Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Ellen Lipton Beat Betsy DeVos In Lansing-- And Will Continue Beating Her In DC


Last month Digby introduced me to another extraordinary woman running for Congress, this one in Michigan, Ellen Lipton. Ellen's district is the 9th, from which Sandy Levin is retiring. This is a safe Democratic district in the suburbs north of Detroit (PVI is D+4 and Hillary beat Trump there 51.5% to 43.7%. Obama had beaten Romney by a much better margin: 57.2-41.9%.) The district is southern Macomb and eastern Oakland counties and includes Royal Oak, Fernadle, Warren, Eastpointe, Mount Clemens, Franklin and Bingham Farms.

Ellen raised two kids, worked as a patent attorney, helping universities and small businesses often in competition with large, powerful corporations. As a survivor of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), she became involved in public life when she joined the fight to allow life-saving stem cell research in Michigan. She ran for State Representative in 2008 and served three full terms, the maximum allowed in the state. As a legislator, she led the fight against Betsy DeVos’ efforts to destroy Michigan’s public-school system. After leaving Lansing, Ellen founded and was named President of the Michigan Promise Zone Association, which supports free community college tuition, technical training and certification to Michigan students in selected communities across Michigan, a blueprint for free college tuition across America.

Goal ThermometerShe's the only woman in a four-way Democratic Primary, a progressive through and through and her work with the Promise Zones and in holding DeVos at bay prompted me to ask her to share those specific experiences with DWT readers. Read this below and if you like what you hear, please consider contributing to the campaign of Blue America's newest endorsed candidate. Just click on the ActBlue congressional thermometer on the right. Let's make Michigan great again!

Guest Post
-by Ellen Lipton

Before Betsy DeVos became nationally reviled for her corporate education reform agenda as Trump’s Education Secretary, she spent years attacking public schools in Michigan, her home state. We were her political petri dish.

One of her most damaging proposals was the Education Achievement Authority (EAA), a program that would implement a statewide school district tasked with turning around “low performance schools.” Her metric for measuring performance was to look at standardized test scores, a highly flawed metric of school performance that by design discriminates against low income and minority students.

I served three terms in the Michigan State House, and for two of those terms I fought tooth and nail against DeVos and others like her who were intent on destroying public schools in Michigan. While I was in Lansing, a bill that would have codified the EAA into state law was being rushed through committee, backed by Republicans and even a few Democrats. None other than John Covington, a nationally infamous proponent of privatizing public education, came to our committee to testify about how successful an EAA pilot program had been in Detroit, and announced that we ought to just trust him to work his magic across the rest of the state. Needless to say, his record in Detroit was abysmal-- our schools in the city have been demonstrably worse off because of his work.

The problem with John Covington and Betsy DeVos and their one-size-fits-all, pro-privatization “solutions” to problems in education is that there are no magic bullets in turning around schools. Solving problems in education requires a lot of work, a lot of patience, and crucially, a lot of additional funding. During the committee hearing, I grilled Covington about his wild claims of success because the math just didn’t add up. When he couldn’t answer my questions, I sent an extensive FOIA request to the EAA, which they promptly ignored. It wasn’t until I threatened a lawsuit that they finally released the documents, which made it clear as day that the failed experiment of the EAA was riddled with abuses of power and misallocations of funds. Betsy DeVos’ dream of destroying Michigan’s public school system finally came to an end.

I’m proud of the work I did taking on Betsy DeVos in Lansing-- but being a legislator, whether in the State House or in Washington, isn’t just about stopping bad things from happening. It’s about reshaping the narrative around issues we care about, proposing bold solutions to those problems, and mobilizing the community around supporting a progressive agenda.

One narrative I hate the most is this idea that our schools are failing, and so our students are failing. Our kids aren’t failing at all-- they’re doing incredible work in the face of enormous challenges. And one of the greatest challenges they face is our nationwide crisis of college affordability. So many bright, hardworking students that want to attend college can not afford to go; those that do graduate often find themselves saddled with a lifetime of crushing student loan debt.

In Michigan, we’ve taken a stab at addressing this critical issue. Nearly ten years ago, the legislature created ten “promise zones” in economically distressed communities throughout the state. These promise zones guarantee two years of free college for every single student that graduates from public school in that district. As a legislator, I worked with community leaders in Hazel Park, a community that had been battered during the Great Recession, to establish the Hazel Park Promise Zone, and I am the current treasurer of the organization.

The results in Hazel Park have been incredible. Students who never thought they could go to college see a path to the future. The school district has been strengthened, the community has been brought together, graduation rates have improved, and property values have increased as young families are moving to Hazel Park because of the opportunities they and their children now have.

In addition to providing students with free tuition, the promise zones assist students with completing FAFSA applications and provide help with applying for other public and private scholarships, so that every student can attend college free from the burden of student loans.

After I left the legislature, I founded and became the President of the Michigan Promise Zone Association. I remain committed to my mission to strengthen what we have achieved in Hazel Park and communities all across the state. I am proud to say that just three years after I left Lansing, the number of promise zones in Michigan has grown from 10 to 15.

But my work is far from over. If Betsy DeVos had had her way in Michigan, the promise zones would never have come to fruition, and public schools would have continued to be degraded for the benefit of the wealthy few. If I am elected to Congress, I will do everything in my power to stop Betsy DeVos dead in her tracks once again, and prevent her harmful privatization agenda from destroying our public education system. I’ll also be a leader in solving the crisis of college affordability. What we’ve done in Michigan with the promise zones can happen on a national level. We need a tuition-free, debt-free path to college for every young person in this country, and I will work hard in Washington every day to make that dream a reality.

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It's MOTHER Nature, Not Father Nature


I was fascinated a few days ago to hear Marianne Williamson address a crowd of Laura Oatman supporters in Huntington Beach. Laura is the progressive woman running against Putin's favorite congressman, Republican Dana Rohrabacher. Marianne and Laura spoke to the crowd about the special strength and power of mothers that has evolved over millennia to ensure the longevity of the species. And if we, as a society, ever needed that power, it is now, with Trump and his self-serving enablers in power.

Yesterday, outgoing Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told Face the Nation that her party is in trouble. "When you look at the future of the Republican Party," she said, "I think that we would be foolish to not see that we’re heading into trouble. Part of that problem is that the GOP is a predominantly male party, with few women running and with a generally hostile attitude towards women. "Far greater numbers of women are identifying themselves as being in the Democratic party," she said. "When you look ahead, what's our future going to be? Are we going to end up a marginalized party? I think that we need to look toward the future, and we need to have the policies that attract millennials, women and minorities. I don't see that... I don't see those Asian women and-- and those minority women, serving in the House GOP or in the Senate GOP... we used to be more accepting of having moderate positions, and now-- now it's getting harder."

