Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Is Steve Israel Helping The CIA Infiltrate Congress With Its Own Agents?


I don't know the answer to the question posed in the title above. I've been trying to find out and I've been tracking down several leads. The names that come up most frequently are Kevin Strouse, who like all CIA spies bills himself as an "ex-CIA analyst" and is running against Mike Fitzpatrick in Bucks County (PA-08); Bobby McKenzie, another former CIA spy who glosses over that and calls himself an "ex-US State Dept. Counterterrorism Official" and is running in MI-11 against Michigan's least attractive politician, Dave Trott the state's foreclosure king; and Jerry Cannon the former comandante of the Guantánamo gulag/torture prison who is running against GOP sad sack Dan Benishek way up in the sparsely populated, desolate Upper Peninsula of Michigan, flush up against Canada.

I spoke to one Bucks County political expert this morning about Strouse's CIA connections and he told me Strouse has no chance to win and that the DCCC, after recruiting him and pushing him against a plausible grassroots Democrat, Shaughnessy Naughton, has abandoned Strouse entirely. "There is no way," he told me, "that Strouse wins this race unless the CIA arranges to kill Fitzpatrick. I'm hearing Strouse is down by 20 points." 20 points?!!?! This is an R+1 swing district that Obama won 53-46% in 2008 and then fought Romney to a 49-49% head heat 4 years later. How does a Democrat-- even a crappy Steve Israel Mystery Meat candidate like Kevin Strouse lose a district like that by 20 points.

Meanwhile, as of the June 30 FEC filing deadline, Strouse had only raised $1,016,010 to Fitzpatrick's $2,482,114 and only had $268,721 cash-on-hand to Fitzpatrick's $1,906,830. The DCCC hasn't spent a dime on Strouse's behalf so far. However, the DCCC as reserved $1.9 million on Philadelphia broadcast from Oct. 21 to Nov. 4, which could mean ads for Strouse or Manan Trivedi (PA-06) or Aimee Belgard (NJ-03). Their House Majority PAC has reserved another $1.2 million for unspecified candidates in the Philly area. Despite the rumors that the DCCC has kicked Strouse to the curb, unlike some of the candidates that they have dumped, he's still on the most current Red-to-Blue list soliciting money for their candidates. I guess if Michael Fitzpatrick turns up dead or suddenly resigns for some bizarre reason, we'll know the CIA plan is operational.

Jerry Cannon has also been seriously underperforming as a candidate. He and Benishek last reported on July 16 and Benishek had raised $1,497,655 and had $830,703 on hand while Canon only raised $647,734 and had $336,663 on hand. This unlikely red-to-blue district has a PVI of R+5 and would be a steep climb for even a good Democratic candidate. Obama, though, did beat McCain, 50-48%, although he lost to Romney four years later 54-45%. (Benishek barely fended off his last challenge by another bad Democratic recruit, Gary McDowell, 167,060 to 165,179.) What McDowell and Cannon have in common is that they're both conservatives from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. Is the CIA behind Cannon? I haven't found anything that would make me comfortable asserting as much, just rumors.

The DCCC has spent $237,304 in negative ads against Benishek so far, part of a $450,000 Traverse City broadcast from Sept. 2 to Sept. 22 they reserved. They have another $490,000 on hold for Oct. 14 through election day. Yesterday, Emily Cahn at Roll Call reported that the NRCC just reserved a million dollars worth of ad time in the district to defend Benishek and will start running them on Friday and not stop until November 4.

OK, now let's go back to MI-11, Kerry Bentivolio's mostly suburban district north and northwest of Detroit that includes parts of Oakland and Wayne Counties, an R+4 district but good hunting for a Democrat, especially with such an awful and indefensible candidate like Trott. But the CIA agent, or, supposedly, "ex"-CIA agent, McKenzie, just wasn't closing the deal. Trott, who wrote his campaign a casual $2,423,402 check for the primary, had $1,018,913 cash-on-hand on July 16. McKenzie only raised $375,432 and had $68,448 left after the primary, which shouldn't be enough to stay competitive. The DCCC hasn't spent any money in the district yet but they've reserved $850,000 in the Detroit broadcast market and $290,000 in the Lansing market between Oct. 21 to Nov. 4, money that could go to help McKenzie (who is no longer on their Red-to-Blue page at all) or Pam Byrnes (who the DCCC has reportedly given up on entirely). Strange. I suppose they could use the reservations to support Eric Schertzing against Mike Bishop in the district Mike Rogers is abandoning (MI-08, Ingham and Livingston counties, R+2 PVI) but there is no indication they are getting behind Schertzing or any other Michigan candidates.

And now the big "however" in this race. Someone (a CIA cutout, supposedly) persuaded Bentivolio to run as a write-in candidate and pull the extreme right away from Trott, who he really hates, so that McKenzie wins the seat. Yesterday, the Detroit Free Press reported that a very bitter Bentivolio just wants Trott to lose.
“Everywhere I went here at home or in D.C. I had a Trott tracker working for a self-serving, self-absorbed entitled bully,” Bentivolio said in an e-mail to the Free Press. “Now they want unity?”

In last month’s primary, Trott beat Bentivolio by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. In the race to represent a district widely considered to lean Republican, Trott faces Bobby McKenzie, a former U.S. State Department employee and the Democratic nominee, who Bentivolio said he also opposes.

Bentivolio told MIRS he was “pretty frustrated” by the loss and the amount of money Trott spent defeating him. He said he has been approached by “a lot of people out there” who want him to run as a write-in “because they don’t see much difference” between the two parties.

…[H]e e said that it’s difficult for him to listen to Republican Party calls for unity and support given that he was targeted for defeat by mainstream elements in the party when former U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter resigned abruptly in 2012 and left Bentivolio the only other GOP name on the ballot.
I'm trying to track down what Bentivolio meant exactly when he said he's being pushed to run by "a lot of people out there." It would mean a lot to the CIA and other intelligence entities to have one of their own-- or 3 of their own-- inside the branch of government charged with overseeing all the unconstitutional activities.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Do Steve Israel And Debbie Wasserman Schultz Actually Work Against Democratic Candidates? Oh, Do They Ever!


Today Maggie Haberman did a puff piece on the failed DCCC chairman Steve Israel. "My position as DCCC chair," he boasted, "has given me the opportunity to elevate House races and the midterms to some of the most influential and highest-profile donors in the country. Unlike in a presidential campaign, we’re spending millions of dollars in House races right here in New York." Israel has targeted 8 races in New York, 2 to protect endangered incumbents, Maffei in a deep blue D+5 district (Syracuse) and Tim Bishop in the Suffolk County swing district (R+2). Israel crony Kathleen Rice, another corrupt Wall Street shill like Israel, is running to replace Carolyn McCarthy who is retiring from a D+3 Nassau County district just south of Israel's own. There's no definition of "Red-to-Blue" that includes Rice but she's on the list because she fits Israel's prejudices for turning the House Democratic caucus away from working families and towards Wall Street and Big Business. Oh, and to make Israel's scorecard and success to failure ratio look less dismal in November.

