Saturday, March 31, 2018

Trump Will Never Tweet That He Has Decided To Institute Fascism Per Se


The regime is moving at break-neck speed to set its neo-fascist agenda in cement and change the country fundamentally. “Billboards. TV campaigns. Radio programs. The anti-immigrant government… uses different levers to influence public opinion… Even school textbooks… [T]he far-right leader’s message is now woven into the school curriculum.” The country’s Constitution has been re-written and the judiciary reshaped. The leader’s appointees or supporters dominate many artistic institutions and universities. A growing number of plays and exhibitions have had nationalist undertones. Religious groups and nongovernment organizations critical of [his party] have seen funding dry up. He has especially vilified pro-democracy organizations funded by the Hungarian-American philanthropist, George Soros… National opinion surveys are used to steer public opinion as much as collect it, while history is also up for grabs. The government has jousted with educators over textbooks while promoting a narrative of… victimhood and ethnocentrism.”

Steve Bannon: “He’s my hero… the most significant guy on the scene right now.” But “That scene, some say, is the unraveling of democracy… on the “threshold of autocracy.” Another supporter insists that “The government is using its democratic legitimacy not only to reform the state but to reform the society… This is common in democratic societies.”

The leader is doing what he can “to increase the life span of his governance.” And a vert well-connected “right-wing theorist has written widely that the duty of nongovernmental groups is to preserve national identity and uphold Christian values. Most tellingly, he argues that since an elected government represents the will of the people— and since civil society should strive to fulfill the people’s will— then civil society exists to carry out a ruling party’s manifesto, rather than to challenge it. “Obviously, civil society needs to help and support the government to follow through with its promises,” [he] said in an interview this month. “This is an incredibly important thing.”

But while tax dollars are channeled towards government supporters, the government has simultaneously squeezed alternative sources of funding for NGOs that oppose its ideas, especially human rights groups and arts groups, universities and churches.

Sounds like what the Trumpist Regime is headed for, but this was something I read in the NY Times when Roland was trying to persuade me to go back to Hungary with him. To close for comfort?
think tank called Veritas, has a more demonstrably political aim. Its main mission is to provide revisionist interpretations of 20th-century Hungarian history— including the reign of Miklos Horthy, the autocrat who led Hungary before and during the Second World War.

Soon after Veritas was founded in 2014, its director, Sandor Szakaly, gave a sense of what this revision might involve. He described the deportation of Jews under Horthy in 1941 as a mere “police action against aliens.”

This kind of revisionism has also crept into the national curriculum. High school graduates can now be tested on the new preamble to the Hungarian Constitution— a controversial text which implies that Hungarian nationality is exclusively Christian, even though Hungary has a substantial Jewish minority. Its wording also reduces the agency of Hungarian officials in the final year of the Second World War, during which time hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were murdered.

To exert greater influence over churches and synagogues themselves, Fidesz has also stripped hundreds of religious institutions of their legal status, and scrapped their state funding.
And like Trump, Viktor Orban, Hungary’s elected fascist leader is a Putin puppet. Don’t recall Hungary’s rehabilitated national hero, Admiral Miklos Horthy? About a year ago were tried putting his legacy into the context of another Hungarian fascist and current day admirer of his (and Trump, Sebastian Gorka. Or watch this if you want to get a better idea of where Trump’s brand of neo-fascism is leading:

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It's Hard To Imagine Duncan Hunter, Jr. Going Back To Congress In 2019


CA-50 is one of the last conservative Republican districts in California. Obama lost it both times-- badly-- and Trump beat Hillary 54.6% to 39.6%. The PVI is R+11. Duncan Hunter, Sr and Duncan Hunter, Jr-- two very crooked, self-entitled Republican assholes have held the district for 38 conservative years. Political education is very low and many people don't realize that Hunter I has been replaced by Hunter II. The district is what's left over in San Diego County after all the beautiful and desirable parts were divided up among other districts. Aside from Temecula and Escondido in the north and bit of eastern El Cajon in the south, it's mostly sparsely populated desert and mountains-- with lots of wildlife refuges, lots of state wildernesses and parks and a national forest.

As red as his district is, Hunter looks very vulnerable this cycle, unless voters are going to give him a pass on eye-popping corruption charges. He could even wind up serving his next term in prison. Darrell Issa, who retired from a nearby district, had been hoping Hunter would get knocked out of the race because of all the corruption but... too late now.

There are two Democratic front-runners competing for the nomination. The California Democratic Party has endorsed the more progressive candidate, Ammar Campa-Najjar, and the DCCC and New Dems are working to nominate the conservative, Josh Butner. As of the December 31 FEC reporting deadline Campa-Najjar had raised $504,928 and Butner had raised $421,385. Hunter has just $290,904 in his campaign war-chest. It's no wonder no one wants to give him any money. He's been stealing it for non-campaign use. In fact, this week it was revealed that on top of all the other stuff he's been stealing money for-- vacations, surf boards, guitars, meals, etc-- he charged over $138,000 in campaign donations to booze. (Yes, he's an alcoholic.)
Over the past few months, Hunter has faced a criminal investigation by the Justice Department, alleging he improperly skimmed campaign funds for personal use. Prosecutors have subpoenaed his parents and a lobbyist suspected of being his mistress, trying to discover the extent of his use of campaign funds on family and friends.

The numbers from the new report are staggering-- especially considering it’s just the campaign cash he managed to spend at liquor-related business, including D.C. locations popular with lobbyists.

Exactly what Hunter purchased at these establishments is unknown, but the majority of these trips showed a charge of less than $100, which rules out legitimate purposes such as big-ticket fundraisers.

Questions abut Hunter’s use of funds go back years, with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filing a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics in 2016. But now the evidence has become overwhelming.