Greed-driven, selfish, entitled patriarchs-- the Trump crowd-- aren't going to protect anyone or anything but their own wealth and status. Trump doesn't recognize the concept of a future, very much the opposite of the role that has evolved for women. From the website, Motherhood: "While there are many characteristics that make up a good mother, protecting their young is a common quality that both the human and animal mother share. The mother bear has always been the quintessential example of a mother’s love, and this is mainly because of their fierce, protective nature. It is a widely accepted belief that the most dangerous place to be is between a mother bear and her cub... seventy percent of human deaths caused by grizzly bears are related to a mother grizzly bear protecting her cubs."

Some of this year's best candidates are fierce women who talk about preserving the environment about protecting children from the NRA-coddling Republicans, from the oligarchic tendencies the GOP has adopted that will turn the majority of people into victims. Women like Lisa Brown (WA), Jenny Marshall (NC), Katie Hill (CA), Jess King (PA), Lillian Salerno (TX), Katie Porter (CA), Marie Newman (IL), Nina Ahmad (PA), Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (NM), Mary Matiela (AZ), Wendy Reed (CA), Laura Oatman (CA), Kara Eastman (NE), Marge Doyle (CA) and Alexandria Ocasio (NY) are the future of the Democratic Party... and the future of America. There are 22 women in the Senate, so 22%-- 5 Republicans and 17 Democrats. There are 84 women (19.3%) in the House-- 62 Democrats and 22 Republicans. By the way, 51% of Americans are women and 49% are men. Do we need more women in Congress? Desperately. But keep in mind, some of the very best members of Congress are women-- take Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Judy Chu (D-CA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)-- while some of the most horrible members-- even among Democrats-- are also women-- Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-DL) and Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL). And the Democrats have some amazing women running this cycle, like the aforementioned Nina Ahmad, Jenny Marshall and Lillian Salerno, right alongside some of the worst candidates you'll find on the 2018 campaign trial, from Ann Kirkpatrick (New Dem-AZ), Susie Lee (New Dem-NV) and Mike Sherrill (New Dem-NJ) to Gretchen Driskell (Blue Dog-MI) and Angie Craig (New Dem-MN)... and that even before we look at neo-fascist Republican monstrosities like Diane Black (TN), Virginia Foxx (NC), Liz Cheney (WY), Vicky Hartzler (MO) and Marsha Blackburn (TN).

And you want to talk about destructive corruption? Three little words: Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

And that's not to say that women politicians can't become as jaded, vile and self-serving as men. In fact, the longer someone is in Congress, the more likely that becomes. Look at Kirsten Gillbrand for example, who is desperately trying to turn the #MeToo movement into a stepping stone for her own careerist ambitions. She's corrupt, racist and devoid of a moral core... but she knows an opportunity when she sees one. Doesn't this look like it was cribbed straight from DWT?
The Gillibrand we see today looks very different than the one we saw back in 2007, when she was on her way to becoming the unlikely winner of a House seat in a largely rural and heavily Republican district in upstate New York:
Upon winning, she became a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of conservative Democrats. She supported a balanced budget amendment and a ban on deficit spending. Her immigration platform was of a piece with the proto-Trumpism brewing during George W. Bush’s second term-- no amnesty or benefits for illegal aliens; a crackdown on sanctuary cities like New York; more agents, fencing, and tech for the border; and legislation making English America’s official language. The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, gave her the lowest rating of any New York Democrat in Congress for her positions on gay rights issues. Her rating from the National Rifle Association, meanwhile, was a solid 100 percent.
All of that made her a controversial pick to fill the Senate seat that opened up when President Obama tapped Hillary Clinton to be his secretary of state in 2009. Asked about why her views had changed, Gillibrand had an unusually straightforward answer.

“After I got appointed, I went down to Brooklyn to meet with families who had suffered from gun violence in their communities,” she said. “And you immediately experience the feeling that I couldn’t have been more wrong-- you know I only had the lens of upstate New York.”

She offered up a similar answer on immigration: “I came from a district that was 98 percent white… And I just didn’t take the time to understand why these issues mattered because it wasn’t

right in front of me. And that was my fault. It was something that I’m embarrassed about and I’m ashamed of.” As Alfonsi pointed out, to say Gillibrand “only had the lens of upstate New York” is somewhat misleading, since she had lived in New York City for a decade before returning to upstate to a run for a congressional seat. From their exchange:
Alfonsi: But you had-- lived in New York City...

Gillibrand: I know.

Alfonsi: ...for a decade.

Gillibrand: And that’s why I was embarrassed.

Alfonsi: You traveled abroad.

Gillibrand: I was wrong. What it’s about is the power of the NRA and the greed of that industry. Let’s be clear. It is not about hunters’ rights, it’s about money.

Alfonsi: Your critics will say it’s political opportunism.

Gillibrand: As is their right. They can say what they like.
Gillibrand is doing her best to air out the issues now, hoping that liberals in Iowa and New Hampshire will focus on her unblemished record in the Senate and not a handful of highly damning House votes from a decade ago. As Gillibrand herself said in the 60 Minutes interview, “if you’re wrong, just admit it and move on.”
No mention of Al Franken? Did he get a chance to apologize and move on before Gillibrand scalped him and then mercilessly ripped him to shreds and forced him out of the Senate? Or is that dirty little episode already deep down the national memory hole?

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Next Month Don't Bet On Conor Lamb Doing As Well As Jon Ossoff Did


Which one's the Democrat and which one's the Republican?

As you've probably noticed, I think Conor Lamb's campaign is a train wreck. From the very first time we looked at that PA-18 special election race, we realized that the only path to victory would be to get union members and union retirees to turn out for him, the way African Americans turned out-- massively-- for Doug Jones in Alabama. But Lamb's taking union voters for granted and whatever enthusiasm anyone once expected is virtually non-existent. Over the weekend a top, top DCCC staffer, on condition of anonymity, referred to the race as "a lost cause." A gaggle of media hacks desperate for a lively story are the only ones pretending there's still a pulse left in the race. Like Josh Krasushaar, who doesn't seem to understand the nuances between a good Democrat who people like those struggling in PA-18 want to vote for, and an empty suit like Lamb. Lamb is about as bad a Democratic candidate as you'll find and the only thing he has going for him is the hope that enough people want to send Trump and Ryan a message. PA-18 is the wrong district for that strategy. GOP-related groups have spent $5 million there. The DCCC pulled the plug at around the $250,000 mark. And they're not on the air for an election 3 weeks from today! One longtime labor leader in the district wrote his perspective on the race and asked me not to use his name, primarily because he's still hoping for some kind of a miraculous transformation.
Most of us labor leaders in the district are extremely frustrated by the Lamb Campaign. It's unprofessional, top-down, and appears to be run by his family members, particularly his punk kid younger brother, Coleman Lamb, whose day job is as communication director for Congresswoman Kathleen Rice. I don't know a labor leader in the district who is happy with them. Nobody can get their phone calls returned and instead we get this huge asks without having a real seat at the table. It didn't need to be this way.

