Saturday, July 30, 2016

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

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I love any excuse to embed one of my favorite old 415 Records songs-- my indie label in San Francisco-- "The Catholics Are Attacking" by the Pop'O'Pies. This time it has to do with a gaggle of right-wing bishops attacking Tim Kaine for not bucking under to their theocratic instincts and their bizarre interpretation of Jesus' religion as one where women are relegated to staying home, ignorant and pregnant. The Catholic Church should lose it's tax exempt status for attempting to round up votes for Trump by attacking Kaine on religious grounds.

FaithfulAmerica.org sounded the alarm:
Last night, America heard Senator Tim Kaine speak sincerely about how his Catholic faith has inspired his public service. But already, some Catholic church officials are attacking him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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CROOK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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How Wide Do The Democrats Have To Open Their Tent Before Progressives Wake Up And Flee Out The Back?

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In his most recent book, Listen Liberal" Or, What Ever Happened To The Party Of The People, Thomas Frank put forward a compelling thesis that an American political realignment is already well underway. We've covered it before and you probably noticed it during the Democratic convention, especially on the last day, this week. They were applauding Ronald Reagan, extolling the military-industrial complex, escorting noisy progressives out of the building-- when they even let them into the building to begin with-- and ended with the music from Hamilton... a play based on a character who was certainly not Thomas Jefferson, the populist founder of the Democratic Party. Hillary's speech was a relief after the absurdity of Trump's speech and his entire convention/circus in Cleveland. But, she picked a decidedly right-of-center running mate from the corporate wing of the party and has been tepid in fully and enthusiastically embracing some of the most progressive paths forward. It's always pulling teeth to get her onboard and then you always have to worry if she's really on board. Joan Walsh, the most slavishly pro-Clinton/anti-Bernie of anyone who could vaguely be described as "progressive," tried dealing with this in the latest issue of The Nation:
Clinton has often been criticized for failing to paint a vivid, Elizabeth Warren-style picture of why the economy isn’t working for everyone-- that it isn’t just an unfortunate turn of events, but the result of political decisions that favor the rich. On Thursday night, she came closer, telling struggling Americans “I believe that our economy isn’t working the way it should because our democracy isn’t working the way it should.” She went on to call for overturning Citizens United, fixing Wall Street, and making the wealthy pay their fair share again.
She did, but how sincere was she? Who knows? Did she make a compelling enough case for the white working class families who were attracted to Bernie's message and are leaning heavily towards Trump now? Whether Walsh is confident or not, Thomas Frank isn't. His essay in Friday's Guardian, Hillary Clinton needs to wake up. Trump is stealing the voters she takes for granted says it all. "For the first time in living memory," the Guardian asserted rather dramatically, "the Republicans are outflanking the Democrats on the left. If they don’t rise to the challenge, they’ll be trounced." While Hillary was busy making kissy-kissy noises to Republicans and to moderates, Trump was going after the working class. Frank:
Trump’s many overtures to supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders were just the beginning. He also deliberately echoed the language of Franklin Roosevelt, he denounced “big business” (not once but several times), and certain of his less bloodthirsty foreign policy proposals almost remind one of George McGovern’s campaign theme: “Come home, America.”

Ivanka Trump promised something that sounded like universal day care. Peter Thiel denounced the culture wars as a fraud and a distraction. The Republican platform was altered to include a plank calling for the breakup of big banks via the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall. I didn’t hear anyone talk about the need to bring “entitlements” under control. And most crucially, the party’s maximum leader has adopted the left critique of “free trade” almost in its entirety, a critique that I have spent much of my adult life making.

It boggles my simple liberal mind. The party of free trade and free markets now says it wants to break up Wall Street banks and toss Nafta to the winds. The party of family values has nominated a thrice-married vulgarian who doesn’t seem threatened by gay people or concerned about the war over bathrooms. The party of empire wants to withdraw from foreign entanglements.

Trump is not going to receive my vote, of course. His bigotry, his racist statements about Mexicans, his attitude toward global warming, his love of authoritarianism, his hypocrisy, his ignorance, his untrustworthiness, and his years of predatory business practice all make such a thing impossible. He frightens me every time he opens his mouth.

But that’s not the point. The question we need to ask is this: what are the consequences of the violent disruption Trump has visited on our delicately balanced political system? Look what he has done. He has dynamited the free-trade consensus that dominated Washington for so many years, he has done it with force, and in the process he has made himself the choice of many millions of Americans who have watched their economic situation deteriorate and heard their concerns brushed off by the Thomas Friedmans and the Bill Clintons of the world.

Think about it this way. For years, Republican orthodoxy on trade made possible endless Democratic sell-outs of working people, with the two-party consensus protecting the D’s from any consequences. They could ram NAFTA through Congress, they could do trade deals with China, they could negotiate the Trans Pacific Partnership, they could attend their conferences at Davos and congratulate themselves for being so global and so enlightened, secure in the belief that the people whose livelihoods they had just ruined had “nowhere else to go.”

In other words, it was only possible for our liberal leaders to be what they are-- a tribe of sunny believers in globalization and its favored classes-- as long as the Republicans held down their left flank for them. Democrats could only celebrate globalization’s winners and scold its uneducated losers so long as there was no possibility that they might face a serious challenge on the matter from the other party in the system.

Well, today all that has changed. The free-trade consensus lies in shards on the floor. The old Republican party has been smashed by this man Trump. It is a new political world out there. How will Democrats react to this altered state of affairs? How will they present themselves to voters now that the bipolar system of the last four decades has exploded, now that they can no longer count on free-trading Republicans to make their own passion for globaloney seem acceptable?

