Monday, July 25, 2016

I Just Got Back From Moscow... Where I Didn't Get A Chance To Discuss Trump With Putin


Saturday I did a brief post at the travel blog about the fantastic Museum of Russian Political History in St. Petersburg which I visited a few weeks ago. I was really impressed that a still somewhat paranoid country barely emerging-- slowly-- from unbroken centuries of routine authoritarianism would permit such an unbiased and objective presentation of history right up to the present day. That said, no one crosses Putin in Russia and gets away with it. That painting up top of him and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in lingerie by Konstantin Altunin was seized by security personnel in 2013 and the artist was forced to flee and seek political asylum in France. The city of Moscow appeared to me to be particularly uptight about anything that could be interpreted as disparaging to President Putin and people there do not joke around about him. People in St. Petersburg are considerably more open and expressive and the Political History museum included an exhibit-- neutral enough, but not fawning or complicit in his cult of personality-- on him. I very spontaneously cracked a joke in front of it tying Putin to Trump. The whole room-- primarily filled with Russians, the museum being off the beaten tourist track-- cracked up. Everyone got the joke. And, even if Putin isn't, Trump is very much a joke... at least among people in St. Petersburg who are conversant in English.

Look, I'm going to get to the Putin-Trump connections in a minute but let me take a little detour from my tangent for a moment. I won't get into how this happened but I wound up spending an afternoon at Russia's most famous cemetery, Novodevichy, part of a 16th century convent. Virtually all of the top Soviet political and heroic leaders are buried in the Kremlin wall behind Lenin's ghastly tomb in Red Square-- Stalin, Felix Dzerzhinsky, Leonid Brezhnev, Marshall Zhukov, Yuri Gagarin, John Reed, Mikhail Suslov, Sergei Kamenev, Mikhail Frunze, Mikhail Kalinin, Dmitriy Ustinov, Konstantin Chernenko-- but not all.

Me & Nikita 
Novodevichy Cemetery, aside from national luminaries like Chekhov, Gogol, Stanislavski, Rostropovich and Prokofiev, holds the bodies of Andrei Gromyko and of out-of-favor former ruling elites like Nikita Khrushchev and Boris Yeltsin-- and has a plot ready for Mikhail Gorbachev (next to his deceased wife). There was always a feeling among some of Russia's political elites that Gorby was somehow owned by the CIA and his deconstruction of the Soviet Union was something they (we) had put him up to. Some think Putin's revenge is none other than Donald J. Trump. Perhaps Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook, not a scholar but a worshipper of unnamed "experts," is of that mindset. "Experts are telling us," he told CNN's Jake Tapper yesterday, "that Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole these e-mails... Other experts are now saying that the Russians are releasing these emails for the purpose of actually helping Donald Trump. I don't think it's a coincidental that these emails were released on the eve of our convention. And that's disturbing... We need to be concerned that we also saw last week at the Republican convention that Trump and his allies made changes to the Republican platform to make it more pro-Russian... This isn't my assertion. There are a number of experts that are asserting this. I think we get to the bottom of these facts. But that is what experts are telling us. Experts have said that it is the Russians that in fact went in and took these emails and if they are the ones who took them then we have to infer that they are the ones who have been releasing them."

Mook may be a nut or an ignoramus-- or both-- but there is a seemingly credible case being built that ties Trump and Putin. I don't know how much of it is true but I do know the Clinton team has signaled they will be using it to denigrate Trump for the next 3 and a half months. Let's remember that Trump has been making statements that would seem to be in line with what Putin would like him to say-- like refusing to defend NATO partners in a way that undermines the core of the alliance the West has built to contain Russia. And yesterday Trump was babbling about pulling the U.S. out of the WTO, the trade system which helps western elites control the world's economy.

The U.S. and NATO have given the Russians plenty of legitimate reasons to be uncomfortable and Putin's vision of the U.S. as an adversary is not unwarranted by any stretch of the imagination. And that's far more in line with Clinton's thinking than with Trump's, who's basically just in it for a quick buck rather than anything to do with the complex global strategies that are well beyond his grasp or interest.

Josh Marshall laid a lot of the popular groundwork for this weekend's paranoia about Putin's hold on Trump when he pointed out that the untrustworthy and heavily leveraged Trump has been blackballed by all major U.S. banks and that his tottering empire is only able to stay afloat because of Putin-connected (and directed) money. Remember, we still don't have a clear picture of Trump's business ties with Putin and his wide network of allies because Trump is still refusing to release his taxes. "At a minimum," wrote Marshall, "Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. And this is matched to a conspicuous solicitousness to Russian foreign policy interests where they come into conflict with US policies which go back decades through administrations of both parties. There is also something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of evidence suggesting Putin-backed financial support for Trump or a non-tacit alliance between the two men." Marshall asks his readers to consider 7 facts that seem to tie Trump and Putin together:
1. All the other discussions of Trump's finances aside, his debt load has grown dramatically over the last year, from $350 million to $630 million. This is in just one year while his liquid assets have also decreased. Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks.

2. Post-bankruptcy Trump has been highly reliant on money from Russia, most of which has over the years become increasingly concentrated among oligarchs and sub-garchs close to Vladimir Putin. [T]here's a good overview from the Washington Post, with one morsel for illustration ...
Since the 1980s, Trump and his family members have made numerous trips to Moscow in search of business opportunities, and they have relied on Russian investors to buy their properties around the world.

“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
3. One example of this is the Trump Soho development in Manhattan, one of Trump's largest recent endeavors. The project was the hit with a series of lawsuits in response to some typically Trumpian efforts to defraud investors by making fraudulent claims about the financial health of the project. Emerging out of that litigation however was news about secret financing for the project from Russia and Kazakhstan. Most attention about the project has focused on the presence of a twice imprisoned Russian immigrant with extensive ties to the Russian criminal underworld. But that's not the most salient part of the story. As the Times put it,
"Mr. Lauria brokered a $50 million investment in Trump SoHo and three other Bayrock projects by an Icelandic firm preferred by wealthy Russians “in favor with” President Vladimir V. Putin, according to a lawsuit against Bayrock by one of its former executives. The Icelandic company, FL Group, was identified in a Bayrock investor presentation as a “strategic partner,” along with Alexander Mashkevich, a billionaire once charged in a corruption case involving fees paid by a Belgian company seeking business in Kazakhstan; that case was settled with no admission of guilt."
Another suit alleged the project "occasionally received unexplained infusions of cash from accounts in Kazakhstan and Russia."