At first, many of us in labor were enthusiastic about the Lamb Campaign. We've always had a good relationship with his uncle Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb. There are more than 80,000 union members and retirees in the district and we were hoping that Rick Saccone's anti-union track record would be red meat to turn out our folks. Trump won these folks by campaigning as an anti-free trade, kinda pro-union kind of guy. You go to this kind of folks and say Rick Saccone is against unions, its like saying he roots for the Cleveland Browns. Lamb should be nailing Saccone on this issue night and day but so far not a single one of his ads mention unions or even Rick Saccone's role in promoting the Korea Free Trade Agreement.

Instead, the optics are the opposite, Rick Saccone comes off as a working-class guy from the post-industrial Mon Valley while Conor Lamb comes off as a rich kid from Mt. Lebanon, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the district. Saccone is from the bombed out Mon Valley town of Elizabeth and has a thick Pittsburgh accent, which folks around here can recognize easily. When he is on TV, its always in a sweater that looks like he bought from a department store. Sure, some of his views may be extreme, but he's a former diplomat and TV anchor and the guy is a smooth operator who knows how to bullshit infront of the camera.

In contrast, Lamb has no what we call a "yinzer accent." He is always wearing suits and talks about Public service as if he is doing these guys some sort of favor by running.  When he does talk about labor, it's very very stiff. Recently, he came out and addressed 500 members of the Carpenters Union. After he left, the members mocked him for being so uptight and elitist. These are the guys he should be firing up to knock on doors and go all out and instead he just seems like another politician to them.

Instead of hammering home on free trade, prevailing wage, and coal mine pension issues, which affect thousands of members in our district, Lamb barely talks to the press and when he does it’s all this vague crap about public service.

Still many of us in the district want to help him, but we can’t if his campaign is being run by a close knit group of his family members. They want labor to provide an army of ground troops for them, but we can’t do it unless he listens to us and appeals to our members in ways that appeal to them instead of talking down to them about public service.

They need to shake up that campaign and start by bringing in someone other than that punk little brother of his, Coleman Lamb, to run the show. Multiple reporters in the district have called me and said that he has gotten confrontational with them in ways that aren’t helpful while denying these folks interviews.

While Saccone is out in the media calling Lamb a sheep that refuses to talk on issues, Lamb is ducking reporters. Multiple reporters even good sympathetic folks to labor have complained that they can’t get Lamb to talk to them at all. It’s just a very entitled privileged clique that is running the campaign and running it into the ground.

A loss like this will be brutal for labor in Western Pa. It’s not too late to turn the ship around, but it starts with the campaign opening up the table and listening to folks in labor instead of behaving like a bunch of rich kids from Mt Lebanon. 
Want to hear how clueless the Lamb campaign is? Randy Bryce (@IronStache) offered to come to the district and talk with union workers with him-- something every Democratic candidate in the country is hoping Bryce will do for them-- but Lamb, who applied for and got an endorsement from the Blue Dogs, turned him down and instead decided to have Steny Hoyer come to the district! Just contemplate that for a moment or two! God forbid Lamb should do anything that makes him appear vaguely authentic instead of like some preppie frat boy.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

I have a thought. I have lots of thoughts. That's why I do these memes for you every day. But, here's my thought for today:

Since our NRA graft-taking politicians so strongly feel that "Thoughts and Prayers" are enough for our children, not to mention the rest of us, I propose that we immediately disband the Secret Service and the United States Capitol Police, the two main agencies who are responsible for protecting politicians in Washington and elsewhere. My reasoning is simple. If our Congress full of NRA graft-taking scumbags in Washington thinks that "Thoughts and Prayers" are all the action "we the people" need in a country full of AR-15 toting maniacs, then that should be good enough for them as well. After all, it's a concept that's worked so well to date!

I know the politicians will disagree, though, just like they think they're entitled to taxpayer funded healthcare but we and our children are not. They also think they are entitled to all sorts of things they think we are not. For example: Secretary of State Rexxon Tillerson thinks there should be no fracking anywhere near any property he owns, but it's fine for our neighborhoods and our favorite beaches, fishing streams, parks, and schoolyards.

In light of other recent Washington actions, shouldn't my idea be acceptable to Congress? Our current politicians do seem to be undermining and cutting out a lot of departments in Washington, things like the E.P.A., Education, The Interior Department, and others that make our lives better, so why not the Secret Service and the Capitol Police as well? Do we really need both of them and prayer, too? Seems awfully wasteful and redundant to me! The politicians we send to Washington constantly go out of their way to extoll the power and value of prayer. Hey, they must know something, or else why would we have elected them? Since they claim to genuinely believe this, they could even legislate or decree a monthly National Day of Prayer for themselves. That costs nothing! Zero taxpayer dollars! It's, in fact, cheap in very way imaginable. Talk about common sense solutions! Any American who wants to participate can, although, no doubt Señor Trumpanzee will take note of those caught not praying and label them godless, unpatriotic, and un-American.

Let's try it. What's the worst that could happen?

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Pennsylvania Just Got Ungerrymandered. Here's How That Looks For November


Nate Cohn's analysis of the new Pennsylvania congressional boundaries for the NY Times is very well-done. The key take-away is that the Democrats are likely to do a lot better under this map than they could have ever done under the grotesquely gerrymandered map the Republican legislature concotted. The old district lines had Trump winning 12 districts to 6 for Hillary. The new lines show Hillary with 8 and Trump with 10. In 2012 Romney won 12 to Obama's 5, even though Obama won the state 2,990,274 (51.97%) to 2,680,434 (46.59%). The new lines would have had Obama and Romney winning in 9 districts each. It's a much fairer map, although the Republicans-- as is their wont-- are already screaming bloody murder.

Cohn speculated that "Perhaps no event will do more to reshape the fight for control of the House than the new congressional map just released by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. At stake was the fate of a Republican gerrymander that intended to cement a 13-5 Republican advantage in an evenly divided state. Now the Republicans will have little to no advantage at all. Democrats couldn’t have asked for much more from the new map. It’s arguably even better for them than the maps they proposed themselves. Over all, a half-dozen competitive Republican-held congressional districts move to the left, endangering several incumbent Republicans, one of whom may now be all but doomed to defeat, and improving Democratic standing in two open races." But the court did something that goes beyond party politics: "Based on recent election results, the new congressional map comes very close to achieving partisan balance."

The most gerrymandered list in the state, the old 7th district is the new 5th. Clinton's 2 point win turns into a 28 point win as the district goes from a meandering, insane mess-- probably the most outrageously gerrymandered district in the whole country-- to a sane-looking district in the suburbs south of Philly, primarily all of Delaware County with a little bit of south Philly and some of Montgomery County. Cohn is right to call it "an exemplar for nonpartisan redistricting."

Meanwhile, the new 7th was essentially Charlie Dent's old 15th. Trump won the 15th by 8 points. Hillary would have won under the new boundaries by 1 point. Dent isn't running for reelection, making this one even more ripe for a Democratic takeover.
The old 15th wasn't as easily caricatured as the old Seventh. But the old crayfish-like 15th was just about as likely to receive a makeover to the advantage of the Democrats.

