Friday, July 20, 2018

More On Joe Lieberman’s Shrill Cry Against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez


by Skip Kaltenheuser

Nice to have Joe to kick around again. As Howie recently did

Of the tragic mistakes Al Gore made that bequeathed us W-- trying to cherry-pick counties in a Florida recount attempt, etc…-- none was worse than picking "Holy Joe" for his running mate.

Gore compounded the fiasco by allowing Lieberman to run for re-election as U.S. Senator for Connecticut at the same time he was running for Vice-President on Gore’s ticket.

Never mind Lieberman’s reputation as a water carrier for the pharmaceutical and insurance/finance industries. Did nobody tell Gore the optics of Lieberman's dual candidacy? How could any person devise a stronger message of lack of confidence in the Democratic national ticket and in Al Gore than simultaneously running for Senate re-election so that Lieberman had a fall-back position? No one thought how that lack of faith in the ticket would resonate throughout Florida and the country?

And what if Gore had prevailed in the election-- as the popular vote indicated he did before Justice Kennedy and the Supremes worked their mischief in Bush v. Gore-- and if the Democratic Party had fared well enough to tie the Senate count? A Republican governor would have appointed a Republican to replace Lieberman, throwing the Senate to Republicans. This assumes one can’t be U.S. vice-president and U.S. Senator at the same time, though settling that might have sparked a legal battle. Connecticut’s appointment law is a bit confusing as to how it might apply in this unique scenario, regarding the length of appointed term before an election, but certainly an appointee would have a leg up in a subsequent election. The Democratic Party didn’t fare well enough to gain or tie the Senate, but losing control of the Senate was a feasible scenario and outcome when Lieberman decided to run for Senate re-election. It’s all about Joe.

After the debacle of W’s win, Lieberman was a major supporter for the invasion of Iraq, and he continues to beat drums on Iran.

The Diplomat by Nancy Ohanian

I suspect a submarine motive behind Lieberman’s desperation to discredit Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and return Joe Crowley to Congress. Years ago I frequented guest politician off-record breakfast briefings the press club used to hold. I attended one featuring Senator Lieberman. I’d never heard anyone jump through the hoops kissing the Israeli far right Likud rump more than Joe Lieberman did that morning, as if following an AIPAC checklist, as if someone was reporting back to relevant backers. He was throwing out this love-fest on his own, not in response to reporters' questions. One of the standout courageous positions Bernie Sanders-- held in disdain by Lieberman-- shares with Ocasio-Cortez is a call for decency in the treatment of Palestinians and concern as their rights and prospects rapidly vanish. In addition to their finance sector fan club, one of the positions Lieberman holds in common with Crowley is a shameless kowtow supporting Israel’s far right government. Any appearance of even-handedness to Palestinians will have alarm bells ringing in Lieberman’s head, and jump-start his urgent desire to derail Ocasio-Cortez.

Here’s the send-off The Nation gave Lieberman when he announced his retirement, another good refresher on his legacy.

It was a sad day when a laudable, authentic Republican maverick, Lowell Weicker, was narrowly defeated by Lieberman and by conservatives like William F. Buckley who bankrolled Lieberman’s campaign.

Holden Caulfield had a term of art that seems tailored for Lieberman.


Which Democrats Support Anti-Immigrant GOP Stunts-- Very Few... But That's More Than None


Congress never seems to have the time or energy to work on anything beneficial to the American people... but the Republican leadership always has time for stunts and games-- like the one they did Wednesday. Ryan, McConnell and Scalise put GOP nitwit Clay Higgins up to it. Higgins represents one of the reddest districts in Louisiana, a big swath of the southern coast, from Morgan City through New Iberia, Lafayette and Lake Charles right to the Texas border. The PVI is R+20 and Trump beat Hillary there, 67.3% to 29.2%. There's no accountability for doing idiotic things-- as long as they'll idiotic things that Hate Talk Radio will extol.

It's a foolish non-binding resolution expressing support for ICE, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the kidnappers who act as Trump's Gestapo. Jerry Nadler, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and likely to be that committee's next chairman: "It is a meaningless stunt. We have more important things to do." McConnell tried doing the same stunt at the Senate by using unanimous consent but it was blocked by Kamala Harris on the floor.

It passed 244 to 35. Does that look like a strangely low number of votes? Well, it was. 133 Democrats voted "present." Steny Hoyer, the Democratic Whip explained that "This is exactly the kind of 'gotcha vote' which alienates Americans from their government... Democrats refuse to play the Republicans' game. We’re not falling for this trap. But 18 Democrats did fall for this trap, Pretty repulsive that Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ) did but they're both running for the Senate and I guess they think Hispanic voters will have no choice but to forgive them.) Among the 18 Democrats who voted with the GOP on this 14 were Blue Dogs and New Dems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, also known as Democraps.
Ami Bera (New Dem-CA)
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
Charlie Crist (Blue Dog-FL)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ)
Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)
Connor Lamb (Blue Dog)
Al Lawson (New Dem-FL)
Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-FL)
Tom O'Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ)
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)
David Scott (Blue Dog-GA)
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)
Tom Suozzi (New Dem-NY)
The only Republican to vote NO was Justin Amash (R-MI). Most Democrats who want to abolish ICE want to make sure the legitimate work they do-- not the kidnappings and family separations-- are done by another agency. Last week Democrats introduced legislation two abolish ICE which the GOP isn't allowing to come to the floor. Mark Pocan is one of the cosponsors. He said that "Trump has so misused ICE that the agency can no longer accomplish its goals effectively. As a result, the best path forward is this legislation, which would end ICE and transfer its critical functions to other executive agencies." But where and how and who? With the congressional Republicans preferring to weaponize the slogan, "Abolish Ice," to use against Democrats, there is no mature debate about how to go forward.
If signed into law, the bill would set a one-year window before ICE is shut down, while also establishing a commission to undertake a 90-day review that would identify ICE’s essential responsibilities and the agencies that could take over those roles. A second act of Congress would then be needed to establish where its former powers should go. Commission members would also be charged with accounting for any constitutional infringements and abuses of power committed by ICE agents and officials during its existence.

