Friday, September 25, 2015

Sherrod Brown And Patrick Murphy Are Not Two Peas In A Pod


Would you trust an organization asking you for contributions if you knew they had endorsed Joe Lieberman and Blanche Lincoln? Council for a Livable World has been around for a long time and they've done some very good work, but they've also asked their followers to contribute to those two and to reactionaries like John Sparkman of Alabama, a racist and a signatory to the Southern Manifesto in opposition to the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education and an opponent to the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

They also asked for money for Arkansas reactionary David Pryor, Indiana right-wing Republican Richard Lugar, Nebraska right-wing Democrats Ben Nelson and Bob Kerrey, anti-Choice fanatic Bart Stupak (MI), and Blue Dogs like Zack Space (OH), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Gwen Graham (FL), Baron Hill (IN), Jim Matheson (UT) and Henry Cuellar (TX). And of course, ruthless, corrupt and power-hungry party leaders like Steve Israel (NY), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL) and Chuck Schumer (NY). 

They've also endorsed worthwhile progressives like Elizabeth Warren (MA), Paul Wellstone (MN), Bernie Sanders (VT), Jeff Merkley (OR), Russ Feingold (WI), Dennis Kucinich (OH), Jan Schakowsky (IL) and Alan Grayson (FL).

Speaking of their Grayson endorsement, that was for the Orlando-area House seat, not for the Senate seat he's seeking now. Instead, they're backing ultra-conservative, "ex"-Republican New Dem Patrick Murphy, a man who thinks making the world more livable is to carry the water for his Wall Street bankster contributors, to vote-- seven times-- for the Keystone XL Pipeline and to vote for oil drilling off the Florida coast. 

Why Murphy instead of Grayson? I called Council for a Livable World Executive Director Angela Canterbury to ask her, but she hasn't responded. What I did get from her was another e-mail from her urging me to give money to another fake Democrat, Arizona New Dem Ann Kirkpatrick, who's nearly has horrible as Murphy. A friend in DC told me the council is completely under the thumb of the DCCC and DSCC and that Schumer had asked them to back Murphy. I don't know if that's true or not, but it sure sounds like what Schumer is doing with every other constituency group that endorses Democrats.

This morning I was sitting down to read Grayson's op-ed in Time magazine about the dysfunctionality of costly, pointless government shutdowns and what to do about ending them. "In April," he wrote, "I proposed a simple solution. My bill, the Shut Down the Shutdowns Act, eliminates this danger entirely by applying existing budget levels to all federal agencies until a law is passed creating new ones. My bill, H.R. 1776, is our declaration of independence from the tyranny of government shutdowns, both actual and threatened." 

But just as I was getting into it, an e-mail popped up from Sherrod Brown, a senator I admire for his work on trade issues and distrust for other, more political reasons. What I opened was an endorsement e-mail-- for Patrick Murphy:
I’d like to introduce you to Patrick Murphy. He’s a Congressman from Florida running a tough race for U.S. Senate this cycle. You may not have heard of Patrick’s campaign yet, but I can assure you, the Koch brothers and their Republican allies have already taken notice. Earlier this month, the Kochs' group, Americans for Prosperity, ran a full-page Op-Ed attacking Patrick for opposing Citizens United. Special interest groups spent more than $40 million against me-- one of the most expensive races in the country. And I can tell you who one of their top targets will be this year: Patrick... Patrick is the kind of person I want to work with in the Senate. He’s a tireless advocate for the middle class, and he has a track record of doing what’s right for his district.
Then he asked his supporters to send money. I wonder if Brown is even vaguely aware of Murphy's record in Congress. I'd bet not. I'll bet he doesn't know that Murphy is a Wall Street hack who has done virtually nothing in Congress except endeavor to gut Dodd-Frank financial reform.

