Saturday, April 19, 2014

There Is "Bipartisanship" And Then There Is Bipartisanship-- West Virginia And California


Evan Jenkins was a very right-wing Democrat who followed his opportunistic instincts to switch parties recently and run against a right-wing Democrat who hasn't switched parties, Nick Rahall. Jenkins' TV spot above has a couple of lines I want to call special attention to:
"Nick Rahall-- a lying politician, just like Obama. A better choice: Evan Jenkins-- the backbone to defend our way of life from Obama's 'War On Coal.' Jenkins puts West Virginians first, not politics. Work with both parties, create jobs… That's Evan Jenkins."
"Work with both parties?" By calling Rahall and Obama liars, making up noonsense about a "war on coal?" Demonizing Democrats? Jenkns may mean he's willing to work with the Republican Party and the Tea Party when he says "both parties." But one thing is sure-- none of these corporate whores from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party are willing to represent the interests of ordinary working families-- not in the valleys of West Virginia and not in California's Silicon Valley. We'll get back to Ro Khanna and the Republican wing of the Democratic Party in Silicon Valley in a moment.

First, let's take a look at some real bipartisanship from one of Mike Honda's biggest California supporters, Nancy Pelosi. Last week, the Democratic House Leader responded to a letter from both Democratic and Republican governors, most of whom really are more interested in solving problems than in scoring political points. House Republicans and right-wing candidates like Jenkins may oppose renewing emergency unemployment insurance for millions of workers but governors understand that for their states to succeed, their people have to succeed. Republicans in the House are too immersed with political game-playing to even ever consider that. Pelosi's letter, in part, to Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) and Brian Sandoval (R-NV):
I have received your letter of April 11 expressing your support for the bipartisan measure to renew emergency unemployment insurance overwhelmingly passed out of the Senate last week.

…It is unconscionable that the House has not acted to renew emergency unemployment insurance. But as you know, House Republicans have blocked the House from considering this desperately needed legislation each and every time Democrats have moved to hold a vote.

Never before has Congress allowed emergency unemployment insurance to expire while long-term unemployment rates have remained so high. Failure to restore this lynchpin of economic security for the long-term unemployed is costing us 240,000 jobs this year alone. House Republicans' refusal to extend emergency unemployment insurance is callous, shortsighted and immoral.

House Democrats will continue to push for a vote to extend emergency unemployment insurance, and to advance the bipartisan Senate legislation in the House. Your bipartisan letter, together with those from other governors, and the countless letters from Americans reeling from the loss of their unemployment insurance, reminds us just how critical this work is.

Thanks you for your support in this effort, and I look forward to working with you to pass this vital legislation as soon as possible.
So… bipartisanship. 38 crackpot Republican obstructionists in the Senate, who would rather see America and Americans fail than see Obama succeed, voted NO, but both Nevada senators, Democrat Harry Reid and Republican Dean Heller voted for the bill. Sandoval must have been relieved. Of Nevada's 4 House Members, though, there is a split-- a party line split, the two Democrats, Dina Titus and Steven Horsford, want to pass the Senate bill, while the two Republicans, Mark Amodei and Joe Heck, are too scared to break with Boehner and support the efforts. In West Virginia, Rahall wants to vote for the Senate bill but, of course, Evan Jenkins would like to get into Congress and oppose it… "defending our way of life?"

Like I said earlier, Nancy Pelosi has been one of Mike Honda's most steadfast backers in his battle against Ro Khanna and the Republican wing of the Democratic Party trying to take his seat. Though Khanna has been a major conduit for Indo-American money into the Democratic Party and Pelosi knows him well, she helped persuade the entire California congressional delegation to back Honda. "Congressman Mike Honda's life," she said when endorsing him, "has been a tribute to the quintessential American ideals of equality and opportunity for all. From a childhood spent in an internment camp, Mike has risen to the heights of American leadership-- as one of the top Democrats on the powerful Appropriations Committee and a critical voice for fairness, the rights of LGBT couples and all families. Mike is a bold and effective leader who understands the needs of Silicon Valley and the 17th District, ensuring American competitiveness and fighting for American manufacturing, comprehensive immigration reform, STEM education and technological innovation. We need his continued leadership for our nation in the House of Representatives, and I am proud to endorse him."