“This legislation would establish a commission to look at transitioning essential ICE functions to a new agency that would have accountability, transparency and oversight built in from its inception,” Washington Representative Pramila Jayapal, another Democrat who introduced the bill, said in a statement. “It’s time to change the system to one that is accountable, efficient, humane, and transparent.”

...At its broadest level, #AbolishICE isn’t just about changing DHS’ most controversial agency. It’s about changing the nation’s deadlocked immigration debate. “Everyone’s entrenched,” [Former ICE director Sarah] Saldana said, referring to Congress. “I don’t blame one side or the other for the lack of comprehensive immigration reform. Both parties are responsible, and I would hope that at some point the public gets serious enough about it to say, ‘You’re not working on a major issue in this country and we need someone who will.’”

By calling for ICE’s abolition, activists on the left are hoping to tilt that debate in their favor. “ICE is now contested,” [Sean] McElwee said. “Detention beds are contested. ICE’s funding in omnibus bills is no longer a given-- a thing that is seen as the thing that’s done automatically. The contesting of deportation is very valuable. We actually have some space now to question the consensus that was fundamentally a center-right consensus.” For those hoping to build a new approach to immigration after Trump, that long-term shift is more important than whatever form ICE takes next.

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Gee, The GOP Sure Has Changed-- Or Has It?


New polling shows that while normal people are aghast at Trump's treasonous behavior in Helsinki and his supine posture towards Putin, Republicans overwhelmingly approve. A CBS News poll shows that 83% of Democrats and 53% of Independents disapprove of how Trump handles Putin, while 68% of Republicans approve. Similarly 89% of Democrats and 67% of Independents believe the U.S. intelligence community on Russian interference , while only 51% of Republicans do. 87% of Democrats and 57% of Independents are concerned that the Russians will interfere in the midterms. 61% of Republicans-- traitors in the same way conservatives were during the American Revolution, siding with the British against the Patriots-- are not concerned about Russian interference with November's coming elections.

A new poll from Axios is even more brutal when it comes to the nature of Republican-- dare say it-- TREASON. What do you see here in another American battle pitting Patriots against conservative shits?

"This poll," wrote Mike Allen, "foreshadows the coming national drama. Every piece of data, and virtually every public action of elected Republican officials, shows Trump will have overwhelming and probably unbreakable party support, regardless of what Robert Mueller finds with his Russia probe. Americans are split on whether the allegations of Russian interference are a serious issue (50%) or a distraction (47%). This breaks cleanly along party lines, with 85 percent of Republicans seeing it as a distraction and 85 percent of Democrats seeing it as a serious issue. Among Independents, 56 percent see it as a serious issue."

And it isn't just Trump and the Russians that highlights exactly what Republican-- voters, not just their elected officials-- have become. Yesterday, writing for HuffPo, Christopher Mathias, reported that Republicans aren't concerned at all that Iowa Congressman Steve King is a white supremicist (a polite-ish way of saying a neo-Nazi). Mathias wrote that "it's not surprising that the eight-term congressman from Iowa retweeted a neo-Nazi. King has a long history of making terrible, bigoted comments."

What is surprising, and concerning, is that a sitting U.S. congressman can unapologetically promote a neo-Nazi’s propaganda on Twitter without real political consequence. Over the past month, none of King’s fellow Republicans have pushed to censure him or expel him from Congress. None have called for him to resign. Mostly, they have stayed quiet.

Republicans have rebuked King in the past, sometimes forcefully. But they’ve also never really punished him, and have been inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. (“I’d like to think he misspoke,” House Speaker Paul Ryan once said after King tweeted: “we can’t restore our civilization with other people’s babies.” King later clarified that he had not misspoken, and had “meant exactly” what he said.)

King is still chair of the House subcommittee on the constitution and civil justice. He still sits in the subcommittee on immigration and border security. He’s still co-chair of Republican Kim Reynold’s gubernatorial campaign in Iowa. Over the past month, he’s received thousands of dollars in campaign donations, including from Koch Industries PAC. And come time for the 2020 presidential election, Republican candidates will likely come begging for his endorsement, just as they did in the last election.

  Although the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Republican National Committee and Republican politicians have taken time to denounce or un-endorse the frightening number of neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers and other assorted white supremacists running for office as Republicans this year, they’ve remained silent about King, helping to normalize his ideas and deem them acceptable.

When a HuffPost reporter on Capitol Hill Tuesday asked King about his retweet of a neo-Nazi, the congressman said all of his tweets are “true and objective.” On Wednesday, when the same reporter asked King if he is a white supremacist or a white nationalist, the congressman didn’t deny the allegation.

  “I don’t answer those questions,” he said. “I say to people that use those kind of allegations: Use those words a million times, because you’re reducing the value of them every time, and many of the people that use those words and make those allegations and ask those questions can’t even define the words they’re using.”

So we have defined the words, and all the evidence is there: King is a white supremacist.

White nationalism is aimed at preserving or maintaining a white majority in the U.S., said Jessie Daniels, a sociology professor at the City University of New York, HuffPost columnist and author of the books White Lies and Cyber Racism.

Daniels said King “definitely” qualifies as a white nationalist. “He’s been upfront about the fact that those are his views,” she said.

King is obsessed, for example, with demographics — and the perceived threat Muslim and Latino immigrants pose to the white, Christian majority. For this reason, King has taken particular interest in Geert Wilders, a noxiously Islamophobic Dutch politician who has advocated for fascist anti-Muslim policies, including a ban on Muslim immigration, and a ban on all mosques and Qurans in the Netherlands.

  ...King himself has a history of making his own wildly anti-Muslim proclamations. Just last month, speaking on Breitbart radio, King said that he didn’t want Somali Muslims working in Iowa’s meatpacking plants. Muslims often don’t eat pork, and in King’s twisted interpretation of Islam, the only reason Muslims would want to handle pork at meatpacking plants is to send non-Muslims “to Hell” and “make Allah happy.”

