Thursday, January 18, 2018

Trump And Ryan Can't Even Keep The Government Open, Though The GOP Controls Every Aspect Of Government

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Wednesday, the editors of the Boston Globe reminded their readers who are thinking about the government shutdown Trump seems to be engineering for tomorrow-- and pre-blaming on Democrats-- that "the Republican Party controls both houses of Congress and the presidency. If its leaders can’t keep the government’s lights on, despite unified control of Washington, it would be an unnerving commentary on the GOP’s ability to handle the most basic tasks of governing... Anticipating the public backlash, Trump and some other Republicans are trying to divert blame to the minority Democrats. It’s an odd tactic. It’s true that many Democrats want no part of any deal unless it includes a separate proposal to protect the children of undocumented immigrants from deportation. But the Democrats don’t run Congress."

Tuesday night Ryan and his team decided to start waving the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) under the noses of Democrats-- 6 years worth of renewal funds-- to try to get their support after the far right extremists of their own party, primarily members of the neo-fascist Freedom Caucus, said they won't back keeping the government open. The Democrats, however, want a DACA fix in the bill, something in-house White house fascist Stephen Miller has persuaded Trump to oppose.

North Carolina Nazi Mark Meadows bragged this week that "based on the number of noes and undecideds in the Freedom Caucus, there’s not enough support to pass it with just GOP support in the House." In the kind of deep, deep red district that Meadows and other Nazis represent, primarily in the South, where no independents are needed for elections, no one cares who gets blamed for a shutdown in swing districts held by Republicans top north. And new polling shows that Trump and the GOP will be blamed, despite all the Trump tweets and despite Fox-- all preaching to the neo-fascist choir. The Hart Research poll found that "even before hearing any specific policy disagreements," 42% of Americans would blame Señor Trumpanzee and congressional Republicans for a government shutdown, with just 31% instinctively laying the blame at the feet of the Democrats, a significant 11-point margin.


Among independents and undecided voters, the margin is even wider, as independents would blame Republicans over Democrats by a 16-point margin and self-described undecided 2018 voters would blame the GOP over Democrats by a 19-point margin.

The poll included interviews with adults in 12 Senate battleground states: Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Of the respondents, 52 percent reported having voted for the president and 41 percent for Hillary Clinton, a margin crafted intentionally to closely mirror the combined average results from those 12 states in the 2016 election.

Republicans headed into the new year hoping to spend much of 2018 touting the passage of Trump's signature tax bill. Further, many Republicans up for election in November hoped to use its passage as a main campaign tool. But a government shutdown would likely draw the focus of voters away from the tax legislation and instead toward Washington dysfunction and a blame game over who is responsible for the government shutdown.
Paul Ryan's opponent in WI-01, Randy "IronStache" Bryce is a common sense kind of guy. "Basic math," he told me today, "would normally be used to show who has a majority in every branch of the U.S. government. It’s one of the few things left that can’t be considered 'fake.' Funniest part about this entire finger pointing session has the 'Freedom Caucus' is the group creating the havoc. Please clean up your own yard before telling others to look after theirs."

Politico reporting by Kyle Cheney and Elana Schor backs this up. There sources? Beltway Republicans. Like South Carolina Republican Mark Sanford: "The perception of most Republicans is that a shutdown does not accrue to Republican benefit. It’s a relatively tough sale. It makes it that much harder for Democrats to acquiesce on a deal because they feel like they have the upper hand."
During the 17-day shutdown of 2013, “the Republican Party’s favorable rating dropped 10 points in a matter of days, and it took a year to fully recover,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran GOP pollster. “It would take an act of extraordinary political agility to avoid a similar fate today.”

This year, Democrats hold none of Washington’s levers of power, but their central goal in the immigration talks-- protections for undocumented individuals brought to the country as minors-- is viewed favorably by bipartisan majorities. Trump is mired in low approval ratings, even in battleground states he won in 2016, as he pushes for more money for the border wall he promised on the campaign trail.

And new polling suggests voters are already poised to blame Republicans if talks go awry. A poll released Tuesday by the Democratic-leaning firm Hart Research Associates found 81 percent of voters in a dozen Trump-leaning states supportive of adding aid to the undocumented Dreamers to any government funding bill.

That leaves Democrats with a significant strategic advantage, knowing that Republicans need their votes to keep the government open and would have trouble laying blame for a shutdown in their laps.
This is the kind of thing that makes me scoff when Beltway types warn that the election is still 10 months away and that everything could change and the Republicans could retain control of Congress, etc. Sure, it is 10 months away...  but the most likely changes to the zeitgeist are that the likelihood of Democrats winning between 50 and 60 House seats will increase to 75-80 House seats. That deep, deep red Wisconsin state Senate seat that flipped Tuesday wasn't just a fluke-- and the Republican who went down in flames was no Roy Moore. This was a response from rural GOP-leaning voters to Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Scott Walker. And this is what a nascent tsunami looks like 10 months out. One would have to be out of one's mind to imagine that Trump isn't going to make things even worse for his party between now and November-- and that the voters are going to do anything other than grow increasingly furious at his Republican enablers in Congress. Shutting down the government is going to further erode GOP support among independents and moderates, even if the lunatic opioid-and-Fox addicts who back Trump whine about Pelosi on cue.

Derrick Crowe is running for Congress in an Austin/San Antonio district that Trump won by 10 points-- much closer than the 26 points Trump won the Wisconsin state Senate district that flipped red to blue on Tuesday. And like that Wisconsin Senate district, TX-21 is an open seat, Lamar Smith having decided to get out before the voters kick him out. Derrick seemed incredulous at the bickering inside the GOP over their inability to keep the government funded and running. "This is a total and complete failure to govern by the GOP," he said. "They've managed to pass a tax scam that gives corporations and billionaires big paybacks for political donations, but they can't get their act together to reauthorize CHIP or keep the government operating at any basic level. That's because this administration was never intended to be a true government. It's a smash-and-grab job, plain and simple. They've handed federal departments to oligarch accomplices for the sole purpose of breaking them or using them to enrich themselves and their friends. But when the government shuts down, the people are going to rise up for the political revolution."

Goal ThermometerJenny Marshall is also running for Congress-- and in a tougher district than Derrick's. But-- with hard work and persistence-- it's a winnable district in this wave cycle and she's running against a bona fide villain, the proudly bigoted Virginia Foxx. "Virginia Foxx, Mark Meadows and the GOP," she told us this morning, are fully responsible if our government shuts down. For the past year they have controlled all three branches of our government and they still cannot figure out how to govern. They had to cram the tax plan through in the dead of night with notes scribbled in the margins with little debate and no negotiation with the Democrats. This is no way to govern. Now the Republicans need the Democrats and we must stand firm in our commitments to children on CHIP and a fix to DACA. Under no certain terms should one take precedence over the other. We are talking about the lives of people in both instances and two issues that the American people want to see fixed/funded. We should and must push for both of these to be passed. If the Republicans want to avoid a shutdown, then they will actually remember what Congress is supposed to do...debate, negotiate and compromise. That would be responsible governance."

