Thursday, March 31, 2016

Patrick Murphy Had A Bad 33rd Birthday


Yesterday was Wall Street errand boy Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL) celebrated his 33rd birthday on daddy's yacht. The sometimes business-partner of Donald Trump had something to celebrate too: he just surpassed the one million dollar mark in direct-- not county his sleazy SuperPACs-- cash from the Finnace Sector. He is the only non-incumbent from wither party running for the Senate, who the banksters have already gone over $1,000,000 for. Florida voters who are unaware of Murphy's shameful record in Congress should ask themselves why he is Wall Street's #1 priority this cycle. Believe me, it isn't because they see him as a friend to Florida seniors or consumers or homeowners or anyone else but themselves.

The sad excuse for a Democrat who backed the GOP plan to allow a so-called "Benghazi Committee" to turn the House into an anti-Hillary witch-hunt had another jolt while he was guzzling Dom Pérignon with his Republican friends. Alex Leary, the Tampa Bay Times DC Bureau chief broke the story that Murphy's hypocrisy on campaign finance rules-- he boasts how the fake reform group, EndCitizensUnited, endorsed him-- was exposed by his quasi-illegal coordination with his daddy's and Chuck Schumer's SuperPAC. Here's how he does it, skirting the law while legalistically avoiding prison for himself, his father and Schumer:
There’s Patrick Murphy strolling on a beach with a young man. They appear to be engaged in serious talk, and Murphy points in the horizon, but the video is silent.

There he is on the same beach holding a child’s hand. And another beach shot, this time with an older man and a woman, her arm locked in Murphy’s.

Now Murphy's in an orange grove with an old guy in a hat. Murphy looks pretty serious. But again, viewers have no idea what he and the man are talking about. The video is silent.

Suddenly we see the same orange grove only Murphy is walking with a different man in a hat. And then another man, hatless. We move on to Murphy at a diner with three older folks.

Murphy traverses hallways, looking busy. Works the phones in a darkened office. Visits a mapping business. Walks the street in friendly conversation with people. Pops into a welding garage.

The 5 minute 42 second video posted on the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate’s campaign website isn’t for the public. It’s “b-roll” to be used by super PACs or another related outside group that wants to make an ad on Murphy’s behalf.

This is how candidates in both parties get around the law barring direct coordination with super PACs and it’s notable given Murphy’s public stance against the super PAC era, calling it “gross.”

As we reported last year:

Murphy has been endorsed by End Citizens United and has sent out fundraising emails slamming the Supreme Court decision. Yet Murphy’s wealthy father has pumped money into a Super PAC supporting his House campaigns and Murphy was propped up by the House Majority PAC.
Murphy of course has a super PAC on his side in the Senate race. We have asked his campaign for a response.

The Senate Leadership Fund and America Rising, two GOP groups, cast Murphy as a hypocrite and used his b-roll to create its own ads.

This is the garbage candidate that Schumer talked Obama into endorsing, although according to an off-the-record discussion from a top Biden operative, financing for the presidential library was tied up with that endorsement as well. Meanwhile one of the most credible independent progressive mainstays in Washington, People for the American Way, endorsed progressive champion Grayson in the primary battle against Murphy. PFAW President Michael Keegan:
As a member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Grayson has stood out as a fiercely independent fighter who can get things done in the face of continued GOP obstruction. He’ll be a strong progressive voice in the U.S. Senate for critical issues like campaign finance reform, protecting Social Security and Medicare, and much more. PFAW is proud to endorse such a progressive champion as Rep. Grayson.
Considering the kind of heavy-handed pressure Schumer is putting on unions, fundraisers, donors and Democratic organizations to not endorse Grayson, PFAW-- like PCCC and DFA-- deserve credit for independence and courage. Grayson has been a member of PFAW for three decades because he believes in their mission. He explained his affinity to the group when he accepted their endorsement: "Starting at the age of 13, I was an avid viewer of All in the Family, Sanford and Son, and the other great Norman Lear TV creations. These shows not only brought photorealism to television, but also depicted and embodied the great dialogue in American politics: privilege vs. equality, power vs. justice. One could say that everything I need to know in life I learned from Norman Lear. And then he founded the first great mass organization in modern American politics, People for the American Way. People for the American Way has carried the torch for justice, equality, compassion and peace for two generations now. I was proud to become a member, three decades ago. I am even more proud to enjoy its endorsement today."

You can contribute to Grayson's campaign-- and to turning Florida's second Senate seat-- from red to blue (which would be a lot better than from red to purple or pink or whatever describes Murphy) by clicking on the thermometer:
Goal Thermometer

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The Case For Donna Edwards (D-MD)


The next congressional primaries we're looking at are in Maryland. Barbara Milkulski's retirement triggered 3 big races: a Senate race between two House members, progressive champion Donna Edwards and establishment shill Chris Van Hollen to replace her, and then a bevy of candidates to replace each of them. Blue America has endorsed Donna in the Senate race, Joseline Peña-Melnyk to replace her in the House and Jamie Raskin to replace Van Hollen. (You can contribute to all 3 on the same special Blue America page). The Maryland primary is on April 26... coming right up. Yesterday, Steve Phillips did a very thorough and comprehensive look at the Senate race, one of the most important anywhere in the whole country. His point is that too many progressives are on the wrong side of history in this race, although, the "progressives" he's referring to are mostly just garden variety pieces of the Democratic establishment. Aside from Blue America the other progressive groups who have endorsed Donna include DFA, People for the American Way and PCCC.
Here’s a quick, two-question quiz. First question: How many Black women have ever served in the United States Senate? Answer: One (Carol Mosely Braun of Illinois, elected in 1992). Second question: Do Democrats and progressives care? Good question. Very good question.

The current Senate race in Maryland presents the best chance in 240 years to elect America’s second Black woman senator, but many Democrats are acting like they just don’t care. In fact, several are actively opposing Congresswoman Donna Edwards’ bid to succeed retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski.

To be clear, I’m not saying that every candidate of color has to be supported over every white candidate (taking that reasoning to its logical extreme would result in backing Ted Cruz over Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton). But we have real, ongoing, contemporary racial and gender inequality and injustice in America, and the Senate-- the country’s highest legislative body-- is 94% white and 80% male. If we want more senators who can bring urgency to the issues of racial and gender inequality because they share similar life experiences and feel a deep connection with those affected by those inequalities, then we should push to make our democracy more reflective of the composition of our population. Maryland’s Senate race offers a rare opportunity to make progress on that front.

Missing the Moment

Sadly, and surprisingly, many white progressive leaders have chosen to flock to the candidacy of white male Congressman Chris Van Hollen. Just days after Mikulski announced her retirement in early 2015, Harry Reid, the Senate’s top Democrat, endorsed Van Hollen and threw his considerable clout behind Van Hollen’s campaign. Others have followed Reid’s lead. Several labor unions and Democratic members of Congress have also contributed thousands of dollars to help Van Hollen win. [Harry Reid= garden variety establishment DC Dem, worse, because his corruption is an embarrassment to the entire party.]

