Monday, October 24, 2016

Did Dylan Deserve The Nobel Prize!


As Denise Sullivan reported here last week, not everyone agreed that Bob Dylan deserved his Nobel Prize in literature. Of course, everyone I know agrees, but I don't get out much and I don't know, or at least talk to, a single person planning on voting for Trump.

This morning Nicholas Pell, writing for the L.A. Weekly, was as definitive as Denise: Dylan is the most deserving Nobel laureate since John Steinbeck. Steinbeck got his in 1962 ("for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception"). "Music," Pell wrote, "if done the right way, counts as literature. And Bob Dylan did music the right way. I’m not sure any musician from the 1960s deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Elvis, but if anyone does, it’s Bob Dylan."

One of my favorite things about Dylan is that he appears to actively detest his fans. If you want to see someone who’s going to give the fans what they want, don’t go see Dylan. His live shows might well be a giant troll against his fans. If he plays “The Times They Are A-Changin'" you won’t recognize it until the second chorus. Then you walk out of the gig with your head hung low. This pleases me because, like Dylan, I too hate most of his fans and reflexively love musicians who hate their own audience.

And then there’s the man’s music. So much of what is good about rock & roll after the original wave of Chuck Berry, Elvis, Buddy, Gene and Eddie imploded came from Dylan. His early folk stuff doesn’t do much for me. As a friend of mine pointed out, the whole “being on Pete Seeger’s dick” period of his career probably even embarrasses Dylan at this point. For my money, Dylan comes into his own with his Judas moment, going electric.

Where to begin with talking about the sprawling masterpiece that is The Basement Tapes? Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s a collaboration with The Band and he doesn’t sing on some of the tracks. So what? This is Dylan at his purest and most exuberantly creative, worth the slog every time.

Old fogeys are going to get mad about the inclusion of Street-Legal. Every time I say I like this album in front of someone who remembers the Johnson administration, I get a strange guffaw. But this is what Dylan should have sounded like in the '70s, remaining true to his roots while also incorporating new sounds on his own terms.

His masterwork might be dodging the awards ceremony. The Nobel Prize people have given up trying to get him to respond. Hell, he might even go so far as Jean-Paul Sartre, who declined the award entirely.

Leonard Cohen has said that giving Dylan an award is like giving Mt. Everest a medal for being the tallest mountain. I agree, but I’m glad they gave it to him just so I can listen to people cry about it.

The only downside? In 40 years they'll probably give this award to Kanye West.


The End Of Paul Ryan?


A #BitterWay

It kind of looks like Paul Ryan's career is melting down. That's a good thing; he's a real threat to this country, a slick face of the plutocratic agenda. He doesn't call dismantling Social Security and Medicare "austerity" anymore. He called it a #BetterWay. But he got caught up in the maelstrom that is the Alt-right Trump campaign. And now the chatter that started on the Breitbart fringes has moved to the Republican mainstream. Hannity, for example, demanded Ryan be replaced by one of the crackpot extremists like Mark Meadows (NC) or even Louie Gohmert (TX). Members of Congress are openly talking about Boehnering Ryan.

Yesterday at Forbes budget expert and former congressional staffer (so, presumably not a crackpot) Stan Collender laid out a scenario that shows Ryan-- already Trump's designated scapegoat for what's about to happen to him-- turning over the Speaker's gavel soon after the election. Collender is probably not right but he seems pretty sure that Ryan either won't be Speaker after the lame duck or won't be Speaker during the lame duck. "It now looks," he asserted, "like Ryan could be deposed or forced to resign this Congress in the lame duck session that begins a week after Election Day."
I say this after hearing from several highly reliable sources that the House Freedom Caucus is seriously considering doing to Ryan what it did to former Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) by threatening him with a privileged motion to vacate the chair. If a majority of the House supported the motion, Ryan would be removed immediately as speaker.

Getting 218 House Republicans to vote for a motion to vacate won’t be easy.

There currently are 246 GOP House members, so almost 89% of the caucus would have to support the motion for it to be adopted.

But 19 of the 246 Republicans are retiring at the end of this Congress and at least 10 more are expected to be defeated by Democrats on Election Day. If the past is any indication, the votes of these soon-to-be-leaving members will become far less reliable in the lame duck. Many might not vote as they have to move out of their their offices and begin to look for a job.

If all 29 decided not to vote, the 218 GOP votes needed to oust Ryan (I’m assuming House Democrats would not vote on the motion) wouldn’t exist. If only some of the 29 voted, the House Freedom Caucus would need more than 90% of the Republican caucus to agree to its motion, and that’s just not likely.

But there may not need to be an actual show of hands. Faced with the possibility of the congressional equivalent of a no confidence vote, Ryan would probably decide to pull a Boehner and immediately resign as speaker, announce that he won’t run again as speaker in the next Congress or announce that he is resigning from Congress at the end of this session.

Any of these options would throw the House into almost immediate chaos and severely limit what will get done in the lame duck.

Ryan is not likely to do what Boehner did by cleaning out the barn and making deals with House and Senate Democrats and the Obama administration on his way out the door. He has presidential ambitions and any last-minute deals on spending and other issues would greatly complicate a run for the GOP nomination.

Ryan might also want to stay in Congress and resume being chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Last-minute closed-door arrangements with Democrats would likely make that impossible.

But a leadership vacuum wouldn’t be the lame duck’s only problem.

If it were offered, the debate on a motion to vacate the chair could take several days. If the motion passed, the subsequent election for a new speaker would take several additional days. Even more days would be needed if, as many expect, the GOP caucus couldn’t quickly agree on even a new temporary speaker. The new speaker would then need time to organize his or her operations and determine how to proceed.

In the meantime, the clock on the three-week lame duck session and the expiration of the current continuing budget resolution would be running. With Thanksgiving in the middle of the lame duck and the Republican leadership (yes, I’m assuming the GOP still has a majority) needing to organize for the new Congress, the amount of time available for legislative work would be severely limited.

That would likely lead to an extension of the lame duck and CR for at least one week.

And all hell might break loose in the lame duck if the newly chosen speaker were a member of the House Freedom Caucus.
Alas, one of the many problems with Collender's speculation-- "19 of the 246 Republicans are retiring at the end of this Congress and at least 10 more are expected to be defeated by Democrats on Election Day. If the past is any indication, the votes of these soon-to-be-leaving members will become far less reliable in the lame duck"-- is flawed. First, the 19 retiring are actually 25 who are retiring and many of them are stalwart Ryan allies who despise the extremists in the party. Reid Ribble (WI), Chris Gibson (NY), Richard Hanna (NY), Joe Heck (NV), Lynn Westmoreland (GA), Todd Young (IN), Candice Miller (MI), Mike Fitzpatrick (PA), Scott Rigell (VA), Ed Whitfield (KY), Joe Pitts (PA), John Kline (MN) and Cynthia Lummis (WY) are not going to betray Ryan. I doubt Robert Hurd (VA), Jeff Miller (FL), Lord Charles Boustany (LA) or Dan Benishek (MI), Rich Nugent (FL) will either.

Tim Huelskamp (KS), Renne Ellmers (NC) and Randy Forbes (VA) lost their seats. Huelskamp wants to see Ryan die in the street like a dog. Ellmers less so-- unless Trump has some kind of job for her at one of his golf courses and voting to screw Ryan is part of the deal. No idea where Forbes stands but I'd guess he'd stick with Ryan.

That leaves Matt Salmon (AZ), Ander Crenshaw (FL), Curt Clawson (FL), Marlin Stutzman (IN), John Fleming (LA), Stephen Fincher (TN), and Randy Neugebauer (TX) as the ones who either will or might vote against Ryan.

As for the 16 most likely Republicans to lose their seats Nov 8, nine are firm Ryan supporters:
Jeff Denham (CA)
David Valadao (CA)
Darrell Issa (CA)
Mike Coffman (CO)
David Jolly (FL)
Carlos Curbelo (FL)
Robert Dold (IL)
Peter King (NY)
Pat Meehan (PA)
And that leaves 7 as possibilities to defect-- although I wouldn't count on any of them except,maybe, Blum and Garrett.
Steve Knight (CA)
Rod Blum (IA)
Cresent Hardy (NV)
Frank Guinta (NH)
Scott Garrett (NJ)
Barbara Comstock (VA)
Will Hurd (TX)
I'd say Ryan would have a better chance to make a quiet deal with Pelosi to allow some Democrats to vote for him than for the Freedom Caucus being able to pull off a coup. But, one thing for sure, it will certain be fun watching them try.

