Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Another Step Forward On Marijuana Legalization


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

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

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

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

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

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Democrats Won Big In Wisconsin Last Night


The best shot for a Democratic win last night was in an open state Senate district in the far west of Wisconsin. The Republicans had held the district for nearly two decades and Trump beat Hillary in the rural district massively in 2016. But Trump's popularity-- as well as Governor Scott Walker's-- have plummeted. And Democrat Patty Schachtner upset Republican state Rep. Adam Jarchow in the special-election to replace Republican Sheila Harsdorf who stepped down in November to take a job as Walker's agriculture secretary. The swing towards Democrats since Trump's victory was massive-- around 26 points.-- as she won by a stunning 9 points (UPDATE: 55-44%) in a deep red district.

Patrick Marley, reporting for Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel wrote that "the focus Tuesday was on the 10th Senate District, which consists of parts of Burnett, Polk, St. Croix, Pierce and Dunn counties along Minnesota's border. Schachtner's win gives Democrats momentum, but they remain deep in the minority. Once she is seated, Republicans will hold an 18-14 advantage, with one district vacant. That seat belonged to Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere), who joined Walker's administration last month, and won't be decided until November, when 17 of the state's 33 Senate districts are up for election. 
Schachtner said once she joins the Senate she hopes to focus on improving access to health care and helping drug addicts get treatment.

...The district has not been good to Democrats in the past. Mitt Romney won the district in 2012 even though he lost the presidential race in Wisconsin and nationally to Barack Obama. Trump crushed Hillary Clinton in the district in the 2016 presidential election and John McCain almost won the district in 2008, despite Obama's easy statewide victory.

Democrats saw Tuesday's victory as a sign they were taking hold of the energy that benefited their party in special elections last year in Alabama, Virginia and Oklahoma.

...In 2014, Jarchow easily beat Travis Schachtner, Patty Schachtner's son, to win his Assembly seat, which covers the northern portion of the Senate district dominated by Burnett and Polk counties.

Jarchow will continue to represent that district in the state's lower house.

As a sitting lawmaker Jarchow raised money all year and his campaign brought in $271,000 in 2017-- including a $50,000 loan he made to his campaign-- and had $81,000 in cash at the end of the year, according to his campaign finance report. In her short time available to raise money as a candidate, Schachtner brought in $183,000 and had $53,000 in the bank at the end of the year.

Also Tuesday, Republican Rick Gundrum beat Democrat Dennis Degenhardt 57% to 43% in the heavily GOP 58th Assembly District, according to unofficial results. The district covers West Bend, Slinger and Jackson.

Gundrum is the chairman of the Washington County Board, a member of the Slinger Village Board and the owner of audio-visual company McKay Enterprises. Degenhardt is the president and chief executive officer of Glacier Hills Credit Union.

Gundrum will replace state Rep. Bob Gannon (R-West Bend), who died in October.

In the 66th Assembly District that covers Racine, Democrat Greta Neubauer faced no Republican challenger. She will replace Democratic Rep. Cory Mason, who stepped down after winning the race for Racine mayor in October.

Neubauer is the former director of the nonprofit Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network. She is the daughter of state Appeals Judge Lisa Neubauer and former state Rep. Jeff Neubauer.

With the two additions, Republicans will hold a 63-35 majority.
The Republican hold in the 58th Assembly district on the other side of the state is still worrying since the Democrats gained 25 points there over what Trump got in 2016. The 2 other races last night were in South Carolina and Iowa, two Trump districts that the Republicans managed to hold on to, although in South Carolina there was a 15 point swing towards the Democrat and in Iowa is was an 18 point swing towards the Democrat. Note: Racine is the electoral heart of Paul Ryan's district, where Randy "IronStache" Bryce has him on the run.

Early this morning, neo-fascist website, Washington Free Beacon reported that Scott Walker sounded the alarm because of Jarchow's stunning loss yesterday. In a tweet, Walker called it wake up call for Republicans in Wisconsin. In fact, a clearly distraught Walker used the term "wake up call" in 4 tweets between 8:24 PM and 8:32 PM. Apparently, he sees the writing on the wall.
The Wisconsin result is yet another poor local election result for Republicans, who are seeing mounting signs of a wave election in 2018 as Democrats have made pickups across the country. Democrats have recently scored big wins in Virginia, New Jersey and Alabama statewide races as well.

Trump holds historically low approval ratings for a president in his first year in office, and the GOP appears to be paying the price at the ballot.
In recent weeks, speculation has risen that Paul Ryan will retire from Congress rather than face a humiliating defeat at the hands of union iron worker Randy Bryce.

Next up will the open congressional seat in Pennsylvania on March 13 when Democrat Conor Lamb faces off against Republican Rick Saccone. In an interesting development Lamb abounded last week that "he’d like his party to replace Nancy Pelosi as its leader in the House, a stance that could undercut one of the Republican Party’s major campaign plans in 2018. In interviews with Pittsburgh’s two major newspapers, Democrat Conor Lamb, a former U.S. attorney running to represent Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, said that Congress needs 'new leadership on both sides' and was clear that he meant an end to Pelosi’s 13-year role as House Democratic leader."

I've spoken to over a dozen congressional candidates who have said the same thing-- basically that both Pelosi and Paul Ryan are terrible leaders and unworthy of support.

“My take is, if these people have been around for several years and they haven’t solved these problems that have been hanging around, it’s time for someone new to step up and get it done,” Lamb told the Pittsburgh Tribune.

He gave a similar answer to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, saying that Congress had not been “working for people,” citing the example of the opioid crisis gripping rural America.

“It’s more about the fact that I expect leaders to get results, and the result of our congressional leadership has been to have people in the district dissatisfied with their performance,” Lamb said.

Lamb’s answer did not take Republicans completely by surprise. With the departures of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Harry M. Reid from the political scene, Pelosi has become the Democratic leader best-known and most disliked among swing voters.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), made Pelosi the star of its multimillion-dollar ad buys last year during special House elections in Georgia’s 6th congressional district and in Montana. Corry Bliss, the CLF’s executive director, said that the PAC stood behind Republican nominee Rick Saccone.

