Sunday, February 19, 2017

Peter Roskam Draws An Opponent-- Meet Geoff Petzel (IL-06)


IL-06- Peter Roskam (Trumpist) vs Geoff Petzel (progressive)

Illinois' very gerrymandered 6th congressional district-- Peter Roskam's base-- was designed by the Democratic state legislature to be a safe Republican seat in order to suck Republican voters out of neighboring districts, turning IL-10, IL-08 and IL-11 safer for Democrats. It stretches from north of Lake Zurich down to Palatine, avoiiding Carpenetrsville and Elgin to hit Carol Steam, West Chicago, Wheaton, the east side of Naperville and over to Westmont and Darien. It's an 80% white district that went for Romney 53.3% to 45.1% and the PVI is R+4. Last week ProgressivePunch changed it's own rating to "Leans Democrat." That's because voters in DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties (as well as in suburban Cook County) puked on Trump and gave the district to Hillary 50.2% to 43.2%-- a 10 point drop for Señor Trumpanzee from Romney's 2012 vote.

Roskam retained his seat 205,746 (59.5%) to 140,023 (40.5%), at least in part because the clueless DCCC couldn't imagine 2016 wasn't going too be a good year for Republicans in suburban districts like IL-06. They refused to support the Democratic candidate running against Roskam, Amanda Howland, a middle-of-the-road Democrat who only managed to spend $98,179. Interestingly, Roskam sensed the trouble even if morons like Steve Israel, Ben Ray Lujan, Nancy Pelosi and Kelly Ward didn't. He raised $2,988,266 and then spent far more than that: $3,331,980. A couple of right-wing SuperPACs also spent some money for him. No one spent anything to help Howland.

Looking out of the rearview mirror, as usual, the DCCC is all worked up over IL-06 now, ready to target it. A progressive candidate, Geoffrey Petzel, has already jumped in. He's a single-payer advocate, has been an outspoken opponent of neoliberal trade deals like NAFTA and the TPP and is also outspoken on campaign finance reform and comprehensive immigration reform and, most of all, on the environment and Climate Change issues. He also supported Bernie for president. (Aside: In the primaries IL-06 was Bernie country and he won DuPage, Kane and McHenry counties handily.)

Saturday I spoke at length with Geoff about his campaign-- which he launched Wednesday-- and about the issues that re motivating his decision to run. One, of course, was healthcare. He had just been to the twonhall meeting of a very conservative Democrat, New Dem Brad Schneider who represents an adjoining district. Geoff told me Schneider is a nice person but wasn't comfortable with his responses to the overflowing audiences questions about healthcare. People are concerned because of Republicans-- including, of course Peter Roskam-- intentions to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Schneider basically told his constituents that he wants to "keep it in place; next question."

Like Bernie, Geoff has much more ambitious and detailed plans for healthcare. He's happy with the Affordable Care Act's accomplishments-- 20 million more of is covered by health insurance; no more denial of insurance for pre-existing conditions; the ability of young people to stay on their parents' insurance until the age of 26; and the elimination of lifetime spending caps on insurance policies, to name a few standouts. He acknowledged, though that there are still many problems that need to be addressed from a serious perspective, including rising premiums and the fact that many hospitals and doctors aren't part of the system. He says he'll fight to preserve and improve the the Affordable Care Act but he believes this country needs "a single payer health care system that guarantees health insurance to all Americans. Access to health care should be a right, not a privilege." He outlined a comprehensive health care plan that includes major reforms aimed at:

 1. Controlling the cost of health care for individuals, families and business,

 2. Providing quality care to every American,

 3. Controlling the cost of health care within our state and federal budgets.
1. We will control cost for families and businesses. The average employer pays 14% of its payroll towards health benefits and the average person pays 13% of their pay to cover health insurance premiums. Under this plan, the government would institute a payroll tax of 8.25%. This would actually reduce the amount of money spent by employers and employees.

My plan maintains the existing level of federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid. This current level of spending combined with the new payroll tax revenue would generate enough revenue to cover 100% of the medical costs for every American. Such a plan provides for certainty of cost for businesses and employees, prevents massive increases in future government spending, and provides quality health care to every American. Under my plan, every American would have health insurance.

2. A universal, single payer health care system must include coverage for EVERY HOSPITAL and EVERY DOCTOR. When someone needs medical care they shouldn't need to worry which hospital or doctor is "in-network."

3. We must give the federal government the right to negotiate drug prices for our new healthcare system. Large pharmaceutical companies should not be able to initiate uncontrolled price increases or limit access to life saving drugs for financial gain. We will also need to limit annual cost increases for services to ensure that the revenues collected can cover high quality care for all Americans.
Goal Thermometer The DCCC doesn't encourage-- quite the opposite-- candidates to go into this kind of detail about what they plan to do once they're serving in Congress. The DCCC is what you would call controversy-adverse. But Geoff isn't anyone's cardboard cutout of a candidate. He's an extremely independent minded, grassroots, activist-oriented guy, not a career-politician. You probably heard me the first time-- he was a Bernie-supporter in the presidential primary. Blue America endorsed him this week and we'll have more about his campaign tomorrow. Meanwhile, if you'd like to contribute to his campaign, please tap the ActBlue thermometer on the right and donate what you feel comfortable giving. The sooner Congress is rid of Peter Roskam the better, but, even more important, the sooner we have more men and women serving in that body like Geoff Petzel, the sooner we'll be able to put a stop to all this crackpot Trumpery and get the country moving in the right direction again.

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Republican Congressmembers Are Meeting Their Angry Constituents-- Or Hiding From Them


Friday, the editorial board of the NY Times asserted that "What America has seen so far is an inept White House led by a celebrity apprentice", pointing out that Señor Trumpanzee "did not inherit 'a mess' from Barack Obama, as he likes to say, but a nation recovered from recession and with strong alliances abroad. Mr. Trump is well on his way to creating a mess of his own, weakening national security and even risking the delivery of basic government services. Most of the top thousand jobs in the administration remain vacant. Career public servants are clashing with inexperienced 'beachhead' teams appointed by the White House to run federal agencies until permanent staff members arrive."

That same night, filmmaker Jon Favreau tweeted that he doesn't get angry at Trump when he sees these tweets; "I get angry at Republicans in Congress. Their cowardice is why we're dealing with this." I think there are a lot of people-- an increasing number of people-- feeling that way across the country. Trump isn't up for reelection until 2020-- if he makes it that long-- but Paul Ryan and every single member of the House will face the voters in 2018. Right now there are 5 special elections for open House seats coming up-- starting in about 2 months-- in Los Angeles, Montana, South Carolina, Kansas and the suburbs north of Atlanta. These will be opportunities for American voters to send a message. Trump did worse than Romney in 3 and slightly better than Romney in two.
CA-34- Romney- 14.1%, Trump- 10.7%
GA-06- Romney- 60.8%, Trump- 48.3%
KS-04- Romney- 61.6%, Trump- 60.2%
MT-AL- Romney- 55.4%, Trump- 56.5%
SC-05- Romney- 55.1%, Trump- 57.3%
The potential for the biggest headlines would come from the race in GA-06-- to replace the new Medicare slashing Health Secretary, Tom Price-- a district which Trump barely managed to keep red and where Democrat Jon Ossoff could well displace whichever Republican manages to make it into the June 20th runoff after the April 18th jungle primary. The GOP establishment is praying for ex-state Sen Judson Hill but may get stuck with anti-Choice kook and controversial ex-Secretary of State Karen Handel or one of the two unhinged Trumpists, businessman Bruce LeVell or Johns Creek ex-Councilman Bob Gray. (Price's wife, state Rep. Betty Price, dropped out at the last minute.)

Or, perhaps, Trump and his cohorts in Congress haven't gone far enough yet, haven't convinced enough voters-- including Republican votes, who, after all, dominate 4 of the 5 districts-- that a loud, ringing message is necessary or even desirable. (Polls indicate most Americans are ready though, Trump's approval rating sinking by the day.

