Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Names "Chris Collins," "Duncan Hunter" And "Mark Foley" And Wave Election Years


This is what the Republican Culture of Corruption Looks Like In 2018

With future Speaker Nancy Pelosi's connivance, Denny Hastert-- then Speaker, currently in prison for raping underage boys-- protected alcoholic Florida Congressman Mark Foley (a "nice guy") from ever having to face charges from dozens of young men-- congressional pages-- that he had sex or tried to have sex with them. Congress made sure that he was just chastised for sending naughty e-mails. He still tells people that's all he ever did. No one cared what the boys said. It was before #MeToo.

In fact, it was just before the 2006 election. Rahm Emanuel and Steny Hoyer, aware Foley was about to be outed and forced to resign from Congress in disgrace, chased the progressive candidate campaigning for the seat out of the race and inserted their own candidate, wealthy conservative Republican Tim Mahoney, who quickly re-registered as a Democrat. (Mahoney, a corrupt Blue Dog, was even worse than Folkey in many ways and had his own sex scandal and lost the seat, but that's another story.) How did a creep like Mahoney even win? Easy-- thanks to Rahm and Hoyer, no primary. Then... here's the timeline of what happened:
Sept. 28- Rahm leaked the information that Foley was fiddling with the pages and ABC News ran the story-- BIG. It spread like wildfire.
Sept. 29- Foley resigned from Congress to check into a program in Arizona to deal with his alcoholism.
Oct. 2- The Florida GOP Executive Board selected state Rep Joe Negron as Foley's replacement. As Rahm knew, it was too late to take Foley's name off the ballot-- thus the timing of the leak.
The following month, on election day, Negron was awarded the votes cast for Foley but his name wasn't on the ballot and he lost-- albeit narrowly-- to Rahm's hand-picked corrupt conservative sex predator, Tim Mahoney. Mahoney lost in 2008 in the middle of a second Democratic wave election. (And, no, the DCCC did not learn anything from this episode; they never learn anything from any episodes.)

Ten years later and yesterday's Buffalo News reported that Congressman Chris Collins-- not a child molester (as far as I know), an indicted crook-- "will stay on the congressional ballot in November even though he remains under indictment on insider trading charges, according to four sources familiar with the situation. The sources, who asked not to be identified, say Collins has heeded the advice of his criminal attorneys who fear the potential complications of protracted election law challenges almost sure to be initiated by Democrats if he removed his name from the congressional ballot."
“It’s very fair to say there’s been a drastic shift,” said one of the sources, referring to the congressman’s earlier commitment to cooperate with local GOP officials and step aside for a substitute candidate. One GOP source noted the decision has always remained an option for Collins and that Republican strategists were prepared for his continuing presence on the ballot; but other sources remain unhappy that the move derails efforts to find a substitute candidate.

After the Buffalo News uncovered the story, a Collins lawyer confirmed the congressman's plans.

“Because of the protracted and uncertain nature of any legal effort to replace Congressman Collins we do not see a path allowing Congressman Collins to be replaced on the ballot,” attorney Mark Braden said in a prepared statement.

Collins' decision brought cheers Monday when it was announced at a rally for his Democratic opponent, Grand Island Supervisor Nate McMurray.

In any event, the move signals an end to more than a month of legal wrangling as  top election lawyers retained by the GOP attempted to find some legal loophole to substitute Collins as a candidate for another office, thus removing him from the congressional ballot at this late date on the political calendar. But even some of the potential solutions, such as substituting Collins onto a Town Board slot in his home town of Clarence, were expected to be challenged in court.

Republican leaders appeared ready to have Collins substitute for another candidate in Clarence this week, according to the sources. Now the sources say the party officials were blindsided by the congressman's decision, though one source close to Collins indicated they have been aware all along that continuing the congressional campaign was an option. At this point however, it is clear that local party officials are surprised and unhappy over the move.

They point out that Collins had pledged his cooperation all along and that he would follow whatever path party leaders recommended. Now they say Collins has reneged on that agreement, after lawyers pointed out a host of complications. One source said revocation of his bail on federal charges could result.

Now Democratic challenger McMurray is expected to wage a campaign against an opponent under federal indictment. It opens an almost unprecedented campaign strategy, exactly what GOP officials had hoped to avoid.

Democrats wasted little time trying to capitalize.

"The choices couldn't be more stark. As much as anything, integrity is on the ballot," Tom Perez, Democratic National Committee chairman, said Monday as he helped open McMurray's Hamburg campaign office.

Still, Republican officials realized they would face a host of other legal complications had they found a way to substitute another candidate for Collins.

Collins' decision Monday also means that several Republicans vying to become the replacement candidate will sit on the sidelines-- at least for now. They include Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw Jr., 2010 gubernatorial candidate Carl P. Paladino, Assemblyman Raymond W. Walter, County Legislator Edward A. Rath III, State Sen. Robert G. Ortt and others.

Each could re-enter the political calculus, however, should Collins win the November election and leave office either through resignation or conviction on the criminal charges he faces and subsequent expulsion from the House. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo would then have the option of calling a special election.

Collins faces charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and lying to a federal agent in connection with his involvement with Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotech firm where he served as a director and the largest investor. His son, Cameron, faces similar charges, as does Stephen Zarsky of New Jersey, the father of Cameron Collins' fiancee.

Prosecutors accused the congressman of hatching an insider stock trading scheme from his cellphone while attending a White House picnic in late June 2017. They say he received an email that night from Innate's chief executive officer, telling him the firm's experimental multiple sclerosis drug had failed in clinical trials. He's accused of then relaying that information to his son, who then told others, allowing them to sell their stock before the news became public and thereby avoid huge losses.
Good news: because the case against Collins was in the hands of the FBI and not something someone like Rahm Emanuel could manipulate, the DCCC didn't pick one of their own god-awful candidates-- they made a half-assed attempt to get a wretched Blue Dog, Kathy Hochul but failed-- to run. Everything I hear about Nate McMurray is good and his campaign's issues page is excellent and far from what the DCCC wants in their candidates. Example:
Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Everyone should be able to access needed health care regardless of income, and the only affordable long-term solution to America’s healthcare crisis is a “Medicare for All” national health care program.

Every other major industrialized nation has this type of system. The U.S. spends more on healthcare per person than these countries, but we are no more healthy, in fact, we spend more and end up with less. I support the Medicare-for-All bills that have been introduced in the House and Senate (H.R. 676/ S.1804 as well as the New York State Healthcare Bill.