Now I don’t know Van Hollen personally and he seems like a perfectly nice man. His supporters cite the fact that he has been reliably pro-choice and generally supportive of progressive issues. But his candidacy doesn’t exactly make a historic statement and does nothing to make the U.S. Senate more reflective of the country’s racial and gender composition. In a true democracy, the composition of the country’s elected leaders would reflect the makeup of the population. Since the founding of this country’s government in 1787, 99% of the Senators who have made the laws of America have been white (and the overwhelming majority of them have been white men). A multiracial democracy, in which close to 40% of the population consists of people of color, demands better.

Why Maryland Matters

The case for Edwards is not just that she’s a staunch progressive who has a long track record of fighting for justice and deep personal knowledge of the realities facing women of color, but it’s that this particular race presents one of the best electoral opportunities to elect a Black woman to the Senate.

Maryland is the fourth Blackest state in America. African Americans make up 30.1% of the state’s population and they account for fully 37% of Democratic primary voters. With numbers like that, a Black candidate has an excellent chance of winning the Democratic nomination (in 2006, former NAACP President Kwesi Mfume came within 3 points of winning the state’s Democratic primary, despite being outspent by his white opponent, Ben Cardin, 4 to 1). The most recent poll puts Edwards in the lead. In presidential election years, Maryland is a deep blue state (Obama won 62% of the vote in 2012), so the Democratic nominee is the odds-on favorite to win the general election.

But a Black candidate only stands an excellent chance of becoming senator from a state as Black as Maryland if she or he has the support of the organizations, institutions, and leaders who make up the progressive infrastructure.

Congressional Black Caucus PAC Failing to Represent

It’s not just white progressives who are missing the moment. While the Congressional Black Caucus is usually one of the most progressive cohorts in Congress, its Political Action Committee is missing in action in the Maryland senate race. The CBC PAC’s stated mission is to “increase the number of African Americans in the U.S. Congress” but it has resisted endorsing Edwards, despite the fact that, should she win, she would increase the percentage of African Americans in the U.S. Senate by 33% (joining New Jersey’s Cory Booker and South Carolina’s Tim Scott (California’s Kamala Harris, who is Black and Asian, also has an excellent opportunity to win election to the Senate this year)). The advocacy organization Color of Change has investigated the surprising conduct of CBC PAC and exposed the fact that the majority of the PAC’s board is not even comprised of members of the Congressional Black Caucus but rather of corporate lobbyists whose clients are not exactly known as champions of racial justice and equality...

Moment of Truth for the Democratic Party

African Americans are the bedrock of the Democratic Party and have been so for fifty years, steadily and dependably providing votes and support for Democrats, usually white Democrats. So far, the Maryland Senate race says a lot about how Democrats reward such loyalty.

2016 presents a pivot point for the Democratic Party. As the end of the Obama era approaches, will the party revert back to the plantation politics of the past where Black voters are expected to back white candidates with little or no reciprocity in return? Or will Party leaders put their money where their mouth is and make substantial financial investments in Black candidates, leaders, and organizations? Given the centrality of the Black vote to Democratic prospects of victory, it is no longer just a question of fairness. It’s also essential to success in an increasingly multiracial electorate. Right now, too many of the progressive forces in Maryland are falling short.
Blue America made Donna her own thermometer. She needs some dough to keep up with Van Hollen's corporate cash gusher for the next three weeks.
Goal Thermometer

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House Radicals Have Come Up With A Way To Derail The TPP


"It’s remarkable to me that anyone, Republican or Democrat, when given the breathtaking power to choose the rules by which we all live, would be so impoverished in spirit that he or she would be unable to come up with anything useful to do-- whether before, during or after an election."

Matt Fuller did a very smart column for HuffPo Tuesday about how anti-Establishment Republicans want to abolish the lame duck session-- between the November congressional elections and the seating on the new Congress in January. There's a minimum of accountability because there will be members in a lame duck who, for one reason or another, will never have to face the voters again. They are easily bribed, more so than when they have to weigh the bribe against a primary challenge, for example. The Establishment often gets their way during these sessions.

House freedom caucus members, he reported, "say they are trying to stop Congress from doing anything after the November election because Congress does some of its most slapdash lawmaking once an election is over. House conservatives don’t want to take any chances that the Senate confirms a Supreme Court nominee or that Congress rams through a big budget agreement that further raises spending or the expansive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal." Both those ideas places me on the side of the House Freedom Caucus... and congressional progressives ought to consider those points as well.

Bernie would certainly nominate a far better Supreme Court Justice than Merrick Garland, a conservative, and even Hillary would probably come up with someone better. As for the TPP, it would be a dead luck if Bernie wins and, again, even Hillary might be persuaded to re-open negotiations to make it less toxic on several levels that she's been forced into embracing during the primary battle with Bernie.

Paul Gosar claims getting rid of the lame duck was his idea; everyone is entitled to one good idea in his life. This would be Gosar's. Except for one problem. Gossip and some of the other extremist maniacs in the caucus aren't just talking about the TPP and Garland; they want to shut down the government by refusing to move a compromise budget.
While they don’t seem to have a clear plan yet on how exactly they would prevent GOP leadership-- particularly in the Senate-- from not holding a lame-duck session, the Freedom Caucus and its nearly 40 members have the power to block procedural votes. And Gosar told HuffPost that he’s already spoken to a number of outside conservative groups who have told him, “Count us in.”

“Here’s the story,” Gosar said. “We’re not going to do the appropriations process. We’re going to make the valiant effort, if we can even get this budget out.”

And once it’s clear that Congress can’t actually do appropriations bills because of a disagreement over how much the government should spend, Gosar continued, GOP leadership in both chambers will “throw their hands up” and Congress will pass a bill to keep government agencies running at their current levels.

  Government funding runs out on Sept. 30, so Congress will at least need a short-term spending bill-- a continuing resolution, or CR, in congressional parlance-- if lawmakers can’t get spending legislation out of both chambers and signed by the president.

At this point, a CR is looking likely. But what remains unclear is for how long. Gosar and other conservatives want it to go until at least March.

“Give the new Congress and the new president a chance to get a budget done,” he said.

But even if the CR goes until March 2017, conservatives worry about leaders finding other ways to use must-pass pieces of legislation. One Freedom Caucus member recently told HuffPost there was a lot of concern that a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization could be used for something else, which is why the HFC has been pushing to kick the FAA bill into next year-- a timeline that lawmakers privately say is picking up steam.

“The word out of our committee is it probably doesn’t have long legs, and so it’s just going to be a reauthorization, like a temporary reauthorization,” one Transportation Committee member told HuffPost last week, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss private committee deliberations. “I think it’s going to be next year until there’s a real FAA reauthorization.”

But the two real concerns for conservatives are the Supreme Court and TPP.

While the House doesn’t get a vote on a Supreme Court nominee, members recognize that, for better or for worse, shutting down the lame-duck session in both chambers would prevent the Senate from confirming Merrick Garland.

HFC member Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who told HuffPost that he leans toward the no-lame-duck position, said his only concern with killing the postelection session is that, if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, she would probably nominate someone more liberal than Garland.

“So you got to be careful what you ask for here,” Perry said.

But for HFC board member Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), legislators don’t get to “pick and choose.” 

“The principle’s the principle, right?” Mulvaney told HuffPost last week. “Which is that the new president gets to nominate the nominee. And if that’s the principle, well, then you got to stick with the principle.”

Mulvaney said people know what a lame-duck session is really about. “It’s a bunch of people who have already either quit, retired or been fired by their constituents decide they still want to vote on major stuff,” he said.