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Not Every Candidate Running As A Democrat Is Actually Anything You Might Define As A Democrat


Friday, I had dinner with former congressional candidate and Air America host Richard Greene, to talk strategy in congressional races beyond just candidates. Richard wants voters to focus on issues that are important to them and then vote for the candidate whose positions coincide with their own. Last week he wrote a guest post here about the concept.

Like many progressives, Richard wants to see voters go beyond the personality shit-show between Clinton and Trump and vote rationally down-ballot. The overwhelming majority of Americans, for example, want stronger, saner gun safety laws-- and say it's a motivating factor in election decisions for them-- but Republicans, who oppose gun safety, still hold the majority in both houses of Congress. On a completely different level, most Americans strongly oppose cruelty to animals, yet the Humane Society congressional scorecard shows clearly that there are really bad members of Congress on animal protection issues, who get elected over and over again, like Darrell Issa, Jim Costa, Dana Rohrabacher and KevinMcCarthy in California, Steve King (R-IA), Fred Upton (R-MI), Cresent Hardy (R-NV), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), Frank Guinta (R-NH), and like Mike McCaul, Louie Gohmert, Henry Cuellar, Bruce Babin and Lamar Smith in Texas.

Richard-- who tends not to obsess over the Republican wing of the Democratic Party and their right-wing positions the way we do at DWT-- makes the point that on a dozen important issues, Democrats and Republicans have clearly different stands-- from women's choice, gun safety, climate change, equal pay for equal work, LBGT equality and increasing the minimum wage to making college affordable for kids from working class families, getting dark money out of politics and tax fairness-- and that if voters focus on their own most important issues, Congress will change hands in 2 weeks.

"If you want women to continue to be able to have the right to choose an abortion, vote for Clinton and Democrats," he said. "If you want abortion to again be illegal in various states, vote for Trump and Republicans." Generally speaking, fair enough... but, when I told Richard that his old friend Tim Ryan (D-OH) is anti-Choice and has a bad voting record on abortion, he was more than mildly surprised. And Richard is an extraordinarily knowledgeable voter. And, by the way, Tim Ryan isn't even at the bottom of the Democratic barrel on Choice. Democrats with ugly anti-Choice voting records include Stephen Lynch (MA), Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR), Jim Langevin (RI), Mike Doyle (PA), Dan Lipinksi (Blue Dog-IL), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN) and Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX). Oops.

"If you want to increase the minimum wage," said Richard, "vote for Clinton and Democrats. If you don’t want to increase the minimum wage, vote for Trump and Republicans. OK, again, mostly true... mostly. The Republicans just coordinated with conservative Democrats to kill an Obama Administration rule that would have expanded the number of workers who get paid for overtime work. Blue Dogs and New Dems helped make opposition to that "bipartisan," so that Ryan and his henchmen could claim their anti-worker approach was supported by members of both parties... which is was.

Fact is, if issues are really important to you, you have to go beyond not just personalities, but beyond party identification as well. You like doggies? Republican Ileana Ros Lehtinen, an otherwise reprehensible and extremely corrupt Republican in Miami-Dade, led, along with Democrat Katherine Clark (MA) to curb cruelty to pets, while Blue Dog Democrat Henry Cuellar of a solid blue south Texas district votes worse on animal protection issues than lots of Republicans.

In a perfect world, Richard's perspective about supporting all Democrats against all Republicans works perfectly. Alas, though, today the Democratic congressional party has a large and growing Republican wing-- including inside the leadership-- and the Republican/bad, Democrat/good, narrative doesn't always work. It's more like Republican/bad, Democrat/maybe good-maybe bad, so... buyer-- or voter-- beware.

And these are Democrats with voting records! What do voters do about candidates who are not congressional incumbents? Well, of course, some recruits come from legislatures where they have records. State Senator Isadore Hall, a favorite of the California Democratic Party, has the most corrupt, vote-selling record in Sacramento and Lou Correa, another California Democratic Party fave, was as corrupt as Hall when he was in Sacramento and has a record of being the deciding vote against progressive legislation for his entire miserable right wing career. He's probably going to Congress-- as is Florida state legislator Darren Soto, someone the NRA adores, endorses and awarded an A+.

This year, the DCCC has 43 candidates on it's Red-to-Blue list, most of them conservatives. On the 43 about half have been endorsed by the Blue Dogs and or New Dems. These are the candidates the DCCC and Pelosi's House Majority PAC are spending most of their money on, not on policy and values oriented progressives like Zephyr Teachout, Pramila Jayapal, Tom Wakely, Paul Clements, Mary Ellen Balchunis, or Carol Shea-Porter. All the conservative Democrats on this list of candidates have been endorsed by the New Dems and/or the Blue Dogs. They are the candidates being pushed by the Democratic House leadership. They are not necessarily in favor of all the issues Richard wants voters to vote on. I'm eager to help Richard with his initiative and help him perfect it but, personally, I wouldn't vote for any of them:
Tom O'Halleran (AZ)
Matt Heinz (AZ)
Salud Carbajal (CA)
Lou Correa (CA)
Isadore Hall (CA)
Lou Correa (CA)
Gail Schwartz (CO)
Darren Soto (FL)
Val Demings (FL)
Charlie Crist (FL)
Randy Perkins (FL)
Joe Garcia (FL)
Colleen Hanabusa (HI)
Monica Vernon (IA)
Brad Schneider (IL)
Shelli Yoder (IN)
Emily Cain (ME)
• Lon Johnsonl (MI)
Gretchen Driskell (MI)
Angie Craig (MN)
Terri Bonoff (MN)
Josh Gottheimer (NJ)
Kim Myers (NY)
John Plumb (NY)
Pete Gallego (TX)
Doug Owens (UT)
LuAnn Bennett (VA)
None of these progressive candidates, on the page that clicking the thermometer will bring you to, are Blue Dogs, New Dems, conservaDems... and none are corrupt careerists either. Oh-- and none are being helped in their campaigns by the DCCC or by Nancy Pelosi.
Goal Thermometer

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Do You Always, Blindly, Vote For Anyone With A "D" Next To Their Name? Here's One You Won't Get Behind


If you're a regular reader here, you probably know the editorial position of this blog is that Trump is uniquely unfit to be president and that there are overwhelming and existential dangers this country would face were he to ever get into the White House. At the same time we're not sold on Hillary as anything more than a way to stop Trump and as an inspiring victory that finally cracks the ultimate glass ceiling for women. We've suggested that voters in this year's swing states-- Ohio, Iowa, Arizona, Georgia, Utah (and up in Maine's Alagash)-- take one of these to the polls and vote for her.

We've never felt that just because someone calls himself or herself a Democrat, they automatically have earned a vote or any kind of support. The Democratic Party Establishment, Inc. has its own set of reasons for what it does and how it calculates what moves to make politically. The leaders and decision-makers on the top of the food chain-- the Chuck Schumers, Debbie Wasserman Schultzes, Steny Hoyers, Nancy Pelosis, Joe Crowleys, Rahm Emanuels-- are utterly unfit for leadership or even for public office. The direction of the Democratic Party is largely in their hands and largely determined by how something will impact their own careers. Their puppet candidates-- chosen for a willingness, even an eagerness, to follow blindly and to play ball inside a culture of corruption-- are insupportable, even in the context of a lesser-of-two evils world. Trump may be an exception, but garbage candidates from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- like Patrick Murphy (FL), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Patty Judge (IA), Tom O'Halleran (AZ), Lon Johnson (MI), Randall Perkins (FL), Brad Schneider (IL), Josh Gottheimer (NJ), Pete Gallego (TX), Joe Garcia (FL), and Monica Vernon (IA)-- should never be supported or even voted for unless your aim is to undermine the Democratic Party as a vehicle for the legitimate aspirations of working class Americans.

