Saturday, August 27, 2016

Can The Democrats Actually Screw Up Winning Back The Senate? It Would Be Difficult, But Schumer's The One Who Could Do It

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The GOP could never inflict the kind of damage on the Democrats that Schumer does

Thursday night, the NY Times suddenly woke up to something we've been harping on all year-- only the Times referred to what we call DSCC incompetence and corruption as the Democrats weak bench. The reporter, Jennifer Steinhauer, asserted that the DSCC could accomplish the impossible: not win back the Senate.

Because the Democrats have only one-- or at the most two-- weak seats to defend, Nevada and Colorado, and the Republicans have 15 at-risk seats up in November, it would be really difficult for the DSCC to mess up. But accomplishing that kind of really difficult is what Chuck Schumer-- and Montana sock puppet Jon Tester-- are perfect for. There are 8 Democratic seats considered absolutely safe-- open seats in California and Maryland, as well as blue seats in Connecticut, Hawaii, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. The Republicans have 8 senators seeking reelection who could walk back into office blindfolded: Richard Shellby (AL), Mike Crapo (ID), Jerry Moran (KS), John Hoeven (ND), Jim Lankford (OK), Tim Scott (SC), John Thune (SD), and Utah (Mike Lee). The Republicans have 18 seats with some level of vulnerability, from pretty safe Alaska, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Kentucky to time-for-the-challenger-to-shop-for-blue-curtains territory: Wisconsin and Illinois. In between are the states that will decide which party runs the Senate for 2017 and '18 (when the tables are reversed and the Republicans will have massive wins and send the Democrats back into the minority (if they do manage to win in November). These are the states that should be most hotly contested (aside from Wisconsin and Illinois):
Arizona
Florida
Indiana
Iowa
Missouri
New Hampshire
North Carolina
Ohio
Pennsylvania
An anti-Trumpanzee wave is building in most of these states and it would be a safe bet to assume Hillary wins Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and probably North Carolina and Iowa, with an outside chance of winning in Arizona and Missouri as well. As much as I detest Evan Bayh's politics-- he's the ultimate Blue Dog type and corrupt to his core-- he's what they like in Indiana and he'll probably win the Senate seat (and by a lot) despite Hillary's struggle there. As much as I hate to say so, it was "smart" as part of a short-sighted, short-term policy for the DSCC to recruit him. But it's the other contests that are worth discussing. In Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Schumer and sock-puppet have worked to make sure the nominees would be corporate whores resistant to any kind of populism or progressive agenda.

Steinhauer says the Democrats "find themselves hobbled by less-than-stellar candidates." Find themselves? How did that happen? Sounds very passive but it was anything but passive. At Schumer's direction the DSCC spent millions of dollars driving good candidates out of the races and replacing them with truly miserable ones or, as Steinhauer puts it "by less-than-stellar candidates." It's costing the DSCC and their allies millions of dollars that could have been used against Republicans, to burden the Democrats with, for example, worthless former fracking lobbyist Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania, possibly the worst candidate running for any Senate seat anywhere this cycle. And for that Schumer and his allies spent big to destroy the Democrat, Admiral Joe Sestak, who likely would have beaten Toomey. They installed hopeless and pathetic old Ted Strickland in Ohio and are spending millions to make sure talentless "ex"-Republican Patrick Murphy-- who, if he gets the nomination August 30-- will relieve McGinty of the "worst candidate running for any Senate seat anywhere" title. Of course, there's also Patty Judge, who Schumer bulldozed into the Iowa nomination and who has virtually no chance to win anything and the odious New Dem in Arizona, Ann Kirkpatrick, who is likely to be thrashed by John McCain, even if McCain dies before election day.

Steinhauer is only partially correct when she claims that "the Democrats’ problem stems from a depletion of their ranks in state legislatures and governors’ mansions over recent years" but hits it out of the park when she politely notes "a lack of institutional support for grass-roots-level politicians who represent a changing base."



“Democrats cannibalize each other when they lose those seats and don’t have new talent to fill them,” said Daniel A. Smith, a professor of political science at the University of Florida. “Here and in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and North Carolina are states that should have Democratic state-controlled legislatures, and the fact that they don’t not only marginalizes Democrats, but also makes it increasingly hard to build a farm team.”

Republicans, of course, find themselves in a fundamental conflict between Mr. Trump’s populist insurgents and traditional conservatives. But Democrats are mired in their own struggle, as they try to identify future stars who can appeal to a base increasingly insistent on a progressive agenda.

Florida’s Senate Democratic primary this Tuesday pits a bombastic, populist liberal, Representative Alan Grayson, against the establishment’s pick, Representative Patrick Murphy, in the kind of showdown that analysts expect to see in the party’s future.

“Democrats are going to have their own Tea Party moment in 2018,” said Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor and Senate analyst for The Cook Political Report. “I don’t think they are going to put up with the party dictating who their candidates are.”

“The bench is not apparent right now,” said David Axelrod, the chief strategist for Mr. Obama’s presidential campaigns. “There are some impressive young leaders, but who among them is the next presidential nominee I can’t answer. A lot of them are not there yet.”

“Democrats have done a poor job, and I take my share of responsibility here, in not being as focused as Republicans have on building at the grass roots,” Mr. Axelrod said. “Look what the G.O.P. and their related agents have done with legislative and City Council and school board races. They are building capacity, and Democrats have paid the cost.”

Many promising young Democrats in the House have been frustrated by the reluctance of Representative Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader, and her aging deputies to step aside and let new members ascend to leadership-- one of the few rewards for a minority party in the House. “I was on the recruitment committee, and a lot of candidates decided to take a pass,” said Representative Karen Bass, Democrat of California. She added, “There are people who are new to Congress and have a difficult situation because they are not going to be there for 20 years.”

...Democratic ranks have also been decimated in state governments across the nation, where new leaders tend to plant roots for future higher office.

After the 2008 elections, Democrats controlled 62 of the 99 state legislatures; today, Republicans control 68 chambers, according to Governing magazine. Over the same time period, the number of Democrats in governor’s mansions fell from 28 to 18. In both cases, Republican control is now at or near historic highs.

...Democrats have also complained that the party has not worked hard enough to promote an agenda that is appealing to the party’s growing base of progressive whites, nonwhites and millennials, fearing that such policies could turn off older, more traditional Democratic voters.

Stacey Abrams, the minority leader of the Georgia General Assembly, called that the “fear that is inherent in transitions.” She is considered one of the party’s brightest young stars, in no small part because she has unseated five Republicans in the Georgia legislature.

