Thursday, May 05, 2016

Conservative Democrats Are On The Verge Of Taking Over The Democratic Party Entirely

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Earlier today we talked about a partisan re-alignment that sees an acceleration of socially quasi-moderate but fiscally conservative Republicans migrating to the Democratic Party, the way Hillary Clinton, Charlie Crist and Patrick Murphy did, all of whom have worked diligently to undermine core Democratic values and hard-fought policies. The Republican-wing of the Democratic Party is more and more dominant, with the right-leaning, Wall Street owned New Dems, having completely captured, for example, congressional recruitment. Almost all the candidates being pushed by the DCCC and DSCC are conservatives who revel in the kind of systemic corruption that greases the wheels of the Chuck Schumers, Steny Hoyers, Rahm Emanuels and Debbie Wasserman Schultzes of the world.

Although she still wants the public to think there's a drama around it, Hillary has already picked a conservative New Dem-type, Julián Castro, as her running mate. So the campaign and their allied media have dutifully floated the names of several plausible candidates, one of the most prominent being Virginia's multimillionaire senior senator, Mark Warner. ProgressivePunch gives him a flat "F" for his Republican-leaning voting record and the only Senate Democrats with worse voting records this cycle are 4 right-wing Democrats from red states-- Joe Donnelly (IN), Joe Manchin (WV), Heidi Heitkamp (ND) and Claire McCaskill (MO).

Yesterday, Lee Fang exposed Warner's efforts to get conservative businessmen like himself more involved with the Democratic Party. Warner told a gang of them this week at the Milken Institute’s 2016 Global Conference that they can counter the populist sentiments Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown and Alan Grayson have been pushing "by lobbying harder for a deficit-reduction package that would reduce corporate tax rates and cut public retirement programs such as Social Security." That's the Hillary-wing of the Democratic Party.
If you don’t think the frustration of Americans with our overall system-- not just our political system, but our business system, our tax code-- is at the boiling point, then Katy bar the door!,” he said. “The walls that are gonna have to be built, may not be at borders, they may be around neighborhoods the way they are in many Third World countries around the world,” Warner warned.

...Warner’s panel on tax reform and the federal debt also includes Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., Ernst & Young CEO Mark Weinberger, and Maya MacGuineas, who chairs the corporate-backed lobbying group Fix The Debt.

Warner bemoaned that his years of efforts to strike a congressional “Grand Bargain” based on the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan had resulted in failure.

The Bowles-Simpson plan was composed by an Obama-assembled bipartisan commission that included House and Senate lawmakers and was chaired by Erskine Bowles, a multimillionaire investment banker and Clinton administration alumni, and Alan Simpson, a former Senator-turned-corporate lobbyist.

The commission put together a plan that called for corporate tax reform focused on cutting the corporate tax rate and entitlement reform based on policies such as raising the Social Security retirement age. Obama never embraced the plan, but a group of lawmakers, including Warner, known as the “Gang of Six” put forth legislation that mirrored its recommendations.

“We’d have gotten 70 votes if the establishments on both sides had not shot down our effort,” Warner complained on Monday.

Warner blamed the business community. “We all kind of moan about Washington, I moan about Washington, but Washington, for those of us in the room who are Americans-- it’s us! Raise your hand if you’re involved in any political campaign, I don’t care which side,” he said, surveying the room.

“This is a room where now about ten percent of you… raised your hands as saying you have any political involvement. You, if you’re here, have done pretty damn well,” the senator told the audience. “You have an outsized ability to affect what happens in Washington, because you’re successful.”

“I get a little tired of the business community bitching about Washington but then never wanting to get their hands dirty,” he continued.

Warner lauded MacGuineas, who runs the Fix The Debt campaign, which has lobbied Congress to pass a Simpson-Bowles type proposal. Although her group does not disclose its donors, its “CEO Fiscal Leadership Council” includes representatives from Aetna, Caterpillar, JP Morgan Chase, General Electric, and other corporate giants.

“We put together an effort that Maya led which was the first time I’ve seen the business community…called Fix The Debt where we raised some resources so we could in a bipartisan way support Members who were willing to say we need entitlement reform, we need tax reform that generates revenue,” he said. “It was probably 1/100th of the business community [that] participated,” he said.

Weinberger, for his part, complained that Congress is too responsive to the public. “In fact when I worked for [former Missouri Republican Senator] Jack Danforth many years ago, he had a great line. People think in Washington we’re so dissassociated, we’re so aloof, we’re so unconnected to the general public. Nothing could be further from the truth, quite frankly. And we want to do what they want us to do to get elected, in many cases.”

He continued: “The problem is when you have candidates on both sides of the aisle attacking the corporate institution as all greedy and rich… And all not paying their fair share…all the institutions lose trust.”

Warner’s grand bargain is decidedly not what the public is looking for. Gallup polling in 2010 found that only 35 percent of Americans favor raising Social Security’s retirement age, unchanged from five years earlier. While the corporate world has been lobbying to reduce tax rates for years, Pew found that almost two-thirds of Americans said they were “bothered a lot by the feeling that some corporations aren’t paying what’s fair in federal taxes.”

It makes you wonder if Warner’s plan for a corporate alliance to oppose the public’s will on these issues would head off an angry populist revolt-- or provoke one.
The Hillary wing: Rahm Emanuel, Mark Warner, Chuck Schumer

Chuck Schumer, with his pusillanimous Montana side-kick, Jon Tester, is going about the same business in a different way-- recruiting conservative Wall Street puppets like Patrick Murphy (FL), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Ted Strickland (OH), Tammy Duckworth (IL), Chris Van Hollen (MD), Katie McGinty (PA), Connor Eldridge (AR) and Patty Judge (IA), while viciously sabotaging progressives like Alan Grayson, Jon Fetterman, Joe Sestak, Lennie Clark, Rob Hogg, Tom Fiegen, Sellus Wilder, Donna Edwards and PG Sittenfeld. You can support House and Senate progressive candidates by clicking on the thermometer below:
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An Anti-Trump Tsunami? DCCC Incompetence Will Protect The GOP Majority In The House

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No one likes to blame her, but Steve Israel is Nancy Pelosi's fault-- 100%

Otherwise sane commentators have been repeating an absurdist DCCC line that Trump is so toxic and the Republican Party brand so polluted that November could see the Democrats take back the House. It can't. Dream all you want, it cannot happen. Now, had Pelosi cleaned out that nest of corrupt vipers last year or the year before or the year before that-- as they managed to lose dozens and dozens of Democratic seats-- and replaced the leadership with capable Democrats like Keith Ellison or Mark Pocan or Donna Edwards, the DCCC would indeed be on track to win the 30 seats it would take to win back the House. But she didn't and she's stuck with a dysfunction organization that doesn't know how to win, that only knows how to lose.