The story of the congressional race in Pennsylvania's 9th district is even more bizarre than the normal "DCCC lures ex-Republican shit-head into congressional race" narrative. Bill Shuster is one of Congress' more contemptibly corrupt congressmen and he represents Pennsylvania's most backward and forgotten congressional district, a gigantic sprawling mass of southern and central Pennsylvania: Altoona, the exurbs south of Pittsburgh to Chambersburg halfway across the state. 93% white, it's the most Republican district in the state (R+14) and Romney crushed Obam there 63-36%. In the primary, Trump won every single one of the district's 12 counties-- by a landslide. On the same day crackpot teabagger Art Halvorson challenged the entrenched Shuster and nearly beat him. The final vote count-- the closest race in the state-- was 48,686 (50.5%) for the powerful incumbent who spent $1,655,437 to 47,677 (49.5%) for Halvorson, who only spent $264,357.Since there is virtually no Democratic Party in the area, it was easy for Halvorsan to then lay claim to the Democratic nomination and the extreme right candidate is now on the ballot as a Democrat. I spoke with him on the phone and he went out of his way to tell me he thinks Hillary should be in prison and that isn't joining the Democratic Party. But over a thousand Democrats wrote him in on the Democratic line and he used that successfully as the excuse for claiming the Democratic line in the general. So, no, this isn't going to be another case like Charlie Crist, Monica Vernon, Tom O'Halleran, Patrick Murphy, Mike Parrish or any of the dozens of Republicans the DCCC has recruited to run as Democrats. Steve Israel's Blue Dogs and New Dems always agree to caucus with the Democrats as long as they're free to vote with the Republicans. Halvorson has pledged to caucus with the Republicans if he wins. So now take a look at this ad that Halvoson started running last week that has the whole district buzzing:

Shuster got the State Police to cite Halvorson for harassing one of his campaign workers, 22 year old Meghan Boocks, at the Fayette County Fair. In response, Halvorson is suing Boocks for defamation. ("This," said a Halverson spokesperson, "is a political hit job that the Shuster campaign pulled directly from the Hillary Clinton playbook on character assassination, just before the election.")The bad feeling between them has been further stoked because the ad, reminding voters that Shuster's incredibly corrupt father, the previous congressman, was just like the odious son and that the father was also having sex with lobbyists, just the way Shuster, Jr. does. Shasta never stops whining that Halvorson started running the outrageous-- albeit true-- ad hours after his mother died. Halvorson says he didn't run the ad sooner out of respect for Halvorson's mother and that he should man up and face all the allegations in the ad which have been thoroughly fact-checked and found 100% true.

I wonder how many low-info Democrats in PA-09 are going to vote for Halvorson because, after all, "any Democrat is better than any Republican." Whatever there is of a Democratic Party in the district is supporting write-in candidate Adam Sedlock. Meanwhile, though Halvorson-- formerly a Ted Cruz supporter-- is backing Trump, the Trump campaign has officially endorsed the status quo, crooked Ryan-Republican, Shuster. This is a crazy mixed up race on every level. 

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The Trump Effect-- On The 2016 Senate Races... And Beyond


You may have read yesterday that new polls are showing Democrats surging in gubernatorial races. The Trump effect looks like it will be kicking in up and down the ballots, even in the Republican-friendly states like Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia and Missouri, that have gubernatorial races this year. “We’re in a map right now where we’re pleased, on a race-by-race basis, at how this looks,” said Jared Leopold, a spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association. “Everyone expected that 2016 would be a difficult cycle for Democrats because we were defending more.” Is Leopold celebrating that the Trump-like "Democratic" billionaire, Jim Justice, a detestable arch conservative who reeks corruption and has announced he won't vote for Hillary, is ahead? I called the Democratic Governors Association and they refused to comment on West Virginia. They'd rather talk about North Carolina and Indiana
A Ball State University poll released Wednesday, conducted for WISH-TV in Indianapolis, shows former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg (D) leading Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) by a 48 percent to 43 percent margin in the race to replace Republican Gov. Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s running mate.

In North Carolina, another Republican-led state, three surveys released this week show Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) locked in a tight race with Gov. Pat McCrory (R), who has faced nationwide backlash over the state’s law on public bathroom use for transgender people. Polls conducted by CNN and Survey USA showed Cooper with a narrow lead, while a survey conducted by the conservative Civitas Institute showed McCrory slightly ahead.

Surveys in two states led by Democrats, Oregon and New Hampshire, show Democrats up by significant margins in gubernatorial races.

A University of New Hampshire poll conducted for WMUR showed Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern (D) leading fellow Executive Councilor Chris Sununu (R) 44 percent to 38 percent. A MassInc poll conducted for WBUR released last week showed Van Ostern up 47 percent to 44 percent.

...In Montana, both Democrats and Republicans believe Gov. Steve Bullock (D) is likely to win a second term.

Though governor races tend to be viewed differently by voters than federal races, some Republicans worry that Donald Trump’s increasingly perilous political standing could begin to bleed down ticket, especially in North Carolina and New Hampshire, two presidential swing states.
But it's the Senate where most attention has been focused. This should have been a relatively easy year for Democrats to win the majority and to bank seats for the expected GOP come-back in 2018. The 2018 midterm map favors Republicans as much as the 2016 midterm map favors Democrats. Unfortunately, Schumer and Tester, who run the DSCC recruited excruciatingly bad candidates and not only are the Democrats not banking the seats they need to offset expected losses in 2018, they could possibly manage to not even win the Senate back this year. The only reason Schumer's dreadful, Wall Street-friendly conservative recruits are even in contention at all is because of Trump's toxicity. "Without Trump," one progressive senator who's no fan of Schumer's told me, "we wouldn't have a prayer. Schumer screwed up royally in too many states."

There are 34 Senate seats with elections this year. 10 are safely Republican-- Utah, South Dakota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Kentucky, South Carolina, Alabama, Kansas, Idaho and Arkansas-- and not looked at as worth contesting by the Democrats and 8 are safely Democratic-- California, Oregon, Vermont, Hawaii, Maryland, Connecticut, New York and Washington-- not looked at as worth contesting by the Republicans. That leaves 16 seats with vulnerable incumbents that the two parties are battling over: just 2 Democratic-- Nevada and Colorado-- and a whopping 12 Republican seats-- Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Hampshire, Illinois, Georgia, Alaska, Indiana, Arizona, Missouri, Iowa, Louisiana, North Carolina and Florida.

Goal Thermometer Despite poking around to see if he could get Wall Street whore and New Dem chief Ron Kind to run, Schumer didn't interfere in Wisconsin, where Russ Feingold was the overwhelming favorite of the state's Democrats and is kicking unpopular extremist Republican Ron Johnson's ass. Other states were-- and thereby are-- less fortunate. Schumer overrode Iowans to insert corporate shill Patty Judge, who is going down to a tremendous defeat. Schumer squelched the early enthusiasm for smart, young, ideas-driven candidate PG Sittenfeld in Ohio and forced walking corpse, conservative throwback Ted Strickland, into the race, where he's being slaughtered by dull and unaccomplished Republican Rob Portman. Schumer recruited reactionary New Dem Ann Kirkpatrick to run against the very vulnerable John McCain. The only way she will become senator is if McCain dies before election day. In Florida, Schumer promised Wall Street he would keep Alan Grayson out of the Senate and the vessel was Wall Street's favorite New Dem, Patrick Murphy, who the DSCC and their allies spent millions on to get over the primary finish line. The DSCC has now abandoned him to Marco Rubio-- a weak and flawed candidate Grayson could have eviscerated and beaten-- who is beating Murphy. In Pennsylvania, Schumer spent a fortune denying the nomination to the extremely popular Joe Sestak-- popular with real Democrats, not with establishment elites-- and Schumer's mediocre candidate, former fracking lobbyist Katie McGinty has been unable to put the reprehensible Republican, Pat Toomey, away. Even in the one race where Schumer's strategy worked-- recruiting very right-wing corporate whore Evan Bayh in Indiana, a state that would not have otherwise been in play-- even if Evan wins, it's a mixed bag, since he tends to vote with the GOP as much as with the Democrats and if he's in the Senate he will be constantly dragging the Democratic caucus further right on most issues. He's so bad that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have pointedly left him out of their appeals to Democrats to vote to give the party a Senate majority.