Hunter’s legal woes are a reminder that, while the headlines have overwhelmingly gone to scandals surrounding taxpayer money wasted by the Trump administration-- think Scott Pruitt’s first-class air travel, Ben Carson’s $31,000 dining set, and David Shulkin’s illegal acceptance of Wimbledon tickets-- Republicans in Congress have been getting into trouble for misusing money for years.

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Inside The U.S. War In Yemen


-by Reese Erlich

One of the most important US Senate votes in decades took place recently, and few people know it happened.

On March 20, Senators voted on whether to stop US support for Saudi Arabia’s vicious war in Yemen by invoking the War Powers Act.

More than 5,000 Yemenis have died and tens of thousands have been injured since the war began three years ago. The Saudis launched a horrific bombing campaign aimed at civilian infrastructure, schools and hospitals. Saudi Arabia established an air, sea and land blockade, which has cut off supplies of food and medicine. As a direct result, a massive cholera epidemic has broken out. A UN Security Council report showed 22.2 million people out of a total population of 27.5 million need humanitarian assistance, a 3.4 million jump compared with last year.

The war began when the Obama administration gave a green light to Saudi Arabia in 2015. The Trump administration continues the effort, providing intelligence, and selling the Saudis sophisticated weapons, ammunition, and aircraft parts. The US. Air Force refuels Saudi planes in mid-air.

Back in 2015, Saudi leaders proudly proclaimed they would win the war in three weeks. “They underestimated their enemy,” Shireen Al-Adeimi told me in an interview. She’s a Harvard doctoral candidate who was born and raised in Yemen. The Saudis and their coalition partners from the United Arab Emirates “don’t have the ground soldiers. So they launched a massive bombing campaign.”

Saudi leaders argue they are fighting Iranian proxies in Yemen, and Iran seeks to destroy their country. For them, it’s an existential battle. The Pentagon argues that the United States only plays an advisory role and provides “non-combat assistance” and thus isn’t violating the War Powers Act.

In reality, “the war has US fingerprints all over it,” said Al-Adeimi.

Washington could shut down the Yemen War overnight. It’s not widely known, but US contractors are the only technicians loading bombs and maintaining Saudi war planes. They operate under control of the U.S. government.

“If the US doesn’t give permission,” to the contractors, a former US diplomat told me, “it would shut down the Saudi Air Force.”

In the Senate, liberal Democrats and principled Republicans introduced a measure under the War Powers Act to withhold US support for the Yemen War. The Act provides that the president must seek Congressional approval for any military activity abroad lasting more than 60 days.

Progressives like Bernie Sanders and some liberal Democrats wanted to end the undeclared war. Five Republicans also voted for the bill. The Republican senators were particularly concerned with the constitutional issue, according to Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, executive editor of The American Conservative magazine.

“They are fed up with successive presidential administrations that say they can wage war without Congressional approval,” Vlahos told me in an interview.

Libertarians and principled Republicans have long opposed US military intervention in the Middle East. Vlahos doesn’t buy the Pentagon argument that US troops are purely advisory. “Refueling jets is more than advising soldiers how to use their guns.”

On March 20, the Senate voted 55-44 to send the bill back to the Foreign Relations Committee, killing it for the time being. While the Senate effort failed, the battle against US intervention continues.

To better understand the Yemen catastrophe, let’s go back to the Arab Spring of 2011. Mass demonstrations had brought down the pro-US dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt. Popular uprisings threatened regimes in Syria, Bahrain, and even Saudi Arabia. In Yemen, the people were determined to overthrow the corrupt, pro-US dictator Ali Saleh.

So the Obama administration and Saudi leaders decided to oust Saleh in favor of his vice president, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Unfortunately for them, Hadi proved to be incompetent and had little popular support. The Houthi movement based in northern Yemen seized the capital of Sanaa and all of northern Yemen. Hadi fled and has spent almost all of the past three years issuing decrees from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Ansar Allah, commonly known as the Houthis, is a conservative political Islamist group based mostly among Shia Muslims. Human rights groups have documented Houthi human rights violations such as illegal use of landmines, and indiscriminate shelling of civilians in both Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Ansar Allah receives political and financial support from Iran, and several UN reports indicate Iran provides weapons as well. Iranian officials I have interviewed deny that Tehran provides military support to the Houthis and, in fact, considers Yemen a very low priority compared to their activities in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. In reality, the Houthis are an independent political and military movement not under Iran’s control.

Saudi vilification of the Houthis serves as the excuse for a massive Saudi bombing campaign. It also deflects from Saudi cooperation with the local Al Qaeda affiliate.

For years successive US administrations have used drones to assassinate members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist group infamous for training the “underwear bomber” and carrying out numerous attacks on civilians.

Washington argues it must keep US troops in Yemen and continue drone strikes to fight AQAP. But the Saudi war in Yemen has helped strengthen AQAP.

Saudi affiliated fighters have joined with AQAP to fight the Houthis. Saudi Arabia and Al Qaeda both profess strong, right-wing interpretations of Sunni Islam and use that as a justification to attack the mostly Shia Muslim Houthi movement.

To make matters even more complicated, the Saudi alliance with the UAE is fraying at the seams. The UAE recently decided to back the Southern Transitional Council, a Yemeni group that demands secession for the southern part of Yemen. The STC, with UAE backing, now controls much of the key southern Yemeni city of Aden, causing great anger in Riyadh.

So the war in Yemen does not pit endangered Saudi Arabia against expansionist Iran, as portrayed in Washington. The Trump administration backs Saudi Arabia as part of its geopolitical battle for hegemony in the region. In addition Saudi Arabia has some of the world’s largest oil reserves, and the region remains an important source of US oil company profits.

