Thursday, October 30, 2014

It's when we Americans are put to the test that we show what we're really made of -- say howdy to ebola lawyers


Yes, the tireless David Sipress is still manning The New Yorker's "Daily Cartoon" beat. (You can click on today's offering to enlarge it.)

by Ken

I know I'm taking a certain liberty in tacking David Sipress's New Yorker "Daily Cartoon" for today onto a post that's actually concerned with getting tough on ebola. But really, terrorism, ebola, it's all the same thing, isn't it? It's all those things that present tough Americans with a need and an opportunity to, you know, be tough, to be the loud-mouthing, fist-packing, gut-toting blowhards God put us on this earth to be.

Actually, I suppose ebola is a little different. Unlike all those other depredations like Islamic extremism which sneak into God's Country principally via our shockingly underdefended Mexican border, ebola is headed for us even as we speak via an airport near you.

But we're Americans, and we fight back. And remember, we've got guns. So I say you can keep the image of David Sipress's debate combatants in mind as you read this Washington Post "In the Loop" report (which sure sounds like it was written by our pal Al Kamen) about the counter-attack against invading hordes of ebola, "Got Ebola? Call a doctor. Or maybe a lawyer."
There’s one known active case of Ebola in the United States, and President Obama was quick to remind the nation Tuesday that “only two people so far have contracted Ebola on America soil.”

But fears abound, and one Washington law firm is making itself available for all your Ebola-related legal needs.

Arent Fox is organizing a live panel discussion at its New York office on Nov. 12 to help businesses and employees with pressing concerns about the spread of Ebola — which “places caregivers in a situation where a minor error can be lethal,” Arent Fox warns ominously in a news release.

Lawyers are prepared to address any number of Ebola-related legal quandaries. Not sure what those would be? The firm has prepped a list of questions you might want to ask. Such as: How do you handle an employee who has been quarantined by the government? Can an employee who has been exposed to Ebola be ordered to stay home? Do your insurance policies have an exemption for biological or contagious diseases?

The lawyers, representing the firm’s labor, health-care and insurance practices, can also provide some historical perspective on Ebola, specifically whether “significant events” such as 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy provide any guidance for Ebola response.

Darrell Gay, a partner at Arent Fox, said that the firm contacted some clients to raise some of the above questions, and that those clients realized they had no idea how they would or should handle these worst-case Ebola scenarios.

“The issue is we don’t know how far it’s going to go,” Gay said. “The objective is to have the company thinking about it rather than shooting from the hip.”

Just in case.


Hey, I hear you. I can try to work with you. Here's what I suggest: Simply reimagine today's Sipress cartoon as a pair of cartoons. Something like this:

"Now we'll turn to the issue of who will be tougher on terrorism."

"Now we'll turn to the issue of who will be tougher on ebola."

This works just fine, doesn't it? Actually, it's better, I think.

And would be better still if we kept looping the drawing substituting other things right-wing crackpots have their racing hearts set on being tough against, including but by no means limited to: godless vote frauders, godless taxers-and-spenders, godless climate-changists, godless baby-killers, godless takers-not-makers, godless Frenchies (and all things French), godless warriors against Christmas, godless aliens (of both the extra-territorial and extra-terrestrial kind), godless "other" people (including all those of of all colors unapproved by God).

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Jeb Bush Could Never Defeat Ted Cruz In A Primary


I'm on record: the crazy extremist base of the Republican Party will not be denied again-- no more McCains or Romneys, not in 2016. They will settle for nothing less than an unapologetic, loud'n'proud fascist. And the folks who set their agendas have decided: Ted Cruz, the senator further right than Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, Hideki Tojo, Augusto Pinochet, Vidkun Quisling, Pat Robertson or anyone else I might have left out. They will not be denied. Ted Cruz will be the Republican nominee for president and he will lose-- and lose very, very big, dragging down as many as 10 U.S. Senators-- Mark Kirk (R-IL), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Richard Burr (R-NC), Rob Portman (R-OH), Rand Paul (R-KY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO)-- and double the number of GOP House Members (especially if Steve Israel has been excised from the DCCC).

While the fascists prepare for their apocalypse, though, the mainstream conservative McCain/Romney/Chamber of Commerce wing of the GOP, would rather lose in a more gentlemanly fashion with another Bush. Jeb would;'t bring on the kind of GOP donnybrook Cruz will and with him at the top of the ticket, the Republicans would probably lose less than half the senators they'll lose with Cruz's reverse coattails. But Jeb can't make it through a Republican primary, not after all the cultivation of the Tea Party sociopaths in recent years. Jill Bond, writing for Blue Nation Review, listed 5 specific stumbling blocks that will defeat Bush in the 2016 Republican primary sweepstakes.

We have Jeb Bush to thank for working with the NRA to push the license-to-hunt-and-kill-people law in the state of Florida known as Stand Your Ground-- whose victims include 26 children, and an education program that has proved to be weak and questionable.

He didn’t know what the Paycheck Fairness Act was (a bill that ensures women are paid equally for equal work), and doesn’t support it once he’s told.

Within a year of leaving the governorship of Florida, Bush became a consultant for Lehman Brothers-- the Wall Street giant whose bankruptcy sealed this nation’s financial meltdown-- and tried unsuccessfully to broker a deal called "Project Verde" in Mexico with a billionaire telecom mogul.

He’s been wishy-washy on immigration, trying to balance kissing Republican right-wing extremist leader’s butts while not scaring off Hispanic voters, calling for undocumented immigrants to be handled with "compassion" as he seeks to toughen regulations against them.

In efforts to expand his wealth after being Florida’s governor, Bush was hired by InnoVida, a manufacturer of cheap building materials, as a consultant and to sit on the board of directors. The company faked documents, lied about the health of the business and misappropriated $40 million in company funds, according to the New York Times. The company went bankrupt in 2011. Bush didn’t have any better luck sitting on the board of Swisher Hygiene, a soap maker, whose financial statements were unreliable and accounting practices were sketchy, causing stock prices to plunge and shareholders to sue.

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What Did Pelosi See In Steve Israel? The DCCC Chairman Shows What He's Worth


In the final week of the midterm election cycle, House Republicans are on the offensive and an abysmally-led DCCC is retreating almost everywhere. Boehner is on the attack against Democratic incumbents while the DCCC-- which bragged all cycle about they have out raised the Republicans-- now says it doesn't have the resources to spend on its recruits and has abandoned almost all of them to their fates and the hands of surging Republicans.

The DCCC has been reduced to spending millions in districts that were "in the bag," like NY-11, where Michael Grimm was indicted on 20 criminal counts but will probably beat Israel's pathetic recruit, Domenic Recchia, or CA-31, where another execrable DCCC recruit, worthless bank lobbyist Pete Aguilar is making history by losing an overwhelmingly blue (D+5) district, despite out raising his GOP opponent $1,957,871 to $415,375. The GOP hasn't spent a nickel on behalf of Paul Chabot and the DCCC and their House Majority PAC have spent $1,297,759. Aguilar was also bolstered by the corrupt, right-wing Credit Union National Association PAC which took time out from their efforts on behalf of reactionaries Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Steve Southerland (R-FL) and Tony Strickland (R-CA) to pump $346,841 into Aguilar's campaign. All that said, an internal Aguilar poll shows him down 2-- and down 9 among high-propensity voters. As the DCCC should have learned in 2012, Aguilar's sleazy corrupt demeanor may make him fit in amazingly well among Beltway New Dems and the Steve Israel circle but ordinary working families in the Inland Empire want nothing to do with him. Had Steve Israel not interfered in the primary, Eloise Reyes would be up by double digits going into next week's vote.

