Thursday, March 22, 2018

Republicans Have Another Candidate Problem... This One In West Virginia


The Republican Party attracts bizarre crackpots and because of the nature of the GOP support system, sometimes those bizarre crackpots wind up as officials party nominees. Last night we saw the Illinois Republican Party mortified as Nazi Party leader Arthur Jones win their nomination in a Chicagoland district. And whether it's Arthur Jones, Roy Moore (AL), Sharron Angle (NV), Rich Iott (OH), Christine O'Donnell (DE), Todd Akin (MO), Richard Mourdock (IN)... there is always a chance the Republicans will wind up with a candidate so horrifying that a Democrat can win in even the reddest of constituencies. And now the Democrats have Trump in every constituency. That might not work in West Virginia, though. West Virginia is the Trumpiest state in the union. The PVI is R+19 and Trump beat Hillary there 489,371 (68.5%) to 188,794 (26.4%). Keep in mind though, that Bernie had also crushed Hillary in West Virginia in the primary-- 51.4% to 35.8%. In fact, in some key counties, Bernie not only beat Hillary, he also beat Trump! Here's just a dozen examples:
Boone Co-- Bernie- 2,410; Trump- 1,388
Braxton Co-- Bernie- 1,321; Trump- 861
Brooke Co-- Bernie- 1,966; Trump- 1,963
Fayette Co-- Bernie-3,585; Trump- 2,683
Lincoln Co-- Bernie- 1,510; Trump- 1,193
Logan Co-- Bernie- 3,201; Trump- 1,665
Marion Co-- Bernie- 5,324; Trump- 4,035
McDowell Co-- Bernie- 1,453; Trump- 760
Mingo Co-- Bernie- 2,425; Trump- 1,161
Monongalia Co-- Bernie- 8,096; Trump- 5,971
Wetzel Co-- Bernie- 1,744; Trump- 1,096
Yesterday, Alex Isenstadt reported on another Republican potential disaster in West Virginia, the heart of Trumpville. Ex-con Don Blankenship wants to Make West Virginia Great Again. As of the December 31 FEC reporting deadline Blankenship had written his Senate campaign a $400,000 personal check-- it's over a million in self-funding now... and there's plenty more where that came from. "With Blankenship skyrocketing in the West Virginia Republican Senate primary and blanketing the airwaves with ads assailing his fractured field of rivals as career politicians," wrote Isenstadt, "senior party officials are wrestling with how, or even whether, to intervene. Many of them are convinced that Blankenship, who served a one-year sentence after the deadly 2010 explosion at his Upper Big Branch Mine, would be a surefire loser against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin-- and potentially become a national stain for the party."
The discussions have intensified over the past few weeks. During separate meetings with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, aides to Blankenship’s two primary opponents, Rep. Evan Jenkins and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, pointed to Blankenship’s traction and questioned what could be done to stop him. The Senate GOP campaign arm, which heard out the appeals, recently commissioned a survey to gauge the coal king’s electoral strength and determine his staying power in the race.

Those familiar with the party’s deliberations say the results are clear: With a little more than a month until the May 8 primary, Blankenship, a towering figure in West Virginia politics long before this campaign and an avid opponent of unions, has vaulted into essentially a three-way tie with his rivals and is positioned to move ahead.

The talks underscore the intense pressure Republicans are under in the era of Trump, as they struggle to control insurgent figures with large grass-roots conservative followings. While some senior Republicans are anxious to block Blankenship, others believe that such a move could backfire and turn him into a martyr-- much as it did when the national GOP dropped millions of dollars in an unsuccessful attempt to take down Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore in a Republican primary. [And much like the DCCC stumbled into be attacking Laura Moser in Texas.]

Like Moore, Blankenship is an entrenched, anti-establishment figure running in a conservative state. In an interview with Politico, the 68-year-old Blankenship dared the party to come after him.

“I think it would get me votes if they did,” he said. “I think the Republicans in West Virginia are not really happy with the Republicans in the Senate and the House in general.”

Further deepening the tensions is a long-simmering distrust between Blankenship and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), another powerful Appalachian Republican. Blankenship has spoken with McConnell over the years and said he never found him sufficiently supportive of the coal industry. McConnell, for his part, was recently quoted as saying he did not want Blankenship to win the nomination.

National Republicans have been struck by the potency of Blankenship’s campaign. Earlier this year, Blankenship and his longtime political strategist, Greg Thomas, traveled to Washington to meet with the White House political affairs office. During the meeting, Blankenship described his battles with Manchin and outlined how he’d used his deep pockets to fund Republican campaigns in a state that until the past decade had been dominated by Democrats.

White House officials, who’ve also met with Jenkins and Morrisey, came away thinking that Blankenship was for real.

Blankenship’s rise has been driven in part by his self-financed TV ads. Since launching his campaign in late November, Blankenship has spent over $1.1 million on roughly a dozen commercials, according to media buying totals, far surpassing his opponents. Morrisey has so far spent nothing on TV ads and Jenkins only about $38,000.

Blankenship has used the ads to paint his rivals as insufficiently conservative, blasting Jenkins over his positions on Obamacare and climate change and Morrisey on abortion. He’s positioned himself as an unshakable ally of President Donald Trump, who received 68 percent of the vote in the state.

Yet he has also undertaken an effort to clear his name.

The spots have accused the Obama administration and Manchin-- who was governor at the time of the mine disaster and has said Blankenship has “blood on his hands”-- of conspiring to imprison him. He has also featured testimonials from his daughter, Jennifer, who’s described her father as a soft-hearted family man and provider for West Virginians.'

Even before he entered the race late last year, Blankenship was a familiar face on West Virginia TV sets. After being released from prison in 2017, he invested around $600,000 on a slate of commercials aimed at redeeming himself.

“He’s running ads, he has money. He’s not a wallflower,” said Hoppy Kercheval, an influential radio show host in the state. “He’s a puncher and a counterpuncher.”

“He’s the guy that’s on the move. He’s the guy that’s gaining traction in this wide open race,” Kercheval added. “I think it has this everyman appeal in West Virginia.”

Yet Blankenship’s appeal, many believe, runs deeper. During the 2000s, he spent heavily out of his own pocket to buttress the GOP at a time when it was weak in the state, earning him goodwill with many in the party. And while many blamed him for the 2010 explosion, which killed 29 miners, others in the coal-dependent state came to see Blankenship as a pivotal economic force through his leadership of Massey Energy.

Blankenship’s allies insist that any comparison to Moore is unfair, and argue that he’ll be a viable nominee in November. Unlike Moore, in Alabama, they say, Blankenship has established a substantial campaign apparatus and surrounded himself with seasoned advisers who’ve worked with him over the years, including Thomas. His ability to self-fund makes him a serious threat to Manchin, they contend.

National GOP officials say they’ve made no decision on whether to weigh in against Blankenship, though several said they expected the Senate committee to create a menu of options. But they contend that any possible option poses serious risks. The GOP, which wants to remain neutral in the primary, is reluctant to endorse either Jenkins or Morrisey. And advertising against Blankenship directly risks a serious backlash. Some simply want to leave it up to Jenkins and Morrisey to take him on.

Blankenship acknowledged the possibility that the national party could intervene against him. But he argued that it shouldn’t.

“Fundamentally, I support the Republican Party. I have supported them for years,” he said. “I certainly think they should embrace me because I’ve been a Republican in West Virginia long before it was cool to be a Republican in West Virginia.”

“They shouldn’t be afraid of me being up there,” he added.
Blankenship ads are really negative. Democratic voters hate negative ads in primaries; Republicans totally love them. Blankenship would like to make West Virginia Republican voters think he's running against Obama. Listen to this crackpot-- and false-- radio ad his campaign started running last week. And this is the TV ad he's running against Congressman Even Jenkins, the Republican (slight) front-runner:

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Yesterday was the first day of spring, at least that's what the calendar says, although, judging by the northeast weather, one might be forgiven for not believing it. Still, there are signs of spring to be seen in some locales. For instance, this morning, the DWT paparazzi caught this happy duo going for walkies in a slightly warmer climate. In fact, it now seems to be getting a little warm wherever Trump goes. With any luck, and if justice prevails for a change, Trump will be feeling downright hot soon, and, by that, I don't mean because of the weather.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

How About The Death Penalty For People Who Call People On The Do Not Call List?