Yesterday John Harwood wrote for the NYTimes that "by alienating huge blocks of general election voters in his drive for the Republican presidential nomination, Mr. Trump has created the possibility of a Democratic breakthrough." Yes, Trump has alienated huge blocks of general election voters but, no Trump has not created the possibility of a Democratic breakthrough in the House and the Senate was a sure thing based on which seats are coming up, just like 2018 is a sure thing for the GOP based on which seats are coming then. Let's do our homework, children. Speaking of which... some movement in presidential prospects from Cook in a blue direction (except Maine):


The Beltway's dumbest congressional election prognosticator, the Dean of Dumb Prognosticators, Charlie Cook, wrote after Trump's win in Indiana that "from here on out, Republicans will bravely try to appear calm while quietly doing everything possible to contain the down-ballot damage-- trying to retain their Senate majority and keep House losses down to 10 or 15 seats." He then quotes the Beltway's favorite fake expert, Dave Wasserman, claiming the House is now unpredictable. It isn't-- and Wasserman knows it; in fact he says Dems could maybe hope for 20 seats. That's not 30.
Given current boundaries for House members’ districts, Mr. Wasserman has identified dozens of Republican-held districts with one or more of six “risk factors” that could give Democrats a chance if Mrs. Clinton routs Mr. Trump at the top of the ticket.

They include the 26 Republican-held districts that Mr. Obama carried in 2012, districts where Latinos and Asians make up at least 20 percent of the electorate and districts where at least 25 percent of adults hold a college degree.

Forty Republican incumbents have at least three of the six risk factors. Retirements by Republican incumbents have left Democrats in position to compete for an additional 10 seats this fall.

“There’s a danger for Republicans,” Mr. Wasserman said.
Yes, in a theoretical world-- or a world where Steve Israel had been fired long ago and Ben Ray Lujan never hired-- there would be a danger. But on Monday, as an example, we looked at GOP-held seats with 25% of greater Latino populations. There are 30. The DCCC goes into the battle having discounted 22 of them. Almost none of them have plausible Democratic candidates and many of them have no Democratic candidate at all! Wasserman and others like him never seem to want to confront or explain that ugly reality that the DCCC tries to keep their sucker donors from finding out about. Take, for example FL-27, a district in Miami-Dade that Obama won in 2008 with 51% and in 2012 with an even better 53%. 76% of the population is Hispanic. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Steve Israel have guaranteed the friendly Republican incumbent that they would never allow a Democrat to challenge her-- and they never have. They neglected to recruit a candidate this year when either Hillary or Bernie is guaranteed a landslide victory over Trump in the district, probably a minimum of 65-35%, perhaps better. Remember, the district is 76% Hispanic but thanks to the exertions of Wasserman Schultz, her corrupt right-wing friend, Ilya Ros-Lehtinen, will have no contest to win reelection. Up the road in FL-25, Mario Diaz-Balart-- in a district that is 74% Hispanic and also sure to rebuff Trump, the DCCC is working to sabotage a progressive challenger, Alina Valdes. Yes, you read that right; it isn't the NRCC working to undermine Valdes; it's the DCCC. NM-02 (53% Hispanic), TX-27 (52% Hispanic), CA-22 (47% Hispanic), CA-08 (39% Hispanic) and CA-23 (38% Hispanic) are all being studiously ignored by the DCCC. In fact 20% of the most Latino GOP-held districts don't have any Democrat running at all. So how does the DCCC win back the House even in an anti-Trump tsunami? They don't.

That didn't stop Paul Waldman from writing yesterday that "Democrats are now fantasizing about not just taking back the Senate, but the House as well, something that seemed impossible a few months ago." Yes, and is still impossible-- literally impossible.


Even in blue districts where a Democrat "can't lose," Steve Israel, Ben Ray Lujan and Denny Heck have managed to undermine local Democratic parties' progressive candidates in favor of conservative outsiders they are trying to force into the nominations. There are dozens of examples everywhere in the country. One that came to light recently was when Pennsylvania Democrats in Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Berks counties enthusiastically decided to get behind progressive Mary Ellen Balchunis. The 3 horsemen of the apocalypse, Israel, Lujan and Heck, decided she's too liberal and not rich enough so they got behind some wealthy knucklehead and put him on their absurd Red-to-Blue list and told donors he's the official candidate and not to give any money to Mary Ellen-- you know what hypocrite Nancy Pelosi says about "when women win," right?-- etc. So the DCCC hack, Bill Golderer, spent $239,391 and Mary Ellen spent $45,541 and two weeks ago she kicked the DCCC's corrupt ass from Blue Bell, Kulpsville, King of Prussia and Upper Darby to Intercourse, Amityville and the suburbs south of Reading, beating their sad sack candidate 51,525 (73.8%) to 18,276 (26.2%). So the DCCC, in a fit of pique, immediately abandoned the "must win" district and refused to get behind Balchunis and the local Pennsylvania Democrats.

Right now they are working furiously to defeat Lou Vince, the overwhelming pick of the California Democratic Party in CA-25, so they can get their wealthy and corrupt outsider into the nomination, Brian Caforio, using the identical tactics that failed against Mary Ellen Balchunis. They're doing even worse against Pat Murphy in Iowa, on behalf of a rich Republican fence-jumper they recruited, Monica Vernon. If I were to detail every race where the DCCC is using resources to undermine progressives in favor of corrupt conservatives, I'd be up all night. But if you want to push back, please consider contributing to the progressive Democratic candidates on this list:
Goal Thermometer

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Evidently Tony Blair doesn't subscribe to the old proposition "Ask me no questions, and I'll tell you no lies"

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by Ken

If you believe that Tony Blair is "one of the most respected and admired world leaders of the last 50 years," you're going to seethe with envy that I got this e-mail from NYC's 92nd Street Y and you didn't. I got it, as the e-mail explained, "because you are a loyal patron of 92Y" -- by which they mean, I presume, that back in June 2011 I indeed bought a ticket for Keith Olbermann's lollapalooza of a tribute to James Thurber, one of my idols, with participants including Calvin Trillin, another of my idols. (And it was a grand night. I wrote about it here in a post called "Thurber Tonight -- special edition: At the 92nd Street Y Thurber 'do,' Keith O gives a virtuoso performance.")

Because of my loyal patronage, I was being extended an opportunity to purchase, "in advance of the general public," "up to two tickets" to the above-trumpeted event, at which your pal Tony will offer his "unparalleled analysis of the world’s most difficult and complex issues."
The prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1997 to 2007, he now works to secure peace and prosperity in the Middle East, improve governance in Africa, find solutions to climate change and encourage understanding of world faiths. He talks with Rabbi Peter Rubinstein about his take on the current world situation, especially regarding the Middle East in crisis, extremism, governments and education.
Now I bet you're really eating your heart out!

In the event that you're motivated to wangle tickets for this great event -- priced, you'll note, "from $100.00" (can we not guess that from there the prices go up, not down?) -- it's only fair to advise, as the e-mail does:
Please note that for security purposes, all ticketholders’ names must be submitted at the time of purchase, and all ticketholders must bring a photo ID to the event. Tickets are non-transferable.
In addition, on the Y's event page we learn:
No backpacks, shopping bags, large handbags/purses/briefcases or cameras/recording devices will be permitted inside the building, and 92Y cannot provide storage of any such items.
Apparently there's concern that not all attendees may share your unflinching admiration for this "one of the most respected and admired world leaders of the last 50 years."


AS SO OFTEN HAPPENS IN MY LIFE . . .