Another Israel recruitment disaster has come home to roost in NY-19, a blue (D+1) district in Upstate New York, where Obama beat both McCain and Romney. The DCCC recruited a self-funding multimillionaire, turned him into a mystery-meat nothing and who now looks like he might not even get 40% of the vote. Last night the Siena Poll showed unimpressive GOP incumbent Chris Gibson leading Sean Eldridge by 23 points. This is a blue district... in New York. If Steve Israel, the most incompetent DCCC chairman since 1866, doesn't even know how to win those, why does anyone think he can win anything anywhere? Eldridge has outspent Gibson $4,659,027 to $1,798,884-- most of which, $2,840,000, came from his own personal bank account.
A week before Election Day, Republican Representative Chris Gibson continues to hold a commanding lead over Democrat Sean Eldridge. Gibson holds a 58-35 percent lead, virtually unchanged from his 57-33 percent lead seven weeks ago, according to a new Time Warner Cable News/Siena College poll of likely 19th C.D. voters released today.  By a 60-25 percent margin, voters have a favorable view of Gibson, whereas Eldridge divides voters, with 33 percent viewing him favorably and 35 percent unfavorably.

“Gibson heads into the final week of the campaign largely unscathed and with a commanding 23-point lead over Eldridge,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. “Over the last seven weeks, the Eldridge campaign has gained little or no traction with practically any constituency.

“Gibson has overwhelming support from 86 percent of Republicans, strong support from 60 percent of independents, and even has the support of more than one-quarter of Democrats, all virtually the same as the previous Time Warner Cable News/Siena poll,” Greenberg said. “He maintains a 13-point lead in the Ulster/Dutchess portion of the district and better than two-to-one leads in the other regions. He has a dominating 42-pont lead with men and leads among women by nine points. He leads by more than 20 points with voters 55 and older and has an even larger lead with voters younger than 55,” Greenberg said.
And the only really good news coming back from the pollsters-- from MI-06, the Paul Clements race against Fred Upton-- is a race Steve Israel not only refused to let the DCCC get involved with but one in which he worked actively against the Democrat to help the Republican! Despite Israel's treachery and despite him having wasted millions of dollars on races in Michigan he's now abandoned as hopeless, the MI-06 race is now within the margin of error. An entirely grassroots effort, it could well be the only glimmer of hope for House Democrats next Tuesday!
The race in Michigan Congressional District 6 has narrowed significantly in recent weeks, as voters have learned more about the negative aspects of Fred Upton’s tenure in Congress, and have been introduced to a viable alternative in Democrat Paul Clements. Additionally, political gaffes by Upton have brought scrutiny to this long-term incumbent who has never faced a credible challenger in a district that Barack Obama won in 2008 and trailed Mitt Romney by only 1.4 percentage points in 2012. Paul Clements has momentum in the closing days of the campaign, in what has turned out to be the most competitive congressional race in Michigan, for a seat that many thought was safe for Republicans.

Paul Clements has momentum on his side, and a top-ticket Democrat leading the way. The race for Congress has narrowed significantly since our last survey only three weeks ago (43% Clements – 47% Upton – 10% undecided). At the top of the ticket, Democrat Gary Peters has a strong lead in the U.S. Senate race in this district (48% Peters – 39% Terri Lynn Land – 12% undecided)... Clements’ path to victory comes by converting Democrats and Independents who are already supporting Democrat Gary Peters in the U.S. Senate race to his side.

...With persistent outside pressure focused on how Fred Upton has changed in the 27 years he has spent in Washington, it is possible for Paul Clements to defeat a long-time Republican incumbent. It is the job of the Clements campaign to finish with powerful positive communications in the closing week of the race, to continue to introduce Clements to Democrats and Independents who are inclined to split their ticket, but have growing reservations about supporting Fred Upton. With a strong fundraising week to finish the campaign, we can make this the “race to watch” in Michigan next Tuesday.
As recently as last week, Israel was working the phones, demanding Democratic groups not help Clements beat Upton. If Clements wins next week, it will be a resounding victory for the grassroots over the corrupt, transpartisan Beltway Establishment of which both Upton and Israel are so emblematic.

Tuesday Alex Isenstadt wrote that House Democrats are fretting over the prospect of debilitating losses Tuesday. They should have fretted when Pelosi reappointed Israel after his disastrous 2012 cycle. Israel is trying too blame progressive donors and President Obama's unpopularity to take the spotlight away from his own corruption, his deals with the GOP leadership, and, most of all, his breathtaking incompetence.
Looking to contain the damage, Democrats are pumping money into liberal congressional districts that were long thought to be safely in their column. Over the last several days, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has directed resources to maintain seats in Hawaii and Nevada, both of which broke sharply for the president in 2012-- an indication of just how much the terrain has shifted against the party over the past two years.

Other unexpected races are suddenly in play. Some Democrats, for example, have begun to worry about the prospects of California Rep. Lois Capps, an eight-term congresswoman who is typically a lock for reelection but who now finds herself in a competitive race against Republican Chris Mitchum, a perennial candidate and the son of the late actor Robert Mitchum. In a sign of how seriously national Democrats are taking the threat, the DCCC is making a last-minute purchase of $99,000 worth of radio advertising in the Santa Barbara area to boost Capps, according to a committee aide.

...Capps isn’t the only incumbent Democratic officials are scrambling at the last minute to defend. DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) recently coordinated a fundraising event for Rep. Dave Loebsack, a fourth-term Iowa incumbent who has recently come under barrage from GOP groups, and reached out to donors on his behalf.

On Tuesday afternoon, Israel and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will hold a hastily-planned conference call for members to provide them with an update on the political terrain and to press them to contribute to the party’s coffers.

...In many instances, Republicans are spending money to put races in play that had long been considered safe for Democrats. American Action Network, a national group with ties to House Speaker John Boehner, has begun airing TV commercials in blue districts in Hawaii and eastern Iowa.

The maneuvering has prompted Democratic groups to yank money from districts they’re trying to seize from Republicans in order to protect seats they already control. Over the past several weeks, the DCCC has pulled funds from top recruits in Colorado and Virginia and begun running TV ads in two eastern Iowa districts, both of which Obama won in 2012.
The Wall Street Journal had a similar report yesterday-- Republicans advancing, Israel leading Democrats into retreat after retreat. "The last-minute maneuvering has the potential, if races break their way, to bring Republicans closer to the 12-seat gain needed to match the party’s post-World War II record of holding 246 House seats. Democrats, aware of the headwind against them, have withdrawn money recently from some GOP-held districts and redirected it largely to endangered incumbents in an effort to limit GOP gains."
The Republican entrance into additional districts-- in Iowa, Nevada and elsewhere-- adds to evidence that voters are making a late turn away from the Democratic party. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Annenberg survey released Sunday found Republicans with a four-point lead among registered voters on which party should control Congress, with 46% favoring the GOP and 42% preferring Democratic control.
Had Pelosi chosen a more competent, less corrupt DCCC chair after Israel wrecked the Democrats' hopes to win back the House in 2012, would the situation be different today? Undoubtably... and we'll be exploring the specifics of that, race by race, over the next two weeks.

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John Kline-- Congress' Worst Enemy Of Public Education


Earlier this month we looked into the astounding legalistic bribes John Kline takes from the for-profit college industry, far more than any other Member of Congress. So far this cycle the for-profit education business has spent $1,488,432 in congressional races. Kline got $179,849 by himself. He wasn't just the biggest recipient of their bribes, he took in quite a bit more than the next two biggest recipients combined, Virginia Foxx ($88,380) and Senator Lamar Alexander ($51,500). Kline has been the industry's henchman on Capitol Hill.