I've been telling politicians for years that whoever solves the flood of invasive telemarketing calls we all get from people trying to sell us stuff, despite the completely ineffectual and widely ignored "Do Not Call Registry," would become a hero-- could even run for president. Here in California, we just learned, is that we've been receiving more calls than ever. I can attest to that personally. No matter how much I curse or just hang up, the calls ae unending-- and daily. Californians received nearly 3 billion robocalls in 2017; The FCC and FTC aren't doing don't anything to stop calls made to cell phones illegally and without consent.
According to the YouMail Robocall Index, which tracks the volume and extent of robocalls in the United States, more than 2,974,676,000 robocalls were made to California area codes in 2017.

The industry data comes ahead of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) March 23 policy forum, Fighting the Scourge of Illegal Robocalls. Both agencies have taken a strong stance against scam and spoofed number robocalls but have been softer on legitimate businesses making illegal calls to cell phones and without consent. In February of this year, Capital One was the top generator of robocalls to California phone numbers while Comcast and Wells Fargo appeared in the top 5 in a number of area codes.

“This data illustrates a rapid expansion of the use of robocall technology and the toll these abusive calls take on California consumers,” said Margot Saunders, senior counsel at the National Consumer Law Center.

Earlier this year, the FTC’s “Biennial Report to Congress” revealed a sizeable uptick in consumer complaints about robocalls in 2017, with 4.5 million complaints filed in 2017 compared to 3.4 million in 2016. More than 824,000 Californians complained to the FTC about robocalls and other violations of the “Do Not Call Registry” in 2017.

“Critics seeking to gut the TCPA’s protections against robocalls claim the law leads to frivolous lawsuits,” said Saunders. “On the contrary, the overwhelming number of robocall violations go unchecked, with even the most conservative estimates showing a 1000-to-1 ratio of complaints to government agencies as compared to lawsuits filed. And that does not even account for the tens of millions of illegal robocalls to consumers who do not file complaints or lawsuits.”

Even as robocall complaints increase and TCPA lawsuits decline (there was a 10% reduction in 2017 from the previous year), banks and other companies, backed by industry lobbyists, are continuing to petition the FCC for exemptions to this key consumer privacy law.

“Rather than petition the FCC for exemptions that weaken robocall protections, companies should focus on following the rules,” said Saunders. “We hope that this FCC will protect consumers against these illegal calls. Maintaining a strong TCPA will benefit consumers and level the playing field for law-abiding businesses.”
How about this, though-- a quarter of a million people in the U.S. are employed by telemarketing firms-- and that doesn't even count the robocalls! That's a lot of daily calls. And a lot of bullets if they're all to be shot.


Who Will Bring Down Trump? Mueller? Stormy? Or Is It Us?


Quinnipiac released a new poll today. It isn't especially good news for Trumpanzee. 57% of voters say he's damaged rather than improved (34%) the U.S. reputation around the world. But it gets worse. 55% of voters say he has no sense of decency and 67% say he isn't a good role model for children. (29% of voters say he is a good role model. Obviously they should be sterilized immediately and if they have minor children, the kids should be assigned social workers.)

I tend to think of Stormy Daniels as a distraction. I mean everyone already knows Trump is an amoral scumbag, right? Well... everyone you and I know do, but there are plenty of voters who don't believe any of it-- and more who could care less. They think of Stormy Daniels as a distraction too-- even the 2011 lie dictator test that showed a 99% probability that she told the truth when she said they had unprotected sex with Señor Trumpanzee in 2006. Which means Trump has been consistently lying about it. The examiner asked her a series of questions, three of which were relevant to the alleged affair: 'Around July 2006, did you have vaginal intercourse with Donald Trump? Around July 2006, did you have unprotected sex with Donald Trump? Did Trump say he would get you on The Apprentice?' Clifford answered 'yes' to all three, according to the report." Her attorney:
"Long before Mr. Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency, Ms. Clifford [Stormy] passed a lie detector test confirming her relationship with Mr. Trump," Avenatti said. "Where are his test results claiming otherwise? Where are Mr. Cohen’s test results claiming otherwise? When this is over, the American people will know the truth about the relationship and the cover-up."
Meanwhile, the NY Times reported yesterday that "A former Playboy model who claimed she had an affair with Donald Trump sued to be released from a 2016 legal agreement requiring her silence, becoming the second woman this month to challenge Trump allies’ efforts during the presidential campaign to bury stories about extramarital relationships... The model, Karen McDougal, is suing the company that owns the National Enquirer, American Media Inc., which paid her $150,000 and whose chief executive is a friend of Mr. Trump’s."

As much as I believe all this stuff-- and more and worse-- I think it's just gossip that ultimately no one really cares about when it comes to the one thing that's important: defeating Trump and his enablers at the polls-- in November and in 2020. Richard Cohen doesn't agree. He opined in the Washington Post yesterday that Stormy Daniels-- not Robert Mueller-- might spell Trump’s doom. He compared Trump and Stormy to Harry in Hemingway's The Snows of Kilimanjaro-- Harry is Trump and Stormy is the little scratch that he didn't treat, turned gangrenous and killed him. "The saga of the adult-film star and the juvenile president," he wrote, "has become a rollicking affair. Each step of the way, Daniels has out-Trumped Trump. She is as shameless as he, a publicity hound who adheres to the secular American religion that, to be famous, even for nothing much, is to be rich. By and large, that’s not true, but then there is Kim Kardashian to prove otherwise... [Stormy] appears everywhere. She makes statements, vows, rebuttals and allegations and is scheduled to appear this Sunday on 60 Minutes. Trump must be shaking his head in admiration. He supposedly used to call in gossip items about himself to New York reporters, employing a false name and false voice. He even exulted in publicity about his extramarital affair with Marla Maples, who was overheard by the New York Post alleging it was the 'best sex I’ve ever had.'"
In pre-Trump days, it might have been possible to destroy Daniels by calling her a slut or whatever. But Trump himself is a slut. He is a liar and a moral harlot who revels in irresponsibility and bad-boy behavior. He has no moral edge over his accuser. We have all been instructed by Trump himself to disregard schoolhouse virtues of honesty, dignity and rectitude. Trump himself travels light.

It was the little thing that killed Harry on safari. It was the unattended cut, the disabled truck, the tardy rescue plane. As he died, he dreamed of Kilimanjaro, “unbelievably white in the sun” but the hyena that had been stalking him made “a strange, human, almost crying sound,” and he knew what the hyena already knew. It is what Trump is learning.
Goal ThermometerI still don't see that changing many votes. Evangelicals? Not a chance! The Christian right is al about the right and not about anything remotely Christian. If Jesus came back and denounced Trump, they'd take Trump's side and string up Jesus. The kind of people who care about this stuff, already hate Trump or, at least, want to see a Congress in place that will put checks on him. And fortunately, that cohort of the population is already a majority-- 50% who say they want to see Democrats running Congress to 40% who say they want to see Republicans running the show. This week Lake Research released a poll of voters in 30 targeted swing districts that finds that progressive Democrats have a tremendous opportunity in the 2018 election to win these districts, and they can run and win on progressive policies. Lake found found that in these districts, mostly held by Republican incumbents, voters enthusiastically support progressive policies and progressive messaging works, both to persuade swing voters and to mobilize the base.
Across these congressional districts, Democrats currently lead by +11 points on the generic ballot for Congress, with Democrats receiving 46% of the vote, Republicans receiving 35%, and 17% undecided. There is a clear enthusiasm gap, with 38% of voters strongly supporting the Democratic candidate but only 27% of voters saying the same for the Republican candidate.