“This is a party that is comprised of what is being referred to as the new American majority,” she said. “Those are progressive whites, people of color and millennials. We have to focus our politics on turning out those voters.”
Instead, the Senate Democrats were manipulated into picking the absolute worst possible leader, Schumer, who is working to replicate a Democratic senate caucus beholden to Wall Street and resistant to anything the upcoming Democratic Party base is interested in. Schemer's career has been greased by $25,957,041 in legalistic bribes from the Finance Sector, more than any other politicians in the history of American politics who was not a presidential candidate. Schemer's corruption is far worse than even any Republican. By way of comparison, even the most contemptible Wall Street whores across the aisle haven't gotten the kinds of bribes that makes Schumer's clock tick. Not one of Wall Street's favorite Republicans got even half of what Schumer took in! Here are the 10 most bankster-corrupted Republicans and their hauls:
John Boehner (R-OH)- $12,215,498
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)- $11,806,876
Scott Brown (R-MA)- $9,178,994
Rob Portman (R-OH)- $8,722,092
Eric Cantor (R-VA)- $8,659,744
Richard Shelby (R-AL)- $8,380,358
John Cornyn (R-TX)- $8,235,516
Paul Ryan (R-WI)- $8,233,811
Mark Kirk (R-IL)- $8,159,335
Pat Toomey (R-PA)- $7,818,439


Schumer's mentorship of right-wing fake Democrat Patrick Murphy makes all the more sense when you understand that only Speaker Ryan and House Majority Leader McCarthy have taken bigger bankster bribes than Murphy this year and that there is no non-incumbent running for the Senate this year who has gotten as much Finance Sector loot as Murphy. Murphy just spent 2 terms in the House doing absolutely nothing but showing how utterly corrupt he is, but a promise from his wealthy parents and wealthy Saudi backers to help fund Obama's Presidential Library was enough for Obama to show his contempt for Florida's African-American voters by lying to them about what a "progressive" Murphy is in a series of ads that have all but killed Grayson's chance's to win the primary.

Blue America hasn't endorsed many candidates for Senate races this cycle. We only found 3 worth supporting (who are still in the running). You can help them-- and I hope you will-- at the thermometer below:
Goal Thermometer

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Friday, August 26, 2016

If We Don't Stop Billionaires From Buying Up The Political System, We Will All Soon Be Their Slaves

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I first ran across Houston hedge fund billionaire John Arnold and his wife Laura when I noticed them spending millions of dollars supporting California fake Democrat Ro Khanna, school privatization and charter school advocacy, of the kind John Oliver discusses in the video above. The vile Arnolds have made their fortune through fracking and charter schools and they happily push their greedy agenda by financing right-wing candidates, some Republicans but primarily Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, like, besides Khanna (their biggest candidate investment), corrupt characters Darren Soto (FL), Josh Gottheimer (NJ), Ami Bera (CA), and repulsive and power-hungry Rahm Emanuel protégée, Illinois Blue Dog Cheri Bustos.

This cycle they teamed up with a Marco Rubio operative, a dip-shit named Thomas Datwyler, to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in FL-09 in order to bolster Darren Soto-- a right-wing NRA-poster boy masquerading as a Democrat and running for Alan Grayson's old congressional seat in the Orlando area. The Common Sense Leadership PAC is running a barrage of independent expenditures against Dena Grayson and in favor of Soto-- over $200,000 so far, but with expenditures accelerating by the day. Ironically, their vicious attacks on Grayson have been augmented by the sleaziest and least trustworthy of all Democratic groups, EMILY's List, which has, over the last decade, become expert at spreading lies and distortions. Hedge fund criminal Donald Sussman has given EMILY's List $2 million to spend against Grayson and Michael Bloomberg gave EMILY's List another million, some of which is being used against Soto and some against Grayson. It's ironic that EMILY's List is spending their donors' money to smear a pro-choice woman doctor in such a way that could well result in the election of a virulently anti-choice, right-wing tool like Soto who has been publicly endorsed by the Wall Street-owned and operated New Dems.

The Arnolds, vampires
Although some of the Arnold's money ($44,917) has gone into pro-Soto efforts, the big money is all being spent tp smear Grayson, smearing being a John and Laura Arnold trademark whenever it comes to progressives. This is how predatory billionaires like the Arnolds seeks to advance their political agenda, by helping elect puppet candidates like Darren Soto who will support their bid to destroy public education, one of the long-term goals of these people. As Jeff Bryant wrote for CommonDreams yesterday, "[John] Oliver focused much of his attention on Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, three states with especially depressing charter track records-- including negligence in the approval process and school executives embezzling funds."
None of Oliver’s critics seriously refuted the crux of his argument that there might be something fundamentally wrong by design, rather than by implementation or intent, with the idea that  a “free market” of privately operated and essentially unregulated schools is a surefire way to improve education opportunities for all students.

Indeed, charter schools are “here to stay” has become a refrain among advocates for these schools, even though there’s no doubt the controversy caused by this new parallel school system is just beginning, and no one can predict what the ongoing conflict will lead to.

The charter industry is currently responsible for educating a small percentage of students-- just 6–7 percent nationally and barely measurable in many communities, especially more well-to-do metropolitan and rural areas. A minority of Americans and relatively few politicians completely understand what charter schools are. And most experts have mixed views on the purpose of the schools.

However, what charter advocates generally won’t admit is that many of the problems these schools cause are reflective of what inevitably seems to happen when an essential public service is privatized.

The charter industry claims its schools are “public” institutions because they get tax dollars, but that’s like saying a defense contractor is a public business because it takes in revenues from the federal government.

Numerous experts point out charter schools blur the line from what it means to be a public institution providing a public good and that, by their very design, they expand opportunities to profiteer from public tax dollars and privatize public assets.

People in communities affected by these schools are just beginning to see the conflicts these institutions cause, and it’s just a matter of time before government officials at all levels are forced to respond to the increasing concerns with these schools.

Just consider recent actions taken by the Department of Justice to curtail the expansion of the private prison industry-- a privatization trend that generally predates the rise of the charter industry.

As Mother Jones reports, after “a damning report on the safety, security, and oversight of private prisons,” DOJ announced it would stop contracting with these institutions.

Donald Cohen, who leads In the Public Interest, an organization that researches problems posed by privatizing public services, writes for Huffington Post, privately operated prisons are fundamentally flawed because the business model they must follow encourages the companies to “actively seek new prisoners to fill facilities they own.”

As ITPI has previously reported, “in an effort to provide the service with fewer resources while also maximizing profits, [private prison] companies often cut corners, reducing the quality, effectiveness, and accessibility of the service.”

“The more contractors can cut costs on running their facilities, the wider their profit margins,” writes Aman Banerji for the Roosevelt Institute. “No wonder … private prisons contracted by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) contain one or more security deficiencies, health service deficiencies, and a greater number of food grievances.”

