Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Who's All In For Party Unity?


When the PA-07 progressive Mary Ellen Balchunis-- endorsed by every Democratic party organ and institutional ally in southeast Pennsylvania-- smashed the DCCC recruit who they had helped raise money and run a campaign, even adding him to their Red to Blue program, the DCCC responded by abandoning the district to GOP incumbent Pat Meehan and taking the district off the map. Pelosi's bullshit about "when women win..." was shown up to be just more of the hypocrisy her sorry later career has turned into. No Red to Blue help for Mary Ellen Balchunis. That's Pelosi/DCCC "party unity"... it's only for progressives to rally around establishment hacks, never for the establishment to rally around progressives.

The DCCC had added their pack of unimpressive hacks-- Bryan Caforio (CA), Randall Perkins (FL), Salud Carbajal (CA), Val Demings (FL), Monica Vernon (IA), Brad Schneider (IL), Bill Golderer (PA), and Colleen Deacon (NY)-- while all were engaged in active, competitive primaries against more progressive candidates, to the Red to Blue program. When Mary Ellen beat Golderer 52,792 (74%) to 18,509 (26%)-- despite the DCCC guaranteeing that Golderer could spend $239,391 (and raise $375,402) in the race while they prevented Mary Ellen from being able to spend anything but $45,541-- Lujan, Israel and Pelosi didn't add Mary Ellen to Red to Blue. They just continued telling Democratic activists to starve her campaign of contributions-- even after the AFL-CIO unanimously decided to not re-endorse Meehan and give the nod to Balchunis instead. Balchunis, who identifies as "a Warren wing Democrat" didn't endorse Bernie, although she shares his values and issues, because she has a long, friendly relationship with Hillary and endorsed her. But Hillary and her establishment wing of the party did absolutely nothing for Balchunis-- and still haven't.

Tuesday morning Zephyr Teachout, who Bernie had helped raise a great deal money through grassroots contributions, tweeted, "I am running for Congress to break down the doors of power in Washington." That isn't a phrase likely to make party hacks like Pelosi, Hoyer, Lujan, etc feel all warm and comfy.

Early Monday morning DWT got a press release from NRCC chairman Greg Walden: "Congratulations to John Faso on his hard-fought victory this evening. John has spent his career serving his community, and will do a great job representing the Hudson Valley in Congress. John understands the importance of keeping taxes low and getting government out of the way so that the private sector can create jobs. I look forward to working with him after he is elected this November."

Still no word from Lujan and the DCCC. I'm sure some kind of grudging statement of support will arrive eventually. For now, though, Teachout's wonderful volunteers will have to make due with congratulations from the grassroots groups like DFA, Blue America and PCCC who have endorsed her from day one. DFA members were sent an inspiring statement from Jim Dean:
"Zephyr Teachout’s primary victory tonight isn't just an important win for the political revolution behind Bernie Sanders, it's an important win for anyone who believes that our country needs bold leaders in Washington who will stand up to a corrupt political system and work hand-in-hand with the grassroots to deliver on populist progressive priorities.

"Few candidates are better prepared than Zephyr Teachout to run and win the kind of aggressive, people-powered campaign needed to beat back the wealthy hedge funders like Paul Singer who are already pouring millions into SuperPACs designed to aid whichever Trump-enabling Republican she faces in November.

 “Wall Street is scared to death of being held accountable by Zephyr Teachout in the halls of Congress and we couldn’t be more excited to work our hearts out over the next 132 days to make sure they are.

...Just like Bernie, Zephyr Teachout is fighting back with people power. She's been doing it for years. From her memorable leadership on Gov. Howard Dean's online organizing team in 2004, where she helped transform grassroots presidential campaigning, to her 2014 primary fight against corporate Democrat Andrew Cuomo-- holding him accountable on immigration justice, raising wages, and public financing-- Zephyr Teachout has the knowledge and vision needed to win.

...Zephyr Teachout is a leader in the fight to get corporate money out of our politics, overturn Citizens United, and take on Wall Street. She's been a core leader in creating an up-and-down-the-ballot political revolution for more than a decade. Her victory in the primary is a big step in a bold, populist direction for Democrats.

But the biggest battle is still to come. Wall Street has targeted Zephyr for defeat in November-- because they see her as a threat in the mold of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Wealthy hedge funders are already pouring money-- including a whopping $500,000 a few days ago-- into a Super PAC for her Republican opponent in this swing district.

Zephyr Teachout's big win in the primary proves our political revolution can win when people mobilize against the forces of wealth and power. Now she's taking on Wall Street in what will be one of the most important elections of the fall.
In NY-19 Tuesday 30,720 residents had voted, 13,714 Republicans and 17,006 Democrats. John Faso, the GOP winner took 9,126 votes (66.55%) and Zephyr took 12,409 votes (72.97%). She is the front-runner by every conceivable criteria except one-- party support. The GOP has rallied around Faso and is filling his archest. As of the March 31 FEC filing deadline he had raised $1,078,898 (and his GOP opponent Andrew Heaney had raised $1,229,257), Zephyr had raised $530,733. A right-wing SuperPAC spent $915,271 on helping Faso defeat Heaney.

Will Pelosi order his Lujan lackey to get behind Teachout now and help her access institutional Democratic contributors? Or would the corrupt Democratic establishment rather not turn this red swing district blue, too fearful that the outspoken, principled congresswoman that Teachout (like Balchunis) promises to be, would be too disruptive their their foul establishment control?

Bernie sent a strong warning to the Democratic establishment last night in the form of an Op-Ed in the New York Times telling them they need to wake up. Pelosi and her cronies should read it carefully and understand it's being addressed towards them:
Surprise, surprise. Workers in Britain, many of whom have seen a decline in their standard of living while the very rich in their country have become much richer, have turned their backs on the European Union and a globalized economy that is failing them and their children.

And it’s not just the British who are suffering. That increasingly globalized economy, established and maintained by the world’s economic elite, is failing people everywhere. Incredibly, the wealthiest 62 people on this planet own as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population-- around 3.6 billion people. The top 1 percent now owns more wealth than the whole of the bottom 99 percent. The very, very rich enjoy unimaginable luxury while billions of people endure abject poverty, unemployment, and inadequate health care, education, housing and drinking water.

Could this rejection of the current form of the global economy happen in the United States? You bet it could.

During my campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, I’ve visited 46 states. What I saw and heard on too many occasions were painful realities that the political and media establishment fail even to recognize.

In the last 15 years, nearly 60,000 factories in this country have closed, and more than 4.8 million well-paid manufacturing jobs have disappeared. Much of this is related to disastrous trade agreements that encourage corporations to move to low-wage countries.

Despite major increases in productivity, the median male worker in America today is making $726 dollars less than he did in 1973, while the median female worker is making $1,154 less than she did in 2007, after adjusting for inflation.