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez is running in a nice blue New Mexico district. Her wisdom, experience and energy will do a lot of good in a Congress that has grown more and more dysfunctional and ineffective. She told me that "the current shut-down crisis is an outrageous level of dysfunction. The Republican party has been unified by hate and bigotry when it comes to the subject of immigrant communities, and they have betrayed working families by allowing CHIP funding to lapse. They run the federal government-- both houses of Congress and the White House are in Republican hands-- and they own this shutdown. The President reneged on his commitment to DREAMers, and the right-wing Republican Congress is complicit. And, disturbingly, to a law professor like me, is the failure of this Republican controlled Congress to serve its constitutional role as a check and balance to an out of control executive branch of government. Instead, they fail to even keep the government going. A bold and drastic change is needed. I expect a blue tsunami as long as voters know what is going on."

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Much "Consensual" Sex is Non-Consensual — #MeToo and the Muddy Middle Ground of Social Communication

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Comedian Aziz Ansari on women who don't go out with nice geeky guys like him. Listen to this brief excerpt, then read below what this "nice geeky guy" is really like on a date.

by Gaius Publius

To understand my headline, read the following short excerpts from Elizabeth Bruenig on the problem women have when men occupy the "social signals" middle ground between rape and "taking no for an answer," then read how that works in practice via an account of a date between "Grace" (not her real name) with comedian Aziz Ansari.

That middle ground is where much of the #MeToo action is, and it gives the lie to our black-and-white thinking about "Just say No" when it comes to sexual assault.

Note: This is not primarily about whether or not Aziz Ansari is a bad person, nor about the degree to which Grace caused her own problem. It's about what happens on dates when people are unfamiliar with each other, how much of the communication between them is social and non-verbal, why painful aggressions aren't always escalated to police reports, and how all of this plays into the #MeToo movement.

This is also not about "these modern times" and "kids today." Using social signals to communicate is broadly characteristic of our species, has been for millennia, and is not just an aspect of "these times." The only thing that's new to us now is that sexual interaction is much less rigidly constrained — and much more a social activity, as well as a personal one — than it was through most of the last century. Cultures in which sex was similarly social — and patriarchy was similarly constrained (cultures without droit du seigneur practices, for example) — would have evidenced these same species-specific problems.

The "Social Signals" Middle Ground

Elizabeth Bruenig, writing in the Washington Post, says this about sex as an intimate social act:
One of the principal outcomes of the sexual revolution was to establish that sex is just like any other social interaction — nothing taboo or sacred about it, no big deal. [Atlantic writer Caitlin] Flanagan points out [here] that, in her day, women were advised to slap men or jump out of cars or scream and shout in order to bring an encounter verging on nonconsent to an end: Sex [...] didn’t need to be treated with ordinary manners.
Yet in most other social interactions, one doesn't move immediately from "I'm kind of interested in doing this with you" to slapping and screaming "Get out!" Which means that, contrary to what Flanagan says, sex is often treated with "ordinary manners." That's just the way it works with social interactions — they're treated with "manners" long before they escalate into fights — and most would say that's a good thing.

In the real world, sexual activity, especially with a new partner, starts with signals and its communication can continue that way for quite some time. This places much of our sexual communication in a "social signals" middle ground, well between between the extremes of saying explicitly No or giving explicit consent.

This places much of our sexual communication and interaction in the field of etiquette. Bruenig again (emphasis added):
Yet, while becoming just another social interaction stripped sex of much taboo, it’s still subject to the everyday pressures of etiquette, which can be just as binding. If a guest were lingering too late after a party, or a lunch partner boring you, or an acquaintance pestering you to borrow your umbrella, you wouldn’t scream or shout or slap them, and you likely wouldn’t abruptly leave. You would likely try to be subtle and transmit certain signals without a confrontation. You would likely go along to get along. You would likely grin and bear it. You would likely do this because that’s what we do in workaday social interactions, and sex is one of those now.
This is what I mean by the "social signals" middle ground, the clear but muddiable middle between two more explicit ends of a communication spectrum.

At one end of this spectrum, the good end, is the man or woman who "takes No for an answer" — even and especially a non-verbal, signaled No (which is how all No's begin, as signals and hints). Interested Party approaches signaling sex, Person Approached signals lack of interest, Interested Party retreats. Message ("No thank you") received.

Note that the communication is clear even though it's not verbally explicit.

 Ignoring social signals. Deliberate? Who can say? (Photo: Thinkstock)

At the other end of the spectrum, the bad end, is the rape attempt. Here all social bets are off, and etiquette and behavioral rules no longer apply. Interested Party uses force, Rejecting Party uses force, and the attempt is fought off until resistance succeeds or fails. In most of these interactions, both parties move to explicit verbal communication rather quickly ("Don't fight me, dammit!" "Get away, you pig!").

The rest of our sexual negotiations, at least in the early stages of a relationship, lie between these extremes, in the same way that most of our social interactions do.

Consider, for example, how you get a dinner guest to leave who wants to stay forever. Do you scream "Get out!" early in the interaction, or do something gentler, then slowly escalate? Of course you do the latter.

Now consider a sexual encounter where one party becomes less and less comfortable, is less and less willing to continue, and the other party persists. Is this rape? It is if the uncomfortable party jumps his or her response to the far end of the social spectrum — with an etiquette-defying punch to the gut, for example — and threatens to call the police.

But what if the resistant party just increases the clarity of his or her social signals without the punch to the gut, or tries to exit without turning the situation into a fight? What if that party is voluntarily undressed at the time? Is it rape now?

Not really, And yet, yes, it is, though not in a legal sense.

The Intimate Act of Having Social Sex

The difference, of course, between the act of having sex and the act of getting a resistant, late-staying dinner guest to leave is that sex is not just a social act negotiated with social signals — it's a deeply personal surrender of one's body to another. Even in the most casual sexual encounters, allowing anyone, especially a relative stranger, the level of access to your body that occurs during sex requires a great deal of trust. And for many of us, engaging in sex grants a great deal of access to our most personal feelings as well.

Sex may be a social act, but it's an intimate and personal act as well. It's both. Which means that when even casual sex goes badly wrong, our intimate sides can also be deeply affected.

Bruenig puts it this way. "[S]ex is a domain so intimate and personal that more harm can be done than in most social situations, and that given that heightened capacity for harm, we should expect people to operate with greater conscientiousness, concern and care in that domain than in others. If you are still hanging around your tired host’s home long after the party is over, excuse yourself and leave — don’t wait for them to order you out or call the police. If you are kissing someone and they’re barely responsive ... then get their coat for them and call it a night. [Aziz] Ansari didn’t commit a crime [see below for more]. But cruelty isn’t restricted to criminal acts."

To be specific, the cruelty mentioned above is in ignoring social signals, even strong ones, because they are "just" social signals and not screaming rejections or punches to the gut.