So far, Democrats are acting as though nothing has really changed. In speech after speech at the Philadelphia convention they are denouncing Trump as though he was just an outrageous extension of the familiar conservative demonology, rather than an altogether different monster.

And Democratic leaders seem to be preparing to run exactly as they have always run. Hillary Clinton is pivoting to the right just as other Democrats did before her because ... because, well, that’s what Democrats always do. Her first big move after securing her party’s nomination was to choose Tim Kaine as her vice-presidential candidate-- a man who voted for fast-tracking the Trans Pacific Partnership and a supporter of his state’s right-to-work laws. He is, as a recent headline proclaimed, "a Democrat Wall Street can like."

Appropriately enough, Wall Street personnel are reportedly flocking to the convention in Philadelphia, eager to be reunited with the party that, for a time during the primary season, seemed to be turning away from them. Other accounts suggest that Hillary intends to reverse course on trade as soon as it’s possible to do so.

Do Democrats and their supporters even glimpse the danger in such moves? On the contrary: they seem to think it shows statesmanlike gravitas. On Monday, Bill Scher wrote, of Hillary Clinton:
She tapped Sen Tim Kaine despite his support for the ‘fast track’ law designed to ease ratification of multinational trade agreements. She’s reached out to anti-Trump Republican hawks by embracing the philosophy of American Exceptionalism, declaring that ‘if America doesn’t lead, we leave a vacuum, and that will either cause chaos or other countries will rush in to fill the void’. Her aides told the New York Times earlier this month that her governing strategy would be squarely based on bipartisanship, the antithesis of Sanders’ vision of steamrolling Congress via grassroots revolution.
Let’s see: trade agreements, outreach to hawks, “bipartisanship”, Wall Street. All that’s missing is a “Grand Bargain” otherwise it’s the exact same game plan as last time, and the time before that, and the time before that. Democrats seem to be endlessly beguiled by the prospect of campaign of national unity, a coming-together of all the quality people and all the affluent people and all the right-thinking, credentialed, high-achieving people. The middle class is crumbling, the country is seething with anger, and Hillary Clinton wants to chair a meeting of the executive committee of the righteous.

When Democrats sold out their own rank and file in the past it constituted betrayal, but at least it sometimes got them elected. Specifically, the strategy succeeded back in the 1990s when Republicans were market purists and working people truly had “nowhere else to go”. As our modern Clintonists of 2016 move instinctively to dismiss the concerns of working people, however, they should keep this in mind: those people may have finally found somewhere else to go.
Almost no one on the left seems to get it-- or if they do-- they get consumed with hysterical Trumpophobia... or fear of being labeled a "Naderite" and being responsible for ending mankind and the planet. Meanwhile, on Thursday, Christine Grimaldi and Ally Boguhn, writing for Rewire, noted that the Democratic Big Tent is expanding enough to make even anti-Choice throwbacks feel welcome in the party that will soon stand for nothing at all.
Democrats for Life of America gathered Wednesday in Philadelphia during the party’s convention to honor Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) for his anti-choice viewpoints, and to strategize ways to incorporate their policies into the party.

The group attributed Democratic losses at the state and federal level to the party’s increasing embrace of pro-choice politics. The best way for Democrats to reclaim seats in state houses, governors’ offices, and the U.S. Congress, they charged, is to “open the big tent” to candidates who oppose legal abortion care.

“Make room for pro-life Democrats and invite pro-life, progressive independents back to the party to focus on the right to parent and ways to help women in crisis or unplanned pregnancies have more choices than abortion,” the group said in a report unveiled to allies at the event, including Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates and the press... Democrats for Life of America says it has important allies in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Sens. Joe Donnelly (IN), Joe Manchin (WV), and Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL), along with former Rep. Bart Stupak (MI), serve on the group’s board of advisors, according to literature distributed at the convention.
It's important to point out here that Donnelly, Manchin and Lipinski are among the most right-wing Democrats in Congress across the board and on almost every issue. Of the 46 Democrats in the Senate, only Heidi Heitkamp (ND) votes more regularly with the GOP on crucial roll calls. ProgressivePunch rates her #46, Machin #45 and Donnelly #44. This year, Heitkamp has voted with the GOP almost 60% of the time, Manchin about 56% of the time and Donnelly about half the time. Inside the party, the three of them are always working to make legislation and Democratic initiatives less progressive and more Republican. In the House, Lipinski, a Blue Dog from Chicago, has a 47.30 ProgressivePunch crucial vote score for 2015-16, a vote more right-wing than any Democrat in the House other than half a dozen Republicans who, for various political reasons still call themselves Democrats: Henry Cuellar (TX), Brad Ashford (NE), Gwen Graham (FL), Collin Peterson (MN), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Jim Costa (CA) all radical Blue Dogs, rated F, who have voted with the GOP between 72% and 56% of the time. (Yes, Henry Cuellar, also an anti-Choice fanatic, voted with the Republicans against progressive legislation 71.63% of the time this session-- and represents an overwhelmingly Democratic district in South Texas, where Obama beat Romney 60-39%, where Republicans don;'t even bother to run against Cuellar and where less than 16% of the population is white. Do the Democrats really want to have a tent stunk up by more "Democrats" like Henry Cuellar, who bragged about voting for Bush?


Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), came up during Edwards’ speech. Edwards said he had discussed the award, named for Casey’s father, former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey, the defendant in the landmark Supreme Court decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which opened up a flood of state-level abortions restrictions as long as those anti-choice policies did not represent an “undue burden.”