Honda has been a champion for ordinary working families and Khanna has a long, clear and shameful record of deceit and cheating going back many years. Lately he's been howling about a "bipartisan" approach. But his bipartisanship is much like Evan Jenkins'. Jenkins has already switched to the GOP. Khanna's donors are Republicans and if voters in CA-17 were, he would have switched as well. Last week, his response to Mike Honda's vote against the toxic Ryan budget and for the more responsible, progressive alternative budget was a slimy OpEd in the San Jose Mercury News blaming "both sides," as though progressives like Honda standing up for working families equates with the sociopathic and obstructionist Republicans doing the bidding of their (and Khanna's) avaricious donors. Khanna calls for "compromise," meaning cutting Social Security-- he backs Chained CPI, for example, a method of cutting seniors' cost of living increases-- and cutting back on Medicare, although what he talks about in his OpEd are teaching computer coding and programming in schools, something Honda has long championed. Khanna, like Jenkins, is a joke. If he wins the June primary, though, the joke will be on us. You can help Mike Honda beat back this conservative challenge here at the Blue America incumbents page.

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When the young(er) Joanie Caucus met up with the Doonesbury gang


You remember this Doonesbury strip?

DOONESBURY -- Monday, Februay 4, 2013

[Click to enlarge]

by Ken

Awhile back, pursuing an earlier fit of Doonesbury nostalgia, I offered "Our own Doonesbury flashback: When Joanie Caucus joined Elizabeth Warren's Senate staff," reprising two weeks' worth of strips that Garry Trudeau himself had just reprinted, originally from February and March 2013, when our old, old Doonesbury companion Joanie Caucus came out of retirement to join the Senate staff of Elizabeth Warren, whose candidacy she had supported so ardently. What I couldn't get over, and had to give Garry Trudeau immense credit for, was allowing his characters to face the rigors of time. Which made it harder, not easier, for me to deal with the Joanie of modern times (now a great-grandmother!):

Lately Garry T has been flashing back to the earliest days of Doonesbury, days before I discovered the strip, from which I've seen only the occasional reprised or anthologized specimen. And among the resurrected strips have been those that introduced us and the Doonesbury gang, then ensconced in their Walden commune, to the young(er) Joanie. I couldn't resist revisiting how she came into their, and our, lives.

DOONESBURY by Garry Trudeau

Joanie meets Mark S and Mike D, then Zonker H
[Click on any strip to enlarge it]

Day 1

Day 2

Two days later

Joanie starts a job -- in day care
[Click on any strip to enlarge it]

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3



PA-13-- How Much More Mud Will The Mezvinsky Clan Drag The Clintons Through?


I hate the money game that American electoral politics has devolved into, drowning out ideas and, in too many cases, all agendas and even visions other than those of the donor class. But it's how the Beltway pundits and the mass media view momentum and electability. And, normally, the candidate with the most money wins-- not always, but most frequently. In the PA-13 (northeast Philly and Montgomery County in the clsoe-in Philadelphia 'burbs) race to replace Allyson Schwartz, the candidate long dubbed the "front-runner," a corrupt, conservative wretch and former failed congresswoman best known these days as Chelsea Clinton's mother-in-law, may have raised the most money-- with help from the Clintons-- but, through gross incompetence, a hallmark of her long, sordid career-- she has the least to spend in the primary. Cash-on-hand that can be used in the primary (as of April 1):
Daylin Leach- $598,311
Val Arkoosh- $577,225
Brendan Boyle- $309,420
Marjorie Margolies Mezvinsky- $2,226
Years ago, when Margolies Mezvinsky and her husband, also a member of Congress (from Iowa), were caught up in one of the worst congressional fraud scandals in history-- he served 5 years in a federal prison while she walked away scott free-- she tried evading her debts by going to bankruptcy court. The judge was not amused and refused to grant her the discharge from her debts she waqs seeking. The court found Marjorie had failed to satisfactorily explain a significant "loss of assets" in the four years prior to her bankruptcy filing and the judge stated, in her published opinion, "I find that the Debtor has failed to satisfactorily explain the loss of approximately $775,000 worth of assets (the difference between the $810,000 represented in May 1996 and the $35,000 now claimed in her Amended Schedule B)."

