Sunday, July 31, 2016

Would You Trust Trump With National Security Secrets? Should Obama?


There are a lot of Americans nervous about the prospect of the Trumpanzee getting national security briefings. Harry Reid even suggested that the intelligence services prepare "fake" briefings for him so that if he sells them to the Russians or whomever else, it doesn't endanger the country's security. Carl Bildt, the former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, a country Trump used to routinely-- and falsely-- claim as part of his ancestry, tweeted last week that he "never thought a serious candidate for US President could be a serious threat against the security of the West. But that’s where we are." He wasn't referring to Hillary.

David Cicilline (D-RI), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote President Obama a letter urging him to deny the briefings to Trump, who, he wrote "urged Russian intelligence services to conduct cyber espionage operations into the correspondence of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton... [a] call for hostile foreign action represents a step beyond mere partisan politics and represents a threat to the Republic itself... With this in mind, I respectfully ask that you withhold the intelligence briefing to Mr. Trump in the interests of national security."

Trump is due to start receiving briefings as soon as today. His campaign manager-- or whatever title Paul Manafort holds-- was a longtime political operative for Ukraine's bandit-preseident (and Putin puppet) Victor Yanukovych, and several close Trump associates, as well as his own Trump Organization, are heavily in financial hock to Putin.

Is it feasible to prevent Trump from getting the briefings from James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence? Technically, yes. It's just a courtesy and a tradition started by Harry Truman, not a law or rule. It would, however, be exceedingly awkward for Obama and there's no reason to think Obama has the stomach for a fight with the Trumpanzee over this. Reid's idea of "fake" briefings are patently absurd but there's no reason Clapper couldn't give intelligence-lite briefings that don't compromise national security or give Trump access to any sensitive national secrets. Remember, we're talking about this guy:

A newly released Pew survey from May of 10 European countries, Canada and 4 Asia-Pacific powers, shows Obama and Clinton with high ratings and Trump with extremely low ratings across the board.
European attitudes toward President Barack Obama remain very positive. Across the 10 EU nations polled, a median of 77% have confidence in Obama to do the right thing in world affairs, including more than eight-in-ten in Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and France.

Europeans are somewhat less enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton, although her ratings are still mostly positive: A median of 59% have confidence in her. In contrast, ratings for Donald Trump are overwhelmingly negative. A median of just 9% trust the wealthy real estate developer to do the right thing in world affairs; 85% lack confidence in him.

In the four Asia-Pacific nations surveyed-- Australia, China, India and Japan-- Obama also receives relatively positive marks. Most Australians and Japanese give Clinton a positive rating and Trump a negative one. The major party nominees are less well-known in China and India.

...People surveyed in Europe and Asia generally have a negative opinion of Russian President Vladimir Putin. This includes more than eight-in-ten in Spain (88%), Sweden (87%), Poland (86%) and the Netherlands (84%), which have little or no confidence in the Russian leader’s handling of international affairs. Likewise, Putin is mistrusted by most in Australia (70% no confidence), Japan and Canada (both 65%).

Only in Greece and China (both 53%) do more than half have a positive impression of Putin’s role on the world stage.

...Having served as secretary of state from 2009 to early 2013, U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton receives positive support in most of the countries surveyed in Europe and Asia. This includes 83% in Sweden who have confidence in her ability to deal with world affairs and 79% who say this in Germany. Overall, half or more in seven of the 10 EU countries surveyed have confidence in Clinton, although many in Hungary and Poland express no opinion. Clinton receives her worst marks from Greece, where 78% have little or no confidence in her ability to handle world affairs.

Clinton also gets positive marks from Canadians (60% confidence) and Australians (70%), as well as from the Japanese (70%). Views of her among the Chinese are mixed, with 37% saying they have confidence in her, 35% saying they do not have confidence and 28% with no opinion. And in India, a majority (56%) has no opinion of the former secretary of state.

...Less than a quarter of people across all 15 countries surveyed express confidence in Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for U.S. president. In fact, overwhelming majorities in most of the countries surveyed have little or no confidence in his ability to handle international affairs. This includes 92% of Swedes, 89% of Germans, 88% of Dutch and 85% of both the French and British. This distaste is especially strong in Sweden, where 82% have no confidence at all in him.

Among people in Poland and Hungary, views of Trump also tend to be negative, although many people do not offer an opinion in these countries.

Most Australians (87%), Canadians (80%) and Japanese (82%) also lack confidence in Trump. In China, there is a split between those who have no confidence in Trump (40%) and those who do not offer an opinion (39%). And in India, 67% do not offer an opinion.

In Europe, positive opinions about Trump vary by political party support in many nations. For example, in Italy, supporters of Forza Italia, a center-right party founded by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (who, like Trump, is independently wealthy), show more confidence in Trump (31% confidence) than do followers of the country’s Democratic Party (15%). Trump also receives greater support among those Italians who have a favorable view of the anti-immigrant and Euroskeptic Lega Nord party.

And in the UK, followers of the Euroskeptic, anti-immigrant party UKIP are also much more likely to voice confidence in Trump (30%) than those who follow the Conservative (13%) or Labour (8%) parties. However, it should be noted that while confidence for Trump is higher among these groups, it still represents very low levels of confidence in the presumptive GOP candidate.

Higher levels of confidence in Trump among Euroskeptic and anti-immigrant parties extend to other countries as well. In Germany, for example, people who have a favorable view of Alternative for Germany (AfD), a right-wing and increasingly anti-immigrant party, are more likely to have confidence in Trump (19%), compared with those Germans with an unfavorable view of AfD (3%). And in Hungary, people who have a favorable view of Jobbik, a far-right nationalist party, are more likely to have confidence in Trump (28%) compared with those who have an unfavorable opinion of Jobbik (17%).

Additionally, positive views of Trump are tied to confidence in another international leader tested: Russian President Vladimir Putin. In all the countries surveyed with a large enough sample size to permit analysis, people who have confidence in Putin are more likely to express confidence in Trump. For instance, among those in Italy who have confidence in Putin to handle world affairs, 44% express confidence in Donald Trump. Meanwhile, among Italians who express little or no confidence in Putin, only 12% have confidence in Trump.

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To Label Tulsi Gabbard A "Progressive" Is To Eviscerate The Very Meaning Of The Word And Stand It On Its Head


Tulsi loves Islamophobic genocidal Indian fascist Narendra Modi

I don't really know Tulsi Gabbard. When she was running for Congress in 2012 she called and asked for a Blue America endorsement. Her opponent was Mufi Hannemann, an especially contemptible conservative and a real nightmare for progressives. But Gabbard had some problems of her own. Her Republican family led the anti-gay crusade in Hawaii. Her father, a fount of homophobic psychosis is a state Senator who switched parties-- though not ideology-- so he could have more influence. I was worried about Tulsi but she sounded pretty good in our discussion, especially in regard to what I sensed to be anti-war instincts and pro-environmental instincts. I was leaning towards recommending an endorsement but when I asked her about the homophobic stance that she claims to have shed, she grew brittle and quickly ended the conversation, saying she'd call back. She never called back and Blue America never endorsed her. She beat Hannemann in the primary for the Hawaii seat that encompasses basically all of the state outside Honolulu and went on to quickly earn an "F" from ProgressivePunch. Her crucial vote score (73.46) makes her the 142nd "most progressive" Member of Congress, i.e., very much not progressive.