King has said the U.S. government should spy on mosques and that Muslims should have to renounce Sharia law before entering the country.

And he once promoted a debunked and paranoid conspiracy theory-- from the extremist conspiracy theory website InfoWars-- that a Jerusalem imam told Muslims to “go into Western Europe, build your enclaves there, breed their women, and do not associate or assimilate into the broader society.”

King has similarly devoted much of his career to vilifying Latino immigrants as inherently criminal and threatening.

Last month, responding to a tweet showing a photo of young Latino boys detained at the border and forcibly separated from their families, King tweeted, ”‘Young boys’ all old enough to be tried as adults or serve in the military and are prime MS-13 gang material & certainly grew up in the culture of one of the top 10 most violent countries in the world.”

King has made the wildly false claim that over a quarter of violent crimes in the U.S. are committed by undocumented immigrants, and has referred to illegal immigration as a “slow-motion terrorist attack in the United States” and a “slow-motion holocaust.” (Undocumented immigrants commit less crime than native-born Americans.)

  He once, while proposing an electrified fence along the Mexican border, compared immigrants to “livestock.”

...King has also paid homage to more traditional forms of American white supremacy. He has said the U.S. should not apologize for centuries of enslaving, murdering and raping millions of black Americans. He came out against putting a picture of emancipator Harriet Tubman-- a conductor of the Underground Railroad-- on the $20 bill.

And he once kept a Confederate flag on his desk even though his home state of Iowa was not part of the Confederacy. In fact, Iowa sent thousands of soldiers to fight for the Union against the Confederacy-- a treasonous army fighting explicitly to protect the institution of slavery in the South.

Last month, King won the Republican primary in Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District, ensuring he’ll be on the ballot this November in the general election against Democrat J.D. Scholten.
J.D.'s perspective is nothing like King's... to say the least. "White supremacy," he said, "has no place in our society."
I’ve tried to make this campaign more about the things I want to do to help the people of this district-- about my vision for fixing our broken health care system, helping family farmers survive these tough times in rural Iowa, and bringing new jobs to the district to stop all our young folks from leaving. But it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Steve King continues to be a complete embarrassment to the people of this district and this state.

As a 5th-generation Iowan, I am deeply disturbed and appalled that Steve King refuses to denounce the abhorrent concepts of white supremacy and white nationalism. My Iowa values and my baseball career taught me that people of all backgrounds can achieve greater things by working together for a common cause. I was fortunate to have had teammates from six different continents and my Catholic faith taught me we are all equally loved and valued, regardless of race. I’m not sure what bible Steve King uses.

Goal ThermometerNorthwest Iowa is tired of Steve King’s divisive politics, which is only good for embarrassing us on the national stage. A Des Moines Register poll from last winter showed I am not alone in my feelings as a Democrat trailed King by only three points. We are on the verge of a farm crisis, health care remains unaffordable for many rural folks, and more of our youngest and brightest keep leaving western Iowa. We urgently need a voice that genuinely cares more about building our district’s future than it does about tearing us apart. It’s time to replace Steve King’s extremist political views with someone who will fight for the people of Northwest Iowa.

I’m embarrassed to be represented in Congress by Steve King. Sixteen years is long enough and it’s time for change. Stand with me in saying, “ENOUGH” by contributing to our movement to defeat him!

Let’s end this national embarrassment once and for all.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

On The Waterfront has always been one of my all-time favorite movies; Top 10 in my book. The film has everything about life. And, if you ever needed one film to explain what acting is, Marlon Brando's performance as Terry Malloy is as good as it gets.

Unfortunately, our real life movie these days is every bit as sad, and much more scary, made so by having a severely corrupt mentally ill loser as a president whose sickness, every minute of every day, threatens to bring the whole world crashing to the ground. In On The Waterfront, the story of Terry Malloy was just the story of one punch-damaged man and those in his immediate circle. The story of Donald Trump is the story of all of us because his story affects all of us. Hell, our society went a long way in creating, encouraging, and allowing people like him. Greed kills.

The picture of Donald Trump above is a picture of a loser, a man ruined and ruled by his failings, his corruption, and his insecurities. Trump, however, unlike Malloy, is a loser by his own choice. He's forfeited any sympathy. In On The Waterfront, Terry Malloy ends up fighting corruption. Put Trump on trial and put him in the ring with Terry Malloy and let Malloy tear him apart. Let Malloy hear the cheers again.

When a friend sent me this photo Sunday night and asked me to caption it, I immediately thought of On The Waterfront and Terry Malloy's words, and then used them to make tonight's memes. Although Malloy, unlike Trump, has a soul, his words apply.

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Ready For Putin-Gate II? Is The Kremlin Targeting The Midterms?


When I read Tuesday evening that Trumpanzee chief of staff John Kelly had been calling members of Congress and telling them to feel free to criticize Trump for his treasonous behavior in Helsinki, I assumed Kelly had cleared that first with Señor T and that, for once, Trump was thinking strategically instead of like a self-obsessed 4 year old. But I was wrong. Trump had no idea what Kelly was up to. Gabriel Sherman explained for Vanity Fair readers what actually did happen: "THIS WAS THE NIGHTMARE SCENARIO": THE WEST WING REVOLTS AFTER TRUMP EMBRACES PUTIN

Trump was furious that Americans weren't overjoyed by his supine posture towards Putin and that no one in the political universe was defending his treason. "The mood among West Wing advisers," wrote Sherman, "was downright funereal. 'This was the nightmare scenario,' another Republican in frequent contact with the administration said. This was viewed as much worse than Access Hollywood, Charlottesville or the "shithole countries."
While National Security Adviser John Bolton, according to a source, thought Trump’s remarks were ill-advised, he believed that walking them back would only add fuel to the outrage pyre and make the president look weak. But Chief of Staff John Kelly was irate. According to a source, he told Trump it would make things worse for him with Robert Mueller. He also exerted pressure to try to get the president to walk back his remarks. According to three sources familiar with the situation, Kelly called around to Republicans on Capitol Hill and gave them the go-ahead to speak out against Trump. (The White House did not respond to a request for comment.) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan held televised press conferences to assert that Russia did meddle in the election.