This week, Kline's progressive opponent, Mike Obermueller, proposed cracking down on crooked for-profit college predators that have been targeting veterans and playing fast and loose-- thanks to Kline's efforts-- with taxpayer dollars. Obermueller's proposed legislation is geared to ensure schools are as invested in their students' education as their own bottom line. Obermueller went right to the point. According to the federal Department of Education students at for-profit colleges represent only about 13% of the total higher education population, but about 31% of all student loans and nearly half of all loan defaults.

Worse yet, most students at for-profit gainful employment programs who graduated with an associate degree were also left with federal student loan debt, which averaged $23,590, while the majority of students at community colleges did not borrow, earning the same degree. And of the for-profit gainful employment programs the Department of Education could analyze, the majority-- 72%-- produced graduates who on average earned less than high school dropouts.

"It's been made clear that the for-profit industry is simply not doing an acceptable job of producing a high quality education," said Obermueller. "Worse, these schools have been abusively targeting prospective students, using various lies and distortions of the truth to recruit them."

Recently the for-profit industry has come under increased scrutiny on both the state and federal level, with multiple schools being investigated on charges of fraud. Obermueller's proposed legislation seeks to put an end to the industry's ability to offer substandard programs and still profit.

The proposal will protect veterans, prevent abuses of federal dollars, increase transparency, and promote good performance.

One of the most egregious practices of these predatory actors is the targeting of veterans for access to their federal tuition benefits. Currently at least 10% of a school's revenue must come from non-Title IV federal dollars, which include Pell Grants and federal loans.

Because veterans' benefits are not Title IV dollars, veterans have become an attractive target for for-profit schools. One simple change-- counting all federally supplied dollars as federal dollars under this law-- would end the predatory targeting of veterans by for-profit schools.

"To these bad actors, veterans are walking dollar signs," said Obermueller. "It's disgusting to think that these schools have been targeting our veterans' tuition benefits without any intention of providing them with a real education. But unfortunately, current regulation is set up in a way that incentivizes these schools to go after veterans. This is an easy thing to change, and I would expect to find broad bipartisan support for this measure."

Our education dollars should be funding one thing: education. Taxpayers deserve to know their hard-earned tax dollars are going to actually fund what they're meant to fund. Marketing and recruitment makes up an average of 23% in many large for-profit budgets.

"It's surprising that these regulations don't already exist," said Obermueller. "Making sure our education funding is actually used to fund education seems like it should be an obvious requirement for these schools. Unfortunately, as sensible as it is, these for-profits are using large amounts of federal money for only one purpose-- getting more federal money."

The bad actors in the for-profit world will do everything they can to obscure the truth about their disgraceful practices. Much of their marketing and advertising plays on the heartstrings of those people who want to better themselves.

"The people going to these schools are trying to get ahead," said Obermueller. "In many cases, these folks have families that they're trying to provide for at the same time. We owe it to them to make sure they're armed with the best information possible, so they can make an informed choice about the school and program that's best for them."

Requiring schools to provide information both to the federal government and to prospective students would ensure that everyone has the information necessary to find the best fit for them, and to know when schools are acting maliciously. Simple facts, like graduation and job placement rates, as well as median income and debt upon graduation, would give students a fairer look at what these schools can offer them.

"Too often these schools are intentionally blinding prospective students from the truth about their programs, enticing them with promises that have no basis in reality," said Obermueller. "This is abuse we can prevent."

The most direct way to incentivize these bad actors to reform is by using federal money, the money these schools depend on, to leverage schools to adopt a more outcome-focused approach.

"Too many of these schools are focused solely on making money,"  said Obermueller. "As inconvenient as it might be for them, they're in the business of educating our nation's students, and our students have a right to expect a meaningful return on their investment.

"These schools need to share in the responsibility for their students' outcomes. To do anything less is to do nothing more than defraud our students, and that's completely unacceptable.

Tying outcomes, such as default rates and income to debt ratios, to federal money is a focused approach to getting these schools to clean up their act."

One of the most disappointing aspects of this situation is that many of these reforms could already have been enacted if it weren't for Congressman John Kline. As chair of the Education and Workforce Committee in the House, Kline has repeatedly refused to regulate the for-profit college industry. While advocating for the protection of veterans' benefits or transparency in school choice to constituents, Kline has been protecting the way these predatory colleges have been acting when he's in Washington.

"John Kline has been one of the largest single obstructions on the path to ensuring for-profit colleges offer a high quality education," said Obermueller. "Between his refusal to regulate this industry responsibly and his votes to increase student loan interest rates, it's clear he's comfortable with students being nothing more than a profit center.

"When education becomes about profits instead of producing high caliber students, we've failed. Unless we do something to counteract the status quo, that's the path we're heading down.

"We can turn this around. We can enact these pieces of legislation to help ensure high quality education is the priority in the for-profit industry. But it starts with removing the obstacles to these goals, and that means removing John Kline from office."
The highly respected Rochester Post-Bulletin sat down with all three candidates running for the congressional seat Kline is sitting in. Yesterday they announced their endorsement: Mike Obermueller. "Sending Kline back to Washington," wrote the editors, who had endorsed Kline in 2012 and are willing to admit they made a terrible error, "would be rewarding him for failure."
Obermueller's economic strategy focuses on college affordability, improving the Affordable Care Act and equalizing women's economic security. "We need to have working-class families with money in their pockets," he said. "You'll get more demand by having a stronger, bigger middle class. They are the real job creators."

Kline cites his work on the House Education Committee as evidence he can work in a bipartisan manner, pointing to the reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, a measure that streamlined 47 federal job-training programs to 32.

He also pointed to legislation that tied student loan rates to 10-year Treasury notes, stabilizing Stafford Subsidized Student Loans that had doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. The loans are now at 4.6 percent.

Obermueller disagrees with Kline's approach, saying a better solution would allow people to refinance student loans. "You can refinance your home loan, you can refinance your car loan, but you can't refinance your student debt? And there's absolutely no reason for it," Obermueller said.

Not surprisingly, they differ on the Affordable Care Act, with Obermueller seeing it as "certainly not perfect, but it is having a big impact in terms of coverage." Obermueller predicted it will grow in popularity with both parties eventually taking credit for it. "Right now, it's a political hot potato," he said. "I don't think it should be. I think we should work to improve it, but repealing it is not an option."

As a preface to his position on health-care reform, Kline said: "By far the best way to approach it was to repeal whole Affordable Care Act before it was implemented and replace it with some other reforms." Kline listed some of the frequent Republican talking points, such as increasing competition among private insurers across state lines, creating coverage pools for people with pre-existing conditions and providing incentives for health savings accounts.

"Now that it's being implemented, it gets a lot trickier to do," Kline said. "It doesn't mean that we have to accept it just as it is. It means we have to go in and change much of the Affordable Care Act."

The Post-Bulletin's Editorial Board found the statement disingenuous. To "change much of the Affordable Care Act" is a euphemism for repealing the four-year law. Even if the Republicans control the House and the Senate, they won't have strong enough majorities to override a presidential veto. President Barack Obama, who has vetoed just two bills during his nearly six years in office, will not allow his signature legislation to be dismantled like a game of Jenga.

Two years ago, we endorsed Kline, believing his seniority and leadership would help Congress avoid the "fiscal cliff" of expiring tax cuts and sequestration that would impose mandatory, across-the-board budget cuts.

So what happened? Congress passed a series of temporary measures to postpone a decision on the debt limit. Finally, the federal government partially shut down for the first 16 days of October 2013, largely because of the Republican-controlled House tried to derail the Affordable Care Act and demand concessions on the budget.

