Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Despite Beltway Pundits, Matt Miller Will Never WIn A Congressional Seat


Henry Waxman's district, CA-33, is solidly blue. The PVI is D+11 and, with only a tiny African-America population (3.3%) Obama beat McCain 64-34% and beat Romney 61-37% 4 years later. With Waxman retiring, there are, at last count-- James Graf having just pulled out-- 9 Democrats running. With Republican turnout always better than Democratic turnout to begin with and the 9 Democrats splitting the DEmocratic vote up among themselves, it looks like one of the slots in the June 3 primary may well go to one of the GOP crackpots running, Elan Carr. And that's without even factoring in independent progressive Marianne Williamson (as the Democrats all wish they could).

This week, the L.A. Times reported on a rare candidate forum showcasing just the Democratic Party candidates. In other words, the charismatic Williamson was not invited to participate. The forum was held Sunday by the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club and included only 4 candidates who had managed to raise serious money: state Senator Ted Lieu, a progressive who is also the official California Democratic Party nominee; Wendy Greuel, a Big Business-friendly careerist and ex-Republican; Matt Miller, "center" on KCRW's Left, Right and Center, who would surely win if just Beltway types were allowed to vote; and some guy from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, David Kanuth, who raised $800,000 from wealthy friends and family but has less name recognition in the district than John Amato's cat "Sammy."
Not surprisingly, the four candidates displayed similar views on most issues: Protect the environment, improve public education, boost the minimum wage and take other steps to ease the income diversity between the rich and the poor.

All said they would like to see the Affordable Health Care Act improved upon by extending Medicare to all Americans and not remain limited to those over 65. Miller also called for finding ways to cut medical costs so healthcare dollars can be spent more efficiently. Savings also could be funneled to other needs, such as education, he said.
Coming from a radio background, Miller immediately went on the attack, calling other candidates names and eliciting boos from the audience-- he lives in the posh Pacific Palisades neighborhood so these were his neighbors-- when he started on his regular shtick of defending the Surveillance State-- this time the bulk collection of personal information by the NSA, something that immediately marks a major difference between Miller and Ted Lieu, who wrote SB 828, to protect Californians from the kind of warrantless searches and seizures Miller advocates-- and are prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.

When it came time for the club to vote, predictably, Lieu won handily, even though Pacific Palisades is one of the few areas in the congressional district not part of Lieu's senatorial district.

A deep dive into today's campaign finance reports for CD-33 yields some interesting themes. First, it shows Wendy Greuel does not appear to have learned from her failed mayor's race loss where she had a high burn rate and spent much of her money on a top-heavy, consultant-driven, high overhead operation. Although she raised $672k, under the direction of Robbie Mook wanna-be Michael Trujillo, she already spent nearly $175k in less than two months for a cash on hand of only $493k. Greuel paid him $20,000 in the last 2 months and what does she have to show for it? She lost the Democratic Party endorsement by a gargantuan landslide-- as well as losing SEIU, ILWU, CTA, Pacific Palisades Democratic Club, etc.

In contrast, Senator Ted Lieu, who has always run efficient campaigns, raised over $621k with nearly $580k cash on hand. Second, once a high burn rate starts, it is very hard to stop because staff and consultant salaries are already locked in. That means for the rest of this campaign, Greuel will have significantly less resources than Lieu to spend on the only thing that really matters in an election: effective voter contact.

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Rand Paul, The GOP Nominee? Over Dick Cheney's Dead Body


Two wings, one grand old party

Bret Stephens is a deputy editor of the radical right editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. Before that he was the editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post. No telling when his bigotry made him one of America's most vile smear artists. Is column Monday was well-written, a well-written diatribe against poor Rand Paul, who the Cheney wing of the Republican Party, Stephens' wing, fear could somehow win the next-to-worthless Republican nomination against Hillary. He comes right out, dripping with sarcasm, to warn that nominating Paul will give the Republicans just what they "need", a humbling landslide defeat. That's probably true of any Republican and after the insanity Americans are going to witness with increased GOP power in the legislative branch through 2015 and 2016, the Republican thrashing in 2016 will certainly be on a par with Goldwater's. Remember, this is how Republicans talk to each other:
Republicans, let's get it over with. Fast forward to the finish line. Avoid the long and winding primary road. It can only weaken the nominee. And we know who he-- yes, he-- has to be.

Not Jeb Bush, who plainly is unsuited to be president. He is insufficiently hostile to Mexicans. He holds heretical views on the Common Core, which, as we well know, is the defining issue of our time. And he's a Bush. Another installment of a political dynasty just isn't going to fly with the American people, who want some fresh blood in their politics.

Unless the dynasty is named Clinton. Or Kennedy. Or Nunn. Or Carter. Or, come to think of it, Paul. In that case, dynasties are just fine, thank you.

Chris Christie is also unfit to be president. His aides caused a traffic jam in the service of a petty political vendetta. The New Jersey governor may not have known about it, but it doesn't matter because the mere taint of scandal makes him unfit to be the Republican nominee, much less the president.

…[W]hat we need as the Republican nominee in 2016 is a man of more glaring disqualifications. Someone so nakedly unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of sane Americans that only the GOP could think of nominating him.

This man is Rand Paul, the junior senator from a state with eight electoral votes. The man who, as of this writing, has three years worth of experience in elected office. Barack Obama had more political experience when he ran for president. That's worked out well.

Mr. Paul was in New Hampshire last weekend, speaking to conservative activists at the Freedom Summit, emphasizing the need for Republicans to do a better job of reaching out to Hispanics and African-Americans.

It's a fine message. Or rather, it would be a fine message if it weren't for Mr. Paul's long political association with Jack Hunter, aka the "Southern Avenger," a former radio shock jock who co-wrote Mr. Paul's 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington. On April 14, 2004-- the 139th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination-- Mr. Hunter wrote a column titled "John Wilkes Booth Was Right." He also lamented that "whites are not afforded the same right to celebrate their own cultural identity" as blacks and Hispanics.

Mr. Hunter remained a member of Mr. Paul's staff until last July, when the Washington Free Beacon broke the story. Afterward, Mr. Hunter recanted his views and pleaded amnesia. As for Mr. Paul, he defended his former aide, saying he had merely been "stupid," that he had been "unfairly treated by the media," and that "he got along fine with everybody in the office, treated everyone fairly, regardless of race or religion."

So can we now, um, switch the subject?

Yes, we can. Let's move on to a YouTube video of Mr. Paul in April 2009, offering his insights to a college group on foreign policy. Channeling Dwight Eisenhower, the future senator warned "we need to be so fearful of companies that get so big that they can actually be directing policy."

