Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Is There A Central Core To Trumpism-- Aside From Kleptocracy?


I'm still sticking with the theory that there's a mammoth and unstoppable tsunami forming up now and preparing to sweep away the Republican majorities in the House and maybe even the-- nearly impossible-- Senate. This kind of thing-- from a respectable Michigan blogger and party activist-- makes me wonder if it really is unstoppable though. Can this kind of clueless embrace of a Bannon-inspired war of the sexes actually derail a tsunami? Maybe...

I get the feeling that Bannon isn't... the 3 Stooges-- and that he's not going to at least try to turn back the tsunami. I mean, can you imagine what the loss of 50-60 House seats would do to his agenda and Trumopanzee's illegitimate presidency? You can't? Look at that nice Nancy Ohanian painting at the top of the page more closely. Trump 2019.

Meanwhile, Adam Serwer drew a portrait of Bannon's nationalist agenda that helps reminding us what's worth fighting against as we battle not just the specter of vile patriarchy but also against women being made to feel uncomfortable by unreconstructed pigs. "Thirty years ago," he began, reminding us what gravity is, "nearly half of Louisiana voted for a Klansman, and the media struggled to explain why. It was 1990 and David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, astonished political observers when he came within striking distance of defeating incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston, earning 43 percent of the vote."
Was it economic anxiety? The Washington Post reported that the state had “a large working class that has suffered through a long recession.” Was it a blow against the state’s hated political establishment? An editorial from United Press International explained, “Louisianans showed the nation by voting for Duke that they were mad as hell and not going to take it any more.” Was it anti-Washington rage? A Loyola University pollster argued, “There were the voters who liked Duke, those who hated J. Bennett Johnston, and those who just wanted to send a message to Washington.”

What message would those voters have been trying to send by putting a Klansman into office?

“There’s definitely a message bigger than Louisiana here,” Susan Howell, then the director of the Survey Research Center at the University of New Orleans, told the Los Angeles Times. “There is a tremendous amount of anger and frustration among working-class whites, particularly where there is an economic downturn. These people feel left out; they feel government is not responsive to them.”

Duke’s strong showing, however, wasn’t powered merely by poor or working-class whites-- and the poorest demographic in the state, black voters, backed Johnston. Duke “clobbered Johnston in white working-class districts, ran even with him in predominantly white middle-class suburbs, and lost only because black Louisianans, representing one-quarter of the electorate, voted against him in overwhelming numbers,” the Washington Post reported in 1990. Duke picked up nearly 60 percent of the white vote. Faced with Duke’s popularity among whites of all income levels, the press framed his strong showing largely as the result of the economic suffering of the white working classes. Louisiana had “one of the least-educated electorates in the nation; and a large working class that has suffered through a long recession,” The Post stated.

By accepting the economic theory of Duke’s success, the media were buying into the candidate’s own vision of himself as a savior of the working class. He had appealed to voters in economic terms: He tore into welfare and foreign aid, affirmative action and outsourcing, and attacked political action committees for subverting the interests of the common man. He even tried to appeal to black voters, buying a 30-minute ad in which he declared, “I’m not your enemy.”

Duke’s candidacy had initially seemed like a joke. He was a former Klan leader who had showed up to public events in a Nazi uniform and lied about having served during the Vietnam War, a cartoonishly vain supervillain whose belief in his own status as a genetic Übermensch was belied by his plastic surgeries. The joke soon soured, as many white Louisiana voters made clear that Duke’s past didn’t bother them.

Many of Duke’s voters steadfastly denied that the former Klan leader was a racist. The St. Petersburg Times reported in 1990 that Duke supporters “are likely to blame the media for making him look like a racist.” The paper quoted G. D. Miller, a “59-year-old oil-and-gas lease buyer,” who said, “The way I understood the Klan, it’s not anti-this or anti-that.”

Duke’s rejoinder to the ads framing him as a racist resonated with his supporters. “Remember,” he told them at rallies, “when they smear me, they are really smearing you.”

The economic explanation carried the day: Duke was a freak creature of the bayou who had managed to tap into the frustrations of a struggling sector of the Louisiana electorate with an abnormally high tolerance for racist messaging.

While the rest of the country gawked at Louisiana and the Duke fiasco, Walker Percy, a Louisiana author, gave a prophetic warning to the New York Times.

“Don’t make the mistake of thinking David Duke is a unique phenomenon confined to Louisiana rednecks and yahoos. He’s not,” Percy said. “He’s not just appealing to the old Klan constituency, he’s appealing to the white middle class. And don’t think that he or somebody like him won’t appeal to the white middle class of Chicago or Queens.

A few days after Duke’s strong showing, the Queens-born businessman Donald Trump appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live.

“It’s anger. I mean, that’s an anger vote. People are angry about what’s happened. People are angry about the jobs. If you look at Louisiana, they’re really in deep trouble,” Trump told King.

Trump later predicted that Duke, if he ran for president, would siphon most of his votes away from the incumbent, George H. W. Bush-- in the process revealing his own understanding of the effectiveness of white-nationalist appeals to the GOP base.

“Whether that be good or bad, David Duke is going to get a lot of votes. Pat Buchanan-- who really has many of the same theories, except it's in a better package-- Pat Buchanan is going to take a lot of votes away from George Bush,” Trump said. “So if you have these two guys running, or even one of them running, I think George Bush could be in big trouble.” Little more than a year later, Buchanan embarrassed Bush by drawing 37 percent of the vote in New Hampshire’s Republican primary.

In February 2016, Trump was asked by a different CNN host about the former Klan leader’s endorsement of his Republican presidential bid.

“Well, just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke. Okay?,” Trump said. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So, I don’t know.”

Less than three weeks before the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump declared himself “the least racist person you have ever met.”

Even before he won, the United States was consumed by a debate over the nature of his appeal. Was racism the driving force behind Trump’s candidacy? If so, how could Americans, the vast majority of whom say they oppose racism, back a racist candidate?

During the final few weeks of the campaign, I asked dozens of Trump supporters about their candidate’s remarks regarding Muslims and people of color. I wanted to understand how these average Republicans-- those who would never read the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer or go to a Klan rally at a Confederate statue-- had nevertheless embraced someone who demonized religious and ethnic minorities. What I found was that Trump embodied his supporters’ most profound beliefs-- combining an insistence that discriminatory policies were necessary with vehement denials that his policies would discriminate and absolute outrage that the question would even be asked.

It was not just Trump’s supporters who were in denial about what they were voting for, but Americans across the political spectrum, who, as had been the case with those who had backed Duke, searched desperately for any alternative explanation-- outsourcing, anti-Washington anger, economic anxiety-- to the one staring them in the face. The frequent postelection media expeditions to Trump country to see whether the fever has broken, or whether Trump’s most ardent supporters have changed their minds, are a direct outgrowth of this mistake. These supporters will not change their minds because this is what they always wanted: a president who embodies the rage they feel toward those they hate and fear, while reassuring them that that rage is nothing to be ashamed of.