Yesterday Lisa Mascaro, in an article picked up by NationalMemo, noted that the relationship between Trump and GOP leaders in Congress started as a marriage of convenience, "thrown together by necessity and sustained on the promise of pushing a Republican agenda into law." Ryan and McConnell "tolerated Trump's turbulent debut because they agreed with the direction the White House was heading-- or were confident they could nudge it in the desired one... But the newfound partnership is showing signs of serious strain. Growing discomfort about the Trump team's ties to Russia, daily dramas at the White House and the increasing unrest at town hall meetings with constituents back home have prompted many in Congress to express second thoughts about the alliance." Mark Sanford (R-SC) went out of his way to savage Trump and separate himself from the White House sociopath the day before and the day after he visited Sanford's district in Charleston, a city (and county) Trump lost in both the primary and against Hillary.
As the first 100 days tick away, and rank-and-file Republicans head home for a weeklong recess, there is a growing worry that Congress will face a drip-drip-drip of new revelations about the Trump White House that will overshadow the rest of the Republican agenda, such as repealing Obamacare, enacting tax reform and cutting government spending.

"That's what the fear is," said one Republican senator, granted anonymity to frankly discuss the outlook. "It's not a good situation. You can't let this go and not look at it."

...One former GOP leadership aide said "there's not a single Republican anywhere" who's not stunned by some of Trump's comments. But they focus instead on the GOP priorities they see taking shape, he said.

"In the end, we're still talking about tax reform, Supreme Court-- all the stuff is getting done," the aide said. "Most of the stuff is sort of within the lines of what Republicans want anyway. People by and large think progress has been made."

Trump has already started signing into law bills sent by Congress to roll back President Barack Obama's regulatory clampdown on coal pollution and overseas corporate bribes. More are on the way to his desk.

Republicans have put their trust in Vice President Mike Pence, the Cabinet secretaries and a legislative team culled from the halls of Congress-- even though it is unclear how much sway those voices ultimately have with the occupant of the Oval Office.

And areas of significant disagreement with Trump lie ahead, such as his $1-trillion infrastructure plan, having Congress pony up funds for the border wall with Mexico, and a massive military buildup.

But the questions about Russia are threatening to overshadow Republican goals. Emboldened Democrats are calling for independent inquiries into alleged contacts between Trump's campaign team and Russian intelligence officials, and demanding the release of a transcript of a wiretapped conversation between Flynn and a Russian diplomat.

The Republican leadership has tried to contain the congressional investigations to the House and Senate intelligence committees, where hearings are often conducted in secret because of the classified nature.

...But a growing number of top Republicans, including Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, are calling for a deeper and more transparent dive into Russia's role in the November election. That could take weeks, or more likely months.

"What the hell went on? That's what's on my mind," McCain said. "We know they tried to affect the outcome of the election... Now we've got all these other issues."

And, with lack of cohesive-- let alone coherent-- leadership from the White House, naturally-fractious House Republicans from the party's various wings have been fighting each other. One top-ranking Republican staffer told me that "the only thing everyone agrees on is dismantling Dodd-Frank... The rest is completely up in the air and the parameters shift with every one of his early morning tweet storms." Sail Kapur, reporting this week for Bloomberg, pointed out that "some conservative House Republicans are objecting to a major part of the Obamacare replacement outline presented to them by party leaders, underscoring the party’s continuing inability to agree on an alternative health plan."
The proposal would allow Americans who lack insurance to buy coverage with refundable tax credits they can receive before the end of a tax year. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady said he and other leaders presented the idea during Thursday’s private conference of the House GOP.

Some conservatives say they oppose the idea because it could amount to a new government subsidy by allowing people to receive a larger credit than they pay in taxes. They prefer a mechanism that would preclude people from getting any more money than they paid in taxes.

"I don’t like the refundable tax credit," says Representative Ted Yoho of Florida. "I don’t want people getting money back."

"This is Obamacare light," Yoho said, adding that he told Brady about his views.

Representative Trent Franks of Arizona said tax credits "should be predicated on those taxes paid in, not a refundable tax credit, because it can so easily become a major and unstoppable entitlement."

The dispute over tax credits is one of many issues facing Republican leaders as they seek agreement on how to fulfill their promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. Also discussed Thursday were a proposal to cap the tax break for employer-provided health insurance, and efforts to restructure Medicaid. Republicans are set to face their constituents during a week-long congressional recess next week.
Saturday, Tom Reed's town halls in Ashville and Cherry Creek, New York-- he was way too scared to accept an invitation from Mayor Svante Myrick to hold one in Ithaca, the biggest city in NY-23-- drew large raucous crowds. When Reed tried selling the crowds on Ryan's health care replacement (bogus health savings accounts) people were furious and started yelling "We want your health care! We want your health care!" Reed was also peppered with uncomfortable questions about Trump's embrace of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and about Trump's failure to pay income taxes-- Reed was sounded boo-ed for voting in committee against a proposal that would have forced Trump to release his tax returns-- and the crowd wound up chanting "What are you covering up?"

When Reed tried to avoid fighting about Putin, he pivoted back to Medicare, that had his constituents yelling at him that they like it the way it is and weren't going to accept Ryan's tax credits and voucher bullshit instead of actual health care. People in Cherry Creek, where he held his second town hall of the day, were shouting that rather than repeal Obamacare, Congress should turn it into a single-payer system (as Bernie Sanders has been advocating).

In 2012, the DCCC viciously sabotaged progressive Democrat Nate Shinagawa when he ran against Reed. Because of DCCC hostility Reed managed to eke out a 52-48% win and never faced a serious competitor again. In the 2018 cycle it will be the responsibility of Joe Kennedy III, the new DCCC vice-chair for the region to make sure a progressive like Shinagawa is the recruit and that he gets support, not shade.

Next door in Syracuse-based NY-24, where, once again DCCC incompetence and a craving for an inoffensive, unelectable Republican-lite crap-candidate-- and fear and loathing for the Berniecrat-- resulted in the inevitable, reelection of John Katko in a solidly blue district Obama won with 57% and even Hillary managed to win against Trump 48.9% to 45.3%. Katko announced Friday that he won’t attend any town hall meetings with his constituents and won’t let outside groups "hijack service to my district or disrupt meaningful engagement with my constituents." If Joe Kennedy recruits a real Democrat and not another vapid New Dem or Blue Dog, Katko will be wiped off the face of the political map in 2018, along with Reed.

The NY Times also noted how angry grassroots constituents are at Republican members of Congress right now. Regardless of what fools like Katko try to say "national organizers concede they are playing catch-up to a 'dam-bursting level' of grass-roots activism that has bubbled up from street protests and the small groups that have swelled into crowds outside local congressional offices."
Several Republicans, including Mr. Trump, have dismissed the pro-health care act crowds as “paid protesters,” not constituents. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, without offering evidence, called the protests a “very paid, AstroTurf-type movement,” unlike the Tea Party demonstrations against the drafting of the health care law in 2009, which he characterized as “very organic.”

In fact, some of the most formidable and well-established organizing groups on the left have found themselves scrambling to track all of the local groups sprouting up through social media channels like Facebook and Slack, or in local “huddles” that grew out of the women’s marches across the country the day after the inauguration.

...The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is keeping track of Republican lawmakers who do not hold town-hall-style meetings. Some events have been canceled, and Representative Tom MacArthur of New Jersey said he had done so because the meetings have been “hijacked” by groups hostile to Mr. Trump. The committee plans to run internet ads trying to shame lawmakers for not facing their constituents in public since voting last month on a procedural motion aimed at repealing the health law.

Some of the most creative activity is coming from people who are new to political activism. In Plymouth, Minn., Kelly Guncheon, a financial planner who described himself as an independent, has organized a “With Him or Without Him” meeting for Representative Erik Paulsen, a Republican who has not scheduled any of his own. A volunteer offered to make 400 cupcakes decorated with a “Where’s Waldo?” picture of Mr. Paulsen’s face, and Mr. Guncheon said he planned to project onto screens legislation that Mr. Paulsen had supported. Participants will be asked to write down questions, which will be delivered, along with a recording of the event, to Mr. Paulsen’s congressional office after the recess.

Mr. Guncheon, like other new activists, said he was not looking to traditional political groups for guidance.