“It’s the least accountable time for Congress,” Mulvaney continued. “It’s an accident of history. We should probably think about getting rid of it entirely.”

...With the heated campaign still going on, GOP leaders seem to be holding off on the trade legislation until at least the election. At this point, the trade deal seems to have a real vote problem. But some conservatives think TPP is only a matter of time.

“TPP is like Ex-Im Bank: You can get excited about it not happening, but it’s going to happen,” said Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who was against the Export-Import Bank and is unlikely to support TPP.

“I mean, I don’t think it’s not going to happen,” Massie said of TPP. “I just don’t see it.”
Tim Canova, a Florida law professor and an expert on the devastating problems of unregulated so-called "free trade" and the job-killing treaties like NAFTA and TPP, is one of the most progressive candidates running for Congress anywhere in the country. He just happens to live in a district where Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a New Dem and TPP proponent-- she voted with the Republicans and corporate Democrats to fast track it. Tim is the last person you would ever expect to make common cause with the Freedom Caucus, but, like other progressives, this morning he said, "I must admit that I agree with the Freedom Caucus that we would be better off not holding a lame duck session of Congress after the November election. Some past lame duck sessions have resulted in terrible legislation, including the deregulation of financial derivatives and extension of the Bush tax cuts. Foregoing a lame duck session may be the only way to ensure that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) corporate giveaway is not passed by members of Congress some of whom will no longer feel any accountability to the voters. For instance, after we defeat Debbie Wasserman Schultz in our August primary, she will not have to face the voters ever again and therefore would be all that much more likely to vote in the interests of the many giant corporations that are supporting her campaign and pushing the TPP."

Please consider helping Tim win his primary so he can stop the neo-liberal policies of the corrupt corporatists like Paul Ryan and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the two sides of one very destructive coin.
Goal Thermometer

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"We Have a Lot. We Can Get More. We Want It All."


One of the other species, besides man, which preys on itself (source; click to enlarge)

by Gaius Publius

I want to elevate this from the comments to this piece because it's so appropriate. Thanks to John Puma for pointing out the great observation below, by Michael Parenti, from a 1995 talk entitled "Fascism: The False Revolution" (available by CD here.)

Much of this quote is printed here, though not all. In addition, at the link is the lead-up to the quote, which explains this idea:
Fascism is a false revolution. It makes a revolutionary appeal without making an actual revolution. It propagates the widely proclaimed New Order while serving the same old moneyed interests.
Sounds like Donald Trump to me, down to the billionaire friends and the populist rhetoric. Is he sincere? He sounds sincere, and sound may be all it takes to bolster his following. Me, I think once in office, he'll "make a deal." He doesn't play golf with billionaires because they don't like him.

Ruling Classes Always Want Just One Thing — They Want It All

But I want to point primarily to this part, a beautifully penned statement of what we on the Sanders side find so objectionable about what our rulers, on both the right and left, have left us with. We have so little because they want so much. How much? They always want it all.

Parenti says it better. From the talk:
With the collapse of communism, there’s been a shift in policy toward the Third World too. ... So they’re hitting them hard. The IMF, the World Bank, GATT, NAFTA, are undermining the sovereignty of Third World nations, plundering their markets, drastically cutting non-military foreign aid, and in some cases directly invading them and destroying the government that had any reformist tendencies or was maintaining economic development. U.S. leaders are making war against economic nationalism in countries like India, Brazil, Mexico, Iraq, Panama, South Korea, Taiwan and so forth.

A lot of people on the left still don’t get it—that these guys are playing for keeps, that they are going after you, that they are not going to leave any little bit for you.

There’s only one thing that the ruling circles throughout history have ever wanted—all the wealth, the treasures, and the profitable returns; all the choice lands and forests and game and herds and harvests and mineral deposits and precious metals of the earth; all the productive facilities and gainful inventiveness and technologies; all the control positions of the state and other major institutions; all public supports and subsidies, privileges and immunities; all the protections of the law and none of its constraints; all of the services and comforts and luxuries and advantages of civil society with none of the taxes and none of the costs. Every ruling class in history has wanted only this—all the rewards and none of the burdens.

Their operational code is, We have a lot. We can get more. We want it all. And if you don’t know that, you’re in a sad place. If you know that and you don’t know anything else, you know more than if you know everything else and you don’t know that.”
"There’s only one thing that the ruling circles throughout history have ever wanted..." We stand with Sanders to fight the one great historical battle, against the most predatory members of our own species.

It's the old old battle. Only sometimes do we have a shot at a win. This year, if Sanders wins, or even if he loses and plays his ace, is one of those times. Let's not waste it.

About my comment "if he loses and plays his ace" — more to come. As a hint, listen to the video below. I'll expand on the comment later.

(Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. If you'd like to help out, go here. If you'd like to "phone-bank for Bernie," go here. You can volunteer in other ways by going here. And thanks!)


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Obama's Endorsement Of Boss-Backed Shill, Katie McGinty, Likely To Backfire


Grubby NY ward heeler Chuck Schümer thinks he gets to decide who Pennsylvanians get as a senator

When Obama, straight off his misguided endorsement of Debbie Wasserman Schultz this week, announced he was backing Pennsylvania puppet Katie McGinty (despite-- or maybe because-- Pennsylvania Democratic voters have utterly rejected her dull, waste-of-a-Senate-seat centrism), I tweeted something about how Schumer has promised Obama Wall Street funding for his presidential library if he backs the Schumercrats Wall Streets considers essential for them to continue their jihad against the American people and their goal of "balancing" Elizabeth Warren, Bernie, Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown and a tiny handful of senators willing to stand up to them.

Immediately after my tweet, two Beltway journalists contacted me, one demanding to know what I know about the library and one, a more polite guy, who sent me this:
Can you help me understand why the left likes Sestak? He wasn't particularly liberal when he was in the House. I get that any Dem would be better for you guys than Specter, but is he really any better than McGinty, who would probably just be a down-the-line Dem-- almost certainly more liberal than Casey? I never got the Sestak thing. He's kind of a jerk in person-- I remember him snarling at me once in the halls-- but then again if Congress didn't have any jerks in it there would be like 5 guys left on the Hill.
Let me deal with the presidential library first. I don't know a lot about it. A trusted-- never wrong-- DC operative told me a top (like top, top, top) Biden inner circle guy told him Schumer cut the deal for bankster library funding in return for getting easily controllable shills Katie McGinty and Patrick Murphy into the Senate. There will never be any confirmation or-- what was the word-- citations. Just believe it or don't.