When Israel brags how he elevates House races to some of the most influential and highest-profile donors in the country, he means "certain House races." Others he deprecates, as does Wasserman Schultz. It's how the two of them role. People are shocked when I write that Israel, who is, after all, charged with electing Democrats to the House tells those "highest-profile donors in the country" he's always bragging about having in the palm of his hand to not fund Democratic candidates who don't fit into his loser strategy of backing Blue Dogs and New Dems.

Several of Blue America's top donors used to be among the Israel/Rahm/Wasserman Schultz collection of "highest-profile donors in the country" who realized that they had been, year after year, mislead into backing awful candidates from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- corrupt Wall Street corporatists, anti-Choice and anti-gay reactionaries who they had nothing in common with.

Doug Kahn is not just a progressive activist, he ran for Congress himself against an entrenched Republican and helped introduce the deep red district to progressive political values so that it was eventually won back from the GOP. It wasn't Doug who went to Congress though. More recently, he's worked steadily behind the scenes helping elect and re-elect Democrats like Alan Grayson, Matt Cartwright and Carol Shea-Porter. Before finding Blue America he was contributing large sums to Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party pushed by the DCCC. He doesn't write checks to those kinds of candidates any longer-- nor to operations like the DCCC and the DNC.

If they want my support again, they'll have to start supporting progressive candidates who want to run against people like Paul Ryan and the Republican leadership in the House, some of whom are in winnable districts. Winnable for real Democrats, of course, not the 'Republican Lite' hacks they keep recruiting to fill the Democratic line on the ballot.

You see this in state and local party organizations, too. The top positions get occupied, and never voluntarily vacated, by people who just want to be in charge of an organization. Hacks, in other words. Helping working people isn't on their to-do lists. Why should they care about getting new, progressive members into our House delegation? It would just threaten their own little spheres of influence.
Last cycle I spoke with mega-donors who told me flat out that both Israel and Wasserman Schultz had called them and told them not to contribute to Rob Zerban and Lee Rogers (Israel) and Alan Grayson (Wasserman Schultz, although it's reasonable to assume that she just didn't want the gentleman to give the money to Grayson through Blue America and perhaps it wasn't really Grayson she was targeting… perhaps). Let me tell you about one of the instances.

A major Democratic donor who has given and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Democratic candidates had been asking me for an onerous, distasteful and burdensome favor. I declined. The donor went to a mutual friend of ours who suggested persuading me by helping Blue America candidates. Recall that last cycle, when Paul Ryan was totally vulnerable and beatable-- in a district Obama has won 185,855 (51%) to 176,152 (48%) in the last election, Israel took Rob Zerban off the table in a very big way. He was running around frantically telling donors to stop giving money to Zerban (the Democrat) who had raised $2,265,721 from grassroots donors (and needed a little help to be competitive against Ryan (who wound up spending $6,651,221 on the race). The contributor volunteered to hold a fundraising event at the family mansion for Zerban if I agreed to do the favor. I agreed… with a big smile on my face. And the next thing I knew, I got a call from the donor telling me "Steve" said Zerban wasn't a serious candidate and not to waste the money and effort. Fundraiser cancelled. Do you ever wonder why DWT from time to time offers a slightly negative editorial perspective on Steve Israel (and his ilk)? And no, you will never read a story like this by Maggie Haberman or anyone else who writes for the Beltway trade press.

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Confidential to the Dutch girl who faked her trip to Southeast Asia: You're in the running for the stupidest person on the planet


Here's a friendly thought, Zilla: Now that you've established your claim to be the most pompous twit in the history of the human race, why not eat poison and die? (See, it's even a gastronomic thought!)

by Ken

I know, I know, by giving her attention I'm only legitimizing this bimbo's self-aggrandizing, pretentious, wackadoodle bullshit, but I have to say, I'm kind of outraged -- not least because anyone is paying attention to this imbecilic stunt. Of course, here I am, paying attention to it. Well, so what? You wanna make sumpin' of it? Huh? You talkin' to me?

In case you, like me, had been lucky enough to miss this so-called story, which has apparently seized the attention of new-thinkers all over the media universe, here it is in a nutshell courtesy of one Jake Flanagin on "Op-Talk" ("a new feature of NYT Opinion"), in a piece called "How to Fake Your Next Vacation" (note: except for the link to the source piece, I'm leaving it to you to track down any links you may care about onsite):
Zilla van der Born, a Dutch national, spent five weeks traveling through Southeast Asia and documented the trip in photos on Facebook. She posed for pictures while dining on dumplings, snorkeling among colorful fish in azure waters and visiting ornately decorated Buddhist temples — compiling the lot into a series of videos for her Vimeo account. All in all, Ms. van der Born seemed to have enjoyed a busy, albeit conventional, trip to Phuket, Luang Prabang or some other regional tourist hub.

Or so it would appear.

In reality, Ms. van der Born never left her home city, Amsterdam. Each photograph was expertly contrived. According to Will Jones at, the restaurant and temple were all local Dutch establishments. The snorkeling photo? Taken in the pool at her apartment complex; the fish were added after the fact with Photoshop. “Zilla even redecorated her own bedroom to make it look like an Oriental hotel room so that she could have Skype conversations with her family — at random times in the night, of course — without raising suspicion,” Mr. Jones reports.

My first question is who in his/her right mind Zany Zilla imagines could possibly have given the slightest damn about her Southeast Asia trip even if it had been real? In the event that there is any such person, he/she may now consider him/herself informed: Anything you read online could be a lie. Of course, it has always been true that anything you read anywhere could have been a lie, but the Internet is Ground Zero for liars -- you can say anything you damn please.

You're thinking, I bet Zilla had some really deep reason for perpetrating such a profoundly pointless and uninteresting hoax. Am I right? Well, judge for yourself.
Why the ruse? To take part in that distinctly 21st-century phenomenon of socially acceptable online bragging? The visual “humblebrag”? Born of so-called selfie-loathing?

Yes, and no. “I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media,” Ms. van der Born told Dutch journalists. “We create an online world which reality can no longer meet.”

The ultimate goal was to “prove how easy it is to distort reality,” she said. “Everybody knows that pictures of models are manipulated. But we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality also in our own lives.”
Whoa, is this heavy or what? (Answer: What?) But it sets Jake Flanagin off in a delirious recollection of the stunt by at 28-year-old Japanese photographer who "coined the concept of a 'hitori date,' or 'one-man date,' " in which he "would set up Instagram photos to give viewers the impression that he was spending time with a girlfriend," when "in reality, each was a glorified selfie, specially angled to imply someone else was playing photographer."

And boy, are our man Jake's juices flowing. I hope you're sitting down.
The Facebook photo fake-out raises some profound ideas about aesthetics and ontology in this age of interconnectedness. Whereas photo sharing once entailed passing around thick Kodak envelopes or negotiating bulky slide projectors, we now tell entire visual stories with a few clicks of a mouse. And the “fakecation” is a skewering critique of the delusion it can breed.