It’s time politicians stop putting Social Security and Medicare at risk.
In a statement yesterday, Nate, after the GOP's anncoument that they would be keeping Collins on the ballot, said that "it’s nice to finally know who I’m running against. But, in truth, we always knew we were running against Chris Collins. There are laws for a reason. There is accountability in our society for a reason. And in the greatest democracy in the world, voters weren’t going to take this kind of sham switching around names on a ballot at the whims of local party bosses. I credit the people of Western New York for standing up in town after town saying 'don’t force him on the ballot in my town.' They saw through this fraud. They weren’t going to fall for the bait and switch strategy by the same team that endorsed, celebrated, took pictures with and defended Chris Collins. There is an incredible grassroots movement in NY-27. Like me, the voters want to Fight Like Hell against the political machine that has let them down for so long. They like that I’m an underdog. Every day when I’m out meeting voters, we talk about affordable, accessible healthcare for all, defending social security, investing in our infrastructure, protecting our farms. But in this region, we’re still always talking about corruption. Voters have a chance to end that once and for all in NY-27 and I’m excited for the next 50 days."

Nate's progressive positions and political independence may explain why the DCCC still hasn't added him to their Red-to-Blue page. So that means the GOP is stuck with 2 indicted criminals on the ballot in November-- Collins and Duncan Hunter in California. Both districts have a PVI of R+11 and both candidates, McMurray in NY and Ammar Campa-Najjar in CA, are progressives, not GOP-lite DCCC types. (In Ammar's case, he's been endorsed by Elizabeth Warren, President Obama, DCCC vice chairs Ted Lieu and Joe Kennedy and the DCCC still refuses to back him and, in fact, goes out of it's way to undermine his campaign. They suck so bad.)

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Medicare-For-All-- Who's For It? Who's Against It?


Do you remember the leaked DCCC memo instructing the corporate shills they were recruiting as candidates to try to avoid any specifics about what to do about healthcare other than "fix" ObamaCare and to never talk about Medicare-For-All or single payer? The DCCC had some phony-baloney polling they were able to twist into meaning that people don't like Medicare-For-All. Classic DCCC bullshit. Below, you'll find some information about the new effort to help elect candidates who have said they will CO-SPONSOR Medicare-For-All legislation when they get to Congress.

Just over a week ago, Arit John did a story for Bloomberg News about the growing strength of the Republican wing of the Democratic Party within the House caucus-- basically New Dems, Blue Dogs and so-called "ex"-Republicans. Lately they seem to be holding Pelosi's puppet strings. Her brain-dead comments about PAY-GO can be music to anyone's ears but Blue Dogs, New Dems, the No Labels criminals-- and actual Republicans, who love seeing the Democrats planting the seeds for the next anti-Blue Wave.

When I was a kid-- when Pelosi and Hoyer were just slightly older kids-- the Democrats owned Congress. That's because they were the Santa Claus Party and the Republicans were the Grinch Party. The Republicans spent decades on the outside complaining about the Democrats spending us into doom-- although doom seemed to look a lot like prosperity. Then, in 1994, the Republicans finally took over... and the DCCC, DNC and DSCC interpretation was immediately that the Republicans were right for all those decades and they tried emulating the GOP's fiscal conservatism. Of course, once the GOP grabbed power, they had no interest in fiscal conservatism. They were interested in rewarding the big contributors and corporations with immense tax cuts at the expense of the successful social programs that had made the Democrats so popular for so many decades. The Democrats were too stupid to see what was happening as they turned the party-- compliments of the Clintons-- into a quasi Republican-lite party but with a Janus-like friendly face towards identity groups and friendly face towards corporate power. Pelosi and Hoyer are two old dogs who will never learn any new tricks, which is why-- in the midst of immense progressive fervor-- they announced that PAY-GO is one of their top 3 priorities when they take over Congress in January.
Electing Democrats in conservative districts is particularly important for the Blue Dog Coalition. The group is attempting to rebuild after hitting its peak membership in 2008, when it had 54 members and Democrats controlled the House. Pelosi was the speaker.

When the party lost power in 2010 most of the casualties were conservative Democrats from the South and Midwest. Now there are 18 Democrats in the group.

The group says that it’s not currently backing anyone for leadership, but that whomever they do pick needs to be able to manage expectations and decentralize power in the caucus, similar to the demands that the most conservative Republicans are making on their leaders.

The Blue Dogs also are seeking to stop what they see as the party’s leftward drift. That shift has been evident in a handful of upset victories by progressives in primaries, including Kara Eastman’s defeat of former Representative Brad Ashford, a Blue Dog, in a primary for a Nebraska House seat earlier this year.

"Whether it’s Pelosi or whoever our speaker’s going to be, you’re going to see that person play a very important role," said Representative Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat. The next leader needs to be strong enough tamp down "the more progressive folks to make sure that we come up with something that’s good for all of us."

Blue Dog leaders say they want a Democratic-controlled House to avoid a push to impeach President Donald Trump and politically motivated oversight of the administration. Schrader said it’s not their job to "go after President Trump" and he’s advised all of their candidates to not be anti-Trump.

"A lot of my voters are pro-Trump and Blue Dogs will generally work with him when he’s representing our districts and be against him when he’s not," he said. "We’re looking to empower Congress, not take revenge on the president."

If the Democrats take back control of the House with a narrow majority the Blue Dogs say they could be an influential voting bloc. Schrader said he expects the 18-member group to grow into the mid- to high-20s, enough to influence a vote on House speaker.
Last week Cuellar hosted a fundraiser for far right Republican John Carter, who is being challenged by MJ Hegar, a conservative Democrat endorsed by the Blue Dogs. The Blue Dogs and New Dems may be ready for war against Medicare-for-All-- and Pelosi may be using PAY-GO as a way to prevent it-- but its popularity has taken over the Democratic base and its power may sweep Pelosi away just as anti-war sentiment swept Dick Gephardt away and put her into power. Even in conservative districts, Democratic candidates are sensing their voters demand Medicare-for-All (not PAY-GO). Katie Porter has surged into the lead in her red Orange County district with messages like this; "It’s not a real marketplace for people, and so I think the best system is the one that will provide the most care to the most folks at the best price, and for me that’s a Medicare for All type system... There’s a lot of support [for Medicare for All] from people young and old. Those who are on Medicare know that the system works, and young people… know the path we’ve been on the last few years is not one we can stay on."

