Thursday, January 05, 2012

Be Still, My Heart... The End Of California's Most Corrupt Politician, Jerry Lewis?


I probably shouldn't get all worked up. Just skimming the report yesterday by Texas on the Potomac I noticed some errors, but... Jerry Lewis being among even an error-ridden "12 most endangered incumbents of 2012" is the kind of thing that makes my world go round. (I know, sad.)

I'll come back to Jerry Lewis in a moment, but while we're on the subject of "sad," I want to mention that Dennis Kucinich is also on this list. Were we to lose Kucinich to an outrageous GOP gerrymandering farce, it would be a great tragedy not just for Ohio but for the whole country. Alan Grayson has been urging his own donor base to contribute to Kucinich's campaign. “Congress," he wrote, "is full of replaceable parts. But Dennis Kucinich is not one of them. Dennis is unique. Now Dennis Kucinich is in the toughest race of his 15-year career in Congress. The Republicans have tried to gerrymander him out of Congress. He needs your help, and he needs it now.” Grayson supporters donated $50,000 to Kucinich in one day after that one e-mail. What makes this all the more tragic is that the primary pits Kucinich against another strong progressive fighter-- progressive on just about everything but women's choice, where she's absolutely horrible-- Marcy Kaptur. But in terms of economic populism, the two of them are equal. The district includes many more Kaptur voters than Kucinich voters, so this is going to be painful.

Another shocker on the Texas on the Potomac "12 most endangered" list was Brad Miller, but author Rick Dunham has this analysis all wrong. He doesn't seem to realize that Miller isn't running in the part of his district that has been turned into a haven for conservatives, but that he's going up against David Price in a primary. In November we explained why Miller is a better choice than Price.
Price voted for several of the "free trade" deals, including the worst ever-- NAFTA, and just a few weeks ago, he voted for the horrible deals with Korea, Colombia and Panama. Brad Miller voted against every trade deal that's come up with the exception of one with Australia, a country with a similar enough standard of living to ours that it would not put American workers into competition with very poorly paid workers... David Price has consistently been on the wrong side. Brad Miller has consistently been on the right side.

...Tragically, Price voted for all the financial deregulation in the nineties, which allowed banks to become too big to fail, erased the separation of commercial and investment banking (Glass-Steagall), and prohibited any regulation of derivatives. Other Members of Congress have told me that Brad has been the leading critic among members of bank practices, and introduced the House version of the Kaufman-Brown bill that limited banks' total assets to two percent of the GDP. That would have allowed banks with more than $300 billion in assets, which are huge banks, but would have required the six biggest banks to split into more than 30 entities (not all would be banks). He has also been a tireless advocate for separating certain bank functions to avoid conflicts of interest and he introduced legislation to prohibit servicers of mortgages owned by others (securitized mortgages) from holding second liens on the same homes. That effectively would have required the largest banks to spin off their servicing affiliates. Most recently he introduced the legislation to make it easier for bank customers to move their accounts to create effective competition in consumer banking.

And speaking of banking, let's look at bankruptcy. Price voted for the God-awful bankruptcy bill that became law in 2005, which made it almost impossible for middle-class families to seek bankruptcy relief from overwhelming debt, and made it impossible ever to reduce student loans in bankruptcy. There are peer-reviewed academic publications by economists that find that the bankruptcy law changes fueled the explosion of subprime mortgages because families had no way out of debt, so they borrowed against their homes. Also, lots of young people are now unemployed and have crushing student loan debt that will almost certainly be with them for most of the rest of their lives. Brad Miller voted against that bankrutpcy bill and he was the first Member of Congress to introduce the legislation to allow modification in bankruptcy of home mortgages ("cramdown"), and was one of the leaders of that fight throughout. That had a lot to do with why Alan Grayson, also then a member of the House Financial Services Committee told Blue America that "Brad Miller is exactly what people hope that their representatives will be: thoughtful, independent, selfless, smart, and completely committed to their well-being. There are very few Members of Congress who are willing to tell a well-connected lobbyist to get lost; Brad is one of them."

Brad voted against extending all of the Bush tax cuts last December, and signed a letter circulated by Barbara Lee to the "supercommittee" to oppose any cuts to Medicare or Social Security to reduce the deficit. Price voted to extend the Bush tax cuts, and signed the opposite letter to the supercommittee urging that "mandatory spending"-- in other words, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security-- be "on the table" to reduce the deficit.

It's still going to be a tough race for Miller-- you can help him here-- but Rick Dunham picked Miller for his list for the wrong reasons. His name and Kucinich's were the two on the list that got me nervous. I hope Jon Tester is reelected in Montana because he's better than the freak running against him, but not because he's lived up to the populist promises he made when Blue America supported him in the 2006 primary and general election. He's been pretty disappointing. We also supported Larry Kissell, and I actually hope he loses his seat. He's grotesque and doesn't belong in public office. In my mind it's a toss-up between him and John Barrow (also on the list) as to which Democrat has most earned a place on the garbage pile of political history.

Obviously I'm overjoyed to see Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) on the list, because it means Elizabeth Warren will be a U.S. Senator, the best of all outcomes this year. Far worse than Brown, though-- and also on this endangered list-- are clueless-for-anything-but-comic-relief teabaggers Allen West (R-FL), Bobby Schilling (R-IL) and Blake Farenthold, R-TX), all destined to be looking for new jobs come January 2013.

Now for Jerry Lewis. This is what Dunham had to say:
After 34 years, the changing demographics of California may end the career of the state’s senior Republican lawmaker. Lewis’ Republican base was split in his state’s nonpartisan map-drawing, and his house is now in a Democratic-leaning district that also is home to Democratic Rep. Joe Baca. If Lewis chooses to run again, he’d have an uphill campaign in new territory. Or he could move to a nearby (and very Republican) district that is the epicenter of the state’s Tea Party movement. If he does that, he faces a tough primary.

That other district is the new 8th and all kinds of freaks have crawled out from under various rocks to run for the seat. Lewis still hasn't said what he'll do-- at least not publicly. The primary's in June, and so far we have four contenders: Gregg Imus, cofounder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, Victorville Mayor Ryan McEachron, Victorville Councilwoman Angela Valles and Hesperia ex-Mayor Bill Jensen, who was also founder of the High Desert Tea Party. They're all anti-immigrant fanatics, hatemongers and anti-regulation morons. And once Lewis declares for sure he won't run, two GOP establishment types of the Lewis mold are likely to be heard from: San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt and Assemblyman Paul Cook from the Yucca Valley.

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