The Democrats could take back Alaska-- where the GOP is in a vicious civil war between mainstream conservatives led by Lisa Murkowski and fringy neo-fascists led by Trumpist Joe Miller (running as a Libertarian) but instead of embracing the Democrat in the race, progressive reformer Ray Metcalfe, Schumer tried recruiting the incredibly corrupt Mark Begich and when Begich turned him down, gave the OK for his allies in the party establishment to throw Metcalfe under the bus and support an independent candidate instead.

The state of the race as I see it now is that Schumer has thrown away Alaska, Arizona, Iowa and Ohio and that the GOP will win each of those states. Georgia and Louisiana are going to vote Republican. Colorado, Wisconsin and Illinois are safely Democratic and Indiana, Nevada, and New Hampshire will probably go Democratic. That leaves Florida leaning Republican, Missouri leaning Republican, North Carolina and Pennsylvania true toss ups.

Over at Politico yesterday, Burgess Everett wrote that the battle for the Senate is down to 6 states: "the traditional swing states of Nevada, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, and the newly competitive states of North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana, which historically lean Republican."
One wild card is Florida, where Democrats are engaged in an internal battle about whether to add the Sunshine State back into the battleground mix. President Barack Obama was just there hammering Sen. Marco Rubio, but Democratic groups have cut more than $15 million in ad buys. Some in the party are advocating that Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) can win with a reinvestment of party resources, but the DSCC and Senate Majority PAC are for now unmoved.

Here's Politico's guide to the half-dozen states that truly dictate whether Mitch McConnell or Chuck Schumer will be running the show next year.

New Hampshire

Democrats just got their best poll of the race from UNH/WMUR, showing Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) losing by nearly double-digits to Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan. Democrats are crowing about it, but no one on the ground actually thinks it’s a blowout.

...Hassan is trying to make Ayotte pay for not disavowing Trump until this month.

“When it became untenable to stick with him ... she switched,” Hassan said of Trump in an interview this month.


Republican Todd Young's campaign is laser-focused on a glaring vulnerability that’s dogged Democrat Evan Bayh since he entered the race in July: The charge that he abandoned Indiana until he wanted to run for office again.

...Thought by Democrats to be a lock when the former senator and governor enjoyed a double-digit advantage three months ago, Bayh has seen his lead dwindle to single digits after a barrage of attack ads. Democrats are betting that Indiana voters’ long history with the Bayh family will be enough.


More than ever before, Democrat Katie McGinty’s campaign is hitching itself to the Clinton wagon and attempting to make GOP Sen. Pat Toomey’s indecision on Trump the race’s signature issue. Toomey has said he's still waiting for Trump to earn his vote.

...But nationalizing the race by making it about Trump carries risks for McGinty as well. While Toomey has carved out a brand distinct from Trump’s, many voters still see her as a generic Democrat. While Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has pulled away in Pennsylvania, McGinty and Toomey are running neck-and-neck.

North Carolina

It’s all tied up in North Carolina, where Democrat Deborah Ross has steadily gained on Sen. Richard Burr, a low-key and relaxed lawmaker who vowed not to start his campaign until October. Now, Republicans are betting it all on an advertising blitz about the “radically liberal” stances Ross took while at the American Civil Liberties Union. The spots slam her for voicing concern over the state’s sex offender registry, defending flag burners and even for advocating for an adolescent who was convicted of sexual assault. (The ACLU believed he had been given too harsh a sentence for someone his age.)

Burr, however, waited to launch the attacks, causing much grumbling among national and local Republicans, who say an aggressive summer ad campaign to define Ross would’ve put the race out of reach for Democrats. Republicans familiar with Burr’s campaign said there was not enough cash to do so, as other Senate races were seen as “higher priorities.”

So the political winds, for now, are behind Ross, a former state legislator and a late-round draft pick for her party. Trump trails in the state, as Clinton airs wall-to-wall ads. And the GOP brand has suffered during a months-long fight over the state’s transgender “bathroom law,” which a majority of voters don’t support.


The GOP assumed Trump’s popularity would guarantee GOP Sen. Roy Blunt’s reelection. But while Trump’s numbers in the state slid slightly over the past month, Democrat Jason Kander gained momentum and kept outperforming Clinton on the Democratic ticket.

Kander got reinforcements from the Democratic Party’s liberal firebrand Elizabeth Warren on a recent Friday in Kansas City before a capacity crowd of over 1,000 people. Warren delivered a roaring indictment of Blunt as “part of the problem” in Washington and tied him to special interest groups such as the Koch brothers.

Warren has limited appeal in red Missouri, but her depiction of Blunt as a career politician with deep ties to Washington lobbyists-- including within his own family-- syncs with Kander’s central message in the race.

Polls show Blunt with only a slight lead, and Republicans have privately urged Blunt to hit back at the Democrats' attacks more forcefully. But Blunt has instead focused on criticizing Kander over his support for Clinton and Obamacare.


The Silver State is the most diverse swing state up for grabs and the only one in which Republicans are on offense. Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) has been a solid recruit for the GOP, acquitting himself well in the Democratic-leaning state against former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. The winner will claim a big prize: the seat of Democrat Harry Reid, the retiring minority leader.

Heck has led for most of the year, though polls are showing the race beginning to tilt Cortez Masto’s way. Polling in Nevada is notoriously unreliable due to the difficulty of reaching casino workers and cellphone users. The past two surveys showed Heck up 3 percentage points and Cortez Masto up 7.

But one thing is more certain: Heck is taking plenty of heat from conservatives for unendorsing Trump.

"No Cortez Masto supporter was going to change their vote and vote for him" because Heck unendorsed Trump, said Chuck Muth, a former state GOP executive director, on Nevada radio this month. It’s one of several similar clips being circulated by Nevada Democrats.
So let's imagine that the Schumer curse is somewhat ameliorated by the Trump curse and that Democrats win Nevada, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Indiana and even Missouri and Florida. Hard to imagine, but play along. Two years later, unless Hillary suddenly turns into FDR (rather than the more likely Richard Nixon), the Democrats will face an electoral nightmare. Of the 33 Senate seats up, 9 are held by Democrats who will be considered vulnerable-- the governor-filled Kaine Virginia seat, Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Joe Manchin (WV), Claire McCaskill (MO), Sherrod Brown (OH), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Bill Nelson (FL), Jon Tester (MT) and Joe Donnelly (IN). On top of that Bob Menendez (D-NJ) will either be super-vulnerable or in prison. Independent Angus King (ME), who caucuses with the Democrats, will also be vulnerable if LePage decides to challenge him (likely). And among Republicans, only Dean Heller (NV) could be thought to be vulnerable to a Democrat.

So... say the pretty much everything within reason goes for the Democrats-- even Missouri and Florida-- they going into 2018 with 54 seats. That's 2 years into an obstructed Hillary term and with weak candidates in red states North Dakota (Heitkamp), Missouri (McCaskill), Montana (Tester), and Indiana (Donnelly), who-knows-what in Virginia, New Jersey and Florida, where Nelson is likely to run for governor and Rick Scott will probably run for the Senate. And no Trump on the ticket. I'm sure McConnell likes those odds better than the one's he's looking at today.

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Terry Tate-- The Office Linebacker Knows How To Make America Great Again!


-by Noah

Not that I advocate physical violence as of punishment for bad behavior, even when that bad behavior is physical violence itself. Personally, my mind turns to much more devious punishments (admittedly only after thinking of things involving 5 finger death hits and crowbars). But what does one do when one encounters someone who, if he was raised by parents at all, was probably raised by the four-legged kind. Clearly, some people never met up with any sort of discipline, instruction in morals, or learned about the concepts of human decency.

Aw, hell. Screw my inner liberal! Damn the chains of intellectualism and reason! Sometimes, ya just got to go with a man who offers real solutions: The Office Linebacker himself, Terry Tate! I could watch this all day! And I mean all day! When the glorious day comes that there is such a thing as NoahTV, this will run 24hrs on NoahTV1. And, just wait 'til you see NoahTV2!