This clear and obvious conflict of interest-- between serving the public and rewarding private enterprise-- led to a misalignment with DOJ’s mission to hold an essential function of government to the high standards the public demands.

If the charter school industry believes it can avoid this conflict, it’s kidding itself.

More than one attentive blogger has noticed the striking similarities between charter schools and the private prison industry. In one of these posts, Mitchell Robinson notes that charters, like private prisons, differ from the public counterparts by not being locally managed or controlled, not providing the same level of services and programs, and not answering to the same level or degree of regulation and oversight.

Over the years, the US Department of Education has rewarded charter schools with over $3.3 billion in federal funds, and with passage of the most recent federal education law, the every Student Succeeds Act, USDoE will send $333 million more to these schools before the current fiscal year is over.

Remarking on the actions DOJ took to end tax dollars going to the private prison industry, Banerji concludes, “It offers an opportunity to contest the privatization of state services beyond the prison system.”

Let’s hope reexamining the role of charter schools is the next step.

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In A Race Between Two Really Awful Senate Candidates, The Only Good Move Is To Refuse To Participate

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Chuck Schumer has managed-- along with Montana sock puppet Jon Tester-- to set up a series of lesser-of-two-evils contests that will determine which party controls Congress. Ted Strickland and Katie McGinty are obviously unqualified to be U.S. senators and nothing would ever get me to vote for either. But then look at the garbage each one is running against: respectively Rob Portman and Pat Toomey. Portman is worse than Strickland and Toomey is worse than McGinty, but that doesn't make either Strickland or McGinty any more fit for office. Schumer planted a series of discredited lies about Alan Grayson to guarantee his (and Wall Street's and Saudi Arabia's) choice for the Florida Democratic nomination, "ex"-Republican Patrick Murphy. A Murphy/Rubio race would surely force Florida voters to pick the lesser evil but this is a far tougher race than the ones in Ohio and Pennsylvania which it isn't clear which one is the lesser evil. Again, I'd never vote for either, but who do you even root for in a contest like this? Mothra? Godzilla?



Worse yet, in California, where the jungle primary has puked up two crappy Democrats to run against each other in a blue state saddled with a corrupt party establishment, conservative Blue Dog-- and dumbbell-- Loretta Sanchez faces off against corporate nothing and woman of mystery, Kamala Harris, neither of which is worth a vote. And what's a Republican to do. Well, the editors of the Redding Record Searchlight are Republicans and they're backing the moron Blue Dog. "For Republicans who can stomach the idea of voting for the more centrist of two Democrats," they wrote this week, "Sanchez is a clear choice."
Perhaps foremost on her list of qualifications for that role are endorsements — those that have gone to her opponent, California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Harris has been endorsed by the Sierra Club, for example, which cited its discomfort with statements Sanchez has made indicating that the discussion of water solutions for California must start with everything on the table-- including (gasp) the Endangered Species Act. Sanchez paints that as a pragmatic way to begin negotiating, and insists it's not fair to say she wants to alter the ESA, but her willingness even to talk about it causes environmentalists to shudder.

Goal Thermometer Folks who feel the current administration has America on the wrong track may also take note of Harris's endorsement by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Their interference in a two-Democrat race riled Sanchez, but it may prompt some Republicans to give her a second glance.

On the campaign trail, Sanchez emphasizes her experience with national security. She has served on the House Armed Services Committee throughout her time in Congress, where she says she "works on avoiding the conflicts of the future. If I'm doing my job right, you're never going to hear the names of the countries" where problems might break out.

Sanchez, a member of the House Blue Dog Coalition, spoke most carefully answering Second Amendment questions.

"The Second Amendment is the Second Amendment," she said. "If you're one of the people who wants to melt down all guns... there's a process to change the Constitution. I'm going to agree with the fact that people have a right to have a gun."

Still, she indicated that she favors background check restrictions and her campaign website lambastes Senate Republicans for blocking "responsible action on gun violence."

...In a two-way race, voters who look closely may my find Sanchez too liberal, but ultimately less problematic than Harris.
No, the Democrats aren't as bad as this GOP Senate candidate in Louisiana, but that's too low a bar for me. I'm done with lesser-of-two evils voting. In most of these races, the smart move is to not vote and tell the DSCC to eat their own shit because you're not that hungry.



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There Oughta Be a Law Dept.: Is there away around the horrors of drug price extortion?

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THERE OUGHTA BE A LAW (2/7/1946)

[Click to enlarge.]

by Ken

Okay, the cartoon feature There Oughta Be a Law (1948-84) was generally pretty lame. Still, isn't this what invariably comes to mind when horror stories like the latest drug price-extortion scandal break out? Of course, that's probably because the phrase predated the comic, unlike the comic it slavishly imitated, Jimmy Hatlo's They'll Do It Every Time (1929-2008), whose name -- as Don Markstein points out on Toonopedia -- became a common catch phrase in its own right.

And, sure enough, they will do it every time, just in pretty much the way that Mylan "has hiked prices for EpiPen as frequently as three times a year over the past nine years." to the dismay of allergy sufferers who count on EpiPens to bring them back from the life-threatening peril of anaphylactic shock -- not because of significant cost increases or such understandable economic reasons, but for the most compelling reason known to free-market enthusiasts: because they can.

Naturally, as is noted in the above-linked AP report, the company is trying to massage the wretched PR outbreak with some palliative measures. However, "there is no change in the price of the treatment, however, which is what has drawn ire both in Congress and from families that have had to shell out increasingly large sums for the potentially life-saving treatment." After all, aren't corporations bound by law, and possibly by God, to do everything they can to maximize profits?

It's not likely, though, that your average CEO relishes the prospect of having the company name featured alongside images of, say, kids dying from a peanut allergy. The trick, it seems, is to exercise just enough self-control over the price increases, and to do them sufficiently out of the limelight, to attract minimal attention. In other words, as is so often the case, the unforgivable offense here is getting caught. One wonders how much of the U.S. economy now consists of damage control.

The public-interest problem here is what kind of law there ought to, or even might, be to distinguish between allowable and unallowable drug profits. And Ian Welsh thinks he has a "Simple Fix for Intellectual Property Laws": mandatory licensing.

"Let's say," Ian writes,
that someone has genuinely created something new–and we’ll skip the fact that most drug research actually uses massive government subsidies. Let’s say we want them to make money for doing so, in order to encourage people to keep innovating.
How would mandantory licensing work?
If a company has beneficial control over the patent or copyright:

For X years (I’d suggest seven), anyone who wants to use their patent or copyright must pay them 100 percent of the manufacturing cost of making the product.*

[There are two footnotes. First: "When one looks at EpiPen, today, it is not a case of patents, it is a case that FDA trials would cost 1.5 billion.  Competitors should simply be able to copy the EpiPen design and forgo trials beyond confirmation that they have." Then: "This number would have to be different in industries like software and pharma where unit manufacturing costs are often close to zero. The principle is simple: you make back your investment and get a good profit, but your invention/idea is available for all to use at a reasonable price as soon as possible, so society benefits fully and you don’t price gouge."]