Trump was boxed in. With seemingly only Rand Paul, Sean Hannity, and Tucker Carlson in his corner, Trump decided to backtrack. Appearing before reporters this afternoon, Trump blamed his comments on a grammatical mistake. “I would like to clarify, in a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t,’” he said, reading from a statement. “The sentence should have been: ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.’”

To those who know Trump best, the 24-hour reversal is a sign that he’s unnerved by the intensity of the backlash he provoked. “The president sent a very clear message [that] his worldview is in sync with his base and members of his party,” former Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller told me. “Any of these other kerfuffles, if he had addressed it the next day, we wouldn’t have had that many days of things like shithole countries.”
But Trump's been tripping all over his messaging ever since. CNN reported that by yesterday he was contradicting his own intelligence agencies again. His latest was that even if the Russians did it in 2016 they've stopped. If you follow the way Trump's tiny and venal brain works you know what he said-- that means the Russians are absolutely doing it again and, again, colluding with Trump and his team. He messed up the messaging by declining "an opportunity to clarify his remarks when questioned by reporters on the White House South Lawn. It amounted to another day of shifting stories and confusing positions for a President whose ties to Russia are under scrutiny, and whose deference to Russian leader Vladimir Putin has garnered widespread condemnation."
Speaking during a Cabinet meeting at the White House, Trump was asked by a reporter if Russia was still targeting the US.

"No," he responded, looking directly at the reporter. The President's answer was the latest in a series of changing statements about whether he endorses the US intelligence community's conclusions about Russia's interference in the 2016 election and its continued efforts to disrupt future US elections.

...On Monday, Trump's director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, emphatically said that Russia's attempts to attack the US were ongoing.

"We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy," Coats wrote in a statement released after Trump appeared to side with Putin, rather than US intelligence agencies, on who was to blame for the election interference.

Two days earlier, Coats was more forceful in his warnings that Russia and other countries would continue their attempts to breach US systems.

"The warning signs are there. The system is blinking. It is why I believe we are at a critical point," Coats said on Friday. "Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack."

He compared the "warning signs" to those the United States faced ahead of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and named the "worst offenders" as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea-- with Russia the "most aggressive foreign actor, no question."

"They continue their efforts to undermine our democracy," Coats said.

...Trump's appearances over the past two days were meant to quell the outcry, however, his assertion that Russia is no longer targeting the US did not help.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a confidant of Trump's, said on Twitter that there was "A BIG discrepancy between President Trump's statement and DNI Coates' warning," and expressed disagreement with Trump, saying, "My personal view: the Russians are at (it) again."

And Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer quickly criticized the President's comment, tweeting, "Mr. President. Walk this back too."

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Today's 5PM T-Word Post


The Oval Office by Nancy Ohanian

On July 10, right-wing lunatic-- many would say psychotic-- John Stormer died at 90. He was the author of the 1964 neo-fascist, self-published propaganda tome, None Dare Call It Treason, a conspiracy-theory book that certainly inspired the coming of Fox News and Alex Jones. It helped Barry Goldwater win the 1964 GOP nomination, much to the delight of normal Americans and the Democratic Party, since Goldwater won only 6 states (and 52 electoral votes)-- South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and his native Arizona. He took just 38.5% of the national popular vote. The GOP also lost 36 House seats and three Republicans lost their Senate seats in the rout-- James Beall (MD), Edwin Mechem (NM) and Kenneth Keating (NY)-- to Robert Kennedy.

Today we're faced with a situation that some would and do call treason... although the establishment is working overtime to tamp that down. By yesterday the treason talk had started to quiet down, at least in the status quo mainstream media. The Financial Times, for example was not coming close to condoning it but was already normalizing Trump's treasonous behavior in Helsinki. The editorial admitted he had "undermined his country and his office in a series of important ways. His performance in Helsinki made it absolutely clear that the U.S. president places his own political survival and personal vanity above any belief in the rule-of-law. Just a few days earlier, Rod Rosenstein, America’s deputy attorney-general, had indicted 12 Russian agents accused of interfering in the 2016 election and had correctly pointed out that the indictments should not be a partisan issue. But this crucial point is lost on Mr Trump. Everything-- including truth, the rule-of-law and the dignity of the US-- is subordinated to his own partisan interests."
The president’s rambling and self-centred remarks also underlined the questions about his intellectual fitness for office. The contrast with the controlled, polished (and deeply cynical) performance of Mr Putin was painful to behold.

...Senior Republicans need now to step out of the shadow of Mr Trump-- and remember their party's honourable role in crafting the bipartisan foreign policy that saw the US through the cold war. The party of Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan should recoil at President Trump's behaviour in Helsinki. It needs to rediscover its soul, before it is too late.

No word of treason or even treasonous. NBC was still on a tear... but treason was still a bridge too far, regardless of how obvious it is. If the White House thought it had persuaded him to clean up the mess at a meeting with congressional Republicans Tuesday, they were wrong. As NBC put it: "he picked up a single empty can-- but left all the other spilled garbage on the kitchen floor... Trump said he misspoke in Helsinki for saying he didn’t see why Russia would have interfered in the 2016 election. 'I thought that I made myself very clear, but having just reviewed the transcript...I realized that there is a need for some clarification,' Trump said, per NBC News. 'The sentence should have been..."I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia.''' (Ah, the double-negative defense!)"
Trump also said he had full faith in the U.S. intelligence community’s findings. “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place.” But he added this, which appeared to undercut that full faith: “Could be other people also. There’s a lot of people out there.”

