Saturday, July 04, 2015

Blue America Endorsed P.G. Sittenfeld For Senate-- Get To Know Who He Is


The DSCC is so sure their candidate in Ohio, Ted Strickland, is going to win the primary to challenge Republican incumbent Rob Portman that they don't even bother attacking Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld-- a departure from the way Tester and Schumer are viciously sabotaging other independent-minded candidates, in Florida (Alan Grayson) and Pennsylvania (Joe Sestak), who will likely beat weak DSCC picks, respectively Patrick Murphy and Ed Pawlowski. They're counting on Strickland's name recognition-- the 73-year-old was Ohio's governor from 2007 through 2010-- to power him through.

Sittenfeld, at 30, is less than half his age and is far more energetic and much more in touch with where the Democratic base has gone since Strickland, always a conservative Democrat, was actively engaged. A few days ago, Andrew Romano penned a piece on Sittenfeld emphasizing the fact that the two of them knew each other in college and that Romano, who has done profiles on dozens of politicians, was eager to get behind the curtain of handlers and press releases to see what makes a politician tick. "Observing these figures at close range," he wrote, "hasn’t really helped. In fact, they tend to seem even more alien-- more exaggerated, calculated and opaque-- in the flesh. After a while, I gave up." Until he realized his old college friend is running for the Senate in Ohio.
Sittenfeld is new to politics; the sum total of his electoral experience consists of serving on the Cincinnati City Council for the last four years. He is only 30 years old. If he wins next November, he would just barely clear the Senate’s Constitutional age requirement. The next youngest senator would be nearly a decade his senior. In fact, he would be one of the youngest senators in U.S. history, as well as the first member of his generation, the so-called millennial generation, elected to such high office.

...To me, Sittenfeld seemed like the same kid I’d met back when he was a freshman and I was senior. The age gap was too big for us to become close friends, but he immediately struck me as gregarious, energetic, enthusiastic and practical. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. A bit messy, perhaps. But mostly a model millennial.

Then Sittenfeld’s iPhone rang again. He looked down. It was Dhani Jones, the former NFL linebacker-turned-Travel Channel host-turned-bow tie entrepreneur who had recently signed on as Sittenfeld’s first celebrity supporter. The candidate cleared his throat four times. A preemptive smile spread across his face.

“DHAAAAAANI,” he said in his clubbiest baritone. “What’s going on, man?”

Jones replied. Sittenfeld listened. He was still smiling.

“Hahahahaha!” laughed Sittenfeld. “I drive a made-in-Ohio Chevy Cruze. My man-of-the-people mobile…”

Jones said something else. Sittenfeld laughed again. Then his laughter tapered off.

“So, I got three quick things for you, and you can say yes or no to them, but it’s my job to ask,” Sittenfeld said. He spoke smoothly, confidently, without a hint of hesitation or apology. “OK, ready? No. 1, we want to do a contest. I don’t know if your preference is like, you know, Dhani will design a bow tie for you or, like, give you a tutorial, but are you game to do one or the other?” Pause. “OK, that would be great. Two, I’m having an event in New York two weeks from today. I don’t know if you’ll be in New York then, or if there are people you could forward the invite to…” Pause. “All right, yeah. That’d be awesome. And then the final thing. This is the almost unsavory part of politics, but man, we’ve gotten off to a good start. You put the wind in my sails. You’ve got the ambassadorship all lined up. Want to see if you might be willing to double down on your early contribution and do one more.” Pause. “Ex-cel-lent. Thank you, Dhani. You’ve been wonderful. And I think people are going to love this contest.”

Whoa, I thought.That’s how the grown-ups do it.

Ohio political consultant Jerry Austin recently said that Sittenfeld displays the kind of “political talent he and other longtime Ohio Democrats [haven’t] seen in close to 40 years.” I was beginning to understand why.

...Sittenfeld and I both went to Princeton. I graduated in 2004. He graduated in 2007. On paper, we must have looked very similar. We both came from half-Jewish, half-Catholic families... The first time I encountered the name P.G. Sittenfeld-- a moment you do not forget-- was when I read in the campus newspaper that he’d been elected freshman class president. The date was Oct. 7, 2003. That means Sittenfeld had been away from home for less than a month when he launched his campaign. It takes a special kind of 17-year-old to jump right in like that.

“The real reason I’m doing this,” Sittenfeld told the paper, “is because I really like meeting new people and I have a lot of energy.”

Sittenfeld could have been grating-- I can see that I’m making him sound like a male Tracy Flick-- but he wasn’t. Everyone liked him. Yes, he was ambitious; he seemed as if he’d been networking from birth. But his ambition never came off as self-aggrandizing; he wasn’t angling for power, or other people’s esteem. It was simply a byproduct of his personality: the self-assurance, the directness, the off-the-charts extroversion.

“As much as P.G. was trying really, really hard,” a mutual friend explains, “he wasn’t trying to be anything other than himself.” He couldn’t help it. He really liked meeting new people. He had a lot of energy. He never stopped moving.

In late 2000, right when I arrived at Princeton, the conservative writer David Brooks came to campus “to see what the young people who are going to be running our country in a few decades are like.” The result of his field study was an essay in the April 2001 issue of the Atlantic that portrayed my classmates-- and by extension, my generation-- as “extraordinarily bright, morally earnest, and incredibly industrious” meritocrats who had been helicopter-parented, play-dated, and overscheduled to the point where nothing was worth doing if it wasn’t “a means for self-improvement, résumé-building, and enrichment.” According to Brooks and the professors he quoted, my peers and I had “no time to read newspapers, follow national politics, or get involved in crusades.” We were “disconcertingly comfortable with authority.” We were “eager to please, eager to jump through whatever hoops the faculty puts in front of [us], eager to conform.” We were not “disputatious.” We felt “no compelling need to rebel-- not even a hint of one.” We were, in short, “deferential.”

“They’re not trying to buck the system; they’re trying to climb it,” Brooks concluded. “And they are streamlined for ascent.”

Brooks titled his piece “The Organization Kid.” It was, like all pop sociology, a cartoon. But it had some truth to it, too, and for the remainder of my time at Princeton, and Sittenfeld’s time there as well, “The Organization Kid” framed the debate over who we were and weren’t-- and who we would rather be... After Princeton, Sittenfeld attended Oxford on a Marshall Scholarship. Then he went to work for Google. Self-improvement? Check. Résumé-building? Check. Streamlined for ascent.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the top: Sittenfeld decided he wanted to go home instead. Writing microscopic entertainment blurbs at Time felt like “a waste.” Google wasn’t right, either. So in 2009 he returned to Cincinnati to work as the assistant director of the Community Learning Center Institute (CLCI), a nonprofit that helps transform local schools into round-the-clock community centers. His mother, Betsy, had been his teacher and librarian at Cincinnati’s elite Seven Hills School; his father, Paul, a wealth-management consultant, was always joining a new board or embarking on some new philanthropic project. CLCI felt like a natural fit.

“My family wasn’t especially political, but they were very civic-minded,” Sittenfeld told me. “There was very little traditional relaxation or downtime at home. My mom doesn’t shop. My dad doesn’t golf. They’re too busy doing things for other people.”

But unlike his parents and his fellow Organization Kids, Sittenfeld was drawn to politics. By the time he arrived in Cincinnati, he was already thinking about running for office someday. As a freshman, he’d spent his fall break campaigning in New Hampshire for John Edwards. That summer he watched Barack Obama’s 2004 Democratic National Convention speech “on a 12-inch television screen” and “literally stood up” as Obama spoke.

“I really responded to that kind of inspirational call to action,” Sittenfeld recalled. “I thought, ‘I’d like to be able to do that myself when the moment is right.’”