News of this impending great event ricochets weirdly in my disorderly mental space. Seeing as how I am, as it happens, let's say "momentarily between jobs" (that's another whole story), I am finding this a good time to catch up on some of the John Le Carré books I somehow missed among the prodigious output of yet another favorite writer, and just now I'm reading the splendid 2003 offering Absolute Friends, whose immediate action -- though the novel also ranges back in time a couple of decades -- is the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which one character characterizes thusly (page 321 of the 2004 Back Bay paperback edition):
That war on Iraq was illegitimate, Mr. Mundy. It was a criminal and immoral conspiracy. No provocation, no link with Al Qaeda, no weapons of Armageddon. Tales of complicity between Saddam and Osama were self-serving bullshit. It was an old colonial oil war dressed up as a crusade for Western life and liberty, and it was launched by a clique of war-hungry Judeo-Christian geopolitical fantasists who hijacked the media and exploited America's post-9/11 psychopathy.
Our speaker goes on:
All it takes for a war like that to start, Sasha tells me, is for a few good men to do nothing. Well, they did nothing Whether they're good men, that's another thing. The Democratic opposition did fuck-all. Stay home, sing patriotic songs till it's safe to come out, was their policy. Jesus Christ, what kind of opposition is that? What kind of moral courage?
Still later, in recognition of the nationality of the Mr. Mundy to whom he is speaking, our speaker adds -- and this is the reason I bring it up:
Forgive me, I am failing as a host. I was forgetting the vital role played by your British prime minister, without whom there might have been no war.
(In fact, I recall earlier on an even more caustic verbal assault on PM Blair, hurled at the same Mr. Mundy by the above-referenced Sasha. I don't feel up to trying to dig it out, though. It should be noted too that these are the views of the character(s) in question, not of the author. Still, I haven't found much indication that the author is in serious disagreement on these matters.)

Stuff that in your backpack, shopping bag, or large handbag/purse/briefcase.
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Does Cruz Exit Help Sanders? Will Hillary Appoint Bill Her "Minister of Jobs and Trade"?

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Clinton wants to bring her husband "out of retirement."

by Gaius Publius

The two topics in the headline are related.

We're in the next phase of the campaign, with an uncontested candidate in the Republican Party (who knew that would happen first?) and a still-contested race on the Democratic side. How much does this change the dynamic?

For one thing, if Sanders continues to battle to the convention, as he's promised again and again to do — and also to combat Clinton regarding the culture of corruption (my phrase) in the Democratic Party — Clinton will have to fight on two fronts, Sanders and Trump. Whether she will fight on two fronts, or whether she'll just "pivot" to the right, battle Trump, and try to attract those "mythical centrist moderates," is anyone's guess.

Does she think she's such a shoo-in that she needn't bother further with Sanders voters and their issues, that they're going to along for the ride anyway? There are some indications of that, like this...

Two Clinton Advisors Support TPP "Adjusted on the Margins"

From a recent report sourced to the AP (my emphasis):
Laura Rosenberger, foreign policy adviser for the Clinton campaign, said Clinton still supports the goal of a TPP that advances US interests in the region. However, she said, the pact in its current form doesn’t meet three conditions needed for a trade deal: to create good jobs in the US, raise wages at home, and advance US national security.

Kurt Campbell, who was Clinton’s top lieutenant on East Asia at the State Department and is now advising her campaign, describes TPP as a “strategic commitment” to engage in Asia. The 12 participating nations account for about 40 per cent of global GDP, and other Asian nations are interested in joining.

Campbell said that a full-scale renegotiation would be “very difficult”, but that adjustments could make it more politically palatable in the US[.]

“There are always opportunities to adjust on the margins and figure out how to ensure that we’ve got an agreement which legislators can sell back home,” Campbell told the Truman Centre think tank last week, without giving specifics.
So Clinton plans to "adjust TPP on the margins" so legislators can "sell [it] back home." Does that sound like a firm commitment to "good jobs" and "raising wages"? Or a commitment to making things simply look that way? This certainly sends a TPP signal to Sanders voters. It also sends a TPP signal to her big-money campaign contributors.

And then there's this...

Bill Clinton's Role in the Next Clinton Administration

In the clip at the top, the reporters frame Hillary Clinton's comment regarding Bill's role as being about "jobs," but as you can hear in this longer, though still edited, clip, the context of the discussion is trade. Here's one interpretation of the session:
During a campaign event this week, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton capitalized on the nostalgic popularity of Bill Clinton when she told a room full of supporters that she plans to put Bill to work because he has so many “good ideas.”

Clinton was talking extensively about trade, an issue that she has gotten a fair amount of push-back on from opponent Bernie Sanders.
Clinton is clearly pivoting to the right on TPP, though only the readers of the first piece above — and now you — know that yet. And she plans to make "NAFTA" Bill Clinton her virtual "minister of trade"? Before the primary is even over?

That's quite a pivot. Just the optics alone are horrible, even if Bill just works to create a "manufacturing renaissance," as asserted here. The man is still, in most eyes, Mr. NAFTA. That was the core of his 1992 campaign against Ross Perot. Is this Ms. Clinton's new message, that "the guy who got killed your last job, will now get you your next one"?

... or question their agents as well.

I hope Bernie Sanders is all over this, from now until the last vote is cast. Because...

Will Pivoting to the Right Hurt Clinton Badly in the Primary?

Yes, in the primary. Remember, Ted Cruz has now dropped out, and we're still in the primary on the Democratic side, not the general election. In a piece called "5 Reasons Bernie Sanders Wins Big With Cruz Dropout" writer Seth Abramson includes these as the second and third reasons (bolded emphasis mine):
2. Sanders will pick up a huge number of what would otherwise be Trump votes in states where voters are still able to register for upcoming Democratic primaries, or are able to cross over and vote in the Democratic primary due to being a registered independent.

Sanders’ vote share in nearly every upcoming primary and caucus just increased, though we don’t know by how much. In some instances, it could be a substantial bump, given that there’s no strategic reason to cast a vote for Donald Trump anymore — now that the Republican National Committee has officially declared him the presumptive nominee and a John Kasich dropout is likely imminent.

3. Clinton will have to start spending a great deal of money to fight a two-front war against Donald Trump, who’ll begin his ultra-negative primary campaign against Clinton immediately, and [against] Bernie Sanders, who will avoid attacking Clinton directly but has nevertheless vowed to take the Democratic primary to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

This is the worst imaginable scenario for Clinton, as her negatives have always gone up when she’s in the midst of a campaign — and now she’s in the middle of two at once. With Clinton’s attention divided, her ability to respond to any Bernie Sanders surge in upcoming states will be limited.
And by ignoring Sanders completely in order to deal with Trump — as it certainly looks like she's doing — she risks even further the loss of (a) independent and Democratic voters in the primary, and (b) Sanders voters in the general election.

Sanders Can Still Win the Nomination with Pledged Delegates

Yes, the path is narrow, but not impossibly so. After his win in Indiana — and hopefully, after Clinton's betrayal (that's the word) of her implied, though heavily parsed, objection to TPP — Sanders starts the fourth quarter of this four-quarter game very strong. As I have it calculated, he could fairly easily enter the convention less than 50 pledged delegates down. And with a string of very good wins in the many states favorable to him, he could even overtake her by something like 5-10 delegates.

In other words, not over. As Abramson wrote in the same piece:
Sanders was already looking strong in Oregon, West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota, Kentucky, North Dakota, and California, but given that he’s within single digits in New Jersey (where Trump is very popular) and performed incredibly well with nonwhite voters in Indiana (meaning New Mexico could be in play), it’s not unthinkable that Hillary Clinton could lose all of the remaining primaries and caucuses and therefore as many as thirteen or fourteen contests in a row to finish the Democratic primary season.
It's not out of range that Clinton loses every remaining contest but New Jersey and DC. If that's the case, losing by how much will tell the tale. And even if she wins the pledged delegate total — just one of the three simultaneous races being run — that's how she enters the convention, a loser in almost all of the fourth-quarter contests.