In 2006, Blue America endorsed Sherrod Brown. He was my favorite Senate candidate and I loved talking with him about the issues that were important to Ohio voters that year, particularly trade issues and issues involving economic security for working families. But then we "unendorsed" him. It's the only time in the history of Blue America that we unendorsed a candidate. In the heat of the Senate campaign, Brown voted-- one of only 34 Democrats and the only progressive to do so-- for Bush's torture bill

Here's what I wrote here at DWT at the time:
By voting the same way as Mike Dewine, Bill Frist, Trent Lott, Felix Macacawitz, Rick Santorum, Denny Hastert, Roy Blunt and Mean Jean Schmidt, Brown made a big mistake. He doesn't think so. Below you'll find Brown's rationale for his vote. Tom Curry's defense of him at MSNBC fell pretty flat to my ears. "Unlike Mike Dewine," Curry quotes him as saying, "I'm willing to stand up to my party when they're wrong." God... has Lieberman been mentoring him too? Anyway, I want to explain why I'm not writing any more checks to Brown's campaign and why I'm not asking anyone else to do any more than to vote for him on election day-- even if it means holding their noses when they pull the lever, or whatever you do these days with that Diebold crap.

A few days ago I was looking at Brown's 10 point lead over Bush rubber stamp Mike Dewine and I was writing how after January Sherrod and Russ Feingold would be able to help deprogram Obama from all that mentoring Lieberman had filled him with. I imagined the three of them could be a real "can-do" spearhead of progressive values aimed right at the heart of the U.S. Senate.

To tell you the truth, I still hope Congressman Brown wins his Senate race against Dewine. Brown has a better-than-excellent record and he has been an important leader on fair trade and other crucial issues. But, as I explained to his campaign today, we don't compromise on torture. Citing a crass, worthless, sell-out windbag like McCain as an excuse, doesn't make it any more palatable.

Yes, the House passed Bush's torture bill a couple days ago 253-168. And yes, all but 7 Republicans voted for torture. And all the Democrats except for 34 who decided they were Republicans when it comes to torture, voted NO. I basically don't care about fake Democrats who can almost always be counted on to support BushCheney in a pinch-- the John Barrows, Dan Borens, Tim Holdens, Stephanie Herseths, Chet Edwardses, Jim Marshalls, Henry Cuellars, Leonard Boswells, Gene Taylors, Collin Petersons (a fucking co-sponsor, the only Democrat who was willing to give the crooks a fig leaf of bipartisanship, of the doughnut hole Medicare Bill), Jim Mathesons, Harold Fords, Melissa Beans. I do, however, care about Sherrod Brown's vote.

I care for a number of reasons. I expect more, a lot more, from a leader like Brown, whose record has been so sterling and inspiring. But he's violated a core value-- Thou Shalt Not Torture Nor Tread On Habeus Corpus. No exceptions. Is Mike Dewine worse? Don't ask stupid questions. On his best day, Dewine will never be worth a bucket of spit and on his worst day-- 2 days ago-- Brown will always be better than the likes of Mike Dewine. But by voting with the pro-torture camp, basically Republicans and a few right wing or cowardly, unprincipled fake-Democrats, Brown took all the onus off Dewine to join Specter and a few others in the Senate to at least not wreck Habeus Corpus, an amendment that lost by 2 votes.

As Orcinus pointed out so eloquently today, it's important to remember who decides who is and who isn't liable to be tortured: George W. Bush. Sherrod Brown believes that's ok? I know he doesn't. He serves in the same body with Congresswoman Louise Slaughter who mentioned today that "No law enforcement agency ever came before Congress and said new wiretapping powers were needed to secure the homeland. And yet, this Republican Congress has taken it upon itself to roll over on some of our most basic constitutional rights so that the President can have even more power. Today, Republicans are poised to rubber stamp the Administration's latest efforts to legalize spying on American citizens. The Republican line is, trust us-- we're from the government. But after so many lies and distortions, why should we trust this Administration? It has sullied our reputation around the world as the torch-bearer of democracy by authorizing secret prisons, planting propaganda at home and abroad, and fighting attempts to ban torture. The last thing Congress should be granting it is more unchecked power." Trust George W. Bush? All Congressman Brown has to do is think about Iraq. Or think about New Orleans.