"When the Iraq war started, Halliburton got a billion-dollar no-bid contract. Some of the stuff has been so shoddy and so sloppy that our soldiers are over there dying in the shower from electrocution."

Then he gets to his real point: Dick Cheney, who opposed driving all the way to Baghdad when he was defense secretary in the first Bush administration, later went to work for Halliburton. "Makes hundreds of millions of dollars, their CEO. Next thing you know, he's back in government and it's a good thing to go into Iraq."

Mr. Paul's conclusion: "9/11 became an excuse for a war they already wanted in Iraq."

Cui bono-- to whose benefit? It's the signature question of every conspiracy theorist with an unhinged mind. Cheney. Halliburton. Big Oil. The military-industrial complex. Neocons. 9/11. Soldiers electrocuted in the shower. It all makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

If Mr. Paul wants to accuse the former vice president of engineering a war in Iraq so he could shovel some profits over to his past employer, he should come out and say so explicitly. Ideally at the next Heritage Action powwow. Let's not mince words. This man wants to be the Republican nominee for president.

And so he should be. Because maybe what the GOP needs is another humbling landslide defeat. When moderation on a subject like immigration is ideologically disqualifying, but bark-at-the-moon lunacy about Halliburton is not, then the party has worse problems than merely its choice of nominee.
This is all so much hot air. This gigantic landslide against the GOP is going to belong to Ted Cruz, not Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, Huckabee or Rand Paul.

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Oligarchy-- It's Never Too Late For Americans To Recapture Democracy


Martin Gilens at Princeton and Benjamin Page at Northwestern just published an academic paper everyone interested in the struggle for equality in America should consider reading, Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites Interest Groups, and Average Citizens. It pretty much proves what you probably already sensed: the plutocrats rule the country and the United States of America is better defined as an oligarchy than a democracy.
Each of four theoretical traditions in the study of American politics – which can be characterized as theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic Elite Domination, and two types of interest group pluralism, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism-- offers different predictions about which sets of actors have how much influence over public policy: average citizens; economic elites; and organized interest groups, mass-based or business-oriented.

A great deal of empirical research speaks to the policy influence of one or another set of actors, but until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions against each other within a single statistical model. This paper reports on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.

Who governs? Who really rules? To what extent is the broad body of U.S. citizens sovereign, semi-sovereign, or largely powerless? These questions have animated much important work in the study of American politics.

While this body of research is rich and variegated, it can loosely be divided into four families of theories: Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic Elite Domination, and two types of interest group pluralism-- Majoritarian Pluralism, in which the interests of all citizens are more or less equally represented, and Biased Pluralism, in which corporations, business associations, and professional groups predominate) Each of these perspectives makes different predictions about the independent influence upon U.S. policy making of four sets of actors: the Average Citizen or “median voter,” Economic Elites, and Mass-based or Business-oriented Interest Groups or industries.

Each of these theoretical traditions has given rise to a large body of literature. Each is supported by a great deal of empirical evidence-- some of it quantitative, some historical, some observational-- concerning the importance of various sets of actors (or, all too often, a single set of actors) in U.S. policy making. This literature has made important contributions to our understanding of how American politics works and has helped illuminate how democratic or undemocratic (in various senses) our policy making process actually is. Until very recently, however, it has been impossible to test the differing predictions of these theories against each other within a single statistical model that permits one to analyze the independent effects of each set of actors upon policy outcomes.

Here-- in a tentative and preliminary way-- we offer such test, bringing a unique data set to bear on the problem. Our measures are far from perfect, but we hope that this first step will help inspire further research into what we see as some of the most fundamental questions about American politics.

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.

Yesterday was Tax Day, as you no doubt know. Progressive candidates from one end of the country to the other made a point of demanding a more equitable tax system that guarantees everyone pays their fair share, a policy the plutocrats and their allies sheer at. In Maine, Shenna Bellows is running for the seat held by corporate handmaiden Susan Collins. "Here in Maine," she told us yesterday morning, "it’s pothole season. The roads are in terrible shape because of lack of investment in infrastructure. The public university system is facing devastating cuts. Maine small businesses and families are paying what they owe so that our economy can grow and our citizens can have the services they need. It's time for the country's largest corporations and wealthiest individuals to pay their fair share of taxes. It’s time for tax policy that places principle over politics and treats everyone fairly. We can only build a strong America if everyone has a fair chance to succeed. And if everyone’s going to have a fair chance, then the largest corporations and wealthiest individuals in this country must pay their fair share."

Straight across America, the independent progressive running for the seat Henry Waxman gave up, Marianne Williamson, was thinking a lot like Shenna. This is from a statement she sent to her CA-33 followers:
Today is the deadline for filing our tax returns.  In doing so, millions of Americans across the country are contributing to the infrastructure and well-being of our nation. And most Americans are happy to pay their fair share for our bridges and highways, schools and roads, brave firefighters and emergency workers who stand at the ready,  teachers and storm drain workers, forest rangers who keep our water supplies safe, and the overseeing of our beautiful State and National Parks.

But our tax system contains one of America's dirty little secrets, as well. Many corporations dodge their taxes, sending their profits offshore or finding loopholes to avoid their obligations. Too many corporations-- banks, big oil, big pharma, the list goes on-- shirk their civic responsibility to our country. Some, even after avoiding paying taxes, grab government subsidies that rob our public treasury. Why should taxpayers pay billions in subsidies to Big Oil, while they are already making trillions in profit?

Today, on Tax Day 2014, let us join to end the climate of greed and pillage by which billionaires and huge corporations are able to buy political influence and use it to lower their own tax rates at the expense of the American people. My campaign is refusing all special interest, corporate PAC and Lobbyist money, and any candidate decrying the undue influence of money on the one hand while accepting special interest money with the other is simply perpetuating a system of political double-talk. The movement for fairness starts on June 3rd at your voting booth. I hope you will join me in non-violent resistance to a system of economic injustice by which our tax system is used as a give-away to America's richest citizens. Such unfairness is ethically wrong, it is undemocratic, it is unsustainable-- and I will do what I can to stop it.
Also in California, albeit in a drastically different kind of district than Marianne's, Eloise Reyes is running against a worthless corporate shill and Chamber of Commerce hack, Pete Aguilar, for an open seat in the Inland Empire. Yesterday morning Eloise addressed a forum of national progressives discussing the Ryan budget which she pointed out is "not a fiscally conservative proposal. It’s a shell game. He masquerades as a fiscal conservative proposing spending cuts to programs that actually help people climb out of poverty and move into the middle class and he replaces them with huge tax cuts for billionaires, oil companies and big corporations.Those are not our priorities."
When I win this election I will represent San Bernardino CA. San Bernardino is the second largest city in the US to declare bankruptcy.