"They shut the government down for 16 days as a political stunt to show them how much they don't like it," Obermueller said.

As much as Kline wants to point to the obstinacy of the Senate Democrats, the House Republicans are just as much to blame. Sending Kline back to Washington would be rewarding him for failure.

That's why the Post-Bulletin Editorial Board is endorsing Mike Obermueller for the 2nd Congressional District. When Obermueller served in the Minnesota Legislature, he was chosen to carry the omnibus state economic development bill, a rare honor for a freshman representative. Obermueller credits his moderate reputation for helping recruit Republican co-authors on that bill and for helping him win a state House seat once held by Tim Pawlenty, a Republican who later became Minnesota's governor.

"Most people are most enthused for a fight out there as opposed to the end game and the solution," Obermueller said. "We have to have people who can actually move forward on these important topics, so laying out actual plans, having vigorous debate and building coalitions around it is really the most important thing."

We agree with Mike Obermueller, and we recommend him to be the next representative for the 2nd Congressional District.
Steve Israel refuses to allow the DCCC, which he chairs, take on any senior Republican leaders or committee chairmen and has given Kline a free pass to reelection, despite all the damage he is doing to American education and to American students. Bill Maher and Blue America are trying to help call attention to the nature of Kline's tenure in Congress. If you have it in you for one last contribution today, you can give directly to Mike's campaign here.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The History Of Oklahoma's Democratic Party And The Future Of Progressivism


Tom Guild, the progressive candidate who ran for the Oklahoma City congressional seat that was abandoned by James Lanksford, who's taking Tom Coburn's Senate seat, lost out, narrowly, to a sad sack Blue Dog-type, Al McAffrey, who offers virtually no choice and has virtually no chance to win. Not even fellow Blue Dogs like him. The 2010 Blue Dog nominee, Billy Coyle, endorsed Republican Steve Russell. This morning he sent us the guest post below, The History Of Oklahoma's Democratic Party And The Future Of Progressivism.

Part I

Why is Oklahoma currently a very conservative Republican bastion? Oklahoma became a state in 1907 during the bubbling up of a national progressive movement. Teddy Roosevelt was famous for busting up "big" things... like business. He made an ill-fated promise to not run for another term as president in 1908. This led to the regime of his hand-picked successor William Howard Taft, who was a great disappointment to TR and a welcome surprise to big business and the status quo. TR ran as the Bull Moose third party progressive in 1912 and finished second to the new president Woodrow Wilson. In the early days of socialist elective politics in America, the socialist candidates often ran as well or better in Oklahoma than in the other states. Oklahoma was trending towards prairie populism in many respects. By the 1930's and the election of Franklin Roosevelt, Oklahoma had become a reliably Democratic state.

Part II

Oklahoma continued to be governed by the New Deal coalition throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s. In the early 1950’s Oklahoma elected Raymond Gary as its Governor. Although a Democrat, Gary was very conservative in many respects. Oklahoma was represented in the U.S. Senate by the legendary Democrat Robert S. Kerr. Kerr carried enormous clout in the U.S. Senate and brought home the bacon in abundance for his home state. In 1958, J. Howard Edmondson ran his famous "prairie fire" campaign and was elected governor in a big landslide. In 1962, the Democratic Party was badly split in the primary and runoff. The split led to the election of Henry Bellmon from Billings, as the first Republican Governor in state history. The rural/urban split in the Democratic Party allowed the election of a second Republican Governor Dewey Bartlett in 1966 and election of the first Republican Attorney General in state history, GT Blankenship. Bellmon had benefitted from a big chunk of votes in the traditionally Democratic rural areas, whereas Bartlett was elected on the strength of large margins in the big metropolitan areas. The state legislature, congressional delegation, and statewide offices otherwise remained firmly in Democratic hands. In 1970, Oklahoma returned to its Democratic traditions and elected the Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate David Hall from Tulsa, by a small margin. Hall ran extremely well in the traditionally Democratic rural areas and pulled ahead when those late were reported. At least one national network had called the race for Bartlett on election night.

Part III

Even as the GOP slowly gained a little traction for a few years in statewide offices, the congressional delegation remained nearly completely Democratic until 1968. Bob Kerr died suddenly and the iconic Bud Wilkinson was unable to capture a U.S. Senate seat as a Republican in 1964. He was demolished in the LBJ landslide in 1964. For a short time liberal lion Fred R. Harris held a seat in the U.S. Senate. It took until 1968 for the first Republican candidate, Henry Bellmon, to win a place in the U.S. Senate in modern day Oklahoma politics by wresting the Senate seat from the venerable and popular incumbent Democrat Mike Monroney. In 1972, the recently defeated Dewey Bartlett rose from the ashes and was elected to the U.S. Senate from Oklahoma. He had thousands of billboards all over the state that said... "Dewey Bartlett... Nixon Needs him." In the last electoral hurrah for Richard Nixon before the Watergate scandal exploded, Nixon's coattails were long enough to elect Bartlett in 1972. In the depths of Watergate, Bellmon was very narrowly re-elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974 over the extremely popular Democratic congressman from the old second district Ed Edmondson. Ever so slowly Republicans were becoming somewhat more electable to Congress from Oklahoma, especially the Senate. The venerable Carl Albert, Oklahoma's Little Giant from Little Dixie and the old third congressional district, came within an eyelash of becoming president due to his powerful position as the Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House. At times he was second in line to be president, and when Nixon's Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in disgrace, Albert was for a short time next in line to the American throne. The bad news for Democrats was that presidential candidates from the Democratic Party were becoming less competitive in Oklahoma in presidential contests. In 1968, the Democratic Presidential candidate Hubert H. Humphrey was crippled by the third party candidacy of George Wallace, the southern segregationist from Alabama. This allowed Richard Nixon's narrow victory in 1968.

Part IV

David Hall was engulfed in a scandal near the end of his term as governor. Hall ran for re-election, and was challenged by the potent Clem McSpadden, and a dark horse challenger from Seminole, David Boren. Boren and his Boren Broom Brigade promised to sweep out the old guard. His father had been a congressman, so a case could have easily been made that David Boren represented the old guard. In politics perception is reality. Hall was damaged goods and finished third in the Democratic Primary. McSpadden ran first, but he lacked enough political strength to beat the broom brigade, and Boren surged to a victory in the runoff election. The Republicans nominated State Senator Jim Inhofe over his senate colleague Denzil Garrison. Boren was running as a reformer and so was Inhofe. Boren had become a political phenomenon overnight. In the November general election Boren carried 73 of the state's 77 counties (losing only Tulsa, Nowata, Washington, and Major Counties). Boren crushed Inhofe. The state legislature remained firmly in control of the Democratic Party as did most of the county offices in the vast majority of the 77 counties statewide. Boren governed as a centrist. He had once been the butt of jokes among his colleagues in the state legislature, but as they say in dog sled racing, "If you're not the lead dog, the view never changes." Boren now had tens of thousands of politicos as his "best" friends. These newly found friends had laughed and scoffed at him and marginalized his campaign for governor when he first announced his candidacy. David Hall was indicted and convicted of political corruption immediately following his term as governor and spent time in a federal penitentiary. Dewey Bartlett was losing his battle with cancer and not able to seek another term in the U.S. Senate. Boren withstood sensational accusations regarding his personal life in the Democratic Primary, and easily beat former OSU President Bob Kamm to capture a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Part V