Before getting married in 2015, she was dating GOP Mafia thug Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm, before he was arrested, tried and imprisoned in a case that didn't even touch on over 90% of his criminal life. Even worse, she often worked across the aisle to further the GOP agenda, joining the widely discredited Republican front organization for dummy-Dems, No Labels. And then she was righteously outraged by Debbie Wasserman Schultz's DNC cheating on behalf of Hillary and everything changed for Tulsi. She denounced Wasserman Schultz, quit the DNC and endorsed Bernie, with whom she shared almost no policy goals, other than some anti-war stands.

Tulsi's district is one of the bluest in America-- the PVI is D+21, even more Democratic than the Honolulu district. Obama won the district against McCain 73-25% and beat Romney 71-27%. There are no political reasons to amass a Republican-lite record and turn herself into an anti-Obama Fox regular. She's done it because it's who she is and it's what she believes. She may keep her homophobia under wraps, but she's released it with Islamophobia and she sounds uncomfortably more like Trump than like Bernie. Like Trump, she also been an outspoken admirer of Vladimir Putin's. In the August 13 primary she faces an actual progressive challenger, author Shay Chan Hodges. (Unfortunately, as of the June 30 FEC filing deadline, Gabbard had raised $1,361,505 and spent $558,948, while Hodges had raised $3,104 and spent $147.

Last week, Tim Mak became one of the few national journalists to give the race a look. In his post for the Daily Beast, Tulsi Gabbard: The Bernie-Endorsing Congresswoman Who Trump Fans Can Love, pointed out the absurdity of her progressive red when "her stances on standard liberal issues like gun rights and immigration are starting to converge with those of Donald J. Trump... She’s a lawmaker who has a soft spot for dictatorial regimes. She pals around with Sheldon Adelson. She’s declined to sign onto an assault weapons ban. She opposes admitting refugees. She a frequent fixture on Fox News, where she has slammed the president over his refusal to use the term “Islamic extremism” to refer to terror attacks. Sounds a lot like The Donald."
“I am little skeptical about how deep her progressive roots run,” said John Bickel, treasurer for Progressive PAC, a Hawaii state organization that endorses candidates on the left. Still, he is, at the moment, supporting Gabbard for reelection. “Tulsi Gabbard shows up in places and gets in front of the camera, spinning herself as a progressive-- but I’m not sure her record backs up what she’s created as a public persona.”

The bizarre policy overlap between Trump and Gabbard, a Bernie Sanders supporter and rising star in her party’s progressive wing, illustrates the connections between Trump and Sanders’s brands of populism. Trump is hoping to capitalize on the working-class frustration that both appeal to, with explicit calls for Sanders supporters to support his campaign, as he enters the Republican National Convention. It’s a temptation for rank-and-file Democrats that Hillary Clinton’s campaign no doubt has an eye on. Gabbard has been a favorite of Fox News, where she diverged from the typical Democratic Party line on the term “Islamic extremism.” Democrats such as Bernie Sanders-- whom Gabbard endorsed-- have stayed away from such phrases because, they argue, it suggests that the United States is at war with the Muslim religion itself.

“It is crazy,” Gabbard said on an HBO talk show, of Democratic refusals to use the term. “They do matter, words mean things, and this is what we need to look at as we look at how do we identify our enemies so that we can defeat them?”

Trump’s views on foreign policy have overthrown a generation’s worth of conservative thinking on the matter: His tolerant stance on dictators like Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin shocked much of the right’s national security intelligencia. But it meshed well with Gabbard’s thinking.

In March, Gabbard was the only Democrat and one of just three members of Congress to vote against a resolution condemning violence by the Assad regime against civilian populations.

“Bad enough US has not been bombing al-Qaeda/al-Nusra in Syria. But it’s mind-boggling that we protest Russia’s bombing of these terrorists,” Gabbard wrote in September, on the first day of the Russian intervention in Syria.

Firstly, Gabbard is wrong that the U.S. has not struck al Nusra in Syria-- it has-- and secondly, her position aligns nicely with Trump’s: He called those strikes a “positive thing.” Russia is responsible for attacking U.S. backed opposition forces in Syria.

“By endorsing Bernie early and resigning from the DNC, Gabbard made clear she is vying for leadership of the next generation of left-liberals galvanized by Sanders presidential run. However, given that her and Donald Trump’s foreign and refugee policies are in lock step, real progressives should be wary of her qualification for that role,” said Evan Barrett, a political adviser to the Coalition for a Democratic Syria, a Syrian-American opposition umbrella group.

The Hawaii congresswoman was also one of just 47 Democrats who voted for a bill that would make it all but impossible to admit new refugees into the United States.

“Her vote with Republicans against admitting Syrian refugees caused a lot of heartburn here. Most of the people who are drawn towards her are sweet, gentle souls… so when they see her being heartless in that case, that is at odds of their idealization of who she is,” said a prominent Democratic activist in Hawaii. “She is the Republican right-wing’s favorite Democrat. I think both Trump and Gabbard appeal to a populist sensibility.”

And oddly enough, considering her state’s reliance on the tourism industry, she mirrored Trump’s overreach on immigration issues by calling for European passport holders to be forced to apply for tourist visas, citing terror concerns. Europeans currently have a waiver to visit the United States for leisure-- more than 143,000 European visitors traveled to Hawaii in the past year, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

But foreign policy is not the only realm where Gabbard and Trump see eye to eye: She is also wishy-washy on gun control. Trump opposes a ban on assault weapons, a flip-flop from his prior positions; Gabbard, meanwhile, is conspicuously missing from Democrat efforts to legislate the issue. Eighty percent of Democrats, including fellow Hawaii Democrat Rep. Mark Takai, are co-sponsors of a bill that would ban so-called assault weapons-- Gabbard is not among them.

...When given a chance to condemn Trump, such as with this story, Gabbard avoids the topic-- and in the past, she has avoided harsh words for the Republican businessman. “One of the many problems I see with Trump is I don’t know what he believes. I don’t know what he would do,” Gabbard said in one such interview, before pivoting to criticism of Hillary Clinton. “I have raised and continue to see concerns with Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy.”