After that, anyone who wants to make their product must pay 10 percent.

You can fiddle with the numbers and years, and yes, patents are usually only small parts of final products and there are details around that which need to be fixed, but the principle of mandatory licensing is what matters.
If "beneficial control" is had by an individual rather than a company ("meaning most of the profits are actually going to them, not to a corporation"), Ian says he'd "extend the period by two or three times, to encourage individual innovators and to try and keep all IP from winding up in the hands of corporations." He notes that "an individual often needs more time to fully exploit a new invention or copyright item."

Ian argues that mandatory licensing would help achieve the purpose of patents and copyrights: "mak[ing] people more likely both to invent something and to share the details," by making sure that they're paid and that they're "incentivized" to share ("100 percent monopoly profits for X years is a lot of money, but it avoids the 'jack it up by thousands of percents' problem"). What's more, the plan --
makes markets actually work how they’re supposed to. In economic theory, competitive markets are supposed to drive costs and profits down because if anyone has high profits, someone else will enter the market. Strict monopoly intellectual rights make it impossible for markets to work the way they are supposed to.
Now "simple" as the proposal may be, it leaves us a lot to talk about, and really not much of it has yet been talked about in the comments left on Ian's post, which tend to dwell on things he's said along the way rather than the proposal itself. He's at least given us something to talk about.
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Mylan Didn’t Lower EpiPen Prices After All; They Just Appeared To

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Senator Joe Manchin's daughter Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan, and some of the work she's been doing. Note — the EpiPen price is actually around $640 at most pharmacies (source).

by Gaius Publius

These days have seen a number of stories about the Mylan EpiPen scandal, the essence of which is captured in the graphic at the top (note, though, that the graphic understates the EpiPen price; it's now around $640). Heather Bresch, Mylan's CEO, decided to increase corporate profit by increasing the price of a mature product, EpiPen, a device that delivers life-saving epinephrine to people who suffer life-threatening anaphylactic shock from allergic exposure to, for example, bee stings and peanuts. In the view of most observers, she did it simply because she could.

There's no economic reason for the price increases, any of them. Epinephrine (basically adrenalin) is not proprietary. As Dr. Lee Rogers notes in the first link below, "As a hormone, it's a product of nature and cannot be patented." And the delivery mechanism (the "pen") has been around since 1977. All of the R&D is done, and the medicine is cheap. All told, each EpiPen contains just one dollar worth of medicine. (And it seems the original EpiPen was at least partly developed with taxpayer money.)

Yet under Heather Bresch, Mylan has steadily raised the price from about $50, its price when Mylan acquired the 50-year-old product, to more than $600 — because they could. In 2009, the year Bresch became president, the price of the EpiPen was increased 19%, followed by 10% hikes each year from 2010 through 2013. Then:
After successfully pushing for legislation requiring all public schools to carry emergency epinephrine [devices], Mylan jacked up the price by 15 percent every other quarter from the end of 2013 to the second quarter of 2016 [emphasis mine].
And that's how the game is played.

A Shakedown Scheme with a Sidecar of Murder

As I noted here, this is basically a shakedown scheme with a sidecar of murder — "Got a peanut allergy? Pay my new price or the kid dies." In the meantime, corporate profit went through the roof, as did CEO compensation, as the graphic shows.

Dr. Lee Rogers, a medical doctor and a former progressive House candidate, broke the story here:


and DWT issued a follow-up story here:


Two side wrinkles and you're up to date:

First, CEO Bresch may have engaged in insider trading when she sold over 100,000 shares of Mylan stock in advance of the latest price increases. As noted in the second link above, the stock price fell drastically after Dr. Rogers' piece was published.

Second, Bresch has taken Mylan through a corporate "inversion," a scheme by which a U.S. company buys a foreign subsidiary, then becomes a foreign corporation, with nothing else changing but its U.S. tax status. LA Times reporter Michael Hiltzik has written a full report on Mylan's inversion here.

Shamed by the Scandal, Heather Bresch Pretended to Lower EpiPen's Price

Mylan's price-gouging on its EpiPen business is indeed a scandal, not just on the business pages because of the sudden stock decline, but in the larger press because of the "vulture CEO" angle. Even MSNBC, which tends to keep hands off of Democrats, covered it, and tagged Sen. Joe Manchin in the story. (For more on Manchin and his responsibility for his daughter's career, do read Dr. Rogers' well researched story. Manchin's been involved at almost every stage of it.)

As a result of the horrible press, Mylan responded. It was initially reported that Mylan would lower the price of its EpiPen package by 50% in response to public outrage. For example, from The Hill:
EpiPen maker lowers price after uproar

The maker of EpiPens announced Thursday that it is reducing the price of the device following an uproar in Washington over the cost of the treatment for serious allergic reactions.

Mylan, the company that makes EpiPen, said it will provide a savings card worth up to $300 for people who had been paying the full price out-of-pocket, effectively reducing the cost by 50 percent.

The company is also making it easier to qualify for its patient assistance program, which eliminates out-of-pocket costs for uninsured and underinsured people....

Mylan announced the changed a day after Hillary Clinton denounced the company for hiking the cost of EpiPens 400 percent in recent years. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill had also sounded the alarm, sending letters to the company and to the Food and Drug Administration pressing for answers.

Mylan also pointed to insurance companies in its Thursday statement, noting that higher deductibles have left patients picking up more of the cost of drugs like EpiPens.
I hope you noted that last sentence, in which Mylan says "higher deductibles have left patients picking up more of the cost of drugs like EpiPens." Remember, each EpiPen contains about $1 worth of medicine. Patients are actually picking up the cost of CEO Bresch's nearly 700% compensation increase.

But it didn't take long for that "50% reduction in cost" claim to be more carefully looked at. For example, from USuncut:
EpiPen did not actually lower their price — it’s just another Pharma scam

Mylan Pharmaceuticals is now running a slick PR campaign to try and convince Americans they lowered the price of the EpiPen. Don’t buy it.

On Thursday morning, it was widely reported that Mylan responded to consumer outrage by lowering the price of the drug by 50 percent. While that may be true on the surface, the company didn’t actually change the price at all. The drug company’s rollout of EpiPen price cuts only applies to uninsured and underinsured consumers, who are given a $300 savings card while still having to pay roughly $300 more for a [$640] package of two EpiPens.
The bottom line?
However, the market price of the EpiPen remains the same.
And that's how the game is played.

