Saturday, May 27, 2017

Jeremy Corbyn Is Catching Up To The Vile Right Wing Party Screwing British Working People


Remember back in April when Theresa May was leading Jeremy Corbyn 50-25%? Corbyn has been slowly gaining ground over the last few weeks and a new poll out Friday from YouGov shows the gap closing further: 43-38%. A few days before those numbers came out, The Independent did some extremely interesting reporting on why Labour is surging, primarily because the media is finally giving Corbyn impartial coverage. Forget for a moment that Labor's establishment "Blue Dogs" and "New Dems"-- the Conservative wing of the Labour Party-- has been undercutting and sabotaging Corbyn relentlessly and let's concentrate on The Independent's observation that the "poll bounce coincides with general election broadcast rules kicking in. The public are finally seeing that Corbyn is not the person he has been portrayed as." Political hacks in the Labour establishment and their friends in the media are about as excited about Corbyn as Democratic Party shitheads like Wasserman Schultz is about Bernie-- and just as vicious and destructive.
There are two reasons for this [surge]. Firstly, the public tends to only engage with politics during a general election campaign. Very few people follow all the twists and turns of Westminster in their day to day lives. They might pick up the odd bit of information, often through the prism of a right wing tabloid press which usually sets the agenda, but as we near 8 June and people have to make their minds up about who to vote for, a lot more attention will be paid to what the parties are saying. This is why a link to Labour’s very popular manifesto went viral on Facebook last week.

It is also interesting how Labour’s poll bounce coincides with general election broadcast rules kicking in. The public are finally seeing that Jeremy Corbyn is not the person he has been portrayed as in sections of the right wing press, although some broadcasters still insist on using the pejorative term “hard left,” which is somewhat at odds with polling that indicates the public supports the policies in the Labour manifesto.

Labour under Jeremy Corbyn isn’t hard left-- it’s mainstream.

This is one reason why Theresa May has avoided debating Jeremy Corbyn. Another is that parroting pre-prepared lines doesn’t get you very far in a debate format. Conservative strategists are caught between the necessity of using May’s popularity to detoxify their party’s brand in the north of England, but also knowing that her popularity is based on a perception borne out of carefully choreographed public appearances.

Jeremy is the only leader whose approval ratings have improved since the election was called, jumping 11 points. But approval ratings don’t tell the whole story. Pollsters ask for a judgement on whether the leader is doing a good job, which is effectively asking people to second guess what everyone else thinks about a politician. Much more interesting is YouGov’s net positivity rating, and Jeremy’s has gone from -19 to +22 within the space of a month, with 57 per cent either liking or really liking him. This is one reason why more people would consider voting for Jeremy Corbyn compared to alternative Labour candidates.

One of Labour’s challenges in the coming weeks is to win over Ukip voters who have switched to the Conservatives, which is the primary reason for their current lead in the polls. This task is much easier because Jeremy won the second leadership contest and, as a result, the party accepted the result of the referendum.

Another priority will be mobilising young voters. What has been impressive is Jeremy’s capacity to appear on stage at Wirral Live and not look out of place, and his ability to attract the support of key influencers such as actor Danny DeVito, Geordie Shore’s Scotty T and grime artists including JME and Lowkey, whose powerful tribute went viral [below]. Labour is way ahead among 18-24 year olds, so turnout will have a big impact on the outcome of this election, and the Conservatives will be concerned that many older voters may switch to Labour or not vote at all because of their disastrous social care plans, which are borne out of a reluctance to tax the wealthiest and big business just a little bit more.

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A Republican Who Used To Be In The House: "You Republicans In The House Have Been Lying Non-Stop About What You're Not Going To Cut"


I don't watch Morning Joe but Bernie tweeted some of this rant Friday and it really is awesome. Before he became a Morning Zoo host on MSNBC Joe Scarborough was a Republican congressman from Florida's Panhandle (basically Alabama)-- 1995 'til 2001 when he was forced to resign after being implicated in the death of a 28 year old staffer, Lori Klausutis, a case that was dropped after the resignation.

Yesterday Scarborough lit into his old party repeatedly calling them liars and saying they are "going straight to hell politically." He seemed overwrought, complaining that the "lie through their teeth every day... My party is going straight to hell politically. They really are. They're going straight to hell. They have embraced the coarsening of culture where the truth means absolutely nothing, conservative values mean absolutely nothing... Did [Mick Mulvaney] say we don't cut Medicaid? That is just a lie. That is a certifiable lie... If you want to do it, embrace it. Don't lie about it. Stop lying about it. We know you're lying about it. We're not stupid, and you Republicans in the House have been lying non-stop about what you're not going to cut."

It sounds better than it reads. Watch that clip up top. And backing up Scarborough's assertion that the House Republicans are all mimicking compulsive, congenital liars Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Tom Price, Mick Mulvaney and, worst of all, Paul Ryan is the CBO score that came out this week showing just how devastating TrumpCare would be for millions of Americans-- and all so the people least in need of tax breaks, get massive ones. Thursday the Center for America Progress posted what those numbers are like in every congressional district, based on the CBO’s projections. By 2026, on average, about 53,000 fewer people will have coverage in each congressional district but people in some districts are hurt far more than others. The South Florida districts, for example are hit especially hard. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, one of the last hold-outs among Democrats refusing to co-sponsor John Conyers' Medicare-For-All Act, is in a Broward/Miami-Dade district where 88,700 people will lose coverage.

Worse yet is how badly folks in western North Carolina fare under this plan-- not just twice as badly as the average congressional district-- but under the very provisions forced on Congress by the congressman from western North Carolina: Freedom Caucus headman Mark Meadows. We spoke to the progressive Democrat running for his seat this cycle, Matt Coffay. "My opponent, Mark Meadows, crafted and pushed the AHCA 2.0 bill through the House," he told us. "He specifically inserted the state waiver loopholes that, according to CBO, are going to result in 23 million Americans losing their health coverage.

Goal Thermometer "Now, the Center for American Progress has released a report detailing coverage losses state-by-state. They've also run the numbers on how many people will lose health coverage in each Congressional district nationwide. This isn't just how many people will lose their private insurance--this is how many people will flat out lose healthcare, including Medicaid and employer-provided insurance plans.

"The national average across all 435 Congressional districts is 53,000. But here in Western North Carolina, in NC-11, that number is 102,600. That's right: Mark Meadows crafted AHCA 2.0, and it's going to result in more than one hundred thousand people in his district losing health coverage. That's twice the national average.