“I believe that everybody has a right to be in the United States no matter what your color, no matter what your race, your religion, what sex you prefer to be with, so I’m not against that at all, but I think that some of us just say racial statements without even thinking about it,” a customer-care worker named Pam—who like several people I spoke to, declined to give her last name—told me at a rally in Pennsylvania. However, she also defended Trump’s remarks on race and religion explicitly when I asked about them. “I think the other party likes to blow it out of proportion and kind of twist his words, but what he says is what he means, and it’s what a lot of us are thinking.”

Most Trump supporters I spoke with were not people who thought of themselves as racist. Rather, they saw themselves as antiracist, as people who held no hostility toward religious and ethnic minorities whatsoever-- a sentiment they projected onto their candidate.

...The specific dissonance of Trumpism-- advocacy for discriminatory, even cruel, policies combined with vehement denials that such policies are racially motivated-- provides the emotional core of its appeal. It is the most recent manifestation of a contradiction as old as the United States, a society founded by slaveholders on the principle that all men are created equal.

While other factors also led to Trump’s victory-- the last-minute letter from former FBI Director James Comey, the sexism that rationalized supporting Trump despite his confession of sexual assault, Hillary Clinton’s neglect of the Midwest-- had racism been toxic to the American electorate, Trump’s candidacy would not have been viable.

Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump has reneged or faltered on many of his biggest campaign promises-- on renegotiating nafta, punishing China, and replacing the Affordable Care Act with something that preserves all of its popular provisions but with none of its drawbacks. But his commitment to endorsing state violence to remake the country into something resembling an idealized past has not wavered.

He made a farce of his populist campaign by putting bankers in charge of the economy and industry insiders at the head of the federal agencies established to regulate their businesses. But other campaign promises have been more faithfully enacted: his ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries; the unleashing of immigration-enforcement agencies against anyone in the country illegally regardless of whether he poses a danger; an attempt to cut legal immigration in half; and an abdication of the Justice Department’s constitutional responsibility to protect black Americans from corrupt or abusive police, discriminatory financial practices, and voter suppression. In his own stumbling manner, Trump has pursued the race-based agenda promoted during his campaign. As the president continues to pursue a program that places the social and political hegemony of white Christians at its core, his supporters have shown few signs of abandoning him.

One hundred thirty-nine years since Reconstruction, and half a century since the tail end of the civil-rights movement, a majority of white voters backed a candidate who explicitly pledged to use the power of the state against people of color and religious minorities, and stood by him as that pledge has been among the few to survive the first year of his presidency. Their support was enough to win the White House, and has solidified a return to a politics of white identity that has been one of the most destructive forces in American history. This all occurred before the eyes of a disbelieving press and political class, who plunged into fierce denial about how and why this had happened. That is the story of the 2016 election.

...The plain meaning of Trumpism exists in tandem with denials of its implications; supporters and opponents alike understand that the president’s policies and rhetoric target religious and ethnic minorities, and behave accordingly. But both supporters and opponents usually stop short of calling these policies racist. It is as if there were a pothole in the middle of the street that every driver studiously avoided, but that most insisted did not exist even as they swerved around it.

That this shared understanding is seldom spoken aloud does not prevent people from acting according to its logic. It is the reason why, when Trump’s Muslim ban was first implemented, immigration officials stopped American citizens with Arabic names; why agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol have pursued fathers and mothers outside of schools and churches and deported them, as the administration has insisted that it is prioritizing the deportation of criminals; why Attorney General Jeff Sessions targets drug scofflaws with abandon and has dismantled even cooperative efforts at police accountability; why the president’s voting commission has committed itself to policies that will disenfranchise voters of color; why both schoolchildren and adults know to invoke the president’s name as a taunt against blacks, Latinos, and Muslims; why white supremacists wear hats that say “Make America great again.”

...Trump’s great political insight was that Obama’s time in office inflicted a profound psychological wound upon many white Americans, one that he could remedy by adopting the false narrative that placed the first black president outside the bounds of American citizenship. He intuited that Obama’s presence in the White House decreased the value of what W. E. B. Du Bois described as the “psychological wage” of whiteness across all classes of white Americans, and that the path to their hearts lay in invoking a bygone past when this affront had not taken place, and could not take place.

That the legacy of the first black president could be erased by a birther, that the woman who could have been the first female president was foiled by a man who confessed to sexual assault on tape—these were not drawbacks to Trump’s candidacy, but central to understanding how he would wield power, and on whose behalf.

Americans act with the understanding that Trump’s nationalism promises to restore traditional boundaries of race, gender, and sexuality. The nature of that same nationalism is to deny its essence, the better to salve the conscience and spare the soul.

...Trump defeated Clinton among white voters in every income category, winning by a margin of 57 to 34 among whites making less than $30,000; 56 to 37 among those making less than $50,000; 61 to 33 for those making $50,000 to $100,000; 56 to 39 among those making $100,000 to$200,000; 50 to 45 among those making $200,000 to$250,000; and 48 to 43 among those making more than $250,000. In other words, Trump won white voters at every level of class and income. He won workers, he won managers, he won owners, he won robber barons. This is not a working-class coalition; it is a nationalist one.

...Those numbers also reveal a much more complicated story than a Trump base made up of struggling working-class Americans turning to Trump as a result of their personal financial difficulties, not their ideological convictions. An avalanche of stories poured forth from mainstream media outlets, all with the same basic thesis: Trump’s appeal was less about racism than it was about hardship-- or, in the euphemism turned running joke, “economic anxiety.” Worse still, euphemisms such as “regular Americans,” typically employed by politicians to refer to white people, were now adopted by political reporters and writers wholesale: To be a regular or working-class American was to be white.

One early use of economic anxiety as an explanation for the Trump phenomenon came from NBC News’s Chuck Todd, in July 2015. “Trump and Sanders supporters are disenchanted with what they see as a broken system, fed up with political correctness and Washington dysfunction,” Todd said. “Economic anxiety is fueling both campaigns, but that’s where the similarities end.”

The idea that economic suffering could lead people to support either Trump or Sanders, two candidates with little in common, illustrates the salience of an ideological frame. Suffering alone doesn’t impel such choices; what does is how the causes of such hardship are understood.

...When you look at Trump’s strength among white Americans of all income categories, but his weakness among Americans struggling with poverty, the story of Trump looks less like a story of working-class revolt than a story of white backlash. And the stories of struggling white Trump supporters look less like the whole truth than a convenient narrative-- one that obscures the racist nature of that backlash, instead casting it as a rebellion against an unfeeling establishment that somehow includes working-class and poor people who happen not to be white.