Because sexual activity is both social and deeply personal, especially between unfamiliar partners. #MeToo isn't and can't be just about rape, or about how "No means No." #MeToo about everything that happens in that social signals middle ground as well.

Example: An Account of a Date Between "Grace" and Aziz Ansari

The following is a perfect example of the "social signals middle" when it comes to sexual communication, of how difficult it can be to say refuse and be heeded when the forcing party won't acknowledge the signals and the resisting party won't escalate to an out-and-out fight.

This was not rape exactly, but it is use of force, and the consequences to the victim were devastating, as they would have been to most people, as they are in fact each day that passes to hundreds throughout the country.

The entire story is here: "I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life". Caitlin Flanagan calls this "revenge porn." Perhaps, but it's a perfect example of what happens when a social sexual encounter turns bad. I'm excerpting the story with enough detail to give a feel for what happened. To read the entire encounter, go to the link above.

Note: Is this a lurid clickbait piece presented at one of the seamier sites in the Internet's erotic bazaar? Perhaps. But the story is also likely true, if the writer's claim of having checked contemporaneous messages and accounts passed between Grace and her friends is true. The writer could also be lying throughout, of course, but given Ansari's celebrity and the nature of his defense (below), that seems unlikely.

Ansari: "I misread things in the moment"

Grace (again, not her real name) and Ansari met at the 2017 Emmy Awards after-party and started flirting. As she was leaving Ansari asked for and got her phone number. After a week of flirtatious communication, they fixed a date for Monday, September 25. According to the story's writer, Katie Way:
Her date didn’t go as planned. The night would end with Grace in an Uber [riding] home, in tears, messaging her friends about how Ansari behaved. Babe spoke to the first friends she told about it, and reviewed the messages on her phone.

The day after the incident, she wrote a long text to Ansari, saying: “I just want to take this moment to make you aware of [your] behavior and how uneasy it made me.” To that message, Ansari responds: “Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”
Before we get to details of the date, consider Ansari's defense: "I misread things in the moment." Keep that statement in mind as you read the "things" (signals) that Ansari claims to have "misread."

The date started with dinner, but before the meal was entirely over, Ansari wanted to move quickly to his apartment. Way: "[Grace] recalls there was still wine in her glass and more left in the bottle he ordered. The abruptness surprised her." Note the social signal from Ansari: I want to get you back to my place.

At his apartment, Grace complimented his kitchen counter tops, which he turned into an invitation to sit on them. The sex escalated quickly from there:
“He said something along the lines of, ‘How about you hop up and take a seat?’” Within moments, he was kissing her. “In a second, his hand was on my breast.” Then he was undressing her, then he undressed himself. She remembers feeling uncomfortable at how quickly things escalated.
We're now in the social middle ground. She's undressed, he's undressed, he's been fondling her, and now she's feeling uncomfortable. Here's how her discomfort got communicated:
When Ansari told her he was going to grab a condom within minutes of their first kiss, Grace voiced her hesitation explicitly. “I said something like, ‘Whoa, let’s relax for a sec, let’s chill.’” She says he then resumed kissing her, briefly performed oral sex on her, and asked her to do the same thing to him. She did, but not for long. “It was really quick. Everything was pretty much touched and done within ten minutes of hooking up, except for actual sex.”
Grace is trying, gracefully, to extricate herself with social signals.
She says Ansari began making a move on her that he repeated during their encounter. “The move he kept doing was taking his two fingers in a V-shape and putting them in my mouth, in my throat to wet his fingers, because the moment he’d stick his fingers in my throat he’d go straight for my vagina and try to finger me.” Grace called the move “the claw.”

Ansari also physically pulled her hand towards his penis multiple times throughout the night, from the time he first kissed her on the countertop onward. “He probably moved my hand to his dick five to seven times,” she said. “He really kept doing it after I moved it away.”

But the main thing was that he wouldn’t let her move away from him. She compared the path they cut across his apartment to a football play. “It was 30 minutes of me getting up and moving and him following and sticking his fingers down my throat again. It was really repetitive. It felt like a fucking game.”

Throughout the course of her short time in the apartment, she says she used verbal and non-verbal cues to indicate how uncomfortable and distressed she was. “Most of my discomfort was expressed in me pulling away and mumbling. I know that my hand stopped moving at some points,” she said. “I stopped moving my lips and turned cold.”
There's quite a bit more of this, including several pauses in the sexual interaction before it restarts. For example:
Whether Ansari didn’t notice Grace’s reticence or knowingly ignored it is impossible for her to say. “I know I was physically giving off cues that I wasn’t interested. I don’t think that was noticed at all, or if it was, it was ignored.”

Ansari wanted to have sex [the writer means intercourse; to me, all of this sounds like sex]. She said she remembers him asking again and again, “Where do you want me to fuck you?” while she was still seated on the countertop. She says she found the question tough to answer because she says she didn’t want to fuck him at all.

“I wasn’t really even thinking of that, I didn’t want to be engaged in that with him. But he kept asking, so I said, ‘Next time.’ And he goes, ‘Oh, you mean second date?’ and I go, ‘Oh, yeah, sure,’ and he goes, ‘Well, if I poured you another glass of wine now, would it count as our second date?’” He then poured her a glass and handed it to her. She excused herself to the bathroom soon after.

Grace says she spent around five minutes in the bathroom, collecting herself in the mirror and splashing herself with water. Then she went back to Ansari. He asked her if she was okay. “I said I don’t want to feel forced because then I’ll hate you, and I’d rather not hate you,” she said.
I'll stop here, but there's quite a bit more. Note the last sentences above. He asked if she was okay. “I said I don’t want to feel forced because then I’ll hate you, and I’d rather not hate you.” Even that is an attempt by Grace to mollify without antagonizing, to appeal to his interest in being liked instead of just punching him, gathering her clothes, and racing to the door.

Grace, like a great many people in situations like this, wanted to maintain the relationship, but end the sexual part. We don't know her reasons, nor do we need to judge her for have them. That decision was hers to make and it came with a price. Was it her fault, the price she paid? Or his fault for making her pay it, by unilaterally using her (minimal) social restraint to continually force himself on her?

And if the price she paid is indeed largely his fault — after all, it's his behavior that caused it — how best to enforce constraints on behavior like this?

Grace eventually succeeded in ending his sexual approaches. A car was called and she raced out. "I cried the whole ride home," she said, according to the account. "At that point I felt violated. That last hour was so out of my hand."

Is This Rape? What's the Solution?

The #MeToo movement is about sexual assault in the police sense, but it's also about encounters like these. As my title says, much "consensual" sex is non-consensual. This is certainly a prime example.

What was Ansari thinking? Perhaps this: She let me take off her clothes. My hands have been on her and in her. I read that as Yes. I just need to get her the rest of the way [to intercourse].

What was Grace thinking? Likely this: He's way out of control. How do I out of here without starting a huge fight? 