To be clear about the entirety of Trump’s remarks with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, however, here are the president’s OTHER remarks from Monday that he didn’t try to clean up:
“I hold both countries responsible [for the decline in U.S.-Russian relations]. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish.”
“I think that the [Mueller] probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart. It’s kept us separated. There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it.”
“You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the [DNC's] server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that.”
“What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? Thirty-three thousand emails gone-- just gone. I think, in Russia, they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails.”
“So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
“And what [Putin] did is an incredible offer; he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 [indicted Russians]. I think that’s an incredible offer.” (By the way, Putin’s condition for that offer? That Americans and U.S. residents who Russia believes have committed illegal actions should be questioned, too.)
Who's crazier and more dangerous than John Stormer? (Just asking for a friend. And did somebody mention "intellectual fitness for the office?")

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I've Been A Miner For A Heart Of Gold-- Contest


The Blue America contest for Alan Grayson is still going strong. It ends Saturday. We're giving away a very rare gorgeous RIAA-ceritfied double platinum award for Neil Young's HARVEST, his 4th studio album (1972). Just contribute any amount to Alan Grayson's congressional campaign on this ActBlue page. That makes you eligible to win, regardless of how much you give. All the arcane FEC rules are here, if you have the mind of a lawyer. There were very few of these plaques ever made-- just to band members, people who work for Neil a few people at Reprise Records who helped promote Neil's music. You can be as rich as Trump and not be able to buy it. It's not commercially available. But you can win one. Someone will.

Alan is a big Neil Young fan but Alan's wife, Dena, is the real Neil aficionado, even singing his songs to Alan. She's the one who can tell you anything you want to know about every song on HARVEST. Alan's the one who can't stop talking about "Let's Impeach The President" from Neil's Living With War album. This is what he told his own supporters a few days ago:
At a slightly earlier moment in the space-time continuum, Neil Young wrote a song that seems very apt at this moment. The song is called "Let’s Impeach the President." He wrote it regarding an earlier awful President, not the current awful President. But most people whom I know think that this one is more awful than that one-- by a wide margin. Read the lyrics, listen to the case that Neil Young made for impeachment, and ask yourself: Doesn’t Donald Trump deserve it even more?

Let's impeach the President for lying
And misleading our country into war
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door

Who's the man who hired all the criminals
The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
They bend the facts to fit with their new stories
Of why we have to send our men to war

Let's impeach the President for spying
On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking every law in the country
By tapping our computers and telephones

What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees
Would New Orleans have been safer that way
Sheltered by our government's protection
Or was someone just not home that day?

Flip - Flop
Flip - Flop
Flip - Flop
Flip - Flop

Let's impeach the president for hijacking
Our religion and using it to get elected
Dividing our country into colors
And still leaving black people neglected

Yes, let’s impeach the President. Please contribute to our Dump Trump campaign fund, and earn a chance to win a platinum record award from Neil Young, the singer who said it first

This one's from HARVEST:

The contest ends Saturday. And, like Neil, Alan is a real superstar, not a reality show superstar. And... contest or no contest, we need this guy (Alan Grayson, not Neil) back in Congress. While other candidates-- lots and lots of them, and not just Republicans-- hide under their beds when someone asks them if they'll back impeaching Trump, Grayson makes it clear to voters in the Orlando area that he'll not just back it, he'll lead that movement. His district is covered with these billboards:

Goal ThermometerOne more thing, if you've become used to click on a fundraising thermometer to make your contributions, we have a Blue America Harvest thermometer for you too. Please think for a second about how this isn't just about a contest... it's also electing someone to Congress who's shown us what he can do. Remember Alan in the well of the House, Republicans going absolutely nuts on the floor: "The Republican healthcare plan: Don't Get Sick... If You Get Sick... Die Quickly!" They yelled and screamed he should retract that and apologize. There were even establishment Democrats who asked him to do what the Republicans asked for. You know, he never did, right? That's not Alan Grayson. He'll apologize when he makes a mistake; that was no mistake! It wasn't then... and it isn't now.

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Will The GOP Culture Of Corruption Determine The November Midterms?


At this point, national polling doesn't tell us as much as district polling does

A nice theme has been developing over the past year or so: our political system is riven with corruption-- a culture of corruption-- and congressional Republicans are at the root of it. Sounds about right, although letting the Democrats off the hook is ludicrous. Sure the Republicans are more corrupt... but the Democrats are plenty corrupt. The Republicans just happen to be in power so they deserve more blame at the moment. What I liked about the GBA Strategies poll for the Center for American Progress is that it did what too few polls do: it concentrated on selected battle ground districts than just giving us nearly useless national or even state trends. You'll see what I mean in a moment but the graphic above shows the national generic polling numbers. It isn't that useful because it includes districts that are completely blue and completely read and are uncontested. They just muck up the numbers that are important if we're trying to guess what the results of the midterms will be in battleground districts.

First off, it's obvious that the cascade of scandals-- whether criminal or ethical (Trumpland is mired in both-- is starting to take a toll. The poll tested 48 red congressional districts and the overall result is that 54% of voters said the the Republicans are more corrupt. And when you test just independents, the result is even better for Democrats-- 60% pick the Republican Party as being more corrupt. My old pal, Jesse Lee, spokesman for the Center for American Progress, pointed out that "The fact that you have these recurring Cabinet scandals, the fact that it keeps happening over and over again, it registers. People understand it’s been taken to a new level. There’s no check on it anymore. Trump isn’t pushing back on Congress to keep it under control. Congress isn’t pushing back on Trump."

Part of that culture of corruption theme for the Democrats goes beyond just all the Executive Branch corruption to a tax plan which only helps the very wealthy, is bankrupting the country and is riddled with loopholes for the rich-- a tax plan which is the GOP's main campaign plank, and only "accomplishment." Among respondents, a gargantuan 75% responded that it was "serious" or "very serious" that 53 Republican Congressmembers "get an average tax cut of over $200,000 each from one of the loopholes GOP leaders let them slip into the tax bill at the last minute. A big majority of Americans see that as corrupt.