That a Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii could have so many overlapping policies with the presumptive Republican nominee for president is perplexing. But it’s yet another reminder of the unorthodox campaign season that America is now undergoing-- and the ways in which both extremes of the Republican and Democratic parties are converging in strange ways.

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Zadie Smith wonders if the post-Brexit U.K. can remain "united," and if it can honor its old values


Zadie Smith in 2014

"Whether we still know, in Britain, what a better life is, what its necessary conditions are and how to achieve them, is what’s now in doubt."
-- Zadie Smith, in "Fences: A Brexit Diary,"
in the August 18
 New York Review of Books

by Ken

Though Zadie Smith is probably better known as a fiction writer (and teacher of fiction writing; she's a tenured professor at NYU), my experience of her is entirely as a nonfiction writer -- such an incisive and insightful one that when I saw that she's written "Fences: A Brexit Diary" for the August 18 New York Review of Books, that was the first thing I turned to when the issue arrived.

I'm sorry that I can't encapsule what makes the piece so absorbing piece, because the power of its perspective depends on the many strands of Zadie's personal history and cuiltural consciousness which are so carefully woven into her responses to the Brexit vote,. Consider just these geographical circumstances:

• that, because of a family illness, she has been living for the last year back in her old North West London neighborhood, which retains a fair amount of its remembered multicultural character but is in the throes of gentrification

• that, at the time of the actual Brexit vote, she was in Northern Ireland, "staying with my in-laws, two kindly, moderately conservative Northern Irish Protestants with whom I found myself, for the first time in our history, on the same side of a political issue," and "together we watched England fence itself off from the rest of Europe, with hardly a thought about what this meant for its Scottish and Irish cousins in the north and the west."

The latter circumstance gives rise to this perspective:
Much has been written since about the shockingly irresponsible behavior of both David Cameron and Boris Johnson, but I don’t think I would have been so entirely focused upon Boris and Dave if I had woken up in my own bed, in London. No, then my first thoughts would have been essentially hermeneutic. What does this vote mean? What was it really about? Immigration? Inequality? Historic xenophobia? Sovereignty? EU bureaucracy? Anti-neoliberal revolution? Class war?

But in Northern Ireland it was clear that one thing it certainly wasn’t about, not even slightly, was Northern Ireland, and this focused the mind on what an extraordinary act of solipsism has allowed this long-brutalized little country to become the collateral damage of an internal rift within the Conservative Party. And Scotland! It’s hard to credit. That two supposedly well-educated men, who have presumably read their British history, could with such utter recklessness throw into hazard a hard-won union of three hundred years’ standing—in order to satisfy their own professional ambitions—appeared that morning a larger crime, to me, than the severing of the decades-long European pact that actually prompted it all.


"When Google records large numbers of Britons Googling 'What is the EU?' in the hours after the vote," Zadie writes, "it becomes very difficult to deny that a significant proportion of our people were shamefully negligent in their democratic duty on June 23."

Zadie has a lot to say about the often-twisted reasoning, confusion, and rank ignorance of many voters on both the Leave and Remain sides, and to the extent that the result can be taken as evidence of "a working-class populist revolution, she's sympathetic:
Doing something, anything, was in some inchoate way the aim: the notable feature of neoliberalism is that it feels like you can do nothing to change it, but this vote offered up the rare prize of causing a chaotic rupture in a system that more usually steamrolls all in its path.
At the same time, she takes note of "the casual racism that seems to have been unleashed alongside [this "violent, more or less considered reaction to austerity and the neoliberal economic meltdown that preceded it"], both by the campaign and by the vote itself, and adds two anecdotes from her Jamaican-born mother:
A week before the vote a skinhead ran up to her in Willesden and shouted “Über Alles Deutschland!” in her face, like a memory of the late 1970s. The day after the vote, a lady shopping for linens and towels on the Kilburn High Road stood near my mother and the half-dozen other people originally from other places and announced to no one in particular: “Well, you’ll all have to go home now!”
Most interestingly, though, "the profound shock" Zadie felt at the referendum result causes her to focus on "our own Londoncentric solipsism." That shock, also experienced by many other Londoners, "suggests at the very least that we must have been living behind a kind of veil, unable to see our own country for what it has become."
I kept reading pieces by proud Londoners speaking proudly of their multicultural, outward-looking city, so different from these narrow xenophobic places up north. It sounded right, and I wanted it to be true, but the evidence of my own eyes offered a counternarrative. For the people who truly live a multicultural life in this city are those whose children are educated in mixed environments, or who live in genuinely mixed environments, in public housing or in a handful of historically mixed neighborhoods, and there are no longer as many of those as we like to believe.

For many people in London right now the supposedly multicultural and cross-class aspects of their lives are actually represented by their staff—nannies, cleaners—by the people who pour their coffees and drive their cabs, or else the handful of ubiquitous Nigerian princes you meet in the private schools. The painful truth is that fences are being raised everywhere in London. Around school districts, around neighborhoods, around lives. One useful consequence of Brexit is to finally and openly reveal a deep fracture in British society that has been thirty years in the making. The gaps between north and south, between the social classes, between Londoners and everyone else, between rich Londoners and poor Londoners, and between white and brown and black are real and need to be confronted by all of us, not only those who voted Leave.


Who wouldn't pay £5,000 for the Savoy's Sazerac cocktail?

Not just does inequality fracture communities, Zadie writes, but "after a while the cracks gape so wide the whole edifice comes tumbling down."
In this process everybody has been losing for some time, but perhaps no one quite as much as the white working classes who really have nothing, not even the perceived moral elevation that comes with acknowledged trauma or recognized victimhood. The left is thoroughly ashamed of them. The right sees them only as a useful tool for its own personal ambitions. This inconvenient working-class revolution we are now witnessing has been accused of stupidity—I cursed it myself the day it happened—but the longer you look at it, you realize that in another sense it has the touch of genius, for it intuited the weaknesses of its enemies and effectively exploited them. The middle-class left so delights in being right! And so much of the disenfranchised working class has chosen to be flagrantly, shamelessly wrong.
She has some trenchant observations about the way "the neoliberal middle and upper-middle class" has "shafted itself" as surely as the poor, who are regularly ridiculed for "voting against their interests."
[G]o up to Notting Hill and watch the private security vehicles, paid for by private residents, slowly patrolling up and down the streets, in front of all those £20 million residences, nervous perhaps of the council house residents still clinging on, the other side of the Portobello Road. Or go up to the Savoy and have a gander at the vintage cocktail list on which the cheapest drink on offer goes for £100 (the most pricey is something called the Sazerac—which claims to be the most expensive cocktail in the world—coming in at £5,000). Strange times.