Goal ThermometerBlue America has just put up a new page. Every candidate on the page has told us that they will sign on as a co-sponsor of the Medicare-For-All legislation when they get to Congress. Period. No wiggling around the way the New Dems and Blue Dogs do. You can probably guess the names of the first candidates who asked to be included. Take a look by clicking on the thermometer on the right. We'll be adding more as the days go by. Please consider contributing what you can directly to them on this page. The only incumbent we've included is Matt Cartwright on Pennsylvania. His district was redrawn and he is being relentlessly attacked by a multimillionaire with unlimited funds. Matt is already a co-sponsor of the current Medicare-for-All legislation before Congress. Everyone else on the list is a challenger running on a platform that includes support for Medicare-For-All. These are the kinds of men and women it's so important to elect to the new Congress, rather than just the gaggle of New Dems and Blue Dogs the DCCC has recruited and is supporting financially. If there's a Blue Wave, it's because Americans are excited about programs like Medicare-For-All. If Pelosi, Hoyer and their Blue Dogs and New Dems sabotage it, the Republicans will waltz back into office in 2022.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

One week ago, on the 17th anniversary of the attacks on our country by Osama bin Laden's Saudi confederates, Señor Trumpanzee awoke and grabbed... his phone. The first tweet out of his increasingly sick mind that day was nothing about the solemness of the day. No, instead it was his hourly mantra "No Collusion! No Collusion!" When you are Donald Jackass Trump, you come first, not your country and certainly not those who died so horribly.

Trump saved paying homage to those who died for his second tweet of the day. By that time he was, no doubt, up and about. He eventually found a suit that still fit, and his handlers lured him onto Air Force One for a flight to the site where the "Let's Roll" plane crashed. Who knows what they promised him in order to get him on the plane but I bet it involved a pony, the pictured MAGA cowboy hat, a fresh bucket of KFC and his favorite red blankie, the one with the yellow star on it.

Upon deplaning in Pennsylvania, Trump seized on what he clearly regarded as merely a photo-op. He was so jazzed about that that he couldn't restrain himself and did a double fist pump. The photo-op went viral, just not the way his handlers planned. The photo was destined for memes, just like so many photos of our child president. Hence, tonight's meme, but, there's something else I like about the photo, other than the grossness of Trump doing a double fist pump to mark the occasion. Check out the expressions of the people around him. Melania looks like she's about to cry, not that I have any sympathy for her, and the guy walking next to her is featuring a perfect "What The Fuck" expression. What The Fuck indeed.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Fetch The Smelling Salts-- There Is Still Racism In Mississippi Politics


Minnesota and Mississippi each has two Senate elections in November. In Mississippi, Senator Roger Wicker is up for reelection. In June he easily put away a Trumpist primary challenger Richard Boyanton 83-17%. The primary drew 157,170 voters, compared to just 87,931 in the Democratic primary, which resulted in a runoff between Howard Sherman (31.79%) and David Baria (30.98%)-- 713 votes separating them. In the runoff the following month Baria beat Sherman 58.6% to 41.4%. Baria will face Wicker in November.

Wicker, something of a mainstream conservative, was lucky. Very well-known neo-fascist Chris McDaniel had jumped into the primary against him early but switched races when Thad Cochran announced he would resign. Governor Bryant appointed state Agriculture Secretary Cindy Hyde-Smith, another mainstream conservative, who McDaniel saw as a much easier target (even though someone, presumably McConnell, persuaded Trump to endorse Hyde-Smith). That election, also on November 6, will be a non-partisan jungle primary with Hyde-Smith and McDaniel running as well as Democrat Mike Espy, a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and some guy named Tobey Bartlee.

OK, let me explain how this one works-- no party primaries and no party labels on ballot. To win 50% is needed-- which isn't going to happen, mandating a November 27 runoff. The winner serves the remainder of Cochran's term, which means they'll be running in 2020. Imagine in we wake up November 7 and control of the U.S. Senate will be determined by the November 27 runoff, presumably between Hyde-Smith and Espy!

I'm sure you know Mississippi is a very red state-- PVI is R+9, so not as red as, for example, Kansas, Kentucky, West Virginia and Louisiana, all of which something do elected Democrats. In 2016 Trump beat Hillary 700,714 (57.9%) to 485,131 (40.1%). The last time Mississippi went for a Democratic presidential candidate was when Jimmy Carter ran in 1976.

As of the June 30 FEC reporting deadline McDaniel had raised $3,516,916, Hyde-Smith $1,653,930 and Espy $408,236. The U.S. Chamber off Commerce had already spent $2,100,000 bolstering Hyde-Smith and battering McDaniel. A Mason-Dixon poll released April 10, shows that Hyde-Smith would beat Espy 46% to 34% but that Espy would beat McDaniel 42% to 40%. That may or may not be predictive of what could actually happen on November 27 with control of the Senate hanging in the balance, but for Espy to have have any real shot at this, McDaniel has to beat Hyde-Smith. That doesn't look likely, but he's definitely appealing to the absolutely worst instincts of the Mississippi far far far right... which is pretty powerful in that state. So how does that appeal manifest itself? Let me count the ways; no let me show one example from Friday when McDaniel was taping a segment for Morning Joe. Watch:

He defends his anti-hip hop statement (by blaming UC Berkeley) and defends his support for the Confederate flag (by blaming democracy) but when panelist Eddie Glaude pushes him on how he's going to convince the 38% of Mississippi voters-- African-Americans-- that he doesn't pose a danger to them. Notice that his blatantly racist response drew immediate and sustained booing from the live audience. Now why would anyone boo this?
"I’m going to ask them, after 100 years of relying on big government to save you, where are you today? After 100 years of begging for federal government scraps, where are you today?"
Remember, that was specifically a question about black Mississippi voters. I wonder what he would say about these white Mississippi voters, McDaniels' base. Listen to the questions and answers carefully, especially when they get to the guy with the dental problems... I'm talking about the state of Mississippi. We’ve been dead last for 100 years. And what happens is, if we keep dependent on that economic model, we’re always going to stay last."

In August, McDaniel tweeted to his followers that "In light of all the political correctness and leftist hysteria, I'm curious about what you think: How should Robert E. Lee be remembered? McDaniel has less than 13,000 twitter followers but his question generated nearly 140,000 votes-- probably not the ones he was expecting or hoping for:

UPDATE: Intruder In The Dust (1949)

Keep in mind, this was filmed in Faulkner's hometown, Oxford, Mississippi. Skip turned me onto it and explained why it's so hard to find: "Perhaps that's because in the film the N-word is frequently delivered with all the dehumanizing nastiness the term was created for. I recently saw a DVD in a DC library and checked it out. The film is a stunner. It’s a great time-capsule of life then."

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Why Are Evangelical Religious Leaders Helping Trump Remove Jesus From Christianity?


