Friday, May 31, 2019

The Story Can Now Be Told: Cheri Bustos Is The Creature With The Atom Brain


Two-headed dog, two-headed dog, I've been working in the Kremlin with a two-headed dog

Good essay this week by Sean McElwee and Tory Gavito for GQ-- The Democratic Party Is Waging a War Against Its Very Own Base. Essentially, their theme is that the tent is too damn big and there are too many Blue Dogs and New Dems in it befouling the core Democratic brand and confusing voters who try to understand what the Democratic Party stands for and what values it holds dear.

Yesterday another dozen innocent Americans were randomly gunned down by some NRA crackpot in Virginia Beach. Last cycle the NRA and other pro-gun groups spent $4,261,760 bribing congressional candidates. Most of those bribes went to Republicans, of course. But not all. There used to be dozens of Democrats taking sewer money from the gun merchants and their lobbyists; in 2018 there are just 13-- 4 in the Senate (2 of whom, Heitkamp and Donnelly, were defeated) and 9 in the House. These are the House members sucking up the blood money, from worst to slightly less terrible:
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)
Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)
Vicente Gonzalez (Blue Dog-TX)
Jefferson Van Drew (Blue Dog-NJ)
Jason Crow (New Dem-CO)
Colin Allred (New Dem-TX)
McElwee and Gavito began by noting that "At a critical juncture before the 2020 elections, the leadership of the Democratic Party is, perplexingly, abandoning key constituencies of its base, including young people, women, and people of color, as well as the policies that fire them up. In chasing a narrow swath of white swing voters, the leadership has ignored a broader coalition of voters who have delivered blue victories time and time again. Not only that-- at times, it’s actively antagonizing them."
Even though the multiracial coalition that re-elected Obama in 2012 and stayed home in 2016 was large enough to change the outcome of the election, the Democratic leadership has focused on voters who swung from Barack Obama to Donald Trump. Party leaders have also taken to kneecapping up-and-coming progressives. Earlier this year, the DCCC-- the party’s House campaigns arm-- announced that it will blacklist firms that work with primary challengers, despite their delivering exciting new talent, reflective of its base, like congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.

Goal ThermometerThis has led them to positions at odds with the values of the Democratic electorate. In the very same week that Alabama passed a full-fledged abortion ban, in what appears to be a coordinated, Republican-led attack on women’s reproductive rights in several states, DCCC chairwoman Cheri Bustos planned a fundraiser for Illinois congressman Dan Lipinski, an anti-choice, anti-LGBT Democrat who opposed the Affordable Care Act and refused to endorse President Barack Obama in 2012. In his safe blue district, he faces a primary challenge from mainstream, pro-choice progressive Marie Newman, who lost many of her consultants after the DCCC announced its blacklist.

The backlash against the fundraiser for Lipinski-- who supports abortion bans—was, predictably, swift and furious. Facing pressure, Bustos dropped out of it, but she had already signaled to the base that she valued incumbency over protecting a woman’s right to choose from the onslaught of right-wing attacks.

Bustos also made it clear that she sees the path to victory for Democrats in white swing voters, rather than in mobilizing the base of young voters and voters of color. She, along with other members in leadership like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer routinely undermine their colleagues' bold initiatives, such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal (though this may also be related to their acceptance of fossil-fuel industry donations), despite the popularity of these policies among Democratic voters. Leadership routinely says that they have to hold the “center” and “mainstream.”

Data for Progress, a think tank that studies public opinion and voter file data, analyzed the path forward for the Democratic Party, and the party could make big gains by a strategy that mobilizes progressives, rather than continuously undermining their base.

This orientation toward the middle instead of values and vision is demobilizing... The results of demobilization are devastating. As the chart below shows, in four key states in 2016, there were more progressives who voted in 2012 and then stayed home in 2016 than the margin of victory in each state. Many of these voters are young people of color.

The valuation of white moderate voters-- and so-called "electability"-- —over growing and reliable constituencies seems to have led the party to abandon areas where it could have won. The establishment's hostility toward the Democratic base is not new. This tension was starkly represented by Bill Clinton’s third-way centrism, with legislation like the 1994 crime bill and financial deregulation. And despite that model’s defeat in key 2016 states, its adherents, like Joe Biden, continue to push it as the sole way forward. Biden’s campaign is based around the thesis that good old boys can sit down over beers and pass comprehensive climate legislation. It’s more absurd than anything the left has proposed.

The party’s neglect of the Democratic base is reflected in the rhetoric and strategy that it employs in determining its geographic investments, too. Democrats continue to ignore the south and southwestern states, underinvesting in places where demographics are actually the most advantageous. Take Texas. Ignoring Texas’s 38 electoral votes, especially after Democrat senate candidate Beto O'Rourke lost by a mere 2 points, in 2018, is an old-world view. Democrats lost Texas in 2018 by 200,000 votes in a state with more than 6 million eligible voters—people of color and young people-- not voting concentrated in major cities. Texas is changing and Democrats can take it, if they have the imagination and the will to follow the data.

Instead, they look at past battles lost in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. They argue that these are the important states on the path to 270 electoral college votes, insinuating that these populations are moderate and white. But even in the northern states, Democrats don’t get the base math right.

In Michigan, Democrats lost by 10,704 votes while over 4 million voters, counting both eligible registered Democratic and unregistered voters, were up for grabs. In 2016, Democrats failed to recognize that the turf in Michigan no longer looked like it did when Bill Clinton ran his 1996 reelection campaign, setting up field operations in neighborhoods that no longer existed. Consider the following data demonstrating that a multiracial coalition continues to be ignored by campaigns in traditional presidential battleground states, based on Data for Progress analysis of the Cooperative Congressional Election Studies 2016 survey.

In contrast, when Democrats mobilize their base, they win. There is GA-06, which middle-of-the-road Jon Ossoff lost; congresswoman Lucy McBath won there by running a campaign on the issue of gun safety and embracing the new electorate. Or in TX-32, where congressman Colin Allred focused on mobilizing young people and people of color in addition to making the case for his values in the Dallas area, flipping his district for the first time in 15 years.