That moment came sooner than Sittenfeld expected. One day, he was testifying before City Council on behalf of CLCI when he noticed that a couple of council members were paying more attention to their iPhones than to what he was saying. He decided-- on the spot-- that he could do better. “I care deeply about my convictions,” he told himself. “I like interacting with people. I want to make an impact. This seems like a good use of my skill set.”

It was. During his city council campaign later that year, Sittenfeld knocked on thousands of doors. He discovered that he loved the visceral, improvisational challenge of trying to persuade people to vote for him. “It’s like Forrest Gump and the box of chocolates,” he told me. “You never know what you’re gonna get.” In Cincinnati, City Council candidates are rarely elected on their first try; Sittenfeld was the second-highest vote-getter in the race. He was only 27 at the time. In 2013, he won reelection with 10,000 more votes than any other candidate-- a record margin.

It’s hard to overstate how unusual Sittenfeld’s choice of career is for someone his age. Over the last dozen years, the Organization Kids’ early apathy toward politics has curdled into outright antipathy. The story of the 2000s was, in many ways, a story of political dysfunction and failure: the misbegotten invasion of Iraq, the botched response to Hurricane Katrina, the devastating financial collapse of 2008, the unprecedented gridlock on Capitol Hill. Deep in debt, weary of war and anxious about their own job prospects, millennials have become Cynic Kids who are “deeply resistant to idealism,” according to one of their own-- who “don’t like the system” and are “dismissive of their ability to actually achieve the desired modifications.”

For their new book, Running From Office, political scientists Jennifer L. Lawless and Richard L. Fox surveyed more than 4,000 high school and college students across the country. Their conclusion? “Black or white, rich or poor, liberal or conservative, Northeastern or Southern, the next generation is turned off to politics.”

Only 1 in 9 millennials has ever given serious thought to elective office, Lawless and Fox report. Only 7 percent plan to run for office later in life, roughly the same percentage of Americans who claim they’ve seen an alien spaceship. “The mean-spirited, broken system that has come to characterize American politics turns young people off to the idea of running for office,” the authors write. “It discourages them from aspiring, one day, to be elected leaders. It prevents them from even thinking about a career in politics.”

Smart young people still want to change the world; they just think they have a better chance of changing it from, say, Silicon Valley than from Washington, D.C. By insisting on working within the political system-- and by insisting on staying in the Ohio Senate race even after his own party leaders, including Sen. Sherrod Brown and former President Bill Clinton, have sided with Strickland-- Sittenfeld isn’t being deferential. He isn’t aiming to please. He isn’t following the crowd.

“Politics often gets a bad rap with my peers,” he told me. “But it’s still a place where leaders can galvanize action that might not otherwise have occurred. Millennials look at the political realm and they don’t see themselves represented. They just see old ways of problem-solving that are out of touch and out of date. I’m hoping my own candidacy-- and my role in the Senate-- can change that.”

The Organization Kid may have been a conformist. The Organization Candidate, it turns out, has to be a bit of a rebel.

...[F]ew voters outside of Cincinnati know who he is yet. According to the polls, Sittenfeld is trailing Portman by 25 percentage points in large part because 85 percent of Ohioans haven’t heard enough about him to form an opinion. (Only 23 percent say the same thing about Strickland.) To win, Sittenfeld needs to boost his name recognition in the rest of the state, which is why he decided to drive three hours on a Wednesday morning to meet with the editorial board of the Toledo Blade.

“If they ask, ‘What do you know about Toledo?’” said Dale Butland, the veteran Ohio Democratic strategist who signed on to Sittenfeld’s campaign in April and who zipped up from Columbus in his red BMW for the day. “You can say the Mud Hens’ Triple-A park is one of the coolest parks in all of baseball-- because it is!”

Sittenfeld took one last look at his talking points-- a lined piece of 8.5-by-11-inch paper on which he’d scrawled “Disagreements with Ted” and “Why is Rob Wrong?” above quadrants labeled “Immigration,” “Iran,” “Middle East,” and “Economy”-- then folded the sheet into eighths and slipped it into his pocket. He unrolled his shirtsleeves, tightened his tie, shimmied into his favorite navy blue suit jacket and buzzed his way into the Blade.

Editor David Kushma ushered Sittenfeld past the sleepy 1970s-era newsroom and opened the door to his office. A subscription receipt from 1837 hung on the wall.

“So,” Kushma said, settling back in his chair. “How’s it going?”

“Things are going well,” Sittenfeld said. “There is a big appetite out there for new leaders to step up with some fresh ideas and perspectives. The main thing for me, which I believe I’m uniquely positioned to do, is to put the focus on the future instead of having this race be a stale argument about the past.”

“Mmm hmm,” Kushma muttered. He sounded a little skeptical. “You seem to be running against your party. How are you dealing with that?”

“If I can tell my story and spread my message across Ohio, I think we win this race-- both primary and general,” Sittenfeld replied. “I’m not running because I’m young. But for the United States Senate not to have a single person from the largest generation in American history, which also happens to be the most technologically savvy generation in American history-- something is clearly missing. There are different ways of engaging with the world that come with being a part of a different generation.”

For the next hour, Sittenfeld told Kushma and his colleagues what exactly he meant by that. Some of it didn’t sound all that different from the usual Democratic spiel. “The future is transitioning to renewable energy.” “Trade is a good thing, but bad trade”-- like the Trans-Pacific Partnership-- “is a bad thing.” “I support common-sense gun-safety measures.”

But a lot of it did. Sittenfeld explained how, at CLCI, he’d helped implement a community-schools model that Mayor Bill di Blasio was now importing to New York City. He declared that America should legalize marijuana (even though he’d never smoked it himself). He insisted that it was “totally obscene and unacceptable” that the federal government makes $135 billion in profit a year on student loans, and touted his proposal to lower federal student loan rates to 2 or 3 percent, allowing the average graduate to save around $12,000 over the arc of their repayment period.

“It’s about taking the gains we’re seeing in the economy,” he said, “and investing them in things that meaningfully support the middle class.”

He added family leave, paid sick days, a federal minimum wage hike and a larger earned-income tax credit to that list. And he argued that his “fluency with technology” could help Washington “harness the innovation economy,” citing three examples from his time in Cincinnati: expanding wireless Internet access to the poorest parts of the city, leading the charge to pass an open-data policy at City Hall and championing direct municipal investment in local startup accelerators and incubators.

How Sittenfeld communicated was different as well. The elements were familiar to me. The agile intelligence. (He answered in complete paragraphs.) The former journalist’s facility with narrative. (His rationale for running was always front and center.) And the contagious optimism-- the sheer delight in the possibilities of politics-- that only a young person who feels like he’s just found his calling can convey. Still, about halfway through, I forgot Sittenfeld was some kid I went to college with, and I could tell that Kushma & Co. had changed their minds about him, too. He wasn’t the longest of long shots anymore-- someone the savviest politicos were supposed to dismiss. He was a real candidate.

When Sittenfeld stood up to leave, one of Kushma’s colleagues pulled him aside. “It’s frustrating,” he sniffed. “The Democrats need to find fresh faces. They can’t keep serving up leftover gruel and saying, ‘You’re going to like it!’ That turns people off.”

...I don’t think you beat Rob Portman by saying, ‘Who’s got a longer résumé in politics?’

“You knock him off with a fresh face and a dynamic new candidate,” Sittenfeld continued. “I’ll be honest. I want to stand next to Rob Portman and have him tell me I’m inexperienced. And I want to say, ‘You’re right, I am inexperienced when it comes to being U.S. trade representative when the trade deficit with China explodes. I am inexperienced when it comes to being George W. Bush’s budget architect before the economy takes a nosedive. I am inexperienced when it comes to telling women what they should do with their bodies. To voting against the minimum wage. And on and on and on. Rob Portman can’t win that argument. We need to make this about the future.”
So far this cycle Blue America has only endorsed 4 progressives running for Senate, 3 already well-known figures-- Russ Feingold (WI), Donna Edwards (MD) and Alan Grayson (FL)-- and Sittenfeld. If you'd like to help Sittenfeld replace Portman in the Senate-- or help any of our other 3 candidates-- here's the ActBlue page for that. Help Rob make history-- and turn America around.