San Bernardino can be great again. If families here are to climb out of poverty, if San Bernardino is to make it back to the great city it once was then we have to invest in jobs and education and keep Medicare strong for our seniors.

The Ryan budget cuts $125 billion from the Pell Grant program. Pell Grants and student loans are an investment in our future. They provide the hand up that will help middle class and low income kids here in San Bernardino County attend college and put themselves in a better position for the future.

The Ryan Budget ends Medicare as we know it. And that will affect San Bernardino County seniors, especially female seniors. Female seniors make up an overwhelming majority of Medicare beneficiaries. And statistics show that older women on average are poorer than older men and I am sure that is true here in San Bernardino County. If Mr. Ryan’s budget ever became law we would see seniors right here in San Bernardino County slip deeper into poverty.

When I am elected to Congress I will support progressive budgets that ask the wealthy and big corporations to pay their fair share so we put people to work building and repairing schools, roads and bridges. I’ll support budgets that invest in education, that keep our promises and commitments to veterans and budgets that strengthen Social Security and Medicare.

A strong middle class has always been the backbone of a robust US economy. It’s always been that way. That’s where we should be investing… in programs that strengthen our middle class. When we do that we broaden our tax base and everyone wins. The Ryan Budget does not do that.
Blue America-backed Michael Wager, the progressive running for Congress against Big Business shill David Joyce in the very northeast corner of Ohio, is running on a platform almost solely dedicated to pushing back against the plutocrats on behalf of working families. This morning, he announced they are pushing back against him: "Just days after Congressman David Joyce voted to give millionaires a tax break and pay for it by cutting Medicare and raising taxes on the middle class, another SuperPAC is stepping up to say thank you for Joyce's handouts to the wealthy and special interests. We just got word that the right-wing U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spending over $200,000 supporting Congressman Joyce and they’re going on the air tomorrow to try and buy this race."

The Kochs, the conglomerate of multimillionaire and billionaire Rove contributors, the slimy Adelsons, the U.S. Chamber… these are the forces of evil arrayed against America's working families. Real and profound evil which means to enslave us all. Never too late to fight back.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Two Videos-- Just One Fragile Little World


The one above is the debut of James Cameron's must-see series on Climate Change, Years of Living Dangerously. It's an hour that, if you watch it, will have been well-spent. Cameron's video is-- God willing-- part of the solution to an existential threat to humanity. Below is a short, brutish political commercial. It's ugly and it will persuade many Democrats to hold their nose and just stay home rather than vote for Mary Landrieu. Her commercial is part of the problem-- a corporate shill indebted to the Big Oil interests who have financed her career in return for protection of their interests in the Senate. And the fucking spineless Senate Democrats made her chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where her inherent corruption can dip the most harm to mankind and the country. The Energy/Natural Resources sector's most bribed Members of Congress for the current election cycle:

Since 1997 the Energy/Natural Resources sector has given her $2,516,790. The only sitting Members of Congress who have gotten more are 5 of the most notoriously corrupt men to have ever served in either house of Congress: Joe "Oily Joe" Barton (R-TX-$3,931,145), John Boehner (R-Boehnerland-$3,657,761), John Cornyn (R-TX-$3,419,437), Mitch McConnell (R-KY-$3,347,641) and James Inhofe (R-OK-$2,690,417). Her bribes total even more than Vitter's mere $1,837,848. And in return… well, watch the video of Mary Landrieu staging a fake hearing the throw President Obama and the environmental and Climate Change community under the bus. Would you ever vote for this kind of Democrat?

UPDATE: Jimmy Carter Comes Out Against Keystone XL

The forces of plutocracy and their zombie army of drooling, 2-digit IQ loudmouths doesn't care much for former President Carter to begin with. By joining with a group of other Nobel laureates, including Desmond Tutu, to warn Obama about the existential dangers inherent in Keystone XL, he won't win any popularity contests in those quarters.  "You stand on the brink of making a choice that will define your legacy on one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced-- climate change… You know as well as us the power of precedence that this would set. This leadership by example would usher in a new era where climate change and pollution is given the urgent attention and focus it deserves in a world where the climate crisis is already a daily struggle for so many."

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About the gefilte fish crisis: Doesn't somebody have to answer for the Passover whitefish shortage? (Maybe cast a glance upward?)


by Ken

You can read the shocking headline for yourself below: "Gefilte Fish Supply is Scarce This Passover Due to Bad Winter, Shops Say."

Now my mother took religion very seriously, though perhaps a tad idiosyncratically. For her it entailed, in roughly ascending order of importance:

(1) Lighting of Shabas candles

(2) Preparation of the designated foods for the appropriate holidays

(3) Hadassah, and all things relating to it

As regards (2), the rite of worship most relevant to today's story, my mother regarded those holiday food preparations with only slightly more worshipful seriousness than, say, that of Abraham preparing to sacrifice Isaac. And before Passover that included -- especially once my grandmother was involved in the operation -- the annual moaning about the price of fish this year. But, that it should have come to, well . . . this?

Gefilte Fish Supply is Scarce This Passover Due to Bad Winter, Shops Say

By Rachel Holliday Smith on April 15, 2014 9:03am

CROWN HEIGHTS — Why is this night different from all other nights? Because there's a shortage of gefilte fish!

A harsh winter in the Great Lakes region has sparked a shortage of fresh whitefish, the main ingredient for the Passover dish gefilte fish — in a development that could put a damper on this year's Jewish holiday, according to suppliers of a local Kosher fish market.

Raskin’s Fish Market in Crown Heights has been scrambling to come up with enough whitefish to keep up with demand for Passover, after frozen conditions in the lakes that produce much of the whitefish supply sent fish populations dwindling.

“It’s very bad,” said Schlomo Raskin, who opened the market in 1961 and said he can’t remember a shortage like this in the past 30 years. “You feel very badly when a customer comes in and she wants to buy 30 pounds and you only have five.”

Workers at Raskin’s said they usually get dozens of pounds of whitefish a day during the busy season, but now they’re lucky to get a few. While the problem has lingered for months, they said, it's most extreme this holiday week. The whitefish is ground and made into patties often served in two meals a day during the Passover holidays.

Customers filed in and out of the shop on Kingston Avenue near Union Street to prepare for the holiday, in search of a portion of the remaining fish.