Nearly 47 million Americans live in poverty. An estimated 28 million have no health insurance, while many others are underinsured. Millions of people are struggling with outrageous levels of student debt. For perhaps the first time in modern history, our younger generation will probably have a lower standard of living than their parents. Frighteningly, millions of poorly educated Americans will have a shorter life span than the previous generation as they succumb to despair, drugs and alcohol.

Meanwhile, in our country the top one-tenth of 1 percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Fifty-eight percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent. Wall Street and billionaires, through their “super PACs,” are able to buy elections.

On my campaign, I’ve talked to workers unable to make it on $8 or $9 an hour; retirees struggling to purchase the medicine they need on $9,000 a year of Social Security; young people unable to afford college. I also visited the American citizens of Puerto Rico, where some 58 percent of the children live in poverty and only a little more than 40 percent of the adult population has a job or is seeking one.

Let’s be clear. The global economy is not working for the majority of people in our country and the world. This is an economic model developed by the economic elite to benefit the economic elite. We need real change.

But we do not need change based on the demagogy, bigotry and anti-immigrant sentiment that punctuated so much of the Leave campaign’s rhetoric-- and is central to Donald J. Trump’s message.

We need a president who will vigorously support international cooperation that brings the people of the world closer together, reduces hypernationalism and decreases the possibility of war. We also need a president who respects the democratic rights of the people, and who will fight for an economy that protects the interests of working people, not just Wall Street, the drug companies and other powerful special interests.

We need to fundamentally reject our “free trade” policies and move to fair trade. Americans should not have to compete against workers in low-wage countries who earn pennies an hour. We must defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We must help poor countries develop sustainable economic models.

We need to end the international scandal in which large corporations and the wealthy avoid paying trillions of dollars in taxes to their national governments.

We need to create tens of millions of jobs worldwide by combating global climate change and by transforming the world’s energy system away from fossil fuels.

The notion that Donald Trump could benefit from the same forces that gave the Leave proponents a majority in Britain should sound an alarm for the Democratic Party in the United States. Millions of American voters, like the Leave supporters, are understandably angry and frustrated by the economic forces that are destroying the middle class.

In this pivotal moment, the Democratic Party and a new Democratic president need to make clear that we stand with those who are struggling and who have been left behind. We must create national and global economies that work for all, not just a handful of billionaires.

We need international efforts to cut military spending around the globe and address the causes of war: poverty, hatred, hopelessness and ignorance.
We need more couregous leaders like Zephyr Teachout, Pramila Jayapal, Alan Grayson, Tim Canova, Nanette Barragan, Ruben Kihuen... not more of the corrupt establishment garbage the DCCC, the DSCC and the GOP all encourage. America doesn't need a Faso or a Patrick Murphy or Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Isadore Hall or Cresent Hardy. The DCCC and the DSCC are no more on the side of ordinary Americans than the Republican Party is. Please consider contributing to the progressives running for the House and Senate... here:
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AFL-CIO Switches Endorsement From Meehan To Balchunis In PA-07-- How Affordable College Played Into The Dynamic


Two progressives who want America to invest in students

The AFL-CIO seems to take some kind of perverse pleasure in backing a handful of faux-moderate Republicans. In 2014 they put $8,740,384 into congressional campaigns and among House Republicans who received top level contributions were Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm (R-NY), Frank Lobiondo (R-NJ), David McKinley (R-WV), Bill Shuster (R-PA), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), David Joyce (R-OH), John Kline (R-MN), Peter Roskam (R-IL), Mike Turner (R-OH), Don Young (R-AK), Paul Cook (R-CA), Pat Meehan (R-PA), and Tim Murphy (R-PA). Most of these Republicans have been anti-union and anti-working family, just slightly less virulent about it than most of their colleagues.

Pennsylvania conservative Pat Meehan, for instance, got $4,000 from the AFL-CIO last cycle (as well as their endorsement). This year, the AFL-CIO had had enough of Meehan's anti-worker votes and they not only refuse dot endorse him, they have endorsed Mary Ellen Balchunis, his progressive opponent. It wasn't just Meehan's pro-TPP stand that motivated the switch. Meehan always seems to get involved with things after they're already a disaster-- like the big SUNOCO layoffs in the district and the VA hospitals mess in the area. Once it was on the front page and already a long-festering disaster, Meehan jumped in, not early on when he could have helped prevent it from turning into a crisis. In 2014, Mary Ellen participated in the Crozier Chester nurses strike and this year she walked with the Verizon strikers. She doesn't just talk the talk they way Meehan does when he's trying to masquerade as mainstream; she actually walks the walk. This month the Pennsylvania's AFL-CIO not only endorsed her, they did it unanimously! One of the issues where she differs drastically with Meehan but that endeared her to Pennsylvania unions was her approach to student loans. We asked her to explain the differences to DWT readers and tio help us understand what she would do about it in Congress. Below is her guest post.

Getting A Handle On Runaway Student Debt
-by Mary Ellen Balchunis,
congressional candidate, PA-07

As a University Professor and mother of a college junior I see the hardship that college students are dealing with every single day. The rising costs of higher education has negatively affected not only our students’ wallets, but also their will to learn as they struggle to deal with everyday expenses while simultaneously being charged exorbitant amounts of money in student loans, ever-­increasing school supply costs, the substantial growth in their cost of living.

While some students either have the benefit of scholarships, or are fortunate to have parents with the means to pay for their education, most do not. Those who take out student loans become indebted for the next thirty years as they attempt to pay back their educational expenses-- expenses that may not have even guaranteed them a job. Americans owe nearly $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among approximately 43 million borrowers. In fact, the average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt, up six percent from last year.

There has been progress made on this front. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act was passed a few years ago. It did many things to take a bit of the pressure off of future students. It increased the level of Pell Grants and changed the direct administration of loans from private financial institutions to the federal Department of Education. This took money out of the banks' pockets and put some money into federal coffers.

The Act also took years off the final payment period to pay back loans. For new borrowers after 2014, their loans would eligible to be forgiven after making timely payments after 20 years ­ five years earlier than previously. Additionally, those that go into public service will be allowed to have their debt forgiven after ten years, if payments have been made on time. These are important benefits that will help thousands of borrowers in the future.

Finally, and again for post­-2014 borrowers, they can choose an Income Based Repayment plan (IBR) and would pay no more than 10 percent of their income above a basic living allowance ­ reduced from 15 percent. The basic living allowance is set at 150 percent of the poverty line, currently equaling about $16,500 for an individual and $33,000 for a family of four.

All of these positive actions only help new loan recipients. However, no action has been taken to help the hundreds of thousands of people that already have student loans and are crushed under significant debt loads. Elizabeth Warren's The Bank On Student Emergency Loan Refinancing Act is the only piece of legislation that attempts to lighten the load for those currently under financial duress from their student loans. The proposed Act would allow people with student loan debt at fixed percentage interest rates ­ which most are at seven percent or above ­ to be able to re­finance their loans at much lower interest current rates that new applicants now are eligible for. Recent student loans have been disbursed at rates as low as 3.86 percent.