This is Heather Manchin Bresch, by the way, in case you see her on the street. I'm sure she'd be glad to explain the numerous price increases at length. Maybe there's a nuance she can point you to that I've missed.

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch (source; photo credit Joe Wojcik)

Or maybe not. This really is shakedown scheme, with a sidecar of "or your kid dies." Is predator too strong a word for this behavior? Or is predation just business as usual in drug company CEO suites and the DC political offices that take their money?

Hate the Drug Companies? Support California's Prop 61 Next November

If you think predator is not too strong a word for drug company "shakedown or death" profit schemes, consider supporting California's new Proposition 61, which will end Big Pharma's hold on unchecked and sky-high prices. Prop 61 is a serious attack on drug pricing, and it will work if it's passed. It will also appear in a number of other states if it's passed — hope for us all.

More on Prop 61 here.

GP
 

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If He'll Sell Them Out On Xenophobia, Can Trump's Fans Trust Him On Anything At All?

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Despite all the hubbub in recent days, Team Trumpanzee isn't grappling for a coherent immigration policy, just a p.r. approach that can appease suburban voters who shun overt racism, xenophobia and gratuitous viciousness while not turning off Trump's base among racists, xenophobes and the gratuitously vicious. Republican Party operative Stuart Stevens hasn't been impressed. He referred to the Trumpanzee Campaign as "utter chaos [and] a smash and grab operation, not a campaign." The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has always remained neutral in presidential races-- until this year. Because of Señor Trumpanzee's unending provocation against Hispanics in America they broken a nearly 4 decade long tradition and endorsed Clinton. Yesterday the president of the group, Javier Palomarez, told MSNBC that Trump's "new" rhetoric on immigration "is nothing more than an act of desperation."

Trump's patently insincere "outreach" to minority groups ins't moving minority groups, who see right through him and it probably isn't doing him much good with the suburbanites its supposed to mollify. As Greg Sargent's solid tweetstorm yesterday made perfectly clear that "by signaling a softening, Trump and Kellyanne Conway were testing whether they could have it both ways," trying to simultaneously assure suburbanites (and media patsies) they only want to deport criminals (like Obama does), "while also winking at hard liners by saying, 'don't worry, the 11 million still remain subject to deportation, and won't be legalized'."


Byron York made the case on the far right that Trump and Kellyanne are making a mess of things with what is being perceived as flip-flops.
One thing is certain in the current brouhaha over Donald Trump's immigration proposals: the candidate and his top aides are making a mess of things. What is the status of his old proposal to deport all immigrants who are in the United States illegally? After days of Trump and his senior advisers talking about it, the answer is entirely unclear.

The fundamental problem vexing Team Trump is that the deportation proposal was never really clear. Yes, Trump said it often last year, but he also pointedly left it out of many immigration discussions, as well. It went largely unnoticed, for example, that when Trump posted an immigration position paper on his campaign website last year, it had a lot about a border wall and enhanced enforcement-- and nothing at all about mass deportations.

...The strategy-- making strength on immigration Trump's signature issue-- worked fantastically well in Trump's march through the Republican primaries. But the general election campaign is different, and Trump has finally found himself under pressure to clarify his position. And in the last 72 hours Trump has lost control of the issue.

His new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, has said Trump's position on deportations is to be determined. Trump himself has said things that appear to be hardline and things that appear much softer. The problem will not be resolved until Trump lays out, in some systematic way, where he stands on the question and explains in turn where that position fits into his larger immigration policy.

Trump's deportation mess is troubling to some of the best-informed conservatives on the immigration issue because it creates a huge and damaging controversy over a matter that is not at the heart of solving the larger immigration problem. "The disposition of the 12 million illegals already here is not the core dilemma we face," writes Mark Krikorian, of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors tighter limits on immigration. "The core dilemma is how to make sure we don't end up with another 12 million illegal aliens."

What Trump does could have a serious effect on his campaign. Perhaps a new, more moderate position might attract some undecided voters. But a retreat from the deportation pledge, or at least what many supporters believed Trump's deportation pledge to be, could disillusion some who have supported and worked for Trump's candidacy. There are a significant number of Trump supporters who were drawn to him because of his stand on immigration.




Like Ann Coulter. The conservative author has written a new book, In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!, and in an appearance on MSNBC Tuesday said she hoped Trump is not, in fact, backing away from his positions on immigration.

Still, Trump's recent statements "sound very consultant to me," Coulter said. "I think this is a mistake." And she added: "This could be the shortest book tour ever if he's really softening his position on immigration."


Coulter has basically said it doesn't matter to the mass of Trump's brain-dead fans how much flip-flopping he doers on anything... except white nationalism. The Know Nothing position on immigration is not a bargaining chip for her and for at least a large portion of the most bloodthirsty of the deranged Trumpists. Embracing the Jeb-and-Marco amnesty plan is not something they'll take laying down. Nick Gass at Politico called Coulter's attitude shift a sense of disgust with the hint of Trumpanzee openness, as though she ever thought he ever really stood for anything at all beyond attaining his own personal goal of winning.
Speaking to Fox News' Sean Hannity in a town hall event broadcast Wednesday night, Trump floated multiple ideas for the audience's reaction, including one in which undocumented immigrants would pay "back taxes" but added, "there's no amnesty, but we work with them." Trump recounted meeting with "very strong people" who have told him "it's so tough" to throw out people who have been in the country for 15 to 20 years.

"It's a very, very hard thing," Trump conceded.
Goal Thermometer State Senator Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) is one of the most accomplished and forceful of the Blue America-endorsed congressional candidates this cycle. She has never stood for the ugly bigotry and divisiveness behind the Trump messaging. Last might she told us that "Trump would do well to remember that the majority of candidates-- even at a local level-- who try to talk tough on immigration end up losing. That will certainly be true at the Presidential level-- and his recent vagueness and flip flopping seems to be admitting this reality. The majority of Americans-- both Republican and Democrat-- know that America needs humane and just comprehensive immigration reform that brings 11 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, creates a path to citizenship, reunites our families and levels the playing field for and protects workers. Deporting 11 million people makes no sense and is inhumane-- and spending billions more on border security and building a wall is equally nonsensical. It’s also no formula for winning elections. I’ve fought for immigration reform for 15 years, and in 2013, the US Senate passed-- with 67 bipartisan votes-- a bill that would finally move us forward as a country. Smart politicians would do well to get on board with that quickly."