Political correctness is a vague term, perhaps best defined by the conservative scholar Samuel Goldman. “What Trump and others seem to mean by political correctness is an extremely dramatic and rapidly changing set of discursive and social laws that, virtually overnight, people are expected to understand, to which they are expected to adhere.”

From a different vantage point, what Trump’s supporters refer to as political correctness is largely the result of marginalized communities gaining sufficient political power to project their prerogatives onto society at large. What a society finds offensive is not a function of fact or truth, but of power. It is why unpunished murders of black Americans by agents of the state draw less outrage than black football players’ kneeling for the National Anthem in protest against them. It is no coincidence that Trump himself frequently uses the term to belittle what he sees as unnecessary restrictions on state force.

But even as once-acceptable forms of bigotry have become unacceptable to express overtly, white Americans remain politically dominant enough to shape media coverage in a manner that minimizes obvious manifestations of prejudice, such as backing a racist candidate, as something else entirely. The most transgressive political statement of the 2016 election, the one that violated strict societal norms by stating an inconvenient fact that few wanted to acknowledge, the most politically incorrect, was made by the candidate who lost.

...[A] majority of white voters backed a candidate who assured them that they will never have to share this country with people of color as equals. That is the reality that all Americans will have to deal with, and one that most of the country has yet to confront.

Yet at its core, white nationalism has and always will be a hustle, a con, a fraud that cannot deliver the broad-based prosperity it promises, not even to most white people. Perhaps the most persuasive argument against Trumpist nationalism is not one its opponents can make in a way that his supporters will believe. But the failure of Trump’s promises to white America may yet show that both the fruit and the tree are poison.

Nancy Ohanian has a clear vision of the Trumpist base

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


-by Noah

Tonight's meme goes a long way in explaining how Alabama got where it is right this moment. Sure, it's a joke, but, then, maybe it isn't.

Don't you love it when the South gets all uppity about being stereotyped as a bunch of racist, inbred, barefoot, backward yahoos? Well, every damn time we people with a more diversified gene pool start to thinkin' that maybe, just maaayybee, places like Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, the Carolinas, and Georgia are about to catch up with, at least, say, the 1980s, well, there they go again! This Judge Roy Moore thing shows us that Alabama might as well be some wacko country in the Middle East, wedged somewhere in the 14th century between Iran and Pakistan. Better yet, let's just call it Al Abama and stick it in one of the isolated tribal mountain areas of Afghanistan.

The inbreeding thing was always a big part of jokes about the South, but, I have to admit that I had forgotten about the pedophilia factor. Then, I think of Louisiana's Jerry Lee Lewis marrying his 14 year old cousin. We guess things just haven't changed.

Al Abama's eager embrace of their defiant pedophile candidate shocks and dismays normal people. So does the emphatic jihadist support that Moore gets from fanatical Christian fundamentalists, people who are so much like the Taliban that one would have to be forgiven if they couldn't readily tell the difference between the two. Really, can you look at those Duck Dynasty freaks and others like them throughout the south and not think they look and sound like Muslim terrorists? They even sport the same beards, not to mention the bad case of crazy eyes. But, shouldn't we have seen it coming? I mean, just look at how many times we've seen clips of southerners parading around in their pickup trucks, showing their pride in their Confederate flag just like ISIS drives around in their pickups flying theirs. Then, there's that whole monuments to the good ol' days of Jim Crow and slavery thing in recent months. "It's our heritage" they cry and moan. Well, yes. It is. All of this is.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Why Is Paul Ryan Trying To Harm The Electric Car Industry With His Tax Scam?


Ryan's Tax Scam certainly picks winner and losers-- it is designed that way-- and although people in blue states like California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois are singled out for the worst treatment, people who drive electric cars are also targeted. Yesterday, released a study showing that that electric vehicles will be hard hit by Ryan's scam. The survey of 23,217 vehicle owners found that political Independents reported feeling 6.7% more financially burdened than Republicans and 1.34% more burdened than Democrats. Similarly, women on average reported feeling 6.2% more financially burdened than men by the cost of vehicle ownership.
Republicans feel 5% less burdened by the cost of vehicle ownership than the average owner; by contrast, Independents are the group that feel the most burdened.
60% of Democrats and 51% of Independents are willing to pay higher taxes for road quality improvements; by contrast, only 47% of Republicans are willing to do so.
Women are 6% more burdened by the cost of vehicle ownership than men.
The average used electric vehicle sells 26.4 days faster than a used gasoline vehicle; however, with elimination of the tax credit, competition gets considerably more difficult for used EVs, impacting their value proposition.
The study also looked at the impact the plan would have on electric vehicles given the proposed elimination of the $7,500 EV tax break. Currently, used electric vehicles on-average sell 26.4 days faster than gasoline vehicles. However, with projected higher resale values, competition gets significantly more challenging. For example, a 2016 electric Nissan Leaf’s main price-point competitor is currently an economy car-- the 2016 Honda Civic-- but with the projected increase would become a luxury hatchback-- the 2016 Lexus CT200h.

Finally, the study also asked vehicle owners if there were any transportation-related topics for which they would pay higher taxes. According to the results, 60% of Democrats and 51% of Independents are willing to pay higher taxes for road quality improvements; by contrast, only 47% of Republicans are willing to do so. Through another lens, the survey found that in aggregate 54% of men and 52% of women support higher taxes for increased road quality.

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In Washington Everyone Hates The Most Toxic Swamp Creature Of All, Donald J. Trump


Poor Trumpanzee. Everyone knows what an incompetent imbecile he is-- and Republicans in high positions increasingly are forced to bite their tongues to pretend otherwise. Some just can't do it any longer. Yesterday, BuzzFeed's Joseph Bernstein reported that last July National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster just couldn't take it any longer and let Oracle CEO Safra Catz know what he thinks of the orange pile of amorphous dung he works for. Five second-hand witnesses are all saying the same thing, namely that McMaster told Catz Trump is an "idiot" and a "dope" with the intelligence of a "kindergartner." There are people who don't already know that. Maybe back in July there were.
A sixth source who was not familiar with the details of the dinner told BuzzFeed News that McMaster had made similarly derogatory comments about Trump’s intelligence to him in private, including that the president lacked the necessary brainpower to understand the matters before the National Security Council... [T]hree of the sources said that McMaster disparaged multiple members of the administration to Catz, including Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, and President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Of Kushner, one source told BuzzFeed News, McMaster said he had no business being in the White House and should not be involved in national security issues... Catz was so alarmed by the tenor of McMaster’s comments about President Trump and Israel that she confided her concerns to several administration officials, as well as Adelson.
Reaction to Trump is far worse in Congress where, according to multiple sources, "most" Capitol Hill Republicans "hate him enough to wish he would drop dead." One top Senate staffer told me today that Senate Republicans generally think Trump "is destroying the party and maybe the country." In one of his deranged, Adderall-fueled Twitter rants over the weekend, Trump lashed out, foolishly, at Jeff Flake:

When I read it to him, a Republican congressman wouldn't believe me and said he would call me back. After he read it himself, he said he would give me an official version and an off-the-record version of his reaction. Then he changed his mind and just gave me the off-the-record version, saying he didn't want a "bunch of Trump ghouls" coming to his office in the district and bothering his staffers. "Who writes something like this? Not even a 14 year old like that cocksucker Moore molested. This sounds like someone in the 3rd grade. Or someone mentally impaired. I think he has early stage Alzheimer's. I hope it kills him fast so we don't get dragged though years of excruciating loss of cognition in public... I voted for Hillary, first time in my life I voted for a Democrat... if you ever connect me to that I'll deny it. I didn't like her either but she's a fully-functioning adult. He's not."