The second question, though, is something I can answer, although I can't purport to speak for "the left," nor was I even aware that "the left" is favoring Sestak. Tomorrow will be the 10 year anniversary of the Blue America endorsement I wrote for Joe Sestak-- right to the day! We liked Joe, thought he would make a good congressman and absolutely detested the grotesquely corrupt Republican incumbent, Curt Weldon. Joe kicked his ass-- 56.4 to 43.6%-- becoming just the second Democrat to represent these particular Philly suburbs since the Civil War! And he was a decent congressman. Alan Grayson or Raul Grijalva or Donna Edwards he was never going to be-- but he was a better-than-average Democrat. We've never endorsed him again though, not when he ran his successful reelection campaign two years later, not when he ran against Toomey in 2010 and not in the current race. Blue America is pretty doctrinaire ideologically. We're looking for hard-hitting, no-nonsense progressives-- like Bernie, like Elizabeth Warren, like Alan Grayson, like Donna Edwards, like Tim Canova, Maria Chappelle-Nadal, Eric Kingson, Pramila Jayapal and Alex Law. Sestak, Chris Carney and the Pennsylvania Patrick Murphy all ran at the same time in 2006 and Blue America backed them all. Carney and Murphy had been faking when they said they were progressives and quickly joined the Blue Dogs and New Dems and started regularly crossing the aisle and voting with the GOP. We were instantly sorry we had endorsed them, particularly Carney, who had no saving graces whatsoever. We were forced to apologize to our members for ever endorsing him and eventually to spend massively to help defeat him. He was a liar, a nasty asshole and a dangerous right-wing fake. Murphy was just a conservative trying to stay in office in a red-leaning district, more a political coward than an actual bad guy. And Sestak, who never joined the Blue Dogs or New Dems, wasn't really a conservative, more a true moderate, with a decent, if not outstanding, voting record. AND never a close-minded jerk. He was-- and remains-- always open to debate and discussion. When we disagreed on policy and votes, I always felt he welcomed hearing another side. That-- and the fact that he is totally independent and will stand up to a corrupt political boss like Schumer-- is why DWT is always editorially friendly towards him and why we'd like to see him beat McGinty, even if John Fetterman is more of a Blue America type candidate ideologically-- which explains why we're helping Fetterman raise money, but not raising money for Joe.

Joe Sestak looks like he's way ahead and will probably be the nominee. Party bosses prefer McGinty because she's so malleable, but polls show that the more Pennsylvania Democrats have gotten to know her, the more turned-off they are. Her 28% polling numbers have collapsed to 17% and she's fighting it out for second place with Fetterman-- a far better candidate... and the one who will win if Pennsylvania Democrats and independents decide to buy into Bsernie's political revolution. I know Pennsylvania Democrats aren't interested in what New York ward heeler Chuck Schumer demands from them. And I doubt the Obama endorsement will mean much either. One senator, who loathes Schumer and knows his ascension to the Senate Leader position will signal a singular disaster for the Democratic Party, suggested to me yesterday that "maybe they’ll just shut down the Senate again," and sent this:
Throughout the primary election, the Obama administration and the Democratic Party campaigned heavily against Sestak, as the President, Vice President, and numerous cabinet members and Senators hosted many fundraisers and events for Specter. On September 19, 2009, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid even shut down the entire United States Senate, as he, the President, and many Senators instead flew to Philadelphia to host a prominent fundraiser for Specter. The event drew controversy because of its unconventional nature of closing federal business and how the money raised during the event would be given to Republicans and conservative PACs that asked for refunds of their contributions given prior to Specter's party switch. Barack Obama's presidential campaign, called "Organizing for America" during the off years, also led efforts against Sestak.
Judging by Sestak's letter to his supporters yesterday, he bears Obama no ill-will for the pointless McGinty endorsement which is unlikely to stop her pitiful slide in the polls or turn around her dreadful boss-driven campaign:
The President and I share many of the same battle scars that have gained my deep respect for him. I therefore thought it important in view of today’s announcement to highlight some of what we did in our service together for our nation, particularly when he first became Commander-in-Chief. In Congress, I needed to have the President’s 6 (a military term for “I’ve got your back”) because the nation needed him to have theirs:
As a former Admiral, I wanted to ensure I had the President’s 6 with my military expertise and credibility for the proper drawdown from the war in Iraq, despite opposition from some military leadership and leaders of the Republican Party.
With my Harvard Ph.d in Political Economy, I wanted to have the President’s 6 with the economic arguments to restore our economy through the Economic Stimulus bill, by saving the financial system and then placing safeguards on it, even though I represented a Republican congressional district.
Because my then-four year old daughter survived brain cancer due to the military healthcare my nation provided my family, I brought with a passion that harrowing experience to having the President’s 6 for the Affordable Care Act, so all Americans could have what I had to save my daughter-- and I prized advancing Obamacare at town halls with the Tea Party and on FOX News.
And on issues that had to do with our ideals-- from repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to the closure of Gitmo to the DREAM Act-- I stood steadfast in having the President’s 6 both as a Congressman and today because he had our nation’s.
I therefore have great respect for the President and the battles he and I fought together-- for people-- and we wear the same battle scars, with pride.

But that is also why I have never asked the President-- nor anyone else in a position of power-- to have my 6, not even by asking for their endorsement. As a leader, it is only about having the people’s 6, and because I have theirs, they will have mine.
Pennsylvania Democrats-- I used to be one when I lived in Stroudsburg a few years ago-- can make up their own minds. Hopefully they'll see there are two outstanding candidates, John Fetterman and Joe Sestak, and one puppet of the corrupt political bosses, Katie McGinty.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Who Could Blame These Republicans For Saying They Can't Support Each Other?


The Republican candidates have been out on the road with each other for months-- seems like years-- and have gotten to know each other better than any of us will ever know them. They're all rivals, that's for sure. Cruz, in fact, just started running a series of pretty nasty attack ads in Wisconsin against Kasich. Watch:

But that's politics. You won't find Cruz ever saying he wouldn't vote for Kasich if Kasich is the party nominee and you won't even find Kasich saying he wouldn't vote for Cruz if Cruz is the nominee. The only candidates who would ever back Trump, on the other hand, are candidates being promised jobs like Chris Christie and Dr. Ben. Trump really is beyond the pale for any serious conservative-- or for many serious Americans. Even someone as deranged as Trump surrogate Ann Coulter-- who had publicly called for more violence at Trump rallies-- is reportedly starting to sour on him, admitting that he's "mental" (and "lowbrow").

Early this morning Maggie Haberman reported that "The Republican National Committee’s loyalty pledge died on Tuesday night. It was nearly eight months old." Did anyone believe it was worth the parchment it was written on?
At a town-hall-style event hosted by CNN, Donald J. Trump said he would not promise to support the eventual nominee if it was not him, despite a loyalty oath that he and 16 other candidates signed in September.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas also would not explicitly vow to back the nominee, in his case if it was Mr. Trump, saying only that Mr. Trump would not get that far. Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio was more explicit, saying that if the nominee was someone who “is really hurting the country and dividing the country,” then he just wasn’t sure. Pressed by the host, Anderson Cooper, on whether he was saying he thinks that’s what Mr. Trump is doing, Mr. Kasich declined to elaborate.

The reason the pledge existed in the first place was to prevent Mr. Trump walking out of the Republican contest and into a third-party candidacy. But the comments marked a fresh stage in the open warfare that has erupted in the past weeks, as Mr. Trump has moved closer to capturing the nomination of a party whose major leaders remain deeply troubled by his comments. The wounds in the party are becoming so deep that they may be impossible to heal in time for the general election campaign, no matter who the nominee is.
So now Trump feels "someone" is being "unfair" to him and he can honorably-- if such a concept even exists in his universe-- abandon his signed pledge. If Ryan is the nominee-- likely if the Establishment can steal the nomination at the convention-- will Trump run as a third party candidate? If he did, that would either throw the election to Bernie (or the establishment candidate if Democrats are foolish enough to nominate her) or throw it to the House of Representatives, where the incompetence and corruption of the DCCC will be put into a starker light. Or Trump could just urge his supporters to sit out the election, which would be so devastating that it would absolutely deprive the GOP of the ability to regain their Senate majority in the 2018 midterms (by giving the Democrats too much of a cushion now-- as states like North Carolina, Iowa, Arizona, Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana and Kentucky fall to the Democrats, along with the easy states that are looking more lost by the day already: Wisconsin, Illinois, New Hampshire, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio). Under that scenario, even the House-- despite a totally incompetent DCCC-- could fall into the Democrats' hands, something otherwise unthinkable.