Stacey Abrams’s gubernatorial campaign in Georgia was an explicit attempt to expand the electorate. That strategy succeeded in bringing a Democrat the closest to victory in a Georgia gubernatorial race since 1998. But the campaign wasn’t starting from scratch. Abrams founded the New Georgia Project in 2014 with the explicit intention of mobilizing the black electorate in Georgia. That long-term work focused on the base will pay off.

Mobilizing the Democratic party base means standing up for progressive values, principles, and policies-- and reaching out to the people it claims to represent. In the Data for Progress and YouGov Blue “What The Hell Happened” survey, we found overwhelming support among 2018 voters for policies like Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and free college. And, in a recent report, Pew found that Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z, turning 18 this cycle, are now a bigger voting block than Clinton’s cohort of boomers and older generations-- together they outvoted older generations in the 2018 midterm elections.

The idea that the party needs to focus on the so-called center simply isn’t supported by data. The path forward for the Democratic Party is investing in the electorate of the future, not trying to win a smaller proportion of white voters that voted for Trump. This strategy will pay dividends for decades. Without a sharp pivot, Democrats risk again losing an entire generation of future Democrats who are disengaged and increasingly skeptical of the American political system.
Yes, Cheri Bustos is and has always been... The Evil One. I released that album-- and I know! I've always known. Rest In Peace, Roky, rest in peace... we'll beat those fuckers one day:

Labels: , , , , ,

Is There Such A Thing As A Tent That's Too Big?


Gov. John Bel Edwards (D)-- The DNC will spend any money you send them to save him

"I call on the overwhelming bipartisan majority of legislators who voted for it to join me in continuing to build a better Louisiana," wrote Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards just before he signed one of the country's most draconian anti-Choice bills, "that cares for the least among us and provides more opportunity for everyone." Edwards ran as a Democrat. With his signature on the bill yesterday, Edwards helped the GOP with their pledge to get Roe v Wade overturned by the Trumpist Supreme Court. And now they can say it was "bipartisan." Louisiana is one of several states-- Alabama, Missouri, Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi-- to pass extreme and unconstitutional anti-Choice legislation this year... but the only one with a Democratic governor.

Edwards was not a reluctant supporter of the bill either. In his own words: "My position hasn’t changed: In eight years in the Legislature, I was a pro-life legislator, 100 percent with the Louisiana Right to Life. When I ran for governor, I said that I was pro-life, and so that’s something that’s consistent."

Under this law, which contains no exceptions for rape or incest, a doctor who performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected-- say 6 weeks-- could face two years in prison and lose his or her medical license. Edwards is up for reelection in November and he must be wondering how much of his Democratic base will desert him. In 2015-- when he ran against crook and pervert David Vitter (R)-- Edwards couldn't have asked for a better opponent. He beat Vitter 646,924 (56.1%) to 505,940 (43.9%) in a state that was just about to give Trump a 1,178,638 (58.09%) landslide victory over Hillary Clinton's 780,154 (38.45%). So far Republican Congressman Ralph Abraham and extremely right-wing political donor Eddie Rispone are Edwards' opponents. The filing deadline is August 8 and former congressmen Charles Boustany and John Fleming are both considering jumping in.

In any case, I think this betrayal of Louisiana Democratic women will end Edwards' chance for a second term. The latest poll showed him leading Abraham-- 40% to 36% with 24% undecided.

A Democrat in the legislature, John Milkovich, wrote the bill and Democrats in the state legislature also voted for it. State Senator Karen Carter Peterson wasn't among them. She's the chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party and her twitter stream today was not exactly Edwards-friendly. Lots like this:

All that said, I want to bring up a nice Louisiana piece in The Independent that ran a couple of years ago, Louisiana floods destroy home of Christian leader who says God sends natural disasters to punish gay people. Kate Nelson: "A flood has destroyed the home of a Christian lobbyist who preached that God sends natural disasters to punish gays. President of the controversial Christian group Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, described a deluge of 'near biblical proportions' hitting his Louisiana home. During a broadcast on the group’s radio station, he told how he and his family had fled in a canoe.
[Perkins] has also claimed homosexuality is incompatible with evolution and has likened it to a drug or alcohol addiction.

He added: "The most important thing that Christians can offer to homosexuals is hope-- hope that their sins, just like the sins of anyone else, can be forgiven and their lives transformed.”

Mr Perkins said he has been forced to live off “God’s provisions” following the flood.

Labels: , , , ,

Trump Heads Off To Celebrate England’s Increasing Chaos (And Ours)


by Noah

I know lots of people like England and get all warm and fuzzy just thinking about the place. People who know me well know that I’m not one of those. To me, England is just some bizarre theme park celebration of centuries of drunkenness and inbreeding where thoughtless tradition and odious heritage are lionized on an hourly basis. To me, England is just an island Alabama or Mississippi, with a few castles thrown in for the tourists, along with some decrepit “stately homes” that serve as the physical, social, and moral equivalents of the south’s former plantation homes. At least the south bulldozed whatever former slave quarters survived all the decades of hurricanes. England turned “the help’s quarters” into oh so overly quaint Bed & Breakfasts.

I watched Downton Abbey hoping it would burn to the ground and take its supremely dumbass, ill-educated twit, Lord Crawley, Earl of Grantham, with it. He was the bigoted “stable genius” who thought “that Charles Ponzi fellow in New York has a lot of great ideas for investing money.”

If any of what I’ve said, so far, offends you, ask me how many fucks I give; and don’t expect an answer. I base my feelings about England on personal experience gained both from personally visiting the place and having to step over the endless passed out drunks of all ages on the sidewalks while trying to avoid stepping in endless puddles of beer vomit, watching people openly pee along the highways and, even more so, from working for two different English-owned record companies during my 40+ years of working in the music industry. It's a whole country of Brett Kavanaughs.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the musical and artistic contributions of the English. I count myself fortunate to have been able to positively contribute to the careers of several U.K. musicians, photographers, and other artists but much of their art came about as a reaction to their environment, which it should. Even those who celebrate England in their art usually do so with a pair of jaundiced eyes.