Over the weekend the NY Times' in house conservative, Ross Douthat, used his column to opine on Conservatism After Christianity. Funny, I've been thinking a lot about the same topic from another perspective: what happens to evangelical Christianity after the stink of Trumpism becomes apparent even to the suckered carnival tent and snake-oil consuming idiots? "One of the many paradoxes of the Trump era," wrote Douthat, "is that our unusual president couldn’t have been elected, and couldn’t survive politically today, without the support of religious conservatives … but at the same time his ascent was intimately connected to the secularization of conservatism, and his style gives us a taste of what to expect from a post-religious right."

If you follow DWT with any regularity, you've been reading lately a series of posts about a Jesus-oriented evangelical Christianity and a movement called Vote Common Good. They are reaching out directly to evangelicals who are unhappy and confused about Trump-- and pointedly asking them to support Democrats running for Congress as a way of putting a check on Trump's excesses and on the spinelessness of Trump's congressional enablers. Robb Ryerse, a pastor in Arkansas and the VoteCommonGood political director told us that "In Jesus, we see someone who sided with the marginalized and the oppressed. We see someone who spoke truth to people with religious and political power. We see someone who welcomed refugees and immigrants as neighbors. We see someone who offered people the healthcare they needed without blaming them for being poor. We see someone who was really quite progressive. What if we could help others see this same Jesus we do? What if we could convince them to vote, not just the way they always have or for their own self-interests, but for the common good of all people?"

Douthat wrote that "during the Republican primaries, when the most reliable churchgoers tended to prefer Ted Cruz but the more secular part of the party was more Trumpist. But it was obscured in the general election, and since, by the fact that evangelical voters especially rallied to Trump and have generally stood by him. Now, though, a new survey reveals the extent to which a basic religious division still exists within Trump’s Republican Party. The churchgoers who ultimately voted for Trump over Clinton still tend to hold different views than his more secular supporters, and the more religious part of the G.O.P. is still the less Trumpist portion-- meaning less populist on economics, but also less authoritarian and tribal on race and identity... The more often a Trump voter attended church, the less white-identitarian they appeared, the more they expressed favorable views of racial minorities, and the less they agreed with populist arguments on trade and immigration."
[A] quarter of Trump voters who never attend church describe being white as “very important” to their identity; for the most frequent churchgoers voters, it was 9 percent. Among non-churchgoing Trump voters, only 48 percent had warm feelings toward black people, compared to 71 percent of weekly churchgoers; the same sort of pattern held for views of Hispanics, Asians and Jews.

Churchgoing Trump voters were still more culturally conservative than Hillary Clinton voters-- more likely to support the death penalty, more skeptical of immigration-- and their views of Muslims, interestingly, seemed to have been influenced by Trump’s own rhetoric, becoming more hostile between 2016 and 2017.

But in general, churchgoing Republicans look more like the party many elite conservatives wanted to believe existed before Trump came along-- more racially-tolerant, more accepting of multiculturalism and globalization, and also more consistently libertarian on economics. Secularized Trump voters look more like the party as Trump has tried to remake it, blending an inchoate economic populism with strong racial resentments.

Interestingly in the survey the different groups make about the same amount of money, which cuts against strict economic-anxiety explanations for Trumpism. But the churchgoers and nonchurchgoers differ more in social capital: The irreligious are less likely to have college degrees, less likely to be married and more likely to be divorced; they’re also less civically engaged, less satisfied with their neighborhoods and communities, and less trusting and optimistic in general.

This seems to support the argument, advanced by Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner among others, that support for populism correlates with a kind of communal breakdown, in which secularization is one variable among many leaving people feeling isolated and angry, and drawing them to the ersatz solidarity of white identity politics.

Meanwhile frequent church attenders, already a minority within the wider society, are also a minority within the Republican coalition. Relatively few Republicans are explicitly religiously unaffiliated (though that number has been climbing too), but only about a third of Trump’s 2016 voters are in church on a typical Sunday, and almost half attend seldom or not at all.

This suggests a possibility that should worry both Trump’s religious supporters and anyone who finds his style of conservatism racially toxic. Despite their resistance to that toxicity, the churchgoers in this survey did vote for him, making a pragmatic bet that his policies on abortion and religious liberty were worth living with his Caligulan personal life and racial demagoguery. To defend that bet, some historically-inclined believers have cited past cases where Christians accepted bargains with a not-particularly moral leaders-- including the way the early church accepted the patronage of Roman emperors, from Constantine onward, whose personal piety was limited at best.

But the Constantinian bet involved a rising religion allying with a worldly power to accelerate its growth and gains. The bet under Trump involves the reverse sort of situation: A Christian community trying to make the best of its decline, and allying with a leader whose core appeal depends upon and possibly furthers the de-Christianization of conservatism.

Such a bet might be understandable as an act of desperation. But it’s hard to see how it can reverse de-Christianization, and easy to see how it might accelerate it. Which, on the evidence of this survey, is something that secular liberals should fear as well.
Goal ThermometerMany of the progressives working with Vote Common Good and Ted Lieu on this project include candidates DWT readers are very familiar with-- like Randy Bryce (WI), Kara Eastman (NE), Dayna Steele (TX), James Thompson (NE), Katie Porter (CA), J.D. Scholten (IA) and Ammar Campa-Najjar (CA)-- and who are not evangelical Christians but who want to be able to effectively communicate with all their constituents and to represent all their constituents in Congress, including, of course, people of faith. Samir Selmanović, one of the directors of VCG, offers to help Democratic candidates "become more confident talking about religion in a way that is both authentic and persuasive to religious voters, particularly Evangelicals who are ready for your message. Many of them are on the brink of turning their vote to the left in order to follow their conscience, be faithful to their religious experience and story, and cross the line (in the booth or in public) to recover their personal integrity."

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Are Pelosi And Hoyer Just Too Damn Old To Understand Modern Monetary Theory? Is That Why They're Still Whining About PAY-GO?


A Washington Post headline-- The Deficit Hawks Are Dead-- And Few In Washington Muster Any Outrage-- points a finger at Washington's most dedicated Ayn Rand disciple, Speaker Ryan and his GOP zombies "who had, wrote Paul Kane, railed against deficits in the first years of the Obama administration pushed through a massive tax cut despite CBO projections of a surge in federal borrowing." But what the Post isn't counting on is the presumptive next Speaker and her chief Deputy-dog Steny. Their first priority seems to be PAY-GO, the crowning jewel of Deficit Hawkism, the trap the Democrats always fall into when the GOP loses Congress, trap that guarantees the Democrats will never be able to diver on anything the voters went to the polls and supported them-- setting up another GOP take-over. This is in Pelosi's and Hoyer's DNA because of their age. This was ingrained in them from a time when the Republicans really did care about deficits and balanced budgets. But the GOP was smart enough to pay attention to MMT even if Pelosi and Hoyer never even tried.
Given possible high ground on the issue, Democrats have largely fielded a crop of candidates across the nation who have ignored, downplayed or outright rejected the significance of the still-growing deficits.