“In this new culture, this new era, we have to figure out new ways to do things,” he said. “There’s certainly no leadership at the head of the Democratic Party, or the state party. Not that I’m a Democrat anyway, but that seems to be the opposition party.”

Other new groups organizing on Facebook have arranged similar events, calling them “no-show” or “empty-chair” meetings, for Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, as well as for Republican lawmakers from California, New Jersey and New York.

In response to Mr. Gardner’s complaints that the people showing up at his office to request town-hall-style meetings were paid protesters from other states, one group showed up at his office with a banner on which members had written their Colorado ZIP codes.
Crackpot wing nut Dana Rohrabacher-- whose Orange County district Trump lost to Hillary-- claimed that constituents asking for town hall meetings are "enemies" of democracy and political "thugs." He's literally talking about the voters in Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel and Aliso Viejo. He's one of scores of aloof, unaccountable Republican congressmembers hiding from their own voters (unlike less dishonest Members like Justin Amash and Jim Sensenbrenner who have scheduled and gone to numerous town halls). Among the shadiest and most dismissive congressmembers have been Peter Roskam (R-IL), Chris Collins (R-NY), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Ed Royce (R-CA), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Roger Williams (R-TX), Paul Cook (R-CA), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Mike McCaul (R-TX), Bill Flores (R-TX), Steve Knight (R-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), David Valadao (R-CA) and Rodney Davis (R-IL).

Nick Kristoff Times column this weekend dealt with how to get rid of Trump and his Nazi regime before they do some existential damage to America. "[F]or now," he wrote, "it’s hard to imagine a majority of the House voting to impeach, and even less conceivable that two-thirds of the Senate would vote to convict so that Trump would be removed. Moreover, impeachment and trial in the Senate would drag on for months, paralyzing America and leaving Trump in office with his finger on the nuclear trigger... [I]t’ll be up to Republicans to decide whether to force Trump out. And that won’t happen unless they see him as ruining their party as well as the nation."
“The only incentive for Republicans to act-- with or without the cabinet-- is the same incentive Republicans had in 1974 to insist on Nixon’s resignation,” Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia told me. “The incentive is survival.”

Trump does have one weakness, and it’s parallel to Nixon’s. Republicans in Congress were willing to oust Nixon partly because they vastly preferred his vice president, Gerald Ford-- just as congressional Republicans prefer Mike Pence today.

If I were betting, I’d say we’re stuck with Trump for four years. But as Sabato says: “Lots of things about Donald Trump’s election and early presidency have been shocking. Why should it stop now?”

And what does it say about a presidency that, just one month into it, we’re already discussing whether it can be ended early?
Wednesday there'll be a big rally in front of Paul Ryan's house in Janesville, Wisconsin, since he adamantly refuses to meet with his constituents. They'll meet at Parker Park at the corner of Harrison Street and East Court Street (53545) at 10:30 AM.

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"If Trump were more rational and more competent, he might have a chance of destroying our democracy" (George Packer)


by Ken

The question of President Trump's mental fitness for the office dates back at least to some of his wilder ravings during the campaign, and less than a month into his tenure is being discussed more widely. As noted, the above graphic, for example, is filched from a January 28 post of that title by Gregory Johnson on the Resources for Life blog.

Now, in a "Comment" piece in the February 27 New Yorker, "Holding Trump Accountable," George Packer offers a stark portrait of our moment in time, proceeding from the proposition that, a month into his tenure,
Donald Trump has already proved himself unable to discharge his duties. The disability isn’t laziness or inattention. It expresses itself in paranoid rants, non-stop feuds carried out in public, and impulsive acts that can only damage his government and himself. Last week, at a White House press conference, the President behaved like the unhinged leader of an unstable and barely democratic republic.
George gives a graphic portrayal of a White House "isolate[d] in power struggles" and an administration "in nearly open revolt," and foreign leaders looking on either:

• "with disbelieving alarm":
Allies such as Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau, of Canada, and Shinzo Abe, of Japan, flatter the President in order to avoid the fate of Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull, whom Trump first berated and then hung up on during their get-to-know-you phone call."
• or "with calculating interest":
Vladimir Putin is already testing Trump, by sending Russian fighter jets to buzz a U.S. Navy ship. Xi Jinping is positioning China to fill the void in the Pacific Rim which will be left by Trump’s policy of America First. Pragmatists in Iran are trying to judge whether the new American government can be counted on to act rationally—exactly what U.S. officials always wondered about the fractured leadership of the Islamic Republic.


As George explains, Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, which has still never been used (though he notes that the new team appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1987, on the advice of the outgoing team, checked it out), "empowers the Vice-President, along with 'a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide,' to declare the President unfit and to install the Vice-President as Acting President."

The blurb atop George's piece reads: "After a month in office, [President Trump] has already proved himself unable to discharge his duties. But the only people with real leverage over him won’t use it." And after setting forth the current situation, George says starkly: "It won’t get better."
The notion that, at some point, Trump would start behaving “Presidential” was always a fantasy that has the truth backward: the pressure of the Presidency is making him worse. He’s insulated by sycophants and by family members, and he can still ride a long way on his popular following. Though the surge of civic opposition, the independence of the courts, and the reinvigoration of the press are heartening, the only real leverage over Trump lies in the hands of Republicans. But Section 4 won’t be invoked. Vice-President Mike Pence is not going to face the truth in the private back room of a Washington restaurant with Secretaries Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, and Wilbur Ross, or in the offices of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Republican leaders have opted instead for unconstrained power.

They need Trump to pass their agenda of rewriting the tax code in favor of the rich and of gutting regulations that protect the public and the planet—an agenda that a majority of Americans never supported—so they are looking the other way. Even the prospect of Russian influence over our elections and our government leaves these American patriots unmoved. Senator John Cornyn, of Texas, the Republican whip, made it plain: Trump can go on being Trump “as long as we’re able to get things done.” Senator Rand Paul, of Kentucky, explained, “We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do, like repealing Obamacare, if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans.”

The growing Russian scandal will challenge the willingness of the Party to hold the President accountable. So far, the situation is not encouraging. The heads of the key House and Senate committees are partisans who are doing as little as possible to expose corruption and possible treason in the White House. The few critical Republican voices—Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Susan Collins, and Representative Mark Sanford—are ineffective. Perhaps Party leaders are privately searching their souls; perhaps, as with the old Bolshevik Rubashov, in Arthur Koestler’s “Darkness at Noon,” ideology and power have rendered them incapable of independent moral judgment. Whatever the case, history won’t be kind to them.

An authoritarian and erratic leader, a chaotic Presidency, a supine legislature, a resistant permanent bureaucracy, street demonstrations, fear abroad: this is what illiberal regimes look like. If Trump were more rational and more competent, he might have a chance of destroying our democracy.
Obviously if those Republicans George accuses of delinquency were to rouse themselves to action, we would be left in the hardly more attractive clutches of a President Pence. Eventually it may come to that, but at least for now, as George points out, "they need Trump to pass their agenda" -- in their present situation of "unconstrained power." So pick your poison -- heads they win, tails the country loses.

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Looking Back-- Moving Forward... A Guest Post From TX-21 Progressive Democratic House Candidate Tom Wakely


I was a 2016 Democratic Party candidate for Congress. I ran against thirty-year Republican incumbent, Lamar Smith who is the climate change-denying chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Even though I am an independent voter (by that I mean I have voted for Greens, Republicans, Libertarians and Democrats) Bernie Sanders drew me into filing to run as a Democrat. I figured if he could do it, so could I. Big mistake-- more on that later.

When I spoke to Howie a few weeks ago to thank him and Blue America for their support of our campaign against Lamar, I told him people were urging me to run against Smith again, in 2018. I told him when I made a decision to run or not to run another congressional race I would let him know. Well, I made my decision this past week and I am a 2018 candidate for Congress. When I told Howie this, he asked if I would mind writing a guest post for his blog on why I am running again and why I think I can build on last cycle to win this cycle.