The Senate failed to invoke the War Powers Act, but the relatively close vote indicates the level of discontent with the Yemen War. “Forcing the vote was a big deal,” said editor Vlahos. “Most people don’t know about it.”

The United States is now at war in six countries in the broader Middle East: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. There will come a day when the American people understand the massive cost in lives and treasure. The day of reckoning will come sooner than the Trump administration thinks.

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Why State And County Democratic Party Organizations Hate The DCCC So Much


That means recruiting more Blue Dogs and New Dems for the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- and blocking progressives

There was a time when I felt I was the only one who hated the DCCC and thought the organization should be abolished. That was a long time ago and I'm not alone any longer. From coast to coast, almost every state Democratic Party organization despises them. Let me share this letter to lunkhead Ben Ray Lujan, Pelosi's unfortunately DCCC chair, from the Executive Committee of the Staten Island Democratic Association, which could virtually come from anywhere in the country. Keep in mind, as you read it, there are 7 Democrats running to replace Republican incumbent Dan Donovan (or felon Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm if he wins the GOP primary.) The DCCC has jumped the gun and endorsed extreme conservative Max Rose, who has been endorsed by both the New Dems and Blue Dogs.
We wish to register deep concern regarding the DCCC Red to Blue candidates' selection program in New York's 11th Congressional District. A damaging primary between Dan Donovan and disgraced felon Michael Grimm will weaken the Republicans, and eight Democrats indicated their desire to campaign for the congressional seat.

SIDA and other Democratic organizations in Staten Island and Brooklyn have hosted events with the candidates since last Spring in order to bring forth the best candidate. We have seen tremendous enthusiasm building. Our belief is that-- as Tip O'Neill often noted-- "All politics is local," and the people of the 11th CD should make the decision as to who will represent them.

There has been so much excitement and energy exhibited by the myriad of candidates, several of whom will qualify to run in the Democratic Primary. This dynamic should have kept this process on the front pages and would assist in a great voter turn-out at the 2018 midterm elections.

The DCCC supported candidates in the 11th CD in the past, some not the best choices on the local level. This year the DCCC jumped the gun by its early first and second round Red to Blue program, intervening in a top-down fashion. The DCCC states that "Inclusion in the Red to Blue list helps candidates stand out to donors. The congressional hopefuls also benefit from guidance and staff resources from the DCCC."

Further, Mr. Chairman, as you have said, "Candidates are our best asset, and we will continue to do everything possible to help them build strong campaign infrastructures, energize the grass-roots, and raise the resources needed to spread their message."

The DCCC's intentions are well-meaning, but the problem is one of timing; you have not allowed the democratic grass-roots process to be expressed on the local level. You have not taken into consideration that so much enthusiasm and energy has been focused on this seat by so many local candidates. Ideas, policies, platforms and specification of qualifications in the search for the best and most-qualified candidate have been compromised as a result. The DCCC's premature endorsement of one candidate has taken much of the oxygen out of the room. This is seen by Democratic and Independent voters as a fait accompli, a decision taken outside the District in an undemocratic fashion.

We are not against any candidate, but rather, we protest the process and timing by which the DCCC has pronounced its judgment from above, instead of allowing input from New York's 11th CD. The procedure you have followed has the effect of dampening enthusiasm for the selection of candidates by the local electorate.

We know your decision has already been taken and won't be reversed by our expression of displeasure. However, we demand that, in the future, the DCCC not pre-emptively attempt to determine the outcome of our local democratic electoral process. The end does not justify the means!

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Who's Sad Trump Is Sparking A Devastating Civil War Among GOP Candidates?


How loyal a Republican candidate is to Señor Trumpanzee is now being treated as a determining factor by many. Awesome-- for Democrats. At a time when Republicans who embrace Trump top strongly risk losing independent voters or risk losing Trumpists by shunning him, the party is further splintering. As the Washington Post reported a few days ago, Michigan's far right gubernatorial candidate, Attorney General Bill Schuette, is running the TV ad above that starts and ends with Trump's endorsement. (In between is nonsense about the policies of the last Democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm, who was replaced by Republican Rick Snyder in 2011.) Schuette's other ad on TV right now just flat-out attacks his Republican primary opponent, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, claiming he "deserted Donald Trump, helping Hillary Clinton's campaign." Watch:

James Hohmann wrote that "Fealty to Trump has become more of a litmus test than ever for Republicans. Emboldened by private polling and focus groups that show the president is incredibly popular with the base, GOP candidates are stepping up attacks on their rivals over any daylight they’ve shown with Trump, even if it stemmed from his personal conduct toward women or apostasy on traditional conservative orthodoxy. It’s another illustration of the degree to which Trumpism has come to define the Republican Party. This is no longer the party of Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush. It’s the party of Donald J. Trump." The Trumpists are attacking... everywhere. The battle between Scalise (LA) and McCarthy (CA) to succeed Ryan is already seeing each claim-- quietly-- that he is Trumpier than the other.

Meanwhile, Ohio's Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate, Mary Taylor, is being sliced and diced by extremist Mike DeWine because she isn't Trumpy enough. His allies are attacking Kasich and Taylor. Though Kasich is far more popular among Ohio voters than Trump, a mailer from a DeWine cutout group, Ohio Conservatives For A Change, claims "We stopped John Kasich short of the White House. Now we must stop Mary Taylor short of the governor’s office." The primary is May 8. Taylor is being castigated for supporting Kasich over Trump in the 2016 Republican primary. It might be worth noting two things: DeWine also endorsed Kasich's presidential bid during the primary and that these were the results of that Republican primary:

Kasich- 956,762 (46.8%)
Trump- 727,586 (35.6%)
Cruz- 267,592 (13.1%)
Rubio-59,418 (2.9%)
Current polling shows Kasich with a 54% approval rating, compared with 41% for Trump. (Kasich's disapproval is just 31% while TRump's is 20 points higher-- 51%.) The problem, though, is that among Republicans only Kasich's approval is 55% (said as his approval among independents) while Trump's approval is 75% among Republicans (and just 39% among independents). That same poll shows DeWine eviscerating Taylor 50-18% one even among independents who plan to vote in the GOP primary, DeWine is ahead 43-33%.