The Democrats have, across all factions of their party, lambasted the Republican tax-cut legislation of December and the $1.5 trillion shortfall it is estimated to leave in the budget over the next decade. But they have not attacked that as money that should go to the U.S. treasury to pay down the overall $21 trillion debt. Rather, they have almost universally pledged that the money be used for other federal spending, such as infrastructure or an expansion of the Affordable Care Act.

That’s a far cry from 2006, when House Democrats marched toward a decisive midterm victory that thrust them into the majority. Then, their numbers were populated by fiscal conservatives in Southern and rural districts who pledged to cut the deficit, as well as antiwar liberals who wanted to bring troops home from Iraq at a time when the war was costing more than $100 billion a year.

Some Democrats from that era acknowledge that the issue simply does not have as much resonance now, in large part because of the economic collapse that occurred 10 years ago this week and stagnating wages that followed years thereafter.

“When they write the history of this time, the financial collapse and the Great Recession is going to be the defining moment that changed the politics around a lot of these issues, around things like deficits,” said Rep. Joe Courtney, D-CT) a member of the 2006 Democratic class.

Rather than worry about surging deficits, Democrats are pushing for ways to boost everyday life for working Americans, Courtney said. “That economic fragility that people felt in the wake of the Great Recession has kind of overtaken the fiscal-hawk sort of priorities,” he said.

With Democrats not focusing on the issue, Republicans have been given a free ride with voters. A June survey by the Pew Research Center found a remarkable data point: Voters trust Republicans over Democrats, 41 percent to 35 percent, to do a better job with deficits.

In April, just 14 percent of Americans cited the deficit as the most important issue, according to the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. Deficits trailed the economy (25 percent), health care (24 percent), gun issues (23 percent) and immigration (17 percent).

Ryan, a onetime preacher about the evil of debt, now brushes aside any questions about how annual deficits rocketed under his watch-- from about $430 billion in 2015, when he took the gavel, to almost $1 trillion as he heads for the exits three years later.

“Revenues are up. The problem is a predictable one-- it is spending,” Ryan said in a farewell event with Wisconsin media Wednesday at the Capitol. He pinned the blame on Medicare and Social Security costs.

“It is baby boomers retiring, a country not prepared for it,” Ryan said. “It’s health inflation, and it’s the entitlement programs.

This outrages the deficit hawks, most of whom have long since retired.

“History will show you there’s no country in history that’s been strong and free and bankrupt,” John Tanner (D-TN), a co-founder of the Blue Dog Coalition who retired in 2010, told the Washington Post’s Erica Werner.

If Democrats take back the House in November’s midterms, it will be the first time in more than 70 years the majority has flipped without deficits or government overreach playing some key role in creating the backlash to the party in power.

In 1994, when Republicans won the House majority for the first time in 40 years, Newt Gingrich’s troops campaigned against the emerging Clinton administration health-care plan, panned as “Hillarycare” for first lady Hillary Clinton, even though it never even got a vote in Congress. Once in power, Gingrich (R-GA) led a fiscal standoff over a bid to save $270 billion from Medicare, ending in a government shutdown around the 1995 holidays.

The 2006 switch came as a reaction to the war. Dozens of Blue Dog Democrats, as the fiscal conservatives were known, went on to impose a new House rule known as “PAYGO,” a briefly held statute requiring offsetting cuts to any new spending.

And in 2010, as John Boehner’s House GOP roared back to the majority, Republicans campaigned against the ACA as a pricey government takeover of the health-care system at a time of ballooning deficits. Most of the Democratic losers came from the Blue Dog caucus, drastically shrinking its influence.

Throughout 2011 and 2012, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) staged several fiscal showdowns with President Barack Obama that led to some modest deficit reduction, through spending caps on annual federal agency budgets and higher taxes on families with more than $400,000 in income.

Those deals were essentially scuttled by the December passage of the tax cuts and a subsequent budget blueprint that was a bipartisan binge for the House and Senate appropriations committees, which set defense and domestic agency spending.

If you want to rein in the debt, do not bother the appropriators. “If you want to deal with deficits, you’re going to have to deal with entitlements. That’s where the spending is,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Some lawmakers predict that, eventually, the financial markets will force Congress into action.

“It’s not really just candidates who get to decide whether deficits matter or not,” Courtney said. “I think external forces are going to show up and change that.”
"Deal with entitlements. That’s where the spending is." That's the way Republicans-- and the Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party (the New Dems and Blue Dogs)-- talk about weakening and eventually eliminating Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social safety net programs. Imagine all the tax cuts for the wealthy that would produce! So why Nancy Pelosi would identify PAY-GO as one of her top 3 priorities if she wins the speaker's chair again is too frightening to contemplate. I've been defending her as the best of all possible horrible options. But I'm rethinking that now. She's got to stop with the PAYGO bullshit or she's going to lose her whole left flank.

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Brett Kavanaugh's #MeToo Moment — Questions Raised As His Accuser Comes Forward


"Frat fun" or rape culture in action? Signs on a frat-connected house near Old Dominion University in Virginia (source)

by Gaius Publius

This is Brett Kavanaugh's #MeToo moment. An accusation of attempted rape (a crime) against Brett Kavanaugh has been lodged against him.

Initially the accusation came via a letter given in July — at separate times and under request of confidentiality — to the Washington Post, to House Rep. Anna Eshoo, and to Senate Judiciary Committee member Dianne Feinstein.

Senator Feinstein, as a member of the Judiciary Committee sitting in hearings on Kavanaugh, was the only person in position to act. Here's what she did (or failed to do):
  • For two months, failed to reveal the existence (not the contents, just the existence) of the letter to fellow Democrats
  • Then, when its existence was leaked to the public, refused to reveal its contents to fellow Democrats
  • Finally, after coming under fire for withholding the letter, sent the letter only to the FBI, who will not investigate further
End of matter, or so Ms. Feinstein thought.

The woman who wrote the accusatory letter has now come forward to tell her story in her own voice and for attribution. It's quite an explosive tale, and the bomb it contains threatens not just Kavanaugh and committee Republicans, but Democrats as well. Parallels to Democrats' handling of Anita Hill and her accusations against Clarence Thomas are obvious and striking.