Sounds completely legit.

Read both articles: After his bankruptcy and business failures roughly a decade ago Trump has had an increasingly difficult time finding sources of capital for new investments. As I noted above, Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks with the exception of Deutschebank, which is of course a foreign bank with a major US presence. He has steadied and rebuilt his financial empire with a heavy reliance on capital from Russia. At a minimum the Trump organization is receiving lots of investment capital from people close to Vladimir Putin.

Trump's tax returns would likely clarify the depth of his connections to and dependence on Russian capital aligned with Putin. And in case you're keeping score at home: no, that's not reassuring.

4. Then there's Paul Manafort, Trump's nominal 'campaign chair' who now functions as campaign manager and top advisor. Manafort spent most of the last decade as top campaign and communications advisor for Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian Ukrainian Prime Minister and then President whose ouster in 2014 led to the on-going crisis and proxy war in Ukraine. Yanukovych was and remains a close Putin ally. Manafort is running Trump's campaign.

5. Trump's foreign policy advisor on Russia and Europe is Carter Page, a man whose entire professional career has revolved around investments in Russia and who has deep and continuing financial and employment ties to Gazprom. If you're not familiar with Gazprom, imagine if most or all of the US energy industry were rolled up into a single company and it were personally controlled by the US President who used it as a source of revenue and patronage. That is Gazprom's role in the Russian political and economic system. It is no exaggeration to say that you cannot be involved with Gazprom at the very high level which Page has been without being wholly in alignment with Putin's policies. Those ties also allow Putin to put Page out of business at any time.

6. Over the course of the last year, Putin has aligned all Russian state controlled media behind Trump. As Frank Foer explains here, this fits a pattern with how Putin has sought to prop up rightist/nationalist politicians across Europe, often with direct or covert infusions of money. In some cases this is because they support Russia-backed policies; in others it is simply because they sow discord in Western aligned states. Of course, Trump has repeatedly praised Putin, not only in the abstract but often for the authoritarian policies and patterns of government which have most soured his reputation around the world.

7. Here's where it gets more interesting. This is one of a handful of developments that tipped me from seeing all this as just a part of Trump's larger shadiness to something more specific and ominous about the relationship between Putin and Trump. As TPM's Tierney Sneed explained in this article, one of the most enduring dynamics of GOP conventions (there's a comparable dynamic on the Dem side) is more mainstream nominees battling conservative activists over the party platform, with activists trying to check all the hardline ideological boxes and the nominees trying to soften most or all of those edges. This is one thing that made the Trump convention very different. The Trump Camp was totally indifferent to the platform. So party activists were able to write one of the most conservative platforms in history. Not with Trump's backing but because he simply didn't care. With one big exception: Trump's team mobilized the nominee's traditional mix of cajoling and strong-arming on one point: changing the party platform on assistance to Ukraine against Russian military operations in eastern Ukraine. For what it's worth (and it's not worth much) I am quite skeptical of most Republicans call for aggressively arming Ukraine to resist Russian aggression. But the single-mindedness of this focus on this one issue-- in the context of total indifference to everything else in the platform-- speaks volumes.

This does not mean Trump is controlled by or in the pay of Russia or Putin. It can just as easily be explained by having many of his top advisors having spent years working in Putin's orbit and being aligned with his thinking and agenda. But it is certainly no coincidence. Again, in the context of near total indifference to the platform and willingness to let party activists write it in any way they want, his team zeroed in on one fairly obscure plank to exert maximum force and it just happens to be the one most important to Putin in terms of US policy.

Add to this that his most conspicuous foreign policy statements track not only with Putin's positions but those in which Putin is most intensely interested. Aside from Ukraine, Trump's suggestion that the US and thus NATO might not come to the defense of NATO member states in the Baltics in the case of a Russian invasion is a case in point.

There are many other things people are alleging about hacking and all manner of other mysteries. But those points are highly speculative, some verging on conspiratorial in their thinking. I ignore them here because I've wanted to focus on unimpeachable, undisputed and publicly known facts. These alone paint a stark and highly troubling picture.

To put this all into perspective, if Vladimir Putin were simply the CEO of a major American corporation and there was this much money flowing in Trump's direction, combined with this much solicitousness of Putin's policy agenda, it would set off alarm bells galore. That is not hyperbole or exaggeration. And yet Putin is not the CEO of an American corporation. He's the autocrat who rules a foreign state, with an increasingly hostile posture towards the United States and a substantial stockpile of nuclear weapons. The stakes involved in finding out 'what's going on' as Trump might put it are quite a bit higher.

There is something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of circumstantial evidence for a financial relationship between Trump and Putin or a non-tacit alliance between the two men. Even if you draw no adverse conclusions, Trump's financial empire is heavily leveraged and has a deep reliance on capital infusions from oligarchs and other sources of wealth aligned with Putin. That's simply not something that can be waved off or ignored.
Thursday, John Harwood interviewed extreme rightist Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), simultaneously a violent and aggressive hawk and a Trumpist. Cotton may be the youngest member of the Senate but he's an unreconstructed Cold War psychopath, always ready for for war. "Putin," he glady reminded Harwood, "was a KGB spy and he never got over that. He does not have America's best interests at heart and he does not have any American interests at heart. I suspect, after this week, when Donald Trump is the nominee and he begins to receive classified briefings, similar briefings to what I receive as a member of the Intelligence Committee, he may have a different perspective on Vladimir Putin and what Russia is doing to America's interests and allies in Europe and the Middle East and Asia." It doesn't seem to have occurred to Senator Cotton-- nor even to McConnell or Ryan, to whom it should be occurring-- that the very idea of giving Trump classified information on Putin and Russia, information which will most assuredly get right back to Putin, is an extremely dangerous proposition.

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Wicked Witch Is Not Dead


Good news: Debbie's fired. Bad news: guess who they want to replace her with

Debbie Wasserman Schultz was finally put out of her misery by her pals in the Democratic Establishment today, as she was forced to walk the plank hours before the opening of the Democratic Party's national convention in Philly. In terms of her toxicity to Democratic values and principles, nothing has changed at all; she's still the foul fount of pay-to-play corruption and a selfish and misguided Republican-lite approach to governance that she was yesterday, last week, last month, last year and all through her miserable political life.