Thousands and thousands of borrowers have unnecessarily paid tens of millions of dollars cumulatively because they are unable to refinance their school loans. Of course, we all know that we can refinance home loans. For the vast majority of us, a home is the largest purchase will if every make. With tuition and other college costs still rising significantly, the cost of college degree, let alone any advanced degrees, will be the biggest expense that people will have. Many won't be able to buy a house because they have to spend so much money on paying back the loans for their education.

This negatively effects our national economy as well as prevents the United States from being intellectually competitive on a global scale, as the rising costs of education deter those who once dreamed of a better life through a college education now looking elsewhere for opportunity. The national debt for a college education places the United States significantly behind countries that either subsidize or have free college education on economic basis.

There is too much money being paid into student debt that could be going into the general consumer economy. Of course, paying money into the housing stock through a home purchase is much worthwhile and sustainable than paying money into a decades-­old student loan.

Further, making this important change would cut down the default rate on federal student loans, which one study recently listed that rate at 43%. This also has a negative effect on our national economy and on thousands of households.

Simultaneously there are many different kinds of student loans and student scholarships that are almost unknown to the average American college student, causing debt without the guidance from universities or other academic bodies to show the opportunities their students are available to students. While there hasn’t been a substantial increase in Professors or administrators there has been a significant increase in adjunct or part­-time professors which forces an increase in college costs which raises the cost of tuition. In fact, the average increase in college tuition at both private and public institutions has been more than covering the cost of inflation from the period of 1975-­2015.

Similarly the cost of out­-of­-state and in-­state tuition at national universities has so drastically increased that there the curve on the chart below is closer to an exponential one than a standard growth rate.

Unfortunately, as we know, the Republicans in Congress stopped this important legislation. It is vital that we elect a U.S. House and Senate that will pass legislation that lightens the burden on our students and the next generation. The next generation of students are equally, if not more, important to our economy and our leadership, so there must be legislation to help everyday Americans who go to school to get ahead.

That is why when I am elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, I will fight to improve student funding policy and to pass legislation that empowers students to earn a quality education, at a cost that won’t leave them paying student loans as expensive as a home mortgage. We need to truly ask ourselves if we are a nation that values education, intelligence, innovation, and creativity enough to make academic education and other training programs a priority, and pass legislation that reflects that.
Mary Ellen won her hard-fought primary against a DCCC corporate shill by a landslide, 74-26%, and the DCCC's response was to remove PA-07 from contention. Pelosi and his cronies have refused to endorse Mary Ellen and have urged Democratic donors to ignore her campaign, which is why it was especially heartening to see the AFL-CIO tell Pelosi, Israel and Lujan to go jump in a lake. The local SEIU and AFSCME locals have also endorsed her campaign and this week the Congressional Progressive Caucus did as well. Blue America is urging our members to chip in for Mary Ellen by tapping the thermometer below.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Samantha Bee And Glenn Greenwald Look At Why Brexit And Trump Are The Same-- And Different


One thing we can all pretty much agree on: in democracies, political elites, by their very nature, pretty much fail the voters who elect them. We're at a high-water mark of that phenomena right now and the support for Trump-- at least among Republicans-- here and the 17,410,742 votes (51.9) to 16,141,241 votes (48.1%) margin among U.K. voters to leave the E.U. (Brexit) demonstrate that very viscerally. The newest NBC News poll-- released this morning-- shows Trump with 41% support from registered voters, pretty high for a crackpot and sociopath. Only 30% of Republicans want the GOP convention to deny the party's nomination to Trump and among white evangelicals Trump, despite his loud and obvious anti-Christian world view leads Hillary by 53 points-- 72-19%! That's just sick and these voters are probably the same kind of people who enrolled in Trump University and didn't know they were being fleeced.

"Even," said Samantha, "a brain-damaged baboon couldn't miss the parallels between the U.S. and Britain." She also pointed out the parallels between Austerity advocates Paul Ryan and David Cameron, the two out-of-touch ring-wing politicians who's marketing techniques for pushing class warfare against working people is what is fueling this populist revolt. (Big difference is the 87% white-- depending if you count, which U.K. racists don't, Poles as being white-- while America isn't even close... just over 60% white now, Poles included.)

Of course, if Ryan is the bubbling idiot American version of Cameron, no one doubts that Trump and clownish former London mayor Boris Johnson-- a likely successor to Cameron, who is resigning-- are cut from the same cloth. Or, as Samantha put it, "basically, he's Trump with his hair on backwards." And... like Trump, Boris has an affinity for Putin and prefers him over Obama. The biggest applause line of the segment came when she told the audience, "It's not enough for Trump to lose... It has to be a fucking landslide 50 state repudiation of this."

It's worth keeping in mind Glenn Greenwald's Intercept essay about western elites from last week that explains Brexit (and Trump) popularity in terms of "a glaring repudiation of the wisdom and relevance of elite political and media institutions that-- for once-- their failures have become a prominent part of the storyline. Media reaction to the Brexit vote falls into two general categories: (1) earnest, candid attempts to understand what motivated voters to make this choice, even if that means indicting their own establishment circles, and (2) petulant, self-serving, simple-minded attacks on disobedient pro-Leave voters for being primitive, xenophobic bigots (and stupid to boot), all to evade any reckoning with their own responsibility. Virtually every reaction that falls into the former category emphasizes the profound failures of Western establishment factions; these institutions have spawned pervasive misery and inequality, only to spew condescending scorn at their victims when they object."
Corrupt elites always try to persuade people to continue to submit to their dominance in exchange for protection from forces that are even worse. That’s their game. But at some point, they themselves, and their prevailing order, become so destructive, so deceitful, so toxic, that their victims are willing to gamble that the alternatives will not be worse, or at least, they decide to embrace the satisfaction of spitting in the faces of those who have displayed nothing but contempt and condescension for them.

There is no single, unifying explanation for Brexit, Trumpism, or the growing extremism of various stripes throughout the West, but this sense of angry impotence-- an inability to see any option other than smashing those responsible for their plight-- is undoubtedly a major factor. As Bevins put it, supporters of Trump, Brexit, and other anti-establishment movements “are motivated not so much by whether they think the projects will actually work, but more by their desire to say FUCK YOU” to those they believe (with very good reason) have failed them.

Obviously, those who are the target of this anti-establishment rage-- political, economic, and media elites-- are desperate to exonerate themselves, to demonstrate that they bear no responsibility for the suffering masses that are now refusing to be compliant and silent. The easiest course to achieve that goal is simply to demonize those with little power, wealth, or possibility as stupid and racist: This is only happening because they are primitive and ignorant and hateful, not because they have any legitimate grievances or because I or my friends or my elite institutions have done anything wrong.

...Because that reaction is so self-protective and self-glorifying, many U.S. media elites-- including those who knew almost nothing about Brexit until 48 hours ago-- instantly adopted it as their preferred narrative for explaining what happened, just as they’ve done with Trump, Corbyn, Sanders, and any number of other instances where their entitlement to rule has been disregarded. They are so persuaded of their own natural superiority that any factions who refuse to see it and submit to it prove themselves, by definition, to be regressive, stunted, and amoral.