George Nigh's election in 1978 and easy re-election in 1982 ushered in an era of good feelings in Oklahoma politics. Nigh had served for decades as the lieutenant governor. He had spoken at hundreds of graduations, fish fries, receptions, installations, and other events over the years. He had even served short stints as acting governor for various reasons. He won a tough primary and runoff in 1978 and glided to re-election in 1982. He was the first Democratic Candidate for Governor who in 1982 finally carried Major County for the first time in state history. The economy went south during Nigh's second term. He was happy as a clam and later served a five-year stint as president of Central State University, that experienced a name change to the University of Central Oklahoma. Nigh had a knack for remembering names and an easy relationship with a wide variety of Oklahomans all the way up the political and economic spectrum. Nigh tends towards egalitarianism, but was stubbornly mainstream and not polarizing in his politics. The father of the modern Republican Party in Oklahoma Henry Bellmon succeeded Nigh as governor in 1986, much to the chagrin of hard right conservatives and to the delight of many civil libertarians. Democratic Progressive David Walters followed Bellmon for one term as governor in 1990. Walters was likely unfairly tarred by a somewhat complicated campaign finance "scandal" and almost run out of elective politics by the Daily Oklahoman and his political enemies on what seemed to many observers to be trumped up criminal charges. 1994 was a watershed year for the changing of the partisan political guard in Oklahoma. Frank Keating was elected as a Republican Governor in 1994 and served two terms. Also in 1994 King David Boren renounced his throne in the U.S. Senate and followed his passion to become the president of the University of Oklahoma. Jim Inhofe moved from the U.S. House to Boren's unexpired Senate seat by defeating moderate to moderate conservative U.S. House Colleague Dave McCurdy. This special election more than ever indicated that "blue dog" Democrats were fast becoming a dying breed in Oklahoma electoral politics. McCurdy was bright, energetic, and popular, but still was no match for the now very conservative Inhofe. The march towards a 100% Republican congressional delegation was nearly complete.

Part VI

Ronald Reagan was controversial to say the least. Reagan raised taxes as governor of California. He raised taxes and raised the debt ceiling multiple times as president. His die hard supporters today invoke his name when opposing tax hikes or raising the debt ceiling. A little bit of Alice in Wonderland sometimes goes a long way in American politics. He used the creation of the Reverend Jerry Falwell, the Moral Majority, to his political advantage, but often gave only lip service to the stated goals of the Moral Majority, and did little to substantively advance their agenda. He was the darling of the Falwell group, while at the same time being the first divorced president, surviving a messy and well publicized break up with his first movie star wife Jane Wyman. One thing is certain in Oklahoma. Oklahomans were buying what Reagan was selling when he ran for president in 1968, 1976, 1980, and for re-election as president in 1984. Pollsters found a surprise in the polling in Oklahoma for the 1980 general election between Reagan, Democratic Incumbent Jimmy Carter, and Republican Third Party Candidate John Anderson. Reagan was polling as much, or more, support in Oklahoma among Democrats as was the Democratic Incumbent President. Reagan's popularity in Oklahoma among so-called "Reagan Democrats" hastened the realignment from the Democratic Party to the GOP. One of Reagan's fervent acolytes, State Senator Don Nickles, a Republican from Ponca City, stormed the Oklahoma political stage in 1980 by wresting the nomination for the U.S. Senate to replace Henry Bellmon, from a megabucks contender representing the Noble family and Tulsa philanthropist John Zink. Nickles and Zink ran close in the primary that eliminated Ed Nobel, and Nickles pulled away to a convincing win in the runoff. He fairly easily dispatched a strong Democratic Nominee Andy Coats in the general election. The one thing Nickles brought to the table that no other Oklahoma Republican U.S. Senator had before, was a long tenure in the Senate. He served from 1980 until January of 2005, when he was replaced by GOP Congressman Tom Coburn. By the time Nickles retired from the Senate, after an unsuccessful revolt against Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott, Oklahoma had become a Republican state in all but voter registration figures that still showed many more Democrats than Republicans registered to vote in the state. Today, many of those formerly Blue Dog or Reagan Democrats have joined the GOP or re-registered as independents.

Part VII

Democrats have come full circle in the history of the state of Oklahoma. In the first decade of the 21st century, Democrats lost control of the Oklahoma State House of Representatives and a few years later lost control of the Oklahoma State Senate. Previous to this takeover of the house, Republicans had only controlled the state house for a two-year period in 1921-2 after the Warren Harding presidential landslide in 1920. Until the 21st century takeover, the GOP had never controlled the state senate. Takeover of the state legislature was hastened by weak showings in Oklahoma by Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry in 2004, and President Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012. Kerry and Obama both had identical percentages in 2004 and 2008, with Kerry running somewhat stronger in the traditionally Democratic rural areas in 2004 and Obama running a bit stronger in the urban areas in 2008. Obama ran a few tenths of a percentage point worse in 2012 in Oklahoma than in 2008. Republicans have quickly strengthened their grip on the state legislature with a 3 to 1 advantage in the state senate and approximately a 2.5 to 1 advantage in the number of seats currently held in the state house. Democrats had a good election cycle in 2006 when Democratic Governor Brad Henry was easily re-elected over Congressman Ernest Istook, and Democrats won all statewide offices on the ballot except corporation commissioner. The fleeting success was wiped out when Congresswoman Mary Fallin was easily elected governor in 2010 by dispatching Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins in the general election. Askins had survived a brutal primary with Attorney General Drew Edmondson. Askins won the primary by a political whisker. Both Askins and Edmondson were accomplished, strong, and attractive candidates, but it didn't change the dynamics of the election. In 2010, Republicans won every statewide state race, and now hold every single statewide state office, including all three corporation commissioners. To add insult to injury, when Blue Dog Democrat Dan Boren, son of OU President David Boren, voluntarily retired from the U.S. House in 2012, Republicans captured the lone remaining Democratic seat on the congressional delegation, by taking the second congressional district. 2014 finds that Democrats have no representation in statewide state office and no representation in the congressional delegation, and are badly outnumbered in both houses of the state legislature. The Democratic lead in voter registration by 2014 had shrunk to a mere 5,000 in recently released figures from the Oklahoma State Election Board. This is almost certainly the last election cycle for the foreseeable future, when Democrats will outnumber Republicans among registered voters in the Sooner State.

Conclusion and Recommendations

It is abundantly clear that the Democratic Party in Oklahoma has become a weak and relatively uncompetitive institution. The metamorphosis from 800 pound gorilla in Oklahoma to a minority party losing ground nearly every election cycle has taken place over many decades. Republicans have long played demagogue on race, immigration, God-gays-and guns, the Panama Canal Treaty, the federal "takeover" of health care, public schools etc. to convince Oklahoma voters to vote against their best interests. It is also a tactic for absolving the GOP of their failures to provide health care, healthy and well-funded public schools etc.

Progressives must fight back by continuing to building their own organizations and infrastructure to supplement whatever support the Democratic Party can afford to progressives running for public office in our state. There are a number of good progressive organizations such as Change Oklahoma, the Brennan Society, the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, the Peace House, Oklahomans to Abolish the Death Penalty, LULAC, the NAACP, the Sierra Club, OKC Pride, and many others. One of the weaknesses is that these good progressive organizations don't always coordinate their activities and their efforts. To be successful more needs to be done in that regard. Progressives need to be able to recruit, train, and fund progressive candidates in Oklahoma to reverse course and put public education, health care, civil and voting rights, protecting the middle and working classes, and protecting the environment back in the forefront of public policy in our state.