What will the nation think as they watch her nominated, if they do get that sight?

This isn't over. As I've been recommending for a while now — Block to the whistle. Tackle to the ground. Play till the end of the game. It's the only way you win the tough ones.

(Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. If you'd like to help out, now is the time. Please go here. If you'd like to "phone-bank for Bernie," go here. You can volunteer in other ways by going here. And thanks!)

GP
 

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Is Trump's Claim To The Nomination A Signal For A Conservative Migration To And A Take-Over Of The Democratic Party?

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When Elizabeth Warren tweeted that there's more enthusiasm for Trump among the leaders of the KKK than leaders of the GOP, she was referring to the same sort of narrow slivver of political elites who have propped up the lesser evil in her own party. GOP elites have deployed $43 million worth of ads against Trump during the later stages of the primary and they made him more-- not less-- popular with the Republican masses. GOP hyperbole and Hate Talk Radio/Fox lowest common denominator pandering have created a base strong enough to overthrow the establishment elites within Republican Party, Inc. What a pity the reasoned arguments of people like Warren, Grayson and Bernie haven't been able to do it within Democratic Party, Inc, where corrupt careerists like Wasserman Schultz, Schumer, Rahm Emanuel, Steny Hoyer, Steve Israel and the Clintons still rule the roost.

But, as the NYTimes editorial board noted after Trump's big win in Indiana Tuesday night, It's Trump's Party Now. "That the Never-Trumpers," they opined, "had hoped to fall back on Mr. Cruz, perhaps the most reviled politician in his party, was a measure of their panic about the prospect now before them. With Mr. Trump’s success, 'I’m watching a 160-year-old political party commit suicide,' said Henry Olsen, an elections analyst with the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank. Republicans will all but certainly nominate Mr. Trump, who would be the most volatile and least prepared presidential candidate nominated by a major party in modern times. A man once ridiculed by many prominent Republicans will become the G.O.P. standard-bearer."
This is a moment of reckoning for the Republican Party. It’s incumbent on its leadership to account for the failures and betrayals that led to this, and find a better way to address them than the demagogy on offer.

Republicans haven’t yet begun to grapple with this. Instead they’re falling into line.

Republican leaders have for years failed to think about much of anything beyond winning the next election. Year after year, the party’s candidates promised help for middle-class people who lost their homes, jobs and savings to recession, who lost limbs and well-being to war, and then did next to nothing. That Mr. Trump was able to enthrall voters by promising simply to “Make America Great Again”-- but offering only xenophobic, isolationist or fantastical ideas-- is testimony to how thoroughly they reject the politicians who betrayed them.

Now, myopic as ever, Republican leaders are talking themselves into supporting Mr. Trump. At a party retreat in Florida last month, Mr. Trump’s adviser Paul Manafort, brought in to make the candidate seem safer to the old guard, assured them that Mr. Trump will better prepare himself for the presidency. “That was all most of these guys needed to hear,” said an operative in the room. “Maybe he’s trainable.” But within a day, Mr. Trump was back to making vile comments at his rallies. In his confused foreign policy address, he demonstrated nothing but a willful refusal to learn.

...It is the Republicans who are making a clear choice in 2016, one that seemed unimaginable a year ago: To stamp what they still like to call the party of Lincoln with the brand of Donald Trump.

Last night Trump said he's open to naming Cruz his running mate

On MSNBC Wednesday morning, Trump told his preferred audience, people who watch Morning Joe, that he doesn't even want endorsements from the GOP establishment types who have treated him, in his mind, badly. With his usually self-centered, lazy incoherence, he babbled, "I’ve been saying for a long time that there's some people that, I almost don't want their endorsement, Republicans, because it was too rough and they were too nasty, and I don’t think it’s going to matter, frankly. It’s going to be me... from people who were far more brutal than Ted... I said to them, how can you do that after what you said. They said, 'don't worry about, it's not a problem,' because they’re politicians. It's talk."

The most recent head-to-head match-ups, CNN's, show Bernie beating him 56-40% and even the hideously flawed lesser-of-two evils candidate would thump Trump 54-41%. And, remember, Trump hasn't even been thoroughly vetted yet and there is so, so much for the general election voters to learn about him. Erick Erickson, a far right blogger, seems distraught-- and angry at Republican primary voters for, in his words, handing the White House to Hillary in an act of ritual suicide (without the ritual). "Trump," he wrote, "cannot win. 42% of Republican voters have an unfavorable view of Trump. 53% of registered voters have an unfavorable view of Trump. 70% of women have an unfavorable view of Trump. 89% of Hispanics have an unfavorable view of Trump. The Republican Party is on the verge of nominating the least popular politician in American presidential history. Ironically, the party’s voters are doing it to spite its own leaders, but its leaders prefer Trump to the other guy. The result will be Hillary Clinton winning in November. Trump cannot build a meaningful coalition outside of blue collar white voters, white supremacists, and internet conspiracy theorists. The rest of the voting public no more wants Trump than herpes."

Erick is right about the herpes, white supremacists and internet conspiracy theorists but he's not as right as he thinks he is about the blue collar white voters. In fact, on Tuesday Nate Silver called working class support for Trump a myth. "As compared with most Americans," wrote Silver, "Trump’s voters are better off. The median household income of a Trump voter so far in the primaries is about $72,000, based on estimates derived from exit polls and Census Bureau data. That’s lower than the $91,000 median for Kasich voters. But it’s well above the national median household income of about $56,000. It’s also higher than the median income for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters, which is around $61,000 for both."
Class in America is a complicated concept, and it may be that Trump supporters see themselves as having been left behind in other respects. Since almost all of Trump’s voters so far in the primaries have been non-Hispanic whites, we can ask whether they make lower incomes than other white Americans, for instance. The answer is “no.” The median household income for non-Hispanic whites is about $62,000, still a fair bit lower than the $72,000 median for Trump voters.

Likewise, although about 44 percent of Trump supporters have college degrees, according to exit polls-- lower than the 50 percent for Cruz supporters or 64 percent for Kasich supporters-- that’s still higher than the 33 percent of non-Hispanic white adults, or the 29 percent of American adults overall, who have at least a bachelor’s degree.

This is not to say that Trump voters are happy about the condition of the economy. Substantial majorities of Republicans in every state so far have said they’re “very worried” about the condition of the U.S. economy, according to exit polls, and these voters have been more likely to vote for Trump. But that anxiety doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal economic circumstances, which for many Trump voters, at least in a relative sense, are reasonably good.

Now, what about the existential threat Trump poses to the GOP? Far right web-site, the Washington Examiner reported yesterday that "the Republican donors who helped Mitt Romney raise $1 billion in 2012 [and wasted hundreds of millions of Jeb, Rubio, Cruz, Christie and the rest of the laughable "Deep Bench"] have a target figure in mind for Donald Trump: zero. Repelled by Trump and convinced he can't beat Hillary Clinton, wealthy GOP contributors are abandoning the presidential contest and directing their lucrative networks to spend to invest in protecting vulnerable Republican majorities in the House and Senate... [O]n policy and fitness for the presidency, the party's most active contributors and bundlers simply can't bring themselves to support their front-runner, reluctantly preferring a Clinton administration that is checked by a GOP congress."
Wealthy Republican donors are typically successful business people who approach politics pragmatically. They tend to support candidates most likely to win, with less regard to ideology, often to the chagrin of committed conservative activists. So in many ways it's unusual that establishment contributors in New York, Washington and around the country aren't preparing to open their wallets to Trump, now that he appears more likely to be the nominee.