“It’s laughable. Conor Lamb can say whatever he wants, but the truth is he would be nothing more than a rubber stamp for Pelosi’s liberal agenda,” said Bliss. “This election comes down to one choice-- a foot soldier for the out-of-touch Pelosi agenda or a proven conservative like Rick Saccone who will stand for Pennsylvania families?”

Republican polling in Pennsylvania’s 18th district, which was drawn to reelect former Republican representative Tim Murphy, has found that Pelosi remains less popular than Ryan, and that the president’s approval rating has dipped below 50 percent.

“The left is going to try to demonize President Trump in the Pennsylvania-18 special election but it won’t work,” said Brian Baker, the president of Ending Spending Inc., an outside nonprofit group which plans to spend about $1 million on the race to support Saccone.

Baker said a second independent non-profit that he runs, 45Committee, which spent heavily to promote the Republican tax bill last year, is also considering entering the race to support Saccone, following Lamb’s comments Monday saying he opposed the recent tax bill.

Pelosi has previously said that the party should not demand litmus tests for its nominees in tough races; Lamb, a practicing Catholic who also supports gun rights, was already running generally to the right of the party on social issues. Asked to respond to Lamb, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill gave the candidate a pass.

“We agree with his statement that the real issue is Paul D. Ryan and what he wants to do to Medicaid and Social Security,” said Hammill.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


-by Noah

Well, here's an un-fab four: House Speaker Ryan, CIA Director Pompeo, $enate Majority Leader McConnell, and V.P. Pence. This picture was taken recently at Camp David when the Republican Party's highest ranking psychotic and sociopathic assholes got together with der Leader Señor Trumpanzee to discuss what to do about the upcoming 2018 midterm elections. There was no news as to whether or not any representatives of Vladimir Putin or CEOs of computer voting machines were in attendance, but, of course Skype and other video conferencing options were possible. It's ominous enough that the head of the CIA was present.

I'm especially pleased to see how ridiculous and miserable the $enate Majority Leader appears. Just look at him in his mom jeans and his ill-fitting jacket. Maybe he arrived dressed too casually and Señor Trumpanzee made him wear a jacket someone found in a closet. Come to think of it, he probably thought they were all going to change into their sheets and hoods as soon as they arrived.

This picture was sent to me by a friend who was asking her friends to caption it for her. My immediate thought was "Where is Pence's ever-present wife?" The job of "Mrs. Pence" has always been reported as being the person responsible for keeping our Vice President away from any "temptations." Then I realized exactly why McConnell looks so unhappy. Pence had obviously just pinched his ass in a semi-public setting. Look at Pence acting as though he did nothing and knows nothing. Ah, but, Speaker Ryan, there on the left saw the whole thing! We will never know what exactly happened, but, I'm sure that if Ryan was asked about it, he would say that Pence pinching McConnell's ass was "unfortunate" and "not helpful," the same words he used when he was asked about Señor Trumpanzee's racist "shithole" comments.

As Bill Maher would say. "I don't know it for a fact. I just know it's true."

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Nevada Electoral Action Is High In Las Vegas This Year-- Churn, Churn, Churn


Right-wing lunatic Cresent Hardy (left) is sporting a hipster look for his 2018 congressional run

The population of Nevada is 2,940,058. The population of Clark County (the Las Vegas Metro) is 2,155,664. That's where the state's people live. (The only other county with a significant number of people is Washoe--Reno and Sparks-- with 446,903 people.) Clark County elects 3 of Nevada's 4 members of Congress and last year there was turnover as voters ousted a GOP incumbent, Cresent Hardy, in NV-04, with Democrat Ruben Kihuen, and replaced Republican JoeHeck, who left his NV-03 House seat to run, unsuccessfully for the Senate, with Jacky Rosen. Kihuen ran as an unabashed progressive but joined the New Dems, ran up a miserable voting record (ProgressivePunch rates him a "D") and was forced to retire after being caught molesting women. Jacky Rosen is worse. She ran as a nothing and ran up one of the worst voting records in Congress-- ProgressivePunch rates her an "F"-- which, of course attracted Chuck Schumer's attention, who offered to back her in the Senate race against Republican Dean Heller.

That means the same two Clark County seats that flipped red to blue in 2016 are up for grabs again this year. Obama won both districts both rimes he ran. In 2016 Hillary and Trump had close elections. Trump won NV-03 47.5% to 46.5% and Hillary won NV-04 with a more comfortable 49.5% to 44.6%. The 3rd flipped from an even PVI to an R+2 and the 4th went from a PVI of D+4 to a D+3. This cycle's DCCC candidates includes extremely wealthy Mob-connected socialite Susie Lee among their shitty candidate in the list of disastrous Red to Blue program. She's beyond horrible and when she ran in 2016 (in the 4th district primary) she spent the most money ($1,492,274, of which $674,805 came out of her own bank account) and came in a distant 3rd behind Kihuen and Berniecrat Lucy Flores. So far there are 7 candidates running as Democrats in NV-03-- Lee (who was endorsed by EMILY's List and has no issues on her website, Jack Love, Hermon Farahi, Richard Hart, Guy Pinjuv, Steve Schiffman (who seems to be running for mayor of Jerusalem, not for the U.S. Congress) and Michael Weiss (who sounds like a Berniecrat)-- and 6 candidates running as Republicans-- Victoria Seaman, Scott Hammond, David McKeon, Eddie Hamilton Stephanie Jones, and Michelle Mortensen. Some of them may have dropped out by now. By the end of the 3rd quarter only 5 had raised any money:
Susie Lee (D)- $315,178
Victoria Seaman (R)- $114,008
Scott Hammond (R)- $51,700
David McKeon (R)- $39,695
Jack Love (D)- $10,950
Now let's look at the 4th district, the bluer one, to replace the disgraced Kihuen. Democrats in the race so far include state Senator Patricia Spearman, Berniecrat Amy Vilela and high school principal John Anzalone. There has been constant chatter that both Steven Horsford, the district’s first representative (who was defeated by Cresent Hardy in 2014) and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, are also about to jump into the race. On the Republican side, GOP frontrunner Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony just announced he's getting out of the race, presumably to make way for Hardy, the ex-Congressman Kihuen had defeated in 2016. Anthony had already raised $141,145 by the end of the third quarter and probably as much by the end of the 4th (which hasn't been reported yet).