Asked by Anderson Cooper at the CNN townhall yesterday if he'd abide by his pledge to support whoever wins the Republican nomination, Trump responded "No, I don't anymore. I have been treated very unfairly" and referring to Cruz added, "I don't want his support.  I don't need his support. I want him to be comfortable." I bet Bernie or Hillary would love debating either Cruz or Trump. You think Trump is out of his mind? Watch Cruz:

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Again... The Democrats Have No Chance To Take Back The House, Not Even If Trump Is The Presidential Nominee


I knew one-term Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman at PS-197 in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. Bernie had already moved on to Madison High School-- where we both went-- by the time we arrived at 197. He was a dweeb from a weird family of social climbers in an almost all Jewish neighborhood. His family switched to Episcopalian or Anglican or something like that. In later life, I've been told, he went back to his original Jewish faith. This week, Coleman, who was defeated by standup comedian Al Franken in 2008 when he ran for reelection, told NY Times reporter Alexander Burns that "If it were me and I were running, and Trump were going to be at the top of the ticket, I would disavow him."

Monday, Upstate New York Congressman Richard Hanna did just that. In fact, Hanna said he wouldn't vote for either Trump or Cruz if either is the GOP nominee. Easy for him, though; he's retiring from Congress in January. He told his constituents that he wants "a president that my children can look up to, and this campaign is beneath the dignity of the American people. Our unwillingness to push back when we hear remarks that are callous, intolerant and bigoted is hurting our party. It’s hurting our country.

"Before Trump had even declared he was going to run, it looked like the GOP was likely to lose the Senate anyone, just based on the fact that so many Republicans in blue and purple states looked vulnerable and few Democrats did. And the House looked safe for the Republicans; it still does-- primarily because if a corrupt, incompetent and totally debilitated DCCC.

The Democrats look like they have good shots to take back Senate seats in Wisconsin, Illinois, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio and possibly North Carolina, Iowa and Missouri, while protecting their own vulnerabilities in Nevada and Colorado. If there were a wave election, something a Trump nomination could precipitate, Republicans could even lose Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana and Arizona, which would mean that the Democrats's Senate majority would be protected from the expected reversal of fortunes in 2018 when the shoe is on the other foot when vulnerable Democratic seats in North Dakota, Virginia, Montana, Indiana, West Virginia Missouri and Florida are up and where Republicans could very well target Ohio, Wisconsin and New Jersey (the corruption scarred Menendez). In 2018 the only contest the Republicans would have to watch out for is in Nevada. The rest of their seats are all safe. But, big wins in 2016 would be a useful cushion.

The House would be within reach if a competent DCCC existed but there is no such thing and never will be while Pelosi is Democratic Leader. The one we have now will be lucky to not lose seats, let along make up a massive 30-seat deficit. Their usual ideologically-driven sub-par recruiting is worse than usual, with winnable district after winnable district being given up without a fight-- political malfeasance from California to New York and all places in between. So, yes, Trump makes it harder for Republicans down the ticket to win but it doesn't matter when the Democrats either have no candidate, a really bad candidate or are refusing to support good candidates who aren't DCCC zombies. So, as Burns pointed out, "While Mr. Trump would most likely draw throngs of white, working-class voters in Democratic-leaning states like Michigan and Ohio, he would also drive away women, nonwhites and voters with college degrees in conservative-leaning states like Georgia and North Carolina." The DCCC has weak no candidates in either Georgia or North Carolina to take any advantage of that. And even if their were opportunities in Ohio and Michigan, the DCCC had an extraordinarily batch of weak candidates if districts that would need great candidates to be competitive.
Democrats see Mr. Trump as increasing their chances, especially in diverse and fast-growing states like Arizona and Virginia, where the party often struggles to turn out Hispanic voters who can help its candidates. And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is mounting a late push to stretch the political map by recruiting candidates in as many as 10 conservative-leaning House districts, in states like Florida and Kansas, where analysts believe Mr. Trump will harm Republicans.

The Democratic committee, eager to cut into the Republicans’ majority, has begun a large data project to model both support for and opposition to Mr. Trump. Meredith Kelly, a spokeswoman for the committee, confirmed that its data team was studying which of Mr. Trump’s ideas and comments would be most offensive to key voting blocs, and how best to project those themes in congressional races.
The theory is valid but DCCC candidates in those states-- Arizona, Virginia, Florida and Kansas-- are, for the most part, ghastly and where there is a decent candidate here and there, the DCCC is actively working to sabotage him or her in order to put in a candidate more amenable to the corruption and conservatism party leaders like Hoyer, Crowley, Luján, Clyburn and Wassermann Schultz thrive on. Candidates the DCCC is not supporting includes 17 of the 18 outstanding progressives on this list:
Goal Thermometer

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Alan Grayson vs Patrick Murphy-- It's Not Even Close


Rich, spoiled Republican-masquerading-as-a-Democrat Patrick Murphy turned 33 today. His wealthy Republican daddy bought the ne'er-do-well Patrick a political career. One of America's least effective members of Congress is also on the take. In honor of his birthday, we ran a little twitter poll asking people if they knew how much money the banksters had given Murphy's Senate campaign so far. Well, this week he crossed the one million dollar mark. He's the only non-incumbent Senate candidate from either party the banksters deemed worth $1,000,000. 90% of those who took the poll knew that.

No one guessed the Financial Sector only gave Murphy $68,025. That figure represents the kind of small grassroots contributions from individuals who work inside the industry, from bank tells to insurance agents. The figure is actually how much the entire Financial Sector has contributed to Grayson's campaign this cycle-- $1,054,300 for the bribe-taking Schumercrat, Patrick Murphy, and $68,025 for progressive warrior Alan Grayson. We didn't pull the other numbers out of a tree either. $532,015 is the amount the banksters have given another of their favorite candidates, crooked Indiana congressman Todd Young. Like Murphy he's a pro-Wall Street congressman running for an open Senate seat and he got the most from Wall Street of any non-incumbent Republican Senate candidate, a bit better than half of what fake-Democrat Patrick Murphy got. The other big priority for the banksters this cycle is to get their boy Chris Van Hollen into the open Maryland seat. As ranking member of the House Budget Committee and as the most failed DCCC chairman in history-- he lost 68 seats-- he has proven his worth to the banksters. And that's where the $505,828 comes from; that's how much the Financial Sector gave Van Hollen so far this cycle in his desperate battle to beat progressive champion Donna Edwards.

Back to the birthday boy. Schumer has been carrying on like a madman-- lying to the media, threatening donors, trying to bully progressive organizations in his unrelenting war against Alan Grayson. All the lies you read about Grayson in the media originate in Little Chucky Schmucky's office. Despite all the flak, yesterday two more respected and effective progressive organizations, PCCC and DFA joined the Florida Progressive Caucus, Blue America, PDA and People for the American Way in endorsing Grayson and encouraging their members and supporters to back him against Murphy (and Schumer), prompting Grayson to say "I’m honored that the progressives who do the work, and represent the backbone and conscience of the Democratic Party, are standing firmly in my corner. Together, we will take back the Senate, and make its progressive base stronger than ever."