This can only help the Democrat

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Since both Passover and Easter are being observed this weekend, I offer this meme which illustrates the difference between Republican God and the other guy, or is it gal? Oh hell, I don't know. As far as I'm concerned, God must just be the Royal Galactic Emperor of Practical Jokes, very sick jokes at that. In my personal religion, that explains just about everything.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

A Synonym For American Conservatism: Hypocrisy


AKA- Reverend Bukaki

The Southern Baptist Convention is made up of between 45,000 and 50,000 Baptist churches in the U.S.-- something like 15 million people. Heading it since 2010 has been stark-raving mad bigot, Frank Page, someone completing obsessed with homosexuality. He resigned Monday, trying to slither away unnoticed, and re-resigned Tuesday with this statement:
It is with deep regret that I tender my resignation from the SBC Executive Committee and announce my retirement from active ministry, effective immediately. As a result of a personal failing, I have embarrassed my family, my Lord, myself, and the Kingdom. Out of a desire to protect my family and those I have hurt, I initially announced my retirement earlier today without a complete explanation. However, after further wrestling with my personal indiscretion, it became apparent to me that this situation must be acknowledged in a more forthright manner. It is my most earnest desire in the days to come to rebuild the fabric of trust with my wife and daughters, those who know me best and love me most.
Page, a married man with two daughters, spent every day of the last decade thinking about penises. He refuses to define his "personal failing" or the "morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past" he has admitted. Everyone who knows him is wondering if he was more into sucking or being sucked, anally penetrating men or being penetrated by them... or even if the men he was having sex with were underaged boys. After all, he went to Gardner-Webb "University" in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, where that's kind of standard.

Page is best known for insisting that the New Heart Community Church be kicked out of the Southern Baptist Convention because its pastor, Danny Cortez, had announced that he had changed his views on the acceptance of homosexuals in the congregation. At the time, he insisted that New Heart's "failure to condemn homosexuality breaks the heart of God."

While he was president of the SBC he was always blabbering about clergy sex abuse scandals and once told an ABC News reporter that "even one instance of sexual abuse by a minister is too much." At the first annual SBC meeting be presided over that adopted these resolutions:
RESOLVED, That we strongly recommend that Southern Baptist churches and Convention entities respond to any suspicions or allegations of child abuse in a timely and forthright manner; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptist churches and Convention entities to exercise moral stewardship by observing responsible employment practices, including performing criminal background checks on all ministers, employees, and volunteers; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we renounce individuals who commit heinous acts against children; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we renounce individuals, churches, or other religious bodies that cover up, ignore, or otherwise contribute to or condone the abuse of children; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we pray for righteousness and justice to prevail in our land and intercede on behalf of victimized children, asking God to heal their deep emotional and physical wounds, grow them into mature and healthy adults, and stop the cycle of abuse from repeating itself in another generation.

Another sad hypocrite this week: Ann Coulter, who has been spending a lot of time publicly denigrating her old love object, Baal Señor Trumpanzee. How could she have been taken by surprise?
She’s still so bitter, but it’s not like she wasn’t warned.


Ann Coulter, the author of In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome! has been having near daily hissy fits over Trump’s broken campaign promises.

In a piece in the Daily Beast today, Coulter is no less rankled, but she’s not making herself look better, either.

Coulter took part in a debate with neoliberal blogger Mickey Kaus, and said openly what some friends say she’d been saying privately for Trump’s entire first year.
“I knew he was a shallow, lazy ignoramus, and I didn’t care,” Coulter admitted to an audience largely composed of College Republicans and a few hecklers at Columbia University on Tuesday night.

“It kind of breaks my heart,” Coulter acknowledged of her disappointment with the president, and she recounted a profanity-laced shouting match she had with Trump in the Oval Office last year over what she saw as his lackluster follow-through on immigration policy. “He’s not giving us what he promised at every single campaign stop.”
If you didn’t care, why are you complaining now? Others could have (and did) told you he was full of it.
Coulter said she regrets nothing. "I’d do the exact same thing. I’d write the exact same book, with the exact same title. We had 16 lunatics being chased by men with nets running for president-- and Trump. So of course I had to be pedal-to-the-metal for Donald Trump. I’d been waiting 30 years for someone to say all these things."

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Five Tips For Your Campaign Website


Enhance your website with something that will help you create a memorable brand

An old pal of the blog, Eric Hogensen, is a campaign professional, currently freezing his ass off in Wisconsin while working in Matt Flynn's gubernatorial campaign. He has 5 tips to offer for candidates-- at any level-- who want to make a successful campaign website, calling it a "great way to interact with voters and allow them to research your positions" and cautions that "there are many things to keep in mind when designing your website." Key phrase there: "allow them to research your positions." The DCCC suggests to their candidates to not include controversial positions and to keep issues pages either entirely off a campaign website or to keep the issues as vanilla as possible. That's why the DCCC keeps losing elections and why there are dozens and dozens of fewer Democrats in Congress today than there were in 2008, just one decade ago. Eric is way, way too polite to say it, but rule number 1 for all campaign websites should always be: ignore the DCCC. They're the biggest losers in politics and they can only win races in wave cycles.
1. Take advantage of modern website creators:

Gone are the days when you need a dedicated web designer to create the perfect page for you. There are numerous places that make website creation simple and easy, like Squarespace and Wix. Do some basic research and find a provider and site that works for you.