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Friday, July 03, 2015

Hillary Won't Take A Backseat (Pants Suit On Fire)


Hillary was a hipster in the 60's

I'm not a Hillary hater. I'm very enthusiastic about Bernie Sanders, not because of who she is but because of who he is. And although at this point I can't imagine voting for her if she wins the primary, I know myself well enough to admit I'll be rooting for her over Bush or Trump or Walker or Cruz or whichever garbage wins the clown car derby. That said, I was shocked today when Hillary-- visiting New Hampshire progressive bastion Hanover-- told a medium-sized crowd, "I take a backseat to no one when you look at my record of standing up and fighting for progressive values."

She's no dummy and she certainly knows what "progressive" means; apparently she doesn't care. There may be some good justifications for progressives to vote for her-- primarily to keep someone far worse, whether Webb or Rubio, out of the White House-- but her "progressive values" would not be among them. She's a cautious centrist with many of the most reactionary power-mongers within the Democratic Party on her team. If actual progressives like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alan Grayson and Donna Edwards get "A" grades, it wouldn't be fair to grade Hillary anything more than a "C" or, at best, a B minus. On almost every progressive issue outside of specific women's issues she's been a laggard and a follower, never a leader, holding a wet finger to the wind.
Seeking the Democratic nomination, Clinton's focus has been on economic issues, the driving force behind Sanders' recent rise in polls. The senator describes himself as a democratic socialist and has won elections in Vermont as an independent. He has drawn large crowds around the country and reported raising $15 million since late April, about one-third of the $45 million Clinton has brought in.

Sanders said on Friday in an email to supporters that he would release a series of policy proposals in the next few weeks "to address the major issues facing our nation." The campaign is seeking to ramp up its volunteer base and planning to hold organizing meetings across the nation on July 29.
This is a Bob Dylan song from 1965, his first Top 40 hit and the lead track from Bringing It All Back Home. The song references the conflict between the liberal firebrand Hillary supposedly really was at the time and the centrist she gradually turned herself into. It's worth listening to over and over until you know every word and understand every inference:

Johnny’s in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I’m on the pavement
Thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat
Badge out, laid off
Says he’s got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off

Look out kid
It’s somethin’ you did
God knows when

But you’re doin’ it again
You better duck down the alley way

Lookin’ for a new friend

The man in the coon-skin cap

By the big pen
Wants eleven dollar bills
You only got ten
Maggie comes fleet foot
Face full of black soot
Talkin’ that the heat put

Plants in the bed but
The phone’s tapped anyway
Maggie says that many say

They must bust in early May
Orders from the D.A.
Look out kid
Don’t matter what you did
Walk on your tiptoes
Don’t try “No-Doz”

Better stay away from those
That carry around a fire hose

Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows

Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin’ to sell
Try hard, get barred

Get back, write braille
Get jailed, jump bail
Join the army, if you fail

Look out kid
You’re gonna get hit
But users, cheaters

Six-time losers
Hang around the theaters
Girl by the whirlpool 

Lookin’ for a new foolDon’t follow leadersWatch the parkin’ meters Ah get born, keep warmShort pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed

Try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts

Don’t steal, don’t lift
Twenty years of schoolin’
And they put you on the day shift
Look out kid
They keep it all hid

Better jump down a manhole
Light yourself a candle
Don’t wear sandals

Try to avoid the scandals
Don’t wanna be a bum

You better chew gum

The pump don’t work
Cause the vandals took the handles

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Questions Remain: CNN Saw an ISIS flag at London's Gay Pride Parade and Wondered Where the Outrage Was


"[T]he only bad mimicry I could see was CNN's impression of a reputable news organization."
-- Paul Coombs, creator of the London Pride dildo flag

by Noah

CNN wonders where the outrage is? I've got your outrage right here, CNN. I'm outraged that you exist, and I have been for over 20 years! Yeesh, and some people think that FOX is the only cable news outlet that sees things that are not there, jumps the shark, and reports on them.

Sure, FOX is the master of such things. What can you say about a "news" outlet that uses The Onion as a source?

Or uses the Duck Dynasty guy and Rudy Giuliani as experts on foreign policy? Not to mention using Nevada welfare rancher Cliven Bundy as its race relations correspondent?

But last Saturday CNN, reporting from London, spent over seven minutes reporting on and showing what they said was an ISIS flag being carried in the city's Gay Pride parade. The only thing was, the flag was not an ISIS flag but a black flag covered in depictions of dildos and butt plugs. And I still have some questions about the incident.

By COREY CHARLTON for MailOnline

CNN has mistaken a flag displaying sex toy symbols for that of terrorist organisation Islamic State in a report it aired on London's Gay Pride parade.

In an 'exclusive' report which ran on Saturday, a CNN correspondent went on air to claim she was the only one to notice an ISIS jihad flag being waved among gay pride crowds.

But to the broadcaster's embarrassment, the satirical flag was adorned not with Arabic lettering, but symbols of sex toys.

The report cut live to correspondent Lucy Pawle, who told viewers: 'This man dressed in black and white was waving what appears to be very bad mimicry, but a very clear attempt to mimic, what is the ISIS flag - the black and white flag with the distinctive lettering.'

She continues: 'If you look at the flag closely, it's clearly not Arabic, in fact it looks like it could be goobledegook, but it's very distinctive - the ISIS flag.'

Pawle then states that she appears to be 'the only person' to notice the extremist flag being waved on London's Regent St.

'I seem to be the only person who had spotted this, and nobody seems to be raising any questions or pointing it out, so I immediately went to an events organiser who said he didn't know anything about it.

'I also spoke to the police nearby, who weren't aware either.'

Eagle-eyed viewers were quick to castigate both the journalist and the broadcaster for being fooled.

Immediately following the gaffe, her Twitter page was inundated with viewers' pointing out the mistake.
The flag was created by parade participant Paul Coombs, to start a conversation about ISIS derserving mockery and disrespect. He never thought CNN would think it was real. Who could blame him?

I created the Isis dildo flag at London Pride to start a dialogue, not get a laugh

Paul Coombs

Guardian caption: "Paul Coombs knew his 'Dildosis' flag might inspire a little controversy at London Pride. He never expected that it would go viral. Photograph: Paul Coombs"

I spent the morning of London’s Pride parade hand-stitching dildos onto a flag.

I’d been using the sex-toy motif in my work before I made a flag of Isis out of them and brought it to the march. Previously, I’ve attached dildos onto postcards from each country where homosexuality is still illegal to point out that the laws of these places regards its gay residents as mere sex objects.

The decision to make the flag was a simple one: a sense of outrage at Isis’s brutal advance across North Africa, Libya, Syria and Iraq. Medieval ideologies and barbarism were being spread and recorded through that most modern of expressions, social media, with that flag ever-present. It has become a potent symbol of brutality, fear and sexual oppression. If I wanted to try and stimulate a dialogue about the ridiculousness of this ideology, the flag was key.

It was important that I didn’t try to replicate the writing on the flag, because the words and their subject – Islam – are not the target. But if I showed as little respect to this flag as Isis shows to the religion and people they claim to represent so that when people saw it they would think, “dildos”? Would that be a crazy idea?

The Pride festival is a pure celebration of the finest aspects of humanity: of tolerance, togetherness, acceptance and liberation, the polar opposite of what Isis stands for. If there was anywhere where my flag had a voice, it was there. And I had an invitation to march in the parade with a friend involved with “Alien Sex Club”, an art project exploring the HIV syndemic by John Walter.