“I’ve always been fascinated by Photoshop and before/after pictures,” Ms. van der Born told Caitlin Dewey at The Washington Post. “It intrigues me that a photo has an insidious, ambiguous relationship with reality, because there is a constant battle going on between two photographic considerations: making the photographed object as beautiful as possible, and telling the truth. What a picture finally really shows is never the exact situation as it really was, it is a flavored version of the truth!”


No, our man Jake didn't really say that, did he? I mean: "The Facebook photo fake-out raises some profound ideas about aesthetics and ontology in this age of interconnectedness."

Um, no, Jake, it doesn't raise any profound ideas. As far as I can tell, it doesn't raise any ideas at all, unless you count the question: How do people get away with peddling this crap as if it mattered?

What seem to be passing for "ideas" here are the following:

(a) "We filter and manipulate what we show on social media."

No! Really? Could we have a quick show of hands here -- anyone to whom this is an idea that has just been raised -- by, you know, Zany Zilla? No,  I didn't think so.

(b) "We often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality also in our own lives."

We do? Well, I suppose, but actually, Zilla, at the moment this seems to be primarily true of you.

(c) "What a picture finally really shows is never the exact situation as it really was, it is a flavored version of the truth!"

Oh, for Pete's sake.


Each day when you prepare to send me my latest "last chance" offer to sign up at never-heard-of savings rates, remember this, and do us all a favor and send the offer to Jake Flanagin instead.

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Will The Reality And Dangers Of Climate Change Sour Big Business On GOP Extremists? Not So Far


Conservatives were wily enough to realize-- long ago-- that democracies are tough ground for them. Campaigning on a platform of basically keeping the social order as it is-- the rich stay rich and powerful and the poor stay poor and powerless-- only works when rich people are the only ones allowed to vote. After working diligently to disenfranchise as many people as they could-- minorities, renters, women, young people, non-white people, ex-felons… anyone who isn't white, wealthy, male and old-- conservatives realized they would have to make common ground with riffraff. Nationalism worked well but that tended to eventually give way to xenophobia, which, quite naturally, led to anti-Semitism and racism. Voilà-- the modern Republican Party. The wealthy vested interests using poorly educated-- and just plain stupid-- paranoids, racists and bigots of every stripe have put together an ad hoc party based on Greed, Selfishness on one hand and Hatred and Fear on the other.

Unfortunately one of the things the unwashed Republican idiots have been taught to hate and fear is anything resembling an effort at ameliorating climate change. The Koch Brothers black bag operation made sure of that. So now respectable businesspeople are scratching their heads and wondering what they're doing on the same side of the aisle as a the flat earth sociopaths.

Yesterday, writing for ThinkProgress' Climate section, Emily Atkin looked at major food conglomerates worrying that Climate Change is threatening their bottom lines. "While politicians continue to bicker over whether or not climate change exists," she wrote, "companies now have no choice in the matter-- they must acknowledge the science and the risk and disclose the reality of that risk to their investors’ pocketbooks. Whether that risk actually manifests itself is another matter, but the fact that companies are increasingly putting climate change on their threat lists speaks volumes to the severity of the problem."

She mentions 8 food companies in all: Chipotle, Keurig Green Mountain, Michael Foods Group, Heinz, Big Heart Pet Brands, Omega Protein, Marine Harvest ASA (formerly Pan Fish), and Coca-Cola. Here's the Coke story:
Coca-Cola’s risk statement about climate change is pretty basic, but it’s simple enough to encapsulate the basic big picture: that the affects of climate change as scientists see them could be bad for profits.

“The growing political and scientific sentiment is that increased concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are influencing global weather patterns,” a company 10-K filing says. “Changing weather patterns, along with the increased frequency or duration of extreme weather conditions, could impact the availability or increase the cost of key raw materials that the Company uses to produce its products. In addition, the sale of these products can be impacted by weather conditions.”

In addition, the company also acknowledges that regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could also negatively impact business. Current regulations have had a “minor” affect on business now, but the filing said that future regulations could “directly or indirectly affect the Company’s production, distribution, packaging, cost of raw materials, fuel, ingredients and water.”
But do the fears of GOP antipathy towards climate science change anything about these companies' political giving? Heinz has a political action committee that contributes hundreds of thousands of donors to politicians. 2012 was their biggest single year so far, contributing $179,322-- 59% to Republicans and 41% to (mostly conservative) Democrats. So far this year Heinz has only spent $59,083, 50% to Democrats and 50% to Republicans. In the House the biggest portion of their contributions are going to virulent and fanatic climate change deniers like Jim Jordan (R-OH), Joe Pitts (R-PA), Dave Camp (R-MI), Tim Murphy (R-PA), and Cory Gardner (R-CO).

2012 was also Coca-Cola Company's biggest contribution year ever. The company PAC handed out $827,076, 59% to Republicans and 41% to (mostly conservative) Democrats. Again, the lion's share of the loot went to climate fanatic change deniers like John Boehner (R-OH), Tom Price (R-GA), Fred Upton (R-MI), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), John Kline (R-MN), John Fleming (R-LA), Paul Broun (R-GA), Allen West (R-FL), Phil Gingrey (R-GA), Peter Roskam (R-IL), Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), Scott Desjarlais (R-TN), Rob Woodall (R-GA), Frank Guinta (R-NH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), etc. So far this year Coke has handed out $736,249, 53% to Republicans and 47% to Democrats. They are clearly not letting their worries about Climate Change get in the way of their affinity to Republican Party extremists.

Big Heart Pet Brands is a more modest operation than Coca-Cola or Heinz. In 2012 they handed out $14,000-- 57% to conservative Democrats and 43% to Republicans, all climate change deniers) and so far this year they gave away $10,500, 54% to Republicans and 46% to Democrats.

So… no correlations whatsoever between worries about climate change/worries about GOP extremists and political campaign contributions. German industrialists in the 1920s and '30s, miscalculated disastrously by propping up Adolf Hitler and the far right Nazi Party. Without the immense sums Hitler receiver from the German equivalents of the Koch brothers-- say Ruhr industrialist Fritz Thyssen-- he would have died on the vine long before coming to power. German plutocrats at I. G. Farben, Flick, Krupp, Siemens, etc now rewrite history-- they have the money to hire the hacks to do so-- to show that they were only paying "protection money" to the Nazis, utter bullshit and no different whatsoever from the American plutocrats today shelling out millions for Republicans Imagine a history book one day claiming that David and Charles Koch and Sheldon Adelson gave so much to the Tea Party and the GOP because they were afraid!

The German plutocrats thought they could control Hitler; the underestimated him and he eventually made them his slaves and wrecked their world. Will the Tea Party and GOP Frankenstein monster devour the Kochs and Adelsons and the rest of the plutocrats one day? Or drown them in rising oceans?