First off, let me talk a little about my experience running a congressional campaign here in Texas. As I have already mentioned I decided to run because I finally saw a candidate running for President who lived and breathed a progressive agenda-- Senator Bernie Sanders. Not only did I want to be a part of a Sanders Presidency I knew he would need women and men like myself in Congress who would support and fight for progressive values.

The first step was to file with the Texas Democratic Party to run in the 2016 primary. I had my choice, either collect 500 signatures (which I did) or pay a filing fee of $3,500 dollars. I was told by the State Party that if I wanted access to the Texas VAN (Voter Activation Network), the online database that would allow me to organize information about voters and volunteers to ensure that I was targeting the right voters and turning them out to vote, it would cost me $4,000 dollars. However, if I paid the filing fee instead of submitting signatures, the VAN would only cost me $500. I chose the later option.

When I went up to Austin to pay my filing fee the State Party official who took my cashiers check just started laughing as he walked off, saying something to the effect that I was a fool for deciding to run against Lamar Smith. I yelled something back at him. He turned around and we would have gotten into a physical fight if my buddy who was there with me hadn’t stepped in-between us. Not only was this dip-shit who took my check a State Party official he was also a former State Representative. Such began my journey with the Texas Democratic Party.

Over the course of the next several months, I traveled throughout Texas Congressional District 21, which is larger than the State of Connecticut. I spoke to Democratic Party Clubs in San Antonio, in Austin, in Kerrville, in Fredericksburg, in New Braunfels, in San Marcos. Everywhere I went I was very clear to everyone I met that I supported Sanders for President. My primary opponent was equally as clear-- he supported Clinton. I was pumped and looking forward to riding Bernie’s coattails all the way to Washington. I followed Sanders campaign staff around the district as they organized voters. It was an exciting time. Adrenalin kept me going day and night.

Half-dozen primary debates later, Election Day was finally here. I won my Texas primary campaign, Bernie lost his. However, there was still hope that Senator Sanders could pull a rabbit out of his hat and win the Democratic Party nomination for President but as the weeks/months past, that hope faded.  Today, we all are paying the price for the Democratic Party’s failure to nominate Sanders and we will continue to pay dearly as long as Trump is President.

Anyway, now that the primary was over, it was time for me to get down to putting together a campaign. First up, was hiring staff, problem was we did not have any money. In addition, because I am a strong believer in the public financing of political campaigns, I refused to spend time raising money. My position then as it is today is this-- I am who I am and this is what I stand for. If you like what I am saying you can go to our campaign website (or to the (Blue America page for progressive House candidates) and donate but I will not call people to ask for money.

Much to my surprise five people, all Bernie supporters, signed up to work as campaign staff. From the beginning, they all knew money was going to be an issue and that I could not, would not promise to be able to pay them but if and when money came into the campaign, they would be first on the list to be paid. For the next nine months, this small core group worked their asses off with little or no pay. It was a hell of ride for all of us.

Next, I needed to gain access to the Texas VAN. Unfortunately, the person I needed to talk to was the very same dip-shit who took my check for the filing fee. I swallowed my pride and called him. He was never in the office and when he finally did get back to me he told me I was mistaken, the $3,500 filing fee could not be used to offset the $4,000 price for access to the VAN. I was livid, to say the least but what could I do?

What I did do was reach out to my primary opponent to see if he could help. Turned out he had purchased access to Texas VAN for the primary and offered to give us his log-in ID and password so our campaign could use it and use it we did. For the next 90 days we used the VAN, compiled voter lists, contacts; it was great tool for a struggling campaign. Then in mid-July, we lost access to the VAN. Seems the Texas Democratic Party discovered we were using another candidate’s access and they then unceremoniously cut us off. Ouch!

For close to a month we were left without access to any voter files. Fortunately, for us though we were to raise a little money in the meantime and we subsequently purchased the voter files through NationBuilder.  Which by the way is a much better campaign vendor than NPG VAN-- remember them, the same folks who cut the Sanders campaign off from his voter files. Well, our campaign finally got back up and running; next on our agenda was preparing for the Texas State Democratic Party convention. However, it was a waste of time and money for us. Not only did the State Party not let me on stage to speak to the delegates, they did not let us speak at any of the official events.

Anyone see a pattern here?

In the end, we did the best we could with the amount of money we had. On reflection, I guess we accomplished a few things. We promoted a progressive agenda. We received more votes than any other candidate who has every run against Smith and we did that by spending less than fifty cents per vote. Which brings me back to the question Howie asked, why I am running again and why do I think I can build on last cycle to win this cycle?

First off, of the 10 counties that make up District 21, the majority of them are rural and that’s where Smith really beat us. The Republicans have done a hell of a job with messaging as far as these rural communities are concerned. They’ve convinced rural voters to vote against their own economic self-interest time and time again and for that I grudgingly congratulate the Elephant in the room. Now whether the Democratic Party can ever win back these folks is still an unanswered question. I know Bernie can but I don’t see anything on the horizon that tells me the Democratic Party nationally or the Texas State Party can. I guess we will have to wait and see who is going to be elected Chair of the DNC.

Secondly, we have already put together a strong campaign of volunteers. We have met people from here to there. Building on what we have already accomplished puts us within striking distance of Lamar. A swing of 35,000 voters is all that it will take to win this Congressional seat.

A thousand years ago, when I was a young man, I remember playing pool inside the Crystal Pistol, a bar here in San Antonio. The fellow I was playing against was a political organizer from New York. He told me that things would only change if things got so bad that people would finally get up off the couch and do something about it. A Trump Presidency might just be the catalyst that I and so many of us have been waiting so long for and for that I grudgingly congratulate the Donkey in the room.

Almost everyday now Lamar Smith makes the news. Whether it is his telling us all that if we want the truth, we should get it from President Trump as he is the only one telling us the unvarnished truth. The earth is dying and Smith continues to deny the reality of climate change-- as a Christian Scientist I’m sure he believes we can just pray it away because it is just an illusion like the illusion of cancer or Hepatitis C that racks so many of our bodies. However, Smith is neither a Christian nor a Scientist. Rather he is a Vietnam War draft-dodging hypocrite; a homophobic, xenophobic, islamophobic, taco-truckophobic, conservative who has lived off other people’s taxes his entire adult life.

Thousands are organizing in District 21 to unseat not just Smith but Trump. Mom’s Clean Air Force is working tirelessly to recruit organizers in every zip code in District 21. Indivisible 21 is growing it’s membership base daily. Populism is once again on the rise here in Texas and we believe we can tap into this anger, this frustration. The days of centrist politics is over, Hillary’s defeat proves that. As the old saying goes, the only thing in the middle-of-the road is a dead armadillo and it is stinking to high heavens.

-Tom Wakely

Goal Thermometer Blue America has endorsed Tom again and there are strong rumors that Lamar Smith doesn't want the headache of having to campaign against him again. There's also a Replublican extremist, Matt McCall, who doesn't think Lamar Smith is far right enough and he's eager to mount another primary challenge against him. With all the anger Trump, Ryan and Lamar Smith are arousing, 2018 is likely to be a good year for Democrats. And with a new and improved crew at the DCCC-- Steve Israel and Kelly Ward are finally gone-- there's even a chance of some institutional help for Tom. A chance. Meanwhile, please consider contributing to his campaign by tapping on the ActBlue thermometer on the right, which will take you to the page with all the House candidates Blue America has endorsed for 2017 and 2018-- a list that's more about quality than quantity at this point.

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DNC Chair Vote: Keith Ellison Has Already Won Much-- Sing Along To Help Him Win More!


Who would have thought so much drama, and fun music, could be catalyzed by the Democratic National Committee’s vote for a new chair (due on February 25)?