“Last night I happened to have the opportunity to speak to Sen. Bob Casey, and I told him … I was in Philadelphia, receiving this award today named after his father,” Edwards said.

The Louisiana governor added that though it may not seem it, there are many more anti-choice Democrats like the two of them who aren’t comfortable coming forward about their views.

“I’m telling you there are many more people out there like us than you might imagine,” Edwards said. “But sometimes it’s easier for those folks who feel like we do on these issues to remain silent because they’re not going to  be questioned, and they’re not going to be receiving any criticism.”

During his speech, Edwards touted the way he has put his views as an anti-choice Democrat into practice in his home state. “I am a proud Democrat, and I am also very proudly pro-life,” Edwards told the small gathering.
No anti-Choice or Blue Dogs on this list of candidates at the thermometer-- and no New Dems either. These are not men and women whose arms have to be twisted to vote for a progressive agenda. They are the ones who twist other people's arms-- which is way the corrupted Democratic Party establishment's Beltway organization refuses to endorse almost all of them:
Goal Thermometer

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Friday, July 29, 2016

You Think This Election Season Has YOU Depressed? Libertarians Are Even More Clueless Than The Rest Of Us!

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They're not seeing this as a "lesser of two-- or even three-- evils" election because they see overwhelming evil on both sides of the aisle-- and everywhere else. They want to re-litigate the "murder" of Vince Foster and talk about Hillary's "aggressive" lesbianism. I mean we're talking about the real brainwashed crazy here. But ... don't you want to hear what the whack-job libertarians are talking about? Some of it has grains of truth, you know. And, of course, the Deep State is out to get us.. Nick Giambruno and Doug Casey of Casey Research sat down and kvetched to each other with a tape recorder going.
Nick Giambruno: There is a popular conception that only the “best and brightest” go into government. I think this is a sacred cow that needs to be slaughtered. What’s your take, Doug?

Doug Casey: It’s a real problem when a pernicious myth subverts reality. Everybody believes that the institution of government is like Camelot-- a wise ruler assisted by noble paladins. Maybe that meme gained traction in recent times with John Kennedy and his good-looking wife, Jackie. They looked like an ideal couple. They weren’t. But they were a lot better than what followed for the next 50 years…

The fact is that the high levels of government do get people with high IQs. They can pass tests. They’re skilled at manipulating both laws and people. But they tend to be of low moral character, number one. Number two, despite their high IQs, they’re actually quite stupid. Let me explain these things.

From a moral point of view, there are two types of people in the world. People who believe in coercion when dealing with their fellow humans. And people who believe in dealing voluntarily with their fellow humans.

Government is force. The essence of government is coercion. So, people attracted to it are necessarily the wrong kind of people, coercion-oriented people. Government draws much more than its share of criminal personalities.




And they’re not the most intelligent people-- completely contrary to common belief. It’s because one sign of intelligence is not just seeing the immediate and direct consequences of an action-- any intelligent six-year-old can usually do that. It’s seeing the indirect and delayed consequences of actions. They’re very bad at that.

...The problem is compounded by the fact that television and movies generally portray government officials as noble, thoughtful and virtuous. But this is a completely false impression. Almost an alternate reality. They’re generally not that way. Prosecuting attorneys, for instance, tend to be much more interested in collecting scalps for their self-advancement than they are in justice. Cops have been transformed from peace officers into law enforcement officers.

Frontline cops on the beat used to use common sense in keeping the peace; that was their job. But that’s becoming less and less the case; they’re now, instead, mostly charged with enforcing a myriad of arbitrary laws. More than in the past, the wrong kind of people are going into policing now. They’re guys who have an extra Y chromosome. Most are now ex-military, who have picked up a lot of bad habits in the government’s numerous foreign adventures.

Nick Giambruno: This kind of thinking-- that government employees are naturally good, virtuous people-- appears to have even infected Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate for president, who, unfortunately, is no Ron Paul. He recently called Hillary Clinton “a wonderful public servant.”

You were talking about how there are two types of people, those who favor voluntarism and those who favor coercion. For me, at least, Johnson has muddied the waters on where he is exactly.

Doug Casey: Regarding Johnson, I don’t know what his philosophical beliefs, if any, are. The only thing that I think I know about him is that he wants to see pot legalized on a national scale. Well, bravo. I’m all for that, even though I’m not a toker. It’s a step in the right direction toward dismantling the insane War on Some Drugs. But does he have any other libertarian tendencies? He doesn’t seem to have a grasp of the basic principles… although he seems better than the average politician. But that’s not saying much.

I’m especially concerned about his running mate, William Weld, who’s an actual neocon. He’s an overt statist, an active promoter of warfare, welfare, taxes and regulations. He has no libertarian tendencies at all that I’m aware of. I mean, he’s a pure Deep State guy.

It appears that the Libertarian Party has been captured by the Republicans, which is surprisingly clever on the Republicans’ part. Now they have two parties that are registered in all 50 states. It’s kind of a backup system to the regular Republican Party. They’ll need a backup, since the old GOP is a dead duck.

...The Republicans attract a different group [than the evil, hopeless, unredeemable Democrats]. Religious people. Cultural traditionalists. People who generally favor what they think is the free market. They tend to be much more nationalistic and pro-military than the Democrats. But, unlike the Dems, the Reps have no real philosophical foundation.