"Nearly half of those people are on private insurance; another 47,500 are on Medicaid, and will lose their benefits. This law impacts everyone: whether you're low income and receiving Medicaid, or running a small business and buying your own insurance, or receiving benefits through your employer, you stand to lose your coverage.

"When I'm in the House, one of the first bills I intend to sign onto as a co-sponsor is H.R. 676: Medicare for All. It's time we passed a bill that ensures healthcare for every American, and not a bill that takes coverage away from working people."

The other western North Carolina district that gets devastated-- 102,000 citizens of NC-05 will be without health insurance-- by this is radical right Republican's Virginia Foxx. And like Meadows, Foxx has a dedicated progressive activist holding her accountable this cycle, Jenny Marshall. Earlier today Jenny told us that "1 out of every 7 citizens in the 5th district will lose their healthcare within the next 9 years. For years Virginia Foxx has voted against the best interests of fellow North Carolinian's. She refuses to invest in their future with good paying jobs, their education, and their health. 57% of the households earn less than $49,000 and 75% earn less than $75,000 annually. They cannot afford to choose between putting food on their table and the rising cost of healthcare. Since North Carolina refused to expand Medicaid, people bought their new healthcare plans using subsidies from the government. Under Trump's budget those subsidies are eliminated then couple that with the CBO report on the AHCA, we are going to have a catastrophic loss of access to healthcare in the 5th district. In contrast to Foxx's opinion, I view healthcare as a basic right and therefor advocate for a single payer plan that provides people with the security of knowing their healthcare needs are covered."


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Will The Man With The Smallest Penis Please Step To The Front? Trump Shoves Fellow NATO Leader


-by Noah

Check out the above clip of our boorish, ill-mannered, egomaniacal monstrosity, and Republican excuse for a president as he shoves his way to front and center for the camera.

Trump was in Brussels, Belgium (a city he has previously rudely called a “hellhole”) for meetings with the other leaders of NATO. There he is, Don the Con, folks, in all his glory, pride of the Republican Party, a “man” who lives off loans and largesse from Russian oligarchs and praises Putin while denigrating our NATO allies and their leaders and the very concept of NATO itself, just like his Russian friends do-- and wanted him to do.

When we were attacked on 9/11/01, it was NATO that was the first to come to our defense with troops and aid. But, here Trump is, acting like a gorilla, disrespectfully shoving his way past Montenegro’s new Prime Minister, Dusk Markovic, to the front of the group to primp and pose for the camera, acting like some overly full of himself 3rd world dictator.

To Markovic’s credit and as a sign of the class that is notably missing form our leader, he diplomatically said that he wasn’t offended. Sure.

If I’d been Markovic’s place, I would have quickly tripped Don the Con and grabbed him by the tie as he fell to the ground, saying, “when you’re the PM, they let you do it.” But then, no one ever accused me of being a politician.

What an embarrassment for our country! Notice how Trump also dismisses one of the other leaders by turning his head from her. How much more damage from this miscreant before he's gone? I hope the other leaders checked for their wallets as Trump moved through the crowd.

By the way, Prime Minister Markovic, is the NATO leader that Putin has been particularly outspoken against and working to sabotage. So, this was Trump delivering a message from Putin as much as anything else.

Ring Of Fire’s Farron Cousins has more, much more on the Trumpanzee’s shitwalk through the Middle East and Europe:

If only we could, like I said last week, ban Trump and his gang of future convicts from re-entering what is still, for now, our country!

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Nehlen's Not Going To Nail Ryan In 2018 But There Is A Candidate Who Will


Far right Trump-worshipping crackpot Paul Nehlen wants a rematch. He's challenging Paul Ryan in Ryan's southeast Wisconsin congressional district to a primary battle again. In 2016 Nehlen put up $62,766 of his own and raised another $1,379,852 in a clash with Ryan. Nehlen was the Breitbart candidate and had very vocal support from Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter and Phyllis Schlafly. That kind of lunatic fringe support may help account for Ryan crushing him with 57,364 votes (84.1%) to Nehlen's 10,864 (15.9%).

In 2018 Ryan will be vulnerable to a solid Democratic challenge. The DCCC wants nothing too do with that but one gets the sense that iron worker and union activist Randy Bryce from Caledonia is putting together a challenge that will better reflect the swing nature of a district the DCCC had purposefully ignored for a decade. Polling in the district shows Ryan very beatable and Bryce is just the candidate to bring voters a nitty gritty contrast to Ryan's slick and increasingly unbelievable barrage of shallow lies.

Voters from Kenosha and Racine through Burlington and Elkhorn out to Janesville are wising up to Ryan's austerity bullshit. This summer will be the 7th anniversary of Paul Krugman's explanation of why Paul Ryan is America's ultimate Flimflam Man, something worth re-visiting today. Long before Ryan was Speaker, Krugman put him into context:
One depressing aspect of American politics is the susceptibility of the political and media establishment to charlatans. You might have thought, given past experience, that D.C. insiders would be on their guard against conservatives with grandiose plans. But no: as long as someone on the right claims to have bold new proposals, he’s hailed as an innovative thinker. And nobody checks his arithmetic.

Which brings me to the innovative thinker du jour: Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Mr. Ryan has become the Republican Party’s poster child for new ideas thanks to his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” a plan for a major overhaul of federal spending and taxes. News media coverage has been overwhelmingly favorable; on Monday, The Washington Post put a glowing profile of Mr. Ryan on its front page, portraying him as the G.O.P.’s fiscal conscience. He’s often described with phrases like “intellectually audacious.”

But it’s the audacity of dopes. Mr. Ryan isn’t offering fresh food for thought; he’s serving up leftovers from the 1990s, drenched in flimflam sauce.

Mr. Ryan’s plan calls for steep cuts in both spending and taxes. He’d have you believe that the combined effect would be much lower budget deficits, and, according to that Washington Post report, he speaks about deficits “in apocalyptic terms.” And The Post also tells us that his plan would, indeed, sharply reduce the flow of red ink: “The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan would cut the budget deficit in half by 2020.”

But the budget office has done no such thing. At Mr. Ryan’s request, it produced an estimate of the budget effects of his proposed spending cuts-- period. It didn’t address the revenue losses from his tax cuts.

...[W]why have so many in Washington, especially in the news media, been taken in by this flimflam? It’s not just inability to do the math, although that’s part of it. There’s also the unwillingness of self-styled centrists to face up to the realities of the modern Republican Party; they want to pretend, in the teeth of overwhelming evidence, that there are still people in the G.O.P. making sense. And last but not least, there’s deference to power-- the G.O.P. is a resurgent political force, so one mustn’t point out that its intellectual heroes have no clothes.