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Susan Collins Voted Against The Paycheck Fairness Act Again


Maine Republican Susan Collins makes $174,000 a year, along with great retirement and health benefits-- the same as the boys make. And that's the way it should be. But yesterday Collins, a millionaire, joined the Republican Party filibuster seeking to prevent a simple up-or-down vote on Barbara Mikulski's Paycheck Fairness Act, S.2199. 52 senators voted to end the filibuster, a majority… but not a big enough majority.

Ever since Olympia Snowe retired, Collins has lost any inclination-- and spine-- to stand up against the extremists and radicals in her party. She's just another knee-jerk vote for whatever the Republican Party strategy happens to be-- and that means she's backing the neo-Confederates and fanatics who set GOP policy… even on women's equality. I mean, why would Susan Collins of Maine-- not Jefferson Beauregard Sessions IV of Alabama-- vote against allowing a bill that was meant to prevent employers from discriminating against women employees? And this is the 4th time Collins pulled this kind of crap since Snowe retired-- which might help explain when you don't see her out campaigning for Collins this cycle.

Her opponent in November, Shenna Bellows, has an entirely different perspective than Collins. "Women deserve equal pay for equal work," she said flatly. "The Paycheck Fairness Act would put in place commonsense protections for workers who stand up against pay discrimination. Any employer deliberately discriminating against his or her employees should be held accountable, and every working American should know that pay is based on merit. The working people of Maine deserve a senator who leads on equal pay, not one who finds reasons to vote against it."

Another Senate candidate Blue America is backing, South Dakota populist Rick Weiland, was also incensed about the GOP blocking the bill and, in effect, killing it for 2014. "Vote again and if it doesn’t pass, do it again. Keep voting on this bill until it passes because it is the right thing to do," he told his supporters yesterday right after the vote. "Instead of voting for everyday families, the Senate just voted to protect the bottom line of their billion dollar donors. Pay discrimination is robbing working women and we can’t afford it. South Dakota has the worst wages in the country, the lowest teacher pay, and a minimum wage that can’t keep our families out of poverty. And somehow there are Senators who oppose Equal Pay for Equal Work. No wonder the Senate approval is in the single digits." Rick's campaign released a more detailed position paper:
It is simply unconscionable that Mike Rounds’ Republican allies killed legislation that would have strengthened Equal Pay for Equal Work laws. If two people are doing the same exact job but one is a man and the other is a woman, the woman has to work 3 extra months to get the same pay. Somehow Mike Rounds and his Republican supporters think that is ok.

South Dakota leads the country in people working two jobs. Under Mike Rounds, we had the lowest wages. We had the third lowest weekly salary. We have the worst paid teachers. At the same time, South Dakota families are relying more and more on working moms to keep a roof over their heads and their kids fed. South Dakotans flat out can’t afford pay discrimination. Mike Rounds doesn’t get that. His idea of economic success is one where the rich get richer and the poor struggle to make ends meet. Rick Weiland stands for hardworking South Dakota women who need a fair shake and an even playing field.
49 days to go. You can lend a hand to both Shenna Bellows and Rick Weiland on this ActBlue Senate page.

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No, The Democrats Won't Win Back The House, But…


Someone forgot his makeup today

This isn't a rundown of races the DCCC and NRCC have decided to fight over for control of the House. Continued, unchallenged control of the House became a foregone conclusion the day Nancy Pelosi reappointed a failed, incompetent, corrupt and vision-free Steve Israel to run the DCCC for another cycle. Its numerically impossible for the Democrats to win back the House under Israel guide lines of ignoring Republicans who were members of his Center Aisle Caucus and his decision to give free passes to all GOP Leaders and committee chairmen, even vulnerable ones from Obama districts like the contemptible Fred Upton (chairman, Energy and Commerce Committee) and John Kline (chairman, Education and Workforce Committee).

No, the Democrats have no shot whatsoever at winning back the House and if Steve Israel chairs the DCCC for a hundred years, Boehner and Boehner the II and III and IV will be Speaker for a hundred years. Thank you, Nancy Pelosi. For The DCCC it's become an attempt to re-shape the Democratic House caucus into a more New Dem and Blue Dog tool-- less progressive and more under the thumb of the corporatist Republican wing of the Democratic Party. Most of Steve Israel's recruits are conservatives, maybe not as bad as his prized Sarah Palin of Ohio, but far more conservative than the average Democratic members currently-- despite the walloping House conservadems were given by the Democratic base in 2010's Great Blue Dog Apocalypse.

While Steve Israel tries to infiltrate more New Dems, more Blue Dogs and even 3 or 4 CIA agents into Congress disguised as Democrats, there are a number of real progressives running with shots at winning races Israel is ignoring. Proven, accomplished and battled-tested progressives like Ted Lieu (CA-33), Pat Murphy (IA-01) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) have already won primaries against more conservative opponents and are all but guaranteed seats in the next Congress. After their primary wins, the DCCC even embraced Murphy and Watson Coleman, two of the only progressives they are not undermining this cycle.

Progressives in swing districts who would probably stand a good chance of winning with reasonable financial aid from the DCCC include these 4 Blue America candidates in very winnable swing districts:
Paul Clements (MI-06)- PVI- R+1- Obama beat McCain 53-45%
Mike Obermueller (MN-02)- PVI- R+2- Obama won the district twice
Michael Wager (OH-14)- PVI- R+4)- Sherrod won the district in 2012
Kelly Westlund (WI-07)- PVI- R+2- Obama beat McCain 53-45%
All 4 progressives are being ignored-- at best-- by the DCCC in favor of deep red unwinnable seats in places like Arkansas where Israel hopes to bolster Blue Dogs and New Dems. Voters who value a progressive vision and do not countenance conservatives disguised as Democrats who not contribute a cent to the DCCC. You can find well-vetted progressives running for the House on this Act Blue page.

On the Senate side, the DSCC is so busy trying to bolster unpopular southern conservative incumbents like Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Kay Hagan (D-NC) and fighting for unpopular southern conservative challengers like Michelle Nunn (GA) and Alison Grimes (KY) that they are ignoring opportunities to hold 2 blue seats-- Montana and South Dakota where progressives are running-- and to win a blue-leaning state away from fake moderate Susan Collins. The DSCC should be making big bets on Rick Weiland in South Dakota, Shenna Bellows in Maine and Amanda Curtis in Montana. Here's the Blue America Act Blue page if you've got a hankering to keep the Senate blue without making it more conservative than it already is.

Politico kicked off the week with a poll of competitive seats showing a tiny bit of momentum towards the Democrats in these races.
The two parties were closely matched on the 2014 ballot, with 42 percent of likely voters planning to vote Democratic and 41 percent picking Republicans. That’s a slight shift in the Democratic direction since July, when a Politico poll showed Republicans with a 2-point edge.