We agreed we would gauge reaction to the flag from fellow marchers before we hit the main streets and the crowds, but the reaction was so good humored and understanding that any worries were dissipated in minutes. The tragedies in Tunisia, Kuwait and Lyon made the case for protesting against these murderers even stronger; defiance is the best form of remembrance. The flag was so clearly made of dildos that I never thought it could be mistaken for an actual Isis flag.

But 1.5 miles (2.4km) into the march, a gust of wind suddenly snapped the flagpole in two. I was wrestling with it when three or four police officers calmly appeared beside me.

Three policemen held out the flag and inspected it, grinning, acknowledging immediately that these were definitely dildos and butt plugs. They explained that they were getting reports that a man was carrying an Isis flag through the streets, a misconception that could easily put me in danger. They asked if I would keep the flag concealed. So I put it away.

Several hours passed before I noticed spreading news that CNN reported on the flag as though it was an actual Isis banner, not a piece of cloth covered in sex toys. #DildoIsis quickly started trending online. People made tribute dildo flags. But how could a report so hysterical and so clearly false possibly get onto the air, discussed by a terrorism expert? CNN correspondent Lucy Pawle described my flag as a “very bad mimicry” but the only bad mimicry I could see was CNN’s impression of a reputable news organization. What does this say about every other report that they broadcast? And why have they not mentioned it since? They seem to think that if nobody says anything about it then it can’t have really happened.

But oh, it did. On a message board someone posted: “Whenever I see the Isis flag anywhere, all I can see is dildos!” Mission accomplished.


Was CNN just trying to outdo FOX or beat FOX at its own game? What does this say about the mindset at CNN that can equate the Gay Pride movement with ISIS and see a world where gays and terrorists are working together to take over the world? Especially since ISIS is known to kidnap gay people and toss them off of buildings.

In what universe would this CNN reportage make sense? No matter to the folks at CNN. They ran with it, even bringing in their terrorism expert, Peter Bergen, for commentary. The best satirists in the world would have trouble topping this one.

How did CNN's London reporter, Lucy Pawle, not see the dildo- and butt-plug-covered flag for exactly what it was?

This story inspires me to ask: Isn't the dildo one of the top two national symbols of England anyway? Second only to an empty case of Watneys Beer?

Note that part of the story where Pawle, explaining to the CNN audience that she seemed to be "the only person" to notice the extremist flag that wasn't there, managed to toot her own fool horn, saying,
[N]obody seems be raising any questions or pointing it out, so I immediately went to an events organizer who said he didn't know anything about it. I spoke to the police nearby, who weren't aware either.
Damn! You go, girl! What are they paying you? Good thing CNN was on the case!

Was CNN just trying to outdo FOX or beat FOX at its own game? What does this say about the mindset at CNN that can equate the Gay Pride movement with ISIS and see a world where gays and terrorists are working together to take over the world, especially, since ISIS is known to kidnap gay people and toss them off of buildings

In what universe would this CNN reportage make sense? No matter to the folks at CNN. They ran with it, even bringing in their terrorism expert, Peter Bergen, for commentary. The best satirists in the world would have trouble topping this one.

How did CNN's London reporter, Lucy Pawle, not see the dildo and butt plug covered flag for exactly what it was?

This story inspires me to ask: Isn't the dildo one of the top two national symbols of England anyway? Second only to an empty case of Watneys Beer?

Explaining to the CNN audience that she seemed to be "the only person" to notice the extremist flag that wasn't there, Pawle managed to toot her own fool horn by saying --

[N]obody seems be raising any questions or pointing it out, so I immediately went to an events organizer who said he didn't know anything about it. I spoke to the police nearby, who weren't aware either.
Damn, you go, girl! What are they paying you? Good thing CNN was on the case!

But from what I know of England, through working at a couple of English music companies, I would think that every English woman has at least some familiarity with dildos, if only out of necessity. I expect that England even has a Museum of Royal Dildos, or something over in their Parliament building. I hear the "Dildos of the Upper Classes" display at the House of Lords is very comprehensive, as is the "England: 1000 Years of Dildos and Butt Plugs" exhibit.

You know how much the English love tradition. They celebrate their queens so much that I believe I even once heard something about a dildo called the Victoria Specia, "available in a numbered LTD edition."

Did someone have to explain to Lucy Pawle what a dildo is? Was she just auditioning to replace Sarah Palin at FOX, or get a gig on Fox and Friends? Was her mission just to make Wolf Blitzer look intelligent by comparison?

Final thought on this: We now know that Rafael "Ted" Cruz and Mike Huckabee don't watch CNN. For if they did, they would be railing for weeks to come against the merging of Gay Pride activists with ISIS on Hannity, O'Reilly and the rest, smashing CNN's coverage of ISIS teaming up with gay activists to dust.

In the end, CNN needs to learn that there is only one FOX News and that, try as they might, they are just a pale, feeble imitation.

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Let Them Eat Air Conditioners


The jet stream pattern over Europe on July 1, 2015 (click to enlarge; source).

by Gaius Publius

This seems to have been a week of partial news. There's Greek news, but not much of it until the weekend. (Then look out.) There's Clinton news, but not much of it. There's Other Clinton news, but nothing you didn't expect. And there's horrible weather news, which climate delayer Judith Curry wants to turn into a "more carbon please" investment opportunity — in air conditioning, in Pakistan. Shorter Judith Curry — "Let them eat air conditioners."

And there's Bernie Sanders news, but you read that here already. Again, nothing you didn't expect. Thus begins the holiday weekend.

A brief wrap-up:

■ The Sanders news and the Clinton news, coupled with the Other Clinton news, means basically that Sanders can win the primary, even if neither candidate has a Macaca moment. From the Sanders piece:
Last night Bernie spoke to a capacity crowd at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum (which the corporatists call the Alliant Energy Center) in Madison. People had warned him that, with school out, he would be lucky to fill a quarter of the 10,000 capacity venue. But he filled it. ...

Hillary is counting on the $45 million she's collected, primarily from Wall Street and individual fat cats, to help her overcome Bernie's policy-oriented appeal. According to CNN, he's collected $9 million so far[.]
Even that $9 million Sanders figure is out of date now. One day later than the CNN report, The Hill and others report a higher number. Make that $15 million that Sanders has raised:
Sen. Bernie Sanders has raised $15 million in his first two months on the campaign trail as he looks to bankroll his bid against frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s massive war chest.

“It’s a tremendous start, we are on our way to building a massive campaign fundraising organization built on small donors all around the country,” Tad Devine, a Sanders aide, told The Hill, after the campaign released a snapshot of its fundraising totals on its website.
Consider the ifs. Were Sanders quickly out of the race, Clinton clearly gets the nomination, then tries to unburn her bridges to actual progressive Democrats in the general election, all the while publicly washed in the money that's floated both Clinton careers, spouting progressive mottos and fending off 10 years of stored Republican oppo research. Will she win? It depends on this.

With Sanders in the race for the long haul, she could be in real trouble. Speaking with friends recently I rough-guessed that she had about $50 million by now, to his $5 million. I was right about her money, and off by one-third about his. That, plus his ability to pull crowds, plus his ability to be tack-sharp in speeches and interviews makes him what Stephen Colbert used to call "a formidable opponent." This plane has barely taken off.

Thom Hartmann: "Bernie Sanders could be the next FDR."

If you click the video, note at about 0:45: "If Elizabeth Warren wants be a senator and wants to have power and authority in the Senate, the Clintons have long memories and they punish their enemies and help their friends ... So if Elizabeth Warren endorses anybody before the primary who is other than but Hillary Clinton, a lot of opportunities for her, if Hillary Clinton becomes president, may close ... a lot of doors may close."

Which supports my suggestion that they will tag-team on message through the primary without any visible signs of coordination. I was told over the weekend by someone who had observed each of them, that both Sanders and Warren were "very savvy." The view from my outsider's chair tells me that's true.