But they don’t. The Ryan plan is a fraud that makes no useful contribution to the debate over America’s fiscal future.
Even earlier, in a column titled "Don't Know Much About Economics," Krugman explained to his readers that Ryan is "stone-cold ignorant" and laughed about how he's "the smartest Republican Congress has to offer," eviscerating the notion that Ryan has any idea of what he's talking about. "Ryan’s idea of fiscal reform," Krugman warned us even back then, "is to run huge deficits for decades, but claim that it’s all OK because we’ll cut spending 40 years from now; and he throws a hissy fit when people challenge his numbers, or call privatization by its real name. But hey, he’s intellectually ambitious."

Ambitious, yes. Intellectually ambitious? Well for someone who thinks Ayn Rand is an intellectual... sure. In 2011 Ryan was on Face the Nation doing what Wall Street pays him to do: lying his ass off about his "cause," or what the GOP was passing off as his budget proposal. Soon after he started reciting his talking points it was impossible to keep track of all the misinformation and outright deception. Remember, Ryan, who was basing his budget on "closing loopholes" has adamantly supported corporate loopholes for his entire career, even voting against closing tax loopholes for companies shipping jobs overseas and using those loopholes to lower their tax liability. Underscoring his lack of credibility on loopholes, he voted against closing them again that year when the Democrats proposed stopping the federal government from giving contracts to companies that outsource American jobs overseas. When Ryan runs to the media insisting that “we're saying keep tax rates where they are right now, get rid of all those loopholes and deductions which are mostly enjoyed by wealthy people so you can lower tax rates” he's determined to mislead his listeners. He does the same thing when-- petrified Americans see though his plan to end Medicare-- he insists Republicans don't want to ration Medicare. But the CBO warned even back then that higher payments could affect care as beneficiaries might be less likely to use new, costly, but possibly beneficial, technologies and techniques-- "free market rationing," pure and simple. Even the Wall Street Journal acknowledged Ryan's plan would end Medicare: "The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills. Mr. Ryan and other conservatives say this is necessary because of the program's soaring costs." And Ryan's most current plan to destroy America's families-- TrumpCare-- would remove 48,900 residents of his own district from the rolls of Americans who are covered by health insurance.

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The Democratic Party Brand Needs Some Work-- But Not By The People Who Ruined It


In his Rolling Stone essay after Gianforte beat Quist in Montana Thursday night, The Democrats Need A New Message, Matt Taibbi included a litany of excuses the DC Dems always have on hand to explain why they've been losing all the time-- even to monstrosities like Gianforte, Staten Island Mafia thug Michael Grimm, patient-raping-doctor Scott Desjarlais, and, worst by far, Señor Trumpanze.

One of the excuses Taibbi mentioned was how the GOP uses corporate cash to overwhelm less well-financed Democrats. It reminded me of a conversation I had with an exceptionally bright congressmember last November. I predicted that the Republicans would use their all-branch dominance to overreach and turn the voters against them. My congressional friend disagreed--not about the overreach but about voters turning against them. He predicted that they would leverage their power to unleash a flood of corporate money into party coffers and drown the Democrats with it. And Taibbi acknowledged that "Republicans have often, but not always, had fundraising advantages in key races.

Taibbi was talking about how much more Hillary had to spend in 2016 than Trump did. I want to reinforce that on a congressional level. A few days ago we looked at how the Rahm Emanuel DCCC's toxic candidate recruitment resulted in dozens and dozens of Blue Dogs and New Dems been swept out of Congress in the 2010 midterms when Democratic voters boycotted the elections rather than vote again for the DCCC's Republican-lite candidates. And that wasn't because of the Republicans having more corporate cash. In fact, in many cases it was the exact opposite. Republicans beat shitty Blue Dogs and New Dems who had more special interest cash than their GOP opponent did. Here are just a few random examples:
Bobby Bright (Blue Dog-AL)- $1,435,526 vs Martha Roby- $1,240,276
Harry Mitchell (Blue Dog-AZ)- $2,308,400) vs Dave Schweikert- $1,721,364
Ann Kirkpatrick (New Dem-AZ)- $1,956,364 vs Paul Gosar- $1,168,287
Tim Mahoney (Blue Dog-FL)- $2,756,453 vs Tom Rooney- $1,597,768
Suzanne Kosmas (Blue Dog-FL)- $2,561,831 vs Sandy Adams- $1,266,664
Walt Minnick (Blue Dog-ID)- $2,473,287 vs Raul Labrador- $686,293
Debbie Halvorson (New Dem-IL)- $2,502,037 vs Adam Kinzinger- $1,827,192
Baron Hill (Blue Dog-IN)- $2,167,570 vs Todd Young- $1,950,159
Frank Kratovil (Blue Dog-MD)- $2,621,893 vs Andy Harris $2,383,184
John Adler (Blue Dog-NJ)- $3,285,638 vs Jon Runyan- $1,518,073
Michael McMahon (Blue Dog-NY)- $2,897,473 vs Michael Grimm- $1,249,139
Dan Maffei (New Dem-NY)- $3,114,128 vs Ann Marie Buerkle- $758,777
Scott Murphy (Blue Dog-NY)- $5,321,745 vs Chris Gibson- $1,734,219
Mike Acuri (Blue Dog-NY)- $1,886,555 vs Richard Hanna- $1,260,258
Zack Space (Blue Dog-OH)- $2,931,978 vs Bob Gibbs- $1,090,872
Kathy Dahlkemper (Blue Dog-PA)- $1,957,701 vs Mike Kelly- $1,235,460
Patrick Murphy (New Dem-PA)- $4,287,244 vs Mike Fitzpatrick- $2,062,733
Chris Carney (Blue Dog-PA)- $1,657,586 vs Tom Marino- $704,457
Taibbi continued that "The unspoken subtext of a lot of the Democrats' excuse-making is their growing belief that the situation is hopeless-- and not just because of fixable institutional factors like gerrymandering, but because we simply have a bad/irredeemable electorate that can never be reached. This is why the 'basket of deplorables' comment last summer was so devastating."
But the "deplorables" comment didn't just further alienate already lost Republican votes. It spoke to an internal sickness within the Democratic Party, which had surrendered to a negativistic vision of a hopelessly divided country.