Life just sort of happens around Marjorie. Money comes and goes, appears and disappears, and she is oblivious. She is either lying, or is someone we want nowhere near the federal treasury. Her claims that she had "no idea" where all the money went when her husband stole it was not credible. That may have been "a long time ago" but more recently she claimed she had nothing to do with raising her own salary at her charity, when the minutes show it was her idea and she voted on it. She has always been bad news for the Clintons but they continue supporting her. Now people are asking about the shady finances around the event Bill Clinton did for her a couple weeks ago. If the April 10 Clinton event cost $15,000-- does that include the secret service costs?-- and had to paid up front, which one would imagine the restaurant and the Warwick Hotel required, and its not on her campaign finance reports, then she is breaking the law in two ways:
1. She did not file an accurate campaign finance report

2. She used general election money for primary expenses.
Now comes the problem of her immense campaign burn rate, close to $75,000, mostly on a bevy of greedy, avaricious consultants and staffers-- no TV. She has been badly mismanaging her campaign funds and shouldn't be elected based on that alone-- even without getting into her refusal to answer voters' questions on policy or on her anti-family agenda of crushing retirees' dignity. One has to wonder why Josh Shapiro, Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, is supporting a candidate with a clear pattern of ethical problems who is unable to manage money in a transparent way. This is what Philly area voters who read the Inquirer woke up to this morning: Margolies Seems To Be Losing Fundraising Race.
It turns out a visit from Bill Clinton isn't the only thing Marjorie Margolies needs to complete her political comeback. More money would help, too-- a lot more.

Campaign finance reports released this week show that Margolies, widely viewed as the front-runner to reclaim the congressional seat she lost two decades ago, was limping into the final stretch.

While most of her 13th District rivals boasted hundreds of thousands of dollars stored up by early March, Margolies had barely $5,000 left to spend on her campaign before the May 20 primary, according to reports she filed with the Federal Election Commission.

"I don't think Marjorie can do anything for the next couple of weeks. How's she going to pay staff? How's she going to pay rent? How's she going to buy postage?" said Dan Fee, a Democratic political consultant who is not affiliated with the race to replace Allyson Y. Schwartz in a district covering parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County.

Margolies' campaign had an additional $155,000 on hand, but it was designated for the general election, the reports show. Under federal law, candidates cannot spend or borrow general-election funds before the primary is over.

…[F]or the last two quarters, she spent more than she raised-- and she spent most of it in the office.

In the first three months of 2014, more than 77 percent of Margolies' expenses went to consultants and pollsters. Smukler, for example, has received $199,000 since June for media outreach, research, and general consulting.

Fee said that in a campaign of this size, candidates usually try to keep administrative costs to about 20 percent, and save the bulk of their cash for advertising.

"I would be shocked if [her campaign] can point to a single example of a nonincumbent winning when other people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV and they spend none," he said.

Lara Brown, associate professor at the graduate school of political management at George Washington University, said Margolies' spending patterns could turn off some donors.

"A burn rate like that starts to raise questions in donors' minds about why they should give you money," Brown said. "The first question that comes to mind is, how serious is this campaign? Does she really want to win, or does she simply want to essentially have her name out there again?"

Two of Margolies' opponents-- physician Valerie Arkoosh and State Sen. Daylin Leach-- have raised more than $1 million each and have more than $550,000 left to spend in the next month.

Both Arkoosh and Leach have reserved more than $400,000 worth of TV time in the two weeks before the primary. Margolies has not reserved any airtime, and would need a significant infusion of cash to do so.