PCCC leaders Adam Green and Stephanie Taylor, in announcing their organization's endorsement, pointed out that "If you liked bold progressive Alan Grayson in the U.S. House, you'll love him in the U.S. Senate. You'll especially love it as he wins an open Republican seat (the one Marco Rubio decided to vacate) and helps Democrats re-take the Senate majority! Every step of the way-- from Wall Street reform to expanding Social Security to being a national leader for Medicare expansion-- Alan Grayson has stood with progressives as one of our boldest and most reliable allies. That's why we are proud to endorse him today, along with our allies at Democracy for America. We need Alan Grayson to join Elizabeth Warren in the U.S. Senate."

Keeping it positive, they didn't mention that the original Democratic primary co-sponsor of the payday lender bill Debbie Wasserman Schultz is backing, which has upset so many progressives, was Patrick Murphy-- earning some of that $1,054,300 from his Wall Street financiers. The closest they came was to mention that "Alan is leading in the polls for U.S. Senate in Florida, but needs to defeat the establishment-backed candidate in the August primary first. He is the only candidate in the race who has consistently said NO to cutting Social Security and YES to expanding Social Security benefits. He is the only candidate who favors strong Wall Street reform and rejects campaign cash from Goldman Sachs and other big banks. Alan is a national leader for expanding Medicare. You'd be able to buy insurance through Medicare instead of being at the mercy of for-profit insurance companies. And his Seniors Have Eyes, Ears, and Teeth Act would eliminate the arbitrary exclusion from Medicare coverage of eyeglasses, eye exams, hearing aids, hearing exams, and dental care. Reporter Dave Weigel wrote a piece declaring 'Alan Grayson is now the most effective member of the House' because of the number of bills he has managed to convince Republicans to pass-- including working with Ron Paul to pass a bill auditing the fed, which uncovered trillions in secret Wall Street bailouts... Imagine a U.S. Senate with Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, Russ Feingold, Donna Edwards, and Alan Grayson. It can happen."

Democracy For America polled their members in Florida and they decided to endorse Grayson as well. Jim Dean and Charles Chamberlain, the organizations chairman and executive director, said "Whether he was taking on the GOP's 'die quickly' health care plan or standing up to his own party's willingness to consider Social Security cuts, Alan Grayson has been a steadfast champion for populist progressive priorities and one of the fiercest allies grassroots Democrats have in Washington D.C. That's why Democracy for America and the Progressive Campaign Change Committee are teaming up today to endorse Alan Grayson. Having a fighter like Alan Grayson in the U.S. Senate would be nothing short of game-changing for our country and Florida's struggling working families. And, let's be honest, it would be Marco Rubio's worst nightmare to know that his Florida Senate seat will be filled by a bold progressive champion like Alan Grayson."

Alan has his own Blue America thermometer. Please give it a tap and give his grassroots campaign a boost. More than anyone else I know in Congress, this man is fighting for us. When Chuck Schumer makes a deal with the Republicans to compromise away Social Security benefits, it is Alan Grayson we'll be able to count on to fight him and them-- and fight for real... along with Bernie, Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Donna Edwards... and precious few others.
Goal Thermometer

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Five Demographic Arguments for Bernie Sanders


 Because I wanted to give you something nice to look at (click to enlarge; source)

by Gaius Publius

I had something else set up for today, but I couldn't resist this. Carl Beijer has a good set of graphics comparing Sanders' and Clinton's voter bases and how they compare. I'll show a few then direct you to his site for the rest. I found this fascinating; also useful when the "he so white" arguments start up.

Beijer starts:
Five demographic arguments for Bernie Sanders

Clinton began the Democratic primaries with slight-to-significant leads across most demographic categories. Over the past year - even as the media has clung to that narrative - all of those leads have almost entirely evaporated. Here is a quick rundown of the state of the polls today; all of this data was taken from Reuters on March 25.
The five demographics, for your information, are gender, race, orientation, income and age. You might guess correctly the last two, though they are more nuanced than you'd suspect. About orientation, I'll leave you to look for yourself (hint: there's a surprise there I can't begin to explain).

But let's look here at gender and race, with a tiny peek at age. Beijer (my emphasis):

Hillary Clinton's base of support is now largely men, and Sanders is supported by a majority of women.
That got my attention. Hillary is the candidate of males, primarily, and Sanders the candidate of women? Did not expect that. Here's the graphic:

Clinton support vs. Sanders support by gender; all ages (click to enlarge)

Now let's look at race:

Clinton maintains a significant lead among black Americans, driven entirely by the preference of older black Americans; black Millennials, however, prefer Sanders 59-31. Meanwhile, Sanders has built leads among Hispanics and other people of color, while maintaining a slight lead among white Americans.
And the graphic:

Clinton support vs. Sanders support by race; all ages (click to enlarge)

Because age was mentioned above, here's the graphic for that.

Clinton support vs. Sanders support by age; all races (click to enlarge)

Beijer concludes the obvious, though not what's being alleged. I'll let him say it, that
one can only call Clinton an advocate of the powerless by ignoring women, Hispanics and other non-black voters of color, ~30% of black Americans, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and other non-straights, the young, and the poor. The narrative being aggressively advanced by writers like Tomasky and Goldberg - that Sanders is the candidate of privilege - can only be made by a stunning degree of demographic gerrymandering that ignores the dramatic sea changes in preference that have taken place since the beginning of the campaign.
Again, there's more here (including that surprise in the orientation graphic), so I hope you click through. Sanders is, indeed, the opposite of the candidate of privilege — which is the whole point, isn't it?, of this year's electoral exercise.

(Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. If you'd like to help out, go here. If you'd like to "phone-bank for Bernie," go here. You can volunteer in other ways by going here. And thanks!)


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What If Ideas Were The Only Things "Too Big To Fail?" There Should Be No Super-delegates


I was... well, happy for Bernie when conservative Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard came out and backed Bernie. After all, the 3 progressive federal officials-- Brian Schatz, Mazie Hirono and Mark Takai-- had all decided to do the safe, easy conservative thing and cast their lots with the establishment candidate. But Tulsi Gabbard... her ProgressivePunch career-long crucial vote score is an "F" and her endorsement lf Bernie won't change that. She votes very mcu on the Hillary side of the coin. It doesn't seem to matter; Schatz and Hirono (though not Takai, one of the least progressive members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus) vote the way Bernie votes. Mixed up, shook up... Even more bizarre, on face value, was when one of the most far right wing DINOs in the House, Minnesota Blue Dog Collin Peterson, announced he would vote for Bernie if he decides to come to the Democratic Convention. He'd probably feel more comfortable at the Republican Convention because he votes with the Republicans on virtually everything. The only reason his ProgressivePunch score is "F" is because they don't have anything lower to indicate DINO.