Nevada state Senator Ruben Kihuen, an immigrant himself, has a similar approach to Pramila's. He told us that Trump will be unable to pivot away from having called "Mexican immigrants rapists and drug criminals or calling for a mass deportation force. But these hardline policy ideas that demonize families like mine aren't just Trump's views-- they are representative of today's GOP. My Tea Party opponent, Congressman Hardy, plays right into this playbook: he fear-mongers about immigrants taking jobs, opposes a path to full and equal citizenship, and votes against President Obama’s actions that protect hard-working immigrant families from being ripped apart."



And in the midst of all this, we have a Washington Post/ABC News poll this month that shows a whopping 60% of Americans agreeing that Trump is biased against women and against minorities. Only 36% of Americans think Trump isn't biased.



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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Utah Is A State Filled With Progressives-- They Just Don't Know It

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PPP polled Utah and found Mr. Trumpanzee to be extremely unpopular but still viewed as the lesser of two evils by a plurality of Utahans. 61% of the voters have a neative impression of him; pretty devastating-- except that 72% have a negative impression of Hillary. If the election were held today Trump would win the state's 4 electoral votes with 39% to Hillary's 24%, Gary Johnson's 12%, Evan McMullin's 9% and Jill Stein's 1%.

The DSCC, led by the virulently anti-trans assholes Chuck Schumer and Jon Tester, has refused to even acknowledge that Misty Snow, a progressive woman who won the state's Democratic nomination against a typical conservative Democrat they were pushing. Mike Lee is beating her in the Senate general election 51-21%. If you want to help her get her name ID up, please consider contributing to her campaign here.

But what interested me about the Utah poll wasn't the horse race in either contest-- I expected nothing different-- but the attitudes expressed by Utah's severely brainwashed partisan voters, who, apparently, are only superficially brainwashed or, perhaps, in a conflicted state about their brainwashing. Tom Jensen of PPP makes several points about how the respondents are looking at the salient issues around 2016 politics:
Utah might be one of the most conservative states in the country, but we still find that voters there side with Democrats on a variety of key issues:

81% of voters in the state support background checks on all gun purchases, to only 13% who oppose them. That includes support from 90% of Democrats, 79% of independents, and 78% of Republicans.

78% of voters in the state support barring those on the Terror Watch List from buying guns, to only 12% who are opposed to that. There's support from 84% of Democrats, 78% of Republicans, and 73% of independents for closing the terror gap.

65% of voters in the state think the Senate should move forward with hearings on Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court, to only 16% who are opposed to them. 87% of Democrats, 67% of independents, and 57% of Republicans support hearings for Garland.

65% of voters in the state think there should be an independent commission for redistricting, to only 15% who think legislators should draw their own district lines. 78% of independents, 73% of Democrats, and 55% of Republicans support independent redistricting.

64% of voters in the state support legalizing medical marijuana, to only 24% opposed to it. That includes support from 86% of Democrats, 71% of independents, and 53% of Republicans.

61% of voters in the state support increasing the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour, including 86% of Democrats, 61% of independents, and 52% of Republicans.

52% of voters in the state support expanding Medicaid, to only 27% opposed to it. Support from Democrats (90/5) and independents (56/30) for Medicaid. Expansion is pretty overwhelming and even Republicans (37/34) narrowly support it.

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Why Are There Blue America Billboards Up All Over Polk County?

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The Blue America billboard up top went up on Tuesday on U.S. Highway 27 in Polk County, in Haines City to be more specific. We put a few different boards up on Winter Haven, Lake Wales, and Davenport. It wasn't something we were planning. In fact, our plan for FL-09 was to hold our collective breath and hope one of two excellent progressives, Dena Grayson and Susannah Randolph, would beat Florida's biggest NRA shill, conservative state Senator Darren Soto. Then Soto was endorsed by the New Dems. As of the August 10 FEC reporting deadline he had raised the most of anyone in the race-- $733,132-- and spent the most-- $676,176. But the two progressives, Susannah and Dena were competitive, with, respectively $693,663 and $535,036 raised. The only outside spending I detected was from a shadowy group called True Blue Florida that, I believe, is associated with Susannah and that spent $55,948 smearing Soto. There's no record of who put up the money.

My fear all along was that Susannah and Dena would split the progressive vote and Soto would win up winning the race. I was hoping one of them would put to the new district next door and challenge a right-wing fossil, John Mica, who could get swept away in an anti-Trump tsunami. Instead, the DCCC invented some candidate and inserted her into the Mica race. But then two things happened. Dena started consistently pulling ahead in polling so that it appears she would have the best chance to beat Soto. And then Holly Fussell, a friend of Susannah's had a pretty horrifying experience. I first heard about it from Lucy Flores, the Nevada Berniecrat. Yesterday I asked Holly and she sent me this and told me to share it with DWT readers.
The Hardest Part of Being a Working Woman
-by Holly Fussell


I’ve heard that the hardest part of being a working woman today is choosing between success in your career or your family. I don’t have kids-- but I’m still pretty sure that even if I did, this wouldn’t be true for me. The hardest part for me, being a working woman, is having to choose between success in my career and reporting sexual harassment and sexual assault.

During my time working with Susannah Randolph, candidate for Congress in FL-09, she told me that my many complaints of sexual harassment weren’t valid-- that they should be excused because the man had been drinking. After witnessing this same man threaten my career because I refused his advances, Susannah promoted him, and once again, encouraged me to forgive and forget because he had been drinking.

I recognize now that I should have told someone else I worked with-- but at that time, Susannah was the most senior female staffer, and she had also been my longtime friend and mentor. I trusted her judgment. I convinced myself that she was just looking out for my best interests. But she wasn’t. When this same man suggested that I increase our online fundraising numbers by sending a picture of my breasts to our email list, Susannah laughed right along with him.

After over a year of sexually harassing me without consequence, he raped me. I didn’t have the courage to report it at the time. I was terrified it would ruin my career, and doubted I would get any kind of justice anyway. I struggled to accept that this horrible thing had happened to me, and felt that I had nobody to go to who could give me advice, since the one woman I had always gone to for career advice had ignored my complaints.

I don’t blame Susannah for my sexual assault-- not in the slightest. That is the sole fault of the rapist himself. But I remain deeply disturbed that she ignored my very serious complaints for so long, and that she would promote a man she had witnessed sexually harass me. Perhaps even worse, although she knows I accused this man of rape, she continues to maintain a relationship with him (he was fired when I eventually told another supervisor about the situation, so I no longer have to work with him). You can find him on her campaign’s current FEC report over a dozen times.

It took me a long time to work up the courage to tell this story. I hoped that my post earlier this week, which didn’t include the graphic details, would be enough. But since posting that, I have received a number of complaints, mostly from progressive female activists, disgustingly enough, denying that these awful things happened to me, complaining of the timing of my post, and criticizing me for using Facebook to share my concerns.