I even have English friends but they all moved here to get away from the place due to feelings that pretty much match mine. My primary ancestors had the good sense to leave as well, hundreds of years ago. They sailed west and south in search of a chance at a less oppressive future and an influx of fresh DNA. They found both.

It took me a while, but I learned to park my own prejudices and realize that, like many of England’s artists, what’s bad about England usually points back to the country’s plague of incessant die-hard upper-class twittery and the frequent attitudes of members of what the uppers look down upon as “lesser classes” who live to present themselves in a mode of upper-class pretensions. I’m reminded of one of my former employers who made a lot of money, bought a manor, ran weekend fox hunts, and sat his fat ass in his office during the week reading a racing form with his bare feet up on his desk while picking at his toes and barking out at anyone who could hear him to get him VHS recordings of horse races. The man had a thing for horses. Say no more! I’ve said enough!
Soooo… The way I figure it. Trump heading off to England on the 3rd for a state visit and, ostensibly, a D-Day celebration at the invitation of the grossly incompetent, soon to be ex-Prime Minister Theresa May (whose name Trump still can’t spell correctly), is a natural even though Trump has criticized May for trying to prevent his and Putin’s beloved Brexit. After all, Trump’s also incompetent and he’s got all the mental illness that inbreeding begets even if his comes from a combo of bad parenting and syphilis. He’s also a natural bigot, and he wants to be a Royal: King Donald The First, and, like the British Royals, he even has plenty of Germanic blood and, like the Queen’s Uncle David (the former King Edward) has a history of holding a special place for Nazis in his heart. Trump will no doubt demand that the English handover Julian Assange for his own nefarious purposes of destruction of the free press and creation of a Trumpist totalitarian regime.

The Untied States-England alliance is now a meeting of the minds of the insane and woefully stupid. We may have different characteristics but everything wrong with England has its equivalent or counterpart here That’s most and best reflected in the dangerous low quality of the people that each country has voted to put into positions of leadership and authority.

While Trump is no doubt up to the standards of those in England who voted for Brexit and considered Theresa May to be Prime Minister material, Trump is not up to Queen Elizabeth’s barely higher standards. She reportedly wasn’t very impressed with Trump the last time he appeared in her midst and that appears, at least on the surface, to separate him from the majority of English voters. He even kept her waiting at their last meeting whichic I’m sure she found scintillating. Keeping the Queen waiting is a big no-no but hey, in Trump’s mind, he had to keep her waiting as a statement of “I’m more important than you and you’re a woman besides.” Her sister Margaret would have just kicked his ass, politely, of course.

This time, Trump requested to stay with his idiot family in Buckingham Palace. A man with his own pretensions, he wanted them to have the whole “Royal Experience.” That, apparently, is not to be. The Queen has turned down his request, conveniently citing “renovations.” Trump is fuming because the Obamas got to stay in the royal headquarters. You know that has to grate on what’s left of Trump’s mind, but he will get to have tea with Prince Charles (the Queen’s version of Trump’s bigly-toothed son Eric) and regale him with tales about “high ratings for his trip” and pussy grabbing ‘round the world.

Queen Liz may not be offering a room at the palace but she is committed to having the Trumps over for dinner. Lordy, I hope it’s Burger King. She can even give him a little greasy Burger King crown.

I’m sure Trump would love a tour of the torture rooms in the Tower Of London but there’s no word as to whether that’s in the itinerary. He’d have pictures taken for I.C.E. and Homeland Security, signed, too!

Many “commoners” have had a much better reaction to the Trump visit than the moldy upper crust types. The man who would be King Donald, his Whore of Slovenia, and whatever other fetid two-legged ooze they bring along to England will get a proper greeting in the form of an estimated over 1.1 million English protestors. Milkshakes are at the ready! The Brits use them the same way we use eggs when it comes to protests. The diaper-wearing “Trump Baby” blimps and balloons are bigger than ever before, inflated and ready to take to the skies of England; Scotland, too, of course. The Scots are not enthused. A statement from the Scottish government reads:  
We will not compromise our fundamental values of equality, diversity and human rights, and we expect these values to be made clear during the president’s visit to the U.K.
 Our Trumpanzee of a president is scheduled to see a bigly military display in honor of D-Day, which will no doubt inspire him to again call for his own military parade when he returns to Washington.

When P.M. May suggested the honorific of some sort of traditional gilt carriage ride for Trump (A gold carriage! Perfect!) and an address to Parliament; that really made waves. Many members of England’s Labor Party launched a petition to cancel the trip altogether. It was ignored of course. The trip was already postponed last year and the Nazi-loving powers that be in England thought hostility to the idea of a Trump visit would have cooled off by now. Nope. In fact, it’s grown. Says Nick Dearden of England’s Stop Trump Coalition:
It’s up to us, again, to say Trump is not welcome, and to make his visit as unpleasant as possible. We’re going to aim for maximum disruption.
Now, there’s a true patriot! How will it all end? Obviously, there will be much noise but eventually Trump will leave and sadly be allowed back in our country. Then, ironically, it looks like England will be finally shedding, or should I say, shredding, some of those old staid pretentions of being upper class, but, unfortunately, that’s coming in the form of Boris Johnson, Trump’s moronic, buffoonish English doppelganger, an asylum escapee poster boy and Putin tool, much like Trump, if there ever was one. I mean, just look at this guy.

Boris (How’s that for a Russian name?) Johnson is England’s Trump. He calls black people pickaninnies. He calls the people of Papua New Guinea “cannibals” and people from the Congo have “watermelon smiles.” Republicans here would adore him!

Boris Johnson looks like the kind of people you see in those photo compilations of Walmart customers. What he says and does is a cornucopia of toxic Trump and Russian-backed destruction. Like Prince Charles, he may look like the end result of the centuries of U.K. inbreeding but his supporters aren’t all of the upper class twit variety. That he is so well thought of by millions of Brits says more about poor education and brain damage caused by malnutrition and years of drinking cheep beer that might as well be turpentine. If he were an American, he’d be a threat to Mitch McConnell for the Republican Senate Majority Leader position at the least. He’d be every bit the darling of the Republican Party as much as Trump. I always maintain that drunk voting should be as illegal as drunk driving but, come to think of it, from what I’ve personally seen, both are not just legal in England but encouraged. England is done. Over. Hitler missed his dream by 80 years. He could have save his bombs.