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Kia Hamadanchy: "I Will Work To Put An End To A Foreign Policy Where War Is Always The First Resort"


Kia with his old boss, Senator Sherrod Brown

Kia Hamadanchy is a friend of mine running for Congress in Orange County's 45th Congressional district. The incumbent is Trump rubber stamp Mimi Walters who lives on the ocean in Dana Rohrabacher's district. Although Obama lost the district in 2008 and 2012, Hillary beat Trump there, 49.8% to 44.4%. The PVI went from as forbidding R+7 to a much blue-friendlier R+3. The district stretches from the Anaheim Hills and Villa Park in the north, through Lemon Heights, Tustin and Irvine down to Laguna Woods, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita and Coco De Caza. Kia was born and raised in Irvine, the district's biggest city. His parents came to Orange County from Iran. Kia, as his website delineates, became legal counsel for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee under the leadership of education and disability rights champion Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). Kia worked to expose the exploitation of students by the for-profit college industry. After Senator Harkin’s retirement, Kia joined the staff of Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), where he advocated for a higher minimum wage, equal pay for men and women, and other measures to reduce income inequality and ensure that every American is treated with the respect and dignity that he or she deserves.

Goal ThermometerIn 1969 and again in 1972, when I was still just a kid, traveling around the world in a VW van, I spent a great deal of time in Iran which I remember writing at the time was the most pro-American country I had ever visited-- more so that France, Germany or England! When Kia and I met last year for a meal, we talked about the changes that have taken place-- and continue to take place-- in that country and I found his perspective not just refreshing, but enlightening... and just what Congress and those setting foreign policy in our country so desperately need. This week, I asked him to write a guest post on the turmoil gripping Iran today. If you like how he deals with the subject and think he would make a better member of Congress than Mimi Walters, please consider clicking on the ActBlue California 2018 thermometer on the right and contributing to his grassroots campaign.

Reflections On The Recent Protests In Iran
-by Kia Hamadanchy

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen protests break out in Iran that have been misunderstood by Donald Trump and many of those in Congress. These protests embody the legitimate economic and political grievances of the people of Iran. The ruling regime is beset by corruption and has badly mismanaged the country’s economy, lining their own pockets at a time when inflation, unemployment, and economic inequality are at dangerously high levels.

Donald Trump, Congresswoman Mimi Walters, and others have expressed their solidarity and support for the Iranian people. These sentiments ring hollow. If they really did care about the Iranian people they would not have put into place a Muslim ban with the express purpose of banning Iranians from coming to the United States. Just as galling are expressions of solidarity and support from individuals like Bill Kristol, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Tom Cotton. These are people who in some cases have spent decades advocating for a policy of regime change and war with Iran. Many of these same people helped lead us into the Iraq War under false pretenses-- something I consider to be the biggest foreign policy blunder in my lifetime.

No one knows more about the repression of the Iranian government than Iranian Americans. Many have experienced it firsthand and want genuine solidarity and support for human rights. What they do not want is a war and sanctions that punish ordinary, everyday Iranians. These issues are being debated in Congress and there is not a single Iranian American serving there to be a part of the conversation. I am running to change that.

Being Iranian American is an important part of my heritage and who I am. It is an important part of why I decided to run for Congress in 2018. But it is not why I went into public service and it is not why I went to work for Tom Harkin and Sherrod Brown in the US Senate. I did those things because I care about making this country better for each and every American, no matter their name, their religion, or where their parents were born. A part of that discussion involves a rethink of how we conduct our foreign policy and what is truly in the interest of hardworking families across this country.

That’s why, if elected to Congress, I will work to put an end to a foreign policy where war is always the first resort. I will always choose diplomacy and peaceful conflict resolution. America cannot afford another trillion dollar war that increases instability and puts Americans in danger. It is for these reasons that I strongly support upholding the Iranian nuclear deal.

Much of the opposition to the Iran nuclear deal has been rooted in misunderstanding and misconceptions. Growing up in the U.S. as the child of two Iranian immigrants, I have always been struck by the lack of understanding about Iran and the Iranian people in our political system. I often joke that the average member of Congress could not tell the difference between Iran and Iraq on a map, and that’s probably true.

In 2008, I was drawn to Barack Obama’s candidacy for president because of his promise of actually trying to talk to Iran, as opposed to continually threatening them with war. He was willing to call out the sheer ridiculousness of the idea that not talking to a country was some sort of punishment. As he said at the time, the Soviet Union once had thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at us and yet we never hesitated to talk to them. Compare that to Hillary Clinton, who at the time threatened to “totally obliterate” Iran.

Barack Obama’s promise culminated in the Iran nuclear deal which represents the best path to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and averting another disastrous war in the Middle East. This is not just my opinion, but that of the Israeli military and intelligence establishment. It is absolutely critical and in the best interest of the United States that the deal remains in place.

On January 12th, Donald Trump grudgingly decided that he would renew the waivers of the sanction that were agreed upon in the deal, but he told our European allies that they have to agree to rewrite the deal in 120 days or that he will kill it. These demands are reckless and unacceptable.

What our political system has failed to realize time and time again that if you really want to see a change in Iran, the number one thing you can do is remove the ability of the regime to blame the United States for all of Iran’s problems. That is why the nuclear deal is so important. It keeps the spotlight on the government and its leadership and prevents the United States and its allies from being cast as the villains.  It raised people’s expectations of a better life and made it harder to blame the failures of economy on the United States.

There is probably no country in the entire Middle East whose people are more favorably disposed to the United States. We may have problems with the Iranian regime, but our problems are not with the people of Iran, who would like nothing more than to have a better relationship with the United States and the American people. But what they do not want is war or regime change. They have undergone the hardships of the 1979 revolution and they have survived an eight-year long war with Iraq. The Iranian people-- like Americans-- understand the perils of war and yearn for peace.

The Iranian people deserve to have a future of their own making and the freedom to determine the direction that they want their country to go. And it is not Donald Trump or anyone else’s place to make that decision for them. While we should recognize that this is a regime with an appalling human rights record and always condemn all acts of violence and violations of human rights in the strongest possible terms, we should also recognize that if and when the Iranian people ever decide to rise up against their government, it will not be because of what is being said by Donald Trump and those in Washington. That is why we need young and diverse leaders in Congress who can make this case, and make it clear that this new approach is in the national security interests of the United States. And that is exactly what I plan to do from the moment that I get sworn in as a member of Congress in January 2019.