Jeff Flake was more circumspect. As Roll Call pointed out Monday morning, "Losing Flake would put the bill in serious jeopardy of failing, robbing Trump of a year-end legislative victory."
Flake was caught on an open microphone Saturday saying if Republicans "become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast."

The tweet raised eyebrows in Washington, with congressional observers and reporters firing off their own tweets noting Flake had not previously announced how he intends to vote on a tax overhaul bill that cleared the Finance Committee late Thursday evening.

Several White House officials had not responded to an inquiry seeking more information about Trump’s prediction, including the basis of his prediction. Several hours after the president’s 6:22 p.m. post, a Flake aide disputed Trump’s prediction.

“Sen. Flake is still reviewing the tax reform bill on its merits. How he votes on it will have nothing to do with the President,” the aide said.

But the president’s tweet introduces another new dramatic twist in his and Senate GOP leaders’ efforts to score their first shared legislative victory since Trump was sworn in on Jan. 20.

That’s because Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., already has signaled his opposition unless changes are made to benefit small businesses. If both Flake and Johnson oppose the measure, it would leave no margin for further defections for GOP leaders and the White House. And several other Republicans have expressed skepticism over the measure, including about its projected impact on the federal deficit.
If Flake and Johnson are serious about not voting for the bill, there are several other Republicans, including McCain, Bob Corker, Ben Sasse, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Oklahoma conservative James Lankford, who, for one reason or another, could provide that 3rd vote to kill Trump's little victory. Collins, for example, who was on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, told Jake Tapper that she's a NO vote unless changes are made to the bill. She's unhappy about how the bill dumps the individual mandate for healthcare, and she opposes the elimination of the federal deduction for state and local taxes and she opposes the steep drop in the corporate tax rate.

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Let's Face It, Men Are Pigs


For society, the sexual harassment scandals should be about two things:

1- mending the patriarchal environment we live in to change, over the long-term, the way men think they are entitled to behave

2- (a corollary)- dealing very harshly with instances of men using power relationships to prey on people dependent on them for careers

I used to be an astrologer. I studied it in Amsterdam, took it very seriously. I was good at it too-- really good. It was a gift. But the gift came with a warning: use this gift to further your own material desires and kiss the gift goodbye. So I never charged for my services and I never used my abilities to try to seduce anyone. I can't remember exactly what I did wrong, just that I did do something-- this was like decades ago-- and BOOM! it was gone. I don't know a Gemini from a Mars-Mercury conjunction in Sagittarius any more. No, really, I have books of charts I drew for people and now I not only couldn't draw a chart if my life depended on it, I can't even read them. Fortunately my full-time gig was chef at the time.

Much later I wound up in the music business. Were there men who used their positions of power to seduce aspiring artists? Well... let me think about that for a second. Um... yes, everything single day, in every single way. Kind of horrifying-- and real life in the fast lane. And, yeah, there were some guys who didn't believe in that and didn't do it. (I mostly hung out with those kinds of people, because... who wants to be around a pig too much?)

I'm gay and a couple times men with some kind of career power hit on me when I was much younger. I found those situations easy to navigate and I think most men do, not all men... most men. One guy with huge power tried to sleep with me. I was very friendly, very not freaked out and very firm that that was never going to happen. He could have hurt me real bad, career wise, but he did the opposite. He did the same thing with lots of other young males. He would come on to guys-- sometimes a singer would fall for it and put out, but mostly they didn't. I never saw him react vindictively towards anyone who turned him down. He pretended he'd use his power to hurt some of them, but to my knowledge he never did.

Once he was in the front seat of my car and a much younger guy was in the backseat. He tried imposing, very aggressively, on the younger guy, who was looking for a job (actually desperately looking for a job). The younger guy was straight and very clear he wasn't playing that game. The older guy persisted, even physically. The younger guy rolled up a newsprint magazine and when the older man turned around and lurched at him, he slammed him across the snout with the rolled up magazine-- it was BAM. The older guy started screaming the kid would never work at our company. But the younger guy soon was working at our company and, in fact, eventually the power dynamic changed and it's the old reprobate who comes to him for industry favors now-- favors never granted. Straights can be vindictive like that I guess.

There was another senior executive at one of the top labels who was obsessed with penis size. You know how a normal person shakes hands when he meets someone? If the judged the power dynamic amenable, he would grab a guys crotch to be able to estimate dick size (instead of shaking hands). It certainly would make a lot of people uncomfortable. He got arrested one time when he played that with an undercover cop-- maybe twice if I recall correctly. But that guy never held it against anyone either. He seemed to handle the rejection well, kind of made a big joke out of it-- ha, ha. Once he did it to another executive's young relative, very young relative. That wasn't funny at all and the kind was traumatized. That was bad and there were a lot of social repercussions, though no one called the police or anything like that.

I don't think Al Franken should resign. His career is over; he's a pariah. I bet he doesn't get reelected. My opinion would change if it comes out that he acted inappropriately towards one of the women in his office or who he came in contact with because he was a senator. But slapping a woman's butt? Disgusting and reprehensible behavior. He's a pig and should be treated like one. But forced to resign? I don't think so.

I'm worried that there are going to be tendencies-- we see them already-- for people to look at this kind of behavior through self-serving lenses. There's no doubt in my mind that Alabama voters should refrain from voting for Roy Moore, a Republican-- and I felt the same way before the news about him molesting children came out. Now it's another cudgel to beat him up with. I heard a political woman saying the other day that not only should Al Franken be forced to resign but that he should be replaced by a woman. I see this going into bad places-- as well as good places (see numbers 1 and 2 above. We're evolving as a species and those not evolving are busy dying.