The breach of the Democratic committee’s emails, made public on Friday by WikiLeaks, offered undeniable evidence of what Mr. Sanders’s supporters had complained about for much of the senator’s contentious primary contest with Mrs. Clinton: that the party was effectively an arm of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. The messages showed members of the committee’s communications team musing about pushing the narrative that the Sanders campaign was inept and trying to raise questions publicly about whether he was an atheist.

...Convention organizers had expressed nervousness on Sunday about the specter of Ms. Wasserman Schultz appearing onstage at all during the four-day convention. They were worried that what they intended to be a well-choreographed event, which officials hoped would contrast with the sometimes chaotic Republican National Convention, could be marred by Mr. Sanders’s backers booing and heckling her.
Although the new Interim Chair of the DNC, Donna Brazile, immediately apologized to Bernie, to the party and to the country for Wasserman Schultz's "stupidity," all the creepy corporate Dems who have enabled #DebtTrapDebbie from day one-- from Obama and Hillary all the way down the food chain-- tried to treat this outrage as routinely as possible. I was surprised no one suggested she was leaving the DNC chair to spend more time with her family. One thing she can't do, is use it as an excuse any longer for not debating Tim Canova in her tightening congressional race. Here was Obama's sickening and deceitful statement. It's good he's eating crow; he appointed her and held her in while she was on her reign of terror.
For the last eight years, Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has had my back. This afternoon, I called her to let her know that I am grateful. Her leadership of the DNC has meant that we had someone who brought Democrats together not just for my re-election campaign, but for accomplishing the shared goals we have had for our country. Her critical role in supporting our economic recovery, our fights for social and civil justice and providing health care for all Americans will be a hallmark of her tenure as Party Chair. Her fundraising and organizing skills were matched only by her passion, her commitment and her warmth. And no one works harder for her constituents in Congress than Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Michelle and I are grateful for her efforts, we know she will continue to serve our country as a member of Congress from Florida and she will always be our dear friend.
No shame at all. Hillary was equally deceitful-- as is her default position on all things:
I want to thank my longtime friend Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her leadership of the Democratic National Committee over the past five years. I am grateful to Debbie for getting the Democratic Party to this year's historic convention in Philadelphia, and I know that this week's events will be a success thanks to her hard work and leadership. There's simply no one better at taking the fight to the Republicans than Debbie-- which is why I am glad that she has agreed to serve as honorary chair of my campaign's 50-state program to gain ground and elect Democrats in every part of the country, and will continue to serve as a surrogate for my campaign nationally, in Florida, and in other key states. I look forward to campaigning with Debbie in Florida and helping her in her re-election bid--because as President, I will need fighters like Debbie in Congress who are ready on day one to get to work for the American people.
Now let's get another professional shit-eating statement-writers to do one for Biden and one for Kaine. And Pelosi (who hates Wasserman Schultz's guts). Just to show how incapable they are of learning anything from this, they are actually considering putting disgraced and failed former DCCC head Steve Israel in as DNC chair now.

On CNN with Jake Tapper just before Wasserman Schultz was shoved overboard Bernie has said he doesn't "think she is qualified to be the chair of the DNC not only for these awful emails, which revealed the prejudice of the DNC, but also because we need a party that reaches out to working people and young people, and I don't think her leadership style is doing that." He took a more diplomatic approach after he announced her contentious-- much negotiated-- departure. "Debbie Wasserman Schultz," he wrote, "has made the right decision for the future of the Democratic Party. While she deserves thanks for her years of service, the party now needs new leadership that will open the doors of the party and welcome in working people and young people. The party leadership must also always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race."

Can you imagine the riot that would have taken place on the floor of the convention if Wasserman Schultz had slithered out to greet the delegates? She made up the chair throwing incident in Las Vegas but there would have been a real one in Philly if they didn't push her out! Just before she "resigned," Tim Canova, her congressional opponent had issued a statement about her latest attempts to undermine the Democratic process. "We started this insurgent campaign," he wrote, "to expose Debbie Wasserman Schultz's pro-corporate, anti-progressive policies and her corruption at the Democratic National Committee. Now, millions of people are seeing what we've always known to be true thanks to these leaks. Our opponent and her staff rigged the system against Bernie Sanders, used their positions of power to try and censor the press, and even coordinated against our campaign... Thanks to the recent Wikileaks disclosure of 20,000 emails, we now know just how rigged the system has become in the Democratic Party from Wasserman Schultz’s DNC and staff. We’ll save you the trouble of having to read them all-- here are some of the highlights:
Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her DNC staffers mentioned me and my campaign for her House seat dozens of times. They used party resources to monitor our campaign and strategize on Wasserman Schultz’s response, including her response to Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of me. They coordinated a response to the Florida Democratic Party’s decision (at the time) to block our access to the voter file, something they have claimed to have no involvement in.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried to censor Mika Brzezinski, MSNBC co-host of “Morning Joe” after Mika called on her to resign from the DNC for her failed leadership and biased use of the DNC to harm the Bernie Sanders campaign. Wasserman Schultz complained directly to MSNBC’s Chuck Todd about the negative coverage and demanded that Mika “apologize” to DWS. Soon after, Chuck Todd did a “softball interview” with Wasserman Schultz.

DNC staffers repeatedly mocked Bernie Sanders and his supporters. Wasserman Schultz called Jeff Weaver, Bernie’s campaign manager, a “damn liar” and “scummy” in emails to DNC staffers. In addition, there is significant evidence that the DNC was coordinating with the Clinton campaign during the primary.
Tim went on: "Leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee show that the system is rigged against anti-establishment progressives... For months, Wasserman Schultz has been telling the media that she is “too busy” to debate me. Wikileaks shows that she was furiously lobbying for tickets to the Broadway musical Hamilton. This is particularly disturbing, when combined with her dismal voting record: last year she had the highest absentee rate of the Florida delegation, with the exception of Marco Rubio!

"Wasserman Schultz has rejected debates not because she’s so busy, but because she cannot possibly defend her record of swimming in corporate lobbyist money and pushing for corporate interests over those of South Florida residents-- as evidenced by her support of predatory payday lenders, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, private prisons, and Big Sugar and Big Agribusinesses that have fouled our waterways. If Wasserman Schultz is unwilling to defend her record, she should drop out of our House race. Voters deserve better than an insider politician who shows such open disdain for democracy."