Are incidents like this rape? No, but they come close. Are incidents like this consensual? Only literally, in that Grace stayed within the norms of etiquette by not screaming, punching or accusing him of a crime. But in no other sense did she consent. She simply chose less extreme, more socially mollifying ways to end the encounter. In this case, she succeeded, but only after enduring hours of aggression before getting away.

This isn't a matter for the police under current law, but it's also not nothing for Grace. It feels as violating as it would have been if it were a matter for the police.

The solution? Again, the problem is the inescapable middle ground that non-verbal and social communication by its nature entails. Do we want to legislate that? The solution comes down to two choices (other than do nothing):

(a) Make aggressive but social interactions like these legally prosecutable, or

(b) Make these interactions, aggressive refusal to honor social non-verbal signals, so socially objectionable and subject to social punishment that few aggressors will cross them.

Which means:

(c) Publicizing events like these as they occur, if only amongst one's friends, so that perpetrators are so shamed and ostracized that few will risk the consequences.

I would strongly oppose solution (a), since that would further muddy the water of social interaction. (I understand though the reasoning of those who would choose that option.)

Bruenig seems to concur with me. "Demanding an expansion of empathy and responsibility when it comes to sex isn’t regressive," she writes, "it’s a sexual revolution in its own right."

Besides, incidents like the above are generally designed to occur in the world of "he said, she said" deniability, with no third parties present. By not using the law and its requirements for proof, and the court's humiliating and demeaning cross-examinations, as an avenue of redress, victims of unprosecutable aggressions like that described above are free to take their case to the "court of public opinion" — their own and the aggressor's social and professional circles — as Grace did here.

Under the law, when Ansari says, "I misread things in the moment," he's home free. In his circle of friends and associates, which in this case is wide if you include his fans, saying "I misread her" may well get him absolutely nowhere. It could even, at worse, deal a death blow to his social and professional life, at least until he rehabilitates himself.

Is that punishment fair? Who knows?

But if Grace is telling the truth, what was done to her was not fair either. As messy as that solution may sound — addressing these assaults aggressively in the "court of public opinion" — that seems a whole lot cleaner fix to me, and perhaps on the whole a more effective one, than writing laws to regulate human behavior in the social middle ground. (We're ignoring for a moment the special case of the cynical use of #MeToo for political gain.)

Because frankly, somehow, these "middle ground" aggressions do have to stop. If vigilante social counter-aggression does the job, the world will be much better for it.

GP
 

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Making Bannon Snitch On Trumpanzee

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Tuesday I was in a hospital waiting room with a TV tuned to CNN when Bannon waddled into a closed door congressional hearing. I noticed that "Sloppy Steve" was wearing a coat and tie. I didn't know he owned a tie. Maybe he borrowed one. That night it was all over the news that he refused-- for 10 hours-- to answer any substantive questions from members of the House Intelligence Committee, even after they served him with a subpoena. Democrat Adam Schiff described the escapade as "a gag order by the White House." Even after the subpoena was served, according to Schiff, Bannon "was instructed by the White House to refuse again to answer any questions concerning the time during the transition and his time in the administration... The scope of this assertion of privilege-- if that’s what it is-- is breathtaking. It goes well beyond anything we’ve seen in this investigation." The White House once again claimed it is “fully cooperative” with the Putin-Gate investigation.

Bannon confirmed that last week he had been served with a subpoena by Mueller and that he would cooperate with that investigation, further infuriating members of the Intelligence Committee, including Republicans. With Intel Committee chair Devin Nunes recused from participating, acting head Mike Conaway (R-TX) adjourned the hearing with the proviso it would be back in session-- with Bannon-- today.

So what do Mueller the congressional investigators want from Bannon? He was part of the regime when Trump decided to fire Comey. They want him to help them prove the very likely obstruction of justice charges in the impeachment process. The Daily Beast's Betsy Woodruff reported that "executive privilege-- the president’s right to keep certain information from the public so he can have frank conversations with aides-- will not keep Steve Bannon from sharing information with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team," since Mueller is part of the Executive branch.

A report from Kyle Cheney in Politico late Tuesday had silly members of Congress claiming they will force Bannon to disgorge the information he has. They didn't specify how. Water boarding? The iron maiden? The rack? The brazen bull? The garrote? Brown rats? Pear of anguish? Boiling in oil? No dinner? I guess they could lock him in the congressional basement and play Nickelback, Justin Bieber or the Jonas Brothers really loud all night 'til he stops stonewalling.


"We’re going to get answers from Mr. Bannon," said Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, the top Republican on the committee's probe of Russian interference in the presidential election.

Tensions flared early in the proceedings after Bannon informed the committee that he was refusing to answer any questions about his time in the White House or on the post-election transition, infuriating Democrats and Republicans on the panel, who subpoenaed him on the spot, according to a source familiar with the interview.

...Bannon was behind closed doors with committee members and staff for more than 10 hours. Schiff said much of the time was spent negotiating the parameters of his testimony. Conaway recessed the interview after 8 p.m., and he declined to say whether he would pursue additional steps, such as holding Bannon in contempt or issuing a further subpoena for documents.

Schiff and Conaway confirmed that Bannon and the White House didn't specifically assert executive privilege to avoid answering questions, but rather suggested that some of the answers could potentially infringe upon executive privilege. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a similar case when he declined to answer some questions he had received from lawmakers in various ongoing Russia probes.

But Bannon also refused to discuss conversations he may have had with Trump even after he left the White House in August, Schiff said. And a source familiar with the interview added that lawmakers were perplexed at Bannon's suggestion that the transition period-- when Trump wasn't yet in office-- could be subject to executive privilege claims.

The decision by Republicans and Democrats to subpoena Bannon represented unusual bipartisan pushback for a committee that has recently been mired in partisan discord. And Bannon's appearance came just weeks after a falling-out with Trump over comments Bannon made in an explosive new book.

  ...The source familiar with the interview said Republican lawmakers-- including Conaway and former federal prosecutor Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina-- were also frustrated that Bannon was not more forthcoming.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!

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-by Noah

The picture for this meme has been used for several memes, but, after Señor Trumpanzee's "Shithole Explosion," I had to take another look at it and add my own caption to it.

Having worked in the music business, I couldn't help remembering a similar pose by another group of Germans, and I don't mean German-Americans. In this case, I'm talking about real Germans, Kraftwerk, the pioneering innovators of the electronic music. Kraftwerk, as you can see, liked to play with very germanic imagery. If you google the band, you can see a lot more. They did it with a kind of tongue in cheek attitude. Apparently, the Trumps are playing with the same style, but, most likely, for different reasons.



There was also the album cover of the classic Meet The Beatles album with its dramatic cover photo by the band's German friend, photographer Astrid Kirschnerr who they had met in their Hamburg days.



So, you see, what the Trumps were going for with this photo didn't just pop out of thin air. No, they chose a specific historical style. Would it shock you if someone in the Trump family was inspired not by the dramatic artistic statements of rock bands, but by something darker, from an something that matches their political dreams? Can't you see Eric or Don Jr. growing up with the poster below on the wall of their room? Maybe it was a Christmas gift form dad; his way of saying Merry Christmas.