The previous map split the Lehigh Valley, a Democratic-tilting urban area that naturally anchors a congressional district, and added a long, deeply Republican tail to the west. Together, it was enough to make a safe district for Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican who never faced a serious contest.

Now Republicans are probably underdogs to hold the new Seventh. Mr. Dent retired last September, and the new district is considerably more Democratic without its crawfish tail. The Lehigh Valley is united, the crawdad tail amputated and replaced by diverse Democratic-leaning parts of southern Monroe County.
The 6th, Ryan Costello's seat, retains its number but not it's partisan makeup. In 2016 it went very narrowly for Clinton (one point). Under these new boundaries it would have gone to her by 9 points. Cohn speculated that Costello is in so much trouble that "one wonders whether he will even be inclined to seek re-election."

The current 16th, where Republican incumbent Lloyd Smucker is being challenged by progressive Democrat Jess King, is the new 11th and it's quite a bit redder because it no longer has Reading.
The district is naturally Republican; Lancaster County has voted Republican in all but one presidential election since 1860. But the current district is relatively competitive, since it stretches out to relieve other suburban Republicans of relatively Democratic parts of Chester and Berks Counties. The incumbent Republican, the first-term representative Lloyd Smucker, was potentially somewhat vulnerable on the current map.

Without the burden of helping out his Republican colleagues, Mr. Smucker’s new 11th District moves to the right on the new map.

More surprising than the territory it gave up, though, is the territory it added: the heavily conservative countryside in York County. The formation of this deeply conservative district is a defensible choice but, again, one that works to the advantage of the Democrats by creating a Republican vote-sink. It winds up making it a lot harder for the Republican Scott Perry
And, speaking of Perry, his district, PA-04 will now be PA-10, still very Republican, but not nearly as Republican. Under the old boundaries, Trump won it with 21%. The new boundaries would have given Trump a 9 point advantage. Still safer than Perry deserves.

The current 8th (Bucks County plus some of Montgomery County) is the new 1st and it went from an evenly split district to one that would have favored Hillary by 2 points. That's Brian Fitzpatrick's seat and he's now going to be in a tighter race for survival.

The current 18th-- the one where the Lamb vs Saccone battled in being waged in the southwest corner of the state-- is the new 14th and it's even redder than it was before. It was a Trump district by 20 points and is now a Trump district by 29. If Lamb pulls off a miracle and wins next month, he'd likely lose in November, unless he flips parties, as Blue Dogs so often do-- or-- more likely-- unless he moves to the new 17th.

The new 17th, suburbs west of Pittsburgh, is the old 12th (Keith Rothfus' district). Trump won the 12th with a 21 point margin. He would have won under the new boundaries, but just by 3 points. Big trouble for Keith Rothfus. who is currently being challenged by progressive Tom Prigg, who certainly isn't likely to roll over and play dead for a Blue Dog shithead like Conor Lamb.

The current 17th went for Trump with a 10 point margin. The new 8th would do the same. This is Democrat Matt Cartwright's district. When I asked him how he feels about the new lines, he told me "It's bittersweet. On the one hand, I lose three counties I have come to love, and where I have formed lasting and I hope lifelong friendships: Schuylkill, Carbon and Northampton counties.  On the other hand, I pick up some wonderful places, namely Pike and Wayne counties, beautiful, scenic areas, with pristine lakes and waterways, including a much longer stretch of the Delaware River than I already have, and also some terrific educational institutions: Misericordia University, and the Luzerne County Community College. Also on balance it will be more work for me to get around and meet new people and figure out their concerns, but hard work never scared me." Actually, the district is fractionally bluer and less likely to attract one of the multimillionaire Wall Street whores who were looking to give Cartwright a tough fight.

As Cohn put it, "The new district trades out the conservative body of the octopus for similarly conservative territory closer to the district’s urban core in Scranton, resulting in no real shift in the overall partisan makeup of the district. On the prior map, the Democratic representative Matt Cartwright was favored to win re-election. There’s some chance that swapping out familiar for unfamiliar conservative territory will dim his re-election prospects, but in this political environment he remains a favorite."

Over in Philly the old first district becomes the new second. It was a Hillary district by 61 points. Now it would be just a 48 point Hillary. Cohn thinks Brendan Doyle is likely to run there, rather than the new 4th, which has most of his old district (the 13th). The old 13th-- the 4th now-- was a very blue district that Hillary won by 34 points. Under the new boundaries it's still very blue but Clinton would have "only" won it by 19 points. It's a more Montgomery-based district.

The other Philly district-- now the second and turning into the third-- gave Hillary a jaw-dropping 83 point lead over Trump and under the new boundaries would be slightly bluer! She would have won by 84 points.

The 3rd district over in the northwest corner of the state, will be renumbered the 16th. It went for Trump by 26 points. It's still prohibitively red, but will be a Trump district by "just" 20 points.

The old 5th is the new 15th. It will be a lot redder. Trump won it by 29 but under the new lines, he would have won it by 43. The conservative Republican incumbent, Glenn Thompson, has nothing to worry about.

The current hopelessly red 9th district (Trump +43) will be the 13th, which will be slightly redder-- R+46. Bill Shuster is retiring.

Tom Marino's old 10th (Trump +36) becomes the 12th and stays as a Trump +36 district.

Lou Barletta's current 11th will be the 9th. It was Trump +24 and will be another even redder hellhole-- Trump +34.

Mike Doyle's old 14th-- Pittsburgh-- (Clinton +35) will be the new 18th and is slightly less blue-- but still very blue-- Clinton +27.

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American Students vs The NRA (And Trumpanzee... Birdbrain)


Listen to the kids in the CBS video above.

Sunday night, the NY Times published a piece explaining that Trump's sleazy lawyer, Michael Cohen, protected his self-entitled, loathsome client by "relying on intimidation tactics, hush money and the nation’s leading tabloid news business, American Media Inc., whose top executives include close Trump allies… He maneuvered in the pay-to-play gossip world-- populated by porn stars and centerfold models, tabloid editors and lawyers with B- and C-list entertainment clients." That probably won't work against Trump's newest adversaries, America's enraged, activated students, starting with the survivors of the NRA/GOP massacre of the students at Parkland, Florida;s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. "The students," reported CNN Monday morning, "promised action. They're headed to Tallahassee, Florida, to speak to legislators about school safety and gun control this week, and they have school walkouts and a march scheduled in the coming months.

I have no idea what Cohen is up to or if he'll go after the Parkland students but another sleazy Trump apologist already has-- Rush Limbaugh.
While speaking to Fox News Sunday, Limbaugh was asked by host Chris Wallace if a planned march by students could get lawmakers to act to prevent school shootings.

“Chris, I have to ask if anybody is really serious about solving this because none of this-- by the way, I couldn’t care less about the gun angle of this,” Limbaugh replied, referring to a group of students from Parkland that Wallace had just spoken to. “None of this is going to solve-- prayers and condolences don’t solve it and marches aren’t going to solve it. Chris, the next shooter is out there.”