Look, one more thing, before the NPR report. I used to run the concert program at my college. It was the mid-60's. Bands always wanted to score and it was easy as pie for them. The young women concert-goers were very willing. I never quite understood why women threw themselves at band members-- not just sensitive songwriters but even drummers and bass players. Women that persuasion used to always offer me bribes to let them to backstage so they could meet the bands. It was pretty sordid. Years later a band I was looking after, Wire Train was playing at a small punk club in San Francisco, the Mab. Some gross little groupie-- underage-- was making a big scene about getting backstage. The band told me to get rid of her. I didn't especially care one way or the other-- except you always have to do what the band says-- so I told her, nicely, that the band wasn't seeing any guests before the show. That night I had a sleepover guest and we were awoke by a tremendous explosion. And then we both fell back asleep. When I woke up in the morning and went outside, what was felt of my yellow Renault was a smoldering wreck. Who the hell blew up my car? I never did figure it out. But a couple of decades later, that gross little groupie messaged-- a drugged up mess-- asked me if I remembered when she had blown up my car. How many people do you know who can say Courtney Love blew up their car? I still do buy into the phrase though, "believe women." It doesn't mean throw caution to the wind though. It means never thinking about dismissing a woman's testimony (always an integral party of patriarchal society).

But take it easy and let's call out the self-serving we see as well, as this social crisis-- with its opportunities and pitfalls-- continues to unfold. The backlash could be horrifying; it probably will be. This report from NPR on sexual harassment in our country is worth listening to:

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Will Progressive Republicans Make A Comeback? The Competition Could Do Wonders For The Democratic Party


Blue America has always been more than aware of the failings of the Democratic Party. At a time when other progressive organizations were petrified of bucking the establishment too hard, we were working, successfully, to dislodge entrenched corrupt conservative Democratic incumbents like Al Wynn (MD), Tim Holden (PA) and Sylvester Reyes (TX), who were all replaced-- with progressives Donna Edwards, Matt Cartwright and Beto O'Rourke. But we've never endorsed a Republican. Except once, since we've come along in 2005, the Republican candidate was always the greater of two evils. And even in that "once," all we did was point out that Steve Pestka, the anti-choice homophobic asshole the Michigan Democratic Party had decided to run against libertarian Justin Amash, was a worse candidate than Amash. In fact, Michigan's whackadoodle anti-choice fascists decided to endorse putative Democrat Pestka instead of Republican Amash!

Let's not kid ourselves; whatever heritage of progressivism the GOP once had-- from Lincoln to Teddy Roosevelt, Tom Dewey, Jacob Javits, Nelson Rockefeller, Charles Percy, Mark Hatfield, Margaret Chase Smith, Charles Mathias and John Lindsay-- somewhere between the mass migration of Southern Democratic racists to the GOP and the ascendency of the Goldwater wing of the Republican Party, the GOP turned into a hardcore vehicle for hard core conservatism, gross corruption and, more recently, perhaps inevitably, a kind of neo-fascism, while the Democratic Party establishment moved right and away from it's own labor roots and more in a corporatist/Clintonian direction.

Will Blue America ever endorse a Republican? Who knows? I don't foresee it, but... there's an interesting movement on the fringe of the left. Some of the idealistic-- and impatient-- activists who had backed Bernie are having a look at the GOP as a vehicle to... well, to what is the question of course, but let's not go there quite yet. Let's start with the video up top, a monologue by freshly-minted Cincinnati faux-Republican Samuel Ronan.

You may have thought the contest to replace the wretched Wasserman Schultz was between the establishment candidate (former Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez) and Berniecrat Keith Ellison. On the final ballot, Perez got 235 votes (54%) and Ellison got 200 votes (46%). But before the final ballot there were a whole bunch of mostly vanity candidates, including South Carolina lobbyist Jaime Harrison, Sally Boynton Brown of Idaho (now, unfortunately, Florida, where she is doing far more damage), South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Fox News analyst Jehmu Greene, Peter Peckarsky and... Sam Ronan. Never heard of him? Not many others besides a handful of activists have either. In the first round of balloting he didn't get a single vote. He withdrew and endorsed Ellison.

Ronan came to America from Germany with his parents when he was 6 years old. He joined the Air Force and the became a dedicated left-wing activist. In the video above he makes the case that the Democratic Party sucks and that he might as well run for Congress as a Republican in the Cincinnati-based first district. He will be challenging Ryan rubber stamp Steve Chabot in the Republican primary.

I'm not sure if Ronan is aware that in the last Democratic wave (2008), Chabot was washed away, defeated by dull centrist Democrat Steve Driehaus. Dreihaus, riding Obama's coattails took 155,455 votes (52.5%) to Chabot's 140,683 (47.5%). On that same day, Obama had won 171,639 votes. Driehaus was an uninspiring conservative Democrat and in the 2010 midterm, all those 2008 Obama voters stayed away from the polls. Dreihaus only got 92,672 votes (46%) and lost to Chabot who took 103,770 votes (51.5%). My guess is that had Ronan stayed a Democrat and won the primary he could have beaten Chabot and gone on to inspire Democrats and independents in 2010 and beyond. Instead he's decided to run against Chabot in the primary, where he'd probably be lucky to get 20% of the vote.

But Ronan isn't the only idealistic progressive acting on this strategy. A somewhat sketchy group that tries identifying itself with Bernie, Brand New Congress, is backing some progressives running as Republicans, like Robb Ryerse in Arkansas' 3rd district, a Trumpist hellhole (Fayetteville and Ft Smith with an R+19 PVI). Trump beat Hillary 61.9% to 30.5%. Hillary, though, beat Bernie in the primary there, so, not a very high consciousness area, at least not yet. Maybe Ryerse can change that. Although a Democrat, Joshua Mahony, is running against incumbent wing-nut Steve Womack this cycle, no Democrat ran last year, in 2014 or in 2012. The last Democrat to run was Dave Whitaker in 2010 and he only got 27,6% of the vote. The last competitive race in the district was 25 years ago when Republican Tim Hutchinson edged Democrat John VanWinkle 125,295 (50.2%) to 117,775 (47.2%). Unlike Ronan, though, Ryerse, a pastor, actually is a Republican, albeit a genuinely progressive one.

Lindsay Brown (watch the video above) is a sharp, young progressive (ex-Democrat) running as a Republican against GOP incumbent Leonard Lance in north-central New Jersey. A progressive Democrat, Peter Jacob. is also running against Lance, as are half a dozen other Democrats. The DCCC seems to be encouraging a corrupt conservative party hack, Lisa Mandelblatt, exactly the kind of candidate Lance can count on beating and whose only argument-- aside from "I'm a woman and it's my turn"-- is "I m the lesser evil.

Perhaps Brown's, Ryerse's and Ronan's arguments will make sense to millennials, but it will be interesting to see how many actual Republican primary voters will be interested in progressive ideas re-cast in the kind of language Fox News viewers and Hate Talk Radio listeners have been trained-- brainwashed-- to listen to.