When incumbents Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Alan Grayson (D-FL) and candidates like Alex Law (D-NJ), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Eric Kingson (D-NY) endorsed Bernie it was as ideologically sensible as when corrupt, Wall Street-owned New Dems and Blue Dogs like Sean Patrick Maloney (NY), Ami Bera (CA), Gregory Meeks (NY), Cheri Bustos (IL), Steve Israel (NY), John Delaney (MD), Henry Cuellar (TX), Jim Cooper (TN) and Patrick Murphy (FL) endorsed Hillary. Their right-of-center voting records are like her campaign. Where else would self-serving political hacks like Rahm Emanuel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz be other than fighting for Hillary? Where else would reformers like Tim Canova, Maria Chappelle-Nadal, Bao Nguyen and Lou Vince be if not standing with Bernie?

Collin Peterson-- the guy who votes with the GOP on repealing Obamacare every single time they bring it up and who doesn't sound like he and Bernie have ever agreed on one single policy-- explained something worth hearing, though: "I'm voting my district." Peterson's district, basically all of western Minnesota, was a wipeout for Hillary. Bernie won Minnesota 61.6 to 38.4%, but he won Peterson's 7th CD 63.2 to 36.8%. (Bernie won every single congressional district in the state. Hillary's best performance was in MN-03, the very Republican Hennepin County suburbs west of Minneapolis, where she managed to pull 46.7%.) Both the state's senators, quasi-liberal Al Franken and centrist Amy Klobuchar, were campaigning for Hillary. Ever since Franken accepted a bribe from Patrick Murphy's parents in return for the politically awkward endorsement of their right-wing son, his endorsement became meaningless and Klobuchar doesn't care if every Minnesotan from Houston County in the southeast to Kittson County in the northwest and from Cook to Rock votes for Bernie, she's arrogant enough to stick with Hillary and cast "her" super-delegate vote, undemocratically, for Hillary at the convention.

There are already petitions going around in states and districts where Bernie won-- especially in Washington state where he won the state 72.7 to 27.1% and took every single county with over 2/3s of the vote (except for tiny, remote Garfield County, the most Republican county in the state, where Hillary managed to win 40% of the minuscule turnout)-- demanding that lawmakers remember that they are super-delegates not because of their intrinsic characteristics but because they represent their constituents. Right-of-center New Dem, Adam Smith in Washington has already told his own constituents to shove their petition up their asses; he's with the Wall Street banksters and war contractors Hillary. In New Hampshire, where Bernie beat Hillary 60.4 to 38.0%, the centrist governor (Maggie Hassan, a candidate for Senator), and the 2 Democrats in Congress, (New Dem Ann Kuster and centrist Jeanne Shaheen) don't care; they're all sticking with Hillary despite Bernie winning every county in the state and every one of the hundred-plus political subdivisions except for three.

Without the anti-democratic super-delegate institution, Hillary leads Bernie by 268 delegates, mostly from the Old Confederacy. But when you include the super-delegates-- who are there to thwart the will of the grassroots voters to begin with-- her lead increases to 708 delegates. AP reported that Hillary has 469 pledged super-delegates and that Bernie has 29. That leaves 214 super-delegates unpledged at the moment. Yesterday Bernie's campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, told reporters that there are dozens of super-delegates who have privately told the campaign that they will back Bernie against the establishment candidate. Many members have told me they just don't want to hysteria and threats and shenanigans from the Clinton people if they announce they're for Bernie. "These aren't nice people," one congresswoman told me last night, referring to Hillary's team. "And the Clintons don't forget a perceived slight. You know the Nixon enemies list? They have one too. I'll proudly cast my vote for Bernie at the convention... I just don't want to deal with them from now until the end of July. I have more important things on my mind."

Bernie's main appeal to super-delegates is that every poll shows he will beat any Republican with ease and that she's struggling in the head-to-head match-ups. Independent voters-- as much as 40% of the general election electorate-- distrust her and don't want to vote for her, while they admire, respect and love Bernie. No sense in throwing the election away just because Wall Street demands Hillary be the candidate. Which reminds me. Her newest total career-long take from the Finnace Sector is now $42,172,723, far surpassing McCain's lieftime record and closing in on Obama's. At some point Democrats have to start asking why the Wall Street banksters who hated FDR so patiently and detest everything he ever achieved are so adamant to get Hillary into the White House. Don't let them; there's too much at stake. And if you didn't listen to Matthew Grimm's new song up top... please do. It rocks!
Goal Thermometer

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

If Fracking Causes Earthquakes And Politicians Take Bribes To Approve Fracking In Earthquake Zones.. What Then?


The map above is from National Geographic and it shows the likelihood of human-induced earthquakes for 2016. That's not a way of tracking a team of obese volleyball players. It's all about fracking. Anyone even tangentially involved with allowing fracking in California should be subject to the... severe punishment, especially if they've accepted money from Oil and Gas interests, in return for their acquiescence, the way Governor Jerry Brown and oily state Senators Ricardo Lara and Isadore Hall have. Oklahoma is getting the most attention-- who ever heard of earthquakes in Oklahoma?-- but it's California where a real catastrophe could be triggered-- and all for the greed of criminal politicians. Yesterday, Sarah Gilman writing for the National Geographic reported that "the U.S. Geological Survey unveiled an earthquake hazard forecast for the central and eastern parts of the country that for the first time includes human-caused quakes, referred to in technical parlance as “induced seismicity.” The report suggests that seven million people in parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Arkansas face increased risks from human-induced earthquakes in the next year... In Oklahoma, injected water helped produce the state’s largest ever recorded earthquake-- a magnitude 5.6 in Prague in 2011 that toppled chimneys and inspired at least one lawsuit against industry to cover injuries and property damage. Theoretically, injection or smaller induced earthquakes themselves could trigger even larger quakes, USGS scientists said, since the state has a fault that, prehistorically, has produced a magnitude 7 temblor."

The risks appear most widespread and significant in north-central Oklahoma and a tiny sliver of southern Kansas, where a large area has a 5 to 12 percent chance per year of an earthquake that can cause buildings to crack and, in rare cases, collapse. That’s comparable to risks in parts of more seismically famous California, USGS scientists said at a press conference on Monday.

The USGS decided to include induced seismicity in the new map because of a well-documented and sharp increase in the number and severity of human-made earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S. starting in 2009, largely tied to the energy industry.

“We want to help people understand how much concern they should have with these earthquakes,” said lead author Mark Petersen, chief of the agency’s National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project.

  The oil industry recently boomed in Oklahoma and elsewhere due to advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing-- also known as fracking-- a controversial practice that involves firing a slurry of water, sand, and chemicals into the ground to release trapped hydrocarbons. Along with the fracking fluids, the oil or gas that rises to the surface tends to come with copious amounts of brackish groundwater, which energy companies dispose of by reinjecting into the earth.

In parts of Oklahoma, this wastewater injection has increased five to tenfold. At the same time, earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 and greater spiked from fewer than 100 between 1970 and 2009 to almost 600 in 2014, and a whopping 907 in 2015.

Most of the water is going into a layer of rock called the Arbuckle Formation, which may transfer water pressure to the still deeper basement rock layer, where the earthquakes are triggered. As water input has increased, so has the pore pressure in already stressed faults there, allowing their sides-- usually clamped tightly together-- to slip more easily past each other.

...These seismic maps are mostly used to develop emergency plans, building safety standards, and insurance rates. That means the new projection of induced earthquake risk could see citizens and communities in affected areas shouldering more of the financial burden for drilling’s ripple effects, Johnson Bridgwater, director of the Sierra Club’s Oklahoma Chapter, told National Geographic.