The Democrats can be viewed as the evil party and the Republicans as the stupid party. But they’re really just two sides of the same coin, at least when it comes to their leadership-- they’re all Deep State members. The Libertarians once had a claim to being the party of principle, back in the days when people like John Hospers, Harry Browne and Ron Paul were their candidates. But now, the Libertarians can be viewed, at best, as the smart wing of the stupid party. It’s a sad testimony to the nature of politics…

With a little bit of luck, Trump will end up destroying the Republican Party, which is held together by chewing gum and bailing wire. Its disparate elements have very little in common with each other. The neocons, the evangelical Christians, the social conservatives and people who think they support the free market are there only for lack of a better alternative. They really have nothing in common except a dislike of the Democratic Party.

Although I suspect Trump will win, I expect the Republican Party itself will blow up. The situation is not unlike that before the War Between the States. Very unstable.


Nick Giambruno: Speaking of all this, I have to ask you about the Clintons. Bill Clinton was your former classmate in college. What was your impression?

Doug Casey: He’s one of the most charming people you could ever meet. When you talk to him, even if the room is full of people trying to get his attention, when he looks at you and talks to you, he makes you feel like you’re the only person in existence. He’s that good. He’s got a lot of interpersonal skills.

I met him when he was campaigning for president of the class at Georgetown. I never ran with the same group he did, but he was knocking at everybody’s door and that’s how I first met him. And then I met him again at our 25th class reunion, which he held at the White House.

I was shocked that when I walked up to him-- and there must have been 400 people at the reunion-- and I don’t know how, or even if, he saw my name tag-- but when I said, “Hey, Bill, how are you?” he responded with, “Hey, Doug, it’s good to see you.” He’s a superpro.

Despite Bill’s charm, the Clintons are essentially criminal personalities. I’m not just talking about the $100,000 bribe Hillary got for supposedly trading cattle in the old days; now, she wouldn’t even walk across the street for that little. From the earliest days, starting with the strange death of Vince Foster, and then the strange death of Ron Brown, there are a lot of strange deaths that have surrounded the Clintons. They may well have gotten away with murder, quite frankly.

I think there are about 75 separate reasons why there should have been a full-scale investigation by the FBI in the strange death of Vince Foster. I wish there were some agency that was not part of the government that could investigate crimes, which is part of the problem, of course. The FBI is really just an overrated, bloated, politically driven bureaucracy. I sincerely doubt, for instance, that they’ll ever go after The Clinton Foundation, which is clearly nothing but a gigantic slush fund.

The other thing I noticed at the reunion-- and several of us noticed this-- is that Hillary was sitting there with five or six really good-looking, young female velociraptors arrayed around her. Some classmates and I looked at each other and remarked that it was unusual for her to have all these good-looking young chicks around her. And, of course, since then, there have been rumors that she’s an aggressive lesbian. I have no other facts to back that up except for this one instance.

I’ve got to say, I couldn’t care less about Bill’s or Hillary’s, or anybody else’s personal sexual habits. As far as I’m concerned, that’s nobody’s business but theirs, and it’s got nothing to do with anything. But it’s interesting, for what it’s worth.

Nick Giambruno: I agree. I think focusing on their personal lives is a distraction from their real malfeasance. So, let’s talk about that.

Probably the most objectionable thing I find about Hillary is her reckless promotion of war.

I think she advocated for just about every conflict the U.S. has gotten involved with in the past 30 years, most of which have been unmitigated disasters.

She’s an ardent supporter of arming the so-called moderate Syrian rebels and toppling Bashar Al-Assad.

She’s supported the regime change in Ukraine.

She backed the surge in Afghanistan, which, predictably, accomplished exactly nothing.

She was the deciding factor in pushing Bill to bomb Serbia in the 1990s.

She infamously voted for the 2003 Iraq invasion.

And, of course, she was one of the main pushers of the NATO intervention in Libya that toppled Muammar Gaddafi. After rebels gruesomely executed Gaddafi-- they reportedly sodomized him with a bayonet-- Hillary said on national TV, “We came, we saw, he died.” It’s sort of a sociopathic spin on “Veni, vidi, vici,” a famous saying from Julius Caesar, the Roman leader, which means “I came, I saw, I conquered.”

These are just some examples off the top of my head. She has apparently learned nothing-- or the completely wrong lessons-- from this trail of disasters. She’s an unrepentant warmonger. And I think the odds of WWIII breaking out will be much higher under a Hillary presidency.


One nugget from Hillary’s email scandal, known as the Blumenthal Memo, basically disclosed that the real reason NATO wanted to go after Gaddafi was not a desire to bring freedom, democracy and unicorns to the Libyan people, but because NATO feared that Gaddafi would use his vast gold reserves to back a currency that would displace a version of the French franc that is used in Central and Western Africa.

After NATO-backed rebels toppled Gaddafi, plans for the gold-backed currency, along with the gold itself, vanished like a double cheeseburger placed in front of Chris Christie.

Strangely, this damning piece of information from her emails barely gets a peep in the mass media narrative.

Doug Casey: You’re absolutely right, because the media itself is part of the Deep State. They all are educated in the same universities by professors with horrible values, and taught the same things. They go to the same clubs. They socialize with each other. They have the same basic psychological, political, economic and philosophical underpinnings. So, of course, they look at the world through the same lens. And avoid mention of things that might be inconvenient, or conflict with their worldview.