Things are so polarized now that, as Georgia State professor Jennifer McCoy put it on NPR this spring, each side views the other not as fellow citizens with whom they happen to disagree, but as a "threatening enemy to be vanquished."

The "deplorables" comment formalized this idea that Democrats had given up on a huge chunk of the population, and now sought only to defeat and subdue their enemies.

Barack Obama, for all his faults, never gave in to that mindset. He continually insisted that the Democrats needed to find a way to reach lost voters. Even in the infamous "guns and religion" episode, this was so. Obama then was talking about the challenge the Democrats faced in finding ways to reconnect with people who felt ignored and had fled to "antipathy toward people who aren't like them" as a consequence.

Even as he himself was the subject of vicious and racist rhetoric, Obama stumped in the reddest of red districts. In his post-mortem on the Trump-Clinton race, he made a point of mentioning this-- that in Iowa he had gone to every small town and fish fry and VFW hall, and "there were some counties where I might have lost, but maybe I lost by 20 points instead of 50 points."

Most people took his comments to be a dig at Clinton's strategic shortcomings-- she didn't campaign much in many of the key states she lost-- but it was actually more profound than that. Obama was trying to point out that people respond when you demonstrate that you don't believe they're unredeemable.

You can't just dismiss people as lost, even bad or misguided people. Unless every great thinker from Christ to Tolstoy to Gandhi to Dr. King is wrong, it's especially those people you have to keep believing in, and trying to reach.

The Democrats have forgotten this. While it may not be the case with Quist, who seems to have run a decent campaign, the Democrats in general have lost the ability (and the inclination) to reach out to the entire population.

They're continuing, if not worsening, last year's mistake of running almost exclusively on Trump/Republican negatives... But "Republicans are bad" isn't a message or a plan, which is why the Democrats have managed the near impossible: losing ground overall during the singular catastrophe of the Trump presidency.

The party doesn't see that the largest group of potential swing voters out there doesn't need to be talked out of voting Republican. It needs to be talked out of not voting at all. The recent polls bear this out, showing that the people who have been turned off to the Democrats in recent months now say that in a do-over, they would vote for third parties or not at all.

People need a reason to be excited by politics, and not just disgusted with the other side. Until the Democrats figure that out, these improbable losses will keep piling up.
One Democratic congressman who gets it right is California's Ro Khanna. Watch this clip of a powerful messaging interview he did yesterday with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC. We talked to him about it after he was done with Andrea. He reiterated that "the Democrats need to be for fairer rules in the economy. But we also have to have a vision of job creation in middle America. We need to be a party that is both progressive and aspirational."

We talked to two Illinois progressives who are running against entrenched conservative incumbents this cycle. Marie Newman's Chicagoland district around Bridgeport, Canaryville, West Lawn, Midway Airport, Oak Lawn, Hickory Hills and the way out into the suburbs as far as Lockport and Homer Glen. It's a solid blue bungalow belt district with a far right-wing Blue Dog incumbent, Dan Lipinski. Newman's campaign platform has been very focused on the struggles of small businesses. "To be clear," she told us, "Trump’s budget is anti-small and mid market business. Defunding programs enabling small and mid-size manufacturing companies to retrain, scale and in turn, drive jobs, is ridiculous. Rather than taking away those programs, we should be increasing them. Small business is the fastest growing sector and where most jobs are being created, it should be supported. We need to stop favoring large corporations and start supporting small business."

Greg Petzel is also a small businessman and a Chicagoland candidate, running in a district further west. And his opponent, knee-jerk Republican Pete Roskam, is even further right than Lipinski.
I have always believed that the majority of people who enter political life do so because they want to make their community, state or nation better and improve the lives of the people they represent. Based on that concept I also believe that almost everyone shares the same values and that our elected officials have a responsibility to transfer those values into legislation. I believe this is fundamentally true. Have you ever met anyone who prefers polluted air and toxic water over fresh air and clean water? Have you ever met someone who seeks less opportunity at improving their income, or someone who would prefer to go without essential medical treatment? I think Americans have a united set of values.

Unfortunately we often divide ourselves into class, race, or party and our values get trampled on by rhetoric, money, power or special interest agendas. In my district, we have a large number of folks considering running against our radical right-wing congressman, Peter Roskam. Most will tell you they are running because they oppose the Trump Agenda and want to get rid of our congressman because he votes with Trump every time. But simply not liking our congressman isn't enough-- if it were, we would have 143,591 (votes against him in 2016) candidates qualified to run against him. This idea that we oppose an agenda and have no clear agenda or values as a party is exactly why we keep losing elections.

Democrats controlled the House of Representatives from 1955-1995 and stood firmly for strong values-- civil rights, workers rights, women's rights and environmental protection. During that time we created almost all of the nations environmental laws, we created Medicare, and we solidified civil rights legislation. The Democratic Party stood for values that most Americans believed in. And we won elections. And we made our nation and peoples lives better.

Today that Democratic Party-- the one I was taught growing up would fight for me, only exists through a minority of progressive members of Congress. I am happy to bash Democrats or Republicans who try to crush the values I am fighting for. As a party, or at least as individual candidates, we should be fighting for the values that historically drove the Democratic Party. Those values are American values- they are fundamentally ingrained in our hearts and minds and souls as Americans. We don't need the DCCC or any political party to tell us what our common values are. I believe that our fight should be one based on fundamental values that are shared by all people-- Democrat, Republican and Independent. If we can overcome the rhetoric and money and special interests and win elections on real fundamental values, rather than opposition and dislike of our opponents, we can re-establish not only the America I believe in, but the Democratic Party that once fought for us. And in that America, we all win.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Lessons From Montana’s Special Election Of May 25


1.       Republicans cannot coast to re-election even in districts where they have had big majorities.

2.       Republicans have a lot of money to spend, and are being forced to spend it in those districts.

3.       The pressure of unexpected competition, and unwelcome questions about taking healthcare away from low income people, tend to provoke displays of Republicans' dark side.

4.       The Democratic establishment’s small and late funding of progressive nominees slows and reduces the pressure on Republicans.

5.       Montana Democratic nominee Rob Quist deserves our thanks for a valiant effort, and his progress in putting the "country" back in "country music."

Blue America’s latest music video (above) puts even more country back into country music, to help raise funds for many other progressives who are making the personal sacrifice of running for Congress without money from big business, PACs or, in general, the Democratic establishment.
Goal Thermometer
Check it out, and we think you’ll agree, that

freedom’s just another word when monied politicians leave us nothing left to lose
and feeling good is easy when supporting Progressive Democratic candidates.