Come on... was that awesome amazing, incredible, fantastic video worth a couple of bucks for the congressional candidate of your choice who wants to make America great again? You won't see that on Rachel Maddow's Show, will you?
Goal Thermometer

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Could the Billion-Dollar Loser actually be a lower life form than (shudder) Roy Cohn? Tony Kushner thinks maybe so


On NPR's This Week in Politics yesterday, we heard playwright Tony Kushner talking from London with NPR's David Furst about the link between Roy Cohn and Donald Trump.

by Ken

Probably I haven't been paying close enough attention -- and goodness knows, I've tried my hardest to pay as little attention as possible to this whole election thing -- but in all my years of forced Trump-watching, I've managed to miss the link between the Billion-Dollar Loser and his (and his dear old dad's) onetime lawyer, Roy Cohn. But as soon as you think of that rabid legal attack dog imparting his, er, wisdom, to the Younger Donald, and something sure clicks. And especially now that we see the older and scummier Donald as a full-time politician. (I see now that in June the Washington Post's Robert O'Harrow and Shawn Boburg took an extensive look into the Donald-and-Roy connection in a piece headlined "The man who showed Donald Trump how to exploit power and instill fear.")

And when you think about Roy Cohn, who in the land of the living would you be most likely to think of next? If you said playwright Tony Kushner, who made the dying-of-AIDS Roy Cohn a major character in his epic play Angels in America, then you're thinking in the same groove as NPR's This Week in Politics, which yesterday shared a phone interview that David Furst did with Kushner from London. Here's how the Cohn-Trump and Cohn-Kushner connections are established on WNYC's program page for This Week in Politics:
In just about any introduction for Roy Cohn, you find the word 'infamous' within the first sentence or two. He was chief counsel to Joseph McCarthy during the senator's Communist witch hunt of the 1950s. Instrumental in the trial that led to Julius and Ethyl Rosenberg’s executions.  Attorney to mafia bosses. Eventually disbarred for misconduct in 1986.

And in the 1970s and 80s, he was Donald trump's lawyer. Many say, his mentor.

Roy Cohn appears as one of the characters in Angels in America, Tony Kushner's award-winning play and miniseries about New York during the worst years of the AIDS epidemic.

This week, playwright Tony Kushner joins host David Furst to talk about Cohn, Trump and the 2016 race. Kushner is in London, where he's working on his new show, The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures.
Now Kushner isn't exactly a fan of Roy Cohn, but he feels a connection to him and his story, which is how he came to put Cohn in Angels in America. At the time of Cohn's death, a closeted gay man felled by AIDS, Kushner was uncomfortable with the homophobic glee in the response of some of Cohn's longtime enemies, and thought the story at least called for some looking into.

Kushner specifies in the interview that he has to be careful to distinguish the real Roy Cohn from the character he created in the play, but he carefully notes that he devoured every source he could find on the subject, and in the interview he surprises David Kurtz at the outset by saying that no, he doesn't see a copy of Roy Cohn in Donald Trump.


What? He thinks Donald Trump doesn't measure up to the likes of Roy Cohn?
I felt, in reading about him, and I read everything I could get my hands on, that there was something coherent in his core, that he was -- for all of his maliciousness and his ruthlessness and his destructiveness, in the case of the Rosenbergs' execution (he frequently bragged about forcing the judge to send Ethel Rosenberg to death; his malevolence crossed over into judicial murder) -- so he's a very bad person.

But one thing that impressed me was that from the day McCarthy drank himself to death to the day Roy Cohn died, he never abandoned the memory of Joe McCarthy. He defended it; he defended what McCarthy had done; he defended McCarthy himself, as a wonderful person. In reading what Roy wrote about him, and he wrote a lot about him, it seemed to me that this was somebody who actually was capable of loving someone else, and maintaining that love, even when it became very unfashionable to do so.

Which speaks to a kind of character consistency in Roy that I see no evidence of whatsoever in Donald Trump, who seems to me to be a profoundly disloyal person who's so entirely interested in himself to the exclusion of all else, who lives in a world of delusion that's entirely created by his titanic, monstrous narcissism, that loyalty to other people, which requires a kind of object constancy, is completely out of the question.

So he seems to me really nothing like Roy in that sense. It seems weird to say this, but I think Roy was maybe a finer person than Donald Trump.


This photo was one of those used to accompany an extensive piece that Trump biographer David Cay Johnston wrote for London's Daily Mail in July, "How Trump made the Mob an offer they could not refuse: He might have made a killing building his first skyscraper, but Donald's shrewdest investment was in the MAFIA."

Which is not to say that Kushner doesn't see the Cohn-McCarthy legacy in Trump. Asked about such things as Trump's practice of systematic character assassination of his opponents and his "relentless conspiracy theories," Kushner says, "It makes complete sense that he learned lessons from Roy, who learned lessons from McCarthy, or McCarthy learned lessons from Roy, or the two of them together cooked up this style."

Then Kushner listens to a pair of audio clips: first, McCarthy raving about "Communist infiltration of the CIA" and our nuclear program and God knows what else; then Trump saying, "She's guilty of a very, very serious crime. She should not be allowed to run. And just in that respect I say it's rigged."

Kushner pronounces this "the quintessence of McCarthyism."
And it has been horrifying but kind of fascinating to watch it happen in real time as opposed to reading about it in the history books. If you say an enormous lie, that you yourself know is a lie, and you just repeat it over and over again, and don't bother to answer any questions about it, and never get yourself in a situation where you're going to have to answer the questions -- I mean, that's where McCarthy made his big misstep, taking on the U.S. armed forces, so soon after World War II, and calling them an organization full of traitors --
and, of course, precipitating the televised hearings that unmasked McCarthy in front of the whole country. This lesson Trump seems to have learned quite well, Kushner suggests, noting that he's "pretty good at avoiding" answering awkward questions.
Mostly he never has to really explain anything, or reconcile any contradictions, and he just repeats whatever lie has popped into his head over and over again, leaving us to simply wonder, "Does he know he's lying now?" And whether the con artist believes his own con is a kind of a mesmerizing question. It's just unfortunately not the question we should be obsessed with in a presidential election.

"No, AIDS is what homosexuals have. I have liver cancer," a belligerent Roy Cohn (Al Pacino) insists in response to the diagnosis his doctor (James Cromwell) is trying to deliver, in Mike Nichols's HBO production of Tony Kushner's Angels in America.

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You Want Us To Deal Seriously With Climate Change? The Key Is Congressional Change


This week Blue America has been working with our friends at Climate Hawks Vote to win House seats for candidates committed to ameliorating climate change, primarily House seats that are in winnable districts that the DCCC is ignoring. With Trump's dysfunctional campaign and crude bigotry dragging down the whole ticket, it looks-- for the first time this cycle-- that the Democrats actually have a chance of recapturing the majority and retiring Paul Ryan from the Speakership. Imagine a House where Ryan's willingly ignorant committee chairmen no longer set the agenda!

The DCCC doesn't like taking on GOP committee chairmen. We do-- and we are. Our candidates are all running, in part, to address global warming, combat the fossil-fuel industry, and support renewable energy. If climate hawks are part of a winning coalition that takes over Congress in 2017, we can work towards halting toxic fracking, towards stopping extreme-energy projects; we can start the work it will take to put a price on carbon pollution, and we can make sure subpoenas are sent to ExxonMobil instead of climate scientists. Our candidates want to invest billions in renewable, resilient infrastructure to restore climate justice and end the fossil-fuel economy-- before it's too late.

Taking back the House is a big challenge-- Republicans currently hold a 30-seat advantage. But all across the country, Democratic registration is up and Trump's continuous stream of bile is turning off mainstream conservative voters who are telling pollsters they won't be voting for Republican candidates November 8. Progressive candidates in the suburbs of Philadelphia (Mary Ellen Balchunis), Austin and San Antonio (Tom Wakely), New York (Zephyr Teachout and Duwayne Gregory), Los Angeles (Bao Nguyen and Nanette Barragán), Kalamazoo (Paul Clements), Miami (Alina Valdes), to name a few, weren't looked at as winnable by the DCCC. That's all changed now... and if we're going to have a House ready to work on, for example, climate issues, it means taking back the House and not taking it back with Blue Dogs and New Dems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- the ones who opposed single-payer and the public option and stuck us with a very flawed Obamacare. So... please dig as deep as you can comfortably do and pick out a candidate or two-- for the future of the country and the species and the planet.