■ In Greek news, there's a referendum this weekend on the latest EU proposal, which may morph into a referendum on Grexit (Greek exit from the EU) and a return to the drachma, after a gut-wrenching and painful transition. Tsipras may have overplayed his hand ... or not. He may have caved to the EU after calling the referendum and recommending a No vote ... or not. The clever folks running the world of money in Europe may succeed at "extend and pretend" ... or not. Or they may not even try. Do they even think they need Greece? Who knows?

So one waits. After our day of Freedom, will the Greeks return to their chains? One waits.

■ And the weather news is horrible. I'm in Europe, wilting in 100°F weather. My friends on the West Coast have just had their bout in the 100s. The Pakistanis are dying in 110°F weather. As are the Indians. Signs of global warming (sorry, climate change)? You decide.

But don't be the last. Some have already made up their minds:
Heat waves are happening at least four times more often than they did before greenhouse gas emissions started boosting the planet’s temperatures, researchers at the Institute for Atmospheric & Climate Science in Zurich found in a recent study. Global average temperatures are now about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.85 degrees Celsius) higher than before industrialization, when countries began burning coal, oil and natural gas in buildings, factories and cars.

“Three-fourths of the hot days today are the result of man-made global warming,” said Reto Knutti, a professor at the Zurich institute and one of the study’s authors. While it’s too early to know if global warming contributed to the Pakistan heat wave, he said that in general, “There is a very clear influence of human-induced warming on the magnitude and the frequency of heat waves.”
For Europeans, this decision is not theoretical:
The European heat wave has spread to Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as Germany, where Dusseldorf's temperature of 36.1 degrees Celsius, or 97 degrees Fahrenheit, as of 8:30 a.m. ET was almost 22 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit) above average for this time of year.

Meanwhile, the heat is temporarily abating on Friday in parts of Spain, France and the UK, but the hot weather will come roaring back over the weekend, with high temperatures once again in the upper 30s to near 40 degrees Celsius in Paris on Friday, and only slightly cooler on Saturday. ...

Government officials in several countries, including France, have been warning citizens of the dangers of prolonged heat exposure. Europe has a history of deadly heat events, with a tragic 2003 heat wave resulting in between 40,000 and 70,000 fatalities, depending on the definition of a heat-related death. ...

On July 1, London's Heathrow International Airport recorded its hottest July day on record, when the temperature reached 36.7 degrees Celsius, or 98.06 Fahrenheit.
Nor for the Indians:
From mid-April till the end of May, nearly 2,200 people were killed by the heat − 1,636 of them in Andhra Pradesh, the worst-affected state. The normal May figure for the whole of India is about 1,000 heat-related deaths.

Dr Harsh Vardhan, India’s Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, has blamed the heat deaths squarely on climate change.
Nor for the Pakistanis:
The death toll from a weeklong heat wave in Karachi, Pakistan, has risen to 1,233, officials told the Associated Press Saturday. Some 65,000 people flooded the city’s hospitals to be treated for heat stroke, and about 1,900 patients were still receiving medical care as the country began to cool off. …

The heat wave started in earnest June 20, with temperatures climbing to 113 degrees Fahrenheit -- the hottest it’s been since 2000, CNN reported. The extreme weather came at the same time as Ramadan, a holy month most Muslims observe by fasting. Karachi’s power grid also collapsed, leaving thousands without air conditioning in a city already facing power cuts and water shortages.
In case your eyes glazed over with the numbers:
  • Week-long temperatures at or near 100°F in most of Europe.
  • Hottest July day on record at Heathrow Airport.
  • In 2003 between 40,000 and 70,000 were killed in a similar European heat wave.
  • In India over 2,000 are dead from heat.
  • In Pakistan more than 1,200 are dead from the heat.
How many more dead before we curb emissions "with all deliberate speed"? Maybe we need some of those suffering faces to be ... no, I won't go there.

Let Them Eat Air Conditioners

In the climate world, Judith Curry is a famous media-hyped denier, which means she's switched to "delay" as the current tactic of choice — as in, "We know something is happening, but we don't know what it is...". Ms. Curry on the heat wave:
Bottom line is that the intuitively reasonable attribution of more heat waves to a higher average temperature doesn’t work in most land regions.

Looks like they need more air conditioning in Spain and France and also South Asia.

Does it make more sense to provide air conditioning or to limit CO2 emissions.  I vote for more air conditioning in these susceptible regions.
There a good takedown of this at (thanks to climate friend Adam Siegel for the tip). Judith Curry may not know what's happening, but you do, don't you?

There's a theme that runs through these three bulleted observations. It's the song of the world of the wealthy — "Let them eat air conditioners. It's not our job to feed them; it's theirs to feed us." (That's all three bulleted points, friends.)


Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead in Eugene Oregon, 1987. Yes, that's Jerry you hear, alive in memory. (Original version here.)

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Legalization Of Medical Marijuana Is Inevitable-- But There Is Still Money To Be Made By Politicians Opposing It


When Congress legalizes medical marijuana-- and that's coming-- dozens and dozens of ineffective, highly toxic prescription drugs, many with ghastly side effects, will cease providing bounties to the industrial drug makers that manufacture and market them. These pharmaceutical conglomerates have appealed-- so far successfully-- to Congress to at least wait for them to make some minor, inconsequential change to marijuana before they legalize it. That way they can patent and sell some iteration of marijuana as if they invented it.

Several Members of Congress have been working hard to legalize medical marijuana. Jared Polis (D-CO), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CO) and Ted Lieu (D-CA) have been in the forefront this year. Rohrabacher's legislation to prevent the federal government from using funds to come between a doctor prescribing marijuana and his patient passed 242-186 on May 30. Rohrabacher managed to round up 67 Republicans to join 175 Democrats (all but 10) to pass the legislation. So who opposed it?

Who would be against medical professionals prescribing a harmless, natural drug-- in use for thousands of years-- to suffering patients? Well, in short, uptight assholes unaware that the world has moved on since the days of Reefer Madness and, of course, Members of Congress who are paid off by Big Pharma. Since 1990 Big Pharma has spent over $166 million bribing federal candidates. The dozen current Members of the House who took in the most are:
Anna Eshoo (D-CA)- $1,267,371- supports
Fred Upton (R-MI)- $1,145,306- supports
John Boehner (R-OH)- $1,056,680- opposes
Joe Barton (R-TX)- $923,688- opposes
Frank Pallone (D-NJ)- $864,529- supports
Steny Hoyer (D-MD)- $780,772- supports
Michael Burgess (R-TX)- $652,174- opposes
Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)- $639,843- opposes
John Shimkus (R-IL)- $639,143- opposes
Joe Pitts (R-PA)- $634,002- opposes
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)- $629,900- opposes
James Clyburn (D-SC)- $616,881- supports
I haven't run into a Democratic congressional challenger this year who doesn't support legalization. All the Blue America-endorsed candidates, of course, back legalization. For example, the Blue America candidate in WA-08, a suburban and exurban district east of Seattle, Jason Ritchie, has been an outspoken proponent of legalization-- as have the voters in his district, which voted for it as a ballot initiative. The current congressman, Dave Reichert, doesn't care. He keeps voting NO to every legalization proposal that comes before Congress.

"In 1998 the people of my State of Washington voted to become one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana," said Ritchie after Reichert's most recent betrayal.
In 2012, they again set a precedent by voting overwhelmingly to legalize marijuana commercial sales. Our State Legislature responded and set up a reasonable regulatory and tax structure. This has happened without incident, except for intransigent Republicans like Rep. Dave Reichert who continue to insist their values should supersede the will of the people. His arrogant and baseless opposition only serves to marginalize him from the people he purports to represent. I strongly support marijuana legalization in Washington State and look forward to ending mass incarcerations for non-violent drug possession.
Jason can use some help in his uphill race to replace Reichert, who has taken $216,917 from Big Pharma since he was first elected. If you'd like to lend him some support, you can do it here.