"Trump, they found, "is deeply unpopular in these districts, with just 36% of voters rating him as doing an excellent or good job, compared with 64% of voters who give him a just fair or poor rating. The Democratic Party also holds a number of advantages over the Republican Party, leading by +21 points on 'reducing the influence of corporations and special interests in Washington,' +15 points on 'building a better future for our children,' and by +11 points on 'better for working families' and 'on your side.' One note of warning for Democrats is that they trail the Republican Party by -10 points on which party is 'better on jobs and the economy.' Voters in these districts are clear that they want a bold economic vision as opposed to a more incremental approach. When asked, 52% of voters said they prefer 'a bold and comprehensive agenda to rewrite the rules of the economy,' compared with the 36% of voters who would choose to 'make our economy work for everyone by building on the success of the past.' In particular, progressive surge voters favor the bold vision 61% to 28% and independent voters favor the bold vision 52% to 40%."
Progressive policies enjoy strong support among voters in these districts. The most intensely popular policies focus on prescription drugs, health care, infrastructure, protecting Social Security and Medicare, and cracking down on Wall Street, and these policies were popular with both swing voters and surge voters. Prescription drugs are so popular that they are seen as a core value across all demographics, with even 66% of Republicans strongly in support of allowing Medicare to negotiate prices like the VA.

...These policies not only motivate the progressive base, but make voters more likely to support Democrats. A majority of voters (52%) said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate talking about the progressive policies we mentioned, while only 26% would be less likely.

After progressive policies and messages, we see not only gains for Democratic candidates but a drop in support for Republican candidates. On our final ballot, Democrats receive a near-majority of the vote (49%) and support for Republican candidate dips to 31%, widening the Democratic lead to +18 points, with 19% undecided. This shift includes expanding the margin with white non-college voters from +5 points to +9 points from the initial (43% Democrat, 38% Republican) to the final (45% Democrat, 36% Republican) ballot.

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Dan Lipinski-- A Marked Man


Tuesday night, with 483 of 500 precincts counted (97%) Marie Newman refused to concede to reactionary Blue Dog Dan Lipinski (who also refrained from declaring victory). By bedtime, the score was 45,615 (50.9%) to 44,016 (49.1%). Newman said she "would like Mr. Lipinski to have a very painful evening" and that the contest was too close to call. The weight of the Chicago Machine plus the DC Democrats led by Pelosi, Hoyer and the DCCC were all behind Lipinski, although he has rarely voted for the agenda items they claim motive them. He is virulently anti-Choice, anti-LGBTQ, anti-healthcare, anti-immigrant. In fact, he has tended to vote with the GOP on most crucial matters that have come before Congress. The DCCC always favors conservatives over progressives. It's in their DNA. Lipinski led in the Chicago ("Bungalow Belt") parts of the district and Newman led in the suburbs.

As of the February 28 reporting deadline, Lipinski has spent $815,764 to Newman's $694,014, but he was sitting on a massive $1,364,307 alt the time, which looks like it was deployed over the last three weeks in a barrage of deceptive and viciously negative ads. The dark money Republican anti-choice operation, Susan B. Anthony List, spent $117,360 on Lipinsky's behalf. And the so-called United for Progress SuperPAC spent $875,654 smearing Newman and $101,072 trying to bolster Lipinski's decidedly anti-progressive image. United for Progress was financed by a 10 right wing multimillionaires:
Chris Stadler (NJ)-$250,000
Jerry Reinsdorf (IL)- $200,000
Howard Marks (NY)- $125,000
Michael Sonnenfeldt (NY)- $125,000
Carl Ferenbach (MA)- $125,000
Craig Duchossois (IL)- $100,000
Jim Frank (IL)- $100,000
Mitch Hart (TX)- $50,000
Robert Judelson (UT)- $50,000
Michael Robinson (NY)- $50,000
Before the votes were all counted, Ryan Grim wrote a piece for The Intercept, trying to explain the meaning of the hottest Democratic primary contest in the country, calling it "a bellwether of the future of the Democratic Party... The race was indeed a signal of which direction the party is headed."
The questions about the future of the party gained new momentum after Conor Lamb’s upset victory in a special election in a deeply conservative western Pennsylvania district last week, with centrist Democrats arguing that his win showed that the true path was through moderation. They cited Lamb’s embrace of gun culture, his personal (but not political) opposition to abortion, and his unwillingness to back single-payer health care. But the lesson only goes so far: even though Lamb ran in a far more conservative district than Lipinski, he ran a far more progressive campaign-- and still won.

So a more precise question might be: Is there still room in a solidly Democratic district for a Blue Dog who opposes abortion rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights, a $15 an hour minimum wage, and voted against Obamacare?

And the answer, at least in Illinois’ 3rd District, is probably. For now.

The race also answered a different question, one perhaps more relevant to the future of the party: Can the progressive wing of the party mount a powerful enough challenge to entrenched, well-funded incumbents that it can threaten the status quo?

The answer to that question, clearly, is yes. Lipinski may have held on, but he got the kind of political scare that no incumbent wants. Newman, taking the stage at her election-night party at Marz Taproom in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, declined to concede the race, but said that whatever happens, voters had shocked Lipinski into a more progressive place. “No matter what happens tomorrow, we have moved him on immigration, we have moved him on healthcare. I scared the crap out of him on 12 vs. 15,”-- a reference to their debate over the minimum wage-- “there’s many things we can move him on more, so let’s be clear. The fight is not over. It’s not done.”

Just how present that threat was became clear about two hours after the polls closed, as vote totals showed Newman, who’d been trailing by 2 to 3 points all night, surging ahead. At the Marz Taproom, volunteers and staffers hugged each other, with one screaming, “I can’t believe this is happening!”

Newman’s slight lead lasted only a few minutes, before Lipinski crawled back on top for the rest of the night.

If Newman decides to run in 2020, she’d be the favorite in the race. This cycle, an actual neo-Nazi ran unopposed in the GOP primary in the 3rd District. Because the state has an open-primary system, Republican voters in the district could have chosen to vote in the Democratic primary and back Lipinski. (The irony of a Bernie Sanders-backed candidate losing thanks to crossover votes in an open primary was not lost on Twitter.)

Sophia Olazaba, a field manager for the Newman campaign, said she doesn’t doubt that some Republican voters crossed over. “Even when we were canvassing, a lot of homes have had both Jeanne Ives and Dan Lipinski signs, so those people could have crossed over,” she said, referring to the GOP gubernatorial candidate whose entire campaign was premised on her opposition to legal abortion.

Another volunteer, Sabrina Ithal, also from the 3rd district, mentioned that the open primary format could have actually worked in their favor: “I converted quite a few Republicans who voted Democrat for the first time in 30-40 years today.”

The Susan B. Anthony List, a group that opposes legal abortion, made re-electing Lipinski a major priority, dumping big money into the race and working the ground to get out the anti-abortion vote on his behalf.

Volunteers at the party said that a key challenge in the campaign was familiarizing voters with Lipinski’s voting record-- a task they eventually got done. “Our main opponent wasn’t Dan Lipinski, it was the fact that Dan Lipinski’s record had been hidden so long,” said Travis Ballie, an associate field coordinator for NARAL. Knocking on doors in the 3rd District, Ballie said he ran into two groups of people. “The first were the folks who were well aware of his record and had been waiting for someone to challenge him for years. The second were the folks who frankly did not know.”

Ithal echoed this: “People were shocked. Who sits around saying, ‘Gee, I wonder how Lipinski votes on every issue.”

Bill Lipinski, Dan’s father, an old-school machine pol, was elected to Congress in 1982 and retired after the 2004 primary, replacing his name with son’s, so that he waltzed into Congress with no competition. Anyone born in the district after the early 1960s has only known a Lipinski on on the congressional ballot, which makes his margin of victory in Chicago understandable. In 2011, as Democrats redrew state boundaries, Lipinski made his own district more conservative, to fit his politics. But his new constituents were less familiar with him, and he was still stuck with some of the more liberal suburbs, which went for Newman on Tuesday.