And as far as Gaddafi, sure, he was a criminal. Can you name a head of state, certainly in the third world, who’s not? He was not a nice guy, but, as these people go, he was better than most. Assad in Syria is much the same. It’s hard not to be brutal when your job description is to hold together an artificial non-country with dozens of different religions, ethnic groups and fanatical political factions-- all of them anxious to take over the government so they can steal and massacre rivals, including yourself. Mother Teresa would have started acting like a thug if you put her in charge of one of these places. Of course, these people are all demonized-- unless they’re stooges of Washington. But even that is dangerous-- as Saddam Hussein, once a BFF of the U.S.-- discovered. Vladimir Putin is another example of somebody who’s been made into the devil incarnate.

Nick Giambruno: Well, Hillary has basically said Putin is the new Hitler.

Doug Casey: It’s an amazingly stupid statement, in addition to being inaccurate. I mean, it’s almost like these people want to start some version of World War III. And they may succeed. It’s really very scary.

It could happen with China in the East or the South China Seas. It could happen accidentally with Syria. It could happen with the breakaway provinces in Ukraine. There are a lot of trip wires. I’m pleased to be spending a lot of time in Cafayate, among the horses and grapevines of Argentina, where I can watch this stuff on my widescreen, at least somewhat insulated from what might happen…

Editor’s note: Highly decorated General Dwight D. Eisenhower first warned the American public about the Deep State. He did it during the farewell address for his second term as President in January of 1961.

Ike’s farewell address also served as a warning to JFK, who would succeed him as President. And JFK tried to take the Deep State head on…

A short while later, JFK was assassinated. We don’t know exactly who did it or why, but we do know that he was the last President to challenge the Deep State directly.

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Urgent! Important! Please read!

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DILBERT     by Scott Adams
[Click on any strip to enlarge.]

Wednesday: Biggest Obstacle


Thursday: Dashboard For The Boss


Today: Dashboard Never Changes


by Ken

It's a good thing there's nothing happening in the world, 'cause I'm suddenly in a condition of computer snafuitude, which I'll explain in a moment for the record. Meanwhile, this gives me an opportunity to raise a question I've been meaning to throw out for some time, with regard to stuff like that I've put in the post title as it turns up in e-mail subject lines. And the question is this: Does anyone actually read e-mails that come with such declarations of self-importance? Can it be possible that I'm the only one who, just on principle, more or less automatically deletes them?

"Urgent," eh? "Please read," you say? No, I don't think so!

And confidential to whichever Democratic Party functionaries who are sending out those end-of-the-world-is-nigh fund-raising e-mails with all-caps subject lines about how the sky is falling: Just quit it, huh? I'm certainly not going to read those.


NOW, AS TO MY CURRENT COMPUTER MALAISE --

Last night when I got home from seeing my friend Gil in the Classical Theatre of Harlem's adaptation of Macbeth (absolutely free, great reviews in both Time Out New York and the NYT, though I take the latter's theater writing a lot less seriously) with three performances left -- in the excellent Richard Rodgers Amphitheater of Northern Manhattan's Marcus Garvey Park, tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday at 8pm), I went to the computer and discovered that my keyboard appears to be majorly fucked up, and I don't have time to go keyboard shopping today.

This isn't entirely unusual, since I am known to spill stuff on the keyboard which I know I should never have anywhere near it. Which is why some time ago I instituted a policy of always having a spare keyboard on hand, replacing what had been the spare as soon as it's pressed into service as the new keyboard. The thing is (and this is a funny story; you'll laugh and laugh) I took my last spare into the office so that I would have a working keyboard there, feeling queasy about reporting the situation to the office manager, seeing as how it was my own fault that I didn't have a working keyboard. Ironically, when I had occasion to mention to Christine, the office manager, that I had done this, she didn't see why I hadn't just told her!

And then, that Friday in January, we came into the office and found out that we didn't have an office anymore, and I was afraid that if I took my keyboard home, I would be accused of stealing "their" keyboard. Ha ha ha! Pretty funny, right? (Note to self: I really should try to get in touch with Christine, maybe see if I can find her on Facebook. She's good people, and I haven't had contact since That Day in January. Of course I should also be finding, you know, a job, but that doesn't seem to be happening either.)

The odd thing about my current keyboard predicament (assuming that that's all it is -- the keyboard) is that normally I know all about it when I demolish a keyboard, because I've just watched myself do it. This time, is a puzzlement.

So on the regular computer I can still do anything that can be done by mouse, plus things that can be done using still-working keys. From which I got the idea that I could maybe do some of the heavier post-related lifting on it, then dump that stuff in a blog file, and then edit that file on a MacBook that I bought refurbished some time back, hoping it would help me back when I was still blogging every day (and twice on some days). And after a fashion it has worked! (If you want to see something really funny, you should see me with the two computers running side by side, the MacBook perched precariously alongside the desktop, and me furiously working the mouse from the desktop computer and cursing the MacBook for not responding -- or occasionally vice versa, when the trackpad of the MacBook fails to produce results on the desktop.)

I knew going in that the machine just missed the cutoff for being system-upgradable beyond OS 10.6, a perfectly lovely OS that Apple has chosen to abandon, rendering it. But I thought I could at least upgrade the memory to make it work better and faster.

Only by the time I was ready to actually attempt the feat,  after successfully performing a memory upgrade on the desktopo computer which enabled me to upgrade that also-aging machine all the way to El Capitan, and even ordered the new memory, when I went to open the battery compartment to perform the installation, I discovered that I couldn't open the battery compartment. I figured this was just my incompetence, and eventually I took the computer and the memory upgrade to the crackerjack Mac folks at Tekserve, assuming they would deftly open the thing and then for a reasonable fee install the new memory.