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Thursday, July 02, 2015

It was a dark and stormy night -- or actually not night at all. Happy 4th of July Weekend!


Photo by Mitch Waxman (click to enlarge)

"[S]ome jerk pulling the pin on a dud hand grenade while riding on the 7 train would be sufficient to shut the entire Subway system down for weeks while the Terror Warriors installed metal detectors and biometric sensors on every turnstile."
-- from Mitch's blogpost yesterday, "all signs"

by Ken

I don't know about you, but I need this weekend. I'm not a qualified dreamologist, but after escaping the office, I realized what I had on my mind was this photo my pal Mitch Waxman shared with readers of his Newtown Pentacle blog today. Well, that's not a dream in any case, but maybe waking fixation is even worse. It must mean something, I'm thinking.

Here's what Mitch had to say about the picture:
Recently, an excursion upon the fabled Newtwon Creek with the Anchor QEA folks (they’re the scientists studying the Creek for the Superfund process) and the Newtown Creek CAG Steering Committee (which I’m a member of) was cut short by threatening weather. Anchor has all sorts of frammistats onboard which warn them of the approach of lightning, and all the gizmos began to go off as a powerful thunderstorm was approaching. The shot above is from roughly 2.5 miles back from the East River, and depicts the DUGABO side of Brooklyn as the storm blew in. We made it back to dock, but not before the first curtain of rain and hail began to pummel the Creek.

[DUBAGO, by the way, is Mitch's Greenpoint Avenue Bridge (over Newtown Creek) extrapolation from the goofy real-estate acronym DUMBO that's come into actual use for the Brooklyn neighborhood that's Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Mitch has a bridgeload of 'em.]


As he explained yesterday in a blogpost called "all signs," he has found himself -- in his Astoria (Queens) neck of the woods -- in supposed security of the homeland variety, even though, as anyone knows who has trod any part of the industrial borderlands of western Queens and Brooklyn, actual everyday security in the area, the site of much vital NYC infrastructure, in alarmingly hit or miss.

[Click to enlarge.]

Like many Queensicans, when it was announced that this year’s July 4th fireworks would be taking place in the East River just off the coast of LIC, a humble narrator grew excited. Then one began to read about frozen zones (pretty much from 11th street to the East River) and homeland security. My enthusiasm for the event began to wane as the Terror Warriors descended from their Manhattan aeries, discussed throwing down cordons, announcing entry checkpoints, and throwing a cage over the entire neighborhood. One “gets it” of course, as our enemies from “east austral Asia” specifically target public events that draw media attention, which is the very definition of what the July 4th fireworks show is.

The thing is, and I’ve been pointing this out for years, is that there is very little actual “homeland security” going on the rest of the year around these parts, and the Terror Warriors spend most of their time in Manhattan offices dreaming up scenarios which could only be accomplished by Nation/States with vast combined weapon system resources and functionally unlimited budgets. If we were at war with the United States or the People’s Republic of China, for instance, I’d be pooping my pants.

One is not so irresponsible to point the actual vulnerabilities out in any detail, as some moron out there might decide to exploit them (do your own research), but if you see graffiti along a train track or in a subway tunnel – that’s called time and opportunity. It should be impossible, literally, to sneak into a train yard or even get close to a moving train nearly two decades into the Terror Wars.

Problem is that our security personnel tend to focus on the outlandish notion that non state actors, who are basically mafiosos, can not only maintain but deploy complicated weapons systems that most nation states cannot even hope to possess. Jackass sappers like the Boston Marathon bombers, whose presence and intentions are THE real threat, just don’t fire the imagination or finger the purse strings of Congress.

It’s all a show, ultimately, designed to assuage the nagging truth that some jerk pulling the pin on a dud hand grenade while riding on the 7 train would be sufficient to shut the entire Subway system down for weeks while the Terror Warriors installed metal detectors and biometric sensors on every turnstile.

[Click to enlarge.]

I think I’m just going to go up on my roof this year on the 4th of July, photographing the fireworks at a distance from almond eyed Astoria. One is not interested in being part of a compacted herd of spectators, who are all potential suspects, in LIC. I’ll be out and about on the 5th of July, and will wager that I won’t see a single cop or security contractor protecting the vital infrastructure found hereabouts. To me, that’s terrifying.

The big show will be over by then, and the Terror Warriors will be worrying about space based laser systems at BBQ’s on Long Island and in Westchester County. They’ll muse whether or not ISIL has perfected a tractor beam that can pull asteroids down on targets (that’s called a mass driver, btw.) or developed a neutron bomb.


Next weekend Mitch is doing his Glittering Realms Tour of Brooklyn's northernmost zone, Greenpoint ("a thriving neighborhood surrounded by environmental catastrophe which has been reborn in the 21st century") for the Newtown Creek Alliance (Sunday, July 12, 10am-12:30pm) -- tour and ticket info at the link.

I've probably already walked all this ground with Mitch, but that was then and now is now; I've already signed up for the Greenpoint walk. But for a schedule conflict I would do the same for the walk coming up in a few weeks: Modern Corridor: A Walking Tour of Long Island City's Hunters Point, for Brooklyn Brainery (Sunday, July 26, 11am-1:30pm).


As promised, GP weighs in from his current digs in Europe, and catches up on assorted pending matters -- and the sweltering heat. That's at 7am PT, 10am ET, and some other time on the other side of the pond.

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Why Smart Democrats Worry About Turnout From The Base In 2016


Last week was a good one for the White House between the Supreme Court decisions on Obamacare, same-sex marriage, and redistricting and Obama's success in getting enough conservative, corporately owned Democrats-- primarily New Dems-- to vote with the GOP to pass Wall Street's trade agenda (Fast Track, as a prelude to TPP). The president's approval rating is back over 50%. 

But Democrats have reason to worry that by 2016 they may have a hard time getting their voters to the polls, as Alexis Simendinger has written for Real Clear Politics. Driven by a competing set of emotions: pure greed and selfishness on the one hand and a sense of ginned-up grievance on the other, Republican voters are gung-ho to capture the White House and hold both houses of Congress. A clownish, patently dishonest and openly racist Donald Trump is polling second among 20 Republicans for the nomination. Normal people laugh; Republicans drool.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters, "The hedge fund contributors loom very large in Albany and they have way too much influence. That is a fact." I think everyone knows it and few Democrats outside the Beltway careerists can stand it. (Remember, Wall Street's favorite Member of Congress is not Boehner or McConnell; it's Chuck Schumer, on whom they've lavished, since 1990, an unprecedented $21,052,681, more than any Member other than those running for president. Wall Street has given him nearly double what they've given Boehner, who the Democratic Party would like you to think of as a total Wall Street whore-- as he and Schumer both are. 

When Wall Street gets bent out of shape over the populism of Bernie Sanders and, especially, Elizabeth Warren, they go whining and fuming to Schumer, and to their House tool, Steve Israel. Both are working hard to please Wall Street by recruiting conservative pro-Wall Street, pro-Big Business candidates to run as Democrats. Schumer is fighting like a savage to make sure lifelong Republican and Wall Street suck-up Patrick Murphy is the Democratic nominee for Marco Rubio's open Senate seat in Florida, and he is vigilant that as few Democrats as possible from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the party get near party nominations. 

Over on the House side, Steve Israel and hapless sock-puppet Ben Ray Luján are also running around recruiting Blue Dogs, New Dems and outright Republicans. Their latest is Mike Derrick, to run against popular Republican Elise Stefanik in NY-21, a district in which Obama beat Romney 63.3 to 35.2%-- a phenomenal 28.1 point spread. Derrick is a Republican who's conveniently calling himself a Democrat now. Apparently Israel doesn't think a real Democrat could win in NY-21, despite Obama's landslide there. Similarly, Schumer doesn't want Grayson, an outspoken tribune for working families, to win a Senate seat, and his solution is Republican-"turned"-Democrat Patrick Murphy, a New Dem backbencher who votes with the Republican Party more than nearly any other Democrat in the House. 