Indeed, media reaction to the Brexit vote-- filled with unreflective rage, condescension, and contempt toward those who voted wrong-- perfectly illustrates the dynamics that caused all of this in the first place. Media elites, by virtue of their position, adore the status quo. It rewards them, vests them with prestige and position, welcomes them into exclusive circles, allows them to be close to (if not wield) great power while traveling their country and the world, provides them with a platform, and fills them with esteem and purpose. The same is true of academic elites, financial elites, and political elites. Elites love the status quo that has given them, and then protected, their elite position.

Because of how generally satisfied they are with their lot, they regard with affection and respect the internationalist institutions that safeguard the West’s prevailing order: the World Bank and IMF, NATO and the West’s military forces, the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, the EU. While they express some piecemeal criticisms of each, they literally cannot comprehend how anyone would be fundamentally disillusioned by and angry with these institutions, let alone want to break from them. They are far removed from the suffering that causes those anti-establishment sentiments. So they search and search in vain for some rationale that could explain something like Brexit-- or the establishment-condemning movements on the right and left-- and can find only one way to process it: These people are not motivated by any legitimate grievances or economic suffering, but instead they are just broken, ungrateful, immoral, hateful, racist, and ignorant.

...Instead of acknowledging and addressing the fundamental flaws within themselves, [western elites] are devoting their energies to demonizing the victims of their corruption, all in order to delegitimize those grievances and thus relieve themselves of responsibility to meaningfully address them. That reaction only serves to bolster, if not vindicate, the animating perceptions that these elite institutions are hopelessly self-interested, toxic, and destructive and thus cannot be reformed but rather must be destroyed. That, in turn, only ensures there will be many more Brexits, and Trumps, in our collective future.

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Are Republicans Fit To Govern If They Can't Even Pass A Bill To Protect Americans From The Zika Virus?


President Obama started asking congressional Republicans for emergency Zika funding in March. BY May they hadn't done a damn thing. We wrote at the time that instead of cooperation, what the House Republican leaders had given Obama instead of cooperation was more deranged right-wing intransigence and more of their crazy, dangerous anomie. The sociopaths at the Heritage Foundation started threatening to finance primaries against Republicans who moved to help Obama protect the country from a grave health problem unless the money to fight the virus was taken from programs already funded that they don't like (like Medicare and Obamacare). "When, we wondered aloud, is enough enough from these crackpots?"

Another 6-7 weeks have gone by and the Republicans are still playing politics with Zika. This morning even Politico noted that it could come back and bite them in the ass at election time. "Congress," wrote Burgess Everett, "is poised for an epic failure in its efforts to combat Zika before lawmakers leave Washington for a seven-week vacation-- and it could come back to bite Republicans at the ballot box if there’s an outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus in the United States this summer." Seven week vacation, while the country faces a truly devastating threat the GOP has let ride while Paul Ryan was busy wringing his hands about Trump, figuring out the most effective timing for the GOP's partisan Benghazi attack against Hillary, and repackaging his old schemes to wreck Medicare and Social Security by calling them "A Better Way?"

The GOP proposal the Senate Democrats rejected today not only stole money from the Affordable Crae Act, but gratuitously threw in some nonsense about allowing Confederate flags to fly at national cemeteries. This is why voters are so sick and tired of Congress-- and particularly so sick and tires of the House Republicans.
The attack ads this time write themselves: Faced with months of dire warnings from health experts, the Republicans who control Congress failed to provide money to stop the spread of Zika to the United States. Bracing for such a message, Republicans began the week spinning the expected defeat of the House-passed bill as politics as usual for Democrats, alleging that the minority party would rather attack Republicans over the issue than pass a funding bill.

...Republicans say there will be no do-over: Once the bill fails on Tuesday, the Senate will not revisit Zika funding, Cornyn said. They say Democrats got what they wanted and won’t take yes for the answer... The stalemate comes in the midst of the summer mosquito season, when the Zika threat is strongest.
In May, 3 Florida Republicans-- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Vern Buchanan and Carlos Curbelo-- worried their constituents might lynch them-- since that is the state were Zika is thought to be the biggest and most immediate threat-- voted with the Democrats against Ryan's bill (as did Justin Amash of Michigan). The chairman of the House Science Committee, Texas goof-ball Lamar Smith, wasn't helpful in the Zika matter. In fact, his only "contribution" to the debate was to demagogue against refugees and warn that refugees might be carrying Zika virus. As for President Obama's request for $1.9 billion last February to prevent a major Zika outbreak, Smith has been opposed. And in May ole Lamar voted for the ridiculously ineffective $622 million bill that isn't going to do anything but ruin the lives of thousands of infants and their families. Marco Rubio (R-FL) didn't agree with the approach Smith and Ryan were taking. "There is no reason why we should not fully fund this. Quite frankly, that’s just not going to cut it."

It's time for Lamar to Smith to move along

The Texas progressive running for the Austin-San Antonio district congressional seat Smith holds, Tom Wakely, sees it the same way Rubio and President Obama do-- and is worried that Smith's ideological obstructionism is getting in the way of safety for people in his state. "While departmental waste is undoubtedly a bipartisan issue that warrants investigation," he told us last month, "it boggles the mind that we're having a pay-for discussion in the midst of a public health crisis. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there have been 36 reported cases of Zika virus in the state of Texas. Five of these cases have occurred in counties that are represented by my district. This is no longer a threat we can view with binoculars. It is no longer an issue that can be evaluated in dollars and cents. One of the Texan cases is already confirmed as being a pregnant woman. How many children have to be born with microcephaly before our Republican-led Congress addresses this as what it is, a public health emergency? Where's the media outrage over the fact that we're treating an emergency of this nature with the fiscal scrutiny typically reserved for corporate tax rates or oil subsidies? Quite frankly, the fact that Congress is willing to treat a public health crisis with the same blasé attitude that they employ in their unconditional rejection of a Supreme Court nominee should be a grave warning to the American people. If they're willing to make a point out of a plague, where does it stop?"

The final House bill passed Thursday 239-171, complete with all the GOP-engineered poison pills. Only 6 right-wing Democrats crossed the aisle and voted with the GOP in favor of it-- all the regular suspects, Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE), Scott Peters (New Dem-CA) and Jerry McNerney (CA).

The bill needed 60 votes in the Senate today and only got 52. The 48 NO votes included every Democrat but right-wing Blue Dog Joe Donnelly (IN), as well as Republicans Mike Lee (UT) and Jim Lankford (OK). In blocking the bill this morning, Florida Senator Bill Nelson, a conservative Democrat, noted that "Four months after the request for emergency funding, the House in the dark of the middle of the night, with no opportunity for debate, puts on an otherwise uncontroversial bill, a bill to deal with the virus. It's not serious. Instead, it's another attempt to use an emergency must-pass bill to try to further extremist political agendas. Why can't we grow up and get to the point that we don't want to play partisan politics? We need to stop playing these political games. It's time to treat this as a real emergency and it's time to pass the appropriations bill without all of this political agenda added to it."