Lastly, I don’t want you dear readers to think I’d end this post without offering a positive solution, a Grand Solution that could help both England and our country see a slim chance at a better future. I think England’s senile Prince Philip, the Queen’s 97-year-old husband, is the key! We’ve all been reading about is problems driving his cars lately. Reports are that the Queen’s staff has taken away his car keys and his driving license, and they’re keeping a very close watch on him.  He’s reportedly heartbroken that he isn’t allowed to get behind the wheel anymore but couldn’t they please, please, please make an exception for the Trump visit? C’mon! Let Prince Philip take President Trump for a ride, Boris Johnson, too… right off the beautiful and fabled white cliffs of Dover! The Prince could die a hero’s death! As a bonus, someone could stuff Nigel Farage into the trunk, or boot as they say over there. If that were to work, I’d be all for adopting a similar practice here. We have an endless list of trunk-worthy politicos of various stripes right here in the good ol’ USA.

Labels: , ,

Sometimes It's Easy To Forget That There's More To The Swamp Than Just Trump


I was shocked once when a friend in Texas told me a Blue Dog candidate for Congress-- an eventual winner-- didn't really care about being a member of Congress as much as he cared about getting prepared for a career as a federal lobbyist. Being a member of Congress is the kind of preparation you need for it-- and almost no one gets rich as a member of Congress-- Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan aside-- but you can certainly become a multimillionaire as a K Street lobbyist.

Something between a quarter and a third of members of Congress who retire-- voluntarily or involuntarily-- don't go back to their beloved hometowns. Instead they stay in DC to become lobbyists or quasi-lobbyists. (And some of the ones who do go back to their home states, become lobbyists there.) No one denies there's a revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street. Some try to deny it reeks of corruption and is part of the swamp that Trump exploded to trick frustrated morons into voting for him.

According the, the last time they counted-- a few years ago-- there were 429 former members of Congress working as lobbyists. Most, though not all, are slimy corrupt conservatives, not just Republicans, but walking-talking buckets of excrement like Joe Crowley, Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, Dick Gephardt, Tim Mahoney, Heath Shuler, Jane Harman, Harold Ford (Sr and Jr) Bart Stupak, both Bayhs, Tom Daschle, Al Wynn, Joe Garcia, Mike Ross, Bill Lipinski (you-know-whose dad) and Mary Landrieu as well.

Yesterday, Public Citizen looked at the latest congressional revolving doorism-- and it's worse than ever! They make the discouraging point that "Nearly two-thirds of recently retired or defeated U.S. lawmakers now working outside politics have landed jobs influencing federal policy, providing further evidence that members of Congress continue to spin through Washington’s revolving door at astonishing rates.
The report found that 59% (26 of 44) of former members of the 115th Congress (2017-2019) who have found employment outside politics have gone through the revolving door. These lawmakers quickly found employment at lobbying firms, consulting firms, trade groups or business groups that work to influence the federal government. These former lawmakers cashed in on their connections by representing wealthy special interests who can afford to pay top dollar for insider information and influence.

Under current federal law, former federal lawmakers cannot lobby their legislative ex-colleagues for one year if they served in the U.S. House of Representatives and two years if they served in the U.S. Senate. However, they can immediately lobby executive agencies and can be hired by lobbying firms as “strategic consultants” advising lobbyists on how to approach lawmakers but avoiding lobbying contacts themselves.

Notable revolving-door lawmakers from the previous Congress include former U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), who works for lobbying giant Squire Patton Boggs, and former U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), who works for lobbying firm Akin Gump, where he is registered to lobby in favor of the same controversial copper and gold mine in Alaska that he pushed for while in Congress. Those two firms, which are the largest in Washington, D.C., recently hired five former lawmakers between them.

"No lawmaker should be cashing in on their public service and selling their contacts and expertise to the highest bidder. Retired or defeated lawmakers should not serve as sherpas for corporate interests who are trying to write federal policy in their favor," said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. "We need to close the revolving door and enact fundamental and far-reaching reforms to our corrupt political system."

The For the People Act (H.R. 1), which passed the House in March, enacts sweeping reforms that should raises ethics standards at all levels of government. Importantly, H.R. 1 would define “strategic consulting” as lobbying, closing that loophole for former members of Congress.
H.R. 1, which is tepid and watered-down and doesn't even go 20% of the way towards cleaning out the swamp, was treated as though the world was collapsing by the GOP and not even one Republican voted for it! And now, McTurtle is refusing to allow a vote on it in the Senate.
By going through Washington’s “revolving door,” lawmakers are effectively trading in on their relationships and knowledge to help companies profit and to enrich themselves-- a pattern that has been in place for many years. The most famous and egregious example of Washington’s revolving door problem came in 2004, when Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) announced he would leave Congress to accept a $2 million a year salary as head of PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry’s main lobbying organization. Tauzin was chief architect of the 2003 prescription drug legislation that prohibited the federal Medicare program from negotiating lower drug prices. Tauzin left PhRMA in 2010, earning more than $11 million in his final year at the trade group,  but remains a lobbyist with clients in health care and other industries.

Currently, federal ethics laws provide minimal protections against influence-peddling by former members of Congress. Former members of the House of Representatives are barred from making lobbying contacts with their ex-colleagues for one year. A two-year ban applies to former Senate lawmakers.

However, loopholes in the ethics laws diminish the impact of these modest “cooling off” periods. For example, former lawmakers can immediately turn around and lobby executive agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department, the Federal Trade Commission or the Food and Drug Administration so long as they do not lobby Congress. Former lawmakers are also able to brand themselves as “strategic consultants” who advise registered lobbyists on strategies for approaching lawmakers, but do not make lobbying contacts with lawmakers themselves.  This loophole, nicknamed the Daschle loophole, after former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) who worked for several major D.C. law and lobbying firms for more than a decade but did not register as a lobbyist until 2016, is a common way to meet the technical requirements of the law while ignoring the law’s intended purpose.