“It’s gold,” said manager Yossi Hayward, 28, “It’s first come, first serve.”

While the whitefish remains scarce, Raskin’s said they’ll make their gefilte with a different mixture of ground fish, including halibut and carp. And for those doing last minute Passover shopping, the shop has pre-packaged gefilte fish for sale, which is made at a kitchen they run in Brownsville.
Speaking with the theological authority of someone who watched my mother make gefilte fish many a year (including several years with my grandmother, after we moved to NYC); who has eaten a fair pile of the stuff over the years; who saw a free-to-members preview screening of Darren Aronofsky's Noah at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria; and, as I mentioned yesterday, only a week and a half ago actually visited Brooklyn's Crown Heights -- and, yes, Kingston Avenue -- I can say that this is an outrage, and that fingers should be pointing.

And it seems clear that the direction in which those fingers should be pointing is upwards, since as I understand God's famous covenant, He is covenantially obligated to maintain a proper supply of whitefish for Passover. I shudder to think what my mother would have said. And my grandmother? Forget about it!

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Meanwhile, Back In Montana…


When John Bohlinger comes into any town in Montana to talk policy, it is news. Veteran journalist Mike Dennison interviewing Bohlinger last week on a campaign policy tour

Beltway Democrats decided their best chance to hold the Montana Senate seat would be to replace Max Baucus-- who was given a plumb job as ambassador to China-- with the conservative John Walsh. Walsh gets to run as an incumbent against radical right extremist Steve Daines, a congressman. At the end of 2013 Walsh had $435,549 in his campaign kitty. Daines had $1,897,935. And the Koch brothers and other fat cats and anti-democracy plutocrats will spend handsomely to capture the seat. Remember, the close race that McCain won in 2008 wasn't all that close in 2012, when Romney beat Obama 55-42%. Democrat Steve Bullock was elected governor that day, though, 49-47% and Democrat Jon Tester was reelected to the Senate over Denny Rehberg 49-45%. Very purple. But can an appointed corporate shill of the Beltway Democratic Establishment win this race? Almost unimaginable!

Although the DSCC tried, Walsh doesn't have the Democratic nomination wrapped up. They attempted to push Schweitzer's Lt Governor, John Bohlinger (who we've talked about before), out of the race… and that backfired. The mnore they pushed, the more he became convinced that he owed it to Montana to stay in the race.
Walsh also has a primary challenger in John Bohlinger, a quirky, bow-tie wearing former two-term lieutenant governor in the Brian Schweitzer administration who is positioning himself as the progressive alternative. Democrats expect Walsh to prevail in the June primary, but Bohlinger’s name recognition in the state can’t be underestimated.

…He’s campaigning on public campaign finance system, a minimum wage hike, an increase in Social Security benefits and greater protections for gays and lesbians-- but also as the insurgent who wouldn't step down for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who told him last fall he didn't want a primary.

With a fair-minded reputation and a grandfatherly demeanor, don’t expect Bohlinger to sling mud at Walsh-- “I’m not going to make much about what our differences our … I want to talk about what I’m for,” he says.

But he hits a nerve when he charges that his real problem with the senator is that he doesn’t know what he truly stands for.

“I really can’t comment on his politics because I have not heard him articulate his views on things. I really don’t know where he stands. I think a lot of Montanans would say we really don’t know the guy,” Bohlinger says. “I suppose that somebody will tell him what to say.”
Meanwhile, if Walsh got a bump with the voters from the appointment, it has yet to show up in any polls. While there hasn't been any public polling on the primary since PPP had both in the 30s in Dec, it remains basically 1/3 for Walsh, 1/3 for Bohlinger with the rest up for grabs. This is a single digit primary, and I've heard reliable chatter that Bohlinger is even within the margin of error in Walsh's DSCC polling.

He's just been keeping his head down and putting in a ton of highway miles. Our old friend Franke Wilmer has introduced Bohlinger twice in Bozeman in the last 2 weeks, both times explaining how she first met him when he was the only legislator at gay pride parades in the early 1990s. There's one primary debate scheduled on May 3 and many Democrats are taking a second look at Bohlinger after realizing Walsh can't beat Daines, regardless of what Beltway insiders want. Like another populist western Democrat the Beltway insiders is wary of, South Dakota's Rick Weiland, Bohlinger is campaigning on getting the big money out of politics. And that's been something he's been pushing for years and for which he has a two-pronged plan:
1. Implement I-166 and strengthen the US Constitution by explicitly declaring that corporations aren't people and money isn't speech.

2. Pass the Government By the People Act of 2014 to create a system of public financing that candidates could choose instead of relying upon DC lobbyists and PACs.

I'm sure you're familiar with I-166, you were probably among the 74.7% of Montanans who voted for it in 2012. But have you read up the Government By the People Act that Congressman Sarbanes introduced in February? It already has 141 cosponsors, despite not having any from the Montana delegation.
You come away from looking into Bohlinger with the certainty that-- unlike Daines or Walsh-- he can't be bought by lobbyists. On policy matters, he talks about expanding Social Security, not cutting back on it. Montana is a grey-haired state and over 20% of all Montanans are on Social Security. This messaging resonates so perfectly on the stump that every Democrat in the country should run on this. That and single payer which, we are told, gets the most applause in every single town and after the very successful Schweitzer-Bohlinger health care record, is something Montana Dems take seriously.

The primary is June 3rd, absentees go out 30 days earlier and the majority of votes will be cast before election day. If Bohlinger can beat Montana's weak appointed senator in the primary, nobody is going to doubt whether he can beat Montana's unpopular GOP congressman come fall. If Walsh is the nominee, Democrats will lose the seat and maybe the Senate. The way to win is to run on the Schweitzer-Bohlinger successes. That's resonating with more and more Democratic voters.

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Does it Matter Who Runs the Garden State?


What's wrong with New Jersey?

By Anonymous Operative

A few months ago I wrote of the corporatization of Democratic politics. My thesis: for a party that appeals to progressive values, we are as pathetic as those moral/value-based conservatives on the right.

We are sell outs. Whether it is selling out to political consultants or Wall Street bankers, our party choses strategies and policies based on business interests. This practice is antithetical to what we preach.

So, I was at dinner a few nights ago. I was sitting with a Florida political operative. He was whining about Alex Sink's loss...for about two hours.

He was describing what we all know: the DCCC and Emily's List ruined the whole thing. They placed consultant retainers and TV ad buy profits before the good of the society (not to say that Alex Sink would be anything more than a corporatist New Dem). He was appalled… I laughed.