She won't have that excuse to use any longer for not debating Tim. Please consider contributing to his campaign by clicking the thermometer below. Many years ago I released a record by Rochester, New York's legendary New Math, They Walk Among You on my indie label. For the past 10 years, whenever I wrote about Wasserman Schultz, the title track (above) has played in my mind. If FL-23 voters decide to replace her with Tim Canova, that's one nightmare that will be put to rest.
Goal Thermometer

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If Soterios Johnson leaves WNYC, does that mean the world is coming to an end?


Plus: Dilbert's CEO on "Making the world a better place"

Soterios abandoning his WNYC mic? Is this really allowed?

by Ken

Yeah, sure, the world is going to hell in a handbasket -- Trump, Hillary, Nice, Istanbul, Munich, blah blah blah. Normally I would be happy to solve those problems, but this week we've got a real problem. When I got around to opening the latest issue of the recently instituted member newsletter of WNYC, our public-radio station, I was promptly assailed by this bombshell:
We're Going To Miss You, Soterios!

We're starting this month's newsletter with some news you may have already heard: Soterios Johnson is moving on from WNYC and is headed to sunny, warm California at the end of August. He's accepted a position as Director of Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Partnerships at the University of California, Davis. We’re happy for Soterios, but we’re having a hard time imagining waking up without his dulcet voice to start the day.

During his time with us, Soterios has become an important part of our morning routines, and we're all going to miss him. So, we wanted to give our members the opportunity to help send Soterios off. We've created a form for you to share your thoughts and memories of Soterios's time at WNYC, and we'll share what you write with him before he heads out west. And be sure to listen to your radio in August—we have some special plans of our own for seeing Soterios off!
Say what? Soterios Johnson leaving WNYC?

Now this sounds lovely for Soterios. And what WNYC listener doesn't wish the station's much-loved morning guy well? That is, as long as it doesn't involve depriving us of this uniquely welcomed, welcoming, and trusted voice. Hey, consider the thousands of hours of station pledge drives I've listened through largely because there on-air was Soterios. It just didn't seem right not to listen.

Who the heck, you may be wondering, is Soterios Johnson? Here's the website answer:
Soterios Johnson

Before you ask... it's Greek. And, so is Johnson (via translation). It's a long story... Soterios Johnson seemed strangely drawn to the news, even as a young child.

As a kid he would lull himself to sleep listening to WCBS NewsRadio 88. "As a kid, I always wanted to be in the know... and to spread the word," he says. In high school, Soterios worked at a small FM station in his hometown in New Jersey, followed by a four-year stint as an undergraduate at Columbia on WKCR, New York. He was an Associate Producer at Newsweek On Air and worked in the field of science journalism for several years. He earned his master's degree at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism.
I suppose I ought to try to explain for the benefit of unfortunate folks who aren't in the habit of waking up to Soterios just why he's so uniquely "welcomed, welcoming, and trusted." And it's not just because you've come to understand that "Soterios" is really a name and "Soterios Johnson" is a real person. It's because . . . nah, if you have to ask, you have to be there.


In this November 2015 interview, WNYC's Soterios talks about the legendary obstacles to building a Second Avenue subway with Hobart and William Smith Colleges history professor Clifton Hood, author of 722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How They Transformed New York, who says: "The problem with New York City from 1920 to today is that we've never been able to come up with a formula that would provide the subways with the money they need to maintain good shape."

Well, okay then, good luck in California, Soterios, dammit.


[Click to enlarge.]

This is so perfect that I really can't think of anything to add to it.

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Debbie Wasserman Schultz Finally Resigned Today-- She Is NOT America And She Is NOT The Democratic Party-- Both Of Which Are Worth Fighting For


Many people are celebrating that Wasserman Schultz was finally given the heave-ho as DNC chair a few minutes ago, but that doesn't mean the job is done. She was causing great harm to Democratic Party values long before she was elevated to that post and unless she's thrown out of Congress by Broward and Miami-Dade Democratic voters on August 30, she will continue doing exactly that into the foreseeable future. That said, it probably wasn't hard to figure out that among all of our wonderful congressional candidates upholding the ideals and values that make up Bernie's political revolution, Alex Law from South Jersey was one of the ones who most impressed us. His energy, his devotion and his strategic way of thinking reminded me of the first Velvet Underground album-- which didn't sell millions but launched the careers of scores of the most important rock bands in the world. The good news is that Alex is just 25 and will have other opportunities for public service moving forward. He contacted me this week and offered to help raise money for three of the Blue America candidates he was most impressed with this cycle: Alan Grayson (FL), Zephyr Teachout (NY) and Tim Canova (FL). This is the letter he asked me to send out to our members:
When I needed help in my campaign against political corruption in New Jersey, Blue America was there for me. This organization of committed progressives is an inspiring example of what we can accomplish when we work together. Because of your help, my campaign was able to fight back in a truly meaningful way and lay the foundation that will eventually win against establishment, machine politics.

I thank you for your support of my campaign, but our work this campaign season is not done. Three incredible individuals need your help more than ever: Alan Grayson, Tim Canova, and Zephyr Teachout.

I know all three of these wonderful candidates, and I personally urge you to support them as well.

Alan Grayson has been one of the most active, intelligent Congressman of the last decade. He is locked in a primary battle against an establishment, conservative politician in his run for US Senate in Florida. We need to help Alan win his primary because not only is he the best man for the job, he is also the only person that can make sure Marco Rubio does not return to Washington DC.

Tim Canova is one of the bravest politicians in America. We all know how awful Debbie Wasserman Shultz has been, but he actually stepped forward to run against her. Tim has put together one of the best campaigns in the country by tapping into the progressive revolution Bernie began. Not only will Tim make an excellent Congressman, we need Tim to win his primary so that we can shake up the DNC to make it clear that we will not accept the kind of leadership we have seen for too long.

Zephyr Teachout is someone I personally admire; she wrote a book called Corruption in America that was part of my inspiration to get into politics. She has been a champion to get big money out of politics working with Professor Lessig at MayDay PAC. Zephyr ran a principled campaign for Governor of New York where she shocked everyone, giving the machine there a real scare. Now, she is mounting one of the most important Congressional campaigns in the country as she has a real chance to flip a red district.