The Story

First the accusation. Part of it is contained in a New Yorker piece by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer, which maintained the woman's anonymity (at her request). The full story comes from this piece in the Washington Post (my emphasis throughout):
Earlier this summer, Christine Blasey Ford wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. Since Wednesday, she has watched as that bare-bones version of her story became public without her name or her consent, drawing a blanket denial from Kavanaugh and roiling a nomination that just days ago seemed all but certain to succeed.

Now, Ford has decided that if her story is going to be told, she wants to be the one to tell it.

Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.

While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.
A timeline of events:
Christine Ford is a professor at Palo Alto University who teaches in a consortium with Stanford University, training graduate students in clinical psychology. Her work has been widely published in academic journals.

She contacted The Post through a tip line in early July, when it had become clear that Kavanaugh was on the shortlist of possible nominees to replace retiring justice Anthony M. Kennedy but before Trump announced his name publicly. A registered Democrat who has made small contributions to political organizations, she contacted her congresswoman, Democrat Anna G. Eshoo, around the same time. In late July, she sent a letter via Eshoo’s office to Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

In the letter, which was read to The Post, Ford described the incident and said she expected her story to be kept confidential.
According to the Post, Blasey Ford took and passed a polygraph test in August: "The results, which Katz provided to The Post, concluded that Ford was being truthful when she [that] said a statement summarizing her allegations was accurate."

There's more in the Post account, which should be read in full.


This new information raises a number of questions.

About Kavanaugh, Mark Judge and Christine Blasey Ford:

1. Did Brett Kavanaugh commit the crime of which he's accused while attending an elite academy, Georgetown Preparatory School, in the Washington D.C area?

2. If he did, does that disqualify him for a seat on the Supreme Court?

3. Will any further investigation, by anyone, take place?

4. Both Kavanaugh and Judge have denied the incident happened at all — i.e, that this isn't a he-said, she-said story, but a complete fabrication. Will Kavanaugh and Judge stick to their denials if other corroboration emerges?

5. Mark Judge has written a book about his life as a teenage alcoholic (Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk). This plays into a narrative that "something may have happened but we don't know what" — not a  narrative of "she's flat out lying." In addition, The Post says this about Kavanaugh:
In his senior-class yearbook entry at Georgetown Prep, Kavanaugh made several references to drinking, claiming membership to the “Beach Week Ralph Club” and “Keg City Club.” He and Judge are pictured together at the beach in a photo in the yearbook.
And later in the article, notes that:
[In his book] Judge ... described his own blackout drinking and a culture of partying among students at his high school, renamed in the book “Loyola Prep.” Kavanaugh is not mentioned in the book, but a passage about partying at the beach one summer makes glancing reference to a “Bart O’Kavanaugh,” who “puked in someone’s car the other night” and “passed out on his way back from a party.”
In Ms. Ford's telling, both men were "stumbling drunk." Will the optics of heavy drinking undermine all the denials?

6. Is there something we don't know about Kavanaugh's current drinking?

7. Judge has since implied that this could have been an incident of "rough-housing": "I can recall a lot of rough-housing with guys. It was an all-boys school, we would rough-house with each other ... I don't remember any of that stuff going on with girls." Is his story starting to drift?

8. The accuser has taken and passed a lie detector test. Will Kavanaugh submit to a lie detector test? Will Mark Judge? How will the public respond if both refuse?

9. Will Christine Blasey Ford, the accuser, hold up under the pressure of a story this explosive, with the stakes this high?

About the politics:

1. Republicans called this a "late hit" and a "last ditch smear." (If you google "Kavanaugh late hit" you'll find the phrase everywhere on the right, suggesting coordination.) How else will they respond?

2. Will Republicans attack Ms. Blasey Ford's character as they did Anita Hill's? Through an operative (David Brock) they accused Anita Hill of being "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty." How will they attack Blasey Ford?

3. Will Democrats abandon Kavanaugh's accuser as they did Anita Hill?
After the Thomas hearings concluded, it emerged that Senator Joe Biden, who was the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee at the time, had failed to call three additional women to the witness stand who had been willing to offer testimony confirming Hill’s complaints about Thomas’s inappropriate behavior toward women. Last December, Biden, who may run for President in 2020, publicly apologized for failing Hill, saying, “I wish I had been able to do more.”
Edit Biden's quote to read "I wish I had decided to do more" and the statement fits the facts. Democrats made a calculation that put Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. Only their own cowardice, self-interest, or complicity prevented them from calling the corroborating witnesses they had available.

4. Will Democrats take maximum tactical advantage of this new information, or will they continue to go through the motions, treating this confirmation fight as hopeless while making strong speeches?

5. Will any Republican men stand up for Blasey Ford?

About Dianne Feinstein:

1. What were Dianne Feinstein's motives in keeping other committee Democrats in the dark about this letter?
Sources who worked for other members of the Judiciary Committee said that they respected the need to protect the woman’s privacy, but that they didn’t understand why Feinstein had resisted answering legitimate questions about the allegation. “We couldn’t understand what their rationale is for not briefing members on this. This is all very weird,” one of the congressional sources said. Another added, “She’s had the letter since late July. And we all just found out about it.”
Feinstein had the letter since July, yet confirmed its existence only in September, when the story leaked. She was clearly trying to control the way the rest of the committee handled the nomination: "Feinstein also acted out of a sense that Democrats would be better off focussing on legal, rather than personal, issues in their questioning of Kavanaugh."

Was she trying to help Kavanaugh deliberately or just inadvertently?

2. Will Dianne Feinstein, up for re-election in 2018, pay a price with voters, especially with women voters, for her apparent sabotage of Democratic efforts to block Kavanaugh's confirmation?

3. Will Dianne Feinstein pay a price with Senate women for her part in what looks like a #MeToo cover-up? Al Franken, let's not forget, was driven from the Senate by Kirstin Gillibrand and others based on a #MeToo accusation and prior to any investigation.

4. If not, why not?

About Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski:

1. Will this revelation affect the Kavanaugh confirmation votes of senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski?

2. Or will Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly and Doug Jones make it easy for them both by voting yes to confirm, allowing Collins and Murkowski to vote no "on principle"?

3. Will Maine voters give Susan Collins another term in the Senate anyway? After all, she's been silent on Kavanaugh since the nomination was announced and the threat to Roe v. Wade became apparent.

Finally, next steps and the future:

1. The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on Kavanaugh on Thursday, September 20. Will Republicans accelerate the schedule in order to fast-track the confirmation?