I warned him that this is nothing new. It is the state of our politics. From campaign decisions to congressional banking policies, both parties are crippled by this hideous nature. My friend sighed, and seemed to agree. I felt as though I made an impression on him.

I asked my friend what his next move was. I was curious what races he was interested in working on, what candidates he sought to help.

He replied and said, "you know, nothing really interests me this cycle. It's going to be a blood bath."

I didn't disagree.

"But," my friend said, "you know what I am excited for?"

"What is that," I asked.

"The race to replace Governor Christie in New Jersey he said..."

"Why," I asked.

"Because our party will have the opportunity to replace a tyrant. We will have a once in a lifetime chance of ridding a state-- so desperate for progressive change-- of the evils of a fascist dictator."

I guess my friend did not really learn what I was talking about earlier in our conversation. I guess he did not take to heart my honest and heartfelt opinion that American Politics is TOTALLY crippled by corporatist behavior.

There is no better example of the two-party hoax as the State of New Jersey.

Those who made Chris Christie, are the same who made Cory Booker, Jon Corzine, etc...

New Jersey is a state run by bosses. Namely, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, businessman (criminal) George Norcross Jr, his brother and soon to be Congressman Donald Norcross, and their cronies, run the state.

I went on to explain to my friend that Chris Christie is just a relatively talented fat man who the bosses identified as someone who could appeal to factions of the state's mildly educated electorate. He was-- at first glance-- the anti-Jon Corzine. He was slovenly and brash. He had cultivated an air of angry white guy authenticity that resonates with New Jersey voters and claimed to be someone who speaks his mind.

But in decision after decision, Chris Christie helps the same business interests Jon Corzine helped. He sits in the same sky boxes at Giants stadium that Booker sits in. He plays the same game as every other successful NJ politician.

It is inaccurate to say he sold out. He was never different. The minute he showed his ambition was the minute he put himself on sale to corporate elite who run the state.

New Jersey is the epitome of American Politics. The bosses use the two party system as a distraction, much like professional sports.

They appeal to the electorate's basic instincts, and are able to disguise their interests and motives behind the veils of party friction.

My friend did not learn much from our conversation. He will probably go work for Steve Sweeney when he runs as the anti-Chris Christie. But we all witnessed 2013. We all saw the so called Democratic bosses push Barbara Buono to the side of the road. That was an anti-Chris Christie. And no one bought in. She was not for sale.

People like Buono would never give in to criminal activity. But there is little she can do about it sitting in what is probably a lovely, modest home in Montclair, while Norcross and Christie galavant to Iowa, Nevada, or New Hampshire--maybe even via the George Washington Bridge!

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What Can Gloria Bromell Tinubu Do For You If She's Elected To Congress?


A little over a week ago we introduced South Carolina congressional candidate Gloria Bromell Tinubu. We didn't really get into her fascinating biography just some political background. Below is a guest post she did for us based on some of the unique planks in her campaign platform. First though, it's worth knowing that Gloria, the seventh of eight children, was born to a farmer and a maid in Georgetown County's Brookgreen Gardens and raised in Plantersville on a family farm that her great grandfather purchased in 1883. Neither of her parents finished elementary school but they were determined to see that their children got the education and opportunities they never had. Gloria worked hard to make that dream come true, first by earning an undergraduate degree from Howard University, and later by becoming the first African American to receive a PhD in Applied Economics from Clemson University. She's never forgotten the lessons she learned from her parents about the value of hard work and the importance of family and community. As a young wife and mother, she took in laundry to help make ends meet. As a high school teacher, she played an active role in the lives of her students. And, later, as a tenured professor and chair of the Economics department at Spelman College, she worked in the local community as a member of the Atlanta City Council and the Georgia Board of Education.

Perhaps you remember Alan Grayson complaining back in March how Congress is filled with people who don't know much and musing about how nice it would be if more Members did know… something. "I’m really getting tired of listening to people who don’t know what they’re talking about," he wrote. "For four years, I worked as an economist. As far as I know, I’m the only Member of Congress who can make that claim. Roll Call did not uncover anyone else. And believe me, whenever I start to talk economics in a Congressional hearing, the eyes glaze over. Quickly." OK, let's get Grayson another smart-as-a-whip economist he can work with! In fact it was when Gloria told us about some of her economist ideas that we got most interested in her candidacy. And that why we asked her to do a guest post.

American Families Deserve a Raise: Policies for Prosperity and Self-Sufficiency
-by Gloria Bromell Tinubu,
Democratic Nominee for Congress, South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District

Americans need a raise and they’ve needed one long before the most recent recession. While some Americans have adequate income to meet their basic needs, there are millions of Americans who are above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), but lack sufficient income to cover basic living expenses. According to a recent study by the United Way, these Americans facing economic distress are routinely “overlooked and undercounted.”

For more than four decades now, millions of Americans have struggled to meet their basic needs without having to rely on public or private assistance. Millions more have seen their wealth totally eroded with the recession of 2007 that brought about massive declines in the value of housing, a dominant source of wealth for most Americans, as well as a decline in savings, purchasing power, and the value of investments. Many Americans continue to be underpaid, underemployed, and unemployed and suffer from inadequate income and assets which prevent them from realizing their full potential and their version of the American Dream. As a member of Congress, I would work cooperatively with other members to support two policies that would result in greater economic opportunity and essentially a raise for Americans.

First, I would support Henry Ramos’ approach called “Invest for Success,” which calls for federal legislation to be passed that would establish a new social contract with working families. For tax-paying families earning less than $75,000 (I would be willing to go up to less than $100,000), a five-year tax holiday (I would propose a 7-year tax holiday) for families who invest in asset building (education, home ownership, job training, business start-up or expansion) and debt-reduction such as paying down college loans or medical expenses. By allowing more families to hold on to their incomes, it provides more economic freedom of choice for middle-class and lower income taxpayers to build their own personal household assets while fueling the economy as well as their faith in the American Dream.

Secondly, I would push for the adoption of a National Self-Sufficiency Standard to replace both the outdated Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and the Federal Minimum Wage (FMW). The Standard, created by Dr. Diana Pearce to address the short-comings of the FPL, serves as a gage for measuring basic economic well-being of families. It defines the income working families need to meet their basic needs without relying on public or private assistance given their unique family composition and where they live. While the FPL is based on only food costs and the Federal Minimum Wage does not account for differences in cost of living across different geographical areas, the Standard is based on all basic needs-- food, housing, childcare, health care, transportation, miscellaneous costs, and net taxes, and has been calculated for 37 states on a per county basis.