Bernie brought progressive politics to the forefront of America’s cultural attention more than any politician in my lifetime. We must continue the good work that he started by making sure leaders like Alan, Tim, and Zephyr are in Washington to fight for us. Join me in supporting them by contributing to their campaigns today.

Thank you!

-Alex Law
This letter went out to all Blue America members a couple of hours ago. Please share it with your friends and family and if you know people who live in Florida or in New York's Hudson Valley, please make sure they're aware of Alan Grayson, Tim Canova and Zephyr Teachout. If you'd like to contribute to their campaigns, you can do it quickly and seamlessly by clicking on the thermometer below.
Goal Thermometer

UPDATE: Grayson Responds To DNC Sabotage

Yesterday, before Wasserman Schultz became a persona non-grata at the Democrat National Convention and was forced to resign as DNC chair, Alan Grayson, whose own Senate campaign is being aggressively sabotaged by the DSCC-- even to the point of Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell working against him in tandem-- talked to his supporters about the outrageousness of the DNC plot against Bernie. He referred to it as the party devoting "enormous effort to sandbagging, crippling, undercutting and subverting progressive candidates." He quoted CNN's report blaming DNC employees, from Wasserman Schultz right down the food chain, for plotting to "undercut and undermine Senator Senders during the primary." Grayson posed 3 important questions:
Whatever happened to the principle of "may the best candidate win?"
What gives party bosses the right to determine who our candidates are?
And why is it always the progressive candidates who get screwed?
Try to answer them yourself if you're a regular DWT reader. And think about fighting back against the Wasserman Schultzes, Rahm Emanuels, Chuck Schumers, Harry Reids and their Wall Street bankster puppeteers by tapping on the thermometer above.

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Not Even U.K. Right-Wing Crackpot Boris Johnson Wants To Be Associated With Trumpism


The editors of the Washington Post agreed they would never endorse Trump, calling him "uniquely unqualified" to be president and a "unique threat to American democracy... A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world." In case anyone wasn't paying close attention, the editors wrote that "The Republican Party has moved the lunatic fringe onto center stage, with discourse that renders impossible the kind of substantive debate upon which any civil democracy depends." The NY Times editors weren't as florid in their condemnation, but they didn't leave any doubt about what they thought about the danger Trump poses for America either:
Given a chance to replace the empty sloganeering and self-aggrandizement of his primary campaign with solid proposals worthy of Americans’ trust, Mr. Trump made clear that he instead intends to terrify voters into supporting him, who will protect them from violence, a word that occurs over and over in his remarks.

...The consequences for the Republican Party still lie ahead. Mr. Trump emerged as a political force with the racist claim that President Obama was not born in the United States. He has since sought advantage by playing to disaffected people’s worst instincts, inventing scapegoats and conspiracy theories, waging and inciting vicious attacks on those who disagree with him. He is a poisonous messenger for a legitimate demand: that an ossified party dedicate itself to improving working people’s lives, instead of serving the elite.
The brainwashed Hate Talk Radio and Fox News zombies can easily dismiss that as the liberal media ganging up on their hero. They'll probably say the exact same thing, though, about the far right propaganda sheet, the Weekly Standard which has been pushing a similar line on Trump, as Stephen Hayes did again yesterday: Donald Trump Is Crazy, And So Is The GOP For Embracing Him. Regarding Trump's childish accusations that Ted Cruz's father was somehow involved with the assassination of JFK-- which Trump was babbling about again Friday-- Hayes pointed out that "this isn't the behavior of a rational, stable individual. It should embarrass those who have endorsed him and disgrace those who have attempted to normalize him." And, of course, my normalizing Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin and Michael Savage, the Republican Party-- including the Weekly Standard own what these 5th rate intellects have done to their party and are attempting to do to America.
The degree of this normalization is stunning. The Republican nominee for president made comments Friday that one might expect from a patient in a mental institution, the kind of stuff you might read on blog with really small print and pictures of UFOs. And yet his remarks barely register as news. There are no condemnations from fellow Republicans. His supporters shrug them off as Trump being Trump.

To the extent Trump's latest outburst has generated any attention, it's been a discussion of the tactical mistake he's made. There's been head-shaking that he's gone "off-message," expressions of wonder at his lack of discipline, speculation about the electoral impact of his latest comments, disbelief about the timing of his comments and bewilderment at their target.

All of this misses the point. It's not about tactics or messaging. It's about something simpler and something much more important: Donald Trump is not of sound mind.

His amplification of the Cruz-Oswald conspiracies is part of a long pattern of embracing crazy. He hinted that Antonin Scalia was murdered. He's suggested autism is linked to vaccinations. He claimed "thousands" of Muslims celebrated in the streets of New Jersey after 9/11. He said many people consider Vince Foster's death a "murder" and called it "very fishy." And before he ran for president, his deepest foray into politics was a campaign to prove that Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States. (It failed.)

Trump has praised Alex Jones, whose radio program is to conspiracy theories what ESPN is to sports. Jones, a prominent 9/11 truther, claimed there was a "98 percent chance" that the 9/11 attacks were controlled bombings perpetrated by the U.S. government. In an appearance on Jones's radio show last year, Trump offered the host deferential praise. "Your reputation is amazing," Trump said. "I will not let you down."

The implications of Trump's irrationality are troubling. Would a President Trump believe-- and potentially act on-- conspiracy theories presented to him in a bilateral meeting with Vladimir Putin? Trump has expressed admiration for Putin, just as he's praised the National Enquirer. In his comments Friday, Trump called the National Enquirer "respected" and wondered aloud why such a credible publication hasn't won the Pulitzer Prize. If he accepts as fact the reports in a publication like the Enquirer, why wouldn't he believe someone like Putin? The possibilities for manipulating the leader of the free world are endless and terrifying.

So, what should Republican leaders do? Trump is, after all, their nominee for president and the leader of their party. Isn't it better to simply make the best of a bad situation?

I suppose that's one possibility and I'd assume it's what virtually all Republicans will do. There's little doubt that this bit of Trumpian insanity will fade away like the ones that came before. So this party of followers, nearly all of them, will keep their heads down and wait for this latest incident to be eclipsed by other news-- the Munich attacks, Hillary Clinton's running mate, the Democratic National Convention.