Alan Grayson pointed out right after the Senate vote that "Florida's first Zika-related microcephaly birth was confirmed today. So, of course, Marco Rubio and his fellow Senate Republicans respond with a bill that not only fails to fund an adequate response to this unfolding crisis, but is also larded with poison-pills for Planned Parenthood, clean water protections and health programs. It was a craven abdication of their legislative duty. It has to stop. There's no time left to put politics over public health."

If you'd like to help Grayson get into the Senate and Wakely get into the House-- replacing the two buffoons that currently hold the seat-- please tap the thermometer below and contribute what you can:
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Covering For The NRA Shills In The Democratic Party


The DCCC supports Democrats who take bribes from the NRA

The Beltway media covered last week's congressional sit in as a Democrats vs Republicans kind of confrontation, even including a widely reported scene featuring Texas crackpot Louie Gohmert storming the sit in and screaming about radical Islam. (Gun lobbyist bribes to Gohmert: $35,111.)
House Democrats, as a historically small minority opposition party, surprised nearly everyone with their seemingly unplanned protest of Republican intransigency on gun control measures in the wake of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Their occupation of the House floor to demand a vote on a host of gun curbing efforts on Wednesday, including the barring of gun sales to suspected terrorists on the “no-fly-list,” was met with fierce Republican disdain.

Hours into the sit-in lead by over 50 House (and a few Senate) Democrats, the chamber finished up several votes forced by Republicans as Democrats continued to yell and demand a gun vote when one Republican became so fed-up with the disobedience and breakdown of order that he angrily confronted his colleagues.

As California Democrat Brad Sherman was delivering his speech advocating for reform, Texas Republican Louie Gohmert stormed onto the floor, pointing and yelling, “Radical Islam killed these people!”

“We are talking about radical Islam!” Gohmert yelled, waving his finger at posters featuring photos of the victims of the recent mass shooting at an Orlando, Florida gay club. “Radical Islam killed these people!”

“It appears the gentleman is afraid to vote and afraid to debate,” Sherman hollered from the podium as his fellow Democrats cheered and chanted, “No bill, no break!

” “And given the weakness of his arguments and his position, his fear is well founded,” Sherman continued, speaking of Gohmert.

Afterward, Orlando-area Congresswoman Corrine Brown and Gohmert nearly came to blows before being quickly pulled away from one another.
Everyone was betting on Corrine to wipe the floor with Gohmert. But not all Democrats were supportive of the sit-in. In fact, there are Democrats-- particularly in Texas-- who would have liked to have helped Gohmert beat up Corrine Brown. The Hill's coverage mentioned that there were Democrats who sat out the sit-in, without once mentioning the coincidence that the sit-in boycotters are all on the NRA/gun lobbyist payroll and all are soaked in their blood money.

Most of the NRA Democrats have been defeated in the last few years. Democratic voters just stopped supporting them and their careers ended one by one. But there are still a handful of Democratic NRA shills left. They did not back the sit-in that 179 of their colleagues participated in. Over the weekend, a gun group contacted me and asked if Blue America would participate in an effort to defeat some of these types in the Senate in 2018, particularly Heidi Heitkamp and Jon Tester. Of course, I said YES with great enthusiasm but I hope to persuade them to go after some NRA Dems in the House as well.

The Hill's lame coverage mentioned that "the no-shows were absent for a range of reasons, only a handful of which were related to either the protest itself or the legislation it was designed to move. They included illness, family tragedy, travel and legal trouble." And yes, Mark Takai is battling cancer and Chaka Fattah is on his way to prison, but no where in The Hill's piece does it mention anything about gun lobbyist bribes.
Rep. Sanford Bishop (Ga.), a gun-owning Blue Dog Democrat, said that while he thinks firearms should be subject to "reasonable regulation" for sake of public safety, the proposals championed by his fellow Democrats went too far.  "[R]egulation of firearms and individual gun ownership or use must be consistent with civil liberties such as due process, equal protection, freedom from unlawful searches, and privacy," Bishop said in a statement. "Unfortunately, none of the measures [House Democrats were pushing] … would adequately do that."
With fellow Georgian John Barrow defeated, Bishop is now one of the NRA's top Democratic moles in the House. He's taken $50,315 from the gun manufacturers, quite a bit more than Gohmert, although The Hill didn't feel that was germane to their story. Even more bizarre was their assertion that "Rep. Tim Walz (Minn.), another Democrat who almost certainly would have participated, is back in his district tending a family tragedy. Walz's brother, Craig, was killed Sunday by a tree toppled by violent storms that hit the northern Minnesota wilderness area where he was camping with his son." If Walz had participated he would have been hissing the Democrats from the Republican side of the aisle. Apparently no one at The Hill bothered to look up his gun-nut record in Congress or bothered to note that the gun nut groups have given him $20,950 in bribes.

The Hill also made excuses for Blue Dog Loretta Sanchez (CA) without mentioning that she;s taken $1,500 from the gun manufacturers. The closest they got to reporting that there were Democrats on the GOP side of the argument was in discussing 2 of the NRA Democrats from Texas, Filemon Vela and Gene Green, not even mentioning Henry Cuellar, an NRA stalwart. Gun lobbyist bribes to Green have amounted to $49,750, while Cuellar has sucked up $26,450 in blood money. There's no mention in the piece at all of NRA Dem Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN) who the NRA has rewarded with $84,500 in bribes for his pro-gun voting record. That's the most they've given to any Democrat still serving in the House.
Rep. Filemon Vela said he backs both of "the Republican-authored bipartisan bills that inspired the sit-in." But the Texas Blue Dog didn't participate, he said, out of concern that unnamed other Democrats were preparing to expand their protest beyond the gun reforms that were the central focus.

"I understand and respect the passion of other members of Congress who did participate in the sit-in, but I wasn't sure that the sit-in was going to be confined to the no fly bill," Vela said in an email.

His office declined to specify what other issues he feared would be broached. Rep. Gene Green, another Texas Democrat who declined to join the protest, was similarly cryptic. Green said he also supports both the gun reforms and "the members right to sit in," and a spokesman sent a list of reforms Green has championed. But he didn't clarify why Green steered clear of the sit-in.
Sunday we mentioned a very different kind of Texas Democrat, populist and progressive Tom Wakely who is running an overtly anti-gun violence campaign against Republican crackpot and NRA darling Lamar Smith ($59,650). Wakely: "As Gandhi so eloquently wrote: 'Nonviolence is the weapon of the strong.' What we are confronted with now is an epidemic of violence that is perpetuated by ignorance and fear. It's time to reverse the cycle. I'm ready to fight for the change that our country needs-- are you?"

The really big gun lobbyist money to House members goes to bribe top Republicans like Speaker Paul Ryan ($167,355) and sell-outs with committee positions willing to carry their agenda like Ken Calvert ($127,150), Steve Pearce ($121,081) and Dean Heller ($104,265) but that $84,500 in bribes to Collin Peterson certainly sends a message to rat-fucking Democrats that the NRA is willing to play across the aisle in return for "friendly" behavior.