But you know what? I tried to use different mediums, many different times over the past few years, and none of them have worked. I tried for so long to work this issue out privately. But that is no longer an option. I cannot sit by silently and watch Susannah Randolph be placed in a position of power, where she can continue to deny her employees’ accusations of sexual harassment, especially considering her continued relationship with my rapist. I can’t have that on my conscience.

I am not working for any of the candidates running against her, nor have I worked for any of their campaigns. Sharing my story has already cost me many of the people I believed were my friends, as well as my relationships with several progressive organizations that I’ve worked so hard to build. For the rest of my life now, when I apply for a job, people will know that I have complained of sexual harassment, and while that shouldn’t make me less employable, realistically, we all know it will hurt my future career prospects. But if I can stop her from doing this again, if I can stop this from happening to another girl, it will have all been worth it.

I’m not encouraging you to vote for anyone in particular. I’m simply encouraging to consider my story before you vote for Susannah.
I think that story getting around is horrifying and also liable to make it even more difficult for Susannah to beat Soto, which is my main concern for this primary. So we put this billboard up too. This one is on the I-4 west of exit 55 in Davenport.



Rather than ask you to contribute to the Blue America PAC's independent expenditure committee that pays for these kinds of things, I want to ask you to make a contribution to Dena Grayson's campaign instead. You can do that by tapping on the thermometer below:
Goal Thermometer

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Why Is Maddow In The Bag For #DebtTrapDebbie Wasserman Schultz?

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A few months ago, a radio interviewer asked me why I wasn't calling out Rachel Maddows' biased anti-Bernie reporting. I said I didn't think Maddow was biased, just being a fair and balanced reporter. The interviewer laughed (at me) and sent me some video clips to watch. She was right and I was wrong. Rachel came off as a turd, slanting her reporting against Bernie and in favor of Hillary. It didn't take much longer before I stopped watching her show altogether, breaking a habit of many years. After the convention, I gradually started watching again, although I still accept dinner dates during her time slot without a second thought, something I would have never done last year. Yesterday I did watch her show and, because I know far more about the race between Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova than she-- or the dullard NY Times reporter she hauled on as her "expert"-- will ever know, I was sensitive to the subtle and less-than-subtle ways she slanted the show against her old enemy (Bernie) and against Tim's campaign.

Maddow's production team asked Tim if he'd do her show and he said yes. But she apparently changed her mind and used some very selective bits from the Young Turks video above. And she eagerly, gleefully, said that the latest poll showed Wasserman Schultz "beating him by double digits." Technically, that's true but it's reason for Wasserman Schultz to be crapping her pants and for Canova to be doubling-down. The poll has a 5 point margin of error and the score was 50 to 40 with Tim leading gigantically among voters 34 and under, equivalent to Wasserman Schultz's biggest group, voters over 75. Many voters over 75 are trying to not go out of their homes in fear of zika-carrying mosquitos.

Goal Thermometer As for Bernie not helping Canova, I thought it odd when Maddow crowed about that in her annoying way, since I had just spoken with Tim a few hours earlier and he was telling me how wonderful it was that Bernie's latest letter for him had generated 300,000 much-needed dollars for the campaign's Get Out The Vote effort. Tim was still hoping that Bernie-- who is more popular than ever in south Florida-- would have the time to come to the district and campaign for him, the way a whole litany of corrupt corporate Dems from Hillary and Obama to Pelosi and Biden and rushed to the district to try to bolster a member of Congress who gives the Democratic Party such a terrible name and makes the party an object of scorn among people who aren't over 75. Early voting in going on right now and election day is Tuesday, August 30. There are no more important House races in the country. It says a lot that Rachel Maddow-- who promotes herself as "the smartest person on TV" or something equally laughable-- seems too be trying to put her thumb on the scale for Wasserman Schultz and likely doesn't even have an understanding of why the Canova challenge is important to the Democratic Party, the south Florida and to the U.S.A.

Yesterday, Michael at BrainSpank.org alerted me to an open letter to Rachel that he had written in late May.
Rachel,

You’ve been in my living room for years. Pretty much from the beginning. You know, post Keith Olbermann. I was even a fan of you before that, on Air America.

I’ve always understood that you have an agenda, a bias. It never bothered me. It was usually congruent with mine. You’ve always been pretty transparent about it, so I’ve always been able to factor it in and filter it all with that in mind.

I have long appreciated that you report on issues and stories that no other network would or could. I’ve enjoyed the humor and aplomb of your approach. I love that you broke the Flint Michigan story and the various bullshit that’s occurred regarding voting, civil and gender rights. I adore how brave and salient your priorities have been.

Thank you.

But lately you’ve been pissing me off.  Your coverage and commentary on the Sanders campaign in general and the recent events at the Nevada convention in particular are clumsy, irresponsible and embarrassing. It was lazy and intellectually disingenuous. You simply didn’t report the facts. What you did broadcast was sloppy conjecture. You interviewed the chair of the the Nevada DNC, Roberta Lange, the woman at the center of the controversy, and let her tell lie after lie after lie.

It was a smear.

Why didn’t you give equal time to someone like Erin Billbray, a Nevada super delegate, who could have given an accurate accounting of events and eyewitness testimony? If Thom Hartmann was able to get this “get” why weren’t you?  Why didn’t you invite Nina Turner?  What the fuck Rachel?

Why do you continue to repeat lies about chairs thrown, violence and people needing medical attention even on Friday’s broadcast? These are lies Rachel Maddow. I know that you know they are lies and I am disgusted.

There was no violence. There were no chairs thrown. A thousand cell phone cameras and nothing to support the crap you continued to report. The alleged threats to Lange are completely unsubstantiated.  No proof, no evidence, no forensic investigations of the recordings. Jon Ralston finally admitted he wasn’t even there and you based most of your bullshit on his reporting.

When it comes to the Sanders campaign, you’re no different than FOX News and every other entity out there. He is the best candidate to run for president in my lifetime and you all lie so egregiously as to not consider the well being of the people you broadcast to but rather to serve a more insidious itinerary of corporate dominance and political mendacity.

I am profoundly disappointed. You violated my trust. The MSNBC network is bad enough with Chris Matthews’ obvious conflict of interest, but you are clearly in the tank for a candidate that I cannot support. I would be a fool to expect honesty and integrity from you in light of this. I will continue to rely on sources that cannot be corrupted by corporations because they have inoculated themselves by refusing to take their money.

After all, isn’t that the entire point of Bernie’s campaign? The influence of corporations and their money in our society and our political system? The point that you, your network, and every other media outlet exert transparent strain to ignore?

You are complicit and I am offended.