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"This Is A Gangster Family"-- The FBI's Person Of Interest


The quote in the subject line was something reporter Michelle Goldberg said to Chris Hayes last night, about Prince Jared or, as we know him, Kushner-in-law. Her point was that the Kushners-- like the Trumps-- may be able to afford to clean up nicely but that they are nothing but vicious, merciless predators. And now the law is catching up with them (again). As more than one Twitter wag remarked this morning, "Gangsters don't hire family members because they're qualified. Gangsters hire family members because they're less likely to talk to the FBI." The FBI is looking into Kushner's Putin-Gate role. NBC first reported that Kushner is under scrutiny.
The FBI's scrutiny of Kushner places the bureau's sprawling counterintelligence and criminal investigation not only on the doorstep of the White House, but the Trump family circle. The Washington Post first reported last week that a senior White House official close to Trump was a "person of interest," but did not name the person. The term "person of interest" has no legal meaning.

The officials said Kushner is in a different category from former Trump aides Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, who are formally considered subjects of the investigation. According to the Justice Department's U.S. Attorneys' Manual, "A 'subject' of an investigation is a person whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury's investigation."

...Kushner met at least once in December with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, and he also met last year with a Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov... Congressional aides have said they would like to question Kushner about that meeting, and Kushner has said he would voluntarily appear before the Senate intelligence committee as part of its Russia investigation.

Gorkov is chairman of VneshEconomBank, a Russian government-owned institution that has been under U.S. sanctions since July 2014. Gorkov studied at the training school for the FSB, one of Russia's intelligence services.
Sources on the fringe right say Bannon is taking a victory lap over the widely reported FBI news. We've been writing about Jared's fabulous adventure for over a year now, from the jailbird father to the visa-selling in China. But a must-read on this slimy crook came out this week at Slate by Jamelle Bouie, Nothing But Slumlords. "In a feature for ProPublica and the New York Times Magazine," wrote Bouie, "journalist Alec MacGillis shined light on the role of Jared Kushner-- son-in-law and close adviser to President Trump-- as a real estate developer and landlord. In 2011 and 2012, seeking a stable source of revenue, Kushner and his partners purchased thousands of units of working-class housing in the inner-ring suburbs of cities like Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Their largest holdings are in Baltimore County, Maryland, where they control 15 complexes that house up to 20,000 people in total. And in managing these properties, reports MacGillis, Kushner is a harsh and unforgiving landlord." A friend of mine, who was Kushner's tutor when he was in high school tells me Kushner isn't very bright and her son told me he's "a violent, spoiled asshole." No one could believe he got into Harvard-- until it came out that his father bought him a slot in the freshman class.
Kushner’s company is relentless in its pursuit of “virtually any unpaid rent or broken lease-- even in the numerous cases where the facts appear to be on the tenants’ side.” Residents are slapped with thousands of dollars in fees and penalties, even if they had previously won permission to terminate a lease. All of this is compounded by poor upkeep of facilities. MacGillis describes one family that has had to deal with mold, broken appliances, and physical damage to their unit-- even after paying the management company for repairs. In one complex, a resident “had a mouse infestation that was severe enough that her 12-year-old daughter recently found one in her bed.” In another, raw sewage flowed into the apartment.

Jared Kushner stepped down as chief executive of Kushner Companies upon taking his position in the White House, although he retains a $600 million stake in the business, which still holds and manages these properties. “They’re nothing but slumlords,” said one tenant to MacGillis. For someone whose company all but exploits the precariousness and desperation of people who have few other choices for decent housing, it is a fair charge.

...Kushner... is working in an administration whose policies would make life more precarious for even more people. The priorities include a health care plan that would take insurance from tens of millions of people, a budget plan that would slash vital aid for up to one-fifth of all Americans, and a tax plan that would use those funds to lower rates for the wealthiest Americans. In turn, that precariousness opens new opportunities for those, like Kushner and Trump, who will not hesitate to exploit vulnerable people for profit.

The past eight years of Democratic government were far from perfect, but liberal policymakers were at least attuned to the reality of exploitation and the need for policies and protections to stop and punish the businesses that work to make life more difficult, and more expensive, for ordinary Americans. Like President Trump’s “university,” Jared Kushner’s history in the low-income housing market is a reminder: With this White House, we don’t just have an indifference to exploitation-- we have an administration of actual predatory capitalists eager to reshape the government in their image, for their interests.
Last night Politico ran a story by David Freedlander, Meet the Real Jared Kushner in which he reiterates that Kushner "in a White House sullied by ties to Russia and all sorts of unsavory characters from the fringe, Kushner was set to float above, surrounding himself with fellow figures from the elite worlds of Manhattan finance and real estate and deep-sixing the harder-edged ideas of the White House’s 'nationalist' wing... Because he is soft-spoken, slim and handsome, with degrees from Harvard and NYU and a family that donates to Democrats, he couldn’t possibly be the same guy knifing his West Wing rivals and urging the president to go to war with the Justice Department and the FBI."
Except that this isn’t quite how it has gone in the White House over the last several months. It was Kushner who reportedly pushed for the firing of FBI Director James Comey over the objections of Bannon. And it was Kushner who was the lone voice urging for a counterattack after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the appointment of a special prosecutor, according to the New York Times. And it is now Kushner whose family’s business activities leave him open to the same level of charges of conflict of interest that have dogged his wife and father-in-law, and Kushner who appears to be as closely tied to the Russian government as anyone serving in the White House: NBC News and the Washington Post reported Thursday that the FBI is taking a close look at his contacts with the Russians.

UPDATE: It's Friday So The News Is Coming Hot And Furious

The NY Times has their own new Putin-Gate blockbuster tonight-- just hours after the story about how Kushner proposed to the Russians that they set up a secret channel of communication using secure Russian facilities, something he carefiully hid from American intelligence. This one is about a Putin crony, Oleg Deripaska, who Manafort used to work for. He wants immunity to testify in front of Congress. Congress turned him down. Deripaska lives in Moscow and has been banned from traveling to the U.S. because of his connections to organized crime.
But he was able to enter the country in another way during that period, according to previously undisclosed court documents. Mr. Deripaska came to the United States eight times between 2011 and 2014 with government permission as a Russian diplomat, according to affidavits he gave in a little-noticed lawsuit in a Manhattan court. Mr. Deripaska said in the court papers that his visits were brief and made in connection with meetings of the G-20 and the United Nations, not to conduct business.