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Right-Wing Snowflake Roy Moore Is Now Threatening To Sue Alabama's 3 Biggest Newspapers For Exposing Him


I have no idea how many Alabama voters even read newspapers, let alone factor their endorsements into their decision-making, but the 3 biggest newspapers in Alabama have a message for the voters there: "Stand for decency; reject Roy Moore." All three-- the Birmingham News, the Mobile Press-Register and the Huntsville Times-- endorsed Democrat Doug Jones. And they all put the endorsement on the front page of the Sunday papers. The 3 share the state's top website, and they're featuring it as well. The papers had already pointed out that Moore is ""grossly unfit" to represent the state in the Senate but this was the first time they endorsed Jones. Moore says he's suing them. Excerpts from the editorial:
This election is a turning point for women in Alabama. A chance to make their voices heard in a state that has silenced them for too long.

The accusations against Roy Moore have been horrifying, but not shocking.

Every day new allegations arise that illustrate a pattern of a man in his 30s strutting through town like the cock of the walk, courting and preying on young women and girls. And though Roy Moore has denied the accusations of these women, his own platform and record is hostile to so many Alabamians.

Unlike the national party, the Alabama Republican establishment has chosen to stand by him, attacking and belittling the brave women who have come forward.

As a news organization, we have independently investigated stories of several Alabama woman who have spoken to us and the Washington Post about the abuse they say they suffered at the hands of Roy Moore decades ago.

The seriousness of these incidents, including one involving a 14-year-old child, cannot be overstated. Nor can the growing number of accusations-- from the women who were at the receiving end of unwanted adult male overtures as teens, to those who say they were physically assaulted--  be parsed with talk of statutes of limitations or whether proof has been recorded on a stone tablet. In the American system, proof beyond a reasonable doubt is a consideration for the courtroom, not the ballot box. It is our job as voters to look closely at the candidates and make up our own minds.

Do not let this conversation be muddled. This election has become a referendum on whether we will accept this kind of behavior from our leaders.

Alabamians have never cared about what the rest of country thinks of them. And we do not expect all the handwringing from national pundits, conservative or liberal, to make much of a difference. This election isn't about what a late-night comedian may think of Alabama or whether Sean Hannity can sell advertisements; it's not about Saturday Night Live or Mitch McConnell. It's not about Breitbart or National Democrats. It is about the moral values of the people of Alabama.

Do not make your voting decision based on who it will affect on a national stage. Vote based on who it will affect in your hometown... A vote for Roy Moore sends the worst kind of message to Alabamians struggling with abuse: "if you ever do tell your story, Alabama won't believe you."

Or, worse, we'll believe you but we just won't care.

To be clear: it's not only his record on women and children that disqualifies Moore. If we vote for Roy Moore, Alabama will also show that we don't care about you if you're gay or Muslim or Catholic. If you're an atheist or an immigrant. We'll show each other that we only care about Roy Moore's definition of Alabama. And that there's not room for the rest of us.

...Despite what you may have heard, Doug Jones is a moderate Democrat and a strong candidate for all Alabamians. As the son of a steel family, he understands the concerns facing working class families as factories close and jobs disappear. He's been an active member of Canterbury United Methodist Church in Birmingham. He has built a platform around issues that will define Alabama: job creation, small business development, child healthcare, criminal justice reform and, perhaps most needed of all, compromise.

By bringing justice to four little girls killed at Birmingham's 16th Baptist Church, Jones helped Alabama move forward from the sins of our past. But unlike some national Democrats, he isn't interested in shaming Alabama voters because of their history. As a Red State Democrat, we expect Jones would have a larger seat at the table crafting policy in the Senate. Neither Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nor Minority Leader Chuck Schumer would be able to take Jones' vote for granted (for relevant examples look to West Virginia's Joe Manchin, Montana's Jon Tester or North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp). That would put Jones in a strong position to work with Sen. Shelby to secure policies that benefit Alabamians.

While Jones is a vocal Christian, despite Moore's claims to be the sole Christian in politics, we know his pro-choice stance may be a deal breaker for some Alabamians, but his stance only advocates the law as it is currently written. After a year of complete control of the White House, the Senate and the House, we are skeptical that this Congress plans to pass any relevant legislation on abortion. Jones' commitment to affordable healthcare for women and children will improve the lives of Alabama's families, and, for us, his pro-choice stance is not disqualifying.

What is disqualifying is the conduct of Roy Moore against women and children. It was disqualifying for his party leaders. It was disqualifying for Alabama's senior senator. And it should be disqualifying for his state party.

By the various misdeeds, miscalculations and mistakes of its voters and leaders, Alabama has left itself with few options. Alabamians must show themselves to be people of principle, reject Roy Moore and all that he stands for.

There is only one candidate left in this race who has proven worthy of the task of representing Alabama. He is Doug Jones.
Moore sent the parent company, Alabama Media Group, a cease and desist letter. Their attorney responded with a letter of his own telling them will will neither cease nor desist and that they'd be happy to see Moore in court, urging him to preserve all "materials, documents, writings, recordings, statements, notes, letters, journals, diaries, calendars, emails, videos, computers, cell phones, electronic data, and other information" and warning him that in court that would certainly "reveal other important information about" the child sex predator and his campaign... "Which is to say: Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Moore."

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


-by Noah

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey is a woman who knows what she wants and what she looks for in a senator. She wants the best her party has to offer! That's why she supports Judge Roy Moore!

If Moore wins, I wonder if she'll bring her granddaughters to the victory party. Well, it is Alabama, so, probably, yeah.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

The Secret Lives Of Republicans-- In The "O" States, Ohio And Oklahoma


Are ALL ultra-conservative Republican state legislators child rapists?

Last week I professed bewilderment as to why Ohio state Rep and rising star Wes Goodman-- heir apparent to Jim Jordan-- faced political erasure after he was caught having consensual sex with another adult male in his district office. If Republicans fired every officeholder guilty of gross hypocrisy, there would be virtually no Republican officeholders left. Sure, Goodman, was a hypocrite for living in the closet while wracking up an anti-LGBT record but there are dozens of Republicans in the same boat, including Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Patrick McHenry (R-NC), David Young (R-IA), to name a few prominent ones. But Ohio Republicans didn't force Goodman to quit over the hypocrisy. Fondling a supporter's teenage son without the kid's consent is a much bigger deal.

Over the weekend, the backstory came tumbling out of Goodman's closet: this was no one-time faux pas-- he led secret gay life, made unwelcome advances to younger men. Jackie Borchardt reporting: "In public, Wesley Goodman was an up-and-coming conservative who championed pro-family and anti-LGBT causes and aspired to someday run for Congress. In private, he exchanged salacious texts and emails with gay men he met on Capitol Hill, and sent sexually suggestive messages to young men he met through conservative circles who were too intimidated to publicly complain, according to three people who knew him when he worked in Washington." It wasn't just the "inappropriate behavior" he was just outed for.
The married, 33-year-old was elected to the 87th district seat in 2016 after working for the Conservative Action Project, a network of economic, social and national security conservatives. He previously worked for conservative U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, a Champaign County Republican.