The better course would be to speak out against Trump, to say in public what some of you said when you initially opposed his candidacy, to say what many of you have said to me privately: Donald Trump isn't fit to serve as president, and electing him president would be dangerous. That might mean saying that you're unwilling to support the nominee of your party. It might mean retracting an endorsement.

Trump supporters would pretend that your refusal to support Trump means you're backing Hillary Clinton. It's an absurd argument, of course. There are other options. This election is not a "binary choice" as Trump backers claim. If the top candidates are, on the one hand, a congenital liar who jeopardized national security in service of her own ambition, and on the other, an unstable conspiracy theorist, the best choice is none of the above-- a non-endorsement, a third party candidate, a write-in.

Doing this would be risky and perhaps costly. It'd also be right.

Even right-wing goofball, U.K. foreign secretary Boris Johnson wants to be clear his policy agenda-- including Brexit-- is not related to Trump or Trumpism. The U.K. Conservative Party has enough problems without the taint of that stink sticking to them. Speaking in New York, at the UN, Johnson dismissed a suggestion posed by a reporter that Trump’s campaign pledge to "put Americanism before internationalism" might bear "similarities to Brexit." Johnson: I would draw a very, very strong contrast between Brexit and any kind of isolationism... Brexit means us being more outward looking, more engaged, more energetic, more enthusiastic on the world stage than ever before." The Guardian reported that "Johnson cautioned that it would be 'quite wrong' for him to take sides within the US election campaign, and stressed that 'we in the UK government will work with whoever is elected.' But his remarks appeared to amount to a pointed rejection of suggestions by several commentators that Brexit and Trump’s ascent are part of one wave of inward-facing rightwing populism." Hungary's fascist prime minister, Viktor Orban, isn't as reticent about embracing fellow fascist Trump, referring to him as "this valiant American presidential candidate."
"I am not a Donald Trump campaigner," he said in the televised speech. "I never thought I would ever entertain the thought that, of the open options, he (Trump) would be better for Europe and for Hungary.

"But I listened to the candidate and I must tell you he made three proposals to combat terrorism. And as a European I could have hardly articulated better what Europe needs... If we keep prioritizing democracy over stability in regions where we are unlikely to succeed with that, we will create instability, not democracy."

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How Complete Is Trump's Hostile Takeover Of The Republican Party?


Jeb Bush didn't stand up to Trump convincingly enough but he hit the nail on the head in December when he labeled Trump the "chaos candidate." Too bad no one was paying any attention to Bush by then. Trump wants chaos. He's learned how to profit when everything seems to be falling apart; it's part of his business model-- part of whatever passes for a creed he has. It's why he makes oafish remarks that celebrate the housing collapse and it's informed his decisions on his own serial bankruptcies. And it accounts for the war he's promulgating against Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich and Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz. Mark Halperin reported Friday that "Trump plans to create and fund super-PACs specifically aimed at ending the political careers of Ted Cruz and John Kasich should either run for office again" and that he'd put $20 million into them, maybe more. "Kasich, 64," he wrote, "cannot run again for Ohio governor due to the state’s term limits. The 45-year-old Cruz is up for re-election in 2018. Both men have indicated an interest in running for president again in 2020, when they would either face Hillary Clinton or mount a primary challenge to a sitting Republican, Trump."

Kasich, who Trump offered to make his running mate and give control of domestic and foreign affairs, predicted that Trump probably can't win his state. No Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio. Campaigning for a Republican congressional candidate in Bucks County Friday, Kasich said that "Ohio's a snapshot of the country. People in Ohio want to see a positive agenda, a positive way to move forward." He said he wouldn't actively campaign against Trump, refused to say he would even vote for him and seems unlikely to be interested in activating the Republican Party machinery in Ohio on Trump's behalf, concentrating instead on trying to help endangered Rob Portman win his Senate reelection bid.

Trump has been very negative about Ohio lately-- forcing the host delegation to sit behind Pennsylvania at the convention, a kind of collective punishment-- and has said he thinks he can make up the loss of Ohio by winning bright blue states like New Jersey and California. Republican Party leaders have asked him to not waste his resources and energy campaigning in New Jersey and California.

Trump probably figures after he stands in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoots someone and still wins the GOP primary, he can toss hand grenades down 6th Street in Austin, at the Alamo or from the 75th floor of the JPMorgan Chase Tower in Houston without losing Texas in November. And it speaks to the dysfunction and atrophy of the Texas Democratic Party that he could well be right. The last Democrat to win a presidential election in Texas was when Jimmy Carter beat Jerry Ford there in 1976. More recently, Democrats struggle to get 40% of the vote-- neither Gore nor Kerry did and Obama wound up with just 41.4% in 2012. But Trump's war against Ted Cruz, who may be hated by normal people everywhere, is regarded as something of a principled hero in his home state, he may actually be putting Texas into play.