State Rep. Brendan Boyle, running fourth in fund-raising, had $320,000 cash to spend on the primary in the first quarter. Boyle's fund-raising totals also appeared rosier on the surface than they were.

Nearly 15 percent of Boyle's total fund-raising came from in-kind donations, mostly from his staff and interns… No other candidates have listed a significant number of in-kind contributions, from themselves or others.
The primary is May 20th and Blue America has endorsed Daylin Leach. If you'd like to learn more about the substance of his campaign, here are a few posts we've run already. And here's the place where you can chip in to make sure he-- and not someone from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- is the nominee.

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CA-33-- One Way To Know What To Expect From Political Leaders Is To Examine What They've Already Done


Wendy Greuel has a shocking campaign payroll. She has an army of lame, high-priced consultants from outside the area who can't seem to lessen the intensity of the negative perception their employer has working against her in the CA-33 House race. Instead, they're running around whispering their poisonous messages about the other candidates to anyone who will listen. The latest is a nasty attack on Marianne Williamson as the "Paris Hilton candidate," although it doesn't seem to be based on anything concrete other than that other Hollywood celebrities-- though not Hilton-- have endorsed Williamson and some, like Alanis Morissette and Chaka Khan, have done events for her. But the district includes the places were Hollywood celebrities actually live-- unlike Valley girl Greuel. It will be hard for her and her sleazy team of outsiders to demonize them or people who are endorsed by them.

One of the more trustworthy Members of Congress watching this race closely-- someone who admires Williamson but hasn't endorsed her (yet)-- asked me, rhetorically, I think, "What has Wendy Greuel ever done to touch anyone's life?" Good point-- and, basically, it's what a lot of Angelenos ask themselves about Greuel, including former allies who helped finance her shady, failed campaign against Eric Garcetti last year.

When I asked my neighbors, who aren't very "political," if they had ever heard of any of the candidates, they said they hadn't-- and didn't care. I mentioned Marianne. They heard of her. One of them started crying. They both said Marianne saved their lives. I assumed they meant that it was because of something in one of her books, or maybe in a one of her lectures. Her whole career has been the polar opposite of a grubby career politician like Wendy Greuel. Her career has been about reaching out and touching people and making their lives better. Maybe Wendy should try reading some of those books before she runs for her next office.

But maybe it wasn't one of Marianne's books that brought on the strong emotional reaction from my neighbors. Maybe it was Project Angel Food. Do you know what that is? While Greuel was switching from the Republican Party to the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, Marianne was starting Project Angel Food, an outreach program that was an outgrowth of the Center for Spiritual Living, providing non-medical services to people with life threatening disease. People came to the center for meals and care. Then when the Aids victims started to not show up because they were too ill to leave their homes, Marianne started to deliver the meals on wheels program. That was back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. When Marianne started the program, she started delivering 15 meals. It grew to 90 meals a day in 1990 and to over 1,000 meals a day by 2000. Today they have delivered over 8 million meals That's not what career politicians like Wendy Greuel do. No they're too busy climbing the ladder of political opportunism, which is, basically, all she has ever done.

"Project Angel Food emerged from a crisis," Marianne told us yesterday. "People were aware that the situation was one of life and death, and we acted because we had to. I see a crisis in America today-- not a question of life or death necessarily, but a question of whether we retain our democracy or not. That's still a crisis, and once again it's time for us to act."

Career politicians like Greuel, who have never done anything for anyone on the planet earth, need to understand what service means before they offer themselves to the public. People don't like politicians because so many of them are just like Greuel. So few of them are anything like Marianne Williamson. If she wins this congressional seat, that could change. Thats' what people mean when they say Williamson's campaign is transformative. If Greuel wins, I can assure you nothing will change; everything will continue on its dismal downward spiral.

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DC 's Conservative Consensus Has Us On The Road To Patrimonial Capitalism


Paul Krugman to Bill Moyers: "We’re seeing inequalities that will be transferred across generations. We are becoming very much the kind of society we imagined we’re nothing like." Wednesday was my sister's birthday. In her honor, we ran a post, Oligarchy, It's Never Too Late For Americans To Recapture Democracy. But maybe it is.