Of course that cocktail list is only another stupid symbol, but it is of its time and place. There has been a kind of money madness in London for some time and for the rest of us looking on it’s hard to find in such symbols any sign of a beautiful, harmonious, or even happy life (what kind of happy person needs to be seen ordering a £5,000 cocktail?), though at least when you are this rich you can comfortably fool yourself that you are happy, utilizing what the old North London Marxists used to call your “false consciousness.” That crusty standby won’t work anymore for describing the economically and socially disenfranchised of this nation: they are struggling, deeply unhappy, and they know it.
In "wealthy London," Zadie observes, where it's great sport to "lecture the rest of the country on its narrow-mindedness": " 'Them' and 'us' never actually meet except in symbol."
We may walk past “them” very often in the street and get into their cabs and eat their food in their ethnic restaurants, but the truth is that more often than not they are not in our schools, or in our social circles, and they very rarely enter our houses—unless they’ve come to work on our endlessly remodeled kitchens.

Elsewhere in Britain people really do live cheek-by-jowl with the recently migrated, and experience the undercutting of their wages by newcomers. They really do have to fight for resources under an austerity government that makes it all too easy to blame your unavailable hospital bed on the migrant family next door, or on an oblique bureaucracy across the Channel, which the nitwit demagogues on the TV keep telling you is the reason there’s not enough money in the NHS. In this atmosphere of hypocrisy and outright deceit, should the working-class poor have shown themselves to be the “better man” when all around them is corruption and venality? When everyone’s building a fence, isn’t it a true fool who lives out in the open?


NYRB caption: "Nigel Farage canvassing for ‘Leave’ votes during the Brexit campaign, London, May 2016. He resigned as leader of the UK Independence Party on July 4, shortly after the referendum."

Zadie takes pointed note of the influence of the mega-rich right-wing media barons.
My life and the lives of my fellow Britons are at all times at least partially governed by a permanent, unelected billionaire class, who own the newspapers and much of the TV, and through which absurd figures like Farage are easily puffed up, thus swinging elections and shaping policy.
And she notes the lesson from Brexit that "the postwar British compact between government and people is not guaranteed,"
and it can be collectively unraveled, or trampled over by a few malign actors. Therefore the civilizing liberal arguments that established a universal health care system, state education, and public housing out of the ruins of war now need a party willing to make those arguments afresh in a new age of global capitalism, though whether that party will still even bear the name “Labour” remains to be seen.
It's "this patrimony," she argues, that has drawn "the recently migrated," and she allows that "some have come merely to exploit it."
But the great majority have come to participate: they enroll their kids in our state schools, they pay their British taxes, they try to make their way. It is certainly not a crime or a sin to seek a better life abroad, or to flee from countries riven by wars, many of which we ourselves had a hand in. Whether we still know, in Britain, what a better life is, what its necessary conditions are and how to achieve them, is what’s now in doubt.


But I don't think it's that hard to translate it to a U.S. one.

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Trans Tokenism-- Chuck Schumer's Ugly Bigotry Trumps Love


No, not all the evil bigots are Republicans

Go the the "races" page of the official DSCC website. Tester and Schumer, who run the operation, list every state with a race this cycle from Arizona to Wisconsin-- except one. They even list 3 deep red states, Alaska, Kansas and Louisiana, that haven;t chosen candidates yet. The state the DSCC refuses to recognize is Utah, a averred state... but one where Democrats feel Trumpophobia is so pronounced that Bill Clinton is going to camp[aign for Hillary there. On June 28, Utah Democrats chose their candidate-- and it wasn't even close. The establishment was all in for conservative Blue Dog Jonathan Swinton, someone who was campaigning on a Republican-lite platform. Utah Dems rejected him for Misty K. Snow, 27,138 (59.4%) to 18,530 (40.6%).

Schumer and Tester immediately washed their hands of the Beehive State. According to the DSCC, Utah doesn't exist and much-disliked right-wing kook Mike Lee has no election opponent. How could that happen? Misty is a working class gal who works as a cashier in a grocery store, not as a fracking lobbyist like Katie McGinty (a Schumer recruit who disgraced herself at the convention last week) or as a lawyer, like almost all the other Schumer recruits. Schumer has always been uncomfortable with working class people; he's frightened of them and he has contempt for them. I noticed it in high school, where he was some kind of a strange elitist creep in a Brooklyn neighborhood that also spawned egalitarians Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Bernie Sanders. But Schumer might have swallowed his distaste for working folks and accepted Misty, except for one other thing. Although she's campaigning on working class issues, she's a transgender woman. And that's a step too far for the bigoted Wall Street-backed snob who masquerades as a Democrat. Maybe if Misty was a rich professional transgender woman...

Meanwhile, Dawn Ennis at wrote glowingly that "history was made in Philadelphia once again when a young transgender woman stepped up to the stage at the Democratic National Convention Thursday and delivered a speech, the first-ever by an openly transgender person at any major political convention." Great optics, but no mention of Schumer's and Tester's war against the transgender candidate her state's Democrats had made the nominee over the conservative Schumer wanted as the nominee. Sarah was the student body president of American University and an easier fit than Misty Snow for the Democratic Party recent flirtation with fully embracing a kind of elitism that has turned off working class people.
Sarah McBride, 25, is the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, and came out four years ago as a student at American University in Washington, D.C., where she was student body president. She was the first transgender intern in the White House, and two years ago married her husband, LGBTQ activist and trans man Andrew Cray, who died just days later at age 28.

In her historic address to delegates, McBride spoke of her late husband’s strength and determination, and called upon the community to work together to elect Hillary Clinton.
“Knowing Andy left me profoundly changed. More than anything, his passing taught me that every day matters when it comes to building a world where every person can live their life to the fullest.

Hillary Clinton understands the urgency of our fight. She will work with us to pass the Equality Act, to combat violence against transgender women of color, and to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic once and for all.”
Schumer is an asshole. His unopposed rise to the leadership of the Senate Democrats speaks volumes about the pathetic state of our champions there. If you'd like to support Misty's lonely, quixotic battle against Mike Lee in Utah, Blue America, as far as I know, is the only PAC in the country helping her raise campaign funds. She can use some help:
Goal Thermometer

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Who's More A Hawk-- Trumpy-the-Clown Or Hillary?


Are values-driven Democrats supposed to celebrate because Republicans are flocking to Hillary's banner? Well, sure. There aren't enough Democrats in the country to elect someone president and her appeal to independents is... shaky, at best. The problems with Republicans, of course, is that they're reading the whole lesser-of-two evils thing in such a way that makes their own party's candidate anathema, and that's a good thing, but if Hillary's building any kind of an enduring transpartisan coalition, Democrats ought to wonder what the basis of it is apart of Trumpophobia.

At heart she's always been a moderate Republican and getting her to take progressive stands has rarely been easy or natural. When Alexander Burns reported in the NYTimes yesterday that she's moved "to recast the 2016 race not as a conventional battle between left and right but as a national emergency that requires voters of all stripes to band together against a singularly menacing candidate," he was explaining her latest outreach to Republicans. Burns reported that Cato Institute executive David Boaz said Democrats' attacks on "Trump as an autocrat had the potential to resonate outside the Democratic base. 'I really don’t think that’s too over the top,' Mr. Boaz said. 'We have one candidate who’s not even pretending-- he is promising to be a one-man ruler.'"

