congressman-harassed-her?utm_term=.kwaeyWOB5#.yakGXl5EOConyers confirmed he made the settlement in a statement Tuesday afternoon, hours after this story was published, but said that he “vehemently denied” the claims of sexual harassment at the time and continues to do so.

And the documents also reveal the secret mechanism by which Congress has kept an unknown number of sexual harassment allegations secret: a grinding, closely held process that left the alleged victim feeling, she told BuzzFeed News, that she had no option other than to stay quiet and accept a settlement offered to her.

Unlike accusations that keep popping up on a seemingly daily basis, this one has a very clear paper trail. That the Congressman is denying “wrongdoing” exemplifies a bigger problem than just sexual misconduct. Men like Conyers do bad things, but more importantly they truly believe they should get away with it.

“No wrongdoing” is legaleze

There seems to be no difference, at least in the minds of people like Conyers, between getting away with doing wrong and not actually doing it. At no point yet has Conyers claimed he isn’t a creep who uses his power to manipulate women he employs into being sexual objects for him. That isn’t what’s important to him. What’s important is that he got his victims to sign documents absolving him legally from his actions.

For this reason, he believes he needs to continue to represent the people of Michigan who have kept him in office for half a century.

This is a systemic problem that exists everywhere in free America, but the fact that it’s apparently rampant in Washington DC is utterly disgusting. In a seven-year period, Congress dished out millions of dollars to 235 people for “workplace violations.” Perhaps more infuriating is that it’s not the perpetrators, their campaigns, or their Congressional offices who pay for these settlements. They’re paid by taxpayers.

How Congress plays by different rules on sexual harassment and misconduct

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-congress-plays-by-different-rules-on-sexual-harassment-and-misconduct/2017/10/26/2b9a8412-b80c-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.htmlWhen settlements do occur, members do not pay them from their own office funds, a requirement in other federal agencies. Instead, the confidential payments come out of a special U.S. Treasury fund.

Congressional employees have received small settlements, compared with the amounts some public figures pay out. Between 1997 and 2014, the U.S. Treasury has paid $15.2 million in 235 awards and settlements for Capitol Hill workplace violations, according to the congressional Office of Compliance. The statistics do not break down the exact nature of the violations.

How do we stop this from happening? How can we protect the women and men who are victimized? How do we get these creeps out of the halls of power in our nation’s capital? We need to make it as transparent as possible.

Every settlement dollar should be broadcast to the world

If an incident is worthy of having taxpayer dollars used to hush people up, then the people need to know about it. We need to know who did what. While payment of settlements aren’t always done because of actual crimes committed, we should have the ability to discern for ourselves when an elected official does something worthy of a payout.

The club in DC is corrupt. We all know this. While it may be hard to track down all of the wrongdoing, we can at least attempt to address the misconduct by public officials against their own employees. That’s a reasonable expectation.

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