“It’s not the fault of the NRA. It’s not the fault of any-- it’s the fault of the people doing this and our inability to deal with that and stop them,” he insisted. “Until we’re willing to get serious about where we are and how do we they stop this from happening and marches aren’t going to do it, saying no more guns isn’t going to do it, bashing the NRA isn’t going to do it.”
You know about March for Our Lives, right? March 24 is the day. It's not partisan, but it's very political. This is the mission statement:
Not one more. We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students. We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes. Our schools are unsafe. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it our top priority to save these lives.

March For Our Lives is created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar. In the tragic wake of the seventeen lives brutally cut short in Florida, politicians are telling us that now is not the time to talk about guns. March For Our Lives believes the time is now.

On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington, DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority. The collective voices of the March For Our Lives movement will be heard.

School safety is not a political issue. There cannot be two sides to doing everything in our power to ensure the lives and futures of children who are at risk of dying when they should be learning, playing, and growing. The mission and focus of March For Our Lives is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues. No special interest group, no political agenda is more critical than timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country.

Every kid in this country now goes to school wondering if this day might be their last. We live in fear.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Change is coming. And it starts now, inspired by and led by the kids who are our hope for the future. Their young voices will be heard.

Stand with us on March 24. Refuse to allow one more needless death.
And they're serious. Over the weekend On Saturday, senior Emma Gonzalez, from the video above, spoke at a Fort Lauderdale rally, calling out the fake, illegitimate president for accepting $30 million in NRA bribes, leading a "shame on you," directed not just towards Señor Trumpanzee but towards all his enablers and all the NRA whores of both parties. "We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks,” she said. "Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because... we are going to be the last mass shooting." I have a feeling this is going to be very big, very fast.

"My message for the people in office is: you're either with us or against us," said Cameron Kasky, a junior at Stoneman Douglas. "We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around."

Emma Gonzalez, who has become the stunned face of her fellow Stoneman Douglas students, declared, "Because of these gun laws, people that I know-- people that I love-- have died."

At a gathering this weekend, she led a chant of "We call Bullshit" aimed at politicians silent on potential action.

Classmate David Hogg chimed in, "Thank you for your prayers and condolences, but that is not enough."

...[A]s with the #MeToo movement, and perhaps because of it, the Stoneman Douglas students may have the country's mounting social awareness on their side.

This time, it isn't grownups speaking to other grownups. It's teenagers, speaking without filters, to lawmakers who someday will need their votes, not to mention their expertise in every field.

These students don't have the money that the NRA can throw at Washington, but they wield something more important: the country's future.

Is it enough to erode decades of power by the gun lobby?

Well, student activism has been a force to be reckoned with through the past 60 some years of American history.

They encountered mob violence in Alabama and were themselves accused of provoking unrest.

But their protests are credited for inspiring other, broader protests that culminated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, led by Martin Luther King in 1963, where he delivered his famed I Have a Dream speech.

In what became known as a decade of student protests, nearly 100,000 people gathered again in Washington in 1967 to protest the Vietnam War, while students led other protests the following year in Paris and across Germany.

It is impossible to think of Vietnam protests now, without thinking of the students.

And, soon, it may be impossible to think of America's reaction to gun violence without thinking of the students who stood up against it.

These high school students are among a new generation, born from 1996 onward, that is alternatively called Generation Z, or the Centennials.

They've seen their older counterparts across the US experience school shootings. They can see the impact those incidents have had on their younger siblings and friends, who are terrified that something will happen to them.

They feel that the responsibility falls to them to act. Make no mistake, they know they are up against a formidable political force.

During the 2016 election cycle, the NRA spent $1 million on direct contributions to candidates, paid out another $3.1 million on lobbying and another $54 million on outside activities, such as television ads and communication to voters and members, according to OpenSecrets.org, which tracks campaign spending.

But, students have shown before that they can affect history. "She was going to change the world," said the family of Carmen Schentrup, one of the 17 people who died.

Perhaps now, her classmates will.
Oh... and happy fucking Presidents Day:

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Will The Blue Wave Be Enough To Win Congress On Its Own?


Don't underestimate the power of women to protect the species from Trump and his enablers

Zac Anderson is the political editor of Sarasota County's top newspaper, the Herald-Tribune. After the surprise Democratic win in a special election for an open legislative seat there last week, Anderson took a deep drive into what happened on the ground to swing a red district 12 points away from Trump in just 15 months since the district gave him a credible win against Hillary. What everyone wants to know, of course, is how to make sure this happens in congressional districts-- not just FL-16 and not just Florida-- but across the country. A 12 point swing in November would certainly hand the House back to the Democrats-- and average district swings since Putin put Trump into the White House have been around 20, not 12.

The loser last Tuesday was James Vernon Buchanan, the son of Vern Buchanan, the congressman from the area. Last November Trump beat Hillary in the older Buchanan's congressional district, 53.7% to 43.0%. All things being equal-- an absurd concept-- a 12 point swing would hand the congressional district over to Buchanan's opponent, either Jan Schneider, David Shapiro or Calen Cristiani. Does it matter which one is nominated? How could it not? Florida media always refers to Shapiro as a "serious" candidate; he's raised over a quarter million dollars and appears to be a "moderate." Neither Cristiani nor Schneider (each a progressive from the Bernie wing of the party) had reported any contributions as of December 31, although Schneider has big name ID, having run in the area multiple times. Quality of candidates and their campaigns matter. Anderson felt that had a lot to do-- besides the building wave-- with Good's win over Buchanan's son last week.
Some Democrats were nervous when polls closed Tuesday in the District 72 state House special election and it became clear that Republican Election Day turnout had far outpaced Democratic turnout.

Democrat Margaret Good appeared to have done well in absentee and early voting. Republican James Buchanan’s prospects for victory hinged on a big GOP Election Day push that brought in 8,168 Republican voters, or 2,652 more than Democrats.

Yet Buchanan only won Election Day voting by 110 votes, not nearly enough to offset Good’s big lead in absentee and early voting.

That led political analysts to conclude that a big chunk of Republican voters - and most independent voters-- went for Good.

That-- combined with strong Democratic turnout-- is how Good won a district that went for President Donald Trump in 2016 and has 12,060 more Republicans than Democrats, electrifying her party in the process and bringing national attention to Sarasota as a potential indicator for midterm elections in November.

Tom Eldon, Good’s pollster and a longtime Florida Democratic operative who once lived in Sarasota, said the fact that Good attracted support from Republican and no party affiliation voters in the northern Sarasota County state House district is not unusual. The area is known as a bastion for moderate Republicans.

But garnering enough GOP and NPA support to secure a 7.4 percentage-point victory in a district that went for Trump by 4.4 percentage points-- a 12 point swing-- is astounding, Eldon said.

“Seeing crossover support from Republicans is not uncommon in Sarasota,” Eldon said. “Seeing NPAs vote for the Democrat is not uncommon. Seeing it at this level is remarkable and at that point I think you’re seeing some Trump backlash with that.”

Good also appears to have benefited from unusually high Democratic turnout, especially among women, said Democratic consultant Steve Schale.