2. Keep it simple:

As with most things in campaigns, it is easy to get carried away with all the bells and whistles that come with the modern website creators. Your website needs to allow voters to learn about you, contact you, and support you. A simple and clean design achieves those purposes.

3. Make sure your domain is easy to type:

Once again simplicity is the key here. If you plan on putting your URL on a palm card or piece of mail, make sure it is easy to read and type in. Voters aren’t going to spend extra time if they are struggling to type in a long, confusing URL.

4. Make it easy to find anything:

If a voter wants to find something out about you, your website is a place they will often look. Don’t make it difficult for them to find something. This is doubly true for contributions. You should always be able to get to the donation part of your site with one click from anywhere on the site.

5. This is your chance to use details, don’t abuse it:

Your website is the one place where you can spell out details in their full glory. The problem is many candidates forget is the rule of being concise. Make good use of the phrase “click to read more.” You want to make it easy and simple to read about any issues, and then give people the option to read the detailed plan.


Supreme Court Asks "How Much Gerrymandering Is Too Much Gerrymandering?"


Leaving alone state legislatures, the most corruptely gerrymandered states in the Union are North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, Ohio, Maryland, Kentucky, Louisiana, Virginia, Illinois, Utah, West Virginia, Michigan and Arkansas. Pennsylvania would be in there if the state Supreme Court hadn't put a stop to it and redrawn the congressional districts. The state legislative districts are still a joke that should be addressed.

Ohio, for example, is a 50/50 state that Obama won in 2012 and Trump won in 2016. There's a Democratic senator and a Republican senator. In theory, the state's 16 congressional seats should yield 8 Republicans and 8 Democrats. But the magic gerrymandering gives Congress 12 Republicans and just 4 Democrats. Neither Steve Chabot's Cincinnati seat more Bob Latta's seat in the northwest corner of the state is a legitimate district and both should be Democratic districts except for extreme partisan gerrymandering by the legislature. North Carolina is worse. Obama won it once and lost it once-- both times very narrowly and the state has a Democratic governor. Yet the Republican legislature managed to create a map that yields 10 Republican seats and just 3 Democratic seats instead of 7 Republican seats and 6 Democratic seats. There's no way George Holding, Richard Hudson and Todd Budd should be congressmen. Their districts are absurdly contrived.

On Wednesday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case in which Republicans are bitching about the unfair Democrats in Maryland.
Republicans who sued to overturn the congressional district lines that Maryland implemented after the 2010 census map found allies in the court’s four liberal justices, who expressed sympathy for their claims during oral arguments.

What’s less clear is whether those four can recruit another justice to their side-- the most likely targets would be Chief Justice John Roberts or Justice Anthony Kennedy, typically the high court’s swing vote on election law cases. Both asked tough questions, but neither tipped his hand.

At issue was Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, represented for 20 years by a Republican. After the 2010 census, Democrats in the state legislature and the then-Democratic governor redrew the district lines to move large numbers of Democratic voters into the district. Democratic Rep. John Delaney won the seat in 2012 and was reelected twice after.

A ruling against the map could fundamentally alter the redistricting process in the 37 states where the legislature draws the lines, limiting the parties’ ability to create maps to their advantage. But even if the court strikes down the map, the justices on Wednesday made clear they are still wrestling with whether the case could result in clear guidelines for partisan gerrymandering in the future.

Justice Elena Kagan said the court doesn’t need to dictate firm standards for redistricting to know that “this case is too much”-- in other words, that Maryland’s map goes too far in partisan gerrymandering. She pointed to statements from then-Gov. Martin O’Malley and other Democrats that the sole purpose in drawing the districts the way they were configured was to increase the party’s advantage in the congressional delegation.

“From the governor to Congressman [Steny] Hoyer, people were very clear about what they were trying to do here, which is to create another Democratic district,” said Kagan.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor agreed. Questioning Maryland Solicitor General Steven Sullivan, she said the Republican plaintiffs had presented “some pretty damning” evidence to suggest lawmakers were driven by politics.

“You have your own governor saying that he felt ‘duty-bound’ to make sure that his party won,” she said.

And Justice Stephen Breyer said the map “seems like a pretty clear violation of the Constitution-- in some form.” He asked whether there was “a practical remedy” for fixing it but suggested the court should do something about what he repeatedly called “extreme gerrymandering.”

The court’s conservative justices, on the other hand, appeared unwilling to strike down the Maryland map.

“I really don’t see how any legislature will ever be able to redistrict” if the Republican plaintiffs are successful, Justice Samuel Alito told Michael Kimberly, the plaintiffs’ attorney. “This court said time and again that you can’t take all partisan advantage out of redistricting.”

And Justice Neil Gorsuch pointed out during the hourlong hearing that Maryland voters approved the map in a referendum at the ballot box. Ballot Question 5 in 2012 passed with more than 64 percent of the vote.
So what's Gorsuch's problem? A related case, Gill v. Whitford-- Wisconsin, another 50/50 swing state that Obama won twice and Trump won (narrowly). But... gerrymandered up so badly the Republicans lost the statewide legislative elections but still won almost two-thirds of the districts! A lower court has already struck down the map that Wisconsin Republicans had devised to maximize their control of the state. That case is just hanging with no clear settlement.
The Maryland challengers object to only one district's design, while the Wisconsin challengers object to the whole state's redistricting. That said, drawing new lines for one district would, of necessity, have ripple effects, changing the lines in others.