Sadly, The Trumps isn't the name of a ground-breaking rock band but the name of a country-breaking family.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Are Republican House Candidates Allowed To Be Gay For Pay? Let's watch This One Play Out In CA-26

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Last year CA-26-- a Southern California congressional district that includes Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village at the upper end of the San Fernando Valley plus most of Ventura County, including a bit of Simi Valley, plus Moorpark, Camarillo, Santa Paula, Oxnard and Fillmore-- gave Hillary a landslide victory over Trumpanzee: 57.9% to 36.0%. Obama had beaten McCain there, 56-41% and beaten Romney 54-44%. The PVI went from D+4 in 2015 to D+7 after the election. The district has a lousy congresswoman, pointless New Dem careerist Julia Brownley. ProgressivePunch rates her crappy voting record a very solid "F." Despite being an utter waste of a blue seat, she's expected to easily win reelection. As of the September 30 reporting deadline she already had $2,447,043 in her warchest. There are 4 Republicans wasting their time running against her-- Antonio Sabato Jr., Shane Skelton, Jeffrey Burum and Rafael Dagnesses, with Sabato, a Trumpist former porn star, underwear model and low-grade actor leading the pack.

Conservatives feel uncomfortable with Sabato, who more a fascist than an actual conservative and... well, he used to have sex with men on film for money-- and conservatives feel funny about that. Yesterday, the L.A. Times gave Sabato his moment of glory with a story by Seema Mehta. "Antonio Sabato Jr.," she wrote, "is best known as a soap opera star and Calvin Klein underwear model. But parts of his acting career are raising eyebrows among some conservatives as the Republican and early supporter of President Trump runs for Congress in California." Local Republicans "are saying movie roles in which Sabato simulated sex with a man and appeared nude disqualify him from representing the GOP." Republicans prefer gay sex in the closet, not on the silver screen. Sabato was born in Rome but his family moved to the U.S. when he was 13. He likes to call himself an immigrant who supports the wall and he's proud of his ugly bigotry, having insisted that Obama was a Muslim. To make upper his gay pornography he's dated loads of women and knocked up as many as possible and has children with several unmarried women. He's generally considered a filthy pig by anyone who knows him.
Ret. Air Force Maj. Jeffrey Burum, another Republican in the race, deemed the movies “pornography” and called on Sabato to end his campaign.

“His behavior is inconsistent with anything I would want from a congressional leader. It’s also inconsistent with a party which has always favored traditional family values, which do not include porn,” Burum said.

Sabato and his campaign disputed the description of his work as pornographic.

Charles Moran, a Sabato advisor and the former president of California Log Cabin Republicans, said that while Ventura County may be more conservative than neighboring Los Angeles County, many people in the entertainment industry live there and are unlikely to care about Sabato’s previous roles.

“They know what it takes to be a successful actor in the industry, and anybody trying to make Antonio Sabato Jr.’s career and job choices salacious does so without really knowing the value of the craft,” he said, predicting the controversy would have no impact on the race. “For a long time, gays have played straight, straights have played gay. A good actor can do this, and many do. Antonio Sabato Jr. is no different.”

Sabato noted the movies Testosterone and Deadly Skies, which were both filmed more than 10 years ago, are part of a three-decade-long acting career.

“I’ve done many movies. I’ve done things I’m proud of and things I’m not so proud of, that’s just the way any actor works,” he said. “They don’t know what kind of congressman I’ll be, the work ethic I have.”

Sabato, 45, is best known for roles on General Hospital and Melrose Place in the 1990s, and The Bold and the Beautiful from 2005 to 2006. He has appeared in many other scripted television shows and movies, music videos and reality programs.

As first reported on the Ventura County website Citizens Journal, Sabato’s critics are protesting his roles in two films where he plays a gay man.

In 2003’s Testosterone, Sabato plays an Argentine man who mysteriously deserts his writer boyfriend. He appears fully nude in the film.



Three years later, Sabato played an Air Force officer who was dismissed under the military policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in Deadly Skies. The film, about an asteroid on a collision course with Earth, contains a scene where Sabato appears partly nude and simulates having sex with another man.

Unlike films that would traditionally be considered pornography, the movies starred mainstream Hollywood actors, including Jennifer Coolidge, Michael Moriarty, David Sutcliffe, Rae Dawn Chong and Sonia Braga, and don’t comprise solely sexual content. Testosterone premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was reviewed by the New York Times, which described it as “a shaky comic noir larded with soft-core sex.”

...Sabato is a vocal supporter of Trump and spoke on his behalf at the Republican National Convention in 2016, efforts that he said have hampered his acting career.

“I was blacklisted from Hollywood,” Sabato said, adding he had no regret for supporting Trump and has been to the White House since the election.

“I’m proud of our president. Look at everything he has been able to do in such a short amount of time,” he said.

Critics also note that Sabato posed for Playgirl magazine. He appeared on the cover and inside a 1993 issue devoted to “Soap Studs.” He did not appear nude and was covered with strategically placed bubbles.
So polite! And prudish! Who do we think we're fooling here? Even if Sabato's heart belongs to Trump now, it's well known that he used to put out for modeling jobs and TV roles and did dozens of gay porn movies and photo shoots. He would be a perfect Republican candidate. I hope he wins the GOP primary and runs against Brownley. She deserves him!


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Does Net Neutrality Mean Much To You?

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If more congressional candidates did this, many of the country's problems would vanish

I was listening to NPR yesterday on a long drive and they were interviewing two dullard Beltway operatives, a dumb Dem and an even dumber Republican. The dumb Dem, when asked about Net Neutrality's salience as an issue said no one cared much about it. And the dumber Republican went one further to say no one even knows what it is. These two fools and the idiots they work for may be in for a big surprise. Spectrum seems to already be slowing down website loading and is running frequent TV cable ads hawking speedier service if you pay a monthly fee. Anyone who thinks there's no salience in that as an issue is just so, so clueless.

Lisa Brown, the Democrat running for Congress in eastern Washington state, has a a net neutrality video as her pinned tweet. It's an important issue for her. She told us that her opponent, "4th- ranked Republican leader, Rep. McMorris Rodgers, actually 'applauded' the FCC for taking on the reversal of net neutrality, demonstrating how out of touch she is with the real needs of most Americans, especially the rural parts of eastern Washington. Not only will 'pay to play' internet hurt all consumers in the wallet, it will widen the digital divide, as ISPs compete by investing in big city technology upgrades and marketing, letting the rest of us languish."

John Culberson is one of the only members of Congress left in office who voted against the Martin Luther King holiday. Hopefully this will be his last year in Congress, replaced one of the best successful cancer doctores and researcher Jason Westin. Unlike Culberson, Westin is a proponent of new neutrality. " John Culberson has many flaws, but the gift of gab isn't one. The quote often attributed to Mark Twain may apply to Mr. Culberson: 'Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.' On Net Neutrality, he couldn't stay silent. On March 25, 2017 Culberson held his most recent town hall. It was a raucous affair and one of the questions was about if he'd support Net Neutrality. He tried 4 times to answer, and it was clear he'd never heard of Net Neutrality. But when I reviewed his voting record, he voted AGAINST Net Neutrality on April 15, 2016 (H.R. 2666, 114th Congress). This is an excellent example of why we need new leadership-- to have representatives who actually know what they are voting on."