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Can Bernie's Political Revolution Win One For Eric Kingson In Syracuse Today?


Eric and Bernie on Friday in Syracuse

Sunday, the Washington Post decided to speculate on what happens to Bernie's revolution from here. The Clinton campaign will probably get the last majority of Bernie voters-- polls indicate as much as 88% of them already-- but what about the energy and the fundraising? When that flow to a campaign to put someone into office who many Bernie supporters see backing the same agenda that they were motivated to oppose? The Hillary delegates in the platform battles have already voted down a stronger $15/hour minimum wage proposal by Keith Ellison, voted down opposition to the TPP and fracking, voted down pretty much everything that most excites many Bernie supporters.

Friday Bernie made his first congressional campaign stop in Syracuse and it was for Eric Kingson, co-founder of SocialSecurityWorks, someone Bernie has known and worked with for years. 500 people showed up at the downtown ­Oncenter, making it the biggest rally, by far, for any congressional candidate in Syracuse this cycle. The Post asserts that "the campaign stop, Sanders’s first for a congressional candidate, offered a glimpse of the post-presidential-bid figure he would like to become: a politician who uses his unexpectedly strong showing in the presidential race to push his progressive policies in Congress, in campaigns and across the country."

This is a tough race-- with 3 Democrats facing off against each other, Kingson, the progressive, and two unaccomplished party hacks, one backed by Steve Israel and one backed by Gillibrand and Schumer, neither showing even the slightest indication of being able to make any mark in Congress whatsoever. The DCCC and EMILY's List, representing the right-of-center as usual, have backed Colleen Deacon, a low-level Gillibrand staffer, who would do exactly what she was told for eternity. If Kingson beats her today, it will be a very big deal.

The Post, though, is more interested in "the fate of perhaps the biggest donor list in politics." They say "Sanders is facing a challenge almost as steep as a presidential campaign. How does a revolutionary persuade his supporters to continue the revolution with someone else? Can he maintain the enthusiasm of followers who were new to politics after falling in the primaries to establishment stalwart Hillary Clinton? Can he transfer his popularity to relatively unknown figures?"
On his website, Sanders has already started to make the transition from active presidential candidate to another kind of leader. “This is your movement,” it now says, showing a montage of diverse faces.

And at the urging of his wife, Jane Sanders, he has been talking to his inner circle about launching a grass-roots organization to harness the energy of his supporters. Among aides, there is chatter about who might staff such an organization, which might resemble Democracy for America, the group that former Vermont governor Howard Dean launched following his failed 2004 presidential bid.

Sanders’s profile in the Senate is expected to increase once he returns to the chamber full time, and aides say he will almost certainly seek reelection in 2018-- though it is unclear whether either will translate into more muscle on Capitol Hill. Sanders has suggested that he will try to mobilize his supporters around key issues and that he wants to lead the Health, Education, ­Labor and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over many of the high-profile issues he pushed during his campaign.

Sanders’s donor list, which the campaign says includes 2.7 million contributors across the country, is another uncertain-- and highly coveted-- asset. Sanders proved to be a surprisingly potent fundraiser, taking in more than $229 million as of last month, the vast majority in online, low-dollar increments.
Would donors to that list-- I'm one and over a thousand Blue America members are as well-- start giving money to Hillary or to right-of-center DCCC and DSCC candidates? Some might. I can't imagine any Blue America members doing so.
What is unclear is whether Sanders, who enjoys higher favorable numbers than Clinton or President Obama, will ever tell those voters to support the winner of the presidential primary contests. [That's absurd; it's very clear Bernie will hold his nose and endorse Hillary and tell his supporters to back her to defeat the Trump menace.]

Clinton aides have privately expressed frustration over Sanders’s continuing campaign and refusal to this point to endorse her, a step they believe could help unify the party heading into the fall.

“The intensity of his supporters is so much greater than the intensity for any other candidate, including Hillary Clinton,” said Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.), a Clinton endorser whose El Paso-based district went strongly for her but who suggested that Sanders could pull out voters who might normally skip elections. “In El Paso, she crushed him, and yet in terms of incoming calls and emails to our office, asking where to vote, it was like 3 to 1 Bernie. In Texas, he could get some of those folks who don’t traditionally vote to come out.”

Sanders’s role is under discussion, but he has said a more immediate priority is trying to find common ground on the issues he championed during the primaries.

“It’s not just Bernie Sanders saying, ‘Oh, yes, just vote for Hillary Clinton,’” Sanders told CNN on Sunday. “It is Hillary Clinton standing up and saying, ‘You know what? These are the things we need to do.’ And if she does the right thing, I am absolutely confident that the vast majority of my supporters will vote for her.”

Sanders has been lobbying Clinton to embrace several of his proposals, including tuition-free public universities and a $15 minimum wage. Asked why he had yet to endorse Clinton during an appearance Friday on CBS This Morning, Sanders said he had not “heard her say the things that need to be said.”

That struggle is visible in Sanders’s attempts to influence the Democratic Party platform, as well. A chief reason he has given for remaining an active candidate, the negotiations illustrate both the opportunity and the limitations of his newfound status.

A draft document approved Saturday would move the party to the left on wages, banking reform and climate change, and represents several concessions by Clinton. But Clinton allies on the panel also resisted Sanders’s aggressive overtures on trade, several environmental issues and universal health care, a core of Sanders’s mission to tackle income inequality.

There is some evidence that most Sanders supporters have already fallen in line behind Clinton. In a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday, just 8 percent of Democrats said they would vote for Trump; just 1 percent of Democrats and 3 percent of self-identified “liberals” said they would vote for the Green Party.

The Clinton camp, meanwhile, is moving forward with the use of other high-powered campaign surrogates. On Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another darling of the left and a potential running mate, will campaign with Clinton in the battleground state of Ohio. Obama is expected to join Clinton on the campaign trail soon.
When Kingson debated his establishment opponents Friday , they clashed on "whether to raise the minimum wage to a 'living wage' or specifically to $15, whether to expand Social Security or merely raise the cap on the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, or FICA.

If a well-meaning but inconsequential hack like Deacon or Williams wins the primary, there's a good chance a pattern will repeat itself in the district. The Democrat will win in November when Democrats turn out to vote in the residential election. And then in 2018, a Republican will win because niether Deacon nor Williams will give any Democrats a reason to vote for them-- just the way the last last Democart in the seat, worthless New Dem Dan Maffei won in 2008 because of Obama, lost in 2010 because of what a terrible hack he turned out to be, won again in 2012 because of Obama again and then lost again in 2014, because of what a terrible hack he was when Democrats gave him a second chance. Neither Deacon nor Williams would alter that narrative one iota. Eric Kingson sure would, though.

The other crucial primary in New York for progressives is taking place in NY-19, south and east of Kingson's district, where Zephyr Teachout faces the voters. She is highly favored to win, probably by a landslide. We'll update this post later with results from both districts.