The court documents and public records show that Mr. Deripaska, whose companies have long had offices in New York, has expanded his American holdings over the past 10 years, buying high-priced Manhattan townhouses and a major stake in a Russian-language newspaper in New York.

The lawsuit was brought by Alexander Gliklad, a Russian-born businessman, who charged that Mr. Deripaska had used his diplomatic status as a cover to do business, which the oligarch denied. Mr. Gliklad claims he is entitled to collect funds that Mr. Deripaska had agreed to pay to settle a lawsuit with a man who owed Mr. Gliklad money from a court judgment. Last month, a New York State Supreme Court justice rejected Mr. Gliklad’s argument that the Manhattan court had jurisdiction over Mr. Deripaska.

As Mr. Manafort’s dealings with Russia-friendly Ukrainian politicians, business activities and loans have come under examination in recent months, his former client has gotten caught up in the media scrutiny. The two men were partners in an offshore fund set up in 2007 to buy telecommunications and cable television assets in Ukraine, where Mr. Manafort had advised then-President Viktor F. Yanukovych. That deal fell apart, winding up in litigation in the Cayman Islands.

In March, Mr. Deripaska took out newspaper ads stating that he was willing to participate in hearings before Congress after The Associated Press published a report alleging that Mr. Manafort had provided him with a plan in 2005 outlining steps to “greatly benefit the Putin government,” by influencing politics and news coverage in the United States. Mr. Deripaska has denied ever entering into such an arrangement and sued The A.P. for libel last month. The news organization has said it stands by its article. Mr. Manafort has denied that his work for the oligarch was aimed at aiding the Russian government.

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Patrick Murphy-- Not Finished Destroying The Democratic Party Brand Yet?


Is there a contest at the DCCC recruiting committee-- headed by multimillionaire New Dem Denny Heck (WA) and Rahm Emanuel disciple Blue Dog Cheri Bustos-- to see who could come up with the worst possible candidate of the cycle, one that would guarantee the loss of a deep blue seat that almost can't be lost? Bustos generally comes up with more losers than anyone else and has the worst recruitment record of anyone in history. But no one is taking credit for the still secret loser-of-the-cycle, Patrick Murphy.

Murphy, a brainless, spoiled drunken party boy whose daddy bought him a seat in the West Palm area, was one of the worst members of Congress ever. A lifelong Republican who pretended to be a Democrat-- or at least a New Dem-- had an abysmal voting record that was basically all that Wall Street could ever ask for. He was their #1 pick for the U.S. Senate last cycle and the banksters pumped $2,380,989 into his pathetic dead-on-arrival campaign. His haul from the Financial Sector while he was in Congress was $4,014,637,which he repaid them many times over by voting for their reactionary agenda in the House Financial Services Committee. The banksters-- and Chuck Schumer-- just wanted to make sure Alan Grayson wasn't the Democratic nominee. As soon as Murphy-- with an assist from Obama-in-need-of-library-contributions-- defeated Grayson, the DSCC and their allies abandoned Murphy to his dismal fate. Rubio defeated him. Although Trump beat Hillary in Florida 4,617,886 (49.%) to 4,504,975 (48%), Rubio pulverized Murphy 4,835,191 (52%) to 4,122,088 (43%).

When Ileana Ros Lehtinen announced she wouldn't run for reelection next year, her seat instantly became a major Democratic target. After all, although-- at the insistence of Debbie Wasserman Schultz-- they had NEVER contested it before, Obama won the seat 53-47% against Romney and Hillary beat Trump there massively-- 58.6% to 38.9%. This is the bluest seat in the country held by a Republican but the DCCC pretended they never heard of it. Until now. Now it's a top priority.

One of the best possible recruits they could hope for, a Latina in a 73% Hispanic district, who had already won races for other offices in the district, went to the DCCC and said she wanted to run. Instead of kissing her feet and thanking her, they told her to fuck off because they had already given the nomination to... wait for it-- Patrick Murphy. His old district-- which he's too scared to run in again-- is an hour and 45 minutes from Miami up the I-95. You would drive through Frederica Wilson's, Wasserman Schultz's, Lois Frankel's, Alcee Hasting's and Ted Deutch's before hitting Port St. Lucie in the heart of Murphy's old district. And He's about the least Hispanic person you'll ever meet. His connection to the district is that his father docked his yacht there and young Patrick used to go clubbing and drinking (and fighting with police) in the district.

Yesterday Alex Leary from the Tampa Bay Times ran that screen shot of "Congressman" Patrick Murphy's letter asking for contributions-- part of an article entitled Who is Congressman Patrick Murphy?
The former lawmaker, who left the House to run for Senate, has been sending out similar emails that give the impression he's in office.

So what is he up to?

“I want to stay involved to do what I can to stay involved and help like-minded Democrats,” he recently told Politico. “I miss public service, but I don’t miss the House much, especially with Trump and all.”

Murphy said he's interested in running for office again but isn't sure what.
I asked a DCCC staffer. He said it was probably Bustos up to her old tricks but that they hadn't told the staff yet. "He'd be a really bad fit for the district. Bustos is an idiot and no one pays any attention to her anymore... This would be exactly how to lose FL-27. No one around here is that stupid." Uh huh... we'll see. The DCCC can't resist self-funders, conservatives, Wall Street whores and "ex"-Republicans. As far as Murphy goes that's check, check, check, check.

Is there a good candidate running? We hear great stuff about Michael Hepburn but we haven't talked to him yet.

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Political Purity Test? I Don't Think So


If you've been reading DWT even in the most cursory of ways any time since 2005, you know we spend a lot of time on the DCCC and on the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. It's been a theme as much as the DC culture of corruption and the bankruptcy of conservatism and the banal evil of the Republican Party. But a day never goes by when some Twitter brain surgeon doesn't pop up in my feed to whine and snivel about how "purity" enables [fill in the enemy of the moment; today's imbécile du jour was barking about Putin]. I gave up years ago responding to people that low on the political evolution scale. But there was a vote in the House yesterday-- on H.R. 953, Bob Gibbs' Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017-- pretty standard-- albeit devastating-- Republican fare to undermine environmental protections. The effect of the bill will be to allow for the dumping of tons of pesticides into the nation's streams and lakes-- without any public acknowledgement; no permits required.

Speaking on the House floor before yesterday's vote, Jim McGovern (D-MA), the ranking member of the House Agriculture Nutrition Subcommittee said "The Republicans are again bending over backward to help corporations and the wealthiest among us, while ignoring science and leaving hard-working families to suffer the consequences." True enough-- mostly.