Senate Democrats seem to understand how much net neutrality resonates and they're trying to force McConnell to allow a vote. Cecilia Kang reported yesterday in the NY Times that even if the Democrats win in the Senate-- and they're close-- the Republican-controlled House is unlikely to go along and Trump would veto it anyway.
Senate Democrats said on Tuesday that all 49 members of their caucus had agreed to sign on to a resolution that would overturn the F.C.C. repeal of net neutrality rules. They are using a tool of the Senate, the Congressional Review Act, which requires a simple majority to overturn a recent order by a federal agency.

The Democrats also have the support of at least one Republican, Senator Susan Collins of Maine. So that leaves them searching for one more Republican to join their effort to get the necessary 51 votes.

...Many Democrats would like to turn net neutrality into a bigger political issue ahead of the 2018 midterms. The efforts to overturn the F.C.C. order are aimed to raise awareness about an issue that has broad interest, particularly among younger voters, Democratic lawmakers have said. Consumer advocacy groups like Free Press, Demand Progress and Fight for the Future, have been singling out lawmakers who have either supported the F.C.C. order or have not spoken up in favor of restoring rules.

“There will be a political price to pay for those on the wrong side of history. Momentum is on our side,” Mr. Markey has said.
Ryan, of course, will protect the swamp so it will take 218 signatures on a discharge petition to get around him. Mike Doyle (D-PA) introduced a Congressional Review Act resolution to reverse the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality protections and immediately got 81 co-sponsors. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) was one. "We can’t stand by," she said, "as the FCC and big corporations steal our right to equal access to the Internet. I am cosponsoring this resolution because we need to reverse the FCC’s shameful repeal of net neutrality protections. The FCC’s decision will allow Internet service providers to favor big businesses over startups, hurting New Hampshire innovators; it needs to be stopped.”

Last month, Shea-Porter sent a letter with the New Hampshire congressional delegation to New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald and Governor Chris Sununu, urging them to take action to protect Granite State consumers and small businesses from the negative impacts of the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality protections. Shea-Porter and 118 colleagues also sent a letter asking FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to delay the scheduled net neutrality vote due to public comment irregularities.

Yesterday New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman led 22 states in a suit against the FCC over its plan to rollback net neutrality, alleging that the FCC decision violates the federal Administrative Procedure Act as well as a number of state and local laws. And it isn't just the blue states. Kentucky joined as well. Attorney General Andy Beshear: "I’m opposing the repeal of net neutrality because of the destructive nature it will have on every Kentuckian from farmers to college students who use free and open internet to thrive and prosper. As a state and as a nation, we cannot turn our backs on the hard working people of this country by letting the federal government walk all over them and take away their level playing field."

Aside from New York and Kentucky, the other states who have joined the suit are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Democrats would love to get Republicans opposing net neutrality on the record.

I reached out to Austin Frerick, a former Obama Treasury Department economist who is biding much of his Iowa congressional campaign on an analysis of corporate power and how it harms ordinary working families and how to rein it in. He told me that "Only 50% of rural Americans have Internet that meets the government standard of adequate serviced compared with 94% in urban area. The repeal of Net Neutrality will exacerbate the issue of unreliable broadband in rural areas. On March 31st last year, David Young received a $5,000 check from Comcast. I support Net Neutrality. He doesn't. This is probably why. Here's just another example of David Young putting corporate America's needs heads of everyday Iowans."

Goal ThermometerDerrick Crowe, like Frerick, is one of those forward-looking big thinker candidates-- he's running in TX-21 (super-literate and techie Austin/San Antonio)-- who understands very well how crucially important net neutrality is. Today he told us that "Net Neutrality is about stopping another massive corporate attack on our freedom. It's repeal lets huge corporations act as the gatekeepers of information, giving them enormous power to shape political debates and extort funds from subscribers. This is an issue that young voters and people about to be old enough to vote are intensely attuned to, and if our party doesn't vociferously defend true Title II Net Neutrality, we risk alienating an entire generation-- for good reason. We subsidize corporations like Verizon and Comcast to the tune of billions of dollars each year, and this move by them and their political enablers to restrict our freedoms in return is outrageous." You can contribute to their campaigns, and Jared Golden's, by clicking on the thermometer on the right.

Lewiston's Jared Golden is the majority whip of the Maine House of Representatives and is now running for the congressional seat held by Wall Street-oriented Republican Bruce Poliquin. Like Frerick and Crowe, he gets how important this issue is for Mainers-- even if his opponent doesn't. "Once again," he told us, "Bruce Poliquin is the only member of Maine’s delegation that’s failed to protect his constituents. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Congresswoman Pingree all support restoring Net Neutrality but Poliquin supported getting rid of it. The network companies have local monopolies in Maine and they are making their own rules while consumers have little or no alternatives to choose from. The FCC is giving these monopolies free rein over consumers and small businesses and Maine’s economy is pretty much driven by small businesses. Not only should it bring back Net Neutrality but Congress should act to break up the monopolies and ensure fair competition instead of allowing these internet providers to operate like 21st Century Barons."

Katie Hill is the committed progressive in a race to replace GOP reactionary Steve Knight in a district that has been trending blue. She told us that "Without net neutrality, news is less available, citizens are less knowledgeable, and marginalized groups are even less powerful. Our discussions and democratic deliberations are weakened when telecom companies and internet service providers get to decide who is allowed to speak, whose speech will be taken seriously, and what issues are considered debatable. The free and open exchange of information is one of our last defenses against the political influence of big businesses and special interests; the fight to #SaveNetNeutrality is not one that we can afford to lose."

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How Many House Races Will The DCCC F-Up In Illinois?

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The change this primary represents frightens the establishment jackoffs at the DCCC

Monday we looked at another reason the Democratic Party needs to dismantle the DCCC and start over again. But at the same time one of the credibility-free Beltway trade magazines was running an unsigned story, Illinois House Primaries Will Be Early Testing Ground For Democrats, that I thought might be about two of the more interesting primaries, Marie Newman's and Chuey Garcia's very credible challenges to the corrupt Democratic machine in Chicago. as it turned out, neither of those races was even mentioned. That's especially odd in the case of IL-03 where Newman is on the verge of beating execrable Blue Dog Dan Lipinski. Instead the article appears to have been a p.r. piece written at the direction Steny Hoyer or by whomever writes press releases for Ben Ray Lujan. The subtitle "Democrats have several pickup opportunities, but they need viable candidates first," should have been a warning, since "viable" inside the Beltway is the world they use to describe corrupt conservatives. Pure DCCC-talk: "With early voting starting in less than a month [not really-- the primary is March 20], Illinois will be a testing ground for Democrats’ ability to nominate general election candidates they think can win out of crowded primaries." The DCCC theory, proven catastrophic for Democrats over and over and over is still the committee's top operating strategy-- force the election of Republican-lite conservatives who will play ball with Hoyer's K Street lobbyists. (If you didn't read that post Monday about how Hoyer is rigging the CO-06 primary in favor of a sleazy pay-day lending lawyer, you really should.)