Among the 48 district-- remember, each with a Republican member of Congress at the moment-- "Democrats lead Republicans by 4 points on the generic congressional ballot, 46-42%. This is a noteworthy lead for Democrats given that Republican candidates dominated their opponents in the battleground by an average of 14 points over the last two cycles. Self-identified Democratic and Republican voters are about equally consolidated behind their parties’ candidates, but Democrats lead with Independent voters by 11 points (though many are still undecided).

Trump is an albatross in these battle ground districts. His disapproval number is 57%. "Meanwhile, voter assessments of the job Republicans in Congress are doing are even worse at 36-64%. It should be noted, however, that Democrats in Congress don’t fare much better than their Republican counterparts. Their job approval rating is only 3 points better than Republicans, 39-61%, which underscores the need for Democratic challengers to distinguish themselves from politicians in Washington."

"Trump’s team has drawn attention and voters want more oversight. Trump’s cabinet of high-profile personalities with questionable ethics have not worn well with voters. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, for example, has name recognition among 64% of voters and an extremely poor favorability ratio of 18-46% favorable/unfavorable. Similarly, recently exiled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has a name ID of 53% and an even worse favorability ratio of 13-41%. Even as both DeVos and Pruitt have drawn a lot of negative attention, these levels of name recognition are quite high given that officials who occupy these positions are usually unknown among voters outside D.C. Given what they have seen so far, it’s not surprising that nearly half of voters (49%) say the Trump administration is more corrupt than previous administrations, compared to only 26% who say it is less corrupt and 25 percent who say it is about the same. A majority of 56% say that Congressional Republicans are not doing enough oversight of the Trump administration, including 57% of Independents."

"Republicans are seen as the party of corruption. By an 8-point margin, most voters say that Republicans are more corrupt than Democrats, 54-46%. This gap (larger than the Democratic lead on the generic congressional ballot) is driven in major part by the 60 percent of Independents who find more fault with the Republican Party, and the 27% of moderate Republican voters who agree with them... The following examples of administration and congressional corruption generate the most concerns among voters [in the battleground districts]:
Politicians in Congress set a schedule where they are in session only 3 days per week, so they can spend most of their time meeting with special interests to raise money for their campaigns.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt spent more than $100,000 of taxpayer money on first-class and charter flights, personalized fountain pens, and clothing, and gave out $96,000 in raises to friends he put on his staff.
Republicans in Congress took millions from drug companies and voted to give them and their investors a $50 billion tax windfall but did nothing to prevent them from continuing to raise the price of prescription drugs.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin used a military aircraft to travel to Kentucky with his wife to watch the solar eclipse, costing taxpayers $33,000.
53 Republicans in Congress will get an average tax cut of over $200 thousand each from a single loophole they added to the tax bill at the last minute.
Trump promised to hold Wall Street accountable but after they gave over $14 million to his inauguration alone, his administration abandoned a rule that prevented financial advisers from cheating their clients. Americans could lose $17 billion each year in retirement savings.
Republicans voted to take away healthcare from 30 million Americans but the bill they passed protected their own health care coverage.
Beltway consultants, think-tanks and polling firms take the DCCC as an oracle so they usually just include their corrupt Blue Dog and New Dem candidates in polls like this. But among the 48 districts serveyed there were 4 where progressive Blue America-backed candidates are included:
CA-45: Katie Porter vs Mimi Walters
ME-02: Jared Golden vs Bruce Poliquin
NE-02: Kara Eastman vs Don Bacon
WA-05: Lisa Brown vs Cathy McMorris Rodgers
We asked Golden's campaign how Jared felt this dynamic is playing out in rural Maine. "It's no surprise that voters in Maine's 2nd District are disillusioned with Bruce Poliquin. Instead of having the back of the people he was elected to represent, Poliquin voted for huge tax breaks for both he and his Wall Street buddies, including a last minute gimmick that funneled $200 million to Republican members of Congress. While supporting give-aways to the wealthy, Poliquin voted to take away the health care benefits of 30 million Americans, many of those living in northern Maine" said Bobby Reynolds, Communication Director for the Golden Campaign. "Jared is a Marine combat veteran and knows his first duty is to those he has sworn to protect and represent. Bruce Poliquin tows the party line, casts votes that hurt Mainers, then runs and hides when the heat is on. The good people of Maine's 2nd Congressional District deserve a better representative and Jared Golden is that guy."

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Pick A Side: Joe Lieberman Or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez


Conservatives want members of Congress to look like the mug on the right, never like the young woman on the left

Connecticut Democratic primary voters basically kicked Joe Lieberman out of the party by denying him the 2006 Democratic nomination for the Senate seat he had held since 1994. He ran on the Connecticut for Lieberman Party that year. He would like to see Joe Crowley, who lost the Democratic renomination bid on June 26, do the same thing. Crowley outspent his progressive opponent Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez $1,410,228 to $30,94, but she worked harder and smarter and beat him 15,897 (57.48%) to 11,761 (42.52%). Ever since her inspiring victory over an avatar of the grotesquely corrupt status quo establishment, the grotesquely corrupt status quo establishment and their media lapdogs have gone on the attack against her and other progressive reformers working to displace other incumbents associated with the grotesquely corrupt status quo establishment. So, no one should be surprised that Joe Lieberman, now a lobbyist working for the ultimate grotesquely corrupt status quo establishment law firm, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, who's best known client is... Don the Con, the illegitimate "president." Lieberman is also the co-chair of the American Internationalism Project, part of the far right American Enterprise Institute.