Even before the vote, Bernie-endorsed candidate Congressman Keith Ellison has accomplished much, including:
Goal Thermometer Keith drawing public attention to the generally backroom selection process.
Keith collecting enough support to force opponents to run a relatively high profile ‘non-Ellison’, which they found in Tom Perez, Obama’s ex-Secretary of Labor who was being groomed for higher office (such as by being floated in 2016 as a potential Vice Presidential running mate for Hillary).
Keith creating enough competitive pressure to provoke Perez into publicly admitting the Hillary-Bernie primary “was rigged,” after which he retracted the admission, by claiming that he had “misspoke.” This has highlighted Perez’s lack of experience in message discipline under the pressure of public scrutiny, and is a reminder of Perez’s track record of ‘only following orders,’ notably on Obama’s big push for mainly Republican lame-duck passage of the labor-opposed Trans Pacific Partnership.
Keith announcing major labor union endorsements as pushback to Perez’s recent attempt to replicate Hillary’s usage of friendly press mouthpieces to create ‘inevitability’ by adding up anonymous private voting commitments.
Keith making it obvious that a Perez win would constitute DNC defiance of demands for major changes in business as usual, despite the catastrophic electoral failures of the DNC, and of its favored candidates from Hillary on down.
Keith making himself a lightning rod to attract the kinds of underhanded attacks that any progressive candidate would face, and giving himself opportunities for creative compromise. For example, if Keith’s being too ‘Muslim’ is the main problem for pearl-clutching (and Haim Saban-clutching) voters, then Keith could propose a compromise candidate like anti-corruption legal expert Zephyr Teachout, who would probably horrify friendly lobbyists so much that voters would be relieved to accept a compromise candidate like Bernie-supporting Congressman Raul Grijalva. The identity-flaunting Perez anointers could even claim Grijalva’s election as a win for them, by announcing: "We got a non-Muslim Latino just like we wanted!"
DNC members voting to elect the new chair are mainly office-holders, candidates, operatives, lobbyists and/or donors who have benefited from the inside game’s domination by fundraising. So they will only vote against Perez if they fear they will lose more from electing him than from loosening establishment control of the DNC.

What’s their main fear now (other than their never-ending fear of losing donor funds)? They probably don’t believe that Bernie could win the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020 (partly because the establishment would hit a 2020 Bernie candidacy earlier and harder than they did in 2016), but they do understand that Democratic nominees will be weak unless they can retain support from most of Bernie’s supporters and sympathizers.

One way to increase their fear of angering Bernie supporters is to show them that we too can start the 2020 nomination contest earlier and more effectively than we did in 2016. The earlier and bigger we can make a ‘campaign-in-waiting’ (or a People’s-Party-in-waiting) for Bernie, the more establishment Democrats will fear to publicly show disrespect towards Bernie’s allies (like Keith) and visibly dismiss our concerns about donor-driven nominations and policy positions.

In other words, the more we #FeelTheBern, the more they will pretend to #FeelTheBern, out of fear that we will make their well-covered posteriors truly #FeelTheBern. We face years of effort to make the DNC and other insiders responsive to reality, so let’s take full advantage of Bernie’s and Keith’s hard-earned visibility and seat at the table by strengthening their hands. And let’s have some fun while doing it. In this spirit, and to highlight the importance of the ‘trench-warrior’s-eye-view,’ we are publishing the above music video “The Fine & The Mighty”, with apologies to Pete Seeger and Lead Belly, who sang for their era's veterans who survived military and social wars abroad and at home.

Readers can help by singing along, by creating more lyrics of Bernie-themed criticism of politics as usual, and posting them in our comments section. Even better, we encourage readers to make videos of groups singing their own lyrics, or our lyrics, and to post them online. Or send us a copy and we’ll post it alongside our music video here:

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Black Lives Matter? Ice-T And Body Count Have Something To Say About That


Body Count's new album, Bloodlust, will be out March 31 but yesterday, the band's new single was released. You can hear it-- and watch the provocative new video-- above; please do. It's special for me, mostly because Bodycount is a band I worked with when I was general manger of Sire Records. Seymour Stein had signed Ice-T to the label and he was a star-- a successful star who sold a lot of albums. In 1990 Ice asked me to come see his metal band, Body Count, play. Their music and stage show were right up my alley and they were a big hit at Lollapalooza in 1991. It's nice when you work at a record company and actually like the music you have to work.

In early 1992, we released the eponymous album and I was thrilled that Ice had decided to give me credit as executive producer. What an honor! Commercially-speaking, he album was modestly successful-- not on an Ice-T level-- but big for a debut by a new rock band. I don't remember the exact figure but we had sold a solid 100,000 albums when the record was "over." Returns started trickling back from the retail accounts and it was time to start thinking about the next Ice-T album. Then something incredible happened.

We hadn't got a lot of airplay or effective promotion for the Body Count album. But then the Dallas Police force got involved and started complaining about the song "Cop Killer." Complaining really loudly... and really effectively. DC politicians suddenly saw an opportunity to jump on a slightly, subtly racist "law and order" bandwagon. And it wasn't just Republicans. Suddenly we had Dan Quayle and then George H.W. Bush denouncing our artist and their song by name-- on national TV. The trickle of returns stopped and the orders for more album started coming in-- bigly! The album went gold quickly, quickly enough for me to make a gold album for Dan Quayle for helping get the massive sales rush going. (My boss asked me not to send it to him.)

Soon Tipper Gore and Joe Lieberman jumped in and started denouncing us. (Anyone remember the PMRC?) It turned into a real mess. The police would claim several times a week that they had a bomb threat for our building and kept evacuating us so they could search the building. It was pure harassment and it went on and on and on. In the end, the corporate bosses in New York were concerned about Time Warner's stock price. They demanded we drop Ice-T. We refused. They demanded louder. Eventually, the chairman of the company asked me if I wanted to go to New York and argue the case. I said sure. He asked me if I owned a suit. I said, "Of course... I had a bar mitzvah." He looked at me strangely and wished me luck. When the meeting was done-- they walked out cursing under their collective breath-- I was sure my career at Warner Bros was over.

The next time I saw these corporate overseers was about a year later at a company meeting. By then I was the president of Reprise Records, one of their crown jewels. They looked at me and I could see then thinking, "Oh my God, it's him again! Where are the aspirins!" In the interim, though, Ice decided to leave Warner Bros, amicably. I was sad too see him go but it worked out really well for him-- and Warner Bros was basically out of the Black Music business for years.

Among the guest musicians on the album-- not on this song though-- are Megadeth's Dave Mustaine )n the song "Civil War"), Randy Blyth from Lamb of God (on the song "Walk With Me") and Soulfly's Max Cavalera (on the song "All Love is Lost"). There's also a cover Slayer's "Raining Blood" and "Postmortem."

Here are the "No Lives Matter" lyrics:
It’s unfortunate that we even have
To say Black Lives Matter
I mean if you go through history
Nobody ever gave a fuck
I mean you can kill Black People in the street
Nobody goes to jail nobody goes to prison,
But when I say Black Lives Matter
And you say All Lives Matter
That’s like if I was to say Gay Lives Matter
And you say All Lives Matter
If I said Women’s Lives Matter
and you say All Lives Matter
You dilutin’ what i’m sayin’
You dilutin’ the issue the issue isn’t about everybody
It’s about Black Lives at the moment,
But the truth of the matter is they don’t really give a fuck about anybody
if you break the shit all the way down to the low fuckin’ dirty ass truth.