...Another conservative with Ohio ties told that Goodman engaged in predatory behavior toward younger men after leaving Jordan's office, sending inappropriate material and propositioning them via text message and Facebook messenger.

The conservative operative said he'd target college kids who wanted to have him as a mentor and were scared to report his sexual advances because they didn't want to damage their own careers. A former co-worker shared screenshots of messages Goodman sent him that the operative likened to the lewd texts that derailed the congressional career of New York's Anthony Weiner.

"It was suggestive 'I am here in my underwear' kinds of stuff," the longtime GOP operative recalled.

Goodman was seen as a rising conservative star and a good networker who could help young people get jobs in conservative organizations, the Republican activist said.

"People never really wanted to come forward against someone in power," the operative added.

On Friday, the Washington Post published an account that described a 2015 incident where Goodman was accused of inviting the teenaged son of a Republican donor to his bedroom in a Ritz Carlton hotel. The young man awoke in the middle of the night to find Goodman pulling down the zipper of his pants, and ran from the room in a panic at around 4 a.m., according to the account in the Post.

According to the Post, the incident triggered Goodman's departure from a conservative group called the Council for National Policy, whose president, Family Research Council head Tony Perkins, urged Goodman not to run for public office and severed ties with him upon learning of his state legislative campaign.

Goodman had served as managing director of an offshoot of Perkins' group that was formed to counter President Obama's agenda, such as the Affordable Care Act.

Another former GOP congressional staffer, Chris Donnelly, told that Goodman replied to a Craigslist post on a board for men seeking men, and the two had a sexual encounter in 2008. In a response shown to, an email account using the name Brady Murphey described himself as a "straight/curious" guy who needed to be discreet.

"Maybe we can hang and see what's up, no expectations really," the response said. "But your post seemed cool so let me know bro."

Donnelly said Goodman was "all over Craigslist" and responded to several ads posted by Donnelly and other gay men.

"It became a running joke between me and my gay friends on Capitol Hill," Donnelly said. "It's not like it was some one-off thing."

Hadlock and Donnelly reached out to because they were disappointed Goodman would push anti-LGBT policies while secretly seeking out and being intimate with other men.

Donnelly said the last time he saw Goodman was at a conservative event in 2009. Goodman was there with Jordan to urge support for the congressman's D.C. Defense of Marriage Act, which would have overturned a local law allowing recognition of same-sex marriages. Goodman was handling the issue for Jordan, Donnelly said.
This morning Caleb Hull, who Goodman had unsuccessfully tried to seduce, rounded up 30 sources attesting to Goodman's predatory sexual behavior. He interviewed over 2 dozen men "who experienced Goodman's inappropriate behavior, and their stories almost all start the same way. Goodman began his inquiries with college students as if he wanted to be a friend, asking what they wanted for their careers. The victims were almost always political activists who simply had mutual friends with Goodman. He would then escalate the conversation, often sending several messages a day. Eventually, the conversation would move past small talk, and Goodman would start sending suggestive messages." This is part of an interview from one of the sources describing how Goodman tried seducing a young straight conservative:
"He also repeatedly invited me up to Ohio so I could job shadow him and tour the Ohio Capital. Then in November 2016, one night, he started a conservation about how his wife was asleep and he was bored. I didn't reply for about 30 min after opening the Snapchat. Then, he sent me videos of him masturbating as well as d**k pics. He also sent another Snapchat asking how big my penis was. I immediately blocked him. He later [messaged] me on both Instagram and Facebook leading me to block him on both apps as well."
These were from some the chats he was having with teenage conservative boys:

He also sent boys pictures of his penis, always talked about penis size (a common trait among conservative closet cases who are absolutely always obsessed about penis size) and talked one teenage boy into sharing his hotel room at an event and, while the boy slept, unzipped his fly and started playing with his penis.

Fredo Trump doesn't spend all his time shooting elephants and plotting with Russian spies

Now, think back a few months to Oklahoma state Senator Ralph Shortey, head of Trump's Oklahoma operation, who's caught and charged for soliciting prostitution of a minor; prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church (my favorite charge for Oklahoma Republicans); and transporting a minor for the purpose of prostitution. And the minor was a 17 year old boy. Shortey was forced to resign from the state Senate and in July, Oklahoma voters replaced him in a special election-- with Michael Brooks-Jimenez, now the only Hispanic Democratic state Senator in Oklahoma. A very Republican district, Shortey's former constituents rejected the GOP 55-45%. An update to the story was reported Saturday for The Oklahoman: Shortey agreed to plead guilty to a child sex trafficking offense. "In exchange for his guilty plea, U.S. prosecutors have agreed to drop three child pornography counts against him. His jury trial had been set to begin Dec. 5 in Oklahoma City federal court. He is now scheduled to plead guilty Nov. 30 instead. By making a deal, Shortey, 35, hopes to avoid being locked up for most of the rest of his life. Still, he will be required to serve at least a 10-year prison term, the mandatory minimum time for child sex trafficking. The maximum time for the offense is life in prison. U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti will decide the punishment at a sentencing next year."

This is what happens when people decide to spend a life living a lie in the closet instead of embracing their own nature. Living in the closet drives men insane and they do crazy things, like Shortey and Goodman did.
Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, was first elected in 2010 and was known for his offbeat legislative proposals that at times attracted national attention. He resigned March 22.

Shortey-- who once planned to be a missionary-- was investigated first by Moore police and then the FBI after being found with the teenager at the Super 8 in Moore about 1 a.m. March 9.

The teenager's girlfriend had followed them to the hotel after seeing Shortey pick him up. She then alerted the teenager's father who called police.

Police reported Shortey and the victim had carried on a conversation about sex using the messaging app Kik before going to the hotel. Their conversation had turned graphic when the teenager wrote, "I need money for spring break," according to police.

Shortey had replied, "I don't really have any legitimate things I need help with right now. Would you be interested in 'sexual' stuff?" The teenager then wrote, "Yes," according to police.

Officers reported finding an open box of condoms in Shortey's backpack and a bottle of lotion in the teenager's backpack.

The victim "confirmed that he and Shortey intended to have sexual contact and that they had agreed Shortey would pay him for the contact," an FBI agent reported in a court affidavit. Both beds were described as unmade.

The two had met a year before through a Craigslist ad.

The investigation of Shortey uncovered evidence he had led a secret life. The FBI reported he used fake names to post Craigslist ads seeking sex with young males and on an email account to send and receive pornography.