My Sherrod Brown/Russ Feingold fantasy is rich with irony considering how the two men handled the Bush Torture Bill. I printed out Feingold's Senate speech and tacked it up on my wall. I hope Congressman Brown reads it. Or maybe he could read what Senator Kerry says about the bill:
We've got to tell the truth about what's happening right now-- right now-- in our country. We must start treating our moral authority as a national treasure that doesn't limit our power but magnifies our influence. That seems obvious, but this Administration still doesn't get it. Still. Right now-- today-- they are trying to rush a bill through Congress that will fundamentally undermine our moral authority, put our troops at greater risk, and make our country less safe.

Let me be clear about something-- something that it seems few people are willing to say. This bill permits torture. It gives the President the discretion to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions. No matter how much well-intended United States Senators would like to believe otherwise, it gives an Administration that lobbied for torture just what it wanted.

The only guarantee we have that these provisions really will prohibit torture is the word of the President. But we have seen in Iraq the consequences of simply accepting the word of this Administration. No, we cannot just accept the word of this Administration that they will not engage in torture given that everything they've already done and said on this most basic question has already put our troops at greater risk and undermined the very moral authority needed to win the war on terror.
I contacted Congressman Brown's office early yesterday morning to let them know I was more than disappointed and that I had angry readers sending me e-mails and that I felt that I would probably not be an effective fundraiser for him any longer. They asked me to read a statement on his website:
Yesterday, Congressman Brown voted for a bill that creates a military tribunal to try those enemy combatants that have been held by the government since September 11, 2001.

This compromise is supported by Senator John McCain, a former POW who fought to ensure that this tribunal lives up to our national standards on human rights.

Unlike President Bush's plan, this compromise measure prohibits the degrading treatment of detainees and specifically lists the types of behaviors that are banned in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

The Washington Post wrote about the legislation, "The compromise legislation does not seek to narrow U.S. obligations under the Geneva Conventions in the treatment of prisoners, as Bush had hoped."

Those detained have been held for more than 5 years with no opportunity to prove their guilt or innocence.

It will provide that opportunity, so that those who are innocent can be set free and those who are guilty can be punished.

The bill prohibits the use of cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment of detainees. Because that evidence is often unreliable, it will not admit evidence obtained through torture.

Detainees will be entitled to Combatant Status Review, where they may challenge their detention within the confines of the military tribunal system.

And the bill will allow combatants to receive an edited version of classified evidence being used to convict them so that they can respond without putting our national security at risk.

Congressman Brown feels it has taken far too long for a legal framework to be developed-- for the innocent who must be freed, the guilty that must be punished, and our homeland which must be secured.
Sherrod is a very smart man, smarter than most members of Congress I've talked to. And he isn't a naive man either. And even if he didn't understand, his brilliant wife certainly does. If he honestly thinks Bush's Torture Bill is a good piece of legislation, that's even more problematic than just admitting, at least to himself, that he voted for it-- alone among progressives-- as a crass political calculation, although who exactly torture appeals to (at least among people who aren't positively wedded to Bush and Dewine) in beyond me. Does Brown believe in the same Republican pile of crap that Dewine believes in? I'm certain he doesn't. He has a long record of accomplishment that shows he doesn't. I wonder if he thinks anyone is going to fall for his spin. No one I know is.
Brown won that race and ousted DeWine, the incumbent, 2,257,369 (56.2%) to 1,761,037 (43.8%), and he was reelected, albeit less overwhelmingly, in 2012. A few months after he started serving in the Senate, he was asked by Cenk Uygar of the Young Turks why he had voted for the torture bill. "It was a bad vote," he admitted. "I shouldn't have. A vote I'll correct ... when it comes... I take responsibility. It was the heat of the campaign and I made a mistake."

He just made another: Patrick Murphy. You can contribute to Alan Grayson's Senate race here.

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At 10:55 AM, Blogger lukeness said...

I think there was a short window when Murphy had promised to vote in favor of the Iran deal and Grayson had not yet made his decision. I got an email then from Council for a Livable World trashing Grayson and endorsing Murphy. At that point I thought to myself that I'll probably never listen to or contribute to that group.


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