Want to get a feel for how strongly our candidates feel about climate as an issue? Mary Ellen Balchunis told us yesterday that "While the Republican party is still debating whether climate change even exists, I am prepared to enact legislation that will reduce carbon output on day one. I will fight for a carbon tax while encouraging investment in clean, sustainable technologies to shape the clean energy economy. Beyond this, I will support public transit development and a modernized electrical grid, to make sure that we have the infrastructure to sustainably meet demand in the future. Unfortunately, my opponent Pat Meehan claims to care about climate change, but has voted to repeal the only carbon regulations on power plants, end research into the effects of fossil fuels, and even permit pipelines to run through our national parks and monuments. Pennsylvanian's deserve a legislator who prioritizes a healthy environment for their children's future ahead of oil and gas companies' balance sheets."

And our candidates have records of leadership on progressive issues. Take Nanette Barragan, for example. "While my opponent was filling his coffers with Big Oil special interests money from the most disreputable lobbyists in Sacramento," she told us, "I was leading a successful fight to prevent the drilling of 34 oil and water injection wells in Hermosa Beach and into the Santa Monica Bay. If you care about climate change, retire Isadore Hall and send me to Congress. We both have records that are as crystal clear as the water still is off Hermosa Beach." Does that sound like someone you want on your team, fighting for your issues? Her opponent, Isadore Hall, is one of Sacramento's most corrupt legislators, a disgrace to a legislature that can't wait to see him leave.

Paul Clements isn't just one of the strongest advocates of climate change action of any candidate running for Congress, he's up against the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Rep. who buries every climate proposal. "In this election, we have the opportunity to replace one of Congress's leading climate science deniers," he said. "Fred Upton has been called, appropriately, 'Congress's Number 1 Enemy of Planet Earth,' and has been using his position to block any meaningful action on climate change. Congressman Upton has taken $931,000 from the oil and gas industry, and has used his role as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee to keep energy companies from being held accountable for their actions, especially companies like Exxon and BP, in which he owns a quarter of a million dollars in stock. Despite his record, an outside group recently had the audacity to come into our district to promote Fred Upton as a 'clean energy champion.' The outrageous nature of their lies show just how important Fred Upton is to oil and gas, and how threatened they are this year. If Congressman Upton is reelected, we can expect two more years of obstructionism from Congress, and a dangerous lack of action on climate, our nation's most critical challenge. I look forward to working in Congress to reverse the damage that has been caused, and prevent climate catastrophe."

Tom Wakely is running against Science Committee Chairman and chief climate change denier, Lamar Smith. "What truly gets me worked up," he told us, "is this idea that you have to 'believe' in climate change. The notion that it takes some great leap of faith in order to see and feel destruction or pollution is simply maddening. This is basically a matter of rejecting reality. There is no option when it concerns our climate. We have to act now. We must end fossil fuel subsidies and find market based initiatives to turn over a new leaf. There's no going back if we continue to wait for the corruption to subside or wait for the oil to run out. Lamar Smith and anyone of his ilk must be retired. The livelihood of future generations depend on it."

All the candidates at the thermometer below are real change candidates, not status quo politicians. We need them and right now they need us. The election's in just a little over 2 weeks.
Goal Thermometer

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Is The Republican Wing Of The Democratic Party Taking Over? Only If You Let Them


Patrick Murphy... with Little Chucky Schmucky

The Democratic Establishment is panicking progressives into voting for unspeakably corrupt conservative candidates, warning them that Trump is under the bed and that if they don't vote for Democrats up and down the ticket, he will kill and eat everyone-- and not necessarily in that order. In recent days, we've been warning you about how the DCCC has orchestrated a return of the Blue Dogs. Blue Dogs and New Dems-- the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- are getting millions of dollars in support for their campaigns from the DCCC and Pelosi's illegally coordinated House Majority PAC, while progressives have been almost entirely left to fend for themselves, often after the DCCC badgered donors into not contributing to progressives' campaigns.

This week, the New Republic ran a piece, Will 2016 Mark the Return of the Blue Dog Democrat? which throws around the term "Blue Dog Democrat" very loosely. Blue Dog Democrats fill out an application and there are membership dues and a secret handshake. It's not a randomly hideous state of mind; it's a defined group one joins. The Blue Dogs have turned people down who applied for membership-- literally-- for not being right-wing and corrupt enough. So... unless someone can show you the secret handshake, they're not really a Blue Dog. A conservaDem, on the other hand, that's a better description of Missouri Senate candidate Jason Kander.

Xander is running against one of the most egregiously corrupt Senate Republicans, Roy Blunt, whose wife is one of the "top corporate lobbyists in Washington" and whose 4 children are all K Street lobbyists as well. Kander is an anti-corruption reformer. But... the writers have bought into the old Beltway conservaDem conventional wisdom that only reactionaries can win in states like Missouri. They're incorrect and it's a fatal flaw of establishment Democratic strategy.
But should Kander win this Senate fight, he would be the most prominent member of a new crop of white, young, male Democrats emerging in the South—politicians who would have fit neatly into a Democratic Party with an influential conservative wing, but are somewhat anachronistic in a party that has grown more liberal, urban, and diverse in the Obama era. This is the irony of Kander’s candidacy: If the Democratic Party wants to start winning in the South, it may have to reach towards its Blue Dog past, rather than its multi-ethnic present and future. Twenty years ago, Missouri was a remnant of the solid South, a bulwark of conservative Democrats who were for guns and against abortion.
Kander, better than Blunt
Kander's approach is smart and is based on an assumption "that Missourians have grown tired of career politicians like Roy Blunt who have been grandfathered into political power. 'He is Washington through and through,' said his communications director, Chris Hayden. 'Jason believes that it’s time for a new generation of leadership.'" Not a word of policy there-- just process. Nothing inspiring or about how Kander can help Missouri families make a better life. Ethics reform is good and it's a strength Kander is making the most of... but progressive policy is missing from his pitch. His "biographical campaign grounded in character, not ideology" is not enough for anything other than-- at best-- a step up the careerist ladder. When he gets into pushing policy, it's to show how anti-Obama he is.
“He was the first Democrat to come out against the Iran deal.” In an election season that has partly been defined by establishment vs. anti-establishment politics, Kander falls squarely in the latter camp. Not only is he running against Republican elites, but is also keeping his distance from Hillary Clinton. He appeared with Clinton at an early campaign rally, but hasn’t been seen with her for months and sat out the Democratic National Convention in July.

Kander’s twist is that he doesn’t belong to the main anti-establishment wing of the Democratic Party-- the Bernie Sanders wing. When we asked Hayden which senators Kander most admired and would want to work with in Congress, he listed Iowa’s Joni Ernst and Arkansas’s Tom Cotton, two fiercely conservative Republicans who, like Kander, are also veterans.
It gets worse. The authors, Alex Shephard and Laura Reston, then ballyhoo a Democrat so bad-- an "ex"-Republican, spoiled rich-kid with ZERO accomplishments and a loyalty to Wall Street and a wealthy and powerful Saudi family who's helped finance his career-- Patrick Murphy, literally the worst Democrat the part is running in 2016. "Kander," they wrote, "isn’t the only young, white Democrat to run for office in the South, drumming up national media attention as the Next Big Thing in the region. Patrick Murphy, the Democratic Senate candidate in Florida, fits a similar mold. He’s moderate and charismatic, a rising star in state politics." He isn't "moderate." He's conservative, nor is he charismatic; he's drunk. If he's a rising star in state politics, Florida is further up shit's creek with no paddle. They describe Murphy's (and Kander's) policies as "so bland, indeed, that they rely heavily on their youth to manufacture enthusiasm among voters. At the heart of their strategies is the idea that old order is corrupt and decrepit." Youth doesn't last forever; Bernie still has his policies at 75 years old. As far as ethics... maybe Kander can do what few politicians ever do and stay straight. Murphy is already one of the most corrupt Washington politicians, a veritable case study in what voters find disgusting and reprehensible about politics. I suspect Shephard and Reston didn't do enough homework on Murphy before writing their piece to get a passing grade from a high school civics teacher.