UPDATE: Election Results

In Oklahoma City the results are painfully close.

In Colorado, the nut that won was Darryl Glenn, very convincingly. You can see a rundown of who all these lunatics are here.

In New York, the two big races were a split. In NY-19 Zephyr Teachout had a blowout-- 73% to 26% for Will Yandik. She'll be facing John Faso, who beat Andrew Heaney. But the other Berniecrat running, Eric Kingson in NY-24 came in second to establishment favorite Colleen Deacon. She scored 48% to his 32% and just 19% for the Steve Israel-recruited Steve Williams.

Other notable races were in NY-01 (Suffolk County), where the races too close to call between two bad candidates, Anna Throne-Holst leads Dave Calone by 29 votes (50.06% to 49.79%). In NY-02, the Steve Israel seat, Tom Suozzi beat the Steve Israel cronies running. With 5 candidates, Suozzi took 35% of the vote and Israel's puppet, Steve Stern, took 22% who was tied with Jon Kaiman for second place. And the millionaire gay Zionist anti-peace candidate who the Hassidic rabbis ran against Jerry Nadler to get even with Nadler for his support of an anti-nuke deal with Iran, lost pitifully. Nadler won 25,527 votes (88.90%) to Mikhail Oliver Rosenberg's 2,949 (10.26%).

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Ryan's Better Way May Be Better For Wealthy People Who Hate Paying Their Fair Share Of Taxes, But It's Devastating For Seniors


Paul Ryan's political raison d'être has been clear since he was first elected to Congress-- slashing the New Deal and subsequent social insurance policies to ribbons. That's what he got from reading Ayn Rand's books when he was just a little right-wing nut in high school. Now he's a big right-wing nut in the House of Representatives and every year-- without fail-- he comes up with new ways of packaging and marketing his never-changing austerity goals.

Last week, when he presented his plan to kill Obamacare, he, somewhat predictably threw in a proposal to raise the age of eligibility for Medicare by two years, to age 67, in the hopes that enough people will die in those two years that taxes on his wealthy supporters can be further reduced.

I know from personal experience-- having been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at age 65-- what that means to people on Social Security. My treatments cost well over $2 million. The way Republicans want to change the insurance system, that means, in effect, I wouldn't have been treated and instead of writing this post about Paul Ryan today, I'd be dead or dying, despite having paid substantial taxes for half a century. (Well, in the early part of my career, the taxes I paid we're very substantial but I made up for that in later years when I did very well and paid large sums.)

Ryan, who survived a prematurely dead father because of Social Security, is now positively obsessed with lowering the meager standard of living of Social Security recipients. There are no Republicans running for Congress who don't back Ryan's "Better Way" proposals to diminish social insurance for the elderly. Extremists may be celebrating it, but even Republicans who try to pass themselves off as "mainstream," want to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits and regularly vote for Ryan's annual plans to do just that.

Our old friend, Carol Shea-Porter, running in New Hampshire's first district to win back her seat from teabagger Frank Guinta also comes at this from a personal experience, the way most Americans do. "I grew up in a three generation household, she told us. "My wonderful parents sheltered and cared for my great uncle and my grandmother in their old age. Medicare was essential to my dad's uncle and my mom's mother because they both had medical problems. If Congress had raised the eligibility age then, nobody else could have covered their bills. Paul Ryan knows that. Frank Guinta knows that. They have very cruel agendas, but delaying medical care to those who have no way to earn enough to pay without Medicare is despicable."

The progressive Democrat running in PA-07 in the Philly suburbs is Mary Ellen Balchunis. Her opponent, Rep Pat Meehan is one of those fake "moderates" the media always looks to to save the day, though they are only interested in saving their only careers. Last night Mary Ellen told us that Meehan claims to have "supported the Background Check bill, knowing full well the Republicans would not be calling it for a vote. If he were serious about the bill, he would call for a discharge petition to get a vote on the floor. He has just told Delaware County United for Sensible Gun Laws that the events of Orlando did not change his mind;  and he would not support a ban on assault weapons. (Meehan has received two A ratings from the NRA; and he is the fourth highest recipient in PA Congressional delegation of NRA money.) He is no different on Medicare and Social Security. His rhetoric does not match his action. The Republican party put out literature saying that Congressman Meehan would never vote to privatize Medicare and Social Security; but every chance that Meehan has gotten, he has voted to privitize both. We actually filed a complaint with the FEC. Of course, it did not go anywhere. Meehan has gotten booed at a senior center when he announced that he wanted to increase the retirement age. He told the audience that it would not apply to them, but they told him that they care what happens to their children and grandchildren too. When there was a vote that gave a tax break to the less than 1%, Meehan voted to give them another break. He is no moderate.

Speaker Paul Ryan was chair of the House and Ways Committee before becoming Speaker. You don't get put on the Ways and Means Committee if you are a moderate; Congressman Meehan was appointed the the House and Ways Committee. Meehan can sell himself how ever he wants, but when he gets the opportunity to help the elderly over the wealthy, money wins."

Alina Valdes is the official canddiate of the Democratic Party taking on Mario Diaz-Balart, a South Florida old line reactionary posing, from time to time, as a mainstream politician. He isn't. And because Alina is a medical doctor, we were eager to hear her take on what Ryan, Diaz-Balart and the rets of the Republicans are hoping to do to the system. A berniecrat, she's an avid advocate for expanding the New Deal programs and adamantly opposes cutting them:
As a country, we have traditionally expanded benefits for our seniors, our poor, and our disabled but lately, it has seemed that this Republican-controlled Congress is more concerned about entitlements for the wealthy and corporate welfare. They continue to cut programs that feed the hungry and help shelter and clothe the working poor, who are trying hard to maintain low wage jobs just to pay their bills. As a consequence, we have a high rate of poverty, including about 40% of our children, while income inequality continues to increase as the wealthy are rewarded with tax breaks and loopholes. In order to attempt to balance the budget, the Republican hard-line has been to cut benefits to seniors, who are barely getting by on their Social Security. This same Congress also wants to cut the ability of seniors to qualify or use their Medicare benefits by increasing the age to qualify for both programs and adding higher copays and deductibles so their health insurance corporate friends benefit with even higher profits at the expense of the elderly and sick. My Republican opponent in Florida's CD-25 supports and votes for these cuts that will adversely affect a large majority of the middle class and poor, the same people who he is supposed to represent and who have worked their entire lives to reach retirement only to find that they need to continue to work low level jobs to stay alive and make sure that they manage to stay healthy. There is no more security in growing old anymore as benefits are cut time and time again while the cost of living continues to rise. The Republican solution to getting sick is to hurry up and die, especially with people living longer because of technological advances. They mean to deny people who are not fortunate enough to be well-endowed financially these very same advances by cutting their earned benefits so they do just that.