Another difference is the major legal argument. The Wisconsin challengers argue that extreme gerrymandering deprived Democratic Party voters of the equal protection of the law guaranteed by the Constitution, while the Maryland challengers contend that the gerrymander there deprives Republicans of their First Amendment rights by making their speech, their votes, less valuable. But each of these arguments feeds into the other. And statistical analyses suggest that each argument, if adopted, would produce pretty much the same results.

The First Amendment argument, however, appeals, in particular, to the justice whose vote is likely to decide the case, Justice Anthony Kennedy. In 2004, he provided the fifth vote for the court staying out of partisan gerrymandering cases, but he made it clear that he remained open to finding a way to measure what is unconstitutional gerrymandering based on party, and he specifically mentioned the First Amendment notion that government action cannot punish people based on partisan affiliation.

Election expert Rick Hasen, of the University of California, Irvine, said that Justice Kennedy, 81, knows he will not be on the court forever.

"It's put-up-or-shut-up time," Hasen said. "Either he's going to say, 'We've got to start policing this' or he has to recognize that what is going to happen in the next round in 2020 is going to look a lot worse than in this round, that it's going to be no-holds-barred, squeeze out whatever you can, in favor of your party and against the other party."

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Do You Look Forward To Opening Campaign E-Mails?


Alan Grayson's e-mails are legendary because they say something worth taking a few minutes to read. No one likes being bombarded with pointless spam-- like "we're almost there" or "the sky is falling," or whatever pointless bullshit the DCCC tells candidates to use. And at the end of the FEC quarters, it's just horrific, since most candidates share their lists with crooked operations-- like EMILY's List, End Citizens United and the DCCC who sell the names to every candidate they can find, making sure everyone is flooded with garbage e-mail from the worst candidates, like Ann Kirkpatrick, who literally sends a policy-free e-mail begging for money every single day. This was today's idiotic, witless spam:

Does anyone still fall for the "all contributions will be doubled" scam?

On the other hand, there are a few candidates, usually progressives who follow the examples of Bernie Sanders and Alan Grayson and do not send out crap e-mails. Here's an example of the difference, the polar opposite of EMILY's List/DCCC/New Dem candidate Ann Kirkpatrick. Compare her typical e-mail above to the one Paul Clements send out at the same time.
The American healthcare system is badly broken. A new report from Senator Claire McCaskill shows that the prices of the top-20 most prescribed drugs have each increased an average of 12 percent each year over the past five years-- nearly 10 times the rate of inflation.

Our pharma costs are so convoluted and dangerous to the public that the Financial Times launched an investigation into the January death of a Texas teacher who died of the flu after leaving the pharmacy when she couldn’t afford a $116 co-pay. FT found that if she’d used a coupon and paid cash, Heather Holland would have paid just $51.94-- insurance, in the convoluted pricing schemes favored by insurers and pharma, made her medication cost even more than the full cash price.

Our drug pricing system is predatory and destructive. Why isn’t Congress acting?

It’s money. Pharma’s lobbying efforts are vast, and its contributions large-- my opponent, Fred Upton, is one of the top Congressional recipients of pharma cash - $1.44 million in the past 20 years. Upton and his Republican allies are using their power to protect the industry. Since Trump and the GOP Congress took control, no pharma CEO has been forced to testify before Congress. When STAT asked Upton, former chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee (where in 2015 he helped Rep. Tom Marino pass legislation easing DEA enforcement against suspected black market opioid shipments) about a chair’s power, he said, “As chair, you can do just about anything you want.”

Since Republicans refuse to act on pharma greed, we must make them answer at the ballot box.

Your support today will help me fight for fair drug pricing and against Big Pharma greed. If you've saved your payment information with ActBlue Express, your donation will go through immediately:

In Congress, I will act to ensure that Americans pay drug prices no higher than those in Canada and negotiated by the VA. I will stand up for single-payer Medicare-for-All to ensure that fewer of our neighbors suffer and die because they cannot afford care.

In so many ways, this is a life-and-death election. As always, I am grateful for your support.
Goal ThermometerThe difference is palpable, but the DCCC tells its pathetic and generally dishonest candidates to send out crap like Kirkpatrick's nonsense and to never send out policy-laden emails like the one Clements sent. Especially at a time like this, at the end of the quarter, it's worth rewarding candidates treating us like adults and giving us something of substance to read, instead of the raw sewage we get pouring out of desperate and useless careerist candidates like Kirkpatrick. Please consider chipping in to Paul's campaign by clicking on the Blue America congressional thermometer on the right. I'm proud to say that most of the Blue America candidates send out the intelligent e-mails, not the useless, embarrassing kind the DCCC encourages their candidates to flood our e-mail boxes with.

Another way to reach voters-- and contributors-- is to just send an especially compelling video. If a candidate's got the goods, a great video can really do wonders. A video sure launched Randy Bryce's campaign. Now we're in the middle of a viral explosion on social media for this Kaniela Ing video. Watch it and listen to what he has to say-- and remember, the population of Hawaii is less than a million and a half people and Kaniela's district is about half that. Yet this video has been viewed by over 7 million people:

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Now, Why Oh Why Would Schumer Refer To Congressional Democrats As "Namby Pamby?"


New Dems are taking over the Democratic Party and moving it right

One of the Blue America candidates was told by the DCCC that they would consider backing his campaign if he joined the Blue Dogs. He told them he's joining the Congressional Progressive Caucus because his policy agenda and their policy agenda are in synch and because he doesn't agree with the Blue Dogs' reactionary approach. The DCCC didn't endorse him. In the last couple of days a couple of Blue America-backed candidates applied for and received the endorsement of the New Dems, the heart of the Republican-wing of the Democratic Party, which caused us to reassess our relationship with them. It also caused me to sharpen my argument about why joining the New Dems was incompatible with a progressive approach to governance. Basically, the New Dems represent special interests-- especially Wall Street special interests-- and not the legitimate aspirations of working families.