...Despite Lipinski’s hostile record on reproductive freedom-- he regularly spoke at the March For Life in Washington-- EMILY’s List and Planned Parenthood initially stayed out, while organized labor either endorsed Lipinski or stayed neutral.

It wasn’t that the groups wanted Lipinski to win, but, according to sources close to the situation, that they expected him to win no matter what they did, so they didn’t want to antagonize him and burn capital-- neither political nor financial.

But as Newman’s campaign gathered momentum, there began to be signs that Lipinski could truly lose. He agreed to a debate of sorts, appearing with Newman in front of the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board in January and, for the first time since he began speaking, he skipped the March For Life, despite having been billed as a 2018 speaker.

In front of the Sun-Times, Lipinski rejected a key union priority; “Union-Backed Democratic Congressman Rejects $15 Minimum Wage,” we wrote at the time. That was enough for the Service Employees International Union, known as the SEIU, to pull the trigger and endorse Newman. The Illinois Federation of Teachers joined in, breaking Lipinski’s labor wall that had held since his ascension to Congress in 2004.

That domino brought in EMILY’s List and Planned Parenthood into the race by early February, and from there it was a sprint to the March 20 primary.

Often, with endorsements, the groups make an announcement, wish the candidate the best, and move on to the next race. If they’re feeling particularly charitable, they might help organize a fundraiser.

The progressive groups backing Newman, however, got serious. NARAL organized the groups into a coalition called Citizens For A Better Illinois that raised and spent more than $1.6 million to go after Lipinski, evening out her cash disadvantage. To counter it, Chicago-area mega-donors pumped close to a million dollars into the race to bolster Lipinski. They used the group No Labels, which backs pro-corporate centrists in both parties, as a front.

The pro-Newman coalition spent, according to its own tabulations, $350,000 on mail, $600,000 on cable ads, $280,000 on broadcast TV, $275,000 on digital advertising and $130,000 on a Latino voter turnout program. It’s the kind of campaign that can-- and almost did-- win. The question going forward will be how scalable it is nationally.

Hogue, echoing what the campaign volunteers said, told The Intercept that the challenge in knocking off an incumbent is in penetrating the consciousness of a community, letting them know who their congressperson really is, and who the challenger is. “What we always knew is that if voters knew his record, they were going to move,” she said. “The voters in this district had no idea how out of step he was, and we experienced a lot of anger from them when they found out…In a district that’s been changing more and more to resemble the rest of America, when they heard about Marie, it was not a tough sell.”

Outside progressives groups don’t need to offer that kind of support in every district to have an impact, though. The NRA and AIPAC, two of the most feared organizations in Washington, after all, built their power not by electing lots of candidates, but by beating just a few-- loudly.

Lipinski may have escaped that fate for now, but he’s a marked man. “I’d work again tomorrow” if Neman makes another run at Lipinski, said Patti Ernst, a Newman volunteer. “And that’s how everyone in this room is.”
Yep... a marked man, just like crooked Maryland conservative Al Wynn was after he initially fended off a challenge by progressive reformer Donna Edwards-- who came back to drive him out of Congress two years later. Wynn had also been bolstered by corrupted establishment Democrats with long past-use-by-expiration-dates Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi, the two who helped keep Lipinski from being defeated yesterday. Today Wynn is one of K Street's most corrupt  and sleaziest lobbyists. After 2020 Lipinski will probably be joining him there.

Goal ThermometerAnd by the way, there's a far more dangerous-- and far more corrupt-- conservative Democrat with a primary coming up: sleazy New Dem Joe Crowley, who is very similar to Lipinski in several ways, especially how he managed to first get into office without a real election. He's more dangerous because he is the Pelosi-Hoyer handpicked candidate to be the next Democratic leader (and speaker) and because he is completely-- lock, stock and barrel-- owned by Wall Street. He is the conduit for bankster bribery into the Democratic House caucus. Since he first "ran" for Congress in 1998 he's taken Financial Sector bribes to the tune of $6,889,801, more than any Democrat currently serving in the House. Last cycle his bankster haul was $1,090,923, more than any Democrat currently serving in Congress. And so far this year he's already taken $726,037. Compare that to slimy little Lipinski, who took $48,150 from the banksters last cycle and just $55,801 this year. If you supported Marie Newman this year, please learn more about Alexandria Ocasio, Crowley's opponent in NY-14 (parts of Queens and the Bronx). And if you want to contribute to her campaign, you can do it by clicking on the Blue America thermometer on the right.

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Will The Bernie/Elizabeth Warren 2020 Campaign Include Job Guarantee? It Sure Appears So


Monday evening, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren took their probable 2020 campaign out for a test run, calling their 90-minute TV show the Economic Inequality Town Hall, or more formally, "Inequality in America: The Rise of Oligarchy and Collapse of the Middle Class." You can watch the whole thing above. Last night 1.7 million people did. And Bernie's goal was clearly towards shaping and promulgating a national progressive narrative that very few in Congress are communicating effectively, Elizabeth Warren, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee and Pramila Jayapal being four of the pitifully few exceptions. Warren-- rumored to be Bernie's pick to run on a 2020 presidential ticket with him-- was a co-host, as were Michael Moore and New School economist Darrick Hamilton. They interviewed three guests: Catherine Coleman Flowers, a founder of the anti-poverty Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise Community Development Corp., Cindy Estrada, a vice president of the United Auto Workers and University of Oregon political scientist Gordon Lafer, who helped explain how corporate special interests have helped turn our democracy further towards plutocracy.

Hamilton brought up one of the likely planks in Bernie's 2020 platform: Job Guarantee, something that several of the best cutting edge congressional candidates are already running on. Kaniela Ing, for example, has been working with Bernie's economic advisor, Stephanie Kelton, on how to make sure Job Guarantee serves the needs Hawaii's working families, where he serves in the state legislature and is now running for the open HI-01 congressional seat. A few weeks ago Kaniela told us that "America’s promise has always been clear-- work hard and your family will prosper. Today, too many hard-working Americans feel that our leaders have gone bad on that promise. I talk to folks who tell me everyday, they grind and sweat, but struggle to get by. Wages are stagnant, unemployment and underemployment are rising, the threats of automation and globalization are becoming real, all while costs are skyrocketing. But just take a walk outside and look around at all the work that needs to be done in America. There are bridges to be built, highways needing repair, kids to be taught, aging folks needing care, oceans to be cleaned, trees to be planted. But private markets fall short. For every job opening in America, four people are gunning for it. This pits worker against worker and creates a power imbalance between workers and their bosses. It’s too risky for a worker to stand up to wage theft, inhumane working conditions, or sexual harassment, when they know there’s nowhere else to go. Our elected representatives must stop pretending that everything is okay, and that the job market will some home fix itself. It’s time for real solutions that will actually help working families across America. It’s time for a new New deal. Since the start of my campaign, I’ve been leading with a universal job guarantee, and I ask other progressive candidates to join me. Let’s remind the establishment that the ability to work for a livable wage is a human right that should be afforded to all. In these uncertain times, progressives will lead with real solutions that offer hope to the many, and just the privileged few."

Ellen Lipton is the former state legislator and progressive Democrat running for the open seat in the suburbs north of Detroit. She's interested in Bernie's Jobs Guarantee ideas and tildes that "the federal government has been at the mercy of corporate-controlled lobbyists for long enough. How long are we going to allow them to offer the same tired economic policy of tax cuts for the phantom 'job-creators?' How about trying something that actually has a track record of working-- direct federal investment in people rather than profits. A guaranteed jobs program would put people to work on everything from infrastructure to IT, renewable energy to healthcare and social work-- the possibilities are endless."