We say that Black Lives Matter
But truthfully they really never have
No one really ever gave a fuck just
Read your bullshit history books
But honestly it ain’t just Black
It’s Yellow, it’s Brown, it’s Red,
It’s anyone who ain’t got cash
Poor Whites that they call trash

They can’t fuck with us
Once we realize we’re all on the same side
They can’t split us up,
And let ‘em prosper off the divide
They can’t fuck with us
Once we realize we’re all on the same side
They can’t split us up and let ‘em
Prosper off the divide

Don't fall for the bait and switch
Racisim is real but not it,
They fuck whoever can’t fight back
But now we got to change all that
The people  have had enough
Right now it’s them against us
This shit is ugly to the core
When it comes to the poor  - NO LIVES MATTER

America’s always been
A place that’s judged by skin,
And racisim is real as fuck
Ain’t no way to play that off,
And in the eyes of the law
Black skin has always stood for poor
This is basic shit - They know who they’re fuckin’ with

They can’t fuck with us
Once we realize we’re all on the same side
They can’t split us up,
And let ‘em prosper off the divide
They can’t fuck with us
Once we realize we’re all on the same side
They can’t split us up and let ‘em
Prosper off the divide

Don't fall for the bait and switch
Racisim is real but not it,
They fuck whoever can’t fight back
But now we got to change all that
The people  have had enough
Right now it’s them against us
This shit is ugly to the core
When it comes to the poor  - NO LIVES MATTER

You never see ‘em pullin’ rich people
Out of they cars in their neighborhood
Because they know they got lawyers
They know they’ll sue their ass
They can tell who to fuck with
Unfortunately Black or Brown skin
Has always meant poor
They’re profiling you kid they know
You can’t fight back, but we about  to
In an interview with Paul Gargano last month, Ice said that he "may have an acting job to fall back on, but my core still looks out there and says that people are a bunch of pussies. What the fuck!?! I never had a hard time putting myself on the line, now I want people to stand up and open their eyes. People are dumb, they don’t know. The cops shoot kids and they say it’s white people-- it ain’t white people, it’s the cops! Racism is real, but that’s not all that’s happening here. I’m singing to my white audience and letting them know that I see them as an ally, and I’m singing to my black audience and telling them to judge a devil by their deeds. I’m trying to lose that picture of the one-dimensional gangster. Mother fuckers that act hard are the fakest mother fuckers in the world-- us right now, this is how human beings really are. We can joke and talk shit, we can hit a political note and be adamant and angry as shit, then on the next note you can be watching cartoons and bouncing your kid on your knee. I’m not worried about people misinterpreting me anymore-- the dummies misinterpret, and the real fans will assassinate them for that. The intention here was to make some great music, open some eyes, and offer people some entertainment. People should rock to this-- I didn’t want to make a mix tape, I wanted to make a BODY COUNT album."

I have a feeling the cops aren't going to be any happier about this one than they were about "Cop Killer," since the implication is clear-- that cops kill innocent people. I wonder if Trump's going to help it go platinum. Listen again.

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Sex Crimes And The Orangeman, 2.0


-by Helen Klein

Once he was elected, Trump must have taken a deep sigh of relief, thinking that his past sexual escapades were behind him and no longer worthy of scrutiny. Although the press has unfortunately left this topic alone for a while, this is likely to change very soon. In light of the Russian brouhaha going on, this aspect of Trump’s background now deserves focus under a microscope. Surely there is plenty more fodder along this vein to support the case for Russian blackmail, and it would be unfathomable for the media to ignore any aspects of Trump’s history that would shed further light on his actions and predilections.

Now that Alexander Acosta is up for Congressional approval as Secretary of Labor, this is a new opportunity to revisit Acosta’s past court cases, particularly the one involving Jeffrey Epstein, a longtime associate of Trump’s.

The February 16th Politico article, Trump’s Labor Nominee Oversaw ‘Sweetheart Plea Deal’ in Billionaire’s Sex Case, reviews Acosta’s role in the case against Jeffrey Epstein.
Acosta could face a grilling in the Senate over claims that-- while he was the top federal prosecutor in Miami-- he cut a sweetheart pleas deal in 2008 with a billionaire investor accused of having sex with dozens of underage girls. As the U.S. attorney for Southern Florida, Acosta agreed not to file any federal charges against the wealthy financier, Jeffrey Epstein, if he pled guilty to state charges involving soliciting prostitution and soliciting a minor for prostitution.

Acosta’s involvement in the saga could be personally or politically awkward for Trump, drawing fresh attention to his ties to Epstein-- including the financier’s tenure as a member at Trump’s Palm Beach club, Mar-a-Lago.

“I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy,” Trump told New York Magazine back in 2002. “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it-- Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
Despite a decade of alleged serial sexual abuse and rape of an unknowable number of girls, some as many as 100 times according to court filings, Epstein was offered a deal. He received an 18 month jail sentence, of which he served only 13 months-- this included a 6-day "work permit" allowing him to stay home most of the time. Basically it was a slap on the wrist. This led to outrage from his other alleged victims.

Officially, Epstein is a convicted rapist and sex offender, although he minimizes this and laughs it off.
“I’m not a sexual predator, I’m an offender,” he told the New York Post in 2011, shortly after a New York judge classified him as a level 3 offender, “or a threat to public safety”… ”It’s the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel,” Epstein said.
Epstein is notorious for his relationships with underage girls. His plane, nicknamed The Lolita Express, and known as a hot-spot for underaged sex orgies, flew many friends and associates, including Trump, to his private island, referred to as Sex Slave Island. He also has a mansion in Manhattan, where various nefarious activities of a sexual nature are alleged to have taken place.

Some further information about the Trump-Epstein connection was provided by Amanda Prestigiacomo in the May 2016 edition of the Daily Wire:
When under oath, while Epstein acknowledged he knew Trump, he “curiously pled the Fifth to Trump attending sex parties with underage girls.”

At least one of Epstein’s underage sex victims was recruited from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, which he frequented often.

Trump was subpoenaed in 2009 for his connection to Epstein’s underage sex slave rings. Trump has denied ever being served. The lawyer who served him said this was patently false.
This may be only the tip of the iceberg regarding Trump’s sexual exploits. More could and should be exposed that would be hugely embarrassing to him.

On August 20th, this writer wrote a DWT post entitled, A Potential Death Knell for Trump?-- A Case of Underage Rape. Matt Taibbi of the Rolling Stone mentioned the case in his article, Summer of the Shill. Unconscionably, this story got virtually no traction in the press during the campaign. The case was eventually dropped by the plaintiff, who apparently received threatening phone calls and felt intimidated.
Short version: On June 20, 2016, a case was filed in the United States District Court in the southern district of New York by Jane Doe, Plaintiff, proceeding under a pseudonym, against Donald J. Trump and Jeffrey E. Epstein, Defendants. A trial by jury is demanded. The incidents described took place in 1994. What are Trump and Epstein being accused of?

Rape, sexual misconduct, criminal sexual acts, sexual abuse, forcible touching, assault, battery, intentional and reckless infliction of emotional distress, duress, false imprisonment and defamation.
After the disgusting video of Trump with Billy Bush the week before the election, many women came forward to reveal inappropriate sexual behavior by Trump.

Buzzfeed’s incredible revelations from Christopher Steele, British intelligence agent, received considerable media attention.
Former top intelligence officer claims FSB has compromised Trump through his activities in Moscow sufficiently to be able to blackmail him. According to several knowledgeable sources, his conduct in Moscow has included perverted sexual acts which have been arranged/monitored by the FSB.

One which has borne fruit for them was to exploit Trump’s personal obsessions and sexual perversion in order to obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ (compromising material) on him. According to source D, where s/he had been present, Trump’s (perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and Mrs. Obama (whom he hated) had stayed on one of their official trips to Russia, and defiled the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. The hotel was known to be under FSB control with microphones and concealed cameras in all of the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.
According to the recent Vox article, The 3 Trump-Russia Scandals Explained, the third leg of the scandal is, “Does Russia have dirt on Trump?”
The third scandal is, by far, the least supported of the three. It stems almost entirely from anonymous allegations in the Steele dossier, and involves deeply bizarre and hard to believe stuff. (Bizarre perhaps, but not actually so hard to believe.)

In 2013, Trump travelled to Russia to host the Miss Universe pageant. Before he went, he tweeted this: “Do you think Putin will be going to the Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow? If so-- will he become my new best friend?”

According to Steele’s source, Trump did some very naughty things during his visits to Russia… Russian agents filmed these acts, according to Steele’s sources, and are wielding them to blackmail Trump into taking pro-Russian positions.

“Trump’s unorthodox behavior in Russia over the years have provided the authorities there with enough embarrassing material on the Republican Presidential candidate to be able to blackmail him if they so wished.”

Basically, the Russian connection will be a problem for Trump for the foreseeable future. And it’s all his own fault.
In conclusion, further investigative reporting on Trump’s history of sexual exploits would be important at this time. Potentially worthy of a great deal of embarrassment, such revelations may empower women who have been mistreated by him and have been intimidated to reconsider pursuing civil suits and/or criminal prosecution. Revelations would also provide more substance to any further accusations about misconduct in Russia worthy of blackmail.