A good real life example is expected to play out in Congress over the next week or two, when Ryan has the House take up a banking deregulation bill passed by the U.S. Senate two weeks ago (with the help of way too many conservative Democrats who take Wall Street bribes). The legislation would roll back many reforms created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that were designed to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial meltdown. The Senate Democrats who voted with the GOP for this earned themselves a new caucus-- the Bailout Caucus. The bill guarantees more taxpayer-funded bailouts and fails to protect American consumers from a litany of financial abuses and exploitation schemes. Public Citizen has been doing great work in explaining the threat of what this bill will do once Trump signs it:
Exempt 25 of the nation’s largest banks from needed regulatory oversight;
Allow banks to engage in the kind of risky behavior that caused the 2008 financial crash;
Enable more predatory lending to homebuyers;
Immunize Equifax from lawsuits to hold the credit reporting agency accountable;
Reduce the reporting of racial discrimination in mortgage lending; and
Make taxpayer-funded bailouts more likely.
Joining the Republicans to pass this kind of thing is the heart and soul of what the Wall Street-owned and operated New Dems is all about. And as I explained to a member of Congress yesterday, just about every single Blue Dog is also a member of the New Dem Coalition. These are the candidates the New Dems are backing so far this year:
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ)
Greg Stanton (AZ)
Dave Min (CA)
Josh Harder (CA)
Katie Hill (CA)
Hans Keirstead (CA)
Harley Rouda (CA)
Josh Butler (CA)
Jason Crow (CO)
Lauren Baer (FL)
Nancy Soderberg (FL)
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL)
Mel Hall (IN)
Sean Casten (IL)
Brendan Kelly (IL)
Paul Davis (KS)
Elissa Slotkin (MI)
Dean Phillips (MN)
Angie Craig (MN)
Kathy Manning (NC)
Dan McCready (NC)
Brad Ashford (NE)
Jeff Van Drew (NJ)
Tom Malinowski (NJ)
Mikie Sherrill (NJ)
Max Rose (NY)
Anthony Brindisi (NY)
Susie Lee (NV)
Chrissy Houlahan (PA)
Archie Parnell (SC)
Jana Lynn Sanchez (TX)
Lizzie Fletcher
Ben McAdams (UT)
Elaine Luria (VA)
Abigail Spanberger (VA)
RD Huffstetler (VA)
Lisa Brown (WA)
Dan Kohl (WI)
The conservative Democrats whose names are boldened also applied for and received the endorsement of the Blue Dogs. Several of these candidates are also NRA-Dems, who stand with the gun lobbyists in opposition to banning the manufacture and sale of semi-automatic military-style weapons. But these are the candidates who will give the Republicans an operating majority, at least on financial legislation even after "the Democrats" manage to take back the House in November. Jacquie does the Blue America Facebook page and she put this up a day or two ago:

She was basing it Charlie May's piece at Salon from last summer, Blue Dogs plot a comeback in Congress just as Democrats push a more populist “Better Deal” plan. "The Democrats." he wrote, "are working on a new identity, but the conservative Blue Dog Coalition is looking to gain power." The New Dems are far more of a threat since most people don't know who they are yet.

Schumer, he wrote, admitted that congressional Democrats are "too namby-pamby" and noted in a NY Times OpEd that "Americans are clamoring for bold changes to our politics and our economy. They feel, rightfully, that both systems are rigged against them, and they made that clear in last year’s election. The wealthiest special interests can spend an unlimited, undisclosed amount of money to influence elections and protect their special deals in Washington. As a result, our system favors short-term gains for shareholders instead of long-term benefits for workers. Democrats have too often hesitated from taking on those misguided policies directly and unflinchingly-- so much so that many Americans don’t know what we stand for. Not after today. Democrats will show the country that we’re the party on the side of working people-- and that we stand for three simple things." Nambily-pambily, he called for increased pay, a reduction of everyday expenses and increased resources "to provide workers with the tools they need for the 21st-century economy." Meanwhile a few months later, he was conspiring with 17 senators, listed on the right, to tank Dodd-Frank.
The Democrats seem to be looking to embrace factions of the party that staunchly support ideas championed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT)...

But it will be hard for voters to take the Democrats seriously, especially if they give rise to a smaller faction of the party that has dwindled over the years. The Blue Dog Coalition is a "group of moderate and conservative Democrats," according to Politico, and they are planning a comeback:
And with Democrats eager to woo the white working-class voters who flocked to [President Donald] Trump, the coalition is prodding party leaders to support Blue Dog-backed candidates, saying that’s the key to taking back the House in 2018. It’s a push that is quickly running into conflict with the party’s energized left flank.
"The DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] recognizes that the path to the majority is through the Blue Dogs,” Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) chairwoman of the Blue Dog PAC, said, according to Politico. "For the first time since I’ve been in Congress, the DCCC has partnered with the Blue Dog Coalition so that we’re recruiting candidates who fit districts that we need to win to take back the majority," she continued. "We are able to convince folks who normally wouldn’t vote for a Democrat to vote for this Democrat.

"Blue Dog Democrats stand for "a mix of fiscal responsibility, strong support for defense and some conservative social views shunned by the left wing of the caucus, say it’s not just their message they think will appeal to many Trump-aligned voters," Politico reported. Leaders of the Blue Dogs have already "met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other top Trump aides on tax reform. Last week, the Blue Dogs sat down with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue," Politico reported.

However, some Democrats have spoken out against the Blue Dogs and said that their strategy isn't a recipe for successful elections.