Tim Canova, a South Florida reformer in a tight contest with status quo Democrat Debbie Wassermann Schultz has been a long time supporter of a federal jobs guarantee. "In the 1990s, at the National Jobs For All Coalition, we called for this approach,” he told me recently. “The need for a federal job guarantee has been even greater since the 2008 financial collapse and the trickle down recovery that has followed. New Deal public works programs helped build so much of the country’s infrastructure while providing hope and dignity to millions of people. Today there are millions of Americans, particularly among our youth, who are unemployed or underemployed in bad part time jobs. We need to provide them with opportunities in public jobs programs, building our crumbling infrastructure, in conservation projects, and in service to others. This is a big part of our agend."

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, the Blue America-endorsed candidate running in the open Albquerque district, us also a big fan of Job Guarantee. This is what she told us this morning: "I believe that all human beings deserve to live in dignity, and that as part of that we build a government that ensures a well-paying job to each and every individual. Imagine if we guaranteed to all human beings a well-paying job with a livable wage that allows for healthcare, housing, transportation, food, and ultimately the dignity of work? What it would mean for our communities, poverty, racial and gender equality? Well, we've done parts of this before with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the New Deal era. Imagine a program that achieves delivering well-paying work to all individuals, all while overhauling our nation's infrastructure and educational systems. It has the potential to breakdown the entrenched racial and gender-based inequality that exists in our labor force, and enshrines the ideal that all Americans who want a good job will have one. It assures that the dignity of a well-paying job is not just for a plurality of Americans, but for all who seek it. In an increasingly evolving economy, it's important that our government think creatively about the future of our labor force, and ensure that people's needs are put first in the changing labor economy."

Tuesday morning Kelton followed up with a note about Job Guarantee from the Sanders Institute, starting with a quote from Franklin Roosevelt: "“The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."
In 1933, President Roosevelt launched a series of public programs aimed at helping Americans recover from the Great Depression. The right to a job was his first policy item in his Second Bill of Rights.

Then in 1967, a group of core organizers of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom introduced the Freedom Budget for All Americans. This program was the blueprint for achieving Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have A Dream” speech, and also called for a national employment guarantee as a way to eradicate poverty within ten years.

In 2007, the Great Recession began and, despite the prevailing narrative of our economy being at full employment, we have still not recovered from it. There are still millions of people who are underemployed or discouraged from looking for work, and an estimated 43 million Americans still live in poverty.

It is time to take a fresh look at the policies and ideas that could help all of our people to recover, not just the very wealthy. It's time to seriously consider the country's need for a National Jobs Program.

I recently sat down with Dr. Jane O'Meara Sanders to talk about how a National Job Guarantee Program for the 21st century might work. Over the past year, I have been working with a team of economists to create a full report on the costs, benefits, and projections of such a program.

Our proposal, which will be released next month, will fulfill the goals outlined in FDR and MLK's visionary programs by employing an estimated 14-19 million people, and will almost completely pay for itself.

This is a bottom-up program, designed to shrink the existing levels of income and wealth inequality and guarantee a fundamental right to employment for anyone willing and able to work.

Government at its best can be used to increase the health of the individual and society itself. We can transform America with a federal job guarantee, caring for our people, our planet, and our communities.

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The Blue Wave Looks Bigger Than Anyone (In DC) Expected


In the political prognostication biz, DC Insiders are very conservative. I don't mean they back conservative policies or that they're anti-Choice or pro-Wall Street. I mean they are loathe to go out on a ledge prognosticating. When the degree of Trump's and Ryan's toxicity started becoming apparent outside the Beltway observers were predicting the Democrats would-- despite DCCC incompetence and corruption-- win back at least the 24 seats the Democrats need to take back the House. The DC-based prognosticators all agreed that the Dems could look forward to making gains, perhaps even double digit gains (10) but probably not. By the time it became clear-- primarily based on the 20-point swings special elections in red districts-- that the Democrats were on the track to win dozens of seats in an historic repudiation of Trump and Trumpism, DC prognosticators grudgingly agreed that 24 wins was "likely." Now that Democrats are looking toward 70, 80 or even more seats, we are getting catch-up pieces like this one from Stuart Rothenberg in Roll Call: Insiders See Democratic House Gains of 30-45 seats. "Polling, election results, fundraising," he wrote, "tend to point in one direction." That's right, they do-- and more than the pros are willing to admit. The wave is coming, even blind, deaf and dumb DC prognosticators see that now. But how big and how powerful?
Seven and a half months before the midterm elections, the combination of attitudinal and behavioral evidence leads to a single conclusion: The Democrats are very likely to win control of the House in November.

Just as important, Republican and Democratic campaign strategists also agree that an electoral wave has already formed. The attitudinal evidence begins with national polling.

President Donald Trump’s job approval rating has settled into a relatively narrow range, with between 39 percent and 42 percent of registered voters approving of his performance. Only 33 percent to 37 percent of respondents say that the country is headed in the right direction, another bit of evidence that reflects the extent of support for Trump and the Republican Party.

The current congressional generic ballot question suggests that Democrats have an 8- or 9-point advantage, a significant margin even if it is at least a couple of points below what Democrats would ideally want going into the midterms.

Taken together, these numbers paint a dangerous picture for the president and his party.

Trump drew about 46 percent of the vote in 2016, so the current numbers suggest a modest, but significant, erosion in support.

Exactly where the slippage has taken place isn’t clear, though it is certainly less severe in rural America and more significant in the suburbs.

That means some states, and some congressional districts, have been affected more than others.

The new March 10-14 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of adults is consistent with other surveys over the past six months. It shows Democrats with a large generic ballot advantage among younger voters, women, whites with at least a college degree and voters age 65 and older.

The GOP’s great strength in the generic ballot is among two pro-Trump groups, men and whites without a college degree. Unfortunately for the party, the survey also shows Democrats, whites with a college degree and older voters as having the greatest interest in the election (and therefore the greatest likelihood of voting). Each of those groups prefers a Democratic Congress.

Moreover, while independents don’t traditionally turn out in big numbers in midterms, one veteran Republican strategist sees them as a huge problem this year. “They are tired of the drama,” he said.

The worst case for the GOP, of course, would be mediocre Republican turnout combined with strong Democratic participation and independents behaving like Democrats (which is what they did in 2006).

If that happens, Republicans would take quite a beating in the fall.

The behavioral part of the equation is just as troubling for Republicans, since it confirms the survey data.

Election results in the Virginia governor’s race last year, the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District last week, and other state legislative special elections around the country have shown Democratic energy and turnout, particularly in suburban areas.

Hillary Clinton won Virginia by 5 points in 2016, but Democrat Ralph Northam took the gubernatorial contest last fall by almost 9 points.

Trump carried Pennsylvania’s 18 District by 20 points, but GOP nominee Rick Saccone ran about even with his Democratic opponent last week.

And in a Wisconsin state Senate special election in January, a district Trump carried by 17 points went Democratic by about 10 points.

Of course, not every state legislative contest produced that strong a gain for Democrats, and Republicans held all their open House seats in special elections last year.

But the recent trend is clear-- Republicans are swimming against a strong current.

“It’s baked in now,” one veteran Republican campaign veteran told me, noting the GOP’s problems with women and college-educated voters. “We knew single women hated [the Republican Party]. We couldn’t do anything about that. But married women were different. We figured out how to deal with them by talking about pocketbook issues. But now college-educated women hate us. Even with the current economy. It’s the bullying, the nastiness, the tweeting. It’s all about Trump’s behavior.”

Republican insiders also worry that a chunk of “Trump voters” won’t turn out in November even though they still like the president personally. “There are blue-collar Democrats who voted for Trump but don’t care about the Republican Party. They are unlikely to turn out for a Republican candidate in the fall, though they could still help Trump in 2020,” one GOP consultant said.

The problem for Republican congressional candidates this year is that there are plenty of clouds hanging over the president and the country despite the strong economic numbers and business optimism.

North Korea and the Russia investigation are only the most obvious ones, but the president’s inclination to attack (or counterattack) and disrupt makes it more likely that controversies and chaos will continue.

Indeed, the campaign season is likely to lead to more Trump political rallies, where his freewheeling style and off-the-cuff comments can create more controversies.