Some former lawmakers have been quite open about how easy it to advise corporate clients on lobbying strategy and still comply with lobbying rules.  In 2013, after leaving the Senate to join Covington & Burling for the first time, Kyl told the Washington Post there is a “a huge amount of work that can be done” legally even while restricted by a two-year cooling off period. Kyl added:

Several pieces of legislation would strengthen these ethics laws for former government officials. The For the People Act (H.R. 1), which passed the House of Representatives in March, enacts sweeping reforms that would raise ethics standards at all levels of government. Importantly, H.R. 1 would define “strategic consulting” as lobbying for former members of Congress, subjecting this activity to the existing revolving door restrictions. The legislation would also bar former executive branch officials from doing “strategic consulting” on behalf of a lobbying campaign as well as making direct lobbying contacts for two years after leaving government service.

Lawmakers in both parties have introduced ethics reforms that go further. Legislation by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) would impose a five-year ban on lobbying for members of Congress and the executive branch. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has proposed to permanently ban all elected officials from lobbying. Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) have proposed a lifetime lobbying ban for all members of Congress, as have Sens. Mike Braun (R-IN) and Rick Scott (R-FL).

The scumbag walking corruption scandal Pelosi and Hoyer had decided would run the Democratic Party after them, Joe Crowley was hired as a lobbyist by Patton Boggs after AOC beat him in a primary last year. They also hired another loser, Bill Shuster (R-PA), the super-corrupt former chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "Both Crowley and Shuster," reports Public Citizen, "are leading an initiative at the industry-funded Bipartisan Policy Center to find new ways to finance highways and infrastructure, including ending federal reliance on gas taxes, which would benefit oil companies. Crowley also was named an honorary co-chairman of the Pass USMCA Coalition, which is advocating for Trump’s revised North American Free Trade Agreement in Congress. Squire Patton Boggs was the fourth largest D.C. lobbying firm last year, with total lobbying income of more than $24 million. Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham University law professor and former candidate for New York attorney general, tweeted that Crowley 'is selling twenty years of the goodwill of his constituents to the wealthy clients of Squire Patton Boggs.'  Along with former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) Crowley has joined the advisory board of Northern Swan Holdings, which has raised $96 million to expand investing in marijuana cultivation in Latin America as part of a plan to 'invest in new low-cost, large-scale cannabis cultivation and processing centers and build out distribution channels and brands in Europe, Latin America and North America.'"

Did the DSCC or the DNC badger you into wasting money on Blue Dog p.o.s. Joe Donnelly? The woke Democratic base refused to come out and vote for him-- in the midst of a blue wave-- because he voted with the Republicans too much. Republicans didn't vote for him either, of course; they had their own candidate. Public Citizen reported yesterday that he "joined lobbying and law powerhouse Akin Gump in April. Donnelly is advising financial services, defense and health care clients, saying in a statement that he looks forward to 'putting my legislative skills to work on behalf of many of Akin Gump’s clients.' The co-chair of the firm’s public law and policy practice, Brian Pomper, said Donnelly’s experience 'will be invaluable to our clients who are navigating this era of a divided government.' Akin Gump was the top lobbying firm in D.C. last year, with total lobbying income of nearly $38 million. In 2017, when Gallup polled about ethics and professions, nurses were viewed as the most ethical (82%), followed by military officers (71%) and grade school teachers (66%)-- and the bottom of the heap? Lobbyists, of course. The 5 most despised, corrupt occupations:
Business executives- 16%
Advertising practitioners- 12%
Members of Congress- 11%
Car salespeople- 10%
Lobbyists- 8%

And here's the kind of congressional bipartisanship we like to see-- bipartisanship to serve the interests of the American people... very different from the kind of swampy bipartisanship we usually do see:

Labels: , ,

How Many Seats Will Democrats Lose If They Impeach Trump? How Many Seats Will They Lose If They Don't?


In his NY Times column yesterday, Charles Blow came out strongly for impeachment. Of the redacted Mueller report-- I assure you that unlike most Republican members of Congress, that Blow has read it-- he notes that "it is a damning document. Not only does it detail Russian efforts to attack our election to help the Trump campaign and the Trump campaign’s eager acceptance of that help, it paints a picture of Donald Trump as an unethical man with no regard for the rule of law. In this report, we see a president who doesn’t deserve to be president. We see attempts over and over to obstruct justice, which in some cases succeed. The question is: What are we going to do about it?"

Yes, that is the question. "Obstruction of justice is a crime," he reminds his readers. "If Trump committed that crime, he’s a criminal. Are we simply going to allow a criminal to sit in the Oval Office and face no consequence?" We? We can't do much about it besides trying to influence our members of Congress to go for impeachment. If Pelosi and Hoyer bring it up, they would need 118 votes to begin the process. Pelosi knows how to count votes. She's says there aren't that many behind it yet. I believe she could whip her caucus and get the votes, but there are an awful lot of Democrats who will vote with the Republicans against impeachment. You think Pelosi wants a situation where all the progressives and activists decide to not vote for dozens of her incumbents because they voted against impeaching Trump? She doesn't.

Let's look at some of the worst Democrats in the House, freshmen Kenda Horn (Oklahoma City-- R+10), Joe Cunningham (Charleston, South Carolina-- R+10), Jefferson Van Drew (South Jersey-- R+1) and Ben McAdams (Salt Lake City area-- R+13), all of whom have tough reelection races coming up in red or in Van Drew's case, red-leaning, districts. Imagine they voted against impeachment. Let's start with McAdams, a Blue Dog like the other 3, he's tied with Van Drew and Cunningham of having the worst voting record in the House. Of the 269,234 votes cast in his district in 2018, he won 134,964, 694 more than his Republican opponent. He basically got slaughtered in Utah, Juan and Sanpete counties. All his votes came from Salt Lake County where a very significant number of Democrats are extremely progressive and already hating him. In the 2016 Democratic caucus in Salt Lake County, Bernie won 84.9% of the votes. Stop and think about that for un momento. Hillary-- who beat Trump 42.8% to 32.6% in the general election-- only took 14.1% of the vote in that blue county. People have to hold their noses and get drunk before voting for McAdams as is. Do you think they would if he voted against impeachment? Some would. How many wouldn't? More than 694? I think so. In fact I'm 100% positive than way more than 694 Salt Lake County Democrats would come out to vote for Bernie or Elizabeth Warren against Trump and not bother to vote for McAdams.