But their issues with him are twofold.

On the issues, Trump's populism bothers donors, who tend to support the GOP because it has been the party of free markets, free trade, and lately, shrinking the size and scope of government through reforming Medicare and Social Security. On foreign policy, they prefer robust U.S. leadership abroad, making Clinton a preferable commander in chief when measured against Trump's isolationism.

Then there's Trump's behavior. Republican donors see a U.S. that is evolving demographically and becoming less white. Trump's harsh rhetoric directed toward illegal Mexican immigrants and Muslims, and long history of publicly insulting women and his critics, leads them to believe he will inflict long-term damage to the GOP, and worse, that he is unfit for the presidency.

Given their options, Republican donors prefer Clinton in the White House and Republicans controlling the House and Senate.


Responding to an editorial in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Bill Kristol, who is advocating for a conservative to challenge Trump and Hillary on a conservative line, made his point crystal clear: "Trump shouldn't be POTUS. Wall Street Journal can't say it. We can, do say it." Also yesterday, just as Kasich was raising the white flag, Paul Waldman was asking his Washington Post readers, "So now that Trump has taken control of the GOP, how is the image Americans have of this party going to change? Right now, he points out, "the Democratic Party is viewed unfavorably by 50 percent of the public and favorably by 45 percent, for a net favorability of minus five, the Republican Party is viewed unfavorably by 62 percent and favorably by 33 percent, for a net favorability of minus 29. The latest Gallup poll shows that more Americans call themselves Democrats than Republicans by a margin of 49-41." Can Trump make it worse, not just lose the election but tarnish the already tarnished brand? Does it even matter to Republicans and the GOP that Trump is "making it absolutely clear that he is leading a movement of, by, and for white people?" Waldman likens the difference in approach as being "the difference between a guy in a trench coat saying 'Psst, buddy, want to buy some racism and xenophobia? Follow me into this alley…', and a guy standing on a soapbox in the middle of Times Square shouting 'Get yer racism and xenophobia here!'"
For decades, the GOP has built its identity on what I call the Four Pillars of Conservatism: small government, low taxes, strong defense, and traditional social values. They provide an easy-to-understand template for every Republican running for any office from dog catcher to president, they bind Republicans with different agendas in common cause, and their constant repetition cements the party’s image in voters’ minds. But Donald Trump, now the leader of this party, has shown only sporadic interest in any of them, with the possible exception of a strong defense.

...[Trump] alienates moderates who don’t want to think that they’re voting for a reactionary party. That’s something Karl Rove and George W. Bush understood-- when they created “compassionate conservatism” and had Bush take endless smiling photos with black and Hispanic people, the real target wasn’t minorities themselves but white moderates who wanted reassurance that they were voting for an open, inclusive party.

But that idea is dead, at least for this election. Trump likes to come out after a primary win and say how great he did among various demographic groups (even if much of the time he’s just making up results out of nowhere)-- I won with women, I won with “the blacks,” I won with “the Hispanics”! But if the election were held right now, Trump would not just lose but likely lose by record margins among women, among African-Americans, among Hispanics, among Asian-Americans, among people with college educations-- basically among every group except blue-collar white men.

So Trump takes what was a challenge for the party-- their reliance on a diminishing portion of the population and their struggles appealing to all the portions of the population that are growing-- and makes it dramatically worse.

How persistent will the effects be? At the moment it’s impossible to tell. It might be that Trump will tarnish the GOP brand for a generation or more, particularly among voters just now coming of age. Republican candidates at all levels are going to be confronted with the question of not just whether they support Trump’s election, but whether they support anything he might do. Do you think Donald Trump should appoint the next Supreme Court justice? Do you think Donald Trump’s finger should be on the nuclear button? Do you think Donald Trump is a good role model for children?
Lowest Democratic vote for a Democratic nominee in last 4 elections was Gore with 87%; lowest GOP was G.W.Bush in 2000 with 91%. Last month an NBC/WSJ poll showed Hillary with 87% of Dems and Trump with just Trump 72% of Republicans


Oh, yeah, now we're back at my "life's losers" scenario where the only people who back Trump are the ones with nothing to live for and who want to take the cruel world down with them when it ends for them. But are there really anti-Trump Republicans ready to help Hillary in greater numbers than the usual odd ducks who desert their parties for one reason or another in every election? Sean Sullivan addressed that in the Post yesterday too. "For some Republicans, the prospect of a President Clinton is more palatable than a President Trump-- not because they like Clinton, but because they could fight her on familiar terrain, rather than watching an unpredictable Trump use the power of the White House to remake the GOP."

They should just forget the primitive tribalism and embrace the conservative Clinton for what she is, a socially forward-thinking conservative who stands with them on a whole range of issues, from national security hawkishness and a devastating anti-family trade agenda to standard corporatism and elitism. As Shaun King explained in yesterday's New York Daily News, "Hillary Clinton represents the political establishment... Hillary Clinton is as establishment as establishment gets. The machine is behind her. Her campaign against Bernie Sanders has only advanced this sentiment... Independent and new voters are flocking to Bernie Sanders and even to Donald Trump, but not to Hillary Clinton." Charlie Crist told his fellow Republicans right after Trump's victory that the water in the Democratic Party pool feels just right. And look at an unaccomplished do-nothing like Patrick Murphy-- speaking of "former" Republicans from Florida. After amassing a socially-forward Republican voting record in the House, Schumer is insisting Florida Democrats abandon Alan Grayson and elect Murphy to the U.S. Senate! So will GOP establishment types not just abandon Trump, but realign with the conservative Republican/Clinton wing of the Democratic Party?


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Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Push To Fire Chief of SFPD Continues As Hunger Strike Enters Day 15

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Three of the Frisco5, Ike Pinkston, Maria Cristina Gutierrez and Edwin Lindo as they approach San Francisco's City Hall flanked by supporters

- by Denise Sullivan

"We won," said Maria Cristina Gutierrez, from the steps of San Francisco's city hall on Tuesday afternoon. Gutierrez, her fellow hunger strikers, the Frisco 5 (Ilyich "Equipto" Sato, Sellassie Blackwell, Ike Pinkston, and Edwin Lindo) and nearly one thousand fellow San Franciscans embarked on a march to Mayor Ed Lee's office to demand the firing of police Chief Greg Suhr, leader of a department rife with racism and responsible for the executions of four San Franciscans in two years. Though the mayor, who had been made aware of the march, was at a meeting across town, the Frisco 5 and their followers proceeded to the Board of Supervisors meeting where they used public comment to demand their elected officials stand with them and resolve to fire the chief.

"This is the beginning of the struggle on so many fronts," asserted Gutierrez at the end of a long day of protest and nearly the end of the second week of starvation in the name of ending police violence and the long arm of over-gentrification. Citing the efforts by Gandhi and Cesar Chavez, Gutierrez says she was moved to hunger strike following the death of Luis Gongora, an immigrant from Yucatan who recently lost his housing and was living homeless on Shotwell Street until he was shot 11 times for allegedly brandishing a knife. Witness accounts of the killing varied widely though one certainty is that once again, it doesn't look good for SFPD who in a two-year period killed four men. Alex Nieto in March of 2014 was shot 59 times when police mistook his taser (he was employed as a security guard) for a gun.  Not quite one year later, Guatemalan immigrant Amilcar Perez-Lopez was shot six times in the back. Mario Woods was shot 20 times in December and the incident was caught on video in its entirety. The April 7 shooting of Góngora was the event that prompted Gutierrez to say, "No more," taking matters into her own hands.