…Several metrics of national gloom have remained stable throughout the year: 54 percent of respondents said the country is on the wrong track, a number essentially unchanged since May. Voters are divided almost down the middle as to whether they feel more optimistic (47 percent) or pessimistic (52 percent) about the outlook for the U.S. over the next few years.

And while their contempt for politicians is evident across the board, they reserve a special category of distrust for congressional Republicans.

Midterm battleground voters disapprove of Obama by a 12-point margin, 56 percent to 44 percent, and congressional Democrats by a 30-point margin, 65 percent to 35 percent.

For Republicans, the gap is a towering 46 points: 73 percent disapprove of their performance and just 27 percent approve.

Marion Leonard of Mission, Kansas, a 61-year-old retiree, expressed disgust at how the dysfunctional Congress has handled its relationship with the president.

“I am satisfied with what the president is doing. I am disappointed in the Congress, because Congress-- the Republicans especially-- are looking at his skin color instead of what is best for the country,” Leonard said.
Next cycle, it is a foregone conclusion that the Democrats won't be anchored down by a born loser like Steve Israel at the helm of the DCCC. Sharper minds-- current frontrunners are Donna Edwards (D-MD), Jared Polis (D-CO) and Jim Himes (D-CT)-- are frontrunners for the chairmanship and any of them would be a vast improvement and would work, first and foremost to win back seats, not protect Blue Dogs and GOP leaders. You'll know the DCCC is a serious operation again when they field a candidate against Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Miami's increasingly blue FL-27, where Obama beat Romney 53-47% but where Israel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz made sure Ros-Lehtinen would have no challenger to worry about again. This cycle though, the DCCC is not a serious operation and the best progressive voters could hope for are more progressives in Congress. That's what this is for.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Ugly, Anti-Christian Republican Hatred Of Poor People-- From Wisconsin To Arizona


Ending the chapter of my life called "College," brought two major changes: I moved abroad and, soon after-- following an incredible months-long binge in Afghanistan-- I stopped using drugs… forever. I lived overseas close to 7 years, much of it in Amsterdam, where I had a wonderful life working in a government-funded meditation center, the Kosmos. When I moved back to America in the late '70s I had to start all over again. Along with my friend, Chris, I started an independent record label from scratch. We had no money, none at all but we built a company that CBS bought and that led me to Warner Bros and, eventually, to paying millions of dollars in income taxes. I didn't celebrate writing those mammoth checks but I never begrudged paying them-- not once-- because I always knew that without this great country I was paying taxes to, I would never have earned the income that resulted in those big tax bills.

But at one time, those taxes might have gone to Holland and not America. At a time long before I was paying any taxes, I was struggling trying to keep my company afloat. Every week at least one or two days I would have to chose between eating and putting gas in my car. Someone turned me on to the idea of food stamps, which helped get me over the hump in a big way. It was a fantastic investment for the government. Without those few thousand dollars in food stamps for a couple of years I would probably have had to move back to Holland's easier life. The jobs generated by my company and the taxes paid by it and by me, would have been Dutch jobs and Dutch taxes. I'm so glad it worked out the way it did.

Today Republicans are-- as always-- negative and condemnatory about fellow-Americans who need a hand. In his gubernatorial reelection platform, Koch-backed right-winger Rick Scott, promises to discourage and severely limit, arbitrarily, assistance to people in need. In his crabbed little world people who need a hand are "the other," not "us," not potential resources but a burden. He's telling Wisconsin voters that he will "require a drug test for those requesting unemployment and able-bodied, working age adults requesting Food Stamps from the state." If Wisconsin voters are smart, they'll unemployed Scott Walker.

But Republican contempt for the less fortunate isn't just a Wisconsin story. It's a pillar of the conservative world view and the disease is everyone. Do you remember the Mormon neo-nazi sympathizer state Senator in Arizona Russell Pearce? Long the ugly face of the Arizona Know Nothing movement, he was elected by right wing extremists president of the state Senate in January of 2011 and then recalled by the voters-- the first Arizona state legislator in history to ever be recalled 10 months later. He lost the recall election, 54-46%, and several of his top campaign staffers were charged with felonies for vote fraud during the election. A horrible, corrupt and ignorant man, he ran again in 2012 and was rebuffed by the voters with an even greater margin, 56-44%. At that point, the ultra-racist Arizona Republican Party hired him as First Vice Chairman.

Pearce was forced to resign on Sunday, not because of the racism and xenophobia, his trademark issues but because of his hatred of poor people and, especially, poor women. Republican Party candidates didn't want to be associated with him after he made some typically right-wing remarks on a Hate Talk Radio show on KKNT-AM. Like Scott Walker, he doesn't want to lend a helping hand-- he wants to sever outstretched hands asking for assistance. "You put me in charge of Medicaid," he boasted, "the first thing I'd do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations… Then we'll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job."

Mark Brnovich, the Republican running for Attorney General was only one of many GOP candidates worried that Pearce's extremism would harm is own chances at the polls in November. "The notion that government would force sterilization upon anyone is counter to everything I believe about individual liberty and contrary to the founding principles of a free nation. Comments that demean the plight of the poor, including women in the dual role of mother and economic provider, are not conservative; they're cruel. And I reject them."

The Republican Party's top hope for winning a Democratic-held seat, Martha McSally, who has been making progressive against Blue Dog Ron Barber, also feared Pearce's comments could hurt her in the extreme southeastern part of the state, especially in Tucson and the Pima County suburbs where Barber beat her in 2012 52-48% and providing his margin of victory in one of the country's tightest races. She took to her Twitter account as fast as she could:

Maybe McSally should have thought more carefully about which party she joined and what they really do stand for at their core. Pearce, after all, has long been at the heart of the Arizona GOP and his comments are consistent with his career-- and with what the party espouses across the entire country.

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Frank Torre (1931-2014)


Joe and Frank Torre in 1977, kid brother's rookie managerial season, as player-manager of the New York Mets. (Frank's seven-year Major League career ended with the Phillies in 1963.) It was Frank who, at age 20, stood up to their violently abusive father.

"When I was a teenager and my brother Frank was in the World Series in '57 and '58 against the Yankees, Braves winning in '57 and the Yankees in '58, little did I know the next time these two teams would meet in the World Series, I would be managing the Yankees."
-- Joe Torre, in his Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech, July 27

"One win­ter, when I was 12, my older brother Frank (20) said to my father, 'We want you out of the house. We don't want any­thing other than the house we live in. We don't want any­thing from you. Just leave.' And he left."

by Ken

For most people, Frank Torre, who died Saturday at his home in Palm Beach at 82, was Joe Torre's older brother. Surely everyone who lived through it remembers the high drama of Frank receiving a desperately needed heart transplant while Joe was managing the New York Yankees to their first World Series title together in his first season as Yankees manager. As Richard Goldstein recalls in his NYT obit of Frank, two years later he told the Times: "I got a chance to live again. The next night, I was able to see the winning game in the World Series."