So, what is the current trajectory of the 2018 midterms? I interviewed a wide range of campaign professionals, including some sympathetic to the president. All insisted on anonymity, and almost all believe the House will flip.

The veterans generally expect GOP losses in the 30- to 45-seat range, far more than the two-dozen seats House Democrats need for majority control.

The retirement of longtime Republican incumbents from competitive districts is adding to the problem, as is candidate fundraising. While there is plenty of GOP super PAC money available, Democratic House candidates are outraising their Republican counterparts.

Given that, national conservative and Republican groups will need to make tough decisions about who to fund and who to cut off as the election cycle progresses.

Obviously, events between now and November could change things (something I intend to address in my next column). But that’s the point. The burden is on Republicans-- and the president-- to change the cycle’s current trajectory. If they don’t, the House will flip.
Conservative prognosticators still say, "but it's early... things could chance." I'd change one word in that. I'd swap out "but" for "and" because, in all likelihood, over the next 7 and a half months things will get even worse for Republicans, not better. Trump will continue horrifying voters by, well, being Trump and Ryan and McConnell will continue enabling him, infuriating independents, encouraging Democrats to get out in masses and discouraging mainstream Republicans from voting. I'd say the Democratic wins will be closer to 100 seats than to Rothenberg's top number, 45.

There's actually one good DCCC executive, West Coast Regional Vice Chair, Ted Lieu. He agrees that the sky's the limit on the number of seats Democrats can win in November. This morning he told us that "What makes America great is that the voters get to make a course correction every two years. The overwhelming majority of Americans are horrified by the destructive behavior and policies of Donald Trump and the Republicans who enable him. Over 100 Republican held congressional districts are now being targeted. As the Conor Lamb victory shows, every vote counts. If we work hard and keep fighting, we will usher in a blue tsunami this November."

Yesterday Chuck Todd's First Read noted that the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll "finds Democrats with a 10-point lead in congressional preference, with Dems holding the advantage in enthusiasm and among independents, and with college-educated white women breaking heavily against the GOP. But there’s another ominous sign for Republicans in our poll: They’re losing ground on the congressional-preference question in GOP-held congressional districts."

His Bottom line: "Given that so much of the 2018 House battleground is in red/purple areas, the GOP being in single digits-- or even-- in Republican-held districts is a problem."

Dayna Steele was one of the few candidates who was in a contested Texas primary who won outright and doesn't have a May 22 runoff to face. Her next election will be against one of the most right-wing Republicans in Congress, Brian Babin, and in one of the "safest" red seats (TX-36). But the prognosticators who rate it "safe" don't understand the intensity of the connection Dayna, formerly southeast Texas' most beloved radio personality, has with voters. Yes, the PVI is a daunting R+26 and, yes, Trump beat Hillary 72-25%. But Dayna is anything but the status quo candidate Hillary was. Nor is she blinded by the recent successes Democrats have been having in special elections. "Though the momentum feels great," she told us today, "we cannot become too sure of ourselves or complacent. That is just what the Republicans are hoping will happen. It's what happened in the 2016 presidential race-- we got too cocky. In the words of the late great Yogi Berra, 'It ain't over til it's over.' We must stay loud and energized. We must keep thousands of boots on the ground. If you have the money, keep donating. Find the reddest districts in the nation (mine) and throw everything you can behind those Democratic candidates. Conor Lamb was in an R+11 district that Trump win by 19 points. And Lamb won. Now do the same for candidates all over the country (me). You can post and retweet and write and share all you want but if you really want to do something, join a blue army that needs help-- register voters, donate, volunteer. Do something."

Lisa Brown is running for the seat held by Ryan lieutenant Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the sprawling, mostly rural eastern Washington district that includes Spokane. Her race looks good but she warns that "At the same time, Democrats should not be complacent. In community meetings people applaud when I commit to putting 'country over party' and eastern  Washington’s interests over special interests. My sense is that people are not looking for someone who agrees with them on every issue, but want authenticity and independence from the 'pay to play' system of determining Congressional priorities."

UPDATE: Tennessee

Tennessee is just as impossibly red as Alabama-- R+14. But a new survey from PPP shows former Governor Phil Bredesen, a conservative Democrat, edging out crazy far right fanatic Marsha Blackburn in the Senate race-- 46% to 41%. Tsunamis are powerful and, once they take hold, unstoppable.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Like any sane American, I would hate to see my money being spent on a useless Trump Wall on the Mexican border. It's only reason for being will be to hand our taxpayer dollars to contractors who have a relationship with the Trump Crime Family. The kickbacks and handouts will be as huge as the wall itself.

The wall I can support would be the one that encloses Señor Trumpanzee for the rest of his miserable days. Throw in Pence, Ryan, Nunes and the rest of Trump's treasonous collaborators, too. May they each have to share a cell with a classic 6 foot 8 inch cellmate named Bubba who "knows how to have a good time." Yeah, I know that might make Pence happy in his knew digs but if God could make it happen... well, let's just say I might even turn into an evangelical guy of some sort.

Best of all, I remember reading about how when John Gotti got to take a shower at his fancy federal mega-security gated community, he was wheeled into the showers in a 7' X 4' steel cage. He never got to leave the cage. He took his shower with the water jetting though the cage. Then, he was wheeled back to his cell. He was in a cage in his cage in a bigger cage, kinda just like those Russian dolls, if you know what I mean.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

David Byrne Is Optimistic-- And #1


When I was considering an offer I got to work at Sire Records one of the big factors in the "plus" column is that label founder Seymour Stein had signed an amazing roster of the artists I liked listening to and playing on my San Francisco radio show. One of those artists was David Byrne, then lead singer of Talking Heads. I don't think there's any artist's music I listen to more now-- 4 decades later!-- than David Byrne's songs, his Talking Heads music and his solo projects. He just released his 11th solo record, American Utopia and something happened for him that is truly amazing: it entered the charts at #1. That never happened for any of David's music before. The song above, "Everybody's Coming To My House," his the first single, something he collaborated with the Detroit School of Arts' Vocal Jazz Ensemble (and Brian Eno).

The album is the soundtrack for his touring show Reasons to Be Cheerful, an attempt to spread positivity in the Age of Trump. He's sincere too. Think of this as a Ted Talk and let David explain what he's actually doing, instead of me trying to:

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Trump Drove Another Republican Out Of The Party-- Who Cares? Keep Your Eye On The Ball And In Hawaii That Means Electing Kaniela Ing To Congress


Right now there are 3 candidates running for the open Honolulu-based seat (HI-01), two conservative Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, Donna Mercado Kim and Doug Chin, and the state's most progressive and deep-thinker political leader, Kaniela Ing.

Rumors abound that a 3rd Republican masquerading as a Democrat, Beth Fukumoto, is about to jump in as well. A few months ago Fukumoto was the minority leader of Hawaii's House of Representatives, where she voted like... a Republican, of course-- anti-Choice, anti-LGBTQ, anti-environment, anti-working family... you know what Republicans are; she was the leader. Then she said something uncomplimentary about Señor Trumpanzee so they threw her out of her leadership position and she quit the party. After being an independent for a while she saw an opportunity to run for office as a "Democrat" and joined that party. She, Chin and Kim are three of a kind, all calling themselves Democrats after having run up ugly Republican records.

And now another Republican is jumping ship, ex-Congressman Charles Djou. Who knows what he'll be running for. He wrote an Op-Ed, making himself sound heroic, yesterday for Civil Beat. He lost his last 3 elections as a Republican.
Today, after much consideration, I abandon my party because I am unwilling to abandon my principles. I can no longer stand with a Republican Party that is led by a man I firmly believe is taking the party of Lincoln in a direction I fundamentally disagree with, and a party that is unwilling to stand up to him.

I have long believed that America’s strength lies in our nation’s diversity-- not its exclusion or isolation. We are a nation of immigrants and benefit from a national fabric woven with the threads of many people, of many backgrounds and cultures, all united in the common belief and love of American liberty. That’s why I championed immigration reform as a congressman.