“Largely the story in special elections around the country, women were the story here in Sarasota,” Schale, who ran former President Barack Obama’s campaign in Florida in 2008, wrote in a blog post.

Schale said in an interview that there were two key elements to Good’s victory.

“You saw Democrats turn out, particularly women,” he said. “Then the fact that Republicans-- clearly large numbers of Republicans-- voted for her.”

Democrats make up 32 percent of the registered voters in District 72. But 40 percent of the voters who cast ballots in the special election were Democrats. And while Democratic women make up 20 percent of registered voters in the district, they accounted for 24 percent of voters in the special election.

“The Good campaign did a fantastic job in turning out Democrats,” Eldon said. “When you look at the turnout for Democrats, it’s staggering.”

Eldon believes Good appealed to women across party lines as a “highly qualified female candidate” at a time when “you’re having a national conversation on the treatment of women.”

Turnout was up among women in general, not just Democratic women. Voter registration in the district is 54 percent female but 56 percent of the voters in the special election were women.

The voters who show up in lower-profile special elections “do so for for a reason,” Eldon added.

“That’s to send a message,” he said. “A lot of women were voting who typically don’t vote in an election like this. They were fed up and they were taking it out on James Buchanan.”

Republicans also cast a greater share of the ballots in the special election than their share of registered voters in District 72, but they only went up from 42 percent to 46 percent of the electorate.

That’s a sign that Good had a strong field operation that was aggressive in getting Democratic voters to the polls, and that Democrats are more motivated to vote than Republicans.

Good had a full-time staff of eight paid employees and hundreds of volunteers knocking on doors.

“Very early we made a conscious decision to invest in the field organization and that is something you will see in all of our House races this cycle,” said Reggie Cardoza, the director of political operations for Democrats in the Florida House. “The most effective and efficient way to reach a voter is face to face.”

Eldon said the field team put together by Good and the state Democratic Party was so strong it was more reminiscent of a congressional race than a state House race. Good was able to build up a 3,368-vote lead in absentee and in-person early voting. Voters talked about being repeatedly visited by door knockers and receiving a steady stream of flyers, telephone calls and text messages.

“The get-out-the-vote effort and the field in general was just a very strong fundamental campaign execution,” said Sarasota County Democratic Party Vice Chairman Kevin Griffith, who said he knocked on a few hundred doors.

Griffith said many voters he talked to while knocking on doors “were really motivated.”

“I think it’s just the anti-Trump fervor,” he said.

So was Good destined for victory in District 72 because of the national political climate?

Schale said it’s crucial that Democrats recruited a credible candidate. Good is a lawyer with strong community connections. He also credited Good and her team with running an aggressive, disciplined campaign. Good raised more money than Buchanan and was able to do considerable advertising to complement her get- out-the-vote effort. The strength of the campaign caused prominent Democrats to take notice. Good received an endorsement and campaign help from former Vice President Joe Biden.

But Schale believes Good benefited greatly from anti-Trump backlash among Democrats and independents.

“I don’t want to take away from the campaign those guys ran,” he said. “She’s a great candidate, did a great job. There’s a certain level to this that the Democrats ran a real candidate people wanted to vote for; you can’t take that away. But at the same time independents are so open to voting for somebody different.”

Buchanan also struggled to find his footing as a candidate. Members of his own party criticized him for refusing to debate Good until the final stretch of the campaign, and questioned whether he had a compelling message. A last-ditch effort to try and boost GOP turnout by appearing at a rally with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski raised eyebrows among some Republicans.

Eldon said Buchanan focused too much on hot-button national issues such as immigration that didn’t resonate as well in Sarasota.

“The voters down here care about the environment, they care about education, they’re very concerned about climate change and sea level rise and all they heard from James Buchanan was sanctuary cities, sanctuary cities and sanctuary cities,” Eldon said. “It just fell flat.”

The inability of Lewandowski and Trump-style messaging to pull Buchanan across the finish line indicates the backlash to Trump may be a more potent political force than pro-Trump sentiment right now.

It also means the results from Sarasota’s special election could have big ramifications throughout Florida and the nation. Schale ran state House campaigns for Florida Democrats in 2006 when there was a blue wave. He also experienced the GOP backlash in 2010 that saw Republicans do extremely well in such races. He knows what waves feel like, and he knows what districts are good indicators of where the political winds are blowing. For a Democrat to win by such a big margin in a Sarasota County legislative district that has a relatively older, whiter, more GOP-leaning electorate is a very good sign for the party.

“I don’t think you can overstate the significance of it,” he said. “It wasn’t like a squeaker.”
In Florida a 12 point swing in November would-- again all things being equal-- see the end of the congressional careers of Ted Yoho, Dennis Ross, Brian Mast, Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo and probably Gus Bilirakis, Bill Posey and Francis Rooney.

Around the country, you'd be saying Randy Bryce replace Paul Ryan in southeast Wisconsin, Lisa Brown replacing Cathy McMorris Rodgers in eastern Washington, Lillian Salerno replacing Pete Sessions in Dallas, Derrick Crowe taking a red seat in the Austin/San Antonio corridor seat, Jason Westin replacing John Culberson in Houston, Jess King replacing Lloyd Smucker in Lancaster, PA, Tom Guild replacing Steve Russell in Oklahoma City, DuWayne Gregory replacing Peter King on Long Island, Jenny Marshall replacing Virginia Foxx in North Carolina, Paul Clements replacing Fred Upton in Kalamazoo, Jared Golden replacing Bruce Poliquin in Maine, Austin Frerick replacing David Young in Des Moines and southwest Iowa, Sam Jammal and Doug Applegate filling the abandoned red seats in southern California, Katie Hill beating Steve Knight in Santa Clarita and David Gill replacing Rodney Davis in central Illinois.

Goal ThermometerBut as Dr. Gill mentioned, "We view the November general election as a golden opportunity to move toward real change; given my past performance against the Republican incumbent, we have no doubt that I can defeat him this year. And when I get to Washington, I intend to be a game-changer, using my background as an emergency medicine physician to counter the myths advanced by those who oppose single-payer, and to help lead the charge to the type of health care system that FDR envisioned for us 75 years ago. But first, of course, I have to survive on March 20. And this primary is really a battle for the soul of the Democratic party. I'm taking on establishment-backed candidates who refuse to stand up for single-payer, the Fight for 15, or tuition freedom. I'll be out-spent, but not out-worked: my staff and I, and our passionate volunteers, have knocked on thousands of doors and talked with thousands of voters. And those Democratic voters are done with half-measures, they're done with Republican Lite. They are demanding a shift toward a government focused on ordinary people, and as a lifelong progressive populist, I look forward to being a part of such a seismic shift." Want to help David and the other Blue America candidates win those primaries against establishment candidates? That's what the thermometer just above is for.