Yesterday, Marianne Williamson, one of the leading candidates running for Henry Waxman's old congressional seat (CA-33) tweeted that this was the reason she is running. What she was pointing to was part of the BBC's "Today's Must-Read," a study of the replacement of U.S. democracy with an oligarchy. It's very much what I wrote about in the host for my sister and very much what Krugman was discussing with Bill Moyers. It's more important for the American public-- if not the Clintons and Mezvinskys-- than this:

The US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite.

So concludes a recent study by Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page.

This is not news, you say.

Perhaps, but the two professors have conducted exhaustive research to try to present data-driven support for this conclusion. Here's how they explain it:

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.

The two professors came to this conclusion after reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. They broke the responses down by income level, and then determined how often certain income levels and organised interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted.

"A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time," they write, "while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time."

On the other hand:

When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it.

They conclude:

Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.

Eric Zuess, writing in Counterpunch, isn't surprised by the survey's results.

"American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it's pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation's "news" media)," he writes. "The US, in other words, is basically similar to Russia or most other dubious 'electoral' 'democratic' countries. We weren't formerly, but we clearly are now."

This is the "Duh Report", says Death and Taxes magazine's Robyn Pennacchia. Maybe, she writes, Americans should just accept their fate.

"Perhaps we ought to suck it up, admit we have a classist society and do like England where we have a House of Lords and a House of Commoners," she writes, "instead of pretending as though we all have some kind of equal opportunity here."
Watch the full Moyers interview with Krugman below-- and forget your preconceptions when you go to the polls next November… which you should do even if you only want to write in "none of the above."

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Urban Gadabout: Coming up -- Wolfe Walkers spring walks, World of the #7 Train, Jane's Walk Weekend


The No. 7 train to Flushing here has its most dramatic view of the Manhattan skyline. Jack Eichenbaum is doing this year's version of his "signature tour," the all-day "World of the #7 Train," on May 31 (see below).

by Ken

I mentioned recently that I did a pre-Passover tour with Justin Ferate to the heart of Chassidic Brooklyn -- to the worldwide nerve center of Chabad Lubavitch, on and around Kingston Avenue below Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights South. It was the first tour on Justin's Wolfe Walkers Spring 2014 Calendar. (You can download the Spring 2014 brochure here.) When our utterly engaging tour guide from the Chassidic Discovery Center, Rabbi Beryl Epstein, asked us all to introduce ourselves and explain briefly how we had come to take that day's tour, I was tempted to offer as my reason that Justin had scheduled a tour there, and if Justin thinks it's worth visiting, the odds are awfully good that it is.

Which is pretty much my governing principle in attacking each Wolfe Walkers brochure when it becomes available. Next up on the schedule (and I don't know if there's even still space) is:
Walking Tour with Queens Food Specialist Jeff Orlick
Saturday, April 26, 2014, 1:30pm-approx. 5pm
(Note: The start time is a half-hour earlier than is indicated in the brochure. Justin just sent out this change of time late tonight, as requested by Jeff, "to ensure that we are given ample time to savor the experience.")

Here’s the tour you’ve been asking for! Join the noted Queens food specialist Jeff Orlick on this very special food discovery tour of perhaps the most diverse area in the world: Roosevelt Avenue in Queens. Experience the cultural enclaves of Jackson Heights, Woodside, and Elmhurst in one afternoon. Get an insider’s view to as many as nine cultures such as Tibetan, Nepalese, Filipino, Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Mexican, Ecuadorian, Colombian, Thai and more in one afternoon. In neighborhoods noted for their complex array of cultures and ethnicities, we’ll taste our way across the globe to demonstrate Jeff’s ultimate premise: Food is the greatest medium for communication and connection.