2. If Democrats are ineffective in handling this story — if they look like they're just "going through the motions" — will it affect the anticipated blue wave of 2018? Will Democrats continue to be seen as heroes of the anti-Trump resistance, or will enough voters give up on them to reduce the wave to a large and interesting ripple?

3. Will Republicans pay a price in 2018 with Republican women if this story evolves badly for them?

4. At what point will the illegitimacy of the Supreme Court rend the fabric, the American social contract, beyond repair?

Much to consider. Much to watch.

And if this plays out as it looks like it might, much to respond to when the dust has settled and the bipartisan deed has been done.


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Trump On Track To Flipping Over 50 Seats From Red To Blue


Trump loves it that the midterms are all about him and seems oblivious-- at least most of the time-- that he's going tp get the blame for the Republican apocalypse... and probably get impeached too boot. He'll finally get to truthfully boast that he's starring in a TV show with high ratings. No one can doubt that Trump is driving voters participation-- and on all levels. He's got people so worked up that even conservatives in local elections-- like the 6 hapless right-wing IDC members of the New York state Senate last week-- are feeling the results of pissed off, riled up Democratic voters.

Over the weekend, writing for The Hill, Reid Wilson took a look at the soaring 2018 primary turnout across the country. "More than 40 million Americans voted in primaries this year, a staggering increase from four years ago and a sign of virtually unprecedented voter enthusiasm ahead of the midterm elections. Primary voter turnout was higher than in 2014 for both Democrats and Republicans in most states across the country-- though Democrats have a decided advantage. Through Thursday’s vote in New York, more than 22.7 million Democrats had cast ballots in party primaries, compared with just 13.8 million in 2014. Among Republicans, 19.3 million showed up to vote, an increase from the 15.5 million who voted in GOP primaries four years ago."

Look at those numbers. In the last midterms 15.5 million Republicans and just 13.8 million Democrats voted. This year, the "Trump factor" has has brought out almost 4 million more Republicans. That's a lot more Republicans, right? Yes, it is-- until you realize that 9 million more Democrats voted... or at least that 9 million more voters participated in Democratic primaries, better yet. Believe me, that indicates even bigger turnout in November. And every poll I've seen is indicating that the more people vote, the more Republicans are going to lose.
Political scientists say the higher turnout among primary electorates is a sign that voters across the spectrum are more excited to take part in the midterms than in previous years. Some said higher participation in Democratic primaries should worry Republicans, who already face a challenging midterm cycle.

“The surge in Democratic primary turnout shows that the party’s occasional voters are energized, which is an especially encouraging sign in a midterm because so many of these voters sit out anything but a presidential race,” said Thad Kousser, who heads the political science department at the University of California-San Diego.

..."When the primary turnout becomes anomalous, and suddenly it's surging in one direction or another, that does tend to have some bearing on general election turnout," said Tom Bonier, a Democratic micro-targeting expert. "Democratic turnout pretty consistently surged over Republican turnout."

Some of the states where Democratic turnout increased the most are states at the heart of the battle for control of Congress, a potentially worrying sign for Republicans trying to hold on to their fragile House majority.

Democratic turnout more than tripled in Minnesota, where the parties are fighting over two Democratic-held seats in rural areas and two Republican-held seats in the Twin City suburbs. Both sides handled competitive gubernatorial primaries, and Republican turnout rose too, by about 74 percent.

All told, 582,000 Minnesota Democrats cast primary ballots, compared to 320,000 Republicans; four years ago, just 191,000 Democrats and 184,000 Republicans voted in party primaries.

Democratic turnout more than doubled in 14 states, including in House race hotbeds such as Colorado, New York, Iowa, Kansas, Virginia, Michigan, New Jersey and Nevada.

...Overall, turnout in Democratic primaries increased in 37 of the 47 states that held comparable contests in 2014 and 2018. Most states where turnout dropped-- like Kentucky, North Carolina, Arkansas, Alaska and South Dakota-- did not feature any competitive contests near the top of the ticket.

On the GOP side, turnout increased in 34 of 46 states that held comparable contests in the two midterm years. Republican turnout dropped in some that featured competitive statewide primaries, like Arizona, Mississippi, Illinois and New Hampshire, where both of the state’s two districts featured competitive Republican primaries.

McDonald said the increase in turnout is likely to be "unusually high" in November.

Bonier, the Democratic strategist, said his party should pay attention to higher turnout among Republican voters. Unlike in 2006, when Republican voters were depressed enough to stay home, today's GOP is more excited than it typically is for midterm elections.

"The one reason why Democrats shouldn't be doing backflips yet, it's not that Republicans are depressed, they're just not surging at the level that Democrats are," Bonier said. "They appear to be surging above levels that are typical of midterm turnout."

Still, high primary turnout is another data point that hints at a strong year for Democrats. Several recent surveys testing the generic ballot matchup between unnamed Democratic and Republican candidates, from outlets like CNN, Quinnipiac University, Marist College and Emerson College all show Democrats leading by double-digits. A Reuters/Ipsos poll this week pegged the Democratic edge at 8 points.

President Trump looms large over Republican hopes in November as well. Trump’s approval rating is dismally low, ranging from the high-30s in the CNN poll to the low-40s in the Reuters poll.

Significantly more voters, 58 percent, told Quinnipiac pollsters they want Congress to be more of a check on Trump’s agenda than the 27 percent who said Congress was doing enough [to support Trump].
This is going to translate into Republicans losing the majority of their open seats, seats from which nearly 40 Republicans decided to retire. The only either certain or most likely to fall to Democrats are FL-27 (Ros-Lehtinen), CA-49 (Issa), WA-08 (Reichert), AZ-02 (McSally), WV-03 (Jenkins), NJ-02 (LoBiondo), WI-01 (Ryan), MI-11 (Trott), NJ-11 (Frelinghuysen) plus the newly renumbered seats in Pennsylvania where GOP incumbents Ryan Costello, Charlie Dent and Pat Meehan aren't running. Robert Pittenger was defeated in his NC-09 primary by a far right extremist, Mark Harris, who can't win in a general election, so that's another seat a wave will sweep into the Democratic column. Those seats alone are halfway to a House Democratic majority. And those seats are by no means the only ones Democrats are likely to swing from red to blue. If the turnout among Democrats and independents eager to check Trump holds (or, more likely, grows), Republican incumbents likely to lose in November are:
Jeff Denham (CA-10)
David Valadao (CA-21)
Steve Knight (CA-25)
Mimi Walters (CA-45)
Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48)
Drunken Hunter (CA-50)
Mike Coffman (CO-06)
Carlos Curbelo (FL-26)
Pete Roskam (IL-06)
Mike Bost (IL-12)
Rodney Davis (IL-13)
Rod Blum (IA-01)
David Young (IA-03)
Kevin Yoder (KS-03)
Andy Barr (KY-06)
Bruce Poliquin (ME-02)
Fred Upton (MI-06)
Mike Bishop (MI-08)
Jason Lewis (MN-02)
Erik Paulsen (MN-03)
Don Bacon (NE-02)
Tom MacArthur (NJ-03)
Leonard Lance (NJ-07)
John Faso (NY-19)
Claudia Tenney (NY-22)
John Katko (NY-24)
Steve Chabot (OH-01)
Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01)
Keith Rothfus (PA-17)
John Culberson (TX-07)
Will Hurd (TX-23)
John Carter (TX-31)
Pete Sessions (TX-32)
Mia Love (UT-04)
Scott Taylor (VA-02)
Dave Brat (VA-07)
Barbara Comstock (VA-10)
Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03)
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05)
Goal ThermometerThere are likely to be others-- New York, Texas, Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina and Iowa, for example, all have room for one or more upsets-- but what we're looking at here is over 50 red seats becoming blue seats. That's my most conservative estimate.