There are scores of cases just like this across the country. And Democrats wonder why their base doesn't turn out? In the Real Clear Politics piece linked above, Alexis Simendinger takes a look at the dilemma Democrats face with corrupt Wall Street-owned careerists like Schumer and Israel running the party. He sees, like almost anyone outside of DC can see, that base Democrats are extremely skeptical about what their party is offering up. "They doubt, he writes, "presidential contenders can deliver favored reforms from Washington, no matter how enticing the policy agendas sound. Those doubts depress enthusiasm about next year’s White House contest and could impact turnout for the eventual Democratic nominee."
Americans want change and reforms, but “people don’t think any of this is going to happen,” Stan Greenberg, chairman and CEO of polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, said during a reporter roundtable organized by the Christian Science Monitor.

Their skepticism doesn’t turn on the idea of a Democratic nominee who would follow a two-term Democrat, President Obama. “It’s because the old political system is uniquely corrupted” in their eyes, Greenberg said. “What matters is how deep the critique people have about what’s happening in the country, both politically and economically.”

Voters define corruption as money in politics and Washington power brokers who are self-serving and disconnected from everyday Americans and their concerns. This is why Clinton’s wealth, the Clinton Foundation’s fundraising, her decades lived as a VIP, and her missing emails discourage some voters from accepting the leading Democratic candidate as trustworthy, even if they favor the economic and social policies she stakes out.

...To succeed Obama, a Democratic candidate has to animate secular voters and what Greenberg calls the rising American electorate (unmarried women, people of color, and younger voters). These slices of the population will make up a majority of the total electorate for the first time in 2016, according to the pollster.

Greenberg insisted Clinton’s progressive campaign agenda is not a mirror image of Obama’s governing platform. “I would dispute that Obama was on this agenda” of equal pay, preserving Medicare and Social Security, promoting infrastructure spending, helping working women and reducing college debt burdens, he said, pointing to questions posed to respondents as part of the survey.

“The country doesn’t think he was dealing with this agenda. The first time he really talked about this is this year’s State of the Union” address, Greenberg said firmly.

...The Democratic Party’s strategy to hold control of the White House and win congressional seats next year relies on America’s shifting demographics and on voter turnout. But “if the disparity in enthusiasm is not addressed, that strategy is at risk,” Democracy Corps wrote in a synopsis of the findings that began, “Democrats need to give voters a reason to participate.”

The threat comes down to an enthusiasm gap of 19 points between the Democrats who say they are “extremely interested” in the congressional and local races in 2016, and the much more energized GOP voters.
Candidate recruitment from the DSCC and the DCCC will tend to turn off committed Democrats and progressives. No progressive is going to vote for Patrick Murphy in Florida. Monica Vernon, another "ex"-Republican Israel dug up (IA-01), is not liked in her district, especially among Democrats who know exactly what she is, but Israel considers the seat a "must win." If he had any sense at all, he would encourage former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy, a dedicated progressive with an astounding record of achievement, to run. But Israel doesn't want populists like Murphy in the House. He prefers "Democats" more like the other Murphy, the aisle-crossing one from Florida.

Progressive groups like DFA, MoveOn, PCCC and Blue America are recruiting actual progressives to run in winnable seats, like Lou Vince in CA-25 and Jason Ritchie in WA-08, two blue-trending districts that the DCCC gave away to the GOP in past years. To see all the Blue America House candidates this year and-- if you want-- to give them a hand with their grassroots campaigns, please check out this page. And the Blue America Senate candidates are here

By the way, the video up top sends Schumer and Israel into orbit. You should watch it and think about why they hate it-- and hate Grayson-- so much. Blue America has some ideas of how to deal with the DINOs Israel and Schumer have recruited, who have let working families down:

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As black churches burn, at least Ricky-Roo Santorum seems to be keeping his trap shut


Can someone explain what this picture is doing here? The Confederate battle flag has nothing to do with racism, or violence against African-Americans, does it? It's just about the Confederate "heritage." And wasn't the AME church shooting, and now all these church burnings, about hostility to religion?

"The fact that the recent fires occurred so close together in the wake of the Charleston shooting could be cause for concern, said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The fires may be retaliation for the backlash against the Confederate flag that followed the shootings, he said."
-- from "Fires at black churches raise concern,"
by Rick Jervis, in
USA Today

by Ken

There's one thing to be said about this scarifying wave of violence against African-American churches. As far as I know, Ricky-Roo Santorum has had the decency to refrain from telling us that the "rationale" is "hostility to religion." (See my June 19 post, "Has Ricky-Roo Santorum yet thought of any possible 'rationale' for the Charleston AME church shoot-up besides hostility to religion?," and also Howie's June 21 post, "Conservative Politicians Tragically Pander To Racists.")

My goodness, I don't believe I have ever before used the word "decency" in a sentence that concerns Ricky-Roo, except possibly to note that the son of a bitch hasn't got any. I often wonder, when he was little and grown-ups asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, did he say "a far-right-wing scumbag" or "a vile lying demagogue" or "an insane mouthpiece for the Roman Catholic God"? Amazingly, though, he grew up to be all three!

I don't suppose we could say Ricky-Roo is the vilest person on the planet, since mostly he's just talk -- although during his time in the U.S. Senate he certainly did everything he could to turn the country into the hell he carries around in his head. Nevertheless, he doesn't go around setting fire to churches, does he?

So why blame Ricky-Roo? you ask. It's not as if he lit the matches that started the fires, is it? (He didn't he? The authorities have established his whereabouts for all those times, right? Just for the record?

No, I don't suppose that would be Ricky-Roo's style. He deals mostly in words of hate -- setting out the special extremist Catholic version of the far-right-wing authoritarian mentality, and its rigorous scapegoating of people who are "other." So no, he probably didn't light any of those matches. He didn't even say, in so many words, "Go out, brothers, and burn black churches." He just did his best to fan the flames, to create the best possible environment for hatred erupting into violence.

And all those rebel-flag wavers? They didn't light those fires, did they? Well, not all of them, anyway.

Sometimes these stories just write themselves. Okay, this story didn't write itself, exactly. USA Today's Rick Jervis wrote it. But the plotlines and even the details are hellaciously familiar. Come to think of it, the modern-day Confederates could be right -- this is their heritage, isn't it?
Fires at black churches raise concern

Rick Jervis, USA TODAY, 3:07 p.m. EDT, July 1, 2015

Fires at several predominantly black churches in Southern states the past two weeks — at least three of them attributed to arson — raise concerns about potential fallout from the recent South Carolina church shooting.

The fires have all taken place in the weeks since the attack June 17. A 21-year-old man with apparent white supremacist beliefs is accused of going on a shooting rampage inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., killing nine people.

The burned churches are in Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. Federal investigators are looking into some of the cases to determine whether hate crimes were the cause, but so far the fires do not appear to be related.

And Tuesday night, a fire raged through a prominent African-American church, Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal, in Greeleyville, S.C. that was burned to the ground by the KKK in 1995. Authorities said it was too soon to tell what caused the fire, which took place during a night of frequent storms and lightning strikes.

The fire rekindled painful memories from the arson that destroyed the church 20 years ago, Williamsburg County Councilman Eddie Woods Jr. told the Associated Press.

"That was a tough thing to see," Woods said. "It is hurting those people again. But we're going to rebuild. If this was someone, they need to know that hate won't stop us again,"

"This is a systematic attack against the black church," said the Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the National Black Church Initiative, a coalition of 34,000 African-American churches. Evans said he's had several conference calls with black church leaders across the USA about the fires. "We are on alert status."