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Can Foreign Leaders, Outside Of Putin, Trust Anything Trump Or His People Say?


Trump's fascinating hour and 17 minutes performance art piece Thursday-- one Republican senator, not amused suggested he should have done it privately, with a therapist, not on live TV-- was unmoored from objective reality. Subject by subject, getting at any semblance of The Truth was not on Trump's agenda. Instead, he sent the fact checking services into a flurry of overtime activities.

One particularly bizarre lie he harped on-- perhaps forgetting the campaign (in which nearly 3 million more people chose Hillary Clinton than himself-- was an old right-wing gem about Hillary giving away 20% of America's uranium supplies to Russia. If you're a brainwashed or drugged up denizen of Hate Talk Radio or Fox you know all about that. If you're just a normal American, you probably were hearing the baseless charge for the very first time.

After Trump's performance art piece Thursday, CNBC reported the claim false, as PolitiFact had already done when Trumpy-the-Clown was repeating it on the stump.
At a campaign rally in Waukesha, Wis., Donald Trump made a number of attacks on Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, including one involving Russia.

Clinton "gave up 20 percent of America's uranium supply to Russia-- to Russia," Trump said Sept. 28, 2016, two days after their first debate. "You know what people do with uranium, don’t you? It’s called nuclear. Twenty percent. They could have never done it without her."
The Hate Talk Radio stations Trump listens to as if they were real news, have long reported that Russia’s nuclear energy agency bought a controlling stake in Uranium One, a Canadian company with mines in Wyoming, Utah and other states. It doesn't produce 20% of America's uranium and, unless Trump grants it to them, it doesn't have an export license to send Russian even one gram of uranium. Uranium One also owns mines in the former Soviet Republican of Kazakhstan and that's what Putin was interested in. PolitiFact's rating:
Trump says Clinton "gave up 20 percent of America's uranium supply to Russia."

The reference is to Russia’s nuclear power agency buying a controlling interest in a Toronto-based company. That company has mines, mills and tracts of land in Wyoming, Utah and other U.S. states equal to about 20 percent of U.S. uranium production capacity (not produced uranium).

Clinton was secretary of state at the time, but she didn’t have the power to approve or reject the deal. The State Department was only one of nine federal agencies that signed off on the deal, and only Obama had the power to veto it.
So, yes, Trump was lying again. Now, let's see if this was all about Trump giving Putin an export license for American-mined uranium and then blaming Hillary and Obama, who never allowed any U.S. uranium to go to Russia. Would it surprise you? It wouldn't surprise me if Trump sold Putin the White House silverware. Yesterday, The Scotsman reported that the leader of Scotland's Conservative Party, Ruth Davidson, is telling people that after Theresa May met the unhinged sociopathic American president the British government began "reassessing" America's reliability as an ally. She described Trump's Regime as "chaotic," blaming a "lack of professionalism and moral seriousness." She pointed out that Trump's Regime is one step away from being run by a pack of "white supremacist bloggers."
Referring to the UK-US relationship, she said: “We are going to want to make sure that any deals that are done he is going to honour. We have to be sure of that.”

Ms Davidson does not attend cabinet meetings but has an invitation to attend Prime Minister Theresa May’s “political cabinets”, when political strategy rather than government business is discussed.

Her comments come after the Prime Minister attempted to strike a friendly tone when she visited Mr Trump last month... The Scottish Tory leader also said caution was required with a President whose early actions should “worry us all.”

She added: “At the moment, from the UK, we have always seen America as being a very strong, a reliable ally and now, even after only 26 days or however long the tenure has been so far in Pennsylvania Avenue, we are beginning to reassess how reliable an ally the United States is.”

In Germany yesterday, John McCain wasn't exactly reassuring to the people attending the Munich Security Conference. He admitted that the Trump Regime is in "disarray" and that Trump "contradicts himself so we've learned to watch what the president does as opposed to what he says." Trump sent Pence to the conference today to pretend everything back in DC is nice and normal-- nothing to worry about.

Referring to Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist, a German patriot who attempted to assassinate Hitler in 1944, McCain asked rhetorically, "What would von Kleist’s generation say if they saw our world today?" And answered, harshly rebuking Trump without mentioning his reviled name: "They would be alarmed by an increasing turn away from universal values and toward old ties of blood, and race, and sectarianism. They would be alarmed by the hardening resentment we see toward immigrants, and refugees, and minority groups, especially Muslims. They would be alarmed by the growing inability, and even unwillingness, to separate truth from lies. They would be alarmed that more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent... [W]e stand for truth against falsehood, freedom against tyranny, right against injustice, [and] hope against despair. I am proud, unapologetic believer in the West, and I believe we must always, always stand up for it-- for if we do not, who will?"

Michael Fallon, the British Defense Minister told the conefrence that "We should be under no illusions about the step-change in Russian behavior over the last couple of years, even after Crimea...We have seen a step-change in Russian military aggression, but also in propaganda, in misinformation and a succession of persistent attacks on Western democracies, interference in a whole series of elections including... the United States."

Currently Putin's agents have been fomenting riots across Paris-- now spreadeing around the rest of France-- in an attempt to help a fascist takeover in that country. Trumpist media allies are getting out the word to bolster Putin's efforts for Le Pen.

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Trump Was In Charleston Yesterday-- The Area's GOP Congressman, Mark Sanford, Is No Fan


Early yesterday morning Señor Trumpanzee tweeted "Going to Charleston, South Carolina, in order to spend time with Boeing and talk jobs! Look forward to it." There was a big demonstration against him when he arrived at the North Charleston Coliseum, although the state's moron governor, Trumpist Henry McMaster, was quoted as saying "This may be the single best day in the history of South Carolina, and we have a great and distinguished history." For those who think of South Carolina as a backward red hellhole... well, Charleston is different. Just watch an episode of Bravo's Southern Charm. And though the state went for Trump 54.9% to 40.7%, not just Charleston city but the entire county was Hillary territory. She won the county-- South Carolina's second biggest-- 89,299 to 75,443. All of Charleston County is part of Mark Sanford's congressional district, in fact, the home of more voters, by far, than any of the other 4 counties in the district. People in Charleston are decidedly not Trump people-- not even the Republicans. Trump won the South Carolina primary by 10 points but Rubio won Charleston County. Trump's share of the vote: just 26.4%.

This morning Sanford-- who, after intense pressure from his constituents was joined by Senator Tim Scott-- held a town hall meeting in Mt. Pleasant. It was packed and overflowing... and pretty lively. The first questioner said "I'm not a paid protester" and the whole audience broke out into applause. Early on, a constituent asked the two officeholders if they are proud that they backed Trump and that he's now president. Scott said, "Given the two choices I had, I am thankful." Sanford had a different response: "I think we’re all struggling with it." He also mentioned that "Nobody would agree with Trump’s notion of alternative facts."

This weekend, Politico Magazine has an interview by Tim Alberta with Mark Sanford, I'm A Dead Man Walking. I'm surprised Sanford hasn't been on Southern Charm, although I haven't been watching it religiously and perhaps he has been-- or will be when it starts up again in April. His personal melodrama is right up the show's alley. But Alberta's interview isn't-- thankfully-- about Sanford's extramarital affair; it's about his perspective on Trump's unsuitability to be president.
Most Republicans in Washington are biting their tongues when it comes to Donald Trump, fearful that any candid criticisms of the new president could invite a backlash from their constituents or, potentially worse, provoke retribution from the commander in chief himself.

Mark Sanford is not like most Republicans in Washington.

His policy résumé is beyond reproach to those on the right: He was D.C.’s dashing fiscal hawk during his first stint in the House, and then, after term-limiting himself and returning home to South Carolina, he won the governorship, vetoed hundreds of measures from his Republican-led Legislature and gained fame by refusing to accept President Barack Obama’s stimulus funding in 2009. His political instincts are razor sharp: Sanford has never lost a campaign, which, joined with his ideological mooring, once made him a conservative favorite for the presidency. And his personal failings-- namely, the infamous 2009 affair with Argentinian television journalist María Belén Chapur-- appear to have been forgiven by the people of South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, who sent him back to Congress in a 2013 special election before re-electing him in 2014 and 2016.