Democrats recruited respected figures from outside the party to amplify their appeal: Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York City mayor, who is a political independent, warned sternly that non-Democrats must rally with Mrs. Clinton to stop a “dangerous demagogue.”

John Allen, a retired four-star Marine general, thundered into an arena dotted with American flags that voters faced a choice between Mrs. Clinton and “a dark place of discord and fear.”

There is no recent precedent in American politics for such unrelenting and direct attacks on a presidential nominee’s commitment to the basic institutions of democracy.

...Jennifer Palmieri, the communications director for Mrs. Clinton, said the campaign would hammer the message that Mr. Trump is “not a normal Republican.”

“He has an incredibly disturbing theory that at its core rejects the American values of both self-reliance, and the value of community,” Ms. Palmieri said.

Geoff Garin, a pollster for Priorities USA Action, the main pro-Clinton super PAC, said the race had entered a new phase. A defining goal for the group now, he said, was to ensure that voters “reckon with what it would mean to have a dangerous demagogue like Trump as president.”
OK, but on foreign policy, Hillary is still an utter nightmare for anyone looking for a peace candidate. No one has any idea where Trump would be on foreign policy issues-- no doubt, including Trump, although we have good reason to fear the worst. We do know where Hillary is-- and it isn't good. She's way to the right of Obama, let alone actual doves, when it comes to foreign policy. The foreign policy "experts" she closest with are already planning the wars they want to fight other peoples' kids to fight. First comes comes Syria. One of her top prospects for Secretary of Defense, Michele Flournoy, is calling for strikes against Assad, proveing, beyond doubt, no one has learned anything about the regime-change screw-up in Libya. Why not just make it official and have Netanyahu be Secretary of State?

Rana Khalek, writing for The Intercept a couple of days ago looked at some of the better known Republicans who are backing Clinton, hardcore neocons, not anyone she would be clueless enough to trot out on the stage.
As Hillary Clinton puts together what she hopes will be a winning coalition in November, many progressives remain wary — but she has the war hawks firmly behind her.

“I would say all Republican foreign policy professionals are anti-Trump,” leading neoconservative Robert Kagan told a group gathered around him, groupie-style, at a “foreign policy professionals for Hillary” fundraiser I attended last week. “I would say that a majority of people in my circle will vote for Hillary.”

As the co-founder of the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century, Kagan played a leading role in pushing for America’s unilateral invasion of Iraq and insisted for years afterward that it had turned out great.

Despite the catastrophic effects of that war, Kagan insisted at last week’s fundraiser that U.S. foreign policy over the last 25 years has been “an extraordinary success.”

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s know-nothing isolationism has led many neocons to flee the Republican ticket. And some, like Kagan, are actively helping Clinton, whose hawkishness in many ways resembles their own.

The event raised $25,000 for Clinton. Two rising stars in the Democratic foreign policy establishment, Amanda Sloat and Julianne Smith, also spoke.

The way they described Clinton’s foreign policy vision suggested that if elected president in November, she will escalate tensions with Russia, double down on military belligerence in the Middle East, and generally ignore the American public’s growing hostility to intervention.

Sloat, the former deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, boasted that Clinton will be “more interventionist and forward-leaning than Obama’s been” in Syria. She also applauded Clinton for doing intervention the right way, through coalitions instead of the unilateral aggression that defined the Bush years.

“Nothing that [Clinton] did was more clear than the NATO coalition that she built to defend civilians in Libya,” said Sloat, referencing the Obama administration’s overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. That policy, spearheaded by Clinton, has transformed a once-stable state into a lawless haven for extremist groups from across the region, including ISIS.

Kagan has advocated for muscular American intervention in Syria; Clinton’s likely pick for Pentagon chief, Michelle Flournoy, has similarly agitated for redirecting U.S. airstrikes in Syria toward ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Smith told the audience that unlike Trump, Clinton “understands the importance of deterring Russian aggression,” which is why “I’ll sleep better with her in the chair.” She is a former deputy national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.

Smith left the government to become senior vice president of Beacon Global Strategies, a high-powered bipartisan consulting group founded by former high-ranking national security officials.

When Robbie Martin, a filmmaker who recently produced a three-part documentary on the neoconservative movement, asked how Clinton plans to deal with Ukraine, Kagan responded enthusiastically.

“I know Hillary cares more about Ukraine than the current president does,” Kagan replied. “[Obama] said to me [that he wouldn’t arm Ukraine because] he doesn’t want a nuclear war with Russia,” he added, rolling his eyes dismissively. “I don’t think Obama cares about Putin anymore at all. I think he’s hopeless.”

Kagan is married to Victoria Nuland, the Obama administration’s hardline assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs. Nuland, who would likely serve in a senior position in a Clinton administration, supports shipping weapons to Ukraine despite major opposition from European countries and concerns about the neo-Nazi elements those weapons would empower.

Another thing neoconservatives and liberal hawks have in common is confidence that the foreign policy establishment is right, and the growing populist hostility to military intervention is naïve and uninformed.

Kagan complained that Americans are “so focused on the things that have gone wrong in recent years, they miss the sort of basic underlying unusual quality of the international order that we’ve been living in.

“It’s not just Donald Trump,” Kagan said. “I think you can find in both parties a very strong sense that we don’t need to be out there anymore.”

“If, as I hope, Hillary Clinton is elected, she is going to immediately be confronting a country that is not where she is,” he said. “She is a believer in this world order. But a great section of the country is not and is going to require persuasion and education.”

Sloat agreed, arguing that “it’s dangerous” for people to draw anti-interventionist lessons from Libya and Iraq.

The Clinton-neocon partnership was solidified by Trump becoming the Republican nominee. But their affinity for each other has grown steadily over time.

The neoconservative Weekly Standard celebrated Clinton’s 2008 appointment as secretary of state as a victory for the right, hailing her transformation from “First Feminist” to “Warrior Queen, more Margaret Thatcher than Gloria Steinem.”

But the fundraiser was perhaps the most outward manifestation yet of the convergence between the Democratic foreign policy establishment and the neoconservative movement.

Hannah Morris of the liberal pro-Israel lobbying group J Street celebrated this bipartisanship as a “momentous occasion.”

“We could not be more proud to have [Kagan] here today,” she said.
Leaving Trump out of the equation for a moment, which side are you on, dear reader?