The Standard can be used by policy makers, service providers, educators, and businesses as a guideline for setting wages, determining eligibility for services, and evaluating program effectiveness. Because it measures real costs of goods and services purchased in the free market, the Standard is higher than both FPL and FMW. If adopted, it would be a much deserved raise for American families.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Annals Of The Republican Civil War: Nevada And Ohio


You may have already read that the Nevada state Republican Party is turning over a new leaf-- at least in terms of the party-sanctioned gay-bashing and anti-Choice mania. I'm not sure how extremists like Sharron Angle are taking this, but over the weekend, Nevada Republicans drastically changed their official party platform. There was a "raucous debate," of course, but in the end the delegates voted to remove the party's opposition to marriage equality and their opposition to abortions.
By a show of hands, convention-goers adopted the platform as proposed by a separate committee without the two planks on marriage and abortion, following the Clark County GOP’s lead in removing hot-button social issues from the party’s statement of its principles. Some 520 delegates attended the convention, but less than half were present when the platform was adopted at about 7:30 p.m. Little debate preceded the vote, a far contrast to earlier in day.

State party Chairman Michael McDonald said it was a successful convention at the end of the day.

“I think it was about inclusion, not exclusion,” McDonald said, referring to the platform. “This is where the party is going.”

Republicans who sat on the platform committee said they decided not to deal with social issues this year because the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts have weighed in and it doesn’t make sense for the party of “personal freedom” to have the government or the political party get involved in people’s personal lives.

“The issue was how can we back out of people’s personal lives,” said Dave Hockaday of Lyon County, who sat on the platform committee. “We need to focus on issues where we can have an impact.”

Previously, the state party platform defined marriage as “between a man and a woman,” as does the Nevada Constitution. The past document also described the party as “pro-life,” or against abortion, a stance most Republicans still agree with.
GOP extremists are screaming their heads off, of course, and trying to organize a boycott of Las Vegas conventions and vacations. The party fringe is already demanding that the RNC remove Las Vegas from the short list of cities the GOP was considering for the 2016 national convention. Don Nelson of Nevada Right to Life is going insane: "On Saturday the Nevada Republican party decided to drop its pro-life plank and party chairman Mike McDonald said that abortion is a small issue. It’s not small now. It’s being reported all over Nevada and McDonald and the Nevada Republicans just told pro-lifers all over the state that their issue and the killing of 56 million preborn children, does not matter to him and his party and that the Nevada Republicans will take our vote, but that we can’t count on them… The fact is that over 70% of Republicans are pro-life and a many of them hold their nose and vote for Republicans because they have [been] the pro-life party. Events like this do nothing but further depress the Nevada Republican vote."

Meanwhile, halfway across the country, the Tea Party primary against John Boehner is heating up. Up top is the fabulous new J.D. Winteregg ad, Electile Dysfunction (When The Moment Is Right).
"Other signs of electile dysfunction may include extreme skin discoloration, the inability to punch oneself out of a wet paper bag, or maintain a spine in the face of liberal opposition. If you have a Boehner lasting longer than 23 years, seek immediate medical attention."
Winteregg is not seen as a viable opponent against Boehner in the primary and, once again, the DCCC has moved to protect him from Democratic challengers, as they have consistently done in past cycles.

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About yesterday's terrorist events in Overland Park: We're all in Kansas, Toto


The Overland Park alleged perp is, alas, only too well-known to hate-terrorist trackers like the Southern Poverty Law Center.

by Ken

When Howie e-mailed this morning asking if I had any interest in "doing anything on the KKK guy who murdered the 3 in Kansas," my first thought was:
I had some flash of a thought about it this morning while I was reading about it. I forget what the thought was, but maybe it'll come back to me. (More interesting, I hope, than "Oh God, not this again.") I know that before I knew what had happened, I'd read an e-mail from the 92nd Street Y referring to it in announcing new amped-up security procedures there, which I'm pretty sure I saved for just this possible use.
The 92nd Street Y, for those who don't know, is one of NYC's cherished institutions (140 years old, as you'll note below) -- a cultural center (home to some of the city's most interesting concerts and lectures); fitness center; children's, teens', and adults' education center, and Jewish community center. Just as a "for instance," off the top of my head I recall writing about a tribute to my idol James Thurber moderated by Keith Olbermann, with guests including longtime New Yorker reporter and humorist Calvin Trillin, New Yorker cartoonist and cartoon editor Bob Mankoff, and Thurber's publicity-averse daughter Rosemary, held at the 92nd Street Y ("At the 92nd Street Y Thurber 'do,' Keith O gives a virtuoso performance," June 2011).

Here's the e-mail from "92Y," as the 92nd Street YM-YWHA likes to style itself in even shorter-hand:

To our 92Y Community,

We wanted you to be aware that you will notice extra security presence at 92Y following the tragic events at the Overland Park Jewish Community Center and the Village Shalom assisted living center outside Kansas City. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire community there. 

Please know that Kevin Green, our director of security, is in touch with our law enforcement and homeland security partners and will issue additional updates as information becomes available.

As always, our goal is to provide an environment at 92Y that is welcoming, safe and secure. You can continue to help us do that by showing your identification to our security staff every time you enter the building, and asking your caregivers to do the same when they enter the building with your children. 
We also ask that you remain vigilant, and always report any suspicious activity to law enforcement immediately.

Please do not hesitate to contact any of us at any time if you have questions or concerns you would like to share.

Henry Timms

Interim Executive Director

Kevin P. Green
Director of Security
NYPD Lieut. (ret.)

Naturally the Right-Wing Noise Machine will clam up behind the denial that its followers have anything to do with this sort of violence, though it should be pretty clear to anyone with eyes that it's basically a full-bodied response to the ideology of Hate of the Other that is at the heart of 21st-century American conservatism. A colleague recalls that "just two years ago another noted white supremacist took the lives of seven Americans at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin" and notes "how the right-wing media had freaked out when a DHS report was declassified detailing potential increase in right-wing extremism in early years of this presidency."

I think we all remember how not just the RWNM but the media generally suffered such a drop in interest or at least intensity level at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing when it turned out that the perpetrators weren't Muslim extremists but good old-fashioned home-grown American right-wing terrorists. And I suppose it can be argued that with a mere three victims shot dead, this episode barely qualifies for conversation by present-day gun-violence standards, and considering that apparently none of the victims were Jewish, how can it stand as a cautionary tale of standing American anti-Semitism? (Partial answer: It reminds us that right-wing blowhards aren't just violent but stupid.)