And speaking of Texas, the Dallas Morning News noted over the weekend that George Bush "is hosting a series of fundraising events for vulnerable Republican candidates, including a couple of House members facing tough re-election bids in his home state of Texas." These are not nothing like the big public rallies President Obama has been doing across the country. These are all closed-door, invitation-only events for conservative fat-cats. He did one last week for Will Hurd and is doing one this week for Pete Sessions. Sessions is seen as so likely too be swept away in the anti-red wave that aside from Bush, the GOP has sent in or is sending in Paul Ryan, Rick Perry, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Pence, almost none of whom can appear in public, just in behind closed doors sessions with GOP fat cats. If things don't start turning around for Sessions soon, they may have to send in Fuck-Up, Jr.

Bush is also doing the same kind of fat-cat-only events for a handful of Republican Senate candidates in Florida, North Dakota, Missouri, and Indiana... and very conspicuously not for teetering Ted Cruz in his home state of Texas (who he has publicly said he doesn't like).

Yesterday, in a letter to Blue America members, Digby asked the question, Can A Progressive Win Over An R+11 District? She then attempted to show why Ammar Campa-Najjar, being demonstrably sabotaged by the DCCC, can do what the insiders think is impossible. She started by explaining the problems with his right-wing opponent, Trump enabler Drunken Hunter.

"I don't know exactly what's in the water down in California's 50th district," she wrote, but it must be something that turns Republican congressmen into major crooks. In the last decade alone, two of them have been indicted on serious federal corruption charges, the first being the notorious Duke Cunningham who served 8 years in prison after having been convicted of bribery and a host of other crimes. And today we have Duncan Hunter who, along with his wife, apparently believed that they could use campaign and charity funds as their own personal piggy bank. The Washington Post helpfully published a list of what they called the top 10 "ickiest" allegations against him. Here are just a handful to illustrate the depth of their greed:
Margaret Hunter allegedly spent $200 on tennis shoes at Dick’s Sporting Goods, which she then claimed as being for an annual dove hunting event for wounded warriors.
When Hunter told his wife he needed to “buy my Hawaii shorts,” but he was out of money, she allegedly told him to buy them from a golf pro shop so he could claim they were actually golf balls for wounded warriors.
Margaret Hunter allegedly spent $152 on makeup at Nordstrom and told the campaign it was “gift basket items for the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Diego.”
They allegedly described the payment of their family dental bills as a charitable contribution to “Smiles for Life."
"But perhaps the ickiest of all was when Hunter threw his wife/accomplice under the bus the day the indictment was announced saying, 'When I went away to Iraq in 2003, the first time, I gave her power of attorney. She handled my finances throughout my entire military career, and that continued on when I got into Congress. She was also the campaign manager, so whatever she did, that’ll be looked at too, I’m sure, but I didn’t do it.' Then he whined like Donald Trump about the whole thing being a partisan witch hunt (by the GOP-led DOJ) and complained about the 'deep state' being out to get him. This is what passes for a chivalrous war hero turned Republican leader these days. And yes, Hunter is still running for re-election in November, apparently believing that his district actually prefers to be represented by a criminal. (It was one of the rare California districts Trump won in 2016, so that's not a crazy as it sounds.)"
Hunter has another big problem on his hands-- he has an excellent Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar. Ammar is a young, progressive former Obama administration labor official who, in yet another example of grassroots, progressive strength, shocked the Democratic establishment when he trounced the DCCC-favored "ex"-Republican primary opponent in the state's jungle primary.

Blue America backed Ammar before the primaries and we are thrilled that the rest of the party has come around: Today he's endorsed by the California Democratic Party, by the California Labor Federation, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Working Families Party, J Street, Our Revolution and as Howie says,  "by some pretty impressive political figures who don't rush willy-nilly into endorsing House candidates: Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti... and by the two best DCCC vice chairs, Ted Lieu and Joe Kennedy.

Goal ThermometerCan you join with all of us today and donate to Ammar's campaign? Ammar has an impressive resume and a compelling life story as well. He was raised by his single Mexican American mom after his Palestinian father moved back to Gaza. His grandfather, who died 16 years before he was born, was involved in the terrorist attack at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Of course, the Trumpsters are going there.

Click the thermometer to help him fight back against the hate, if you can.

But as the LA Times' Robin Abcarian noted:
This is the kind of life story that tantalizes the dark imaginations of conspiracy theorists, xenophobes and racists, yet inspires people who believe in the beauty of the American melting pot, in not holding sons responsible for the sins of their forebears.
If there is a battle for the soul of this country, this race exemplifies it. A crooked, privileged scion of a political dynasty, slurping at the public trough, braying incoherently about partisan witch hunts running against a young idealistic Latino-Arab American running on an anti-corruption and jobs platform. We know which side we're on, don't we?

Blue America has always believed that no matter what the conventional wisdom says about whether a progressive can win in a particular district, you never know when a Republican crook (a redundancy these days) is going to get caught, so it's always important to get on the ballot and run as hard as you can, which is exactly what Ammar has been doing for nearly 2 years.

He's the real thing and he can win this.

This district may have been conservative for years but they just didn't know what they were missing-- an honest representative of the people. Ammar Campa-Najjar is who they have been waiting for.

You can donate to Ammar's campaign here on our Blue America on our Blue America 'Progressives Abandoned by the DCCC' page.

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