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Cape Town Not Alone: The Eleven World Cities Most Likely to Run Out of Drinking Water


As a result of a 20th-century project to drain nearby swamps, water from the Atlantic Ocean began seeping in to the Biscayne Aquifer, Miami's main source of freshwater. Infographic credit: YouTube (source)

by Gaius Publius

One last follow-up to the Cape Town water crisis story. As you may know, the city of Cape Town, South Africa, is experiencing a severe drought that has reduced the region's dams to 30% or less of capacity (with the last 10% unusable). This has forced the local government to declare a Day Zero, described on the city's website as "the day we may have to queue for water."

At the moment, residents are urged to use no more than 50 liters of water per day — about 13 gallons — for all purposes, including drinking, bathing, flushing the toilet, washing dishes, watering plants and gardens, and so on.

If  Day Zero is reached, the water taps will be shut off by the city and water will be strictly rationed. Residents will have to queue for water with their buckets as water is doled out to them. On Day Zero, the ration will be reduced to 25 liters per day. As of this writing, Day Zero is June 4.

The Canary in a Very Large Coal Mine

I've called this a "canary in the coal mine" for other cities around the world, and indeed, for our species' climate prospects in general.

The BBC News website has a helpful list of eleven cities that are closes to the condition of Cape Town, but not quite there yet. Here's that list; Cape Town is just the tip of the iceberg.

• Heading the list — São Paulo, Brazil:
Brazil's financial capital and one of the 10 most populated cities in the world went through a similar ordeal to Cape Town in 2015, when the main reservoir fell below 4% capacity.

At the height of the crisis, the city of over 21.7 million inhabitants had less than 20 days of water supply and police had to escort water trucks to stop looting.

It is thought a drought that affected south-eastern Brazil between 2014 and 2017 was to blame, but a UN mission to São Paulo was critical of the state authorities "lack of proper planning and investments".

The water crisis was deemed "finished" in 2016, but in January 2017 the main reserves were 15% below expected for the period - putting the city's future water supply once again in doubt.
• Next, the tech-fueled city of Bangalore, India:
Local officials in the southern Indian city have been bamboozled by the growth of new property developments following Bangalore's rise as a technological hub and are struggling to manage the city's water and sewage systems.

To make matters worse, the city's antiquated plumbing needs an urgent upheaval; a report by the national government found that the city loses over half of its drinking water to waste.

Like China, India struggles with water pollution and Bangalore is no different: an in-depth inventory of the city's lakes found that 85% had water that could only be used for irrigation and industrial cooling.

Not a single lake had suitable water for drinking or bathing.
The problem in Bangalore is exacerbated by pollution from human waste; India in general is vastly deficient in toilets and a culture of using them.

• A city that may surprise you, a world capital yet, is next on the list — Beijing, China:
The World Bank classifies water scarcity as when people in a determined location receive less than 1,000 cubic metres of fresh water per person a year.

In 2014, each of the more than 20 million inhabitants of Beijing had only 145 cubic metres.

China is home to almost 20% of the world's population but has only 7% of the world's fresh water.

A Columbia University study estimates that the country's reserves declined 13% between 2000 and 2009.

And there's also a pollution problem. Official figures from 2015 showed that 40% of Beijing's surface water was polluted to the point of not being useful even for agriculture or industrial use.
To put those numbers in perspective, 1000 cubic meters per year is about 725 gallons per day per person. That's the break point for the World Bank's definition of "water scarcity."

In Beijing, 20 million inhabitants have about 100 gallons per day, one seventh of the allotment that defines "scarcity."

• Other cities on the list include Cairo (another world capital); Jakarta in Indonesia; Moscow, Istanbul, London and Tokyo (four more world capitals!) ... and Miami.

Miami's Water Troubles

Despite its large annual rainfall, the American city of Miami is especially vulnerable to drinking water shortages. BBC News again:
The US state of Florida is among the five US states most hit by rain every year. However, there is a crisis brewing in its most famous city, Miami.

An early 20th Century project to drain nearby swamps had an unforeseen result; water from the Atlantic Ocean contaminated the Biscayne Aquifer, the city's main source of fresh water.

Although the problem was detected in the 1930s, seawater still leaks in, especially because the American city has experienced faster rates of sea level rise, with water breaching underground defence barriers installed in recent decades.

Neighbouring cities are already struggling. Hallandale Beach, which is just a few miles north of Miami, had to close six of its eight wells due to saltwater intrusion.
Even without the problem of sea level rise, Miami's water supply is vulnerable to its water table, made of porous limestone.

Jeff Goodell, writing in Rolling Stone (emphasis added):
South Florida has two big problems. The first is its remarkably flat topography. Half the area that surrounds Miami is less than five feet above sea level. Its highest natural elevation, a limestone ridge that runs from Palm Beach to just south of the city, averages a scant 12 feet. With just three feet of sea-level rise, more than a third of southern Florida will vanish; at six feet, more than half will be gone; if the seas rise 12 feet, South Florida will be little more than an isolated archipelago surrounded by abandoned buildings and crumbling overpasses. And the waters won't just come in from the east – because the region is so flat, rising seas will come in nearly as fast from the west too, through the Everglades. [emphasis added]
Limestone, a porous rock, that forms the Miami ridge also forms the floor, the region's water table:
Even worse, South Florida sits above a vast and porous limestone plateau. "Imagine Swiss cheese, and you'll have a pretty good idea what the rock under southern Florida looks like," says Glenn Landers, a senior engineer at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This means water moves around easily – it seeps into yards at high tide, bubbles up on golf courses, flows through underground caverns, corrodes building foundations from below. "Conventional sea walls and barriers are not effective here," says Robert Daoust, an ecologist at ARCADIS, a Dutch firm that specializes in engineering solutions to rising seas. "Protecting the city, if it is possible, will require innovative solutions."
Miami has been working since its founding to stave off salt water intrusion into its freshwater aquifer.
[In] the 1950s, people started noticing their drinking water was getting salty. In South Florida, the drinking-water supply comes from a big lake just below the surface known as the Biscayne aquifer. Engineers examined the situation and determined that the combination of draining the swamps and pumping out the aquifer had changed hydrostatic pressure underground and allowed salt water to move into the aquifer. To stop this, the Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District built dozens of these salinity-­control structures at key points on the canals. When they were closed, salty water wasn't able to flow into the canals. But if there was a big storm and intense flooding, the gates could be opened to allow drainage.

That worked pretty well for a time. The gates were engineered so that, when they were closed, the fresh water was about a foot and a half higher than the salt water. This freshwater "head" (as engineers called it) helped keep pressure in the aquifer and kept the salt water at bay.

But in the 50 years since the structures were built, much has changed. For one thing, nearly 80 percent of the fresh water flowing into the Everglades has been diverted, some of it into industrial-­agriculture operations. At the same time, consumption has skyrocketed: The 5.5 million or so people who now live in South Florida consume more than 3 billion gallons of water every day (including industry and agriculture). Almost all of that is pumped out of the aquifer, drawing it down and allowing more and more salt water to move in. At the same time, the sea level is rising (about nine inches since the canals were first dredged), which also helps push more salt water into the aquifer.
Says Jayantha Obeysekera, the chief modeler for the South Florida Water Management District, "Here, you can see the problem. The water is only 10 inches lower on [the saltwater] side than on the [freshwater] canal [side]. When this structure was built in 1960, it was a foot and a half. We are reaching equilibrium."