Carlos Ortiz and I, and the leadership and membership of Brennan Society and Oklahomans of South American origin have started a dialogue about starting a Brennan Institute that would be formed for the purposes of cultural and political engagement in our state. Portfolios on a governing board would be afforded to leaders willing to join the effort, like leaders of Change Oklahoma, the Brennan Society, the OCRJ, LULAC, the NAACP, the Peace House, Oklahoma leaders from the Hispanic Community who hail from South America, the Sierra Club, the Peace House, Oklahomans opposed to the death penalty, OKC Pride, and many other groups already in existence.

The Brennan Institute would have a permanent office, perhaps stand alone or perhaps using a space available donated by one of the progressive groups in our state. We are in the very preliminary stages of working out the details for the new institute.

We have an emergency on our hands, and we must urgently come together to do what we can to take the necessary steps to move our state forward again. If not us...who? If not now, when?

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40,000 votes here, 40,000 votes there, after a while it could start to add up -- or could it?


ThinkProgress caption: "Dr. Francys Johnson with the NAACP leads an occupation of the Georgia State Capitol to protest voter suppression."

by Ken

Howie has been manning the 2014 voter-suppression beat, which following recent custom has been one of the big stories of the election campaign, or at least it should have been. It matters even more in an election with so many races that are looking so close in states that are so polarized that each side's voter turnout could be the deciding factor.

Nevertheless, despite occasional minor setbacks to the Republican voter-suppression juggernaut -- which seem hardly consequential compared with all the successes -- the effort is going so well that it seems now well established that Republicans get to decide who can and can't vote. It's an impressive accomplishment given the complexity of the machinery involved, which includes all those crooked state secretaries of state plus warriors in the ranks of those cracker-brained judges stuffed onto the state and federal benches for just such purposes.

Take Georgia. (Please!)

There was, of course, a recent hullabaloo about those estimated 40,000 new voter registrations racked up by Georgia activists which somehow don't seem to have shown up on the state's voter rolls. This seemed to be quieted as shocked state officials denied indignantly that there was any such registration shortfall. Yet groups like the New Georgia Project seem to keep finding names of new registrants missing.

This doesn't even seem to have been an issue for another of those judicial geniuses, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Christopher Brasher, in Atlanta, who yesterday, reports ThinkProgress's Alice Ollstein, "denied a petition from civil rights advocates to force Georgia’s Secretary of State to process an estimated 40,000 voter registrations that have gone missing from the public database." Voters missing from the rolls? His honor doesn't seem to have been interested in hearing about it. He thought the petitioners were getting ahead of themselves. Nothing to worry about yet in the judge's mind.

Here's some more of what Alice had to report (links onsite):
Though early voting is well underway in the state, Judge Brasher called the lawsuit “premature,” and said it was based on “merely set out suspicions and fears that the [state officials] will fail to carry out their mandatory duties.”

Angela Aldridge, an organizer with the group 9 to 5 Atlanta Working Women who has been working to register voters for several months, told ThinkProgress she was “furious” when she learned of the outcome: “That impedes people’s rights,” she said. “People need information before they go out to vote and they don’t even know if they’re registered or not. They were discouraged, upset, kind of frazzled, not really knowing what was going on. What can you even say to people who want to vote but possibly can’t? They might get disengaged and say, ‘Why vote? It doesn’t matter.’ It’s really disheartening.”

The New Georgia Project, who spearheaded the voter registration drive and brought the lawsuit against the state, vowed Tuesday to “continue to pursue all legal avenues available.” But with the election mere days away, there may be little remedy for the tens of thousands of people who submitted all necessary documents, but have still not received a registration card. Four of those impacted voters were present at the court hearing, but were denied the opportunity to testify.

Dr. Francys Johnson, President of the Georgia NAACP, who represented the 40 thousand voters in the court, called the ruling “outrageous.”

“All in all – a republican appointed judge has backed the republican Secretary of State to deny the right to vote to a largely African American and Latino population,” Johnson wrote in a press release.
On Monday, dozens of Georgians occupied the Secretary of State’s office to demand he meet with them and explain what happened to the tens of thousands of missing registrations. At that protest, in which eight activists were arrested, former American Government teacher and civil rights lawyer Marsha Burrofsky told ThinkProgress she suspects foul play.

“When we started registering people this spring, people were saying, ‘You know, I registered six months ago, but I haven’t gotten anything yet!’ We thought that was strange,” she said. So we sat down with our list of registrations and checked, and about 20 to 20 percent were not showing up. We truly don’t know where things stand with them.”

Burrofsky said the people she registered in Dunwoody, Georgia, a more affluent and conservative community, did show up in the system, while those in more diverse and low-income communities in DeKalb County mysteriously disappeared.

“It just hadn’t occurred to me that this would be a tactic that the Secretary of State could use. I was very naive, I guess. I feel absolutely sick that this election is being stolen,” she said.

With the races for the state’s governor’s mansion and Senate seat too close to call, the missing voters could not only sway the political control of the state, but the political control of Congress’ upper chamber. . . .
I guess the judge thinks there'll be oodles of time to reconsider the question if it's really necessary -- after the election.

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Guest Post By Mikel Weisser, A Progressive Running In Arizona's Back Country


Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Cliven Bundy and crackpot state Senator Kelli Ward (R-AZ)

Let me introduce you to a new name, a new candidate you probably never heard of, not even if you're live in the district he's running in, AZ-04, Arizona's reddest (R+20) district-- Prescott and almost everything between Phoenix and California. The Democrat taking on right-wing ideologue Paul Gosar this year is Mikel Weisser. He's not going to win in 7 days. But he is doing something the DCCC would never dream of-- building towards a future Democratic take-over of the district. Meet Mikel:
Howdy, my name is Mikel Weisser. I am the Democratic candidate for US House in Arizona's 4th Congressional District, the rugged-est, reddest, most redneck part of America’s reddest state, Arizona. I’m a native Texan, a former teen runaway, former ditch-digger, homeless vet, and junior high social studies teacher. I grew up in a small town near the border of Mexico. About 15 yrs ago I moved to AZ from Illinois por que yo hablo poquito español. I share my humble beginnings because I believe the beauty of the American Dream is that a man can remake himself and make a better world if he tries.

I also believe for many, many people, this pitch is coming so late in the cycle, you think it’s a joke. “Hey, look at me way out in AZ demanding your attention, gimme all your money and your time!” Sure. I understand. But here in this last minute, I am doing exactly that, asking you to think about Arizona and my campaign. Let me tell you why.

You should know, from the first, I am a tremendously outmatched underdog. The GOP literally has double the number of registered voters, a 30 yr dynasty, and lots of Bubbas who like being bullies out here… and that none of that scares me a bit. My opponent Paul Gosar (AZ-04) is a Tea Party incumbent talking head willing to wreck the whole country to score political points. [As of the October 15 FEC reporting deadline, Gosar has $164,048 cash-on-hand and Mikel had $4,119, after spending around $30,000 in the district.]

He’s the kind of guy who would travel to Cliven Bundy’s ranch to do a photo op (up top)-- to hug it out with him, to show support for the Bundy agenda, conservative values agenda-- a mouthpiece, an echo chamber for every Tea Party-right wing-fundamentalist talking point that’s come through the news stream. He voted against the Affordable Care Act 54 times; voted against protection of women against domestic violence; voted against minimum wage; voted to shut down the government twice; voted to impeach Holder/censure Holder; calls for the impeachment of Obama, on and on and on and on ad naseum. Half the words in half of his speeches are “Benghazi,” the other half are “IRS.” He’s that kind of guy.