A native of Colombia and a San Francisco resident for over 40 years, Gutierrez is the executive director of the Compañeros del Barrio pre-school in the Mission District. When it was announced she would wage a hunger strike, her son, Equipto, a teacher at the school, vowed to join her. Last year, Equipto a hip hop recording artist, became involved in the cause to oust Mayor Lee somewhat accidentally when a run-in caught on video caused him to declare the mayor "a disgrace to Asian people." On Tuesday, Equipto's father Art Sato, known to the Bay Area as a jazz DJ on Pacifica radio station KPFA, stood on the steps of City Hall, and extolled a bit on Equipto's political education. Born in a concentration camp during World War II, Sato also referred to Lee's term as a "disgrace," and the SFPD texting scandal involving Asian officers, while underscoring the importance of Asians becoming involved in the fight for racial justice. He noted that Asians 4 Black Lives were holding things down at 17th and Valencia in the protesters absence. Sato who said he is normally a very reserved and private person added, "This strike has taught me a lot. To be a little less private, and to express my pride for my son."

Also in attendance were Refugio and Elvira Nieto, parents of Alex Nieto, who just weeks after a judgment clearing the officers who killed their son, are still on the frontlines for justice. Gwendolyn Woods, mother of Mario Woods, was there; she awaits the results of the Department of Justice's probe into her son's death at the hands of SFPD, while the officers who shot Woods immediately returned to their jobs. Overseeing the proceedings on the steps of City Hall comedian and activist Yayne Abeba passed the mic to singers and activists, including poet Tony Robles who read his piece, "It Took A Hunger Strike." Speaker Larry Dorsey poked holes in the idea of the Bay Area as a progressive bastion. "San Francisco is so racist, it thinks that racism doesn't exist," he said.

"People say San Francisco isn't Ferguson, it's not Baltimore. It's not. It's worse," hunger striker Edwin Lindo told AJ+ last week. The police violence that sparked uprisings in those cities were based on years of police abuse culminating in the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray but here in San Francisco, the high profile cases of the last two years, are fairly damning evidence that time for police reform is long overdue. Lindo who intends to run for the District 9 seat on the Board to be vacated by David Campos in the fall told me it was the book The Radical King by Dr. Cornel West that inspired him to join the hunger strikers. Ike Pinkston, who works at the school with Gutierrez, is also a friend of Equipto's as is hip hop artist Sellassie. All of the Frisco 5 have been aided by close friends, family, and community members during their fight, which at this point in addition to seeing the firing of Chief Suhr is about staying alive. Volunteer student medics from UCSF, have been attending to the hunger strikers though were not at liberty to disclose information about their health. However one of the medics assured me that though everyone is concerned about the well-being of the protesters, they are being closely monitored and hydration is of top concern. For nearly two weeks now, the strikers have subsisted on a liquid diet of water, coconut water, broth, and ginger tea. (By Wednesday afternoon, Bay Area journalist Davey D broke the news that Blackwell had been taken to UCSF medical center; he has since returned to the occupation at SFPD's Mission Station).

"I don't want to die. I want to go home, eat some good food… " said Gutierrez, pausing at the thought of food. "We have to be willing to give our lives to this, for our children," she said. Inspired by the sight of so many Black and Brown faces working in solidarity, she said she would proudly wear her new nickname "Mama" of the movement for police reform. "They will never divide us again."


DJ Art Sato, father of hunger striker Ilyich "Equipto" Sato, speaks in defense of his son and Asians 4 Black Lives and against Mayor Ed Lee



Denise Sullivan is the author of Keep on Pushing: Black Power Music From Blues to Hip Hop. She writes from San Francisco on gentrification and the arts.

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The Revolution's Not Just About Bernie Winning The White House

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At one point, one of the shiny lobbyist/consultant types who populate the greasy/well-greased Clinton Machine thought it would be smart to make the ridiculous claim that Her Highness' campaign is raising money for Democratic candidates while Bernie is just a selfish, greedball. Well, of course, they were projecting. As Gaius pointed out Monday and I tried showing Sunday, it's Bernie who has been raising money for progressive challengers while Hillary's much vaunted operation is just a typical scam that sucks up more money for herself, while doing nothing for needy candidates. And this goes deeper than the Clintons' well-developed and deeply embedded penchant for corruption.

It's about Hillary's instincts. Just before her 50th birthday-- so not when she was a "little girl" running for the president of the Wellesley College Young Republicans-- she said to an NPR audience "I feel like my political beliefs are rooted in the conservatism that I was raised with... I'm very proud that I was a Goldwater Girl." And it shows in her policies and in the way she runs her politics. While Bernie has carefully vetted 3 progressive women running for Congress-- Pramila Jayapal (WA), Zephyr Teachout (NY) and Lucy Flores (NV)-- and helped raise them $1.4 million. That's very substantial-- substantial enough to effect their ability to win their contested primaries.

Hillary's pittance she's sharing with "the Democrats" isn't helping any candidates, just the corrupt, power-mad bosses who are more a part of the problem with what ails the Democratic Party than a part of any kind of a solution. Her wing of the party is Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rahm Emanuel, Chuck Schumer and Steve Israel, the careerist bottom-feeders who have helped turn the Democratic Party away from the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt values-oriented party to what Thomas Frank describes in his new book, Listen Liberal-- What Ever Happened To The Party of the People?

In her mind, plotting to put more New Dems and Blue Dogs into elected office passes for helping the Democratic Party. In actuality it is exactly what is destroying the Democratic Party. Yesterday, in an e-mail from Jeff Weaver, Bernie's campaign manager, he noted that "for months, you've heard the Clinton campaign endlessly repeat in interviews and on social media that they have raised millions and millions of dollars for state parties through something called the 'Hillary Victory Fund.' They've even used it as an attack line to insinuate Bernie wasn't willing to help down-ballot Democrats."
[T]hanks to a Politico investigation, we found out that less than 1 percent of the $61 million raised by the Victory Fund has stayed in state party coffers. And indeed, the majority of the money spent by the Victory Fund has gone to benefit Hillary Clinton's primary campaign against us. The piece said some state party fundraisers believe they are basically acting as "money laundering conduits."

...Here's how the scheme works for the Clinton campaign:

Rich people like Alice Walton of Walmart who have already contributed the maximum amount allowable to the Clinton campaign can contribute an additional $350,000-plus to the Victory Fund.

The first $33,400 of her contribution is supposed to go the DNC, and the rest divided up between participating state parties. But that's not what's been happening. The Victory Fund has mostly been doing one of two things with Ms. Walton's money:

1. Taking that money and spending it on advertisements and small-dollar fundraising solicitations. Then they take all the small-dollar contributions and data reaped from Alice Walton's contribution and transfer it directly to the Clinton campaign. This tactic is basically a way for them to benefit from a contribution much larger than the legal limit from Alice Walton.