"Shortey used those pseudonyms almost exclusively for illicit and illegal sexual interests or encounters, several of which included communications and exchanges of pornography with underage males, and/or the sharing of child pornography," the FBI agent wrote in the court affidavit.

A federal grand jury indicted Shortey in September.

He was accused in the child sex trafficking count of knowingly recruiting the underage male to engage in a commercial sex act.

He was accused in one of the child pornography counts of persuading that teenager to send him an inappropriate photo in 2016. He was accused in the other child pornography counts of emailing sexually explicit videos to two individuals in October 2013.

The plea agreement calls for federal prosecutors to ask the judge at sentencing to dismiss the child pornography counts. Also, according to the deal, Shortey "will not be further prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Oklahoma for any crimes related to his transportation, possession or production of child pornography or child sex trafficking during the period from October 2013 through March 9, 2017."

Shortey had also faced a child prostitution charge in Cleveland County District Court. That felony case was dismissed after he was indicted in federal court.

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Nebraska Public Service Commission Approves Keystone XL Pipeline


As you probably know, the Blue Dogs, New Dems and DCCC are all furiously pushing Brad Ashford on Omaha voters again. Ashford, an opportunist who changes parties like normal people change underwear, was one of the 3 worst Democrats in the House for his one miserable term. Having been fired from his new job, he decided to jump into a race he can probably win in an anti-GOP wave, but not hold in a normal midterm. He's a big Keystone Pipeline proponent and normal Douglas County Democrats are happy to have a progressive alternative, Kara Eastman. This morning, after the pro-pipeline ruling, she told us that she's "opposed to today's decision by the Nebraska Public Service Commission approving the Keystone XL Pipeline." So are an awful lot of other Nebaskans, especially in the Omaha area. Kara:
For the last eleven years, I've has worked with Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance combating the devastating effects of lead poisoning, among other environmental hazards, in Omaha, Nebraska. Why was the organization started, you might wonder? Omaha has the nation’s largest residential superfund site where lead poisoning has affected thousands and has had an especially adverse impact on children. We now know what lead can do to water because we’ve seen the tragedy unfold in Flint, Michigan. In Omaha, the community has rallied around an organization to deal with lead-contaminated soil and a long-term health crisis. It was started because funds from a legal settlement from a large corporation had to be used to clean up a toxic, polluted Superfund site. The EPA also had to come in and spend hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up what a big corporation left us with-- lead poisoned soil. I know firsthand what unregulated industries do to our environment, our citizens, and our most vulnerable population-- our children. I know what can happen when concerned activists lose out to the possibility and allure of corporate profits and their well-funded campaigns to persuade people that their big business will benefit the community in the long run. I also understand that short-term thinking like that can and does lead to long-term catastrophic consequences and decades-long clean-up projects like the Superfund site in Omaha.

Goal ThermometerI oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline and its limited economic benefits to Nebraskans-- maybe 50 full-time, permanent jobs created in the long run. I oppose the pipeline because it will mostly benefit a large Canadian oil company. We don’t even need the oil in America-- we’re now exporting our oil surplus! We need to invest in renewables and new technology and not the old regime of dirty energy. I've seen regular people forced to cede their land and their rights to a foreign company so that construction can begin. I support the 10% of landowners on the proposed route in Nebraska who are still standing up for the property rights and won’t sell to TransCanada. But most of all, I oppose this project because of the potential for environmental destruction and the poisoning of our water due to small and large spills that can and do happen regularly-- about every other day on average in the US. An Iowa pipeline leaked over hundred thousand gallons of diesel fuel last year, and when a farmer found an undetected leak on Keystone 1 in South Dakota around the same time, the pipeline had to be shut down for 3 months! Finally, we've just seen 210,000 gallons of dirty tar sands oil leaking out of Keystone this past week in Amherst, South Dakota. Having dirty, tar sands oil seep into our soil and water-- as it will have 56 river crossings and be built over one of the nation’s largest aquifers-- is not a risk worth taking so that a multinational corporation can ship oil to Texas to refine and process for export overseas.
A few months ago, the Omaha World-Herald headlined a letter to the editor, Ashford's flip-flop on Keystone pipeline by Trent Cooper: "Former Rep. Brad Ashford’s change on the Keystone XL pipeline is the perfect example of why Democrats lose congressional seats and lost the presidency. I will never support him again. We need Democrats who will do the right thing for our state and country, not what it takes to keep their seat." No one likes a flip-flopper or an opportunist.

A couple of years ago Bold Nebraska was far harsher towards Ashford, when Jane Kleeb, now Nebraska Democratic Party chair, wrote that Ashford was siding "with a foreign oil corporation over Nebraska farmers and ranchers." Ashford, she wrote, "voted for a second time to approve the risky Keystone XL tarsands export pipeline, despite strong opposition from his constituents and a promised veto of the wrong-headed bill by President Obama."
“Rep. Ashford continues to support eminent domain for private gain with his vote for the risky Keystone XL pipeline,” said Bold Nebraska director Jane Kleeb. “To pretend this massive, foreign tarsands pipeline somehow does not impact climate change or risk our water discounts science and common sense. Farmers and ranchers can only breathe a sign of relief because President Obama will veto this reckless bill.”

Over 3,500 concerned citizens signed a Bold Nebraska petition urging Rep. Ashford to vote against the Keystone XL bill, and dozens braved a freezing January day to show up at his Omaha offices to protest and register their disappointment with Ashford’s staff after his first vote in support of the pipeline.

Rep. Ashford recently stated in a response to a constituent’s letter critical of his support of TransCanada’s Keystone XL that he “will be an active voice in Congress seeking to decrease our energy dependence on foreign sources of energy.”

Last time we checked, Canada is a foreign country. Furthermore, the tarsands piped through Keystone XL would be exported to China and the world market and do nothing to serve U.S. energy independence.

Rep. Ashford is also spreading misinformation to his constituents, claiming in a letter that TransCanada “would be held legally and financially liable for any damages incurred as a result of a spill at any point along the route.”

In fact, TransCanada advises landowners to take out liability insurance at their own expense, and does not have a bond in place in Nebraska to cover spill clean-up. Further, since this is a tarsands (vs. traditional oil) pipeline, TransCanada is exempt from paying into the U.S. Oil Spill Liability Fund. Facing huge costs from a spill, the company could conceivably file for bankruptcy in the U.S. and the federal government, landowners and the State of Nebraska would be left holding the bag.

Finally, Ashford makes a false claim in his letter that the 2011 re-route of the pipeline now “avoid[s] the environmentally sensitive Sandhills,” when the State Department’s environmental review of the pipeline even acknowledges this to be untrue.

Rep. Ashford’s constituents and Nebraskans fighting to protect our land, water and climate are deeply disappointed that Ashford has again opted to toss them under the bus and side with the Koch Bros., the GOP and a foreign oil corporation.

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