I’m the kind of guy who left my careers as a teacher and slam poet/arts organizer to devote my full time efforts to changing America using the political process. I’m the kind of guy who is leading Arizona's cannabis reform movement by building the greenest possible grassroots coalition, who plays my own guitar on the protest songs at our rallies, who hand-paints his own signs and does his own lit-drop, who travels the state to promote issues like LGBT rights, the performing arts, immigration and education in a rickety old van with more than 200,000 miles on it, who is not afraid to sleep on the floor sometimes if that’s what it takes… and who has developed the faith of a network of dozens of devoted, inspired and inspiring volunteers around the state who feed me, house me, make zillions of phone calls on my behalf and are dedicated to making my campaign about making a difference, not politics as usual.

I know, it sounds great, but why care about my song and dance with 434 other federal races to watch? Well, I could go on about how unusual, how bold, how intriguing and how much fun our approach is. I could tell you Wild Bunch Media’s Jennifer Smith has called my race “the most amazing human interest story in congressional politics,” but if you just click the links on this page, you can decide on that for yourself.

I could tell you about the endorsements I’ve gained from PDA’s national office, DFA’s Arizona's chapter, Stonewall Democrats of Arizona, Congressman Raul Grijalva, Brave New Films, and over a dozen other Arizona legislators and leaders. And now, DWT has given me this chance as well. Here’s the secret truth of why my race is important: I’m not trying to win an election, I’m trying to change the world and it so happens in Arizona in this election cycle, my loud mouthed idealist campaign could be the final push it takes to drive several of our statewide candidates over the top. If I and the legislative candidates that I’m working with and the state party efforts come together the way we want, we can affect the outcome of some really critical state elections. Right now, 2014 cycle, Arizonans are electing their governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, the education guy, the corporation commission people. In 2012 we didn’t win any statewide races; but after two years of working all those races are competitive. In my primary two months ago, there was a shift of 23,000 votes away from the GOP towards me and there was only 85,000 votes cast. He still has the lead, but it’s closer and it’s close enough where it can start to matter for our statewide candidates-- Fred DuVal is running for Governor; and Felecia Rotellini running for Attorney General, Terry Goddard running for Secretary of State. These races are close enough so a strong rural turnout, along with what we already have going in the urban districts, can change the outcome of the statewide race.

In 2006, we won the governorship in a state that’s predominantly Republican. Janet Napolitano was expected to be defeated; but the rural parties turned it around. Whether or not it’s about Mikel Weisser becoming congressman, it’s definitely about getting some progressive values in a state that’s famous for being racist and redneck and anti-progressives.

So there it is-- a numbers game, a quirky chance to play a percentage and maybe upset the GOP’s whole elephant parade. If you choose to get involved, there are a lot of ways to get involved: 1st and foremost, go to my website, browse around the You Tube channel and look before you act. I may be too wild for you, seriously. If not: share, share, share, click, like, retweet-- especially with your maven friends, especially with folks in media. We are earning our media. 2) If you’ve ever volunteered on a PDA virtual phone bank or want the experience and can invest two hours, we’d love to have you. 3) If you want to give me money, use Act Blue, hundreds already have and we could really use it. In fact we need money as much, if not more, than any of those folks who’ll blitz your inbox every day and beg and plead. I didn’t come here to beg and plead, only to change the world.

Don’t hesitate to contact me.
THX again,


Mikel Weisser
4490 Sundown Dr
So-Hi, AZ 86413

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Education Policy In California-- Guest Post By Ellen Lubic


Now that the billionaires such as Eli Broad and the Walton Family, and their cohorts working to privatize America's public schools for their own profit, have zeroed in on self appointed and self identifying education expert, Marshall Tuck, and have poured multi millions of dollars into his campaign for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction (reportedly up to $8 Million), it behooves us to examine closely his bragging and his mendacious statements about his successes. With fraternity boyish looks, he dashes around the state and announces himself as the man who will save our public schools. He uses paid actors in his TV ads who present themselves as real parents and students, in his rush to misinform voters about his work history and his views.

In reality, Tuck is all about charter schools, as an owner, and as shown in his resume, with his few years of senior business administration at Green Dot, and then his few years with PLAS (Partnership with Los Angeles Schools). If one is judged by the company they keep, he is to be avoided by any thinking person, particularly voters.

At Green Dot, he connected with the infamous parent trigger instigator who is funded by the Walton Family Foundation and Eli Broad, the notorious Ben Austin of Parent Revolution, who continues to try to invade inner city public schools to convert them to charters to please and enrich his Walton/Broad bosses who have paid him multi millions in donations. The more charters that California taxpayers support, the greater cash rewards the charter operators take to the bank. At parent trigger venue, Desert Trails School in Adelanto, the CEO (aka Principal) salary is $200,000 while the teachers earn only $36,000, and the turnover of teachers since this triggered charter imposition has been a serious detriment to students.

California now has the most charters in the nation, close to 2,000, and LAUSD district has the most of any city, close to 300. However, despite Tuck's claims that his Green Dot charters all were wildly successful, this is not the case. An example is Inglewood Amino which Tuck claims had few dropouts, but the stats show a dropout rate of 65%. Also, he brags all students were college ready, when in fact only 2% achieved readiness for higher ed.

Tuck also eliminated ethnic studies curriculum which further angered parents of the many different cultures that make up LAUSD. During his PLAS episode, he angered Latino parents to the degree that they called for MALDEF legal help in pressing a law suit against him and the organization for eliminating dual language learning. The cause of action included racial prejudice. Most sources cite Tuck's preference for white students from higher income families. His Charters do not reflect a preponderance of inner city children, but, parents charge that they appear to be carefully and selectively segregated.

His high tech Model N plan failed to produce adequate software so that it could not be implemented. This costly Tuck error was paid for by the public. He claims that he had Parent Engagement, Effective Teachers, Curriculum, and Technology all covered, but the facts show otherwise, and his public rhetoric seems filled with empty education hyperbole. He has virtually no background in high tech nor in education. Rather, his academic resume shows he university studies were in business, and he was a Wall Street trained investor/broker at Salomon Brothers before he decided to turn to Charter School entrepreneurship.

Tuck's donors include Broad, the Waltons, Mrs Steve Jobs, and others who all want universal American public education to be privatized for free market profit. His close allies include the unscrupulous Michelle Rhee and her basket ball player husband who is now mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson, who are owners of a chain of charter schools, and are mentored and supported by Eli Broad and David Welch, and the Waltons. Donor David Welch who pressed the Vergara case to both do away with teacher tenure, and to break the backs of the teachers unions has also helped to institute similar cases in NYC and other cities around the nation in the billionaires push to privatize America's public schools for free market investment. Tuck's supporters also include the Charter School Association. The vast amounts of Wall Street cash donated to the campaign has resulted in endless phony commercials every few minutes on every TV station.

Tuck left Green Dot with a cloud over his head, and when he left PLAS, this jobless Wall Street plutocrat with a questionable past decided to run for State Superintendent. Although he fell double digit points behind the incumbent Tom Torlakson (who spent his career as an educator in public schools before he ran for elective office) in the primary, he was a close enough challenger that now they will again vie for the office in the November 4 election.

Too much money, too few principles!

Tuck is clearly anti-people-of-color and ethnic studies, anti-public schools, anti-trained public school teachers, anti-teachers unions, and against any system that does not offer huge free market education profits to investors.


It is imperative that California voters vote for Tom Torlakson, a professional teacher, and the incumbent, as California Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Ellen Lubic, Director, Joining Forces for Education
Public Policy Educator
Educational Researcher

Bankster Marshall Tuck-- wrong for California education in every way

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Mark Pocan Guest Post: Wisconsin’s Governor Election Has National Consequences


Mark Pocan was elected to Congress from Madison, Wisconsin when Tammy Baldwin went on to the U.S. Senate. He beat his Republican rival 265,422 (68%) to 124,683 (32%). Since being elected he's had the best lifetime ProgressivePunch crucial vote score of any Member of Congress, 98.68. With George Miller retiring, Pocan is generally viewed as organized labor's go-to guy in Congress. He's accrued a lot of respect and admiration from his colleagues, especially for a freshman. He's widely considered a shoe-in for reelection and he's been spending his time and energy on helping other Democrats, particularly in Wisconsin. He wrote this guest post for us last night, having spent the day campaigning for Mary Burke.