By coincidence, the weekend before last I paid my first-ever visit to the heart of Lubavitcher Chassidic country, in Brooklyn's Crown Heights South, on a pre-Passover outing organized by Justin Ferate as the first of the spring "Wolfe Walkers" walks, and Rabbi Beryl Epstein, of the Chassidic Discovery Center, our remarkable tour guide (tours are given Sunday through Friday mornings as part of the Lubavitchers' eager outreach to the outside Jewish and non-Jewish world) gave the best explanation I've heard of the often-remarked-upon inward turning of Chassidic communities. The Chassidic movement, he reminded us, was born Eastern Europe in 18th-century, a time when about all that Jewish communities could expect from the outside world was bellicosity that too easily encompassed violence, often of the sweepingly deadly kind.

As Juan Cole reminds us, "US Press Once Again Declines to Call White Terrorism in Kansas, Nevada, White Terrorism, referring back to his own August 2012 post "Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others." Myself, I'm less concerned about whether the shootings are tried as a "hate crime" (I have no problem with trial and punishment for three murders, but apparently yes) than that for once some significant attention be focused on the cancer flourishing in the supposed heartland of America, increasingly in the grip of the right-wing culture of hate and violence.

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Why Democrats Won't Win Back The House In 2014-- Don't Blame Hillary


This morning, everyone was talking about Maggie Haberman's new piece for Politico, Struggling Dems waiting for Hillary in 2014. While many progressives grappled with the idea that the Democratic Party seems wedded to a candidate who is another servant of Wall Street corporate interests, there are other unpleasant implications to be considered. Short version: the pathetic Beltway Democrats have turned off their base so badly that they can't get them to come out and vote without luring them with a celebrity. So… forget the midterms-- chances to take back the House nonexistant/Senate lost-- and wait for Hillary in 2016. (I guess the $102 million candidates, committees and outside groups spent on television advertising in federal and gubernatorial races since the beginning of the fourth quarter of last year, doesn't change much… except for the personal wealth of the consultants getting a cut of all that loot.)

Hillary hasn't been campaigning for Democratic candidates in the midterms while her husband has been raising money for the worst corporate friendly shills from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- like Chelsea's scandal-plagued mother-in-law in PA-13. But the 2 of them are who all the candidates want on the stump with them. It looks as though the GOP has won their battle to neutralize her:
Clinton’s approach has strategic logic: The sooner she campaigns, the easier it will be for Republicans to sully her as a partisan. Her popularity as a public figure peaked during her time at State; avoiding the political trenches could help prolong that goodwill. Clinton’s poll numbers over the years have tended to drop the more partisan she has been seen as being.

…Clinton’s no-politics-for-now stance comes as Clinton said this month that people should be focused on the midterms instead of speculating incessantly about 2016.

“We have an election coming up this year. … We ought to be paying attention to that, because that will set the parameters of what can or should be done,” Clinton said.

People involved in 2014 races were thrilled by the remark. They took it as a clear signal that Clinton recognizes the distraction that 2016 is for the party when it’s at risk of losing control of the Senate and additional seats in the House.

Officials with national committees and state parties who see President Barack Obama as an albatross for their candidates in November have begun-- if only gingerly-- to initiate conversations with associates of Clinton about getting on her calendar later this year. They don’t want to be seen as nudging or annoying her and aren’t expecting anything until after the summer, several people involved in the process said. The main point of contact is Huma Abedin, Clinton’s chief of staff.

“I said to [Hillary] that the second-- not the minute, but the second-- that she’s ready to engage, we’ll be excited,” Steve Israel, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman and congressman from New York, said in an interview. He said that he spoke with Bill Clinton about a month ago but hadn’t settled on which races the former president will be involved in.

“There’s not a single battleground district in America which wouldn’t want her engagement,” Israel added. “Not one.”
Close your eyes and imagine that Pelosi had fired Israel as DCCC chairman after his catastrophic performance in the 2012 cycle. Would a competent chairman be sitting around holding his breath for Hillary Clinton to show up on a white horse? Or would he be cleaning out that nest of corrupt, self-serving incompetents at the DCCC and replacing them with men and women who understand how to win races? Would a competent DCCC chairman be wasting money trying to elect anti-Choice and gay-hating Blue Dogs in deep red districts while preventing races in vulnerable swing districts? Steve Israel is the worst DCCC chairman ever and no amount of Bill and Hillary Clinton appearances are going to win back the House as long as Israel is deciding which districts (like OH-06-- R+8-- and AR-04-- R+15) and targeted and which get ignored, like Fred Upton's MI-06 (R+1), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's FL-27 (R+2), Sean Duffy's WI-07 (R+2), Erik Paulsen's MN-03 (R+2), Pat Meehan's PA-07 (R+2), John Kline's MN-02 (R+2), Charlie Dent's PA-15 (R+2), Mike Rogers' MI-08 (R+2), and Paul Ryan's WI-01 (R+3). Worse yet, not a week goes by when a top tier candidate doesn't tell me he or she isn't going to run while Israel is in charge of the DCCC and that they'll wait 'til the next cycle when he's moved on to the next position he'll be screwing up.

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Have Mainers Finally Had It With Koch-Addicted Republicans?


More than a few people have been asserting that Republican Governor Paul LePage, knowing he's already lost his reelection fight, is now only working for an audience of two: Texas neo-fascists David and Charles Koch. The clownish LePage doesn't want to go back to working at a Marden's Surplus and Salvage and he's counting on the Koch brothers to set him up with some kind of situation inside their Empire. That would certainly explain his vetoes Friday evening of two bills very popular with Mainers-- and very unpopular with Kochs.

Terry Morrison's LD 1252, An Act to Improve Maine’s Economy and Energy Security with Solar and Wind Energy, passed the Senate with a bipartisan 21-12 and sailed through the House 109-30. Two Republican senators and 23 Republican House members abandoned LePage and voted for it-- as did 100% of the Democrats in the legislature. Had LePage not vetoed the bill, it would have revived the Efficiency Maine solar rebate program ($2,000) for homes and businesses, creating over a thousand new solar and hot water projects. LePage's veto means Maine is the only state in New England that doesn't incentivize installation of solar projects for homes and businesses. Oily plutocrats, the Kochs strenuously oppose green energy projects and LePage's veto must have impressed them with his willingness to sacrifice his own already dwindling popularity on their behalf.

The Democrat polling significantly ahead of LePage in the gubernatorial race, Congressman Mike Michaud, was all over the veto: "Renewable energy is a strategic asset that Maine should look to expand, not undermine. Gov. LePage’s efforts on energy move us backward and threaten a growing industry in our state while also hurting our efforts to combat climate change. Our homegrown renewable energy sector creates jobs, reduces the impact of global warming, protects us from price spikes and keeps prices down so small businesses and Maine families can keep more money in their pockets."