All this gives Sanford a unique sense of liberation to speak his mind about a president whose substance and style he considers a danger to democracy. “I’m a dead man walking,” he tells me, smiling. “If you’ve already been dead, you don’t fear it as much. I’ve been dead politically.”

His digs at Trump cover the spectrum. The president, Sanford says, “has fanned the flames of intolerance.” He has repeatedly misled the public, most recently about the national murder rate and the media’s coverage of terrorist attacks. He showed a lack of humility by using the National Prayer Breakfast to ridicule Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ratings on The Celebrity Apprentice. Most worrisome, Sanford says, Trump is unprepared for the presidency.

“Is he an honest man?” I ask.

For the first time, Sanford begins to measure his words. “I’ve got to be careful,” he says. “Because people who live in glass houses can’t throw stones.”

...Sanford’s opposition to Trump, then, was somewhat inevitable. When a chorus of House conservatives took turns fawning over the GOP nominee after a meeting with him last June, Sanford made a point of mocking Trump’s constitutional knowledge. (“Somebody asked about Article I powers and what he would do to protect them,” Sanford told reporters. “I think his response was, ‘I want to protect Article I, Article II, Article XII,’ going down the list. Of course, there is no Article XII.”) When party officials began marginalizing the issue of tax returns after the convention, Sanford wrote a New York Times op-ed calling Trump’s unprecedented lack of transparency “something our country cannot afford.” And when his colleagues returned to D.C. infused with optimism after the Republican ticket’s November 8 victory, Sanford privately warned them to brace for disappointment.

To understand Sanford’s irreverence toward the 45th president, his friends say, you have to understand two things about him. One is his disdain for expensive clothing. “He didn’t wear a suit to his inauguration as governor,” says Carl Blackstone, who worked for Sanford as both congressman and governor, and today is CEO of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. “He would come into the governor’s office in jeans and a ripped shirt. We would entertain legislators at the governor’s mansion, and he would … show up all sweaty having just finished running.”

The other is Sanford’s upbringing. His father, a prominent heart surgeon, “taught his kids that everyone is the same no matter where they’re from or what they wear, and Mark took it to heart,” Blackstone says. “So he’s not impressed by Trump-- or by anyone else. And that gives him the freedom to say what he wants.”

I ask Sanford, in our early February interview, whether it’s fair to say Trump doesn’t impress him. “Yeah, that's accurate,” he tells me. “Because at some level he represents the antithesis, or the undoing, of everything I thought I knew about politics, preparation and life.”

Sanford, an Eagle Scout, has long been renowned for a work ethic that straddles the line between tireless and maniacal. Famously brutal on staff members-- his former speechwriter wrote a book documenting his workplace misery-- Sanford recalls holding marathon meetings as a congressman and as governor to review every intricate detail of budgets, bills and other proposals that came across his desk.

“And all of a sudden a guy comes along where facts don’t matter?” Sanford asks aloud. “It’s somewhat befuddling. It’s the undoing of that which you base a large part of your life on.”

Sanford says he’s spoken with Trump only once, and the interaction was brief, backstage at a primary debate in South Carolina. “I’ve watched you. You’re a winner,” Trump told him, as Sanford recalls. He rolls his eyes. “It’s like, OK.” Sanford swears he has nothing personal against the new president; in fact, he’s heard good things about him personally from several mutual acquaintances. But, he says, he can’t “look the other way” as Trump peddles false information to suit his political aims.

“I believe in a war of ideas ... and I tell the staff all the time: Look, we’re in the business of crafting and refining our arguments that are hopefully based on the truth,” he adds. “Truth matters. Not hyperbole, not wild suggestion, but actual truth.”

...[F]rom a tactical and ideological standpoint, he is already viewed as a leader of the GOP resistance: In conversations since Election Day with leaders of the congressional right, Sanford is universally mentioned as one of the few House Republicans who looks forward to future confrontations with Trump. “Sanford will never back down,” Justin Amash, his colleague and fellow Tea Party troublemaker, tells me.

What concerns Sanford on a fundamental level-- “the danger” of Trump’s presidency, he says-- is that “historically there’s incredible deference to the presidency from the party in power.” He understands the reluctance of rank-and-file Republicans to criticize a president who “has a proven record of taking people down.” But, he says, there must be a muscular check on Trump from somewhere inside the GOP. He was encouraged to see Speaker Paul Ryan push back on him throughout 2016, but equally disheartened to see him willingly subjugated after the election results came in. “I admired his conviction in the campaign,” Sanford says of Ryan. However, he adds, “at the end of the day, radio silence is not sustainable in being true to yourself.”

And so Sanford finds himself, against the longest of odds, not just back in Congress but back in the spotlight-- not as a rising star or future presidential contender, but as a lonely, lucky-just-to-be-here voice of dissent in a party hijacked by Donald Trump.

...South Carolina’s political class is salivating over rumors that Ted Fienning, a Harvard-educated entrepreneur-- who, in addition to being young, wealthy and telegenic, flew fighter jets in the Marine Corps-- will give Sanford the toughest test of his career in 2018. When I reach Fienning by phone, he confirms his intention to run against Sanford in the primary, and says he recently met with the congressman in Charleston to tell him so. “What was his reaction?” I ask him. “Shock,” Fienning replies. (“[I] learned long ago not to try and discourage someone from something they think they might want to do,” Sanford tells me via email, “so [I] simply wished him well.”)

Fienning tells me his campaign won’t focus on Sanford’s affair, but in the course of two phone conversations he makes repeated references to “integrity” and “honor” while taking several direct shots at the incumbent’s personal struggles. “This guy has made international news for terrible reasons,” Fienning says. “I’ve had international news follow me around when I was a United States Marine-- in Bangladesh, Japan and all kinds of other crazy places-- but that’s the kind of news you want.”

Fienning, a co-founder of a popular children’s eyewear company, says he’ll self-fund up to $250,000 in the primary. The question won’t be whether he’ll have the resources, but rather where he’ll find the ideological space to attack his opponent. “He’s a solid fiscal conservative, but you just never know,” Fienning says of Sanford. “People watch NASCAR for the crashes sometimes. You never know what’s going to come next with him.” Sanford’s broadsides against Trump could provide an opening for his primary opponent, but then again, the president is hardly an imposing force in the district: He won fewer votes there in November than Mitt Romney in 2012, according to data provided by the state party.

If there’s a potential weakness on his right flank, conservatives say, it’s that Sanford-- a longtime enemy of government incentives for big retailers such as Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops-- has taken a softer stance on subsidizing other entities. He is known to be cozy with Boeing, a government-bankrolled behemoth that employs nearly 10,000 people in his district, and is currently pushing Congress to appropriate $180 million for the South Carolina Ports Authority harbor deepening project in Charleston. Here again, though, it’s hard to envision how this hurts Sanford at home. “Mark at his core is a libertarian,” Felkel says, but “South Carolina is a state that can’t afford to be libertarian. … His district benefits greatly from the federal government.”
South Carolina's legislature managed to segregate the bulk of the state's Democrats into one humongous congressional district (SC-06). Hillary beat Trump there 66.8% to 30.3%. Almost 57% of the population is Black. Obama beat Romney there 70.9% to 28.1%. But of the state's 6 other districts, it's Sanford's SC-01 that is potentially the most attractive for the Democrats. If Fienning ousts Sanford in a primary, a good Democratic candidate would have a decent chance to beat him. In fact, if Fienning just bloodies Sanford in a primary and Ryan continues overreaching in Congress, Sanford could be very vulnerable to a good Democratic candidate. With Donald McEachin (D-VA) the new regional vice-chair of the DCCC for this region, there's a chance the DCCC could act to find a good candidate where in the past, they haven't been able to find... where to wipe themselves.

In the special election in 2013 that gave Sanford the seat he beat Stephen Colbert's sister, Elizabeth 54-45% and the DCCC followed that up by not running a candidate against him in 2014. In November the DCCC didn't support the Democratic candidate Dimitri Cherny, who Sanford creamed 58.6-36.9% after raising $741,639 to Cherny's $27,562.

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