It disturbs me that the Republican Party under President Donald Trump is now defined as a party hostile to immigration. We are the leader of the free world, not because we are great (or need to be great again), but because we are good.

I have always supported robust international diplomacy and free trade. As a congressman, I advocated for passage of the free-trade agreement with South Korea and strongly supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership initiative to expand free trade across Asia with the U.S. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the TPP, his threats to leave NAFTA, and now his desire to launch a “good trade war”-- even with our allies-- will lead to long-term economic decline and weaken our country.

I believe in peace through strength. That is why in the days after Sept. 11, 2001, I joined the Army Reserve and subsequently deployed with an infantry combat brigade in Afghanistan. That is why I am so disturbed by Trump’s repeated callousness toward the select few of our citizens who volunteered to defend our nation with their lives. From ridiculing John McCain’s service as a POW in Vietnam, to trivializing the grief of gold star mothers who lost their children in service of our country, Trump’s actions are indicative of a man ignorant of honor and true sacrifice.

I believe the free market is the engine of America’s economy. Like Trump, I, too, am a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance. Unlike Trump, however, I oppose favoring corporations based on their political relationship to the president. That is exactly the sort of socialist-style interventionist meddling that leads to economic ruin.

Most of all, I have long believed that our government leaders must lead by example. Character counts.

This is why I made the lack of ethics at City Hall and abuse of power by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell a key issue in the last mayor’s race. This is why I fought so hard to clean up the corrupt City Liquor Commission. This is also why I roundly condemn the immoral behavior toward women by Democrats like Al Franken and Bill Clinton, as well as Republicans such as Roy Moore and, yes, Donald Trump. It should not matter if you are conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, a breach of public trust is a breach of public trust.

Civility is an inner trait of true character. Trump’s belittling of Sen. Jeff Flake and immature name-calling of Sen. Bob Corker reflect a weakness of character. Trump’s penchant for conspiracy theories, such as his assertion that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of JFK, is disturbing. His poorly constructed stream-of-consciousness tweets are not only immature, but provide real harm to the stability of our democracy.

As President George W. Bush recently lamented, “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.”

But I am most disappointed by the failure of the GOP to clearly and consistently condemn Trump’s childish behavior. Sadly today, too many Republicans either applaud Trump’s tirades or greet them with silent acceptance. This leads to an implicit ratification by the GOP of Trump’s undisciplined, uninformed, and unfocused leadership as a core part of the Republican Party. This is something I cannot accept and will not be a part of.

In 1904, one of the brightest leading members of the British parliament, Winston Churchill, abandoned the Conservative Party. Churchill believed in free trade, a strong defense and capitalism. When the Conservative Party turned away from these principles, Churchill placed his principles ahead of politics. Churchill articulated his consistency of conviction years later with this declaration: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never-- in nothing, great or small, large or petty-- never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

Today I humbly follow in Churchill’s footsteps.
I'm not sure if retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, a Fox News analyst for a decade, quit the GOP but Tuesday he did quit Fox News-- pretty much the same thing. "I feel that Fox News is assaulting our constitutional order and the rule of law, while fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers," he explained to friends and colleagues. "Over my decade with Fox, I long was proud of the association. Now I am ashamed. In my view, Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration. When prime-time hosts-- who have never served our country in any capacity-- dismiss facts and empirical reality to launch profoundly dishonest assaults on the FBI, the Justice Department, the courts, the intelligence community (in which I served) and, not least, a model public servant and genuine war hero such as Robert Mueller-- all the while scaremongering with lurid warnings of 'deep-state' machinations-- I cannot be part of the same organization, even at a remove. To me, Fox News is now wittingly harming our system of government for profit."

Back to Hawaii, no one needs, more self-serving Republicans in the Democratic Party to water down an already tarnished and nearly unrecognizable brand! Please, consider supporting Kaniela Ing for Congress. I promise he'll be at least as good a member of Congress as Ro Khanna, Pramila Jayapal, Barbara Lee and Mark Pocan-- and God knows we need more members like those four!

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Why Abdul El-Sayed In Michigan?


The Michigan primary is late in the season, August 7. Not that he could win again, unpopular incumbent current Governor Rick Snyder is term-limited out and it's likely a Democrat is going to win in November. But which Democrat. The establishment seems to be rallying around Gretchen Whitmer, former state Senate Minority Leader. Aside from EMILY's List, she's been endorsed by most of the state's conservative-leaning unions as well as a shit-load of moderate, establishment legislators There's also a progressive in the race, Abdul El-Sayed. He's been endorsed by local Bernie Sanders groups up and down the state, by the Michigan Nurses Association, the Justice Democrats and by one congressman-- Ro Khanna.

This morning, Rep. Khanna told us that "Abdul is setting the standard when it comes to progressive ideals and progressive policies. His policies on housing rights, on water rights, on Medicare for All, on rebuilding schools in the wake of Betsy DeVos, on getting the corporate money out of politics-- they are the future of progressive state leadership, and having visited Flint, his state needs him. His background rebuilding Detroit’s Health Department as a doctor speaks for itself. And his story as the son of Egyptian Immigrants raised by his father and stepmother from Michigan’s heartland is inspiring."

The top Republicans running, sound like a roster of unindicted co-conspirators in Snyder's crimes against the state-- Lt. Governor Brian Calley, state Senator Patrick Colbeck, and the heavily favored state Attoney General, Bill Schuette.

If Abdul, very much an underdog, wins, he'll be the first Muslim-American elected governor anywhere. Michiganders I know tell me his campaign is a real breath of fresh air compared with other candidates seeking statewide office who are all running much more timid, defensive campaigns, having learned all the wrong lessons folks from first Bernie and then Trump winning the state. Bernie beat Hillary in the primaries 595,222 (49.8%) to 576,795 (48.3%). And then Trump won the state's 16 crucial electoral votes-- with a little very targeted help from Vlad-- 2,279,805 (47.6%) to 2,268,193 (47.3%).

Abdul, a 33-year-old former Detroit health commissioner, is running on, among other things, a pitch perfect example of how to run on climate change. RL Miller, head of Climate Hawks Vote flat out reffered to his Climate Change plane as "a national model." Keep in mind that he had already released an environmental justice platform that includes
completely rebuilding Michigan's water infrastructure and passing legislation mandating clean water for all
a green infrastructure bank
a progressive carbon tax
opposition to new fossil fuel infrastructure
shutting down the Lne 5 oil pipeline
a ban on fracking
increased funding for agencies cracking down on polluters
a sustainable cities initiative
Last week Alex Kaufman, reporting for HuffPo, wrote about how Abdul is forcing Climate Change as an issue into the campaign. Abdul "remembers coughing up black phlegm each night after spending the day in the smog-choked markets of Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt, during summer visits to his grandparents, who were poor vegetable sellers. It was a jolting experience for a kid born and raised in a manicured Michigan suburb. Yet when El-Sayed started working as a doctor in Detroit years later, he realized pollution wasn’t just some distant problem. In the shadow of the Motor City’s infamous trash incinerator-- where some 650,000 tons of garbage is burned annually, much of it from the surrounding suburbs-- El-Sayed saw soaring rates of asthma and lung cancer in majority-black neighborhoods. That’s part of what inspired the 33-year-old physician to enter politics, first as Detroit’s top health official and now as a Democratic candidate for Michigan governor. "When we poison our air and water, we are poisoning people," he told Kaufman. "Nowhere is that more clear than the state of Michigan now. When you talk about Flint, when you talk about asthma, when you talk about Kent County."
“He doesn’t talk like consultants say to talk,” Sean McElwee, a progressive policy analyst and researcher who hosted El-Sayed at a gathering in New York last October, told HuffPost. “He combines the sort of populist energy people are excited about with Bernie with detailed knowledge of how to implement policy.”