Lieberman represents a very special kind of bipartisanship-- the opposite of the kind of bipartisanship practiced by legislators like Alan Grayson, Pramila Jayapal, Ted Lieu and Karen Bass (entailing working across the aisle to find issues that both parties can support for the good of their constituents)-- and instead can be defined as selling out your own party's values and principles and embracing those of the other party. That, in fact, sums up Joe Lieberman's entire political career. Example: while actual Democrats were trying to stop the confirmation of anti-education extremist Betsy DeVos of Secretary of Education, it was Lieberman who introduced her to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension committee. A high ranking staffer for one of the committee members-- hint: not Doug Jones (D-AL)-- told me that members were revolted when Lieberman came into their offices and even more revolted when Trump announced he was likely to replace James Comey as FBI Director with Lieberman.

No one was surprised when Lieberman, writing for the conservative Wall Street Journal-- of which Grason quipped, "the Wall Street Journal: you can always tell whom they fear by whom they smear"-- a couple of days ago went on a vicious, McCarthyite attack against Ocasio-Cortez. "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hurts the party, Congress and even America," he wrote. What he meant by "the party" isn't open to the reader's interpretation, although it should be since the Democratic Party now has the most inspiring weapon in politics since Bernie Sanders-- something that petrifies both of the grotesquely corrupt status quo establishment parties. Lieberman, 76 and... tired, defines the grotesquely corrupt status quo establishment as "the mainstream," so he isn't reaching when he writes that "Ocasio-Cortez advocates [policies] so far from the mainstream, her election in November would make it harder for Congress to stop fighting and start fixing problems." He didn't acknowledge the dysfunctional state of Congress today, not the role Joe Crowley-- not to mention his own decades-long role-- has played in that dysfunction.

He then went on to try to make a case for Crowley doing what he did-- running as an independent in the general. "On Election Day, his name will be on the ballot as the endorsed candidate of the Working Families Party. But for Mr. Crowley to have a chance at getting re-elected, he will have to decide if he wants to remain an active candidate. I hope he does." The Working Families Party" has pleaded with him not to further disgrace them by running against Ocasio-Cortez. The heart of Lieberman's OpEd, was his attack on policies that benefit anyone other than the grotesquely corrupt status quo establishment. Keep in mind, Lieberman was one of the most anti-Bernie "Democrats" in the country during the 2016 election cycle. Here he was on Fox News:

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is a proud member of the Democratic Socialists of America, whose platform, like hers, is more Socialist than Democratic. Her dreams of new federal spending would bankrupt the country [wrong] or require very large tax increases [wrong], including on the working class [wrong]. Her approach foresees government ownership of many private companies, which would decimate the economy and put millions out of work.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez didn’t speak much about foreign policy during the primary, but when she did, it was from the DSA policy book-- meaning support for socialist governments, even if they are dictatorial and corrupt (Venezuela), opposition to American leadership in the world, even to alleviate humanitarian disasters (Syria), and reflexive criticism of one of America’s great democratic allies (Israel).

She has received the most attention for calling to “Abolish ICE,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This makes no sense unless you no longer want any rules on immigration or customs to be enforced. I have not heard anyone say that. Nonetheless, at least three credible candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination rushed to endorse Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s position.

Republicans are calling Ms. Ocasio-Cortez the “new face” of the Democratic Party. That’s why Nancy Pelosi has tried to put distance between Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and House Democrats. “They made a choice in one district,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “It is not to be viewed as something that stands for anything else.” She knows that if Democrats are to regain a majority, it will be by winning swing districts with sensible, mainstream candidates. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is making that task harder across America.

Joe Crowley’s re-election would be evidence that Democrats are capable of governing again. His voting record shows that Mr. Crowley is a progressive [laughably wrong]. I know him as a bridge builder and problem solver, which is exactly what Congress needs more of in both parties.

Crowley has refused to remove his name from the Working Families Party ballot slot, despite the Working Families Party asking him to. We asked some of the Blue America-endorsed candidates for their perspectives on this. First to respond was Tom Guild who is running on very similar all-American, working family issues that Ocasio ran on-- in Oklahoma City. They work as well among voters there than they work in the Bronx and Queens. "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a breath of fresh air," he told me. "She prevailed against big money and is not responsible for the problems that others have created-- paralysis, placing our democracy at risk by coveting and hoarding big donor money, and selling out working people and the middle class by doing the bidding of the modern moneychangers in the American political temple. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Crowley is the same old, same old and a charter member of the DC Swamp. Progressive change will make things better for people who are struggling to survive and throw the corrupt moneychangers out of the temple. Alexandria beat the tired and failed political establishment playing by their rules, and may be able (with a little help from her friends) to shake up Washington and get the country moving in a positive direction. Experience makes it crystal clear that for many years Lieberman and Crowley made a functioning national government dysfunctional. Why would we want to go back to that future?

Kansas Democrat James Thompson made an addition after the post was completed: "My first thought is who cares what Lieberman thinks? He is a corporate crony owned by the establishment in both parties. If Ocasio is the breath of fresh air then Lieberman is the dying breath of a decaying establishment that can’t see past its next Corporate PAC endorsement." And then there's this nice video, nice message from the Sanders Institute. I bet you can guess why we're running it here, right?

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Dateline Washington:

The White House today proudly issued two new photographs taken during President Trump's recent extremely successful European Tour. Said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders of the first photo:
The photo of President Trump with President Putin shows the world that these two fine men share more than just their titles. As you can see, our president and the Russian president have similar fashion sense and get along fabulously. As President Trump has said on more than one occasion, there is nothing wrong with making friends, especially Russian friends. That's a good thing, a very good thing. Believe me.
Asked to comment on the second photo of President Trump with various NATO leaders, Sanders had this to say:
The photo of our president in Stroller One shows how well-liked President Trump is in the world community. World leaders will do anything to help our leader of the free world. Also, I would like to point out that, contrary to you in the the fake news media say, the photo proves that President Trump is thoroughly in support of alternative forms of energy.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

You Think Republicans Are The Only Bad Guys? The Rhode Island Democratic Party Isn't Any Better-- An Insider's Guest Post


Lauren and... a familiar looking guy

by Lauren Niedel-Gresh

Earlier this month DWT reported about the systemic shenanigans in the Rhode Island Democratic Party endorsement process. Three completely inappropriate and vile men were endorsed over 3 progressive women and one anti-choice woman is being endorsed over a progressive pro-choice woman of color who is currently a sitting Representative.