In this year's Texas primaries, 2,832,234 Republicans voted while just 1,433,908 Democrats went to the polls. Texas has 254 counties. Trump won 6 of them, including Hudspeth County east of El Paso where he took 76 votes to Ted Cruz's 71, and Zapata County down on the Rio Grande, where Trump's 34 votes bested Cruz's 32 votes. But in the big counties that determine election outcomes, Trump got wiped out. The biggest county in the state is Harris County (Houston), population 4,441,370. This was how the votes panned out in Harris Co:
Hillary- 156,729
Cruz- 147,721
Trump- 79,793
Bernie- 63,246
Rubio- 63,199
The second biggest county-- population 2,518,638-- is Dallas County, not exactly Trump country either... not by any stretch of the imagination:
Hillary- 113,574
Cruz- 61,072
Rubio- 45,962
Bernie- 44,231
Trump- 43,301
Right next door is Tarrant County, basically Ft. Worth, with a population of 1,945,360... still not Trump territory.
Cruz- 88,867
Hillary- 67,590
Trump- 56,023
Rubio- 43,689
Bernie- 35,507
Fast-growing Bexar County-- San Antonio-- is the 4th biggest county with 1,855,86 and Trump flopped there too, with less support than Bernie and barely beating Rubio.
Hillary- 76,5012
Cruz- 54,115
Bernie- 36,720
Trump- 32,701
Rubio- 30,683
You'd probably expect trouble for Trumpism in Austin, seat of the 5th biggest county in the state-- and you'd be correct. The population is 1,151,145 and this was the breakdown in the primaries-- in which Trump came in last of all the candidates:
Bernie- 73,889
Hillary- 69,314
Cruz- 25,757
Rubio- 24,815
Trump- 21,469
Collin County (Plano, just north of Dallas) is the 6th biggest with a population of 885,241. It's a deep red stronghold... but wasn't Trumpish either, the kind of place where he's got to win over the Cruz voters if he hopes to win the more important Republican state in the entire country:
Cruz- 46,094
Trump- 29,772
Rubio- 27,082
Hillary- 23,591
Bernie- 16,082
Next in population comes El Paso County, with 833,487 people. I guess they never heard of Trump out there; he came in dead last.
Hillary- 36,067
Bernie- 17,176
Cruz- 10,919
Rubio- 7,378
Trump- 7,270
Hidalgo County (population 831,073) is down in the Rio Grande Valley and Trump wouldn't win any of his beauty pageants there either:
Hillary- 40,276
Bernie- 15,894
Cruz- 7,098
Trump- 5,521
Rubio- 4,153
Back into the North Texas red-belt, next up is Denton County north of Ft. Worth, with a population of 753,363-- lots of people, mostly Republicans, but, again, Trump should be wooing the Cruz voters, not alienating them.
Cruz- 39,404
Trump- 24,341
Rubio- 21,007
Hillary- 16,470
Bernie- 15,750
Ft. Bend County, southwest of Houston is the 10th biggest-- population 685,345-- and it is part of the suburban Republican heartland.
Cruz- 31,422
Hillary- 29,248
Trump- 16,924
Rubio- 13,388
Bernie- 9,765
Montgomery County (population 518,947), also suburban Houston, is Texas' 11th biggest and is very, very reliably Republican, the kind of place that allows the GOP to run up huge statewide totals election after election.If Trump wins over the Cruz voters in places like the Houston 'burbs, he won't have to worry about Clinton doing what no other Democrat has managed since Carter. 
Cruz- 43,797
Trump- 24,150
Rubio- 13,398
Hillary- 7,540
Bernie- 5,040
And let's round this little survey out with an even dozen counties, Williamson, the very Republican north Austin suburbs, being the 12th biggest in the state with 489,250 people.
Cruz- 23,880
Trump- 17,318
Hillary- 16,374
Rubio- 14,716
Bernie- 14,501
One deranged Trump operative, Michael Caputo has joined with lunatics like Sarah Palin in prosecuting Trump's war against Cruz. Caputo is trying to lure Rick Perry-- who endorsed Trump after calling him a "barking carnival act"-- into running against Cruz. Caputo has been pushing a news story about Cruz campaigning for a far right extremist state Senator, Mike Crane, in his runoff against Drew Ferguson for the congressional seat being vacated by Lynn Westmoreland. Ferguson is best known for telling people it's OK to shoot policemen, an extreme position on the far right fringes of the Republican Party. This is the ad on TV now while Cruz is in Georgia campaigning for Crane:

This is right up Trump's alley and Cruz is already getting bad press for it in Georgia. In fact, the Georgia Fraternal Order of Police is protesting Cruz. The group's vice president said Georgia police are disappointed in Cruz for coming to Crane's aid. "With the recent events in Dallas, Texas, I find it sad that Senator Cruz would allow himself to be pulled into the political cesspool by a candidate who has openly promoted shooting law enforcement officers."

I was shocked to read in the NY Times that far right sociopath and hedge fund crook, Robert Mercer, who shoveled at least $13,500,400-- but likely far more--  into Cruz's campaign this year, publicly excoriated Cruz for being mean to Trumpy-the-Clown. They accused him of breaking his pledge to support Trump and then accused Hillary of plotting to "repeal both the First and Second Amendments of the Bill of Rights." Vegas Mafia gambling czar and Republican Party kingpin Sheldon Adelson is also mad and barred Cruz from his suite after he spoke at the convention.

Meanwhile, transplanted Texan GOP activist Chris Ladd, now living in Illinois, posted the Willie Nelson video below and wrote an open letter of resignation to York Township Republican Committee Chairman Cuzzone:
The Iraq War, the financial meltdown, the utter failure of supply-side theory, climate denial, and our strange pursuit of theocratic legislation have all been troubling. Yet it seemed that America’s party of commerce, trade, and pragmatism might still have time to sober up. Remaining engaged in the party implied a contribution to that renaissance, an investment in hope. Donald Trump has put an end to that hope.

From his fairy-tale wall to his schoolyard bullying and his flirtation with violent racists, Donald Trump offers America a singular narrative-- a tale of cowards. Fearful people, convinced of our inadequacy, trembling before a world alight with imaginary threats, crave a demagogue. Neither party has ever elevated to this level a more toxic figure, one that calls forth the darkest elements of our national character.

With three decades invested in the Republican Party, there is a powerful temptation to shrug and soldier on. Despite the bold rhetoric, we all know Trump will lose. Why throw away a great personal investment over one bad nominee? Trump is not merely a poor candidate, but an indictment of our character. Preserving a party is not a morally defensible goal if that party has lost its legitimacy.

Watching Ronald Reagan as a boy, I recall how bold it was for him to declare ‘morning again’ in America. In a country menaced by Communism and burdened by a struggling economy, the audacity of Reagan’s optimism inspired a generation.

Fast-forward to our present leadership and the nature of our dilemma is clear. I watched Paul Ryan speak at Donald Trump’s convention the way a young child watches his father march off to prison. Thousands of Republican figures that loathe Donald Trump, understand the danger he represents, and privately hope he loses, are publicly declaring their support for him. In Illinois our local and state GOP organizations, faced with a choice, have decided on complicity.

Our leaders’ compromise preserves their personal capital at our collective cost. Their refusal to dissent robs all Republicans of moral cover. Evasion and cowardice has prevailed over conscience. We are now, and shall indefinitely remain, the Party of Donald Trump.

I will not contribute my name, my work, or my character to an utterly indefensible cause. No sensible adult demands moral purity from a political party, but conscience is meaningless without constraints. A party willing to lend its collective capital to Donald Trump has entered a compromise beyond any credible threshold of legitimacy. There is no redemption in being one of the “good Nazis.”

I hereby resign my position as a York Township Republican committeeman. My thirty-year tenure as a Republican is over.