And Frank lived to see his baby brother finally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, on July 27. Their oldest brother, Rocco, the oldest of the five Torre siblings, died of a heart attacke suffered while watching a Yankees game during Joe's first season as Yankees manager, while Frank was languishing and hoping for a new heart. Frank remained active as an advocate for transplants, and was a second-time beneficiary -- a kidney transplant in 2007.

However, for a kid in Milwaukee at the time that Frank was the first baseman of the Braves team that won first the NL penant in 1957 and then the World Series in 1958, Joe was Frank's pudgy baby brother. He was first heard of when he turned up with Frank at the Braves' training camp one spring, supposedly also a baseball player, though what position could he have played but catcher? (Eventually Joe, already an All-Star Major League catcher, would slim down and reinvent himself as an All-Star third baseman, even though, as Dodgers Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton recalled to Fox Sports' Zach Dillard, "he won a batting title and he couldn't run out of sight in two days." Sutton says he "hated him as a player, for all those line drives he hit up the middle. Sutton describes Joe as "a gamer," who "made himself into a good third baseman," and "a guy that's mastered so many facets of our game from the front office to the grunt work in the dugout.")

That same kid, by then transplanted from Milwaukee to Brooklyn, where he (along with Howie) attended Frank's alma mater, James Madison HS, had the thrill of an assembly visit from the man he considered the school's most distinguished alum -- although Frank was pretty much unknown to most Madison students. By then Joe was a rising star with the Braves, but he was not a Madison kid. He went to a Catholic high school, St. Francis Prep.

Of course it was hard not to be won over by Joe, first as a player -- an incredibly hard-working player who forged a great career playing for teams that never won anything -- and eventually as a manager, generally known as one of the most decent people in sports. And we could go on and on with inspiring Torre family memories.

But as I expect most people know, those memories include a lot of horror from the five siblings' childhood, when their father, Joe, an NYPD detective widely esteemed on their home turf in Brooklyn, was physically and psychologically abusing their mother, Margaret -- up until the day in 1952 that Joe recalls in the quote I've put at the top of this post. By then two of the five Torre siblings were out of the house. Brother Rocco was married with a family of his own, and in 1951 sister Marguerite had left to become, literally, Sister Marguerite, as she remained until her retirement in 2007, the last 27 years spent as principal of Nativity BVM School in Ozone Park, NY.

Which left it to 20-year-old Frank to stand up to their father, Joe, an act of almost unimaginable courage for such a closely knit, strictly Catholic Italian-American family in Brooklyn in the early '50s. (Margaret Torre never did divorce the senior Joe.)


For decades the Torres didn't talk outside the house about what happened inside their house. Joe has said that he never talked to schoolmates about it. Not having a father in the house must have been extremely difficult for a teenage kid in the early '50s, when the only acceptable excuse for not having two parents at home was that one or more had died. Here's how the story is told on the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation website:
Joe Torre, for­mer pro­fes­sional base­ball player and man­ager of the Los Ange­les Dodgers, grew up the youngest of five chil­dren in Brook­lyn, New York. His father was a New York City police detec­tive and revered in his com­mu­nity. He was the cop that made every­one feel safe. Every­one except his own family.

Joe, Sr. ruled his home with an iron fist. He was a phys­i­cally abu­sive hus­band and an emo­tion­ally abu­sive father. The vio­lence that had besieged the Torre house­hold for so many years was a well-kept fam­ily secret and stayed a fam­ily secret for gen­er­a­tions. How­ever, in Decem­ber of 1995, Ali and Joe Torre attended a sem­i­nar called Life Suc­cess. As a result of Joe’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in that sem­i­nar, he began to talk openly of his child­hood expe­ri­ence with domes­tic vio­lence. He went pub­lic with his fam­ily secret in his auto­bi­og­ra­phy, Chas­ing the Dream: My Life­long Jour­ney to the World Series.

Ali and Joe Torre wanted to edu­cate chil­dren about the issue of domes­tic vio­lence. In 2002, they cre­ated the Joe Torre Safe At Home® Foun­da­tion. The mis­sion of the Foun­da­tion is “edu­cat­ing to end the cycle of domes­tic vio­lence and save lives”.

"My dad was a bully. He controlled my mom, whether it be the paycheck, physical abusing, intimidating her, bullying. . . . The one thing I knew was that I didn't want to be my dad."

In the video, Joe goes on to say that he was lucky, both to have had an outlet in baseball and to have had different sorts of male role models in his older brothers, Rocco and Frank. In 1996 Frank and Joe's sister Marguerite (yes, Sister Marguerite) told People magazine: "I think Rocco was like the father image to Joe. Frank, of course, was his hero. I would say he almost worshipped Frank."

"There were five of us, and he's our baby," the other Torre sister, Rae, told's Randy Miller on the day in July when Joe was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. "We spoiled him rotten."

Marguerite chimed in: "Spoiled but precious. We had to run if he spoke or he cried. My mother -- ohmygosh, 'Go get what he needs.' "

Here's Joe telling the family story, again on the Safe At Home website:
I grew up in Marine Park, Brook­lyn. I am the youngest of five chil­dren. My father, Joseph, was a New York City police offi­cer. When I was grow­ing up, my father was a bully. My mother faced ver­bal and phys­i­cal abuse from my father. If he didn’t like the food mom made, he would throw it against the wall. He used to make her get up in the mid­dle of the night to cook for friends he brought home.

Although I did not get phys­i­cally abused myself, I grew up in fear because my mom did. I was shy and dad would make fun of me. When­ever I saw his car in the dri­ve­way, I didn’t want to go home. One win­ter, when I was 12, my older brother Frank (20) said to my father, “We want you out of the house. We don’t want any­thing other than the house we live in. We don’t want any­thing from you. Just leave.” And he left.

Grow­ing up in a home where there was domes­tic vio­lence was very dif­fi­cult and left last­ing scars. Although I didn’t real­ize it then, I used to feel like the abuse was my fault. I felt help­less and alone. For many years, I felt ashamed and worthless.

In those days, no one in my neigh­bor­hood knew what was hap­pen­ing in my home, or if they did, nobody talked about it. I did not talk about it because I was afraid. I didn’t know who to turn to for help.

But today, things are dif­fer­ent and there is help for you. The way we can con­quer and stop domes­tic vio­lence is to form a team. If we grow up respect­ing one another, we will even­tu­ally end domes­tic vio­lence. The more we talk about it, the more we’ll be likely to pick up a phone and tell a rel­a­tive, a teacher or a counselor.
Once Joe, with Ali's assistance, came to grips with his family history enough to go public, he and Ali became warriors in the fight against domestic violence. So it was hardly surprising when the Dallas Morning News 's Sarah Mervosh wrote yesterday in a piece headlined "":
Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Torre says the video of Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancée unconscious with a single punch accomplished one good thing: The footage ripped off the cloak of secrecy that typically emboldens domestic abusers.