Do you want me to do this for all 4 of them? It's easy. I do one more-- Kendra Horn. Friends of mine in her district are already saying they won't vote for her in 2020. There were 238,960 people voting in 2018 and she took 121,149 votes (50.7%), 3,338 more votes than her Republican opponent. Nearly all her votes came from Oklahoma City. Pottawatomie and Seminole counties went massively for the Republican. Democrats in Oklahoma County are split between progressives and centrists. Trump beat Hillary in every single county in Oklahoma but she did less horribly in Oklahoma County than anywhere else-- 112,661 votes (41.2%) to Trump's 141,429 (51.7%). Primary time was a pretty even split in the district. This is how Hillary did in each of the 3 counties that make up the district:
Oklahoma County- 50.1%
Pottawatomie County- 37.5%
Seminole County- 39.1%
I can tell you, some of those Bernie supporters-- and some of the Hillary supporters for that matter-- want impeachment more than Bernie does. If Horn votes against it, she'll lose enough of her base to lose the general. Besides, Republicans are already excited about former OK City mayor Mick Cornette and two state senators likely to run, Greg Treat and Stephanie Bice.

And so on. So, Pelosi is walking on thin ice-- I love this song and I can't help myself-- and she's screwed no matter what she does-- or doesn't do. Let me get back to Blow for a moment. He writes that his mind is made and he knows all the arguments: "I say impeach him." He lists all the wrong pros and cons though-- the solipsistic, intellectually sloppy ones-- and isn't looking at Pelosi's-- really, the House Democratic caucus'-- dilemma at all. "House Democrats, at least the leadership, are afraid of looking like they have a blood lust and inadvertently increasing Trump’s chances of re-election." But he's compelling:
I worry that inaction enshrines that idea that the American president is above America’s laws. I worry that silent acquiescence bends our democracy toward monarchy, or dictatorship.

As Thomas Paine wrote in 1776, “In America the law is king.” He continued: “For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.”

Who will we let be king in this country, the president or the law?

You can't argue with any of that. Maybe you can. I can't. Ask yourself this though. Is it worth impeaching Trump-- who won't be found guilt by the Senate-- at the cost of losing the House majority?

So what about censure-- a public reprimand or condemnation? The idea is being bandied about on Capitol Hill now. The Constitution defines impeachment-- and conviction-- powers but doesn't mention censure. Congress adopted a resolution allowing censure-- stronger than a simple rebuke, but not as strong as expulsion and either House can do it on their own. In 1834, the Senate censured Andrew Jackson-- although when the Democrats won back the Senate the censure was expunged from the record. In 1842, after the House failed to impeach John Tyler, a select Senate committee censured him. (He may have been a worse president than Trump-- maybe; we'll see-- and after his presidency he led Virginia into secession and then served in the Confederate House of Representatives.) In 1848 the House should have impeached James Polk for starting the Mexican-American War unconstitutionally, but they censured him instead. There was a half-assed attempt to censure Clinton that failed and there have been two censure motions introduced against Trump that have never been voted on, the first buried by Paul Ryan and the second buried by... Nancy Pelosi.

Is censure a viable option to use against Trump? A few congressmen have told me it is and it would pass. I think Trump would laugh it off, but that's better than nothing if they can't get the votes for impeaching him, which I don't think they can.

Labels: , , , , ,

Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Harriet Tubman on the 20? Trump says, not on my watch! You know it's the only cash in America that he wouldn't want to get his filthy little paws on and he wouldn't want to piss off his very fine base. Besides, it was approved by Obama.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Serfs On Their Own Land


Today, the New York Times reported that "the fall in longer-term bond yields has not been matched by a fall in shorter-term rates. For example, a 30-day Treasury bill is yielding 2.35 percent-- meaning you can earn more on your money tying it up for a month risk-free than you can tying it up for a full decade. This is not normal. It is called an inverted yield curve, and historically it has been viewed as a sign of a recession in the offing. At a minimum, it indicates that bond investors believe the Federal Reserve will soon need to cut interest rates-- in effect, that it overshot with those four rate increases last year." Combine that with a report from Bloomberg News that China has stop buying soy beans from the U.S. and you have a gloomy outlook for American farmers, one that other than Bernie, none of the 2020 candidates-- including Trump-- are paying much attention to.

Bernie: "I will not write off rural America." He never has; he may have been born and educated in Brooklyn but Vermont is 70% rural and small town and Bernie has been an effective advocate for family farms for his entire political career. And he's very popular in Iowa-- running even with Obama's rib. He's been campaigning there on all his regular issues but emphasizing protecting rural Iowa-- almost as rural as Vermont (51%)-- from monopolization, factory farms and Climate Change. His plan for rural America promises to increase anti-trust enforcement, to block monopolistic mergers, to ban contract farming, to protect farmers from "patent lawsuits from seed corporations," to give more farm subsidies to small and mid-size farms to restrict foreign ownership of farmland, to stop exempting factory farms from anti-pollution rules and to punish farms that create herbicide drift and pollute organic farms. His plan must have given Pelosi's Agriculture Committee chair, Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), a seizure.

Bernie has a well-thought out plan for revitalizing rural America. "Agriculture today," he wrote, "is not working for the majority of Americans. It is not working economically for farmers, it is not working for rural communities, and it is not working for the environment. But it is working for big agribusiness corporations that are extracting our rural resources for profit.

"For far too long, government farm policies have incentivized a “get big or get out” approach to agriculture. This approach has consolidated the entire food system, reducing farm net income, and driving farmers off the land in droves. As farms disappear, so do the businesses, jobs, and communities they support.