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Today's Word: Trumpanzee


"Nope, not even for $5 million, Gramps"

PPP released new national polling tonight that shows Clinton beating Trump by bigger margins after the two parties' conventions. The polling shows her "with a much more positive image than she had a month ago. Donald Trump meanwhile is just as unpopular as he was before the conventions. Clinton's net favorability improved by 9 points over the last month. She's still not popular, with a -6 net favorability at 45/51, but it's a good deal better than the -15 spread she had at 39/54 a month ago. The gains are particularly attributable to Democrats increasing in their enthusiasm for her, going from giving her a 76/15 rating to an 83/12 one. Trump, on the other hand, is at a -22 net favorability with 36% of voters seeing him favorably to 58% with a negative one. That's barely changed at all from the 35/58 standing we found for him in late June."

Not that it's likely to make any difference, but the Houston Chronicle, which pretty consistently backs Republicans in presidential racesdidn't wait long after the end of the Philly convention to endorse Hillary over Trump, calling the race "the starkest political choice in living memory. They will choose between one candidate with vast experience and a lifelong dedication to public service and another totally lacking in qualifications to be president. They will decide whether they prefer someone deeply familiar with the issues that are important to this nation or a person whose paper-thin, bumper-sticker proposals would be dangerous to the nation and the world if somehow they were enacted... Any one of Trump's less-than-sterling qualities-- his erratic temperament, his dodgy business practices, his racism, his Putin-like strongman inclinations and faux-populist demagoguery, his contempt for the rule of law, his ignorance-- is enough to be disqualifying. His convention-speech comment, 'I alone can fix it,' should make every American shudder. He is, we believe, a danger to the Republic." But it wasn't the paper's editors who dubbed the dishonest bully "Trumpanzee." I believe it was Red State's Susan Wright who first applied it to him, or, more precisely, to the way he speaks, in a post explaining that he's wrong if he thinks Republicans have no choice but to vote for him. Much more so than Hillary, Trump has fully embraced the "lesser-of-two" evils thesis of American presidential politics. He tells hard core Republicans who he is well aware are revolted by him that she's much worse than he is. Wright rebutted the argument:
While he is correct in his assessment of the situation with the Supreme Court, and it remains vitally important that no liberal be allowed to stuff the court with their activist judges, several concerns face the voters.

To begin, we can’t say who a President Trump would choose, and how it would be any different than having any other liberal pick the judges. The convention for the new Trumplican party was chock full of liberal speakers, liberal ideology, and a total abandonment of any conservative principles.

Melania Trump
Other than those dancing in the aisles, as Trump and the RNC allowed the co-founder of PayPal to rail against traditional values, or his daughter to push a debunked narrative of gender pay disparity, there was no joy or hope involved with that convention. Only the dark vision of a nation that needed an authoritarian “strong man” to fix what was wrong.

Trump’s own speech, where he proclaimed, “Only I…” should have frozen all the revelers in their tracks. Every person who voted for Trump in the primaries, every politician who endorsed the man should have found themselves in a moment of horrified clarity, saying to themselves, “What have I done?”

Next, we should consider Trump’s “best brain” and who is acting as that brain. Right now, it is Paul Manafort, a shadowy Svengali, with questionable ties to some dangerous people. How much influence would Manafort and those foreign ties have over Trump’s decisions, once in office?

Then there is the simple matter of “have to.”

No, Mr. Trump. No one is under any threat or compulsion to vote for someone who violates their conscience or their principles.

So far, we still have that liberty.

We also have Gary Johnson, Darrell Castle, or Jill Stein to vote for.

I couldn’t ever see myself voting for a Jill Stein, as she would likely kill business in this nation for ages to come with overregulation through environmental policies.

Third parties are an option, however, and one that has long been decried as the “spoiler” option, blocking one of the big two parties from drawing enough votes. Ross Perot was the last third party candidate to really make an impact.

Can a third party win this year?

Anything is possible, long shot as it may be. That being said, it’s not about their chance of winning so much as it’s about the idea that we are locked into the two party system and are being told we must choose one of two evils.

When one who seeks to lead says you have no choice, you should always question why, then explore your options.

Even Justin Bieber chose correctly-- and Trumpanzee waved $5 million dollars under his nose. Although Trump is trying to blame the failed Cleveland convention on Reince Priebus and Paul Ryan, he was clearly in charge. And although all he could come up with was a washed-up old underwear model and Chachi, he tried luring every big star in America to perform at his event. He must have read somewhere in Twitter thay Justin Bieber is popular with all the kids... so he offered him $5 million to sing 45 minutes worth of songs near the Quicken Arena and that he didn't have to endorse Trump (although he couldn't say anything disparaging up Trump, nor could he display any Black Lives Matter banners. Trumpanzee's handlers lied to Bieber and told him LeBron James would also be doing an event from Trump but it turned out to be just a typical Trumpian lie and when Bieber's people called LeBron people the basketball icon told them he wasn't doing anything for Trump and that neither should Bieber. Bieber's manager said he'd quit if Bieber did the show and his band told him they didn't want to do it no matter how much Trump was offering. So, in the end, Bieber said no to the $5 million and there taint of a Trump association.

And the Koch brothers proved to be as brave and stalwart as the Beeb. According to Kenneth Vogel, writing for a DC gossip rag, Top Trumpanzee donors-- presumably the ridiculous father-and-son team of Darwin and Doug Deason-- "tried to set up a meeting between the GOP presidential nominee and Charles Koch in Colorado Springs on Friday, but Koch aides rejected the entreaties, according to two Republicans with knowledge of the outreach."

Trumpanzee is desperate to get his tiny little hands on their money now but has previously "blasted the Kochs and other major conservative donors as puppeteers to whom his GOP primary rivals were beholden, while he touted the independence from Big Money."
The Koch brothers and Trump are in town for separate events-- Trump for a fundraiser, and the Kochs for the kickoff of the annual summer summit of their donor network at a tony resort in Colorado Springs.

But the Republicans familiar with the push said top Koch aides rejected the idea of a meeting.

“It is not going to happen,” said one of the Republicans, adding that the Kochs appear unlikely to back away from their repeated declarations that they don’t plan to spend any money in the presidential race, and will instead refocus their spending down ballot.

...The Minnesota media billionaire [Stanley] Hubbard, a longtime member of the Koch donor network, initially opposed Trump, but has come around, and said he’ll urge the Kochs to do the same when he sees them this weekend in Colorado Springs.

“Neither one of them [Clinton or Trump] are my cup of tea, but sometimes you bite your tongue and you choose the best of two bad choices,” said Hubbard, who has donated $100,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC. “I think it is time that we get behind Trump because of all the important things such as Supreme Court appointments, which are crucial,” he said, adding that he was aware of the efforts to get the Kochs to meet with Trump.

The network aims to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the run-up to Election Day, and it would be a significant boost if it decided to support Trump, who is being substantially outspent by Clinton and her allies.

But Davis earlier this month reiterated the network’s intent to sit out the race, even after Trump tapped as his vice presidential running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a favorite of the Kochs and their donor network.