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DC Doesn't Like Going After GOP Leaders-- But Who Cares What They Like. Lisa Brown Is Taking On Cathy McMorris Rodgers


It's ironic that notorious Republican closet case and child molester Mark Foley of Florida helped destroy the GOP House majority in 2006, considering that that majority was built with a lie about another Foley, Democratic Speaker Tom Foley. That Foley was a decent, if conventional, politician from Spokane, Washington. In 1964 Foley had defeated Republican Congressman Walt Horan and ably represented eastern Washington in Congress for 30 years, working his way up the ladder to become Democratic Whip in 1981, Majority Leader in 1987 and then House Speaker in 1989. He was defeated in 1994 by some minor and inconsequential character primarily because Newt Gingrich started a baseless whispering campaign that Foley was a closeted gay person, at the very time that Florida Republicans were warning Gingrich that a new GOP candidate for Congress, Mark Foley, actually was a closeted gay person. Gingrich thought it would be fun to "mix up" the two Foleys. Mark, the child molester, won the same day that Tom Foley became the first sitting Speaker of the House to lose his bid for re-election since Galusha Grow (R-PA) in 1862.

Tom Foley's district, WA-05, includes 10 counties, although almost all the votes come out of Spokane County, Stevens and Walla Walla counties being the second and third biggest. WA-05 includes the state's entire border with Idaho. McCain and Romney both beat Obama there, McCain with 51% and Romney with 54%. In 2016 Trump beat Hillary 52.2% to 39.1%, dragging the PVI down into redder territory, from R+7 to R+8. Hillary's status quo, establishment message couldn't have been worse for the district and in the Washington state caucuses, WA-05 went very strongly for Bernie. Bernie took Spokane County 78.1-21.7%. Stevens County was even better for Bernie where he beat Hillary 80.8% to 18.4% and in Walla Walla County, Bernie won 70.8-29.2%. It tells you a little something about the change that Democrats in eastern Washington are looking for.

This cycle many Democrats are also looking for revenge for what Gingrich and the GOP did to Tom Foley-- and the obvious target is Speaker Paul Ryan, who Democrats hope to see defeated by union iron worker Randy "Iron Stache" Bryce in Wisconsin. However, icing on that cake would be also defeating the 4th ranking Republican in the House, rubber stamp Cathy McMorris Rodgers who represents WA-05, Foley's old district. And the candidate eastern Washington  Democrats have rallied around is Lisa Brown, an economist who was majority leader of the state Senate before retiring to become Chancellor of Washington State University Spokane. When I asked her to introduce herself to DWT readers with a guest post, she mentioned that there are 10 counties and that she intends to contest every one of them and decided to do a Letterman-style list of the top 10 reasons voters should engage in her campaign.

Guest Post
-by Lisa Brown

10. Marijuana. I support removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act so states can exercise their rights. That’s a common-sense approach supported by the majority of Washingtonians. But in August, Rep. McMorris Rodgers said on the topic "I’m a mother...It’s against federal law… I would support his (AG Jeff Sessions) efforts….") Despite voter overwhelming support, she says she still needs more information.

9. Net Neutrality. I fully support it and worked to create rural access to broadband in the legislature. She "applauded" the FCC announcement overturning net neutrality. She now says she supports an open internet, but Congress should "come to the table" and write the rules. Don’t hold your breath...

8. Students. One in seven people in Washington owe money they borrowed for college or workforce training. I want to give those struggling with student loan debt a break, but McMorris Rodgers voted for (and promoted around the country) the original House tax bill that took away student loan interest deductions and taxed graduate student tuition waivers. She now says it was very important to her that those provisions not be included in the final bill. Do you see a pattern here?

7. FISA Section 702. She voted for it. I oppose it. We can strike a better balance of individual privacy rights and protecting our national security.

6. Healthcare. In the state legislature I led on creating mental health parity and standing up to Big Pharma to save taxpayers money on Medicaid prescription drug coverage. Then I helped start a medical school headquartered in eastern Washington. She voted dozens of times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, then voted for a replacement plan that would’ve kicked an estimated 24 million Americans off their plans.

5. It’s the economy, sweetheart! (because let’s be civil and not call each other losers or stupid). True economic growth and jobs come from investing in people (through education) and in infrastructure. I championed early learning and delivered infrastructure projects to eastern Washington (working with legislators on both sides of the aisle and all corners of the state).

4. The planet. I worked to clean up the Spokane river, lands contaminated by uranium mining on the Spokane Indian reservation, and to create incentives for solar and wind power. Rep. McMorris Rodgers stands silently by as the Trump administration reduces national monuments and rolls back environmental protections.

3. Human rights. I voted consistently for women’s reproductive rights, LGBT rights, and criminal justice reform at the state level for 30 years. She is a leader for anti-choice legislation and is letting Dreamers languish.

2. Leadership and results. I listen and lead, find common ground, and get results, from help for homeless youth to in-state tuition for service members to a medical school. My son, Lucas Brookbank Brown, an infant in 1993, was kicked off the legislative house floor, when, as a single mom, I brought him to my seat for a night session. Now, a kick-ass guitarist and singer-songwriter (he’s in the recording studio now, stay tuned!) I asked him, what do your friends say about this campaign? He said, "Mom, they say you get sh*t done!" My opponent also has the title of leader, many times the only woman at prominent Republican photo ops, but her views are so party-line, there is no daylight between her and Speaker Paul Ryan. She has diligently refused to criticize the President, no matter how vile his remarks, calling him repeatedly, "a positive disruptor." This is not the leadership we deserve.

1. Congress. If we take back this seat, we change the leadership of Congress!

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Long Island Gets A New Candidate Today-- And Blue America Endorses DuWayne Gregory


A couple of weeks ago DuWayne Gregory was elected to his fifth term as the Suffolk County Legislature’s presiding officer. I met DuWayne a few years ago when he helped me conduct a forum for political science and economics majors at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. This morning he announced that he is running for New York's second congressional district, a seat that's been held by Republican Peter King since 1992. Although Obama won the Long Island district both times he ran (51-48% against McCain and 52-47% against Romney), Suffolk County was Trump territory in 2016. Hillary lost the county to Trump 328,403 (52.5%) to 276,953 (44.3%) and lost NY-02-- which includes part of Nassau County as well-- by slightly worse margins-- 53.0% to 43.9%. The district's voters wanted change and Hillary was seen as the candidate of the establishment and the status quo. Although DuWayne did better than other candidates had against King, he was swimming against the tide in 2016.