In Illinois the DCCC has 4 crap candidates in targeted districts. The problem here is that what Roll Call refers to as "Democratic campaign veterans" describe the precise reason the Democratic Party has lost dozens and dozens of House seats since the DCCC strategy was put in place by Rahm Emanuel:
In two competitive districts-- the 6th and the 13th-- Democratic candidates who have won the primary before but fallen short in the general election are running again. Even though they’re not raising much money, there’s still fear among Democratic campaign veterans that they could sneak by in the primary.
In the 13th, the corrupt DCCC operatives are petrified that heroic progressive Doctor David Gill will win-- you can contribute to his campaign here-- over their garbage candidate who could only win in a massive anti-Trump tsunami and would then lose the seat in a non-wave year. Let's start by going back to 2012. The DCCC conservative candidate, Matt Goetten, lost the primary (despite outspending Gill with over $300,000 in establishment cash). In the general election Republican Rodney Davis edged Gill 137,034 (46.5%) to 136,032 (46.2%). Why did Gill fall short by 1,000 votes? A left-wing independent, John Hartman acted as a spoiler and took 21,319 votes in the general (7.2%). That year was the only time the Democrats came close to beating Davis.

In 2014 the establishment persuaded Gill not to run again, appointing him assistant director of the Illinois Department of Public Health and they slipped in one of their really dreadful crap candidates, a conservative EMILY's List Republican-lite nothing burger, Ann Callis, who lost 59% to 41%. In 2016 it was the same story: uninspiring candidate loses to Davis in a 60-40 landslide. This cycle the DCCC and EMILY's List are working towards replicating 2014 with a pointless-but-wealthy crony of Dick Durbin, Betsy Londrigan, exactly the kind of uninspiring blecccch of a candidate Davis knows how to eviscerate.

The braindead DCCC operative who helped write the story says if Gill wins the primary-- which is likely, since voters love him-- the DCCC will take the district "off the table." That's how the DCCC plays. That's why the DCCC should be shuttered and the Dems should start over again in a post-Hoyer/post-Pelosi era dedicated to winning, not losing. OK, ready to hear from one of the architects of Democratic congressional disaster?
“Illinois is incredibly important because you have the three kinds of districts Democrats need to compete in, plus the kinds they need to defend,” said Ian Russell, former deputy executive director and national political director at the DCCC. He’s working with two Illinois primary candidates backed by EMILY’s List.

Based on 2016 presidential performance, the 6th District looks like Democrats’ best pickup opportunity. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Likely Republican.

“It’s one of those districts where we have to perform; it’s a part of our path,” a national Democratic strategist said.

Out of the four Illinois seats on the DCCC’s target list, it’s the only one Clinton carried-- by 7 points.

But voters in this affluent suburban Chicago district also backed incumbent Republican Sen. Mark S. Kirk, who lost statewide, and easily gave Rep. Peter Roskam a sixth term.

Democrats plan to hit Roskam on the GOP tax overhaul, which the state’s Republican governor called “punishing” because of its cap on state and local tax deductions.

“It’s clear that [Roskam’s] voters wanted a conservative representative who was focused on cutting their taxes-- and that’s exactly what Roskam did,” Maddie Anderson, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in an email.

“I’m a little confused by the notion that following through on what voters asked for would lead to being voted out of office,” she added.

[That's the kind of messaging revolving door walking garbage pile Ian Russell buys right into.]

...Many national Democrats [what a loaded and stupid phase; sounds like a Trumpism] see Kelly Mazeski, a former financial adviser and local elected official, as the front-runner. The breast cancer survivor announced her candidacy the day the House voted to repeal the 2010 health care law, which earned her national attention. She raised $163,000 in the fourth quarter of 2017 and loaned herself another $100,000. She ended December with $510,000 in the bank.

In addition to support from EMILY’s List, she has endorsements from Illinois Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Cheri Bustos and several of Bustos’ closest female allies in Congress, who have been politically active across the country.

But some members of the delegation prefer lawyer Carole Cheney, a former district chief of staff to Rep. Bill Foster. She has the backing of Foster and Rep. Robin Kelly. She had $90,000 at the end of the third quarter.

Clean energy entrepreneur Sean Casten raised $335,000 in the fourth quarter, including $250,000 of his own money. One national Democrat described the primary as a race between Mazeski and Casten, both of whom he thinks would be strong general election candidates.

But [Amanda] Howland’s team thinks she has the connections to take advantage of an energized electorate since she’s run before without national backing.

Russell, the former DCCC political director, is working with Mazeski [and nothing says LOSER like being a client of Russell's]. He acknowledged that Howland probably started as the front-runner-- she led seven candidates with 46 percent of the vote in her own campaign’s poll from last August.

But he’s less worried about Howland as a primary threat now since she hasn’t amassed the resources to communicate in such an expensive media market. She had $50,000 at the end of September. End of the year fundraising reports are due to the FEC at the end of January.

Having the backing of national Democratic leaders, though, doesn’t always guarantee electoral success. When Tammy Duckworth, now the state’s junior senator, first ran for Congress in 2006, she had money and the backing of EMILY’s List, then-DCCC chairman Rahm Emanuel and then-Sen. Barack Obama.

She defeated the 2004 nominee, who had strong local support, 44 percent to 40 percent in the primary. But despite outraising Roskam, Duckworth lost in the general by about 5,000 votes.

The 12th District, held by two-term GOP Rep. Mike Bost, is the only pickup opportunity in which the DCCC is showing their cards.

The committee courted St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly for years. This cycle, he finally said yes and quickly earned a spot on the committee’s Red to Blue list.

Democrats failed to land a candidate in this downstate district in 2016. “Oh god, it was awful,” Russell recalled. “We went through four or five candidates in the 12th. There was a lot of skepticism about the viability of the seat.”

Kelly’s campaign launch in July prompted Inside Elections to move the race rating from Solid Republican to Likely Republican. It’s currently rated Leans Republican.

On paper, the 12th District is trending away from Democrats. Former President Barack Obama carried it by double digits in 2008 but by less than 2 points in 2012. Trump won it by 15 points in 2016.

But Duckworth carried the seat in her 2016 Senate victory, and Democrats are optimistic that Kelly, who they see as a moderate, can compete in the general election.

“I just hope the demographics don’t overcome good candidate quality,” Russell said.

The 13th District was another recruiting miss for Democrats last cycle.

The cycle before that, in 2014, GOP Rep. Rodney Davis defeated a supposed top-tier recruit who had received DCCC support in the primary.