"I don’t think Blue Dog politics are necessarily winning politics everywhere," Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) notable progressive and deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said, according to Politico. "I just don’t buy the premise that being on the right side of the Democratic Party makes you more advantageous, more attractive to voters, than being on the left side of the Democratic Party."
Last time the Democrats got swept into power in a wave election (2006), Rahm Emanuel was DCCC chair and, like Ben Ray Lujan today, he crushed the aspiration of progressive candidates and managed to put dozens of Blue Dogs and New Dems (many of them independently wealthy, stinking of corruption and several so-called "ex"-Republicans) in as the Democratic nominees. They benefitted from the anti-Bush wave and wound up in Congress (as did a handful of progressives who Rahm failed to defeat). Today, many of the progressives are still serving in Congress but NONE of Rahm's candidates are still in the House. Almost all spent their time in Congress voting with the Republicans and letting down Democratic voters who had been tricked into backing them. Almost all were defeated in the in the next midterm, when the GOP tanked the Democratic Party leading to the catastrophic situation we have in Congress today. Lujan, the stupidest man to ever run the DCCC-- thanks Nancy-- is literally trying to replicate Rahm's formula: creating a "nambier-pambier" congressional majority this November that will disappoint grassroots Democrats in 2019 and be swept out of power in the 2022 midterms. Advice: don't support any Blue Dogs or New Dems, at least not in the primaries.

On Wednesday, Thomas Hoenig, the outgoing vice chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) warned greed-obsessed New Dems against voting like Republicans to tamper with Dodd Frank in ways that will lessen the stability of banks if another crisis hits. "Too big to fail is getting more and more pronounced. You cannot have the footprint of these institutions and expect that you’re going to have one of them fail without catastrophe... Memories are short and with an improving economy, these laws and regulations-- which early in the recovery are viewed as essential-- are eventually recast as burdensome constraints that need to be eased or ended. The Volcker Rule should continue to apply to all banks that benefit from deposit insurance... Custody banks are integral to the financial system, highly interconnected to the capital markets, and relied upon as safe havens in times of stress. These trusted custodians must remain pillars of strength and should be retaining capital, not reducing it."

So, which House Democrats have accepted the biggest bribes from the banksters so far this year? The 3 top are crooked New Dems who are willing-- eager-- to help the GOP destroy Dodd-Frank on behalf;f of the criminal banksters who finance their careers:
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ)- $1,144,251
Josh Gottheimer (NJ)- $869,074
Joe Crowley (NY)- $726,037

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) has achieved 100% asshole status. Let's not rush to congratulate him, though. After all, being a Republican, he started out being 85% there to begin with. All he had to do was express his true inner self a little more to achieve his dream.

Appearing on CNN's State Of The Union on Sunday, Santorum, freaked out about the reality of 1,000,000 (mostly young) people participating in the March For Our Lives actions the day before, pretty much expressed the general attitude towards student daring to oppose being shot in their classrooms that is fashionable among Republicans when he said

How about kids, instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations that when there is a violent shooter that you an actually respond to that.
Notice that in Santorum's incredibly sick mind, the gun violence in schools is "their problem." To Republicans, it is not our problem as a nation, just theirs. This is Republican Condescension 101. I also can't help but notice that, although Santorum obviously aced his condescension course, he skipped his English classes. He therefore never learned about syntax or how to compose a coherent sentence. Nevertheless, his disturbing thoughts came through loud and clear. Oh, and how about the concept of a "violent shooter" in a school; as opposed to a non-violent shooter in a school, I presume.

Damn! Where do they get such dumbass arrogant people? The lowest of the low make it all the way to the U.S. Senate. Says a lot about Pennsylvania's idiot voters. Fuck you Rick Santorum. How about you learn something about human decency, and fuck you for now claiming you either didn't say what you said, or, "misspoke." I suppose what you were shown saying on live television was one more case of "fake news." Take your "Mr. Rogers as a psychotic act" and shove it up your ass where your head already resides.

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Why Can't Trumpanzee Find A Decent Lawyer?


A friend of mine, a top-notch, national prominent attorney, once had a law partner who had, earlier in his life, represented a particularly troublesome client, someone who has lately risen in life from a two-bit crooked real estate developer to occupant of the Oval Office. Yes, Señor Trumpanzee. He told my friend that representing him was the worst thing, professionally, he had ever done. Aside from having a problem with collecting his fees, there was something even worse. They would be driving to court in the morning and the lawyer would say to Señor T, "Whatever you do, do not say "XYZ" to the judge or we'll be sunk. So Señor T is sworn in and the judge asks him to state his name. Señor T says, "Let's cut the crap and get right to the issue at hand: 'XYZ.'"

I didn't even know Craig's List still exists but it does-- and someone sent me this link yesterday.

This is a real ad, running now... aimed at the-- for lack of a better way to put it-- "president" of the United States of America, a position previously held by Barack Obama and, before that, men like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt. On Wednesday, CNN seemed stunned that Trump can't find a good lawyer, virtually all the top firms having turned him down. What a shame, Trump's old pal and mentor, Roy Cohn, is rotting in hell!
Well-known Washington lawyers cited several reasons for declining the President in recent weeks, according to multiple sources familiar with their decisions. Among them, Trump appears to be a difficult client and has rebuked some of his lawyers' advice. He's perceived as so politically unpopular he may damage reputations rather than boost them. Lawyers at large firms fear backlash from their corporate clients if they were to represent the President. And many want to steer clear of conflicts of interest that could complicate their other obligations.

"With a figure who is as polarizing as the President, it makes the decision about whether to represent him a more difficult one," said Philip West, chairman of large Washington law firm Steptoe & Johnson. The firm was among several to decline to represent Trump last year. "Any large law firm has clients that have very strong feelings."

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