It passed 256-165 and only one Republican opposed it. But-- and here's what McGovern's statement belies-- 25 Democrats crossed the aisle to vote with the Republicans, mostly Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- Blue Dogs and New Dems-- who always cross the aisle to vote for most of the corporate-backed GOP agenda we love to castigate Ryan and McConnell for. On legislation like this, these Blue Dogs and New Dems are as dangerous to our families as any Republicans are. Is pointing that out being a purist and a Putin-enabler?

These are the Blue Dogs and New Dems, all repeat offenders in their participation in the Republican war against America. Each one has an overall score of "F" from ProgressivePunch. Most of them are in public service for a career larded with corporate bribes.
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)
Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL)
Andre Carson (New Dem-IN)
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Suzan DelBene (New Dem-WA)
Vicente Gonzales (Blue Dog-TX)
Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)
Anne Kuster (New Dem-NH)
Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY)
Tom O'Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)
David Scott (Blue Dog-GA)
Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)
Filemon Vela (Blue Dog-TX)
These people have earned primaries-- though none of them get primaries. Instead, the DCCC works exceedingly hard to recruit other shitheads just like them, while undermining and sabotaging progressives who try to run for Congress. Who to thank? Rahm is gone but his DNA is the DCCC's DNA. Today the operation is controlled by Pelosi, Hoyer, Joe Crowley, Ben Ray Lujan and recruiting chair and vice-chair Denny Heck (New Dem-WA) and Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL).

Goal Thermometer This isn't about "purity." It's about making sure the Democratic Party stands for something worthwhile and offers an alternative to the horrific Republican agenda. What good is a me-too Democratic Party owned lock, stock and barrel by the corporate special interests (who also happens be the big campaign donors for both parties)? AND, somewhat ironically, recruiting these kinds of creatures is a proven failure, since after they get into Congress and start voting with the GOP, grassroots Democratic voters eventually refuse to vote for them any more-- as we showed earlier in the week here. That Blue America primary thermometer on the right is for progressives with the courage to stand up and primary bad Democrats. It's the hardest job in politics and these men and women deserve our support for taking on a pretty thankless task.

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Republican Candidates Are In A State Of Delusion Headed Towards The Midterms


The GOP mess has crossed over into popular culture; it ain't going' away

One week ago, Politico interviewed Mike Madrid, a well-known Republican political consultant in California. "The Democrats," he reminded them, "were absolutely convinced that running against Trump down-ticket was going to create the biggest Democratic blue wave of all time, and it did not work at all… What we’re really seeing in America right now is incredibly intense, wired up Democratic base that’s lighting its hair on fire and driving the media narrative, but it’s not driving polling data, and you’re not seeing it in increased turnout in elections."

Is that so? While Trump's approval rating is languishing in the mid-30s, I've never seen as big a gap open in the generic congressional polling. A Quinnipiac poll released a few days before Madrid spoke with Politico reported their results this way:
By a 54 – 38 percent margin, American voters want the Democratic Party to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives. This is the widest margin ever measured for this question in a Quinnipiac University poll, exceeding a 5 percentage point margin for Republicans in 2013.
As for the chief Republican in Congress, PPP polled Paul Ryan's own southeast Wisconsin district and found this:

As for not translating into votes, that's just really insane. Tuesday two deep red legislative districts in New Hampshire and Long Island, the former having never elected a Democrat before ever, and that latter in which Trump's margin of victory had been 20 points, both dumped GOP candidates. The Long Island Assembly district is the only deep red part of Peter King's congressional district. If Republicans can't hold that area, 2018 will be the last anyone ever hears of Peter King, unless he's arrested for robbing a Dunkin' Donuts. Last night Republican Greg Gianforte managed to keep Montana's at-large congressional seat in Republican hands-- but at an immense cost ($29.55 per vote, compared to Quist's $3.94 per vote)-- and by a very reduced margin. Gianfote scored 189,473 votes (50.3%) to 166,483 (44.0%) for Quist and 21,509 (5.7%) for Libertarian Mark Wicks. Last November Ryan Zinke was reelected with 56.19% over Democrat Denise Juneau's 40.55% (and 3.26% for the Libertarian). Trump scored 56.5% over Clinton's 35.9%. Quist's performance was up 8 points over Clinton and 3.5% over Juneau's. The 6.5% swing away from Trump, on a nationwide basis, would be enough for Democrats to take back the House in 2018.

Many Republican incumbents and their campaign consultants are in states of denial, which isn't uncommon when people see a tsunami headed their way. That same Politico article that quoted Madrid, also quoted another GOP political consultant, Dave Gillaird, who is a strategist for 4 of the 7 Republicans the DCCC is targeting in 2018, Jeff Denham, Mimi Walters, Darrell Issa and Ed Royce, said "all four of them had campaigns for re-election saying they were going to repeal Obamacare in favor of something better… They all came to the conclusion that this was better than Obamacare, and that was what they campaigned for re-election on." He called concerns about voter anger at Republicans over healthcare "overblown." That's what I meant by a state of denial.

I turned to the progressive Democrats running against the fools Gillaird has lulled into a state of clueless complacency. Katie Porter and Kia Hamadanchy are both awesome candidates running for the Orange County seat Mimi Walters refuses to move into and claims to represent in Congress. Katie, a consumer advocate and UC Irvine professor told us, simply that "After the House passed Trumpcare, Congresswoman Walters was one of the first people President Trump thanked at the White House. And thanks to the CBO report released yesterday, her constituents now know that the bill Walters helped write would end coverage for 23 million Americans-- including tens of thousands of people in her district. Walters' unconditional support of Trump's plan is completely at odds with the needs and lived experience of families here in Orange County."

We haven't mentioned Sam Jammal before.He's a former Obama Administration official and local Democrat from Royce's district, who progressives are hoping to draft to run against Royce. Last night he told us, "We have to stop Donald Trump's reckless agenda to benefit millionaires at the expense of the rest of us. It starts with holding local Republicans accountable. Our families can't afford elected officials who vote to cut health care for 23 million Americans, while also voting to raise prices for seniors and destabilize the employer-based health care system. All of this was done to give a tax break to millionaires. That's too extreme for Orange County. It is alarming that these Republicans are celebrating this as an accomplishment."