This year he feels he's swimming with the tide and probably along with a strong anti-Trump/anti-GOP wave. The district starts at Lake Ronkonkoma, Islandia, Bohemia, Bayport and Sayville in the east and heads west through Islip, Bay Shore, Babylon and Lindenhurst to Amityville, Massapequa and Seaford. This cycle many in the district-- as well as those of us at Blue America who had gotten to know DuWayne over the last couple of years-- were eager to see him in a rematch with King, especially in the kind of political environment of GOP overreach that Trump and Paul Ryan have created. Their tax bill, for example. is absolutely devastating for working families on Long Island. And the voters there know it, despite Trumps' gaslighting and Ryan's bogus claims. Peter King was given a "pass" to vote NO, but all that did was highlight his ineffectiveness as a representative for the district.

The most Hispanic of any of the Long Island districts (23% Latino), many NY-02 residents were shocked when they read that their own congressman sponsored a bill to deny citizenship to natural born Americans if their parents were not U.S. citizens. Nor were they pleased to see him sponsoring a bill that called for English only in government communications. Needless to say, the bigoted King was not a supporter of the comprehensive immigration bill passed by a wide bipartisan majority in the Senate.

In his own communications to Long Islanders, Duwayne stresses his own record of inclusion and vows to go to Washington "to fight for fairness for all Americans by working to bring about justice reform" and to "ensure that no one is treated differently because of their race or economic status when it comes to our justice system." He's one veteran who has every intention of going to Washington to ensure that "the problems with the VA never happen again to our war veterans" and to "work to provide quality healthcare to every veteran in need."

Over all, his outlook leads in a very different direction from King's. His concerns are about fighting for the middle class, not maintaining a status quo for the very wealthy and for corporate special interests. His goals are to be part of the congressional team that will increase the minimum wage, guarantee college affordability, increase child care credits, provide tax credits for healthcare providers and fight for good-paying jobs. When he was endorsed by New York's Working Families Party, Long Island Political Director Emily Abbott noted that "DuWayne has put politics aside to get things done for working families. Washington needs people like DuWayne Gregory who will fight to ensure that all of Long Island’s families and small businesses have a fair shot to succeed." DuWayne is a strong advocate for Medicare-For-All.

Peter King's antiquated perspective on women doesn't work in NY-02, not in 2016. He voted against equal pay for women and his anti-choice extremism belies his claims to be a "moderate." Moderates, unlike King, don't oppose women's choice even in cases of rape and incest. "The disparity of pay between men and women doing the same work is unjustifiable and I'll never forget when I'm in Congress that my constituents don't want any part of that," DuWayne told us. "Nor will I ever countenance the government coming between a woman and her doctor or her minister or whomever she choses to consult about her intimate health matters. My opponent talks about government getting off the backs of our people. I don't know how he squares that with his extreme positions on women's choice and his shameful, ideological vote to defund Planned Parenthood."

Goal ThermometerDuWayne reacted strongly when King voted for TPP Fast Track Authority. He would have rejected it. "I have serious concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was largely negotiated in secret. The nations set to sign on to this agreement represent 40% of the world’s GDP. A trade deal of that magnitude deserves to be rigorously debated and amended in Congress, so as to ensure strong protections for American jobs. By sacrificing the power to make changes to this deal, Congress is sacrificing its power to help shape it."

This morning DuWayne told me that "the call for vigorous new leadership in Washington is loud and the enthusiasm for change is inspiring." He added that Trump has degraded America's moral authority while Peter King remained silent. "We deserve a passionate champion for the issues we all care about-- cutting taxes, protecting our environment, and preserving the American Dream... "I hear it from my neighbors and from friends across the country; people are tired of the nonsense, the lies and the failures of Trump’s administration, and the politicians in Washington who let it happen. We know the swamp hasn’t been drained-- it’s deeper and dirtier than ever. And we know that it’s because politicians like Peter King aren’t doing their job."

Last year we had a mobile billboard driving up and down the district and we'd like to step up our participation in DuWayne Gregory's campaign for 2018. We are eager for suggestions from Blue America members and DWT readers. Meanwhile, a remembrance of 2016:

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Chuck Hagel: "I'm Surprised That Our Midwestern Republican Leaders Have Not Been More Vocal"


Hagel won 2 Purple Hearts as an infantryman while Señor T was pretending he had a boo-boo

Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo is representing a very blue Miami area district. Obama beat McCain 50-49% and then beat Romney 53-46% there  In 2016 Hillary absolutely pulverized Trump 56.8% to 40.5%, driving the district's PVI from R+1 to its current D+6. Even the virulent incompetence from the DCCC that Republicans in blue districts have learned to count on won't save Curbelo in a cycle with the kind of anti-Trump/anti-GOP tsunami that's forming now. (And, yes, the DCCC has managed to find one of their typical lesser-of-two evils candidates to back). Curbelo recognizes he's got to go further left than the Democrats to have any chance at reelection this year. So, while Pelosi's utterly dysfunctional caucus dickers and bickers about how to deal with Trump's rotten DACA sabotage, Curbelo says he will not vote to keep the government open unless Trump agrees to the bipartisan DACA fix most members of Congress-- and most Americans-- want.

Meanwhile, this weekend everyone has been chitter-chattering about Arizona lame duck Jeff Flake making a Senate floor speech comparing Señor Trumpanzee to Stalin. I'd rather Flake use his vote to stop just one-- any one-- of Trump's legislative priorities... but we all know that's never going to happen.

Chuck Hagel isn't in Congress any more. He was a mainstream conservative from Nebraska, a senator from 1997 til 2009 and then Obama's Secretary of Defense (a nomination filibustered by his old colleagues from the GOP, the first time a Secretary of Defense nominee was ever fillibustered). Interesting sidenote that seems to have been lost to history: Hagel was CEO of American Information Systems, later known as Election Systems & Software, a computerized voting machine manufacturer, which seems to have played a pivotal role in an election that made Hagel the first Republican in twenty-four years to win a Senate seat in Nebraska. In 2008, both Obama and McCain talked about putting Hagel on their tickets.