Instead what happened was that they gathered their savviest tech hands to gaze in wonder at something none of them had ever seen: a battery compartment that had somehow gotten internally locked, leaving no option that any of the assembled wizards could think of except to break into the thing, after which they couldn't of course guarantee its continued functioning. Maybe I should have let them give it a shot, but at least as is the thing was working, within its limits.

My bad, obviously, for not having thought to try to open the battery compartment while I might still have gotten redress from the company that sold it to me. And by this time, I discovered, the company existed except in name, a name that had been sold to another company, which informed me with a nice tinge of regret that sorry, there was nothing they could do for me. On the plus side, the company from which I had bought the memory that I successfully installed on the desktop computer and then the memory I was unable to install on the MacBook allowed me to return the latter.

Which today include enabling me to get this post done. And the nice thing is that I can whine to my heart's content, confident that my subject line has triply warded off any potential readers.
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Hillary's Convention Pulverized The Donald's So Trumpy-The-Clown Blames Reince Priebus

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Over a million more people watched the Democratic Convention than watched the Republican convention. The L.A. Times reported that "the Democrats have drawn larger audiences than the Republicans on each night of their convention so far, despite GOP nominee Donald Trump’s ability to draw strong TV ratings throughout the campaign season." Most people who watched agree with the NY Times assessment that "Hillary Clinton put on a better television show in Philadelphia than Donald J. Trump did in Cleveland." Trump's response was typically self-centered... and deceitful-- "I didn’t produce our show. I just showed up for the final speech." Really? Who picked Chachi as a prime time speaker? It wasn't Reince Priebus or Paul Ryan. Who inserted passages lifted from a Michelle Obama speech into the address by a certain former high-priced call girl from Slovenia? It wasn't Reince Priebus or Paul Ryan.

As Ezra Klein put it at Vox last night after the convention, This election isn’t just Democrat vs. Republican. It’s normal vs. abnormal. "What we just witnessed in Cleveland and Philadelphia," he wrote, "defies our normal political vocabulary. We are used to speaking of American politics as split between the two major parties. It’s Democrats versus Republicans, liberals versus conservatives, left versus right. But not this election. The conventions showed that this is something different. This campaign is not merely a choice between the Democratic and Republican parties, but between a normal political party and an abnormal one.
The Democratic Party’s convention was a normal political party’s convention. The party nominated Hillary Clinton, a longtime party member with deep experience in government. Clinton was endorsed by Bernie Sanders, the runner-up in the primary. Barack Obama, the sitting president, spoke in favor of Clinton. Various Democratic luminaries gave speeches endorsing Clinton by name. The assembled speakers criticized the other party’s nominee, arguing that he would be a bad president and should be defeated at the polls.

...The Republican Party’s convention was not a normal political party’s convention. The party nominated Donald Trump, a new member with literally no experience in government. Ted Cruz, the runner-up in the primary, gave a primetime speech in which he refused to endorse Trump, and instead told Americans to "vote your conscience."

The Republican Party’s two living presidents, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, declined to endorse Trump or attend the convention. The party’s previous two presidential nominees, Mitt Romney and John McCain, declined to endorse Trump or attend the convention. The assembled speakers-- including Chris Christie, a prospective attorney general-- argued that the other party’s nominee was a criminal who should be thrown in jail.

...America’s main political cleavage is between the Democratic and Republican parties. That split has meant different things at different times, but in recent decades it primarily tracks an ideological disagreement: Democrats are the party of liberal policies; Republicans are the party of conservative policies.

But in this year’s presidential election, the difference is more fundamental than that: The Democratic Party is a normal political party that has nominated a normal presidential candidate, and the Republican Party has become an abnormal political party that has nominated an abnormal presidential candidate.

Simply saying that will raise people’s partisan hackles, but it’s not a partisan comment. Republicans know that Donald Trump is not a normal nominee. They know this isn’t what their 2012 convention looked like or how their 2008 convention felt. And while most Republicans fear Democrats keeping the White House enough to unhappily support Trump, it’s worth listening to what they’ve said about him.

Ted Cruz called Trump a "pathological liar," "utterly amoral," and "a narcissist at a level I don't think this country's ever seen."

Rick Perry said Trump’s candidacy was "a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised, and discarded."

National Review, the flagship journal of American conservatism, said Trump "is a menace to American conservatism."

Rand Paul said Trump is "a delusional narcissist and an orange-faced windbag. A speck of dirt is way more qualified to be president."

A list like this could go on, and on, and on. But here’s the point: These aren’t normal political condemnations. This isn’t normal political language. Republicans know they’ve nominated a dangerous man. They tried to warn their voters in the strongest terms possible that Trump is unqualified, untrustworthy, and amoral.

Michael Bloomberg, the former Republican mayor of New York City, put it simply in a speech endorsing Clinton. "Together, let's elect a sane, competent person," he said. That is what an endorsement sounds like when the choice shifts from left versus right to normal versus abnormal.




There are some differences in politics that transcend ideology. This is one of them. Clinton, say what you will about her, is a normal political candidate who will operate within the normal boundaries of American democracy. Donald Trump is an abnormal political candidate; we have no idea which democratic boundaries he would respect, which conspiracy theories he would believe, which political enemies he would punish, which treaties he would honor.