Queens County boss and former New Dem head, Joe Crowley, is one of the most corrupt men to have ever served in Congress. Democratic members in Congress are being told that the next leader after Pelosi and Hoyer are gone will be either Crowley or Wasserman Schultz, also a New Dem and who may be even more corrupt than he is! If this is the best the Democrats can do for leadership, the party doesn't deserve to run Congress. Nor can Americans afford to let them. That's why so many millions of Americans just want to blow up the whole system and are willing to vote for a fascist pig like Trump.

They almost seemed more eager to get out the (DSCC) party line than giving their readers any insights into the face of the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. "Even running neck-in-neck with Blunt," they assert, "Kander has shown that Democrats have a shot in the South if they rise above partisanship and engage in anti-establishment politics. His performance in Missouri will likely be seen as a blueprint for Democrats in the region and other conservative areas." But then they did get into the crux of the problem.
The problem for the Democratic Party is that, if these candidates begin to win, it will introduce new tensions to a congressional coalition that has grown accustomed to being more uniformly liberal. Kander is a throwback from the conservative wing of the Democratic Party—the so-called Blue Dogs who were all but flushed out of Congress in the revanchist backlash to President Barack Obama that began in the 2010 midterms. Their influence has been supplanted by the coalition Obama cobbled together: women, African-Americans, Latinos, and young voters, who together constitute the future of the Democratic Party at the national level.

Blue Dog Democrats often frustrated the national party-- to say nothing of the left-- by refusing to tow the party line: Think of the unseemly deal-making that the Democrats had to undergo to get a single vote for Obamacare from Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson (which ended up being unnecessary anyway). Kander’s opposition to the Iran deal, to say nothing of his desire to work with far-right senators like Ernst and Cotton, suggest that he wouldn’t exactly be a rubber stamp for a Clinton White House. Of course, Kander is preferable to Blunt, just as Joe Manchin is preferable to any West Virginia Republican. The question is whether the Democrats, who have turned left over the last eight years, are capable of putting together a stable and coherent governing coalition, particularly in an institution like the Senate, which tilts power toward rural, conservative areas.

But having a conflicted, raucous coalition may be preferable to the alternative. The Republican Party in the past decade has gone through a series of purges that have resulted in a homogenous, shrinking party obsessed with the purity of its members. And look where the GOP is now.

Patrick Murphy doesn't understand why cutting Social Security and Medicare is wrong; he's too dumb to understand

I often hear naive Democrats talk about how even a fake Democrat as reactionary and corrupt as Patrick Murphy is "better than a Republican" or, in this case, "better than Rubio." He will, after all, vote with the Democrats to confirm judges which Rubio will not do and he'll vote with the Democrats on other things as well. But, a Senator Murphy would mean that inside the Democratic party there is another force tugging it to the right, pushing Wall Street's agenda, closing down possibilities of serious progressive solutions to problems. Rubio, a Republican, isn't capable of impacting the Democratic Party that way. Blue Dog and New Dems (Murphy is a New Dem), drag the party brand into the toilet with him and make it more difficult for voters to see the difference between the two parties-- because the difference blurs for the sake of the politicians' own careers. American families get lost in the shuffle. I'd never vote for Patrick Murphy, even if it meant Rubio getting another term. As George Orwell famously said, "A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims... but accomplices."

No Blue Dogs on this list:
Goal Thermometer

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Tony James Was A Great Guitarist In Generation X, But The Tony James In This Post Is A Bankster-For-Hillary


I was determined to start Sunday off with something uplifting. I mean it's Sunday. But it's a season infected by Trump. The best I could do was humor (above) and a couple of sardonic bits and pieces... like Trump's campaign CEO, Steve Bannon escalating the al-right's war against Paul Ryan. The goal is to deprive Ryan of the Speaker's gavel next year and to destroy his career. Breitbart isn't just asserting that Ryan is trying to help elect Hillary but that he "leads the pro-Islamic migration wing of the Republican party" and that he's sabotaging Trump.
Fox Business host Lou Dobbs called on Ryan to step aside for his efforts to “undercut” Trump in his fight against Clinton.

“[Paul Ryan] should have the character to step aside,” Dobbs said. “I don’t think he should survive this… This man shouldn’t be there.”

“[Ryan] understands the consequences of what he does. If he undercuts Trump to the point that he loses the election, he’ll be responsible for the next three Supreme Court justices, [and] the direction of the country,” Dobbs said.

“Ryan has no concept of his responsibility as Speaker… and his duty to the nation,” Dobbs added, noting that Ryan’s future has become “intertwined” with that of Hillary Clinton’s. “He is a laughing stock leader. He is a small man dressed up in a big job… Ryan should no more be Speaker of the House than Hillary Clinton should be President of the United States. And make no mistake, the future of those two are intertwined.”

Indeed, the Washington Post recently speculated about the future relationship of the could-be Clinton-Ryan Washington power couple. “Their relationship could become Washington’s most important in determining whether the federal government functions over the next four years,” the Washington Post wrote.

Pat Caddell and others have observed that the revelation of the quiet alliance between the establishments of both parties-- praised by corporate media and denounced by grassroots conservatives and liberal progressives like Jill Stein-- may prove to be one of the most significant outcomes of the 2016 election and could prove ruinous for the Republican Party. As recent reports have highlighted, in a post-2016 political environment it remains unclear whether the Republican Party can maintain its current structure of being controlled by congressional leaders who represent the desires of the party’s donors but undermine the interests of its voters.

...“We are on the verge of seeing the Republican Party go the way of the Whigs,” Pat Caddell told Breitbart News exclusively. The Party is “at war with their voters. They are literally abandoning their own. The very base that has nominated Trump is a base that Paul Ryan can ill-afford to alienate, but on the other hand, he doesn’t believe in them. He does not believe what they believe… Having lost all of their citadels of strength, the party leaders have now abandoned all of their principles. Paul Ryan is in real trouble.”

Caddell explained that Paul Ryan is the “voice” of a Washington establishment that has “absolutely made clear” that it would prefer Clinton over Trump. “What you have is a Bush and Clinton dynasty. And the curtain has risen on the corruption that they’re all in the same game and that ultimately they’re allies. That’s what the American people have been revolting about. I fear that the establishment’s mind doesn’t even understand that that’s what the base is revolting against.”
Not funny enough for you? How about Chris Christie headed for federal prison? It's not like there are any sentient beings on the planet who didn't know he planned out the whole bridge closure debacle, but now it's being testified to under oath in open court. His deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, testified that she and Christie discussed the closure of the George Washington Bridge in advance and he gave the go-ahead.
At the same time, she testified that the governor himself sought to freeze out Steve Fulop after the Democrat was elected mayor of Jersey City. She told the jury she had planned a "mayor's day" meeting to bring together members of the administration with the incoming mayor, but the event was suddenly called off.

Prosecutors have pointed to that cancellation as another example of the how the governor's Office of Intergovernmental Relations, which was headed by Kelly, systematically punished elected officials who would not endorse Christie. But Kelly said she had no idea why the event was dropped.

She told the jury she was ordered by Kevin O'Dowd, the governor's chief of staff, to have each department call Fulop's office one-by-one and cancel.

Christie, she said tearfully, later marched into the office and declared, "No one's entitled to a fucking meeting."

She said the governor told her later to "continue to ice Fulop-- that no one was to talk to Fulop."
The Daily News report could be read as an epitaph of whatever is left of the foul-mouthed Christie's political career.

The former aide to Gov. Chris Christie accused of creating a traffic nightmare on the George Washington Bridge broke down on the stand Friday as she described her boss lashing out at her.

Bridget Anne Kelly said she was discussing the program for a press conference related to a fire in the Jersey Shore town of Seaside Heights when Christie exploded at her three years ago.

“He had a water bottle in his hand and he said, 'What the fuck do you think I am? A fucking game show host," Kelly said, her voice cracking.

The governor then hurled the bottle at her, Kelly testified.

“I moved out of the way and it hit my arm," the sobbing mother of four added.

“You're afraid of the governor?" defense lawyer Michael Critchley asked her.

"Yes, yes," she replied.

The ugly incident took place in Sept. 2013 as the politically-motivated lane closures were underway.