Two of those endorsements have been rescinded (after I, a sitting member of the RI Democratic State Committee, was told that would be impossible by Executive Director Kevin Olasanoyer). The two that have been rescinded were Michael Earnheart a Trump-voting Republican who switched to Democrat just three months ago, and another candidate, Greg Arciado, who has a criminal past.
“Acciardo was convicted in 1994 of vehicular manslaughter after he hit a 62-year-old woman. He’s also been arrested twice for driving under the influence and has been accused of domestic assault.”
This whole debacle caused a major rift within the party. Progressives and many moderate democrats were outraged over the lack of respect for first term women who have done a fabulous job representing their districts. The committees that made these endorsements were stacked with Conservative Democrats who are anti-choice and pro-gun… But hey open up the tent to more republicans because that is what the RI Democratic Party really needs.

But wait, it gets better. There were two Town Committee signing parties that would not even let Un-endorsed candidates in. These towns had many progressives challenging endorsed candidates. These signing parties are for the specific purpose of making sure candidates get enough valid signatures to get on the ballot. In RI that is anywhere from 50 - 1000 for those running for Senate. Excluding these male and female candidates including unendorsed sitting Senator Jeanine Calkin was an outrageous act of cowardice and completely undemocratic.

Rhode Island is known as a “BLUE STATE” throughout the country. All of our elected officials in Congress and Statewide are Democrats. We have Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Representative David Cicilline, and we have Hillary wannabe Gina Raimondo as Governor.

In 2016 Bernie won RI with an astounding FU to the RI Democratic establishment beating Clinton 55% to 43% in the Presidential Primary. As a Bernie Sanders delegate and state contact for the Sanders 2016 campaign I can tell you first hand the powers to be were pissed! Of course all 9 Superdelegates voted for Clinton-- so our grassroots effort was hijacked by the party. We as progressives want to put that aside. But the right wing male Democrats who control the party are doing everything possible to keep progressives out. The divide and conquer message is alive and well and continues to show its ugly head in the biggest little state in the union.

Lauren Niedel-Gresh is a sitting member of the Rhode Island Democratic State Committee and is running for re-election. In addition, she is running for State Representative in District 40. You can donate to her campaign via ActBlue

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The T-Word


Traitor by Chip Proser

Should I keep this time slot as a treason space? Like I said, yesterday, this story sure isn't just the regular one news cycle Trump circus. As the New York Times reported yesterday, "While the T-word has been thrown around on the fringes of the political debate about other presidents or politicians from time to time, never in the modern era has it become part of the national conversation in such a prominent way. Never in anyone’s lifetime has a president engendered such a wave of discussion about whether his real loyalty was to a foreign power over his own country. To the president’s defenders, this all sounds like a sign of what they often call Trump Derangement Syndrome. That he drives his critics to such extremes, they argue, says more about them than it does about Mr. Trump. But the president has had fewer such defenders in the last 24 hours, with prominent Republicans and even some of Mr. Trump’s traditional allies lambasting his performance and distancing themselves from him.”

Republicans are quietly distancing themselves from Trump-- covering all bases, so to speak, waiting to see what the fall out is and how they can make sure it doesn't harm their career trajectories. Democrats, who were already talking about impeaching him, are starting to talk about treason.

Yesterday the Dallas Morning News reported that Beto O'Rourke, a mild-manner young El Paso congressman who's running for the Senate seat occupied by Ted Cruz-- and in a state where Trump took 4,683,352 votes (52.4%) to Hillary's 3,868,291 (43.3%)-- that Trump’s performance in Helsinki merits impeachment. He made it clear that he's not pushing the idea, just that he'd vote for it.
“Standing on stage in another country with the leader of another country who wants to and has sought to undermine this country, and to side with him over the United States-- if I were asked to vote on this I would vote to impeach the president... Impeachment, much like an indictment, shows that there is enough there for the case to proceed and at this point there is certainly enough there for the case to proceed.

Trump's stance at the Helsinki summit on Monday left Democrats and many Republicans appalled. Presidents always hang over midterm elections but the eruption of dismay over the Russia summit took that to a new level.

O'Rourke's fresh comments in support of impeachment makes the Trump factor even more central to the Texas Senate contest.  Last October, he expressed sympathy for calls to impeach the president but said conditions weren't yet ripe, with the special counsel probe under way. In April he said that he was ready to vote for articles of impeachment but, as on Tuesday, said he wasn't going out of his way to advocate that step.

...Cruz has not responded to requests for comment on Trump's handling of the summit.
I admit to knowing next to nothing about Raúl Ilargi Meijer and I doubt he's being paid by the Kremlin. If I find out someday he was, it wouldn't shake the foundations of my world. No wikipedia page and no wikipedia page for Automatic Earth where he wrote Treason? Get A Life? yesterday wither. It makes for some interesting reading if you want to know what they're thinking from people who think the problem with Russia invading Ukraine is that "The US tried to take away Russia’s only warm water port." This guy lives in Trumpland-- deep in the heart of it. "Putin," he wrote, "is a patriot who came to the fore in mostly unexplained ways, named by American puppet Boris Yeltsin as his successor, only to save his country from US-induced plundering and restore Russia as a functioning country. Far from perfect, but functioning. Don’t forget that Russian life-expectancy fell by many years in the post-Gorbachev era. And then look now. Yes, Putin uses some hard-handed tactics from time to time. He has no choice: the US threat to Russia is an ongoing one." Yeah hard-handed tactics from time to time. As far as the T-word? "We know Mueller betrayed America when he made false claims over WMD. We have no evidence that Trump betrayed his country, we have only allegations. He may be a poor choice for president, but that’s not the same thing." So there-- two sides to every story.

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