...We are a nation protected by norms, not just by laws. Our political parties should be held to certain standards in terms of the candidates they nominate, the behaviors they accept, the ideas they mainstream. Trump violates those standards. By indulging him, the Republican Party is normalizing him and his behavior, and making itself abnormal.
Last night's Democratic convention, as Matt Stoller pointed out on Twitter, just as it was wrapping up, celebrated Ronald Reagan and Alexander Hamilton. Others noticed that stylistically it emulated Reagan but that the substance veered, at least on the surface, more towards Bernie and FDR. Team Hillary was making a concerted attempt tp appeal to progressives on policy and conservatives and moderates on values. NY Times reporter Josh Barro put it like this today: the Democratic convention "is co-opting Republican tropes while maintaining Democratic ones because there is now only one political party for grown-ups." A few hours ago on Morning Joe, when asked if Trump is a fascist, Madeleine Albright said "it's hard to label him anything except weird."

You're probably aware that when Hillary tossed Wasserman Schultz out of the DNC, she didn't toss out her new policy inviting corrupt corporate lobbyists back into the heart of the party. That's because no one wanted that policy reversal more than Hillary. Zaid Jilani nailed it yesterday for The Intercept:
By quietly dropping a ban on direct donations from registered federal lobbyists and political action committees, the Democratic National Committee in February reopened the floodgates for corruption that Barack Obama had put in place in 2008.

Secret donors with major public-policy agendas were welcomed back in from the cold and showered with access and appreciation at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.

Major donors were offered “Family and Friends” packages, including suites at the Ritz-Carlton, backstage passes, and even seats in the Clinton family box. Corporate lobbyists like Heather Podesta celebrated the change, telling Time: “My money is now good.”

What was going on inside the convention hall was also reflected outside, at costly events sponsored by the  fossil fuel industry, technology companies, for-profit colleges, pharmaceutical companies, and railway companies, to name a few.

Craig Holman, an elections financing expert at Public Citizen, said that the end of the lobbyist contribution ban as well as Congress’s 2014 termination of all remaining public financing of the party conventions has served to undermine democracy. “The implications of these changes are that we have opened up access to the parties and the conventions to just the very, very wealthy,” he said.

...[A]n overwhelming majority of Democratic lawmakers we spoke to at the convention didn’t seem troubled by the rule change at all.

At a posh event hosted by The Atlantic and paid for by the American Petroleum Institute oil lobby, Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, shrugged off concerns about the influence of special interest groups.

“I don’t know, you’ll have to ask the DNC on that,” he said in response to a question whether lifting the ban was the right move.

“Do you think that lobbyists have undue influence?” we followed up.

“I don’t know.”

“What about energy lobbyists? What about oil lobbyists?”

“What about ’em?”

“Do you think they have undue influence in the United States?”

“I think they’re just like teachers, like firemen, like everybody who contributes.”

“What about the Koch Brothers, who spent $400 million on an election?”

“You’ve gotta go talk to the Koch Brothers,” he replied, ending the conversation.

Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia offered a Willie Sutton justification for lifting the lobbying ban. “The lobbyists, that’s where the money is,” he said.

...Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland ducked the question. “It’s above my paygrade,” he quipped.

Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said he would never have banned lobbyists like Obama did in the first place. “I wouldn’t have done it,” he said. “It’s not a matter of wrong or right. It’s a matter of making sure we have the resources to put on a convention.”

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, the chair of the DNC’s Host Committee, has refused to disclose donors to that committee until 60 days after the convention.

In an interview with The Intercept, Rendell insisted there was nothing wrong with keeping the committee’s donors secret until just a few weeks before the election, and he downplayed the influence of big donors. “I never made one decision where I was influenced by a campaign contribution,” he said.

“So why are lobbyists giving money to the DNC now again,” we asked. “Are they doing it just because they have extra money to give?”

“They want access,” he acknowledged.

...House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California stopped to talk to us, but after hearing the subject, briskly walked away as a fleet of staffers blocked off access to her.

A staffer for Rep. Adam Schiff of California asked the subject of our interview question. She then informed her boss, who told her, “I don’t want to talk about that.”

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said he was unconcerned with the policy shift. “Unfortunately, we’re in a world today where we have to raise private money,” he said. “I don’t get too concerned about who and what groups you take money from. It’s up to you.”
Martin O'Malley's speech at the convention was a try-out for the DNC chairmanship. Although when he was catering to primary voters and attacked Hillary for her "cozy relationship with Wall Street," when Jilani approached him about the change in DNC policy, his concern appeared to Jilani to have evaporated. "I’m really kind of agnostic on it," he said. "I really don’t care one way or another."

Even before the convention, a newly-released poll from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch showed Hillary leading Trump 41-40 in Missouri, a state that has gone red for 20 years. Romney beat Obama there, 54-44% and the congressional delegation is 6 Republicans and 2 Democrats, both the Dems in tiny big city ghettos long abandoned by the GOP. Now let's watch what happens when accurate post-convention polling comes out Monday.

Goal Thermometer

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Will TPP Be A Deciding Issue In The Congressional Races?

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You think Trump is a traitor because he called on Russia to hack U.S. government and non-government agencies to find the Secretary of State's e-mails? Sounds like he might be too. But Members of Congress who vote for TPP absolutely are. Turning American justice and sovereignty over to international corporate tribunals-- ISDS (Investor-state dispute settlement)-- is out-of-the question for most Americans, grassroots Democrats, independents and Republicans. But last June 190 Republicans and 28 Democrats-- primarily from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party (New Dems)-- voted to do just that.

Do voters even know what Congress is doing by voting for these unfair and destructive trade deals that include ISDS? The AFL-CIO, which refused to back California congressmembers who voted for it (sleazy New Dems Ami Bera, Jim Costa, Susan Davis, and Scott Peters) explains the danger this way:
ISDS allows the foreign property owner to skip domestic courts, administrative procedures, city hall hearings and the like (all the processes that home-grown property owners use) and sue the host-country government before a panel of private “arbitrators” (like judges, arbitrators have the power to make decisions in cases, but they are not democratically elected or appointed, and they are not subject to stringent conflict of interest rules). Not only that but the foreign property owners don’t lose access to the domestic U.S. processes-- they can “double dip” to get what they want.