Over the weekend, Hagel was back in the headlines, talking about the pickle Señor Trumpanzee has placed the GOP in. He wrote that Señor T "is doing great damage to our country internationally. He's an embarrassment... intentionally dividing the country and the world."
Hagel, who served two terms in the Senate, said his fellow Republicans may face a moment of truth later this year with the investigation of Russian influence and interference in the 2016 presidential election already probing inside the doors of the Republican White House.

"We take an oath of office not to a president, not to a party, not to a philosophy, but to the Constitution of the United States," he said.

"I was philosophically a Republican with a conservative voting record," Hagel said, "but that did not mean I would always go along with the party.

"In the end, you need to make a decision based on the right thing for the country," he said.

Hagel, who was wounded twice in combat in Vietnam, parted company with Republican President George W. Bush on the Iraq war and was widely criticized within the GOP for his action with Vice President Dick Cheney often acting as one of Hagel's sharpest critics.

As secretary of defense, Hagel said, he saw Russian cyber activity in all areas of the U.S. economy, with attempts to penetrate commercial and financial networks as well as the Department of Defense.

"The Russians were up to a lot of mischief," he said. "They were probing and they do have the capability of getting better and stronger. We can't discount that."

Hagel left the Pentagon in 2015, a year before the presidential election.

Now, Hagel said, the country has "a president who minimizes his own intelligence community and that is quite astounding."

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


-by Noah

Given to us as a gift, the Statue Of Liberty was designed by French sculptor Frederic August Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel. It arrived in New York in 1884, was assembled, and dedicated on October 28, 1886. Since then it has been exactly what it was meant to be; a beacon of liberty and a welcome to all immigrants. Liberty herself is Libertas, the Roman Goddess of Liberty. She holds a torch, not of the republican Tiki variety, but a symbol of "Liberty enlightening the world." The book Liberty holds is inscribed with the date of our Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. The most powerful, and, sadly, most ignored symbol lies at her feet. It is a broken chain.

Recently, Donald Trump's Senior Policy Advisor, Stephen Miller, made a sick, twisted effort to neuter the words "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" by saying the words were added to the statue after it was dedicated. In fact, the words were added 17 years later in 1903 but, what the bigoted to his core Miller conveniently neglected to mention was that the words are the most crucial part of a sonnet written by Emma Lazarus to help raise the funding for the statue itself in 1883. Miller's statement amounts to just one more example of the White House attitude toward immigrants.

In past sad eras of our American history, lots of countries have been considered shitholes by our most strident and disgusting bigots. In the mid-19th century, one of those countries was Ireland. Businesses looking for people to employ made a habit of putting signs in their windows that read "Irish Need Not Apply." As we entered the 20th century, the same conservative types regarded Italians as coming from a shithole country. Even as late as the 1930s, the great baseball player Joe DiMaggio was called a "The Dago Yankee" by Life magazine, right on its cover. Later, Nixon's tapes revealed his hate for Jews. In more recent times, not much has changed, only the ethnic targets. What is different is that we have an overtly fascist president who is not just cheerleading this hate and emboldening other bigots, but also trying to make his hate into law; counter to the meanings of our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and the words that we can find on the Statue of Liberty.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party backs Trump's language and actions. On Friday, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Senator David Perdue (R-GA) issued a joint statement saying that, although they were at the White House meeting where Trump issued his shithole statement, they just "couldn't recall" hearing it. Really? Wouldn't you? Thankfully, both Democratic Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and, surprisingly, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) made it clear that they could confirm that Trump said the words that have been attributed to him, although Graham did so more indirectly. And, really, given Trump's past statements, we should, in no way, be surprised he said what he said? Trump, of course, denied it all. Perhaps, he can't handle the truth.

Sadly, this whole incident shows us that the feelings or the Republican Party and it's leadership represent a perversion of what the Statue of Liberty is supposed to represent.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

House Republicans Talking About Winning Back The House In 2022


The Beltway prognosticators never understand the power of a wave as it forms. Never. They always get it wrong. That's because they've got their heads up each others' asses... inside the Beltway. But the Republicans who are in the wave's path this cycle sure understand what's coming, which explains why so many powerful-- albeit demoralized-- senior Republicans have raised the white flag and bowed out already. Let's see... House Financial Services Committee chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), House Science Committee chair Lamar Smith (R-TX), House Transportation Committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Ed Royce (R-CA), House Judiciary Committee chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), House Ethics Committee chairman Charlie Dent (R-PA), Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet chair Darrell Issa (R-CA), House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX), House Subcommittee on Social Security Sam Johnson (R-TX), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures Dave Reichert (R-WA), Dave Trott (R-MI), Joint Economic Committee chair Pat Tiberi (R-OH), Subcommittee on Aviation chair Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Subcommittee on Terrorism chair Ted Poe (R-TX), Tim Murphy (R-PA), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), House Trabsportation Committee vice chair Johnny Duncan (R-TN), Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution chairman Trent Franks (R-AZ), Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and the Census chair Blake Farenthold (R-TX), House Administration Committee chair Gregg Harper (R-MS). That's 21 senior Republicans leaving-- a significant hollowing out of Ryan's leadership team-- and those are the ones who are just flat out retiring. Another dozen are retiring from the House to run for higher office, including Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black of Tennessee, Todd Rokita and Luke Messer of Indiana, Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Jim Renacci (R-OH), Raul Labrador (R-ID), Steve Pearce (R-NM), Kristi Noem (R-SD), Lou Barletta (R-PA), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Evan Jenkins (R-WV).

Yesterday, Michael Scherer of the Washington Post referred to that as "a raft of retirements" and also pointed to "difficulty recruiting candidates and President Trump’s continuing pattern of throwing his party off message" as reasons prompting "new alarm among Republicans that they could be facing a Democratic electoral wave in November."
The concern has grown so acute that Trump received what one congressional aide described as a "sobering" slide presentation about the difficult midterm landscape at Camp David last weekend, leading the president to pledge a robust schedule of fundraising and campaign travel in the coming months.