The percent of homeowners holding earthquake insurance policies in Oklahoma has risen in recent years to around 10 percent-- similar to California. Considering that Oklahoma wasn't much of a seismic risk until the fracking boom, some citizens and nonprofits are trying to hold energy companies accountable.

Two significant temblors that shook Oklahoma City and Edmonds over the 2015 holidays resulted in lawsuits from homeowners. And the Sierra Club's state chapter recently filed another earthquake suit against energy companies after a magnitude 5.1 quake struck near the Kansas border in February.

  “Oklahoma citizens are now having to open their own pocketbooks for insurance protection,” Bridgwater said. “And they’re obviously upset and think industry should have to cover that.”

Also, while previous maps looked at natural risk over longer timeframes, induced seismicity can vary rapidly along with shifts in policy or the market, so the USGS adjusted the timescale of the new map to just one year. USGS’s Petersen noted that some parts of the country where induced quakes were more common for a time are now forecast to have far less seismic risk.

“Something is going right in Ohio,” he said, which shows that regulatory changes like reducing injections can mitigate the potential quake hazards.

Conditions are already changing in Oklahoma. Boak says the collapse of oil prices has led to steep declines in wastewater injection in the 25-county area that has been most impacted. He expects new calls by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, a state regulatory agency, to further curtail underground disposal and keep those numbers down.

Though there have been more than 200 quakes in Oklahoma so far in 2016, Boak said he is “guardedly optimistic” that there will be an overall reduction by the end of the year.
Back to California for a moment. The fracking forces are doing all they can to elect Sacramento's most corrupt legislator, Isadore Hall, Big Oil's mainstay in the state Senate. His primary opponent, progressive environmental advocate, is Nanette Barragán. This morning she told us that she's been worried about the existential dangers of fracking as well. "From creating earthquakes to polluting our drinking water, fracking puts public health in danger. I am committed to protecting our communities from irresponsible fracking by working with my colleagues in Congress to  promote safe, clean energy for our future." Blue America has endorsed Nanette for the open congressional seat in L.A.'s South Bay, an area where 71% of the residents are Latino but Latinos never get any support from the California Democratic Party, let alone from the DCCC or the corrupted and rotted out Washington Establishment. You can contribute to Barragán's campaign here.

UPDATE: Worse Yet?

This week, Bill McKibben may have shaken up the fracking world on a non-earthquake front-- a feature for The Nation about fracking's role in Global Warming. "[I]t appears," he wrote, "the United States may have gotten the chemistry wrong. Really wrong." It's not the CO2 but "the nasty little brother, methane (CH4).
In February, Harvard researchers published an explosive paper in Geophysical Research Letters. Using satellite data and ground observations, they concluded that the nation as a whole is leaking methane in massive quantities. Between 2002 and 2014, the data showed that US methane emissions increased by more than 30 percent, accounting for 30 to 60 percent of an enormous spike in methane in the entire planet’s atmosphere... Because burning natural gas releases significantly less carbon dioxide than burning coal, CO2 emissions have begun to trend slowly downward, allowing politicians to take a bow. But this new Harvard data, which comes on the heels of other aerial surveys showing big methane leakage, suggests that our new natural-gas infrastructure has been bleeding methane into the atmosphere in record quantities. And molecule for molecule, this unburned methane is much, much more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.

...[H]ere’s the unhappy fact about methane: Though it produces only half as much carbon as coal when you burn it, if you don’t-- if it escapes into the air before it can be captured in a pipeline, or anywhere else along its route to a power plant or your stove-- then it traps heat in the atmosphere much more efficiently than CO2... [E]ven a small percentage of the methane leaked-- maybe as little as 3 percent-- then fracked gas would do more climate damage than coal. And their preliminary data showed that leak rates could be at least that high: that somewhere between 3.6 and 7.9 percent of methane gas from shale-drilling operations actually escapes into the atmosphere.

...And if we didn’t frack, what would we do instead? Ten years ago, the realistic choice was between natural gas and coal. But that choice is no longer germane: Over the same 10 years, the price of a solar panel has dropped at least 80 percent. New inventions have come online, such as air-source heat pumps, which use the latent heat in the air to warm and cool houses, and electric storage batteries. We’ve reached the point where Denmark can generate 42 percent of its power from the wind, and where Bangladesh is planning to solarize every village in the country within the next five years. We’ve reached the point, that is, where the idea of natural gas as a “bridge fuel” to a renewable future is a marketing slogan, not a realistic claim (even if that’s precisely the phrase that Hillary Clinton used to defend fracking in a debate earlier this month).

One of the nastiest side effects of the fracking boom, in fact, is that the expansion of natural gas has undercut the market for renewables, keeping us from putting up windmills and solar panels at the necessary pace. Joe Romm, a climate analyst at the Center for American Progress, has been tracking the various economic studies more closely than anyone else. Even if you could cut the methane-leakage rates to zero, Romm says, fracked gas (which, remember, still produces 50 percent of the CO2 level emitted by coal when you burn it) would do little to cut the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions because it would displace so much truly clean power. A Stanford forum in 2014 assembled more than a dozen expert teams, and their models showed what a drag on a sustainable future cheap, abundant gas would be. “Cutting greenhouse-gas emissions by burning natural gas is like dieting by eating reduced-fat cookies,” the principal investigator of the Stanford forum explained. “If you really want to lose weight, you probably need to avoid cookies altogether.”

Goal Thermometer There are a few promising signs. Clinton has at least tempered her enthusiasm for fracking some in recent debates, listing a series of preconditions she’d insist on before new projects were approved; Bernie Sanders, by contrast, has called for a moratorium on new fracking. But Clinton continues to conflate and confuse the chemistry: Natural gas, she said in a recent position paper, has helped US carbon emissions “reach their lowest level in 20 years.” It appears that many in power would like to carry on the fracking revolution, albeit a tad more carefully.

Indeed, just last month, Cheniere Energy shipped the first load of American gas overseas from its new export terminal at Sabine Pass in Louisiana. As the ship sailed, Cheniere’s vice president of marketing, Meg Gentle, told industry and government officials that natural gas should be rebranded as renewable energy. “I’d challenge everyone here to reframe the debate and make sure natural gas is part of the category of clean energy, not a fossil-fuel category, which is viewed as dirty and not part of the solution,” she said. A few days later, Exxon’s PR chief, writing in the Los Angeles Times, boasted that the company had been “instrumental in America’s shale gas revolution,” and that as a result, “America’s greenhouse gas emissions have declined to levels not seen since the 1990s.”

The new data prove them entirely wrong. The global-warming fight can’t just be about carbon dioxide any longer. Those local environmentalists, from New York State to Tasmania, who have managed to enforce fracking bans are doing as much for the climate as they are for their own clean water. That’s because fossil fuels are the problem in global warming-- and fossil fuels don’t come in good and bad flavors. Coal and oil and natural gas have to be left in the ground. All of them.
No wonder Clinton is afraid to do any more debates with Bernie. And this isn't something where she disagrees with anyone might have to debate in a general election situation. Trump, Cruz, Kasich and Ryan are all-- as in all things-- "worse than Hillary." That won't save the planet, but it will make some Democrats feel better about themselves when they vote for global catastrophe.

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