"Moreover, one in six American children still live in food-insecure homes, industrial agriculture has taken a toll on the environment, and our rural communities have been left in a chronic state of economic decline and decay.

"Our mid-size and small towns have been decimated. Local businesses were replaced with national chains, many schools and hospitals shut down, and good jobs left at an alarming rate. The next generation of rural Americans is finding better opportunities outside of the small towns where they grew up in.

"Fundamental change in America’s agricultural and rural policies is no longer just an option; it’s an absolute necessity. Farmers, foresters, and ranchers steward rural landscapes, which benefit all Americans. They provide us with essential resources such as food, fiber, building materials, renewable energy, clean water, and habitat for biodiversity. They also have an enormous potential to address climate change. With the right support and policies, we can have rural communities that are thriving economically and ecologically. The following policies will drive a transition in our agricultural system away from a consolidated, profit-driven industrial model to one that rebuilds and restores rural communities."
Policies Leveling the Playing Field for Farmers and Farmworkers
Policies to Empower Farmers, Foresters & Ranchers to Address Climate Change and Protect Ecosystems
Policies to Foster Investment to Revitalize Rural Communities
First and foremost, Bernie has called for the country to "enact and enforce Roosevelt-style trust-busting laws to stop monopolization of markets and break-up existing massive agribusinesses; Place a moratorium on future mergers of large agribusiness corporations and break-up existing massive agribusinesses. According to Food & Water Watch, 'consolidation in the pork packing industry has contributed to the 82% decline in the number of hog farms in Iowa between 1982 and 2007.' In our country, just four companies slaughter 85% of beef cattle. USDA reports that between 2000 and 2015 'soybean sales from the largest four sellers rose from 51 to 76%.' Additionally, after the Bayer-Monsanto merger, the two largest conglomerates now control 78% of the corn seed market. If Teddy Roosevelt were alive today, you know what he would say to these behemoth agribusiness companies: He would say, break them up. And, working together, that is exactly what we are going to do."

Labels: , ,

Pelosi Is Famous For Being The First Woman Speaker-- If She Re-Elects Trump By Failing To Impeach Him, She'll Be More Famous For That... And Loathed


Allan Lichtman correctly predicted the winner of every presidential election since 1984. He even predicted Trump would win in 2016. This year he said Trump would win again-- unless Pelosi jumps out of a window on the 48th floor of the Transamerica Pyramid... or in some other way let's go off her insane and unpatriotic and defeatist notion of not impeaching Trump. Lichtman, who's been correct about elections far more often than Pelosi, says unless Trump is impeached, he'll win again-- and that will be on Pelosi's headstone.

"Trump wins again in 2020," he told Chris Cillizza the day before Mueller's televised statement, "unless six of 13 key factors turn against him. I have no final verdict yet because much could change during the next year. Currently, the President is down only three keys: Republican losses in the midterm elections, the lack of a foreign policy success, and the president's limited appeal to voters... Democrats are fundamentally wrong about the politics of impeachment and their prospects for victory in 2020. An impeachment and subsequent trial would cost the president a crucial fourth key-- the scandal key-- just as it cost Democrats that key in 2000. The indictment and trial would also expose him to dropping another key by encouraging a serious challenge to his re-nomination. Other potential negative keys include the emergence of a charismatic Democratic challenger, a significant third-party challenge, a foreign policy disaster, or an election-year recession. Without impeachment, however, Democratic prospects are grim."

Watch that Morning Joe clip on MSNBC from yesterday. Pelosi and Hoyer are screwing this up badly. They want to protect the seats of a bunch of (mostly conservative) freshmen in red districts and instead they're going to bring the whole house down with their geriatric loser ideas. Lichtman told the Morning Joe audience the Democrats have a chance to win but "only if they show boldness and not timidity and move towards an impeachment inquiry. The Democratic leadership"-- that would primarily be Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn, Hakeem Jeffries, Cheri Bustos-- is wrong... morally and constitutionally, by avoiding impeachment. If you have a constitutional crisis, the constitutional remedy is impeachment. They are also wrong politically. The Democrats seem to be going down the same rathole as 2016 when they believe the polls and think they're going to cruise to victory... The Democrats need to get on the right page politically as well as morally and constitutionally."

The Morning Joe Democratic Party hack-in-residence, Steve Ratner, made a fool of himself by echoing Pelosi's and Hoyer's talking points. Lichtner took off his head and handed it to him.

Qasim Rashid is a Virginia attorney in the midst of a hot campaign for the House of Delegates. He seems to take the idea of anyone being treated as though they are above the law as a personal affront. Last night he told me that "The Congress must fulfill its obligations to protect our nation and the separation of powers. A democratic republic that exempts accountability for anyone, including the President, ceases to live up to its responsibilities and delves into dictatorship."

Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) issued a statement after Mueller's address yesterday: "When the redacted Mueller Report was released, Republicans were quick to try to bury the scandal. Trump and his allies have repeatedly cried the president's innocence and worked hard to laugh off and discredit the investigation into his conduct."
Today, Special Counsel Robert Mueller spoke to the world. His words were very revealing. The key quote:
If we had had confidence that [Donald Trump] clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.
This is far from over. It's time for Congress to do its job. It's time to pick up where the Mueller investigation left off. It's time to begin an impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. I'm fully behind Rep. Rashida Tlaib's call to action, and will do what I can to support her work as we move forward. I just checked, and I'm still only one of 10 members to sign onto Rep. Tlaib's impeachment inquiry resolution. Hopefully, after today's press conference, that will change."
Since Earl brought is up these are the 9 cosponsors to Rashida's H.Res.257:
Al Green (D-TX)
Ayanna Pressley (D-MA)
Ilhan Omar (D-MN)
Jared Huffman (D-CA)
Filemon Vela (Blue Dog-TX)
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Diana DeGette (D-CO)
Barbara Lee (D-CA)
I know Rashida reached out to Justin Amash. I wonder what he's waiting for. Meanwhile, Tomas Ramos is a community activist in the Bronx, not an attorney. He's running for the open seat next to AOC's that Jose Serrano is leaving. This morning he told that "Mueller made it clear that the president obstructed justice. At this point, anyone that stands by the president when he is obstructing our democracy needs to be put on notice. We are in the midst of a constitutional crisis. We need congress to enact the articles of impeachment now!