According to ThinkProgress, LePage has opposed efforts to increase energy efficiency, tried to roll back renewable energy targets, moved to get out of anti-smog regulations, vetoed a bill creating a climate adaptation working group, and touted the benefits climate change will have on Maine after agreeing with a radio talk show host who called climate science a "hoax" and "lying science." His administration says they would not respond to local newspapers that reported on the governor’s environmental and energy record.

The other veto was of Franklin Republican Tom Saviello's pro-clean elections/pro-democracy initiative, LD 1631, An Act to Clarify What Constitutes a Contribution to a Candidate, just the kind of legislation the Kochs spend millions to prevent. It had passed the Senate 20=13. Saviello was the only Senate Republican to vote for it. It passed the House 83-50 without a single Republican vote. The purpose of the bill simply established that any campaign expenditures made by a person who has been affiliated with that campaign in the prior 120 days, regardless of whether they were paid or volunteered, counts as a campaign contribution. House Majority Leader Seth Berry said that "This bill is about keeping Maine’s Clean Elections clean. It is too bad the governor does not share this priority."

The non-partisan group, Maine Citizens for Clean Elections was fuming after the veto and asked the legislature of override it.
"This simple bill closes a problematic loophole in our campaign finance system," said Andrew Bossie, MCCE’s Executive Director. "Maine voters want compliance and accountability when it comes to campaign finance laws, and this bill provides that."

LD 1631 makes clear that when key persons affiliated with a candidate campaign make expenditures to benefit the candidate, those expenditures are contributions. Because contributions are limited, and independent expenditures are not, it ensures that campaign insiders do not evade contribution limits with sham independent spending.

"While this bill does not attempt to reverse the trend of independent expenditures, it does attempt to clarify when an expenditure is really a contribution to the candidate," said Senator Tom Saviello, the bill's lead sponsor, during the public hearing on the bill. "It starts with the simple assumption-- you might even call it a 'no-brainer'-- that certain persons close to a candidate's campaign cannot with a straight face make an independent expenditure on behalf of that candidate."

The bill is modest in scope, simply clarifying that treasurers, campaign managers, and other agents of a campaign can’t make expenditures that will be considered independent of the campaign. The practical effect is that all campaign spending by agents of a candidate campaign during an election will be subject to Maine’s contribution limits. Since Clean Election candidates do not accept private contributions, this sort of spending would not be allowed at all.

"We are optimistic that the legislature will override this veto and move forward, not backward, when it comes to our campaign finance system," concluded Bossie. "This common-sense bill is good for democracy and should become law. We ask each and every legislator to carefully consider the integrity of our election laws and vote to override Governor LePage’s ill-advised veto."
Senator Susan Collins tries making believe she isn't the same "kind" of Republican that LePage is but she maxed out to his campaign and endorsed his reelection efforts, has quietly urged her allies in the state legislature to back dome of his worst agenda items and, as Rick Santorum, has told GOP donors, "she is a team player who always plays with the team and never plays against the conservative side even if she has to give the liberals a vote because she's from Maine."

Susan Collins' Democratic opponent, Shenna Bellows, is no fan of LePage's deranged agenda. "It's disappointing," she told us this morning, "that Republican Governor Paul LePage vetoed clean energy and clean elections bills on yet another veto spree. We need urgent investment in solar energy to confront climate change now. One of the barriers to better energy policy is the influence of money in politics. So it's not surprising that opponents of clean energy like Republican Paul LePage would also oppose campaign finance reforms, even modest ones." If you'd like to help Shenna vanquish the Republicans, you can contribute to her campaign here.

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Frank Sinatra Contest-- The Best Is Yet To Come… For South Dakota


Today Blue America is launching an effort on behalf of prairie populist Rick Weiland who's running for the open blue Senate seat in South Dakota. With two Republicans running against the GOP Establishment pick in the general election, this should be a great opportunity to elect a dedicated tribune of working families in what the DC pundits see as a tough race. One Republican is an ex-U.S. Seantor, Larry Pressler, and the other is a Tea Party extremist, Gordon Howie (no relation) who switched his registration so he could run as an independent.

This week, Rick released his first television ad. You can you watch it above and on the special Frank Sinatra contest page we set up. So I want to ask DWT readers and my Facebook friends to consider chipping in to get the ad seen-- and you can do that on the same page you watch the ad on.

There are basically two big media markets in South Dakota. One covers the Democratic-leaning half the state (East River)-- Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, Watertown, Brookings, Huron, Mitchell and Yankton-- and the other covers the more conservative half of the state (West River)-- Rapid City, Spearfish, Sturgis, Custer, Wall, Lead, Deadwood and Hot Springs.

This is a sample of what a typical contribution can buy in the eastern part of the state:
$28- All In With Chris Hayes
$35- Southern Charm
$125- Good Morning America
$165- Face The Nation
$225- Wheel of Fortune
$400- 48 Hours
And this is what we can get in the western part of the state:
$34- The Rachel Maddow Show
$50- Inside Edition
$75- Big Bang Theory
$120- The Today Show
$150- 60 Minutes
$300- The Blacklist
So what's all this got to do with Frank Sinatra? Well, as many of you know, I was the president of the record label Sinatra started, Reprise Records. Sinatra started it as a haven for artists who didn't want to be pushed around by corporate dictators-- and I like to think I successfully continued his artistic freedom ideal.

This is also an ethos that epitomizes Rick Weiland's "Take It Back" campaign. When I was still at the company, I was awarded an RIAA-certified plaque when Sinatra's greatest hits album, The Very Good Years, went double platinum… two million records sold in the U.S. I've given this gorgeous, historical collector's item to Blue America to award to one randomly selected donor to this Rick Weiland effort. The "contest" ends next Monday, April 28, at noon. It doesn't matter how much you give, just that you do give on this page.

And, for the Sinatra fans, some of the songs that are on The Very Good Years: Cole Porter's "I Get A Kick Out of You," "Luck Be A Lady," "Fly Me To The Moon," "Love and Mariiage," "Send In The Clowns," "The Lady Is A Tramp," "Strangers In The Night," "I've Got You Under My Skin," and the song I'm calling the perfect theme for Rick's campaign for South Dakota, "The Best Is Yet To Come." Also of note: some of the musicians who played on this record-- Nelson Riddle, Woody Herman, Count Basie, Quincy Jones...

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