Shame on you.

Drinks for my friends.
A couple of weeks ago Tim was finally able to corner Wasserman Schultz into debating. She did her best to hide it-- insisting on an 8am debate and not even mentioning it on her website. Today, a video of the debate isn't available on her website, primarily because no one can watch it without seeing how unqualified she is to represent a Broward/Miami-Dade district in Congress and how out-classed she was by Canova. The debate is featured prominently on Canova's YouTube video channel, Judge for yourself-- and if you like what you hear, please consider contributing to his last minute GOTV efforts by tapping the thermometer above Michael's letter on the right.

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TPP, the Democratic Party, and Obama's Presidential Library

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by Gaius Publius

[W]e were told by a high up staffer who works for Joe Biden that Obama did it [endorsed Patrick Murphy] to get contributions to his uber-expensive presidential library, ostensibly from Murphy's rich, crooked father, from the super-wealthy Saudi family that sponsors Murphy (the notorious Al-Rashids) and from Schumer's Wall Street patrons. (source)

There's always a question about who politicians are primarily working for. Are they working mainly for the country and its people, for their political party and its access to power, or for their own personal fortunes? In the case of Obama and his headlong rush to pass the billioinaire-written TPP, I think we have a perfect petri dish for isolating the answer, at least in this one case.

Again, the questions are:
  • Does Obama want to pass TPP so badly because Americans need it?
  • Does he want to pass TPP because his party needs it?
  • Or because he needs it personally?
Obviously, the answer could be Yes to all three. In the case of the TPP, however, we're going to find two No answers, leaving just one candidate. I'm going to keep this as brief as I can. It's really not a hard question to answer.

Does the Country Need TPP?

No. It's been documented here and a great many other places that the country not only doesn't need TPP to pass, it desperately needs it not to pass. It really will be a NAFTA-style job killer, as well as a killer of national sovereignty (see also here). If you doubt me, check the links, or read anything from Public Citizen's Eyes on Trade pages.

Does the Democratic Party Need TPP?

Again, no. In fact, the Democratic Party also needs TPP not to pass. As Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, wrote recently in The Hill (my emphasis):
Obama's TPP campaign could drag down Democrats

How much is President Obama willing to harm the Democratic Party in order to win approval for the deeply unpopular Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) "trade" agreement? We may soon find out.

On Tuesday, Politico broke the story that the White House will be "making an all-out push to win passage of the deal in the lame duck session of Congress, organizing 30 events over the congressional recess." The effort will be designed to put pressure not only on Democratic members of Congress, but also on swing Republican votes, by lobbying important business interests in their districts.

Trump is far behind Clinton in the polls, and it seems unlikely that Obama would have launched a public campaign of this magnitude for the TPP in the heat of an election season if the race were looking like a serious contest. But there is more at stake: millions of potential Republican voters will stay home in November if Trump is losing by a wide margin. Many others will stay home simply because they don't like him.
And yet...
[M]any of these disaffected voters could be rallied to the polls if they think that Clinton, and her party, are going to bring them another failed "trade" agreement. (On the other side, some potential Democratic voters could abstain or switch sides for the same reasons). All this could make the difference between the Democrats taking the Senate, and in a big enough landslide, even the House of Representatives.
After looking at how close the Fast Track vote was, Weisbrot makes a striking point — to pass TPP, Obama will need the help of politicians in both parties who lost their jobs in the 2016 election, not those who won — politicians who can, in effect, trash their political futures and that of their party for lucrative personal next-jobs as lobbyists:
So [TPP] is looking like a very close vote. (For procedural and political reasons, Obama will not bring it to a vote unless he is sure he has the necessary votes). Now let's look at one special group of Representatives who can swing this vote: the actual lame-ducks, i.e., those who will be in office only until Jan. 3. It depends partly on how many lose their election on Nov. 8, but the average number of representatives who left after the last three elections was about 80.

Most of these people will be looking for a job, preferably one that can pay them more than $1 million a year. From the data provided by OpenSecrets.org, we can estimate that about a quarter of these people will become lobbyists. (An additional number will work for firms that are clients of lobbyists).

So there you have it: It is all about corruption, and this is about as unadulterated as corruption gets in our hallowed democracy, other than literal cash under a literal table. These are the people whom Obama needs to pass this agreement, and the window between Nov. 9 and Jan. 3 is the only time that they are available to sell their votes to future employers without any personal political consequences whatsoever. The only time that the electorate can be rendered so completely irrelevant, if Obama can pull this off.
But note, it's not just the electorate that will be "rendered completely irrelevant" — the fortunes of both political parties will be damaged as well. Including Obama's Democratic Party. Were Donald Trump to develop a surprisingly competent campaign, the push for TPP could lose the White House for Democrats, and with it, the Senate.

Obama is asking the Democratic Party to take a huge risk. Even if they win the White House in 2016, 2018 could shape up as brutal for them. Pushing for, and passing, TPP will spark another Sanders-like backlash, in both parties.

So Why Does Obama Need TPP?

For the final question, Weisbrot hints at the answer:
Why is Obama willing to risk so much to get the TPP passed this year? Many press reports insist that it is because he wants it for his legacy. It is strange to think that he would want such an unpopular agreement for his legacy. There are less flattering reasons that seem much more plausible.
I'll do a little more than hint. The Obama Library (and any future foundation he may launch with other people's money) is his ticket to the next phase of his life. Not his party's life; just his own and his family's. As Howie Klein wrote in the quote at the top of this piece:
[W]e were told by a high up staffer who works for Joe Biden that Obama did it [endorsed Patrick Murphy] to get contributions to his uber-expensive presidential library, ostensibly from Murphy's rich, crooked father, from the super-wealthy Saudi family that sponsors Murphy (the notorious Al-Rashids) and from Schumer's Wall Street patrons
TPP offers a much larger payday than endorsing Patrick Murphy, a mere senator. TPP is wanted by nearly every American industry with money, from Wall Street to Big Pharma to Silicon Valley to Hollywood and every stop in between. As Weisbrot said above about the Congress people Obama is targeting:
It is all about corruption, and this is about as unadulterated as corruption gets in our hallowed democracy, other than literal cash under a literal table.
As Weisbrot hints (and I'm willing to say), that statement is also true about Obama. The Big Money people who want Congress to pass TPP also want Obama to make it pass, even if he sacrifices his own party's future to do it, and they're clearly willing to pay to "make it so." (After all, what's the point of having too much money if you can't buy things with it.) Obama's obviously on board; his recent actions scream how eager he is. To see if I'm right, watch his presidential library list of donors, if he releases it.

Money doesn't talk, it swears. Though maybe its song is sweeter when Democrats listen.

GP
 

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