El-Sayed’s proposal to set aside $105 million in his first state budget to establish an infrastructure bank that would fund renewable and energy-efficient projects is the “centerpiece” of his plan to “reinvest in the capital-stock of Michigan,” according to a campaign white paper. His administration would eventually ramp up the institution’s public funding to $1.5 billion, with plans to generate at least $4.5 billion in energy and clean water infrastructure investments over 15 years. The public-private institution, dubbed the Pure Michigan Bank, could generate $3.3 billion in private investment by 2030, according to a Union of Concerned Scientists report.

“We want to put Michigan on the path to 100 percent renewable energies,” El-Sayed said. “What we’d be able to do is empower innovative financing that addresses the insecurity of those kinds of big-picture infrastructure projects and empowers individuals to use those mechanisms.”

The bank would provide low-risk seven-year loans at 5 percent interest for energy-efficiency projects and similar 10-year loans for renewable-energy plans. It would also offer credits to low- and middle-income homeowners to invest in efficiency upgrades, small-scale solar installations and other clean energy projects.

 “We can’t just count on the free market to do it all by itself,” said William Lawrence, Michigan organizer for the climate campaign group Sunrise Movement. “We have to put public money behind this kind of infrastructure build-out and also create smart institutions like this infrastructure bank to get some of the private money flowing in the right direction.” (Sunrise endorsed El-Sayed for governor last month.)

The bank would operate independently of any state agency, reducing its vulnerability to funding cuts under a future administration. To help pay for it, El-Sayed has proposed instituting a carbon tax and diverting some of that revenue to the bank. Another option is to follow the model of Connecticut’s green infrastructure bank and impose a small ratepayer fee.

“The idea of creating an institution, capitalizing it and being designed in such a way that it’s likely to survive even if you have Rick Snyder 2.0 as governor, that’s appealing,” said Jeff Hauser, a veteran progressive Democratic operative, who was referring to the current Republican governor’s history of austerity cuts. “It’s intriguing to me that someone is thinking about how to create change that can entrench and build upon itself. That’s really key.”

It should be a popular platform among primary voters. Democratic voters in Michigan overwhelmingly support new rules raising fuel efficiency standards, giving the Environmental Protection Agency power to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and requiring a minimum amount of renewable energy in electricity generation even if that means a small price increase, according to 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Studies data provided by McElwee.

El-Sayed also wants a major public investment in clean drinking water. Michigan became the poster child for unsafe tap water four years ago when lead contamination in Flint turned into a long-running crisis and a national disgrace.

As a first step, El-Sayed said he would merge the state’s Department of Environmental Quality with its Department of Natural Resources and raise the combined agency’s budget to as much as $950 million a year. That would include restoring funds for the Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance to their 2006 levels of about $16 million a year. El-Sayed has suggested raising money for that budget by closing the state’s corporate tax exemptions and loopholes.

He has proposed spending at least $690 million annually to replace aging water pipes, which would create 13,800 jobs each year, his campaign has calculated based on data from the BlueGreen Alliance. To raise the money, he suggested issuing $600 million in bonds and passing a ballot proposal to expand the state’s Drinking Water Revolving Fund, which offers low-interest loans for up to 30 years to water suppliers. The ballot proposal would increase the fund’s available money from $36 million to $50 million by reallocating $14 million from the Department of Corrections budget. He also vowed to push the federal government for more funding.

El-Sayed distinguished himself on the issue of lead toxicity during his 2015-2017 tenure as Detroit’s Health Department chief, during which he tested all schools and child care facilities for lead contamination. His gubernatorial housing policy would expand on that, by using lead-abatement funds to help renters pay their legal defense in related landlord disputes and to perform full inspections and mitigation on all housing stock, and by fining building owners who don’t comply, as The Nation reported in January.

But it’s his plans for dealing with lead in drinking water supplies that have drawn the most local attention. El-Sayed has vowed to set stricter water quality standards by reducing the “action level” for lead, the threshold for government intervention, from 15 parts per billion to 5 parts per billion and pushing for legislation that bars public projects to replace pipes from only partially replacing lead pipes. Outside of urban areas, where wells for drinking water are more common, he has promised to crack down on agricultural pollution. The Detroit Metro Times called his proposal “the most comprehensive water plan of the gubernatorial race.”

Another key part of that plan is to protect universal access to water. In Detroit last year, the city began the controversial practice of shutting off water to nearly 18,000 residents who hadn’t paid their bills. El-Sayed has suggested a new tiered pricing system, which would force households that use more water to pay higher rates but would ensure that everyone in the state has basic access to clean water.

“Freshwater is going to become, and it’s quickly becoming, the most important resource in the world,” El-Sayed told HuffPost. “The fact that, as a state that’s surrounded by more freshwater than any place in the country, we can’t figure out how to allocate freshwater to folks in places like Flint and Detroit and protect that freshwater from being poisoned-- that’s a political failure.”

El-Sayed’s other major plan to protect water rests on decommissioning Line 5, a nearly 65-year-old pipeline that carries 23 million gallons of oil per day through the Straits of Mackinac, where lakes Huron and Michigan connect. The pipeline is operated by Enbridge, the Canadian company responsible for the second-largest inland oil spill in U.S. history, in the Kalamazoo River in 2010. A 2014 University of Michigan study concluded that the Straits of Mackinac are the “worst possible place for an oil spill in the Great Lakes.” A single spill there could pollute more than 700 miles of shoreline, according to a 2016 University of Michigan study.

Environmentalists have campaigned for years to shut down Line 5, but Enbridge has cultivated key allies in Snyder and Heidi Grether, director of the Department of Environmental Quality-- who is herself a former oil industry lobbyist. In November, the governor struck an agreement with Enbridge to replace one section of the pipeline. In January, Snyder rejected a recommendation from Michigan’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board to close the pipeline immediately. Enbridge spent nearly $2.4 million on U.S. congressional lobbying in 2017, more than double its 2016 total. That included lobbying on a federal bill affecting Line 5.

Because he swore off all donations from fossil fuel companies, El-Sayed’s supporters argue that as governor, he would be insulated from the influence of Enbridge and its industry advocates. El-Sayed is one of the first major Democratic candidates to take the pledge against accepting fossil fuel money that’s being pushed by Sanders and progressive groups such as

The pledge is “not as material as the other proposals we’re talking about on the table, but ... it’s a very clear way to show where he stands,” said Lawrence, the Sunrise organizer. “He’ll actually follow through on his proposals on Election Day.”
Goal ThermometerAnd, of course, it certainly isn't just climate he's good on, and better than any of his opponents. He started his campaign running on a strong pro-immigrant platform and connecting with working families on the bread and butter issues that dominate the race. He has a simple, straight forward 20-point program on his website for Michigan voters to use to make a decision on whether or not they want to move their state forward. No need to vote for a pig in a poke in this race!
Fight inequality in all forms
Raise the minimum wage to $15/hour
Implement state-level single-payer healthcare
Protect a woman’s right to choose and eliminate the gender pay gap
Never accept a dime of corporate money and get the money out of politics
Rebuild our crumbling roads and bridges
Make college tuition free for families earning under $150K & Reinvest in public education
End the profit motive in public education
Reform auto insurance to reduce costs while protecting people
Fund and implement universal Pre-Kindergarten
Amend civil rights legislation to enumerate protections from LGBTQ+ Michiganders
Reform our criminal justice system & tackle mass incarceration and police violence
Aggressive action on climate, environmental justice, and no new fossil fuel infrastructure
Legalize marijuana
Fight for clean water for all and shut down Enbridge’s Line 5
Tackle the opioid epidemic through comprehensive mental health reform
Stand with labor to end Right to Work and protect Prevailing Wage
Provide high-speed broadband internet to every community in Michigan and protect net neutrality
Support child and elderly care for Michiganders
End gerrymandering and legislative term limits and reinstate FOIA for public officials
It sure isn't a Trump agenda-- or a consultant-driven careerist agenda. If you want to see it implemented, please consider tapping on the thermometer above and contribute what you can.

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