Pence has appeared at several Koch summits over the years. And, prior to joining Trump’s ticket, he had been scheduled to make an appearance in Colorado Springs this weekend. But he backed out of the appearance, citing campaign responsibilities.

That prompted head scratching in GOP finance circles, since Pence’s deep ties to the Kochs and other major conservative benefactors were considered among his strengths as a vice presidential candidate.

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The Catholics Are Attacking... Already... Again


I love any excuse to embed one of my favorite old 415 Records songs-- my indie label in San Francisco-- "The Catholics Are Attacking" by the Pop'O'Pies. This time it has to do with a gaggle of right-wing bishops attacking Tim Kaine for not bucking under to their theocratic instincts and their bizarre interpretation of Jesus' religion as one where women are relegated to staying home, ignorant and pregnant. The Catholic Church should lose it's tax exempt status for attempting to round up votes for Trump by attacking Kaine on religious grounds. sounded the alarm:
Last night, America heard Senator Tim Kaine speak sincerely about how his Catholic faith has inspired his public service. But already, some Catholic church officials are attacking him.

While not mentioning Kaine's name, his hometown bishop used his selection as an occasion to issue a statement demanding that Catholic politicians obey the hierarchy's teaching on abortion.

Meanwhile, a Rhode Island bishop issued a statement explicitly questioned the authenticity of Kaine's faith, saying that he "has been widely identified as a Roman Catholic [but] his faith isn't central to his public, political life."

Finally, a high-ranking Catholic priest in Washington, DC was more blunt, tweeting: "Do us both a favor. Don't show up in my communion line."

This is exactly the kind of despicable rhetoric that Catholic bishops used to attack John Kerry and Joe Biden, and this year, with the stakes so high, we need to nip it in the bud.
The irony here, of course, is that Kaine is an anti-Choice Democrat who doesn't see eye-to-eye with Clinton on repealing the Hyde Amendment, which prevents Medicaid funds going towards abortions. Despite Hillary saying he would help her repeal the Hyde Amendment he told CNN (in the video below) that he has not changed his position in favor of the Hyde Amendment. NARAL called him out on it immediately, with this statement from Ilyse Hogue, president of the group:
"In this campaign, Hillary Clinton has broken new ground with her frank talk about the damaging effect of denying poor women basic reproductive healthcare. By doing so, Hillary continues to do what she has always done: fight to empower women and families and give us the tools we need to live healthy and secure lives.

"This is why Senator Kaine's statement earlier today that he opposes repealing the discriminatory Hyde amendment was deeply disappointing.

“Repealing the Hyde amendment and providing the full range of reproductive healthcare to low-income women is a top priority for NARAL. This is a principle embraced by the Democratic Party as a whole, and it was voted unanimously into the party platform that I personally worked to draft and pass.

“We appreciate Senator Kaine's commitment to upholding the nominee's position on this important issue, and we sincerely hope that he will continue to educate himself on what Hyde means to the most vulnerable women in this country and join us in fighting this injustice.

"We fully support Hillary Clinton in her commitment to repeal this law and as a champion for reproductive freedom. We will work every day to make sure that women and families are secure in this country by electing her President of the United States."
Didn't Hillary ask him when she was vetting him for the running mate slot? I guess not. Meanwhile, I can't wait to see how Trump tries to use this one against Kaine!

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How Harshly Will Voters Deal With The GOP Because Of Trump?


Yesterday, Joe Scarborough said he thinks Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan need to withdraw their endorsements of Trumpy-the-Clown and tell their members to do likewise. "He's so self consumed, it's just breathtaking... You've got to cut him loose." Watch that video up top of the segment; it's pretty remarkable for a center-right show like Morning Joe. But it isn't just cowardly Republicans like McConnell, Ryan and Marco Rubio who have endorsed Trump and are actively campaigning to elect him, normalizing a candidate who is far from normal by any stretch of anyone's imagination. In fact, it isn't even just Vladimir Putin working against America by pushing Trump, financing him and trying to swing the election towards him. And foreign power who means America harm or who detests democracy, is drawn to Trump.

Neo-fascist leaders workldwide, from Republican/KKK Senate candidate David Duke, who spends most of his time living in right-wing areas of Eastern Europe, to deranged Hungarian xenophobe Viktor Orban and Dutch fascist and Islamophobe Geert Wilders-- who showed up in Cleveland to cheer Trump on and went around the U.S. campaigning for Trump and spreading the fears, the bigotry and the twisted lies that have always been part and parcel of the fascist appeal-- the worldwide National Front is firmly behind Trump and Trumpism. The video up top addresses that as well.

What about in Africa? That would seem to be a strange place for Trump to get any support, right? Nope. Trump himself is very much like some of the most primitive and savage African dictators, as Trevor Noah illustrated on his show some time ago (video below). In fact, one of the very worst and most brutal of the fascist African dictators, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, has pretty much endorsed him.

Chris Coons (D-DE) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) were visiting the southern African country to discuss wildlife trafficking when a request for a meeting with the interior minister turned into a sit down with the president, according to an interview with Politico this week.

According to Coons and Schiff, the discussion turned tense when Mugabe asked why the US insists on sanctioning Zimbabwe. The senators and their delegation listed reasons why the sanctions have remained in place-- the US has sanctioned the country since 2002 after reports of election abuse and human rights violations. Mugabe has held on to power by repressing his rivals as well as the public.

After an awkward silence, Mugabe said, “Once [Trump] is your president, you’ll wish you’d been friendlier to me,” according to Coons’ retelling of the encounter.

It’s unclear why Mugabe thinks Trump would be more sympathetic to him than previous American presidents. The Republican candidate hasn’t made any public statements about how he would approach US-Zimbabwe relations... [other than] that Mugabe senses a kindred spirit.

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The Case Against Corrupt Conservative Joe Garcia... In Miami-Dade



I first met Miami Democrats Annette Taddeo and Joe Garcia at around the same time-- 2008. They were two of the three Democrats running for blue-trending congressional seats in Miami-Dade who were sabotaged by then DCCC Red-to-Blue chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She moved swiftly and effectively to cut off their legs and back her GOP cronies, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the Diaz-Balart brothers. The DCCC's Red-to-Blue committee only has one job: defeating Republican incumbents and replacing them with Democrats. As chair, Wasserman Schultz made it clear she was on the other side. Eventually Pelosi and Chris Van Hollen felt enough pressure for enraged Democratic donors to fire Wasserman Schultz, although it didn't stop Obama from eventually replacing Tim Kaine with Wasserman Schultz as the head of the DNC, a grievous error which has helped make the Democratic Party into the failed and corrupt pig-sty it is today.