The engineering to address these problems is expensive. Installing new pumps on the freshwater side of the control structures cost $70 million each. The full cost of protecting Miami from a three-foot sea level rise will be "upward of $20 billion to $30 billion."

One day that cost will be deemed just too much, and Miami will be abandoned to the world without us — along with most of the other cities on the list above.

You can find more on coming water shortages in world cities at the EcoWatch website. Most of these regional problems, if not all of them, will become severe within the next decade. By most estimates, London, for example, will have to find new water sources by 2025. Trump, or Pence, may still be president by then.

Yes, it's happening now. The last generation kicked the can to this generation. It can't be kicked further.


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Conservatives In Congress-- From Both Parties-- Decide To Beat Up On Disabled People


James Langevin (D-RI)

Jim Langevin (D-RI) is kind of a middle of the road Democrat. Generally speaking, he's not a progressive but he's certainly not a Blue Dog. When he was a 16 year old boy scout he was injured in a gun accident which left him paralyzed. He was elected to Congress in 2000, the first quadriplegic to ever serve in Congress. Far right Texas Congressman Ted Poe offered a bill that puts the Disability Rights Section of the Department of Justice in jeopardy. So Langevin offered an amendment to remove the requirement that a person who claims discrimination must first provide written notice that allows 60 days for an owner to acknowledge receipt of the complaint and 120 days to demonstrate substantial progress in removing the barrier before legal action may be pursued. Basically he was trying to keep the feasibility of law suits for people with disabilities who get illegally discriminated against by businesses.

And sure, the greedy asinine Republicans were almost all gung-ho to pass Poe's bill without Langevin's amendment. So they voted Langevin's amendment down Thursday before heading off for another nice vacation. It failed 188-226. I was happy to see 15 Republicans get in touch with their souls and vote against what Ryan and McCarthy were demanding of them. Most of them are vulnerable Republicans in swing districts or Republicans who have decided to just abandon the whole fucked up Trump-enabling Congress--
Barbara Comstock (VA)
Ryan Costello (PA)
Brian Fitzpatrick (PA)
Rodney Frelinghuysen (PA)
Gregg Harper (MS)
John Katko (NY)
Peter King (NY)
Leonard Lance (NJ)
Dave Reichert (WA)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL)
Chris Smith (NJ)
Fred Upton (MI)
Kevin Yoder (KS)
The only Republicans who don't fit either category but who voted NO were Jim Sensenbrenner (WI) and Glenn Thompson (PA). Nice-- whatever the motivation. But it didn't help because, as usual, Ryan and McCarthy know exactly which Blue Dogs and New Dems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party to go to when they need to find some sellouts. These were the Blue Dog and New Dem sell-outs this time, mostly the usual suspects:
Ami Bera (New Dem-CA)
Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)
Lou Correa (Blue Dog-CA)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Bill Foster (New Dem-IL)
Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)
Kathleen Rice (New Dem-NY)
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog), who Schumer picked to be the next senator from Arizona
Norma Torres (New Dem-CA)
Maybe you don't get why this is a big deal-- and why we need to make sure Blue Dog and New Dem nominees don't get the Democratic nominations anywhere-- so let's turn to... Teen Vogue. They get it. "The bill," wrote S.E. Smith, "which has been introduced and went nowhere before, would change the way that access to public accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is enforced. Disabled people argue this legislation will introduce substantial barriers to accommodations. Proponents say the legislation is necessary to curb so-called 'drive-by' lawsuits that spuriously target businesses for purported ADA violations. Disability rights have been under threat from the Trump administration: Last year’s attacks on health care put disabled people in the crosshairs; proposed changes to Medicaid would radically limit access to needed health care; the Department of Education has rescinded certain guidance on disability and civil rights; and Jeff Sessions suggested, in reference to the opioid crisis, that people can take aspirin."
The ADA is a landmark piece of bipartisan legislation that affirms and protects the civil rights of disabled people. H.R. 620 specifically takes on Title III, a section that gives disabled people the right to sue public accommodations (like restaurants, hotels, and movie theaters) that don’t comply with the ADA’s accessibility requirements. When you hear “ADA,” you may think of wheelchair users who need ramps, lifts, and accessible bathrooms. But it applies to other disabilities too, as in the case of the complaint against Netflix by the D/deaf and hard of hearing community because the service wasn’t fully captioning its content.

“It's largely up to disabled folks to enforce the ADA by filing lawsuits when businesses violate our civil rights,” disabled attorney Matt Cortland tells Teen Vogue. Historically, the Department of Justice has also mounted suits under the ADA when doing so could expand access for a broad class of people.

Though businesses have been required to provide accommodations for nearly 30 years, they don’t always comply, as social worker Vilissa Thompson tells Teen Vogue. During a layover last year, Thompson entered a supposedly accessible bathroom stall with a door that couldn’t close around her chair. “The attendant who was with me had to stand in front of the door to be a cover of sorts while I had to do my business.”

Disabled people sometimes have to sue for the right to go to the movies, go grocery shopping, or have a fun night out with friends. Some people claim businesses are being plagued by bogus lawsuits filed by disabled people who are greedy for cash. This ignores a couple of things: Filing suit is expensive, and furthermore, ADA suits only entitle disabled people to legal fees and injunctive relief-- addressing the accessibility failure in question. And the legal system already has measures in place to address frivolous lawsuits, up to and including bar action against attorneys who engage in bad faith litigation.
So which shithead candidates are running this year as New Dems and Blue Dogs? Most candidates try to hide it but if you go to the Blue Dog and New Dem websites you get lists of their endorsees. I'm sure if you ask them if they would support the rights of disabled people, 100% of them would say they do. But I guarantee you, if they get into Congress, they'll be leaned on by their corrupt corporate campaign contributors and they'll soon be looking for rationales for living the rest of their professional lives on the Dark Side. That's what being a Blue Dog or a New Dem is all about. Unless you want to sink America into a Trumpazoid swamp, don't support or even vote for any of these:

And below are the New Dems who the Blue Dogs haven't formally endorsed, at least not yet. These days there are basically no substantive differences between the Blue Dogs and the New Dems. Most New Dems are also Blue Dogs and most Blue Dogs also join the New Dems. They should just formally merge and call themselves what they are: the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, bought and paid for by Wall Street.
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ)
Greg Stanton (AZ)
Dave Min (CA)
Harley Rouda (CA)
Hans Keirstead (CA)
Lauren Baer (FL)
Jason Crow (CO)
Elissa Slotkin (MI)
Angie Craig (MN)
Dean Phillips (MN)
Mikie Sherrill (NJ)
Susie Lee (NV)
Chrissy Houlahan (PA)
Jana Lynne Sanchez (TX)
Dan Kohl (WI)

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