The risk is that foreign property owners can use this system of "corporate courts" to challenge anything from plain packaging rules for cigarettes to denials of permits for toxic waste dumps to increases in the minimum wage. For any law, regulation or other government decision that the foreign investor does not like, all it has to do is think of an argument for why the decision somehow violated its right to “fair and equitable treatment” or why it might reduce its expected profits and it’s got a case. And, sometimes, just threatening the case is enough for the proposed law or regulation to be withdrawn.
The AFL-CIO and other unions were lobbying Team Clinton hard to put a stake in the heart of the TPP by coming out firmly against the deal Obama and Paul Ryan are trying to cut to sneak it through Congress during the lame duck session where a good number of defeated congressmembers will have no accountability to their soon-to-be-former constituents and can be easily bribed to do whatever they're told. There were some questions going into the convention whether she really thinks the TPP is a terrible thing or "the gold standard" of trade deals. Basically the Democrats who crossed the aisle and voted with the GOP for the TPP fast track last year all all from the Hillary wing of the party-- in the Senate, corporate garbage Michael Bennet (CO), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Mark Warner (VA), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Tom Carper (DE), Claire McCaskill (MO), Chris Coons (DE), Bill Nelson (FL)... and, of course, Tim Kaine, who, like Clinton, has been suddenly transformed, he says, into an advocate against the TPP. I'll believe that when I see it in action. Notice Obama didn't say a word about it inches big convention speech Wednesday night. It would have soured the mood but fast!

Last night, Hillary didn't specifically mention TPP-- instead she said something non-committal and utterly anodyne about joining her effort (to win the election) and opposing unfair trade deals. She'd better start talking about it or Trump is going to win states he has no business winning.

All the Blue America candidates have been campaigning against the TPP. It's actually what motivated Tim Canova, over a year ago, to take up the onerous-- many said "impossible"-- task of running against TPP avatar Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Just a couple of weeks ago he wrote that "Rather than take a bold stance in opposition to the TPP-- which every Democratic presidential candidate eventually opposed-- Wasserman Schultz’s handpicked members of the platform drafting committee have refused to add a clear amendment in opposition to this disaster of a trade deal. Instead, they have focused on platitudes in the platform in the hopes it would be enough to placate the progressive grassroots of the party..." Many unions have abandoned Wasserman Schultz and support Canova, at least in part, because of his opposition to unfair and destructive trade deals like TPP.


Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory has made opposition to the TPP a one of the hallmarks of a campaign that pits him against Peter King, a long-time proponent of the TPP and the kinds of trade deals that have been devastating to Long Island working families. "America is strongest," he told us this morning, "when we protect American jobs from going overseas and weakest when we allow corporations to utilize trade deal provisions to usurp the American court system to their benefit. In supporting the TPP Peter King has sided with big corporations to the detriment of American workers and consumers. Our Congress needs leaders who will stand up for workers and against excessive corporate aggression."

Goal Thermometer Fred Upton's vote for the TPP could wreck his chances for reelection in southwest Michigan, where Paul Clements is reminding voters there about Upton's dogged backing for the unpopular treaty. "In voting for the TPP," he told us, "Congressman Upton once again supports corporate profits over the well-being of American workers. We certainly do not need foreign corporations suing Americans for local labor and environmental protections in international tribunals! But we also need to forge trade and investment policies that build American production in areas of increasing demand, such as clean energy, fuel efficient vehicles, high tech services, and food. The TPP neglects this, and Upton still supports tax breaks, subsidies, and looser regulation of polluting oil and gas industries."

Down in South Florida, knee-jerk Republican Trumpist Mario Diaz-Balart found nothing wrong with backing Fast Track and TPP and voting in favor of turning American sovereignty over to international corporate tribunals. His progressive Democratic opponent, Alina Valdes, has been pounding him on the issue. "Unlike my opponent, I am against the TPP," she told voters in the Miami suburbs, "and definitely disagree with fast-tracking any trade deal without seeing the content. This is a dangerous deal that serves to undermine American workers and would outsource even more jobs while increasing the cost of many items, like medications, for many in the US. Knowing that the unions are against this horrible trade deal further reinforces my resolve to try all I could do to kill this bill if I get elected. Multinational corporations would have the opportunity to sue the US for possible lost income in international tribunals made up by these very corporations."

The TPP is political poison in Pennsylvania but that didn't stop Pat Meehan to back it, putting him at odds with the voters (and with Trump and Trump supporters), Meehan's Democratic opponent in the suburbs south and west of Philly (PA-07) this year in Mary Ellen Balchunis, who is a political science professor from, as she puts it, "the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party." Warren is one of the most outspoken critics-- along with Alan Grayson and Bernie Sanders-- of the TPP. Mary Ellen, who has been badly sabotaged by Steve Israel and Ben Ray Lujan of the DCCC, who generally oppose independent-minded, non-corporate candidates, told us flatly, "I am against TTP. I was against President Clinton signing NAFTA. I was worried then about our workers being hurt; and I am worried now about our workers being hurt with TTP." If there is no lame duck vote on TPP and Ryan brings it up after the new Congress is seated, voters in Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Berks counties will have sent a pro-TPP Meehan to vote for it or an anti-TPP Balchunis to vote against it. That simple!

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