But back to Garcia and Taddeo. They both campaigned as progressives but were both--largely because of Wasserman Schultz's efforts against them-- defeated. Annette went back to the private sector and was elected chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee in 2012 and then ran for Lt. Governor on Charlie Crist's ticket in 2014. Garcia got a minor position in the Obama Administration's Energy Department and then ran against the scandal-enmeshed Republican David Rivera in 2010 (losing) and again in 2012 (winning). Garcia, unfortunately turned out to be as corrupt as Rivera and was defeated in 2014. Now he and Taddeo are running in a very tight primary against each other to see who the Democratic nominee to face Carlos Curbelo, the lobbyist who beat Garcia in 2014, will be.

Although Garcia campaigned as a progressive, his one term in Congress showed him to be a putrid conservative, first joining the New Dems and then establishing a very consistent Republican-lite record, one of the worst in Congress. When I called him in 2013 and asked him why he was voting against the issues he had campaigned on, he said he had to because of the district and that if he was reelected he would be a better progressive and even join the Progressive Caucus. Blue America refused to endorse him in 2014 and this year you can contribute to Annette Taddeo's campaign here.

Patrick Murphy and his network of banksters, corrupt relatives and Saudi corruptionists are, of course, backing Garcia.
Murphy and Garcia were consistently holding hands and skipping across the aisle together to vote with their Republican pals against Wall Street reform. But voting for the GOP's war against the modest reforms in Dodd-Frank were far from the only instances where crooks like Garcia and Murphy saw opportunities to please rich campaign contributors by voting against Democratic priorities and Democratic values. Like Murphy, once Garcia got into Congress, he abandoned any pretense of progressive politics, joined the Wall Street-owned New Dems and started voting consistently with the worst, most right-wing elements of the Democratic Party. And like Patrick Murphy, he voted again and again and again for the Keystone XL Pipeline and worked with conservaDems (again, like Murphy) and the GOP to delay and sabotage the Affordable Care Act. He was quickly a total disappointment to his supporters and soon got involved with a series of his own ugly scandals and in 2014, the FL-26 voters dumped him unceremoniously for Curbelo. Garcia and Murphy support warrantless spying on American citizens and opposed the Amash amendment to prevent that. Garcia's horrible voting record and scandals depressed Democratic turnout and although he outspent Curbelo gigantically-- $3,787,930 to $2,347,633-- of his 135,694 voters from 2012, only 78,306 bothered to come vote for him in 2014, allowing Curbelo to beat him 51 to 49% in an even bluer district than it had been 2 years earlier.

He was a thorn in President Obama's side, whining about the thaw in Cuban-American relations and working with Republicans to undercut his agenda. When we named him one of the 10 worst freshmen in 2013-- along with Murphy-- we noted their votes with the GOP to freeze the pay for federal employees, a vote to soften the blow of the sequester for the Pentagon while leaving all the other victims in the lurch, a GOP initiative to prevent the federal government from giving states greater flexibility when complying with a welfare program’s work requirements, a vote against the Senate budget bill, a vote for CISPA, a domestic spying bill, a vote to cut food stamps drastically, and a vote for HR 1613, a bill written by Oil lobbyists that amounted to big giveaways for offshore drilling businesses.
In the last week or so, Taddeo's campaign has been pointing out that Garcia consistently voted with the Republicans against Obama's reforms and initiatives when he was in Congress. She showed him no mercy after Obama's speech at the convention, telling voters in the district "Whether continually voting to weaken the Affordable Care Act, weaken environmental protections, support Big Oil, exempt the financial industry from regulations, or oppose Democratic budgets, Joe Garcia’s record makes clear that he meant it when he proudly declared last week that “I don't go to Washington to represent the president.” Taddeo's campaign made it clear that she "is running for Congress to build on President Obama’s legacy and protect the gains we have made. Joe Garcia has made clear through his actions and words that he can’t be trusted to stand for core Democratic values." That's my own experience as well.
Garcia repeatedly voted for bills that would weaken the Affordable Care Act and were opposed by the Obama Administration, which said Garcia’s votes “would roll back the progress made” on healthcare and “would raise health insurance premiums and increase the number of uninsured Americans.”

In fact, Garcia was even proud of these votes in his 2014 campaign, as the effort to win him re-election ran ads “highlighting [his] efforts in bucking the administration on some aspects of Obamacare.

Garcia voted twice with Republicans to weaken Obamacare and delay the individual mandate. The Obama Administration promised to veto these two bills, and said that Garcia’s votes would “result in higher premiums for those who remain insured, fewer premium tax credits for middle-income families, and increased cost-shifting of uncompensated care to health care providers, workers, and businesses” and “would undermine key elements of the health law, facilitating further efforts to repeal a law that is already helping millions of Americans stay on their parents' plans until age 26, millions more who are getting free preventive care that catches illness early on, and thousands of children with pre-existing conditions who are now covered.”

Garcia also voted twice with Republicans to undermine Obamacare by allowing health care plans to remain on the market even if they did not satisfy standards set forth by the Affordable Care Act. President Obama pledged to veto these bills as well, with the Administration saying that Garcia’s votes “would allow insurers to deploy practices such as charging businesses more when a worker has a pre-existing condition or when it has more workers who are women than men. The bill would allow insurers to go back to capping the amount of care that enrollees receive or to excluding coverage of proven preventive care.”

Garcia even voted with Republicans for a bill that would have required unprecedented reporting requirements of and cost taxpayers millions and that the Administration strongly opposed.

Garcia voted on an additional three other occasions with Republicans to oppose the Affordable Care Act.

Garcia voted multiple times with Republicans to prohibit the EPA and the state of Florida from requiring businesses to obtain permits when using pesticides near our water sources.

Garcia also supported the Keystone Pipeline which President Obama rejected, and voted with Republicans to help protect oil pipeline operators from lawsuits and put them above the influence of local governments and public opinion.

Garcia voted with Republicans to support tax loopholes for corporations, which the Obama Administration strongly opposed and threatened to veto.

Garcia also voted to exempt Wall Street financial advisors from transparency regulations, which the Obama Administration wrote would “undermine advances in investor protection and regulatory oversight implemented” in the Dodd-Frank reforms and called “a step backwards from the progress made to date.”

This week, with a record like that, Garcia had the temerity to issue a statement warning that “Florida is in a water crisis, yet Republicans are taking us backwards.” Garcia should know since his voting record shows that he was often right there voting along with them. Same with Big Oil. Garcia is counting on voters to not know that the very things he's blasting Curbelo for-- basically, being an ally of big oil-- are things Curbelo can show apply equally to Garcia himself. Electing corrupt conservative Democrats-- like Joe Garcia and his ally Patrick Murphy are tantamount to sliding the whole system to the right, as the Republicans become, effectively, an outright fascist party and the Democrats become the old Republican Party. You can contribute to Annette's campaign to beat both Garcia and Curbelo here:
Goal Thermometer

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