On this special 3-hour tour, created just for the Wolfe Walkers, we'll travel from Little Manila to Little India, then the Himalayan Heights to Bogotá through Bangkok, exploring only the most authentic foods not made for tourists. In between bites, we'll stop at some of Jeff’s best-kept secret shops for clothing, jewelry, and other authentic ethnic wares while we work up our appetites. The tour will be tailored to our needs and interests, so we’ll share our interests with Jeff and be ready for an amazing afternoon. This promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience – unlike anywhere else in the world. This isn't a lecture; it’s an insider’s experience to the most culturally rich and diverse place in the world.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages are included. The world is ours!

Limited to 15 participants. Fee: $75, advance registration only (includes tour guide, food, and non-alcoholic beverages)
There's usually an all-day bus extravaganza on the Wolfe Walkers schedule, with lunch included. For Spring 2014 it's a trip up the Hudson River to the Gomez Mill House Museum (the house, built in 1714, is the oldest Jewish dwelling in North America and the oldest home in Orange County), then back for lunch at the Buttermilk Falls Inn ("a delightful country hideaway that includes a renovated 1680 home on a 70-acre estate on the banks of the Hudson River"), stopping next at Wilderstein ("a remarkable 1852 house and estate that was owned by three generations of the Suckley family"), with a final stop at the bridge across the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie, the old Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, whose 1.3-mile span was reopened a couple of years ago as a recreation area, the Walkway Over the Hudson, now "the world's longest (and tallest) elevated footbridge," with "expansive vistas" over the river.
Bus and Walking Tour with Justin Ferate

Saturday, May 10, 2014, bus leaves promptly at 8:15am, returns approx. 7pm

There's a much more detailed tour description in the brochure.

Limited to 40 people. Fee: $115, advance registration only (includes bus, admissions, guided tours, luncheon, and gratuities)
Farther along the schedule are:
Saturday, May 24, 10am-1pm,
$25 in advance, $28 on-site

Sunday, June 1, 10am-3:30pm (from and to Manhattan),
$25 in advance, $28 on-site, plus bus fare
Tour led by John Simko, director of the Nutley Historical Society Museum (a splendid tour guide who led us through the museum on our Wolfe Walkers visit to Nutley last year)

Saturday, June 15, 10am-1pm,
$25 in advance, $28 on-site
Wolfe Walkers advance registration (which you'll note is required for some tours) is by mail only, by check only -- you can download just the registration form here; of course it's also included in the PDF of the complete spring brochure.

I have no idea whether there's still space (it's limited to eight people), but there's also a (free) bicycle tour with the Belgian journalist Jacqueline Goossens, who has lived in New York for a couple of decades now and is one of the smartest and most charming and funniest people you'll meet. The spring ride is CENTRAL PARK, HARLEM, AND A BIT OF THE BRONX, and it's Saturday, June 21, from 10am to about 3:30pm.


I've mentioned this famous tour a lot, but it's been a few years since I actually did it, but I'm doing it again this year. Jack, an urban geographer who for some years now has been the Queens Borough Historian, has been talking about updating some of the mini-walking tours that make up the whole adventure to take note of changes that have been taking place in those areas, so it should be even more interesting.
Saturday, May 31, 2014, 10am-5:30pm

This series of six walks and connecting rides along North Queens’ transportation corridor is my signature tour. We focus on what the #7 train has done to and for surrounding neighborhoods since it began service in 1914. Walks take place in Long Island City, Sunnyside, Flushing, Corona, Woodside and Jackson Heights and lunch is in Flushing’s Asiatown.

Tour fee is $40 and you need to preregister by check to Jack Eichenbaum, 36-20 Bowne St. #6C, Flushing, NY 11354 (include name, phone and email address)  The full day’s program and other info is available by email

The tour is limited to 25 people.
Jack's public tour schedule is here, and there's also a link to sign up for Jack's e-mail list. One walk I'm especially looking forward to is a Municipal Art Society tour that has been rescheduled from last summer, when Jack wasn't able to do it. It's of WILLET'S POINT, the patch of terrain in northern Queens between Citi Field (home of the New