2. They take Alice Walton's money and transfer it to state parties, who then immediately transfer it to the DNC. Often times they do it without the state party even knowing because the Clinton campaign controls many of the bank accounts involved. So at the end of the day, most of the state parties have received exactly $0 from their Victory Fund arrangement.

So, now that we know the Clinton campaign is taking advantage of state parties to skirt fundraising limits on her presidential campaign, it's time for her to do the right thing and let the state parties keep their fair share of the cash.

...It's unfortunate that Hillary Clinton has benefited from tens of millions of dollars in cash transfers and advertising to campaign against us in the primary. But it's not too late for her campaign to do the right thing by the state parties we're going to need to win elections up and down the ticket this November.

Bernie's campaign isn't just a campaign to put him into the Oval Office. That would be nice, but there's more to the political revolution and the mass movement he's inspired than just one man. His is a rescue attempt for American democracy and for the Democratic Party. It needs to go on beyond the confines of a presidential run that ends in July or November. It may be easier to focus on a cult of personality-- whether for Hillary, Trump, Cruz or Bernie-- but the real work is about participation, if just to decide to not let the wool be pulled down over your eyes, the way it is with all the millions and millions our fellow citizens following Hillary and Trump, and to a lesser degree the (bad)-values oriented Cruz. Millions of Americans sense that there is something wrong with party leaders like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Chuck Schumer, Steny Hoyer, Steve Israel and Rahm Emanuel. Is it really your party of they're calling the shots? A candidate for the state legislature, a Bernie guy, told me the revolution reminds him of a mass realization that the party turned to shit when no one was paying attention. "It's like waking up in the morning with a woody," he said, "and then calming down, rolling over and seeing what a monster you just spent the night with."

When people start screaming at you that by not voting for the Hillary monstrosity-- i.e., the lesser of two evils-- you are putting Herr Trumpf into the White House, you might just want to give in and vote for the wretched candidate and figure America will always just be a pile of political crap anyway. But if you want to keep fighting, you can remind them that you oppose what she and her corrupt conservative wing of the Democratic Party stands for and you won't vote for her or for other garbage candidates the party keeps vomiting up as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. And you can point to Lee Fang's post at The Intercept about how the Hillary wing is working diligently to defeat single payer health insurance in Colorado today. "Influential Democratic consultants," wrote Fang, "some of whom work for the Super PACs backing Hillary Clinton, have signed up to fight a bold initiative to create a state-based single-payer system in Colorado."

The anti-single-payer effort is funded almost entirely by health care industry interests, including $500,000 from Anthem Inc., the state’s largest health insurance provider; $40,000 from Cigna, another large health insurer that is current in talks to merge with Anthem; $75,000 from Davita, the dialysis company; $25,000 from Delta Dental, the largest dental insurer in the state; and $100,000 from SCL Health, the faith-based hospital chain.

Under the new system, there would be no health insurance premiums or deductibles, and all health and dental care would be paid for by the state through a new system called ColoradoCare. The plan calls for raising $25 billion through a mix of payroll taxes, along with bringing down costs through negotiations with providers.

The filing reveals that the anti-single-payer group has retained the services of Global Strategy Group, a Democratic consulting firm that has served a variety of congressional candidates and is currently advising Priorities USA Action, one of the Super PACs backing Clinton’s bid for the presidency.

Last month, Global Strategies Group circulated a polling memo that contends that the single-payer ballot measure can be defeated because voters “overwhelmingly reject” the idea.

But, the memo warned, the measure “has some traction with key groups,” including Democrats and millennials, and that the 2016 election year has proven difficult to predict. “[A] sustained campaign pointing out the many flaws in Amendment 69 is essential, especially in such an unpredictable environment,” the memo concluded... The Democratic consultants are listed alongside several Republican firms, including Brandeberry-McKenna Public Affairs, a GOP company that also lobbies for the drug industry.
One very concrete thing you can do about it is to just stop supporting lesser-of-two evils candidates and garden variety corrupt conservative Democrats. There are, after all, still values-motivated progressives in the political field. And you should look in your own neighborhood and districts and check out the candidates. My Assemblyman is termed out and it's taking me a lot of time and effort to learn about the two Democrats running for his seat. But, as a citizen, it's my duty. If you don't have the time or inclination to do likewise, Blue America has compiled a list of congressional candidates who have endorsed Bernie and who are running on his issues. Clicking on the thermometer will bring you to the list and, if you choose to, allow you to contribute to any of their campaigns. Maybe one is running in your district or in a district near you:
Goal Thermometer

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Some Endorsements Can Mean A Lot-- Like The Nurses Announcement For Bao Nguyen

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Two Democrats involved in crowded primaries got very high-level endorsements this week. Blue America-backed progressive Bao Nguyen is competing in a jungle primary with 2 other Democrats and 4 Republicans to replace Loretta Sanchez in the Orange County congressional seat she's giving up to run for Senate. Two great unions-- National Nurses United (NNU) and the California Nurses Association came together to endorse him Monday. Bao, the Mayor of Garden Grove, is the only progressive in the race and he's backing Bernie's campaign and running on the same package of issues and values.

Shella Soriano, RN, and a local leader of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, announced the much-coveted endorsement, noting that Bao "has made serving the public interest his priority... For demanding improved Medicare for all, advocating for school funding, ensuring accountable government, and pushing back on corporations that put our community and our environment at risk, Bao has demonstrated that he will be a champion for the people of Orange County-- our jobs, our families, and our health."

Bao responded by pointing out that "the fight for universal healthcare is not over. While the Affordable Care Act certainly has helped in many respects, millions of Americans remain uninsured. I plan to build off the successes of Obamacare, and fight to expand healthcare until every last American family has the resources they need to keep themselves and their children healthy... The nurses who care for our families are on the front lines, keeping Americans healthy. I’m proud to have their support, and in Congress, I’ll make sure they have the resources they need to do their jobs."

The same day, just a few hours later, one of the villains of Democratic Party politics, Steve Israel, looked at the list of 5 Democrats vying for the NY-03 North Shore of Long Island seat he's giving up and, predictably, went right for the most corrupt and most conservative of the 5, Suffolk County legislator Steve Stern. Israel had previously promised the other candidates he wouldn't endorse in the race, although his staffers have all been working for Stern and helping Stern connect with Israel's shady contributors. Stern admitted publicly that Israel is his "mentor" and said he intends "to fulfill Steve Israel’s legacy."

Israel said he told Stern of his endorsement decision at Sweet Hollow Diner about two weeks ago, at a time he was lying to the other candidates about remaining neutral. But, of course, lying is a major part of Steve Israel's greasy legacy. No one ever thought he would be neutral anyway. Israel had lured poor Anna Kaplan into the race so that she would split the Nassau County vote with Kaiman (and, as it turned out, Suozzi). Abut, basically, Israel had promised Stern the seat when he thought he was going to run for Hillary's U.S. Senate seat (before Schumer told him to go sit in the corner and behave himself). Stern's wife is a real Jewish American Princess and she's always been giving Stern a hard time about being a lowly county legislator even though she comes from a family of wealthy furniture peddlers. And that brings us to the other part of Israel's disgraceful legacy-- turning the Democratic Party into a kind of plutocracy, even admitting that one of the factors that went into his decision to endorse the lazy, low-achievement Stern was that he raised the most money, neglecting to mention, that there aforementioned furniture empire have him $54,000 and that he self-funded another $68,000.