Is it any wonder Trump preferred him to Pence as a running mate? But as Skip Kaltenheuser pointed out Friday night, not all the ugly corruption came from Trump and the GOP. He and they may be more horrible than Hillary and the Democratic establishment but... it's just a matter of degrees. They're monstrous as well, just not quite as monstrous. They know how not to cross the line the way Trumpanzee does.
[Bradley Birkenfeld's] revelations enabled the US Treasury to recover $15 billion in back taxes, fines and penalties. They also put in motion international investigations of offshore banking's many misdeeds, and juiced up reformers seeking tougher oversight. Impacts on Swiss private banks-- there are scads of such banks, all shapes and sizes-- include a 2013 tax treaty facilitating the exchange of tax data between countries. This put a hitch in Switzerland's offshore tax haven status that vacuumed money. And plenty of dirt. Alas, though trickier, Birkenfeld says the multitude of nefarious practices requiring secret accounts still have plenty of global options.

Thing is, what the US reaped was a fraction of what could have been garnered had the massive tax evasion been fully brought to heel. That failure only increases the debt load every American carries. Why the lack of DOJ prosecutorial enthusiasm against tax cheats and their enabler bankers?

I don't want to step on too many nuggets, but Secretary of State Clinton stepped in to do the negotiations with UBS. She required UBS to disclose only 4,700 out of 19,000 illegal account holders. Birkenfeld's curious, as we all might be, as to who made the selection and how, and why the names were never made public. Why was the fine so inadequate compared to long-term profits, and why did DOJ so carelessly offer undeclared account holders anonymity and repeated amnesties?

Who are these titans of favoritism? Will the real masters of the universe please stand up?

It brings to mind proposals for excessively reduced corporate taxes for repatriating money sloshing around abroad, but I digress.

In Washington's small world of startling coincidence, before the negotiated deal UBS only contributed sixty grand to the Clinton Foundation. Afterwards, notes Birkenfeld, it went up by a factor of ten. UBS also partnered with the Foundation providing a low-interest thirty-two million dollar loan for a Foundation program. And President Clinton, the First, earned over a million and a half dollars "for a series of fireside chats with the bank's Wealth Management Chief Executive, Bob McCann...Bill Clinton's biggest payday since leaving the office of the Presidency."

...Birkenfeld reckons Americans are on the hook for a trillion dollars escaping off-shore, so they ought be making demands.
Elizabeth Schulte observed what many of us are seeing, namely that Trump's horror show is hiding what could be a rotten Democratic agenda. "Each time the Trump campaign lurches and careens to the right," she wrote, "it takes the heat off the Clinton campaign to defend its candidate's agenda." She then takes a break from the regularly scheduled Trump train wreck to talk about what Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party have up their sleeves: an immigration agenda that doesn't do much to change the status quo; a cozy relationship with the banksters; and gradual, incremental gutting of all the hopes and dreams Bernie painted for the electorate.

David Sirota has been on this beat for a long time-- and for all the right reasons. Last week he warned of shenanigans that could prove horrifying for American families that have nothing whatsoever to do with Trump.
While Hillary Clinton has spent the presidential campaign saying as little as possible about her ties to Wall Street, the executive who some observers say could be her Treasury Secretary has been openly promoting a plan to give financial firms control of hundreds of billions of dollars in retirement savings. The executive is Tony James, president of the Blackstone Group.

The investment colossus is most famous in politics for its Republican CEO likening an Obama tax plan to a Nazi invasion. James, though, is a longtime Democrat-- and one of Clinton’s top fundraisers. The billionaire sculpted the retirement initiative with a prominent labor economist whose work is supported by another investment mogul who is a  big Clinton donor. The proposal has received bipartisan praise from prominent economic thinkers, and James says that Clinton’s top aides are warming to the idea.

It is a plan that proponents say could help millions of Americans-- but could also enrich another constituency: the hedge fund and private equity industries that Blackstone dominates and that have donated millions to support Clinton’s presidential bid.

The proposal would require workers and employers to put a percentage of payroll into individual retirement accounts “to be invested well in pooled plans run by professional investment managers,” as James put it. In other words, individual voluntary 401(k)s would be replaced by a single national system, and much of the mandated savings would flow to Wall Street, where companies like Blackstone could earn big fees off the assets. And because of a gap in federal anti-corruption rules, there would be little to prevent the biggest investment contracts from being awarded to the biggest presidential campaign donors.

...Rather than funneling the hundreds of billions of dollars of new tax revenue into expanding Social Security benefits, as many Democratic lawmakers have called for, James proposed something different: A decade after George W. Bush’s failed attempt to divert Social Security revenue into private retirement accounts, the Blackstone president outlined a plan to create individual retirement accounts, some of whose assets would be managed by private financial firms.

...Critics see James’ proposal as an effort by a politically connected private equity mogul to present a Wall Street-enriching scheme as a social good-- at a moment when his own firm has faced lower profits, and at a generally challenging time for the alternative investments industry.

That industry relies on investments from state and local pension systems, which over the last decade have invested billions in alternatives in hopes of reaping above-market returns in exchange for higher fees. Recently, though, regulators, pension trustees, investment experts and academics have questioned whether retiree savings should be invested with firms like Blackstone in the first place.

Some pensions are pulling out their money. Other pension systems have been turned into 401(k)-style plans, which are difficult for the alternative investment industry to break into because of federal laws that discourage those plans from buying into riskier, illiquid investments.

In the face of these challenges, James’ proposal could provide a government-mandated flow of money from workers’ paychecks into the high-fee alternative investment industry.

“This new plan depends on sweeping government mandates, the appropriation of trillions of dollars from the private sector that is then handed over to zillionaire investment managers who make no guarantees about rates of returns or discounted fees,” said South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis, a Republican who serves on his state’s pension investment council, which contracts with Blackstone. “The only guaranteed benefit I see in this plan is one for wealthy money managers and their cronies. Wall Streeters reading this plan will understand, without having specifically been told, that having Hillary Clinton and the federal government use its power to aggregate the existing and future retirement funds of working Americans and entrust it to them is the Holy Grail of finance.”

Chris Tobe, a Democrat who advises institutional investors and who served on Kentucky’s pension board, put it just as bluntly: “James’ plan is a deliberate attempt to get around federal protections for retirees because alternative investments are not generally allowed in the 401(k) world. This is about making Blackstone and other private equity firms even richer than they already are.”

Clinton has cast herself as skeptical of the “shadow banking” world that Blackstone operates in, and she has said she wants to close a loophole that lets private equity managers pay a lower tax rate than most other workers.

Yet for all of Clinton’s tough talk against Wall Street, James and others associated with Blackstone have been among her biggest fundraisers, and during a recent cocktail party in Washington D.C. to promote the plan, James said he was optimistic that a Clinton win could make his proposal a reality.

“What the election would mean for our plan: Yes, we’ve spent a fair amount of time with a number of Hillary’s policy advisors. So far they have been very encouraging about the plan,” he told the assembled crowd. “I am hopeful she’ll grab this issue once elected, and run with it. I think the signals are warm on that.”

Sirota also introduces his readers to Queens County boss and former New Dem chief, Joe Crowley, a glad-handing congressman who specializes in Wall Street corruption. He's slithered into position as the only House Dem seriously challenging the odious Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the post-Pelosi/post-Hoyer party leader-- the Speaker track. Either of them leading the Democratic Party is absolution repulsive. Sirota mentioned in passing that James' proposal "touts legislation from House Democratic Vice-Chairman Joe Crowley that would direct many employers to open individual retirement accounts for their employees. Crowley's office has promoted the initiative as one that would have the new accounts invest retiree savings in "a limited number of low-fee index fund options." However, the bill includes a provision that would give federal officials latitude to potentially invest the new money in alternative investments. Blackstone donors are collectively the third largest donor to Crowley during his congressional career, and Crowley has raised more than $1.6 million from donors in the securities and investment industry, according to CRP." Uplifting, right? This is what the Democratic Party has degenerated into. How do we fight back and derail this catastrophe? Electing committed progressive reformers like Zephyr Teachout, Pramila Jayapal, Tom Wakely, Paul Clements is a sure first step. Here:
Goal Thermometer

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