“What’s gone on here recently has certainly caught people’s attention and, I want to say, in a positive way. Everybody’s reacting the same way — that we need to do something about this,” the former New York Yankees manager told The Dallas Morning News. Torre is scheduled to visit Dallas this week for a previously planned luncheon for The Family Place shelter. . . .


Despite Torre’s storied baseball career, which includes leading the Yankees to four World Series championships, he said he suffered from paralyzing insecurity as a child. He said he didn’t try out for the high school baseball team his first year because he feared failure.

His insecurity, he later realized, stemmed from the violent environment he grew up in. Torre remembers the way his father threw dishes in anger, woke up his wife to cook for him when he came home late, and once, reached for his gun when his daughter held a knife up to protect her mother.

Torre’s older brother eventually forced his father out of the house. But the memories stayed with Torre. In 2002, he established the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation, which uses education to end the cycle of abuse and provides safe-rooms at schools for children to seek help.

Given Torre’s emphasis on education, he said he wonders about Rice’s past and whether anyone spoke to him about how to treat women. While Torre said the NFL was right to make an example of Rice, he hopes the running back will get treatment, too.

“Have him understand what he did and why it’s not the right thing to do,” Torre said. “He’s got more of a life to live than just the NFL.”
That's Joe for you. But then, he's got his share of experience living that life. This is surely not a happy moment for the extended Torre family, but then, they have some pretty good family to fall back on for support.

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Sean Eldridge Taking Upstate New York By Storm?


Sean at home in his $5 million dollar Soho loft

-by Concerned Monticello Democrat

As far as campaign budgets go, Sean Eldridge has more money than God. Or, to be more precise, $3,069,179 raised so far ($1,340,000 from his own bank account); $962,959 already spent, albeit mostly wasted on over-priced consultants taking him for a ride; and $2,106,220 cash-on-hand, all as of the June 30 filing deadline. It could easily double as campaign professionals (hustlers) persuade Sean to pay no attention to the polls that show him losing by over 20 points.

This self-funding multimillionaire, married to lucky Facebook billionaire Chris Hughes, has the resources to employ nearly the entire Hudson Valley with campaign jobs-- and every unemployed comedian in the Catskills to boot. Let’s take a quick geographical tour of the district to see if there would be individuals who could benefit from such jobs.

This upstate New York District has some of the poorest areas of the region. The Poughkeepsie and Albany/Troy areas plus Ulster County and Oneonta (home to most of the Democratic base) are filled with unemployed residents and struggling students who would love nothing more than a paid canvassing position in a giant, robust Sean Eldridge field campaign.

I am willing to bet Sean Eldridge could spend a fraction of his fortune building a paid canvass that would inspire the entire region and leave voters with the feeling that Sean is a truly philanthropic member of their community who does care about something in New York State beyond Soho-- and something beyond a career move to Congress.

Not to mention, it would set Sean up pretty well for a potential 2016 primary by giving him access to political machinery necessary in a Democratic primary.

But, as my source at the DCCC willingly told me, Sean wants nothing to do with such a field program. Sean doesn’t want to employ poor minorities in his campaign, but rather, he wants to spend millions in paid advertising that lines pockets of talentless consultants who he likes partying with when he and young Chris fly into town (Washington, DC) with a $10 million dollar check for the DNC. Paid field operations may win elections for serious candidates but they are difficult, tedious and, worst of all, they don't yield any fat commissions for the Beltway power brokers and consultants to way paid media buys do.

Sean Eldridge is this year's ultimate rich dilettante in his quest for Congress. He believes that money should be spent lining his friends’ pockets, while leaving his district’s poorest residents starving and unemployed. Not a good get-out-the-vote strategy, at least not for a Democrat.

Sean Eldridge believes that money will buy him a seat in Congress. He believes that he can spend millions to dupe the residents of New York 19 with glossy mailers, and TV and digital ads just like Steve Israel was able to dupe him into thinking he was the next Barack Obama by sending his staff weekly bagels and cream cheese via Federal Express. I hope he didn't soil his Gucci sweater vest with cream cheese and chives.

Shame on you, Sean Eldridge. You know nothing about how to win a political campaign and you're wasting a good opportunity Democrats have in a swing district Obama won twice. You waste your money, and you leave the most needy in the district hungry and unemployed.

Go back to your 4,000 square foot loft on Crosby Street with it's 12-foot high ceilings and spend your loot on nicer things than polling and TV ads. Go to the Brunello Cucinelli store, or Ascot Chang, and buy some more nice shoes and shirts.

If you're not going to help Upstate New York’s poor communities stay in Soho and Tribeca with your millionaire pals. Your Prada and Tom Ford style/mindset will ruin your potential political career and render you unelectable anywhere.

You are the ultimate loser, a perfect Steve Israel recruit. Speaking of which... is it really such a good idea for the DCCC ads to keep putting Gibson down because he supports tax breaks for millionaires? Generically, it isn't a bad line of attack, but when most NY-19 voters hear the word "millionaire," they probably immediately think of Sean!

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More Republican Voter Disenfranchisement Over The Weekend-- Why Are They So Scared Of Voters?


The history of democracy has always been a battle between conservatives trying desperately to restrict the right to vote and progressives battling to increase it. Conservatives predicted the world would end if anyone other than older, white, male, property owners voted. While they fought and threatened and fought some more, progressives won the franchise for working people, for women, for young people, for ex-slaves, for minorities, immigrants, renters… But conservatives and the wealthy elites they represent, never give up. Today the battle over the franchise is a rear guard action by the Republican Party to restrict voting rights by bits and pieces wherever and whenever they can, through voter ID laws aimed at minorities and by restricting early voting, weekend voting and night voting that make it easier for working people to vote.

The Republican-controlled legislature in Wisconsin-- backed by a right-wing, virulently racist Republican governor, Scott Walker-- passed a voter ID law with the specific intent of making it more difficult for poor people, African-Americans and students to vote, three classes of people conservatives have always fought to keep away from the polls. That law was invalidated by Wisconsin district court judge Lynn Adelman in May, who pointed out that most of the 300,000 registered voters without the government ID mandated by the GOP law are African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans hated by racist Republicans, while pointing out that the GOP was unable to present any evidence whatsoever indicating that their legislation was justified by voter fraud, which is virtually nonexistent. Friday, a panel of three right-wing Republican judges threw Judge Adelman's ruling out and told their pals in the Republican legislature to go right ahead and keep all the minorities they want from voting.

Rick Hansen at the Election Law Blog pointed out that not all the voting news on Friday was as bad as the disenfranchisement ruling that came out of Wisconsin, where Gov. Walker, trailing in the polls, hopes that keeping poor people from voting will guarantee him a victory in November over Mary Burke. There was a better judicial outcome in Ohio, where a Republican-controlled legislature and a racist right-wing governor, John Kasich, are also trying to disenfranchise working class voters by cutting back on early voting days.