Friday, after listening to Trump's speech, Republican propagandist Matt Continetti was moved to write a scathing report, The Demagogue Rises, for the Washington Free Beacon, a prominent right-wing website. It's a chilling indictment of their party's presidential candidate from a Republican perspective:
Donald Trump delivered the longest, loudest convention speech in recent memory when he accepted the Republican nomination for president Thursday evening. He made no attempt to “pivot to the general election,” moderate his agenda, smooth over rough rhetoric. Gone was Mitt Romney’s Etch-a-Sketch, tossed into a dustbin with George W. Bush’s Freedom Agenda, George H.W. Bush’s Thousand Points of Light, Ronald Reagan’s Morning in America. Trump was his usual self: brash, boisterous, overbearing, defiant, inimitable, roiling with anger over the state of the country and the corruption, ineffectiveness, and arrogance of the nation’s elite. Trump won’t change, won’t learn, won’t listen, won’t apologize, won’t cavil, won’t conform to the traditions of presidential politics or adhere to the norms of political discourse. He doesn’t care about facts, he wants to overturn the postwar international order, he champions the will to power, he mercilessly attacks opponents. He’s a demagogue in dark suits, electric ties. I can only imagine what he’d be capable of if he were competent.

Because he’s not competent. He is actually truly, magnificently inept. The convention was a mess, haphazard, disorganized, weird. The botched roll call vote, Melania’s plagiarism, Ted Cruz’s hand grenade, the leaked speech draft-- all of these gaffes and scandals occurred against the backdrop of dismal attendance, chants to put Hillary in prison, bizarre speakers, rambling addresses, early departures, and testimonies to Trump’s greatness. His campaign has practically no money, no advertising, no infrastructure, no grassroots operation. The other day, when he expressed uncertainty about whether the United States would lead NATO in defense of the Baltic States if they were attacked by Russia, Trump made history by provoking an international incident without even being president. Many GOP officials wouldn’t come near the convention, including Ohio’s popular governor. There are two Republican parties for the moment: the party led by Trump and the Republican Party in exile, the party of Kasich and Larry Hogan and Nikki Haley and Charlie Baker and Brian Sandoval and Mark Kirk and Ted Cruz. Election Day won’t just determine who will succeed President Obama. It will also determine the fate of Donald J. Trump’s hostile takeover of the GOP.

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Togetherness Trumps Selfishness, Love Trumps Hatred


No, Bernie fans are not going to be voting for Donald Trump in any appreciable numbers-- and certainly not in numbers Trump would need to make up for the Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush fans he will be losing, making Florida even more of a stretch for him in November than it should be. Hillary outpolled him in the primary 1,097,400 to 1,077,221. She'll probably pick up Almost all of the 566,603 Bernie and 38,875 O'Malley voters. Will Trump get the 636,653 Rubio voters? The 43,452 Jeb voters? How many of the 403,640 Cruz voters or the 159,412 Kasich voters? The biggest county in the state is Miami-Dade. During the primary, Hillary took 129,467 votes and Bernie took another 42,009. Bernie won more votes than Trump in Miami-Dade. For Trump to win Florida's crucial 29 electoral votes, he needs most of those 111,898 Republican votes that Rubio won in Miami Dade. Rubio drew another 100,000-plus voters in the Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville metros, all areas where Hillary outdrew Trump even without Bernie. And Bernie has been clear he plans to work for Hillary's election in September and October. How hard? I suspect he wants to work very hard for her and for Democratic Senate candidates and for the progressives running for House seats, especially ones who endorsed him and can make a difference in Congress, like Zephyr Teachout (NY), Tim Canova (FL) and Pramila Jayapal (WA).

For those interested, an Economist/YouGov poll the other day asked Bernie primary voters who they intend to back in November. So, even before Bernie has started to work towards electing Hillary this was the breakdown:
Hillary- 44%
Jill Stein- 23%
Herr Trumpf- 11%
Gary Johnson- 4%
The best Trump can hope for is to drive Bernie supporters to stay home or to vote against her by backing the Green Party's Stein, but working towards getting any significant number of Bernie supporters to vote for him is patently absurd. As David Cay Johnston explained on Democracy Now yesterday, "The people who are supporting Bernie Sanders share the same economic concerns, and legitimately share them, because our policies have really hurt the bottom 90 percent of Americans in the last 36 years. But those are not people who are going to be drawn in by Donald’s fearmongering, Donald’s blatant appeals to racism, his his bigotry against Muslims and others. That’s not the Bernie Sanders crowd. Those people may stay home, but I can’t see very many of them joining Donald."

I have no inside info on this but my guess is that the amount of energy he puts into Hillary's campaign will be related to how progressive a campaign she runs. Naming someone like Tim Kaine-- who is anti-Choice, pro-bankster, a TPP cheerleader and LGBT-unfriendly is not going to help. Her acceptance speech in Philly next week is going to send a signal to voters how far right she's going to pivot for the general election. If it's too far right, I bet Bernie will spend more energy on candidates like Zephyr Teachout and less on the presidential campaign. If she responds to Trump's right wing populism by making a strong case against the TPP and against corporatism, it could go a long way into healing Democratic Party divides and give Bernie supporters more evidence that she really is the far lesser of the two evils being offered up.

First Lady?
Want to know how Trump's sick, diseased brain works? Watch Trump reviewing his own convention and his own speech below. It's pretty revelatory not just about him but about advance narcissistic personality disorder in general. One topic of the press gathering was his decision to persecute his war against Ted Cruz some more. (Sarah Palin already announced the Trumpists would consider paying someone to run against him in the 2018 Texas primary.) Trump insisted Cruz would eventually endorse him but that he wouldn't accept his endorsement. Trump, realizing he's not going to ever be president, explicitly, threatened to "set up a SuperPAC if he decides to run... in 4 years." Meanwhile, Pence laughed and applauded like a trained seal while Trump savaged his former ideological comrade-in-arms and raised the question, once again, of Cruz's father's role in assassinating JFK in Dallas based on what he insists is the highly credible National Enquirer. Trump referred to his well-dressed, plagiarizing wife, a former high-priced call girl, as a "tremendously successful and elegant model." Pence may be able to write a book some day, but I have a feeling his career in politics is pretty much as dead as the fish Trump tosses him when he balances a ball on his nose.

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