As a physician who has worked my entire life with these very populations the Republicans are trying to undermine, I have seen for myself and heard many stories of people struggling to provide for their families while staying healthy since any illness is catastrophic for themselves and their families. In the homeless shelter clinic, I am seeing more and more seniors unable to maintain an abode or buy nutritious food so they end up on the streets homeless and hungry. This is not the future that I want to see or live in. We can increase benefits for our seniors by cutting corporate welfare and having the wealthy pay their fair share into the system they have benefitted from but now seem to be taking advantage of with the laws this Republican-controlled Congress continues to pass. Everyone deserves a fair chance at living with dignity and decency and it is time that these corporate-controlled shills are fired by the people for not doing their jobs. It is time to elect new faces with fresh minds who will truly work hard to make lives better for everyone and one of those people is me.
Paul Clements, running in southwest Michigan for the seat occupied by fake-moderate Fred Upton, summed it up well. "This November Americans face a choice. Will economic insecurity continue to increase for most Americans? Will access to health care be reduced? And will the super-rich who have gained so spectacularly in recent decades see their taxes cut even further? Or will we return to the New Deal trajectory to an economy that supports the life and liberty of all Americans? Yet another Paul Ryan budget plan, supported once again by my opponent Fred Upton, would take us further down the path of insecurity for most and ever greater wealth for the few. It is basic to American democracy that we support dignity for our seniors. In Congress I will work to strengthen Social Security and expand health benefits for the elderly."

Let's help make sure Ryan's dystopian vision is never enacted, by replacing stooges of his like Guinta, Meehan, Diaz-Balart and Upton with committed progressives Carol Shea-Porter, Mary Ellen Balchunis, Alina Valdes and Paul Clements. You can find all four of them at this thermometer:
Goal Thermometer

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Tomorrow Is Primary Day


Well... it is for voters in congressional races in Colorado, New York, Oklahoma and Utah. New York is tomorrow's big deal but let's take a quick look at the other state's first. There are no serious primaries for either party in House races in Colorado but there's a hot Senate contest. The state has 5 crackpot Republicans-- down from 15-- competing to face dull corporate Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet, who doesn't deserve reelection but will be judged as the lesser of two evils and will likely be helped by a reaction against-- and revulsion to-- Trump.

As of March 31 Bennet had raised $11,977,673 and spent $4,403,288. The Republicans haven't raised nearly as much-- combined:
Jack Graham- $1,341,605
Robert Blaha- $1,096,433
John Keyser- $400,209
Ryan Frazier- $352,181
Darryl Glenn- $45,462
Jim DeMint's far right Senate Conservatives PAC spent $539,355 on Glenn, so his low number is somewhat deceptive. Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin have also been campaigning for him, so that'll give you an idea about who the craziest extremist is in the race. He's a religious nut who brags about an unwillingness to compromise with Democrats-- which may work for a GOP primary, but is a sure-fire losing message in a Colorado general eelction. He also says he won't vote for McConnell to keep his job as GOP leader.

Former Rams quarterback and fired Colorado State athletic director Jack Graham, a former Democrat who is now billing himself as a "pro-Choice Republican," is supposed to be the "moderate" in the race but admits he supports Trump. He self-funded to the tune of $1,000,000, which is what explains why he's so far ahead of the other candidates' war-chests.

State Rep Jon Keyser was supposedly the national GOP establishment pick but he faded quickly, especially after it was discovered he had submitted petitions full of forged signatures to qualify for the ballot and after a widely panned ad accusing Obama and Bennet of wanting to give Iran nuclear weapons.

Robert Blaha is a rich, crooked businessman-- he also self-funded $1,000,000 into his campaign-- running as the Trumpist. He's best known for his TV ads about Hitler and about fist-fucking.

There are no races in Utah worth looking at-- all very status quo in the primaries. With one exception, OK-05, there are no serious primaries in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma City congressional seat's freshman incumbent, Steve Russell, is too extreme for the district and in a Trump wipeout he could be vulnerable. There are 3 Democrats running for the endorsement, conservative Al McAffrey, who has nothing to offer and was slaughtered by Russell in 2014, Leona Leonard and progressive champion Tom Guild, the candidate with a clear progressive message to challenge Russell with. He's the Berniecrat in the race-- and in a state that went heavily for Bernie. And Blue America has endorsed him. (You can contribute to his campaign here.)

OK, on to New York. Tragically, democracy isn't vibrant enough in the Empire State for anyone to be challenging Wall Street whore Chuck Schumer. There's a hot primary between two mediocre Democrats in NY-01 at the eastern end of Suffolk County. Lee Zeldin is the incumbent and the two weak corporate Dems duking it out with each other are Dave Calone (New Dem) and Anna Throne-Holst, an independent who is rumored to be screwing Steve Israel and just switched to a Democratic registration. Any of the three promises more bad representation for Suffolk County.

Speaking of Steve Israel, he was forced to quit in order to avoid a likely prison sentence in the criminal case that was hatched by Israel and has already sent Ami Bera's father to prison and will probably see charges against Patrick Murphy and his parents as well. His handpicked replacement is a hack named Steve Stern but there are 4 other Democrats in the race as well, including Berniecrat Jonathan Clarke and likely winner Tom Suozzi.

If there is one New York House incumbent whose over-the-top corruption cries out for a primary opponent it's Gregory Meeks in NY-05 (Queens) and Ali Mirza is running against him. As of March 31 Meeks had spent $629,896 and Mirza had spent $21,559.

Progressive icon Jerry Nadler is being challenged by a gay bankster fronting Jewish extremists in Brooklyn who oppose peace with Iran, Oliver Rosenberg. In a low turn-out election, the right-wing Democrats hope they can turn out enough zombie-like Hassidics to beat Nadler but that's highly unlikely with as unattractive a candidate as Rosenberg.

Ken covered the race to replace Charlie Rangel in NY-13 (Harlem) last week here. There isn't anyone good in the race.

Out of New York City there are two crucial primaries pitting stellar Berniecrats, Zephyr Teachout (NY-19) and Eric Kingson (NY-24) against run-of-the-mill uninspiring Democratic careerists. Teachout and Kingson are two of Blue America's top candidates for 2016 but both have to win their primaries tomorrow in order to go on to November. Teachout looks like a shoe-in against some guy named Will Yandik. Kingson, the founder of SocialSecurityWorks, and a Bernie appointee on the Democratic Convention platform committee, is up against a low level Kirsten Gillibrand staffer, Colleen Deacon, running on the platform of "I woman" and some guy Steve Israel dug up, Steve Williams.

As of the March 31 FEC filing deadline fundraising among the 3 Democrats was neck-and-neck but after Bernie endorsed Kingson 2 weeks ago small contributions started flooding in for him and he is probably out ahead in fundraising now. The only outside spending so far has been from Blue America, $14,500 for a mobile track (photo above) and I believe another couple thousand for a Google ad:

If you live in the Upper Hudson Valley and the Catskills, please remember to go vote for Zephyr Teachout tomorrow, and in the Syracuse area of Central New York, Eric Kingson. You can find both at the thermometer below:
Goal Thermometer

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