But the trends have continued, and perhaps worsened, since that briefing, with two more prominent Republican House members announcing plans to retire from vulnerable seats and a would-be recruit begging off a Senate challenge to Democrat Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota despite pressure from Trump to run.

Meanwhile, Trumpist lunatic Corey Lewandowski-- who, reportedly, will be interviewed by Nunes' foolish and obstructionist House committee this week-- was on John Catsimatidis' New York radio show (AM 970) yesterday-- audio above-- admitting that Trump and Republicans are "in trouble" when the Democrats retake the House in November. "The real concern right now," he said, "is the Democrats are exceptionally motivated to run a campaign against this president. And if that's the case, they may have some good opportunities in front of them in the 2018 cycle... Their goal is to first and foremost stop the president’s agenda. And, I think, their secondary goal is to file articles of impeachment against this president, which are completely unfounded.”

So who will be the next Republican to announce retirement? Ryan says he ("and his wife") will make up their minds in the coming months, but it is completely unlikely, given the polling-- which shows that WI-01 independents (40% of his districts' voters) have turned against him-- that Ryan will run again and allow himself to be beaten by a union iron worker (known all over the internet as "IronStache"). One trusted Republican House staffer told me (on condition of anonymity) that up-coming or potential retirements are one of the main topics members and their staffs talk about and that they see Trump as "a ball and chain around the legs of every member" in districts where independent voters are the key to elections. He told me that "even incumbents in districts with PVIs above R+5 could be in trouble this year... Trump has a loyal following but it's a 2 headed sword for us. If we please them, we lose independents and if we make a play for independents, the Trump supporters could turn against us or sit out the election... Trump is the most divisive party leader in history... I've been hearing people talking about winning back Congress in 2022. It's that bad. And it's not going to get better; it's going to get worse."

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Most New Dems Voted For The Republican FISA Bill-- Here Are Their Crap Candidates For 2018


I have one more thing-- two lists-- to say about last week's FISA vote and the betrayal by the New Dems and Blue Dogs (the Republican wing of the Democratic Party). Currently there are 51 New Dems in Congress, mostly corrupt garbage with a very few exceptions.The New Dems provided Ryan, Trumpanzee and McCarthy with the votes they needed to pass the Republican FISA bill. Without the treacherous Dems they couldn't have passed it because 45 Republicans bailed on them. Of the 51 New Dems these 35 voted with Ryan and the Republicans against the overwhelming majority of actual Democrats:
Pete Aguilar (CA)
Ami Bera (CA)
Lisa Blunt (DE)
Anthony Brown (MD)
Julia Brownley (CA)
Cheri Bustos (IL)
Andre Carson (IN)
Jim Costa (CA)
Charlie Crist (FL)
Henry Cuellar (TX)
John Delaney (MD)
Val Demings (FL)
Bill Foster (IL)
Josh Gottheimer (NJ)
Jim Himes (CT)
Bill Keating (MA)
Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL)
Ann Kuster (NH)
Sean Patrick Maloney (NY)
Gregory Meeks (NY)
Seth Moulton (MA)
Stephanie Murphy (FL)
Don Norcross (NJ)
Tom O'Halleran (AZ)
Ed Perlmutter (CO)
Scott Peters (CA)
Mike Quigley (IL)
Kathleen Rice (NY)
Adam Schiff (CA)
Brad Schneider (IL)
David Scott (GA)
Terri Sewell (AL)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ)
Norma Torres (CA)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL)
As of this week, these are the congressional candidates the New Dems are trying-- with copious help from the DCCC-- to get into Congress. Please use the list as a guide to who not to support or vote for, particularly not in primaries. Obviously, there are no progressive candidates on this list:
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02)
Greg Stanton (AZ-09)
Dave Min (CA-45)
Harley Rouda (CA-48)
Hans Keirstead (CA-48)
Lauren Baer (FL-18)
Jason Crow (CO-06)
Paul Davis (KS-02)
Elissa Slotkin (MI-08)
Angie Craig (MN-02)
Dean Phillips (MN-03)
Dan McCready (NC-09)
Brad Ashford (NE-02)
Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11)
Max Rose (NY-11)
Anthony Brindisi (NY-22)
Mob-connected socialite Susie Lee (NV-03)
Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06)
Jana Lynne Sanchez (TX-06)
Jay Hulings (TX-23)
Ben McAdams (UT-04)
R.D. Huffstetler (VA-05)
Dan Kohl (WI-06)

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Bernie Draws The Battle Lines


Yesterday, Bernie penned an OpEd for The Guardian, Let’s Wrench Power Back From The Billionaires. I wonder if he offered it to the NY Times, the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and USA Today first. His point: "If we stand together against powerful special interests we can eliminate poverty, increase life expectancy and tackle climate change." OK, scratch the Wall Street Journal. "Here," he began, "we are as a planet in 2018: after all of the wars, revolutions and international summits of the past 100 years, we live in a world where a tiny handful of incredibly wealthy individuals exercise disproportionate levels of control over the economic and political life of the global community."

Presumably, we'll be hearing a lot more of that from the Sanders-Warren ticket as we head towards the very consequential 2020 face-off. Even before that will be the very consequential midterms in November. When one of the Democratic Party's rising young superstars, Iowan Austin Frerick, read Bernie's OpEd he emailed me this: "This is why we need to start using the word 'monopoly' again. I believe that corporate concentration is the issue of our time. We’re living in a 2nd Gilded Age where the middle class is disappearing while the rich get richer. And it’s all caused by this monopoly power and the robber barons it has created." Yep... and back to Bernie for a few moments:

At the same time, all over the world corrupt elites, oligarchs and anachronistic monarchies spend billions on the most absurd extravagances. The Sultan of Brunei owns some 500 Rolls-Royces and lives in one of the world’s largest palaces, a building with 1,788 rooms once valued at $350m. In the Middle East, which boasts five of the world’s 10 richest monarchs, young royals jet-set around the globe while the region suffers from the highest youth unemployment rate in the world, and at least 29 million children are living in poverty without access to decent housing, safe water or nutritious food. Moreover, while hundreds of millions of people live in abysmal conditions, the arms merchants of the world grow increasingly rich as governments spend trillions of dollars on weapons.