The Bernie candidate in the race, Jonathan Clarke (who you can support here) downplayed Israel's endorsement. "It doesn’t mean much. People are tired of career politicians. Israel is one and Stern is just following in his footsteps. No one is more generic than Steve Stern."

2 corrupt career politicians, Steve + Steve

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"We've Never Owned a Democrat Before..."

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Purchase a Democrat? I'll have to ask my friends how that works out (source; click to enlarge).

by Gaius Publius

All in the spirit of fun. If you like your politics with a touch of humor, Andy Borowitz and the Borowitz Report are terrific reads.

Borowitz in the New Yorker, a taste:
Koch Brothers Consider Purchasing First Democrat
By Andy Borowitz

WICHITA (The Borowitz Report)—Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists who have spent decades acquiring a world-class collection of Republicans, revealed over the weekend that they are considering purchasing their first Democrat.

“We’ve always bought Republicans, and our father bought Republicans before us,” Charles, the elder Koch, said. “They’re bred to be obedient, and they respond to simple commands.”

He said that he and his brother had considered acquiring a Democrat only after determining that none of the Republicans on offer this year was worth adding to their collection.

“It’s kind of a scary proposition for us, because we’ve never owned a Democrat before,” he said. “We don’t really know what we should be looking for.”

Koch said that he and his brother learned, after making some phone calls, that other oligarchs have bought Democrats in the past, and “had good experiences with them.”

“That was very reassuring,” he said. ...
Read the rest. It won't take long and you'll get a smile from the last sentence.

Are the Kochs Really Buying a Democrat?

Does news like this mean the Kochs are actually thinking of buying a Democrat? Unlikely, though as their electoral fortunes fall, many could be for sale at increasingly interesting prices. More likely, though, the Kochs are trying to throw a scare into Donald Trump, to soften him up for a better deal — for them — should he make it to the Oval Office.

Still, I don't think I'd make light of the opportunity if I had more money than a thousand of me could spend. Many Democrats are definitely priced to go, and if the downward voting trend and rising hubris continue, many, including the very high, may well be had at discounts normally reserved for volume buyers only. 

GP
  

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PolitiFact Looks At Patrick Murphy And The Payday Lenders

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The crooked politicians who take money from the payday lenders have offered to sell their own constituents-- poor ones with little influence-- to the industry in return for campaign contributions. There has been a lot of talk about how Debbie Wasserman Schultz has bolstered the position of payday lenders and given them a green light for their predatory practices. Generally-speaking, though the payday lending industry goes to Republicans for support. Their 3 biggest backers since 1990 in the House are Kevin Yoder (R-KS-- $178,307), Jeb Hensarling (R-TX- $166,700) and Lynn Jenkins (R-KS- $158,000). Among current members of the House accepting bribes from the payday lenders, Wasserman Schultz-- nicknamed DebtTrapDebbie for her efforts on their behalf-- is the 14th most corrupt in Congress, having raked in $65,500. In fact, 3 Democrats have taken more than Wasserman Schultz from the payday lenders: Carolyn Maloney (D-NY- $129,050), Alcee Hastings (D-FL- $116,700) and Gregory Meeks (New Dem-NY- $108,900).

There are other ways of looking at the flow of bribes. Who do the payday lenders want to put into the Senate this cycle?




Of 15 Senate candidates running this year being supported financially by the payday lenders, only one isn't an incumbent: Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL). In fact, among the dozen Members of the House who have taken $15,000 or more in payday lending bribes, it's Alcee Hastings and Patrick Murphy who are the most corrupt Democrats, not Wasserman Schultz. This cycle she's only gotten $2,500 out of them so far. Much bigger amounts flow to Republicans and corrupt Democrats who vote on fiscal matters with Republicans-- Alcee Hastings (FL), Patrick Murphy (FL), Kyrsten Sinema and Tony Cardenas (CA).




And it's been Murphy who has worked most closely with the Republicans inside the House Financial Services Committee to push through the payday lenders' legislative agenda. It's Murphy who has been the least sympathetic to the interests of poor people forced to borrow from these low end vultures. And it's been Murphy who has defended the Florida payday lenders' law as a model for the nation. This week, PolitiFact exposed Murphy as a bold-faced liar in the payday lender debate.
The issue of payday lending has become one of the Florida-centric issues in Florida's U.S. Senate campaign.  Recently, Rep. Patrick Murphy, who's running for the Democratic nomination, conducted a conference call with reporters, and when the discussion of payday lending came up, Murphy told the press that Florida was one of the better states in the country when it came to consumer protection regulations, and that Florida regulations should be used as a model by other states.

On the conference call, Murphy said that Florida’s regulations on the payday lending industry are "stronger than almost any other state."  Our partners at PolitiFact took a look at this claim to see if it was true. PolitiFact reporter Joshua Gillin says that Murphy's claim rates FALSE on the Truth-O-Meter. Gillin said that there's a distinction between federal and state laws, and the effectiveness of each.

"We talked to a lot of consumer advocates and research groups when we started looking into the payday lending industry," said Gillin. "What we found was that the federal laws are best for consumers. State laws, on the other hand, are not as strict, and don't really live up to Murphy's claim."

Gillin noted the following:
In Florida, there is a cap on the amount of fees that you can be charged for this type of loan. That fee is capped at $35. Other states have different caps or no caps at all.
When it comes to the interest rate, Florida law leaves it completely unregulated.
The average interest rate on these loans in Florida is around 278% annually.
Gillin also said that those same consumer groups wanted to emphasize that the extrememly high interest rates are what they're fighting.  While Florida's payday law may be better that laws in other states, there's no evidence to show that it's stronger than almost any other state. Because of that lack of evidence, Muprhy's claim that Florida payday lending regulations are "stronger than almost any other state" is rated FALSE on the Truth-O-Meter.

Murphy has used his perch on the House Financial Services Committee to connive with the Republicans in pushing Wall Street banksters' interests above the interests of ordinary American working families. Wall Street has made him their #1 priority this cycle for the U.S. Senate. Of all the non-incumbent candidates for Senate-- from either party-- Murphy has taken more money from Wall Street than anyone else. So far this cycle, the banksters have doled out $1,105,850 to Murphy, even more than they've given to crooked Republican incumbents they support, like Richard Burr (R-NC- $1,056,100), Mark Kirk (R-IL- $1,034,310), Ron Johnson (R-WI- $1,030,935) and John McCain (R-AZ- $921,259). There are no otherDemocratic Senate challengers taking in even close to the volume of bribes Murphy is getting. He's proven himself over the last 3 years to be Wall Street's second best friend in Congress-- after Chuck Schumer. And now Schumer has promised Wall Street he will get Murphy into the Senate to balance out the impact of reformers like Elizabeth Warren and Jeff Merkley.


Schumer has waged an unrelenting and vicious war against Murphy's rival for the Florida Senate seat, Alan Grayson. Grayson is the last person the banksters want to see in the Senate and their wish, as always, is Schumer's command. Schumer, by the way, has taken $24,710,208 from the banksters during his sleazy career-- more than anyone else in American history other than 3 presidential candidates-- and more than double the bribes Wall Street has paid out to Mitch McConnell! But with all this onslaught of corrupt cash directed by Schumer and flowing to Murphy, Grayson sitll leads him in most polls. Please, if there's just one Senate race you invest in this cycle, make it the crucial Florida race between Grayson and Murphy... here:
Goal Thermometer

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