Doug Applegate, the progressive battling it out with Darrell Issa in the San Diego/Orange County district where he nearly beat Issa in 2017, told us that "It’s no longer a right or left battle; it’s right or wrong fight. Americans appreciate the moral imperative of single-payer-universal health care, pre-school to public college, livable $15/hr. wages now and fighting the carbon fuel oligarchy for renewable energy. Within 20 years robotics, automation and artificial intelligence will eliminate half of today’s jobs and in the process deliver the greatest disruption of the world’s economy in history. Everyone, all of our children and grandchildren will face these challenges. That is the reason why I’m going to finish the job I started in 2016 and replace Darrell Issa in Congress.

If Republicans manage to damage the healthcare system in the ways outlined in Trumpcare, California, which dramatically expanded its Medicaid rolls under Obamacare, will be especially hard hit, particularly some of the inland areas represented by Republicans like David Valadao, Steve Knight, Jeff Denham, Devin Nunes, Kevin McCarthy, Ed Royce, Paul Cook, Ken Calvert and Duncan Hunter, some of which are districts that the DCCC looks at as "untouchable." According to California's Legislative Analyst’s Office, 4.6 million Californians had obtained Affordable Care Act-funded coverage as of fall 2016, part of the reason the Cook Report downgraded so many Republican districts after TrumpCare passed the House, including several in California. Confronted with a little dose of reality, Gilliard admitted that Democrats "are doing a very good job of recruiting candidates based on all this energy on their side" and raising lots of money because of the vote.

A week on and Politico was highlighting a split between Democrats who want to focus on Russia-- like conservative New Dem Adam Schiff (eager to run for Feinstein's Senate seat)-- and Democrats who want to focus on health care and other kitchen table issues. Spoiler: focusing on both is the way forward but Politico lives to begin articles with "The Democratic Party is embroiled in a debate over where they should focus their efforts to win back political power."
The party’s campaign committees and many of Democrats’ leading super PACs have spent virtually all their energy this year on shaming Republicans for their push to repeal Obamacare, an issue that clearly touches voters’ daily lives.

But on the other side of the split, American Bridge-- the party’s outside-group research arm run by David Brock, the well-known Hillary Clinton ally-- is among those convinced the investigation into possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian officials is one Democrats would be foolish to downplay or wait to take advantage of.

A raft of data has already tabbed the House Republican health care bill as highly unpopular. But after last week’s explosive developments related to the Russia investigation, Democratic groups have commissioned polling to gauge just how damaging the probe could be to Republicans in the 2018 midterms. They’ve also begun testing theories on how to make Trump’s Russia problem into House and Senate Republicans’ Russia problem.

The debate in some ways reflects the post-mortem from the presidential election, in which some Democrats felt Clinton did not focus enough on the economy and other pocketbook issues, while Clinton’s own team invested more resources in painting Trump as personally unfit for the presidency.

Strategists on both sides of the Democratic divide downplay the extent of the split. They argue the party has an embarrassment of riches to use against Republicans, and they note that different groups fill different niches in the party’s ecosystem-- Bridge deals with day-to-day rapid response, while the party committees are already focused on individual races in November 2018.

But they also whisper about motivations, with some strategists speculating the Brock-led American Bridge may have more of an eye on wooing donors intensely interested in the Russia investigation than picking winning issues for 2018.

“We should focus on the issues that affect people’s lives, not just on what the media in the D.C. bubble is talking about,” said Symone Sanders, the press secretary at Priorities USA.
And there aren't any Democrats I know of who aren't talking about Trump's budget as well. Even the DNC was savvy enough to write to activists yesterday, framing the issue clearly-- and with news clips:
While campaigning for President, Donald Trump ran on a promise of making this country a better place to live for working Americans. Instead of doing this, Trump’s budget would make life easier for millionaires and billionaires at the expense of everyone else. Communities around the country are preparing for the devastating impact of this budget, which will ultimately cause immense hardship to the very Americans who Trump promised to help.

Cuts to social services in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget has one Columbus food pantry concerned. "Our customers, our shoppers are concerned. They're worried about what that means to their ability to get the food that they want and need,” said Kathy Kelly-Long, director of Broad Street Food Pantry.

“I don't think anybody shops at a food pantry or anybody relies on SNAP by choice.”

President Donald Trump's $4.1 trillion budget for 2018 calls for sharp cuts in several programs, including food stamps, known as SNAP. And that means the nearly two million people who live in the Mid-South states could have a hard time putting food on the table.

More than 16% of households in Tennessee are below the poverty line. 17% of Tennesseans rely on food stamps, or SNAP, to feed their families. Under President Donald Trump's new budget, people who are able to work will no longer get assistance.

Lucy Melcher of the anti-hunger group Share Our Strength says some people aren't able to find work in their areas and have no access to job training. She says the cuts could be "devastating."

The proposed cuts would "just exacerbate poverty for people who are already trying to work their way out of it," Melcher said. "I don't think there's a person living in poverty today who wouldn't be affected by this budget."

Nationally, more than 44 million people benefit from food assistance programs. Locally, about 50,000 people in San Luis Obispo County and 140,000 in Santa Barbara County rely on that assistance.  "I feel weird asking for help," said Kaitlyn, who wished to remain anonymous. She's 20-years-old and pregnant and is applying for food stamps for the first time because doctors told her she can't work during her pregnancy.

"Because they are worried he's going to come out early, and he has some health issues, so I'm considered a high-risk pregnancy," Kaitlyn said.

She now joins thousands of others in the area who rely on food assistance for their next meal.
Goal Thermometer Ryan and Trump are so toxic among voters now that dozens pf Republicans are trembling about the idea of being photographed with them. A Democratic consultant in South California told me that pictures of Trump and individual candidates with Make America Great Again caps are going to be on billboards everywhere. We asked Katie Hill, the progressive Democrat running against Ryan stooge Steve Knight in CA-25, how she felt Trump and Ryan would impact the congressional race in Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and the Antelope Valley.

"Hillary Clinton won the district by 7 points, meaning Trump was wildly unpopular here before," Hill told us, "and that sentiment has only gotten worse. Right now, the issue that people are most concerned about is healthcare. Seniors keep telling me they aren't able to afford their $20 per month cable bill increases... let alone the projected hundreds of dollars a month extra they will have to pay for insurance under the AHCA. The Trump/Ryan health care bill is absolutely loathed by people who are terrified for the health and wellbeing of themselves and their families. People just could not believe that Knight voted for it. Now it's clearer than ever that he is a puppet for those two-- not a voice for our community."

If Knight and the other Republicans want to persuade themselves voters are going to forget this... that's just fine... for Democratic candidates. No one knew about Republican denialism better than right-wing icon Roy Cohn:

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