In the United States, Jeff Bezos-- founder of Amazon, and currently the world’s wealthiest person-- has a net worth of more than $100bn. He owns at least four mansions, together worth many tens of millions of dollars. As if that weren’t enough, he is spending $42m on the construction of a clock inside a mountain in Texas that will supposedly run for 10,000 years. But, in Amazon warehouses across the country, his employees often work long, gruelling hours and earn wages so low they rely on Medicaid, food stamps and public housing paid for by US taxpayers.

Not only that, but at a time of massive wealth and income inequality, people all over the world are losing their faith in democracy-- government by the people, for the people and of the people. They increasingly recognise that the global economy has been rigged to reward those at the top at the expense of everyone else, and they are angry.

Millions of people are working longer hours for lower wages than they did 40 years ago, in both the United States and many other countries. They look on, feeling helpless in the face of a powerful few who buy elections, and a political and economic elite that grows wealthier, even as their own children’s future grows dimmer.

In the midst of all of this economic disparity, the world is witnessing an alarming rise in authoritarianism and rightwing extremism-- which feeds off, exploits and amplifies the resentments of those left behind, and fans the flames of ethnic and racial hatred.

Now, more than ever, those of us who believe in democracy and progressive government must bring low-income and working people all over the world together behind an agenda that reflects their needs. Instead of hate and divisiveness, we must offer a message of hope and solidarity. We must develop an international movement that takes on the greed and ideology of the billionaire class and leads us to a world of economic, social and environmental justice. Will this be an easy struggle? Certainly not. But it is a fight that we cannot avoid. The stakes are just too high.

As Pope Francis correctly noted in a speech at the Vatican in 2013: “We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.” He continued: “Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalised: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.”

A new and international progressive movement must commit itself to tackling structural inequality both between and within nations. Such a movement must overcome “the cult of money” and “survival of the fittest” mentalities that the pope warned against. It must support national and international policies aimed at raising standards of living for poor and working-class people-- from full employment and a living wage to universal higher education, healthcare and fair trade agreements. In addition, we must rein in corporate power and prevent the environmental destruction of our planet as a result of climate change.

Here is just one example of what we have to do. Just a few years ago, the Tax Justice Network estimated that the wealthiest people and largest corporations throughout the world have been stashing at least $21tn-$32tn in offshore tax havens in order to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. If we work together to eliminate offshore tax abuse, the new revenue that would be generated could put an end to global hunger, create hundreds of millions of new jobs, and substantially reduce extreme income and wealth inequality. It could be used to move us aggressively toward sustainable agriculture and to accelerate the transformation of our energy system away from fossil fuels and towards renewable sources of power.

Taking on the greed of Wall Street, the power of gigantic multinational corporations and the influence of the global billionaire class is not only the moral thing to do-- it is a strategic geopolitical imperative. Research by the United Nations development programme has shown that citizens’ perceptions of inequality, corruption and exclusion are among the most consistent predictors of whether communities will support rightwing extremism and violent groups. When people feel that the cards are stacked against them and see no way forward for legitimate recourse, they are more likely to turn to damaging solutions that only exacerbate the problem.

Damaging solutions? Like fascism? And like the solution implied in Kourtney Roy's incredibly powerful photograph (above)-- pure self defense. Also on Sunday, E.J. Dionne, Jr. wrote a column, for The Post, We Could Be A Much Better Country. Trump Makes it Impossible. "There are more important and interesting issues than the psyche of a deeply damaged man," he tweeted to alert people to his column. "We can be a far better nation. But we need leaders who call us to our obligations to each other-- not a president who knows only how to sow division and hatred... His stunts dominate the conversation and diminish our capacity to self-govern... Political leaders in democracies have a few core obligations. They are charged with solving today’s problems and preparing their nations for the future. They are responsible for creating some sense of shared purpose and mutual respect among their citizens-- above all a common commitment to preserving the very freedoms on which democracy depends." This is exactly what Bernie is worried about.
Our current debate is frustrating, and not only because Trump doesn’t understand what “mutual toleration” and “forbearance” even mean. By persistently making himself, his personality, his needs, his prejudices and his stability the central topics of our political conversation, Trump is blocking the public conversation we ought to be having about how to move forward.

And while Trump’s enablers in the Republican Party will do all they can to avoid the issue, there should now be no doubt (even if this was clear long ago) that we have a blatant racist as our president. His reference to immigrants from “sh--hole countries” and his expressed preference for Norwegians over Haitians, Salvadorans and new arrivals from Africa make this abundantly clear. Racist leaders do not help us reach mutual toleration. His semi-denial 15 hours after his comment was first reported lacked credibility, especially because he called around first to see how his original words would play with his base.

But notice also what Trump’s outburst did to our capacity to govern ourselves and make progress. Democrats and Republicans sympathetic to the plight of the “dreamers” worked out an immigration compromise designed carefully to give Trump what he had said he needed.
Stephanie Kelton is one of the most cutting edge economists in the world. She served as the chief Democratic staffer on the Senate Budget Committee and now teaches Public Policy and Economics at Stony Brook. Earlier today she told that "As usual, Sen. Sanders is right on the money in terms of identifying the many social, economic and environmental problems plaguing nations across the globe. But how can we afford an agenda that addresses the myriad of challenges he describes? It will take trillions of dollars to deal with climate change, guarantee health care to all Americans, make public colleges and universities tuition-free, get big money out of politics with publicly-funded elections, etc., etc., etc. Where will the money come from? Britain’s Prime Minister, Teresa May, is trying to beat back calls for a similarly progressive agenda by asserting, 'there isn’t a magic money tree that we can shake that suddenly provides for everything that people want.' This is a clear attempt to revive Margaret Thatcher’s dictum-- 'the state has no source money other than the money people earn themselves'-- in order to prevent the use of public money to serve the public good.

"Bernie essentially accepts this framing. For him, money doesn’t grow on trees, it grows on rich people and large, profitable corporations. And while there are plenty of good reasons to clamp down on tax havens and to fight for a more progressive tax code, it would be far better to decouple these fights from any spending proposals and argue each on its own merits. Our government already has the capacity to deploy public money in the public interest. There is no point holding the moral agenda hostage while we wait for success on the tax front. Jeff Spross had this right."

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