I often get asked how does Wisconsin elect Ron Johnson and Scott Walker one year, and Tammy Baldwin and Barack Obama the next? Why is Wisconsin such a purple state? I tell them we aren’t a purple state because of our politics. In fact, when Wisconsinites get out to vote, we are a beautiful shade of indigo blue. But if we look purple, it’s because Scott Walker has bruised and damaged our reputation across the nation.

Shortly after being sworn in, Governor Scott Walker launched an all-out assault against collective bargaining rights for workers, followed by massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. He also slashed education funding, passed up an opportunity to expand Wisconsin’s Medicaid program, BadgerCare, and gave taxpayer money to corporations that shipped Wisconsin jobs overseas. All while miserably failing to achieve his promise of creating 250,000 jobs in his first term-- he’s on track to barely reach half that goal. Wisconsin is dead last in the Midwest for job creation because Scott Walker’s too busy taking care of Scott Walker’s presidential ambitions to really care about creating jobs.

The failed "Walkernomics" austerity policies have put Wisconsin dead last behind our Midwest neighbors in economic growth and job creation. Wages in Wisconsin have remained stagnant and working class Wisconsin families have struggled under Scott Walker. What is clear to nearly everyone in Wisconsin is sharp cuts in state spending, the assault on public sector unions, and tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations have not meant better jobs and better wages for working folks-- they’ve been a boon for Scott Walker’s donors. Scott Walker has put his political ambitions ahead of helping Wisconsin’s middle class, time and time again.

But don’t think Scott Walker is merely Wisconsin’s problem. The entirety of Scott Walker’s first term as Governor has been about beefing up his Republican resume for his all but certain 2016 run for President. Wisconsin was the test lab for every single Republican dream policy from school vouchers to massive tax cuts-- and we can’t let this experiment out of the lab. If Scott Walker makes it to the White House, we’re all in big trouble. The best way to make sure Scott Walker does not take his failed conservative policies national is to elect Mary Burke in Wisconsin.

Mary Burke is running neck and neck with Scott Walker. The last poll had them dead tie at 47-47. We have a great ground game to get out the vote, but Scott Walker has the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson and every conservative group behind him. Any help in these remaining days will help ensure we don’t let big money beat out our grassroots efforts. If all goes well, Scott Walker will be the first GOP hopeful to fall for the 2016 cycle.

Rep. Mark Pocan

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In Case You Don't See Today's L.A. Times...


This is the full page ad Blue America is running today in The Times, a response to over half a million dollars of garbage ads Sheldon Adelson and his family and cronies have thrown into CA-33 against Ted Lieu and on behalf of a random Republican they're running.

If you'd like to help Ted's Get Out The Vote efforts, you can do that here. If you'd like to help Blue America re-run the ad on Monday... you can do that here. More important than either action-- vote next Tuesday... or sooner.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Paul Krugman's Powerful Indictment Of The Republican Party's War Against Working Families


The Republicans love it when feeble-minded or low-info independents and moderates blame "both sides" for governmental dysfunction instead of focusing, for example, on the conservative ideology and GOP mania to shrink government so that they can drown it in a bathtub... in the poetic words of Republican crooked lobbyist and power monger Grover Norquist. Sunday, Paul Krugamn, sitting in for Charles Blow, devoted a column to blasting that pathetic Beltway concept so cherished by former Washington Post political columnist David Broder and other evangelists of a conservative consensus in Washington. Ostensibly, he was talking about Republican obstructionism to effective economic stimulus for an economy they wrecked.
America used to be a country that built for the future. Sometimes the government built directly: Public projects, from the Erie Canal to the Interstate Highway System, provided the backbone for economic growth. Sometimes it provided incentives to the private sector, like land grants to spur railroad construction. Either way, there was broad support for spending that would make us richer.

But nowadays we simply won’t invest, even when the need is obvious and the timing couldn’t be better. And don’t tell me that the problem is “political dysfunction” or some other weasel phrase that diffuses the blame. Our inability to invest doesn’t reflect something wrong with “Washington”; it reflects the destructive ideology that has taken over the Republican Party.

Some background: More than seven years have passed since the housing bubble burst, and ever since, America has been awash in savings-- or more accurately, desired savings-- with nowhere to go. Borrowing to buy homes has recovered a bit, but remains low. Corporations are earning huge profits, but are reluctant to invest in the face of weak consumer demand, so they’re accumulating cash or buying back their own stock. Banks are holding almost $2.7 trillion in excess reserves-- funds they could lend out, but choose instead to leave idle.

And the mismatch between desired saving and the willingness to invest has kept the economy depressed. Remember, your spending is my income and my spending is your income, so if everyone tries to spend less at the same time, everyone’s income falls.

There’s an obvious policy response to this situation: public investment. We have huge infrastructure needs, especially in water and transportation, and the federal government can borrow incredibly cheaply-- in fact, interest rates on inflation-protected bonds have been negative much of the time (they’re currently just 0.4 percent). So borrowing to build roads, repair sewers and more seems like a no-brainer. But what has actually happened is the reverse. After briefly rising after the Obama stimulus went into effect, public construction spending has plunged. Why?

In a direct sense, much of the fall in public investment reflects the fiscal troubles of state and local governments, which account for the great bulk of public investment.

These governments generally must, by law, balance their budgets, but they saw revenues plunge and some expenses rise in a depressed economy. So they delayed or canceled a lot of construction to save cash.

Yet this didn’t have to happen. The federal government could easily have provided aid to the states to help them spend-- in fact, the stimulus bill included such aid, which was one main reason public investment briefly increased. But once the G.O.P. took control of the House, any chance of more money for infrastructure vanished. Once in a while Republicans would talk about wanting to spend more, but they blocked every Obama administration initiative.

And it’s all about ideology, an overwhelming hostility to government spending of any kind. This hostility began as an attack on social programs, especially those that aid the poor, but over time it has broadened into opposition to any kind of spending, no matter how necessary and no matter what the state of the economy.

You can get a sense of this ideology at work in some of the documents produced by House Republicans under the leadership of Paul Ryan, the chairman of the Budget Committee. For example, a 2011 manifesto titled Spend Less, Owe Less, Grow the Economy called for sharp spending cuts even in the face of high unemployment, and dismissed as “Keynesian” the notion that “decreasing government outlays for infrastructure lessens government investment.” (I thought that was just arithmetic, but what do I know?) Or take a Wall Street Journal editorial from the same year titled “The Great Misallocators,” asserting that any money the government spends diverts resources away from the private sector, which would always make better use of those resources.

Never mind that the economic models underlying such assertions have failed dramatically in practice, that the people who say such things have been predicting runaway inflation and soaring interest rates year after year and keep being wrong; these aren’t the kind of people who reconsider their views in the light of evidence. Never mind the obvious point that the private sector doesn’t and won’t supply most kinds of infrastructure, from local roads to sewer systems; such distinctions have been lost amid the chants of private sector good, government bad.

And the result, as I said, is that America has turned its back on its own history. We need public investment; at a time of very low interest rates, we could easily afford it. But build we won’t.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party is doing all it can to discourage and suppress voters and to make sure important decisions are left in the hands of their own base. We have a new song for that:

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