Marqus Cole, the progressive Democrat running for the open 7th district seat in the suburbs north of Atlanta, told us today that as a former prosecutor he "swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Right now, we have the Special Counsel telling us directly that if they had the evidence to clear the President of criminal activity they would have. They did not. The Special Counsel is telling us that there is another constitutional mechanism in place to handle this matter. There is. It is time that we let the President know that no person is above the law. It is time that Congress do its duty and open up an impeachment inquiry."

Pelosi says there aren't enough members of the Democratic caucus to pass an impeachment resolution-- too many crass cowardly Josh Gottheimers and Abigail Spanbergers. Pelosi's instinct to always put narrow partisan (self)interests over country and constitution has served her well, but it helps explain a lot of what's wrong with America. Many progressives say she has to be removed-- and fast; she's the other side of the Trump coin. Dazed, confused and inexorably dug-in inside her fetid bunker with Hoyer, Lujan Clyburn Bustos and a other revolting loyalists, she doesn't-- they don't-- get it and she never will. But... these Republican former federal prosecutors do:

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Will Old Fogeys Curse The Democrats With Biden?


Last night I had a  long working-dinner with a world-famous author and neuroscientist whose new book on the aging brain is coming out early next year. He was explaining to me why the average person reports that their happiest years were around 80, if they live that long. There were quite a few reasons but one big one had to do with a tendency to shut out negativity and to focus exclusively on good news and happy memories (or happy manufactured memories). This is working out extraordinarily well for Biden, whose support among extremely old Democrats is overwhelming. Believe it or not, the Democratic Party could be saddled with Biden-- and because Trump will eat him alive-- another 4 years of Trump-- because of the votes of happy seniors, many of whom will never live to experience the results of a status quo policy agenda (Biden) or a reactionary policy agenda (Trump) that their votes curse the rest of us with.

This kind of messaging won't do a bit of good in shattering Biden's base of support (people over 75)

Every poll that breaks down the demography of the 2020 preference polls shows Bernie crushing it-- both nationally and in the early states-- among young voters. Elderly voters-- unable to recall why they once hated Biden's Republican instincts-- overwhelmingly prefer him to Bernie or any of the other candidates. Younger voters, who tend to be more idealistic and less apt to back corrupt corporate candidates like Biden, are a chink in Biden's armor. The problem, say the Democratic establishment types behind Biden, is that younger voters don't vote. Really? That don't vote when all they have to chose between are garbage candidates like Status Quo Joe and any Republican, but they're going to have to re-think that truism now.

A Future To Believe In-- or Trump/Biden

The Pew Research Center put out a fascinating poll yesterday that didn't ask about political preferences. What it showed is that Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X out-voted older generations in the 2018 midterms. That is an immense thunderclap that just landed on American political science. I knew that that was how AOC won her race but it turns out that it had a determining influence on how the Democrats managed to do so well in 2018.
Midterm voter turnout reached a modern high in 2018, and Generation Z, Millennials and Generation X accounted for a narrow majority of those voters, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly available Census Bureau data.

The three younger generations-- those ages 18 to 53 in 2018-- reported casting 62.2 million votes, compared with 60.1 million cast by Baby Boomers and older generations. It’s not the first time the younger generations outvoted their elders: The same pattern occurred in the 2016 presidential election.

Higher turnout accounted for a significant portion of the increase. Millennials and Gen X together cast 21.9 million more votes in 2018 than in 2014. (The number of eligible voter Millennials and Gen Xers grew by 2.5 million over those four years, due to the number of naturalizations exceeding mortality.) And 4.5 million votes were cast by Gen Z voters, all of whom turned 18 since 2014.

By comparison, the number of votes cast by Boomer and older generations increased 3.6 million. Even this modest increase is noteworthy, since the number of eligible voters among these generations fell by 8.8 million between the elections, largely due to higher mortality among these generations.

Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers all set records for turnout in a midterm election in 2018. Turnout rates increased the most for the Millennial generation, roughly doubling between 2014 and 2018 – from 22% to 42%. Among Generation Z, 30% of those eligible to vote (those ages 18 to 21 in this analysis) turned out in the first midterm election of their adult lives. And for the first time in a midterm election, more than half of Gen Xers reported turning out to vote. While turnout tends to increase with age, every age group also voted at higher rates than in 2014, and the increase was more pronounced among younger adults.

Together, Gen Z and Millennials reported casting 30.6 million votes, a quarter of the total. Gen Z was responsible for 4.5 million, or 4%, of all votes. This post-Millennial generation is just starting to reach voting age, and their impact will likely be felt more in the 2020 presidential election, when they are projected to be 10% of eligible voters.

Millennials, ages 22 to 37 in 2018, cast 26.1 million votes, far higher than the number of votes they cast in 2014 (13.7 million).

Generation X, those ages 38 to 53 in 2018, cast 31.6 million votes-- the first time they had more than 30 million votes in a midterm election. Their turnout rate also increased, from 39% in 2014 to 55% four years later.

Baby Boomers, those ages 54 to 72 in 2018, had their highest-ever midterm election turnout (64%, the same rate as the Silent Generation) and cast more votes than they ever have in a midterm (44.1 million). Still, they had a relatively smaller turnout increase than the younger generations (53% of Boomers turned out in 2014). Overall, Boomers cast 36% of ballots in last year’s election-- their lowest share of midterm voters since 1986-- because of mortality, while the younger generations are still growing due to naturalizations and adults turning 18.
Europeans attributed the unexpected increase in votes last weekend for Green parties across the EU to the same factors. Younger voters are looking for a better future. The older a voter gets, the more they just don't want anything to change. In Malta, 16 year olds got to vote for the first time, resulting in Malta having the highest turnout of any European country, in an election that same turnout turning much higher across the board almost everywhere. It;'s also worth noting that in Malta, the fascist party disintegrated electorally, the left scored a huge triumph and the mainstream conservative party also went down to a significant defeat.

Labels: , , , ,