The week before, in a preliminary injunction unheld Friday by the Sixth Circuit, a federal judge, Peter Economus, had blocked Ohio’s cuts to early voting and ordered the state to establish additional polling days before November’s elections, saying the reductions would disproportionately harm the poor and members of minority groups. He wrote that the state’s measures violated both the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act by creating unlawful barriers to the polls for minorities and the poor. The state’s arguments about reducing fraud, according to the judge, "did not withstand logical scrutiny." There has been virtually no in-person voter fraud documented in the country.
Judge Economus’s ruling directed Ohio to restore early voting during evenings and on at least two Sundays, and to reinstate Golden Week, the first week of early voting in which many African-American churches organize congregants to register and vote on the same day. Mr. Kasich and his supporters have said the measures were needed to reduce fraud, save money and create uniformity of practice across the state, and that the four-week early voting period allowed sufficient time for people to cast ballots.

A spokesman for the state attorney general, Mike DeWine, said the state would review the ruling before deciding whether to appeal.

The United States Justice Department filed a statement of interest in the case and has challenged similar measures elsewhere, including in North Carolina.

The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Ohio Conference of the N.A.A.C.P., several African-American churches and the League of Women Voters of Ohio.

“This ruling means that thousands of voters who have needed these particular early voting opportunities will continue to have that right,” said Dale Ho, director of the A.C.L.U.’s Voting Rights Project.

Ohio introduced early voting in 2008 after encountering significant problems during the 2004 election, including people waiting in lines at polling sites for as long as six hours. In 2012, of the 5.6 million votes cast, 1.9 million were cast early, including about 600,000 that were cast early in person, according to the Ohio secretary of state’s office.

But in February, Democrats and civil rights groups objected after Mr. Kasich signed a bill eliminating Golden Week, reducing to 28 days from 35 days the time given in which early voting could take place. And Jon A. Husted, Ohio’s secretary of state, issued a directive limiting evening and weekend hours. Like Mr. Kasich, Mr. Husted and Mr. DeWine are Republican. The poor and minorities tend to vote Democratic. Mr. Husted said Thursday that he believed the state should appeal the decision.
Funny how the same people working so diligently to prevent poor people from voting are the exact same folks who scream the loudest about how if try to restrict the wealthy from buying elections you are violating their rights. And then there's… Georgia. Friday, Chris Hayes showed how Georgia Republicans have been reacting to Democrats daring to register more African-American voters:

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Aaron Blake Is Wrong-- Bill Maher Didn't Pick The Wrong Guy When He Announced He Will Try To Defeat GOP Douche Bag John Kline


Actual wrong guy

Friday night, Bill Maher ended his big-buzz Flip A District competition by announcing the right-wing jerk he would work to defeat in November: John Kline in southeast Minnesota. Democrats have grown unaccustomed to anyone holding any Republican Party leaders or committee chairmen, like Kline, accountable for their destructive policy agendas. That's because DCCC chairman Steve Israel has taken the entire GOP leadership, including all their committee chairs, even ones like Kline in vulnerable districts, off the table. (Its a deal he has with them that keeps them from running campaigns against him in his very vulnerable swing district, the only PVI neutral district in the entire country that isn't ever a battleground.)

About a year ago Keith Ellison introduced us to Mike Obermeuller, the progressive Democrat running for the seat Kline currently occupies. Ellison looked at the poll below and so did Blue America and we came to the same conclusion: this is a winnable race. The Steve Israel brain trust looked at it too and decided to invest their money with Blue Dogs and New Dems in much redder seats that don't have half the chance to be taken by a Democrat. Look at the PPP results:

Who would you vote for now, the Republican or a Democrat? Democrat wins 46-36%. That's big; it must have scared Steve Israel who knows he's supposed to protect Republican committee chairs, not defeat them. I wonder if Nancy Pelosi saw the poll. Kline has a 42% to 32% unfavorable to favorable rating among his constituents. And a 40% to 31% negative to positive job disapproval rating. Then the key question-- "If the election for Congress were held today, would you vote for Republican Congressman John Kline or his opponent, Democratic state representative Mike Obermueller?" Kline scored 38%. Obermueller scored 42%. A DCCC chairman with even a modicum of competence would have started a crusade. Steve Israel, instead, decided right on the spot to start bad-mouthing the poll, bad-mouthing the race, bad-mouthing the district, bad-mouthing the Democratic candidate… and telling naive and gullible Beltway pundits that it is an unwinnable district.

That's why we saw pathetic DCCC lackeys moaning and groaning when Maher made his announcement Friday night. If only he picked one of Steve Israel's horrible conservative, anti-Choice, anti-gay recruits. Or how about one of the CIA spies Steve Israel is trying to infiltrate into Congress? Why Mike Obermeuller? No one's talking about it, by Maher did an independent poll that shows Kline is still very vulnerable. Everyone knows except people who get their information from Steve Israel.

Blue America has been slowly, steadily helping Mike build a war chest for his autumn ground game. We're cheered by what Bill Maher is going to do to make voters in MN-02 aware of what a real sack of garbage they have for a congressman now. He won't be doing compare and contrast ads, just ads about Kline. We want to remind everyone why we decided to back Mike Obermueller.

"I know," he told us over the weekend, "that Social Security is vital to the retirement security of all working Americans and that's why I will vigorously defend this vital program. To the extent solvency becomes a concern, it can be resolved by raising the cap for the wealthiest Americans. I'll stand up to those who are trying to weaken Social Security and decrease benefits through misguided policies like chained CPI." OK, Blue America doesn't endorse candidates who don't take that stand. Nor do we endorse candidates who don't take this one:

"Access to affordable health care is a fundamental human right and that's why I've been one of the few Democratic challengers not running away from the Affordable Care Act. In Congress, I'll fight to improve the ACA and will lead a renewed discussion regarding expanding Medicare to cover every American."

Check three: "I'll be a champion for the rights of women and I will oppose any attempt to weaken the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, will confront the epidemic of sexual assault occurring in our military and believe that a woman’s medical decisions are between her and her doctor." That's completely at odds what John Kline on every count, the same John Kline who is currently single-handedly bottling up the Paycheck Fairness Act in his committee, making sure women still don't get the same wage for doing the same work that men do. It's a backward and venal position and it's John Kline's position.

"I also understand the importance of moving forward in a big way on renewable energy," concluded Obermueller. "We've given huge tax breaks to oil and coal companies for far too long-- and it's impact on our environment has been terrible. While we can't change decades of poor energy policy overnight, I will work to eliminate these tax breaks as part of comprehensive tax reform and focus on  our efforts on renewable energy sources that will leave us with an environment that we are proud to hand onto our children."

Please consider helping Mike directly. You can do it here. Until Pelosi gets rid of Steve Israel, the DCCC will never take on John Kline or any other Republican policy-makers. It's the way he rolls-- which is why it's up to us. When Maher first announced Flip A District last January, we applauded him-- and suggested a really bold move that would do the most good possible for Democrats: defeating Steve Israel. Going after John Kline is a more modest goal, but one, if successful, that will be immensely beneficial to American working families (and students).

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