The fact that the recent fires occurred so close together in the wake of the Charleston shooting could be cause for concern, said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The fires may be retaliation for the backlash against the Confederate flag that followed the shootings, he said. After photos surfaced of suspect Dylann Roof wearing Confederate flag patches, retailers such as Walmart and Amazon suspended sales of the flag because of its popularity with white supremacists. Four of the rebel flags were recently removed from the state Capitol grounds in Alabama, and South Carolina lawmakers will decide whether or not to do the same next month.

Websites popular with white supremacists, such as, lit up with angry denouncements of the treatment of the Confederate flag, Potok said.

"The single most suspicious thing about these fires is that they came so close together and so hard on the heels of attacks on the Confederate battle flag," Potok said. "That is a revered symbol for the radical right."

Some of the church fires were severe, such as the one last week at Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in Charlotte, which gutted an entire church wing. The FBI is investigating.

Others, such as the fire at College Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., were less damaging. Firefighters arrived at that church at around 10 p.m. June 21 to find a church van in flames in the parking lot and smoldering piles of hay and bags of soil near a side entrance, said Capt. D.J. Corcoran, a spokesman with the Knoxville Fire Department.

There were no obvious signs pointing to a hate crime, and the property was mostly unhurt, he said. The incident remains under investigation.

Potok said he is waiting on results of the investigations before drawing connections between the fires and the Charleston shooting. There has been a history of church fires after major events.

Hours after Barack Obama was elected as the nation's first black president in November 2008, arsonists torched the predominantly black Macedonia Church of God in Christ in Springfield, Mass.

Attacks on black churches have a long history in this country, said Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research at the Anti-Defamation League.

Dating to post-Civil War Reconstruction, members of the Ku Klux Klan targeted black churches as a way of terrorizing the black community, he said. One of the most infamous attacks is the bombing in 1963 of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., which killed four girls, ages 11 to 14.

As recently as the mid-1990s, a rash of church fires prompted the formation of the National Church Arson Task Force. The group investigated 429 arsons and bombings of churches from 1995 to 1997 but found only a handful of cases involved hate groups.

That does little to quiet the fears of folks such as Evans, who has reached out to the Department of Justice about the attacks.

"This is a nationwide attack on the black church," he said. "We're taking it very seriously."

When Real Democrats Run Against Corporate Cutouts


Voters in Wisconsin want to hear what Bernie has to say

Not even the dual Republican clown shows of Chris Christie and Donald Trump are drawing anywhere near the crowds Bernie Sanders is bringing in. Even bolstered by Paul LePage on the eve of his impeachment isn't doing anything to make Christie look like a viable popular contender, and not even handing out $50 bills to pretend "supporters" is managing to do much for Trump. 

Last night Bernie spoke to a capacity crowd at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum (which the corporatists call the Alliant Energy Center) in Madison. People had warned him that, with school out, he would be lucky to fill a quarter of the 10,000 capacity venue. But he filled it. After all, it was his first trip to Wisconsin since declaring. 10,000 fans-- and he didn't even have to have Neil Young or Magic Mike as a draw. Union members, oppressed by Governor Scott Walker, are still fuming-- and easily recognize in Bernie's record, more than Clinton's hollow promises, that he's their guy. According to a poll organized two weeks ago by, 76% of union members prefer Bernie, while 11% prefer Hillary.
The report said, “due to her time spent with the employer-friendly Rose law firm (which helps employers fight unions), as well as her stint on the board of directors for Wal-Mart, many union members believe Clinton cannot be trusted.”

Unions distrust Hillary Clinton’s intimacy with Wall Street, according to the report. In addition to that concern, Clinton declined to weigh in on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Labor leaders are opposed to the TPP.

“Hillary Clinton has a union problem,” the report said. “Since no Democrat can win the White House without union support, it is the union problem that may pose a bigger problem than all the others … and it has her campaign very worried.”
Hillary is counting on the $45 million she's collected, primarily from Wall Street and individual fat cats, to help her overcome Bernie's policy-oriented appeal. According to CNN, he's collected $9 million so far, virtually all of it from small donors deeply committed to his cause. He has 200,000 donors. Hillary may have as many as 50,000, which is a decent number for a corporate-financed candidate, but the campaign is holding that number close.
"I think, as I understand it, we are going to have a pretty good campaign financial report coming out," he said, adding that his campaign has "collected donations from some 200,000 Americans" from all 50 states. The average donation, Sanders said, was around $37.

Sanders says he detests personally asking people for money and has made a point of telling his supporters that "billionaires" aren't lining up to give him money.

"Sitting around and talking to people at fundraisers, no, that would not be how he wants to spend a lot of his time," said Tad Devine, Sanders' top campaign strategist. "It is safe to say he would rather spend his time doing other things."
It isn't only Hillary Clinton trying to overcome populist policies and courageous progressives by drowning them in cash. In the race for the Florida Senate seat Marco Rubio is abandoning, Chuck Schumer and Jon Tester are determined that between the ugly special interests they control and Patrick Murphy's father's rich Republican friends and cronies, they will outraise the grassroots-oriented Grayson. But while Murphy, Schumer and Tester obsess on the primary with Grayson, Grayson's campaign barely acknowledges them. He puts most of his energy into his current job as a congressman and into contrasting himself with the teabagger the GOP is likely to be forced to run, reactionary Republican Ron DeSantis.

Yesterday was one of those days when the contrast was unavoidable. When the White House announced the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba-- severed 5 decades ago-- with the establishment of embassies by each country, DeSantis (and his backward-looking allies) went into orbit.
President Obama’s removal of Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism was outrageous, and it is insulting to those fighting terror around the globe that the Castro dictatorship will now have an outpost a stone’s throw from the White House. The establishment of an embassy, which effectively embraces Cuba’s oppressive government, is another slap in the face of the Cuban-Americans who fled Castro’s tyranny for freedom. This reckless action by the President will embolden Castro’s government and add a cloak of legitimacy to what is in fact a totalitarian regime that has oppressed millions, including many in Florida.

I call on Democratic Senate candidates Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson to join with me in opposing President Obama’s decision to further legitimize the Cuban dictatorship. Standing up to the Castro regime is not a partisan issue, and Floridians should demand that those running for the Senate take clear stands on what is an important issue for so many.
As usual, Murphy is hiding under his bed hoping the question will disappear in a day or two. Grayson shot back in a way that made DeSantis wish he had never posed the challenge.
Congressman DeSantis is correct that standing up for human rights in Cuba is not a partisan issue, despite his effort to make it one. Unfortunately, it's obvious that he hasn't been paying attention. Congressman DeSantis may feel that he has to talk a good game on Cuba, but when it comes to Cuba, talk isn’t just cheap, it’s worthless. While he has pontificated, I've been working hard to hold the Castro regime accountable as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.  I’ve been outspoken in defense of freedom in Cuba since I took office in 2009.  It's become abundantly clear to everyone that the policies of the 1960s don’t work anymore, but I stated both publicly and privately to the Administration that the current shift in relations with Cuba is too much carrot, and not enough stick.

So, Congressman DeSantis, if you are serious about putting your head down, rolling up your sleeves and getting to work to help bring freedom to Cuba, I say welcome to you, and better late than never.
Whether Bernie wins the presidency or not, as he to continues working through the Senate he'll need more progressives there to help him get his program through, a program Wall Street has bought Chuck Schumer (D) and Mitch McConnell (R) to obstruct. Elizabeth Warren has already piublicly declared she "loves what he's talking about," but even with Warren, Sherrod Brown, Jeff Merkley and Brian Schatz willing to take consistent independent stands on core issues, that isn't nearly enough to overcome the zombified garbage on both sides of the aisle. 

And Grayson is more than just one member. He's the smartest Member of the House and the most successful in getting Republicans to vote for his incredibly crafted progressive amendments. America needs him in the Senate as much as Florida does. We have a page you can use to contribute to Bernie's campaign and a page you can use to contribute to Grayson's campaign (even if it's still a week or two away from being official). We can do this. For the sake of our country and our children, we must do this.

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