Obama carried the district by double digits in 2008, and lost it narrowly four years later. But in 2016, the 13th swung to Trump, who carried it by about 6 points. Davis won a third term by 19 points. This year’s race is rated Likely Republican.

As in the 6th District, there’s a Democrat running who’s won the primary before-- David Gill, who beat the DCCC’s recruit in 2012. Since then, though, he’s alienated many in the local and national party establishment. He had $4,000 at the end of the third quarter.

Betsy Dirksen Londrigan has the backing of EMILY’s List, Schakowsky and Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, for whom she used to be a fundraiser. Londrigan ended the third quarter with $129,000. Erik Jones could also be competitive here; he ended the third quarter with $195,000.
Goal ThermometerDavid Gill is no shrinking rose and, although most candidates dislike the DCCC and recognize their incompetence, corruption and malfeasance as much as he does, he's one of the few who doesn't mind expressing it clearly and publicly. His analysis is very much worth reading. He told us that "The most ironic thing about the DCCC's lack of support is that the progressive issues that I push for and which seem to terrify the corporate-backed DCCC-- single-payer healthcare, a $15/hour minimum wage, tuition-free access to public higher education-- my support for those progressive positions is the precise reason that I'm able to generate tens of thousands of more votes than the standard Republican Lite/DCCC-backed Democrat. Voters around the district, whether they consider themselves Dems, Independents, or even thoughtful Republicans seem to like the idea of being represented by a longtime care-giving doctor who actually gives a damn about their well-being. At the end of the day, 'ironic' is actually the wrong term; when the DCCC repeatedly gets behind candidates who present a passionless bland message that loses by 20 points, that's pretty clear evidence that they just don't care much about the seat in the first place. It seems they'd rather have a Republican occupying the seat than a single-payer supporting doctor."
Trump carried the 14th District by only 4 points. The DCCC has included this exurban Chicago district on its target list, but Democratic strategists who’ve worked in the state are skeptical.

“That’s a very tough one,” Russell said. Another Democratic strategist called it “a bridge too far.” GOP Rep. Randy Hultgren won a fourth term by 19 points in 2016.

Still, national Democrats are hoping to have a candidate who makes the general election competitive. Seven Democrats are running. Nurse and former Health and Human Services official Lauren Underwood had the most cash on hand at the end of the third quarter. Engineer Matthew Brolley wasn’t far behind, with $51,000. He’s backed by Schakowsky and just secured the endorsement of the state AFL-CIO, which should boost his ground game.

But Republicans scoff at Democratic chances in the district.

“That’s Republican delight,” said one Republican from the state. “Waste your money on that one.”
In Illinois there is no party registration/affiliation other than the party ballot you pull. One of the 2 DCCC candidates, Mayor Matthew Brolley regularly pulls Republican ballots (including in 2016). Sounds like the kind of crap the DCCC always get aroused by. The front-runner in the race, despite the party establishment and the DCCC and their allies, is progressive Jim Walz, a Bernie guy and big Medicare-for-All supporter. The only way to win a district like this is to offer the voters a clear and unambiguous choice, not by muddying the water with a Republican-lite candidate that turns off the base. Walz has backing from the progressives in the district as well as from independents and even moderate Republicans who want real change. The DCCC is downplaying IL-14 but this is a winnable race-- unless the DCCC gets one of their Republican-lite candidates in.

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Another Step Forward On Marijuana Legalization

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Today, two of California's best members of Congress, Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna will introduce the Marijuana Justice Act, the companion bill for Cory Booker’s Senate bill, S. 1689 (which so far has one co-sponsor Ron Wyden of Oregon). The idea behind the Marijuana Justice Act is to help correct decades of injustice surrounding the discriminatory enforcement of marijuana criminalization laws in the United States.

Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna will be joined by Senator Booker, on a press call to talk about the bill at 4:15 p.m. ET.

Tim Canova isn't a member of Congress yet and can't vote on the bill-- at least not this year. Next year, he hopefully will be voting for it in the House. First he has to defeat corrupt conservative Debbie Wasserman Schulz, an old school antidote fanatic. Yesterday, Canova told his south Florida supporters that "the failed 'War on Drugs' is not going away-- thanks to drug warriors like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on marijuana. Last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions-- a marijuana prohibitionist-- announced a crackdown on the 29 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use."
Wasserman Schultz has called marijuana a 'gateway drug' and she has consistently opposed efforts to end the war on marijuana. She even opposed a statewide referendum to approve medical marijuana-- a referendum that was approved by more than 70 percent of Florida voters in 2016. All while Wasserman Schultz takes thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Big Pharma and private prisons!

This is what Wasserman Schultz and Jeff Sessions have in common. They both believe in the drug war and mass incarceration. The recent policy announced by Sessions could have a chilling effect on millions of responsible citizens, subjecting them to FBI raids of their homes and businesses, seizure of their property, arrests and prosecutions by the Justice Department for nonviolent drug offenses. And it would also cripple the ability of states to regulate the industry.
Goal ThermometerCanova's campaign does not take a cent from any corporate interests-- especially not Wasserman Schultz allies in the private prison and pharmaceutical industries. He relies solely on small donations from grassroots supporters. Please click on the ActBlue Green Wave thermometer on the right and help Tim defeat Wasserman Schultz once and for all. "We need," he said, "representatives who will fight for education, jobs, and public health programs as alternatives to the drug trade and prisons. I have opposed the misguided drug war for many years. We should recognize that cannabis has medically therapeutic value and is not harmful to individuals and communities the way that alcohol, nicotine, and opioids are. When elected, I will work to change cannabis from a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance-- the most restrictive category in U.S. drug law. The federal government has a legitimate role to play in preventing criminal enterprises from infiltrating legal markets, including the market for cannabis. But beyond this, we should respect principles of federalism and allow the states to serve as “laboratories of reform” and experiment with their own approaches to medical and recreational cannabis, consistent with the will of the voters and regulating for public health and safety."

By the way, for anyone not following this debate, this is a partial list of the known medical marijuana uses:
  To relieve pain (and its use is being recommended to doctors in lieu of prescribing opiates)
  As an appetite stimulant in AIDS and chemotherapy patients
  To help treat inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  To treat chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting
  To treat muscle spasticity and pain in multiple sclerosis
  To reduce the growth of cancers
  To treat cancer-related pain not managed by other pain medication
  To treat drug-resistant epilepsy, particularly in children
  To treat psychiatric disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression, PTSD, substance use disorders, and bipolar disorder)
  To reduce the symptoms of conditions in the autism spectrum disorder
  To reduce the side effects of treatment for Hepatitis C (nausea, fatigue, muscle aches, and depression).
  To reduce the symptoms of autoimmune disease (e.g. Rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, fibromyalgia, Restless Leg Syndrome, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome)
  To help people get to sleep, get better quality sleep and awaken without a drug hangover
And remember, although marijuana can help relieve the symptoms of many medical conditions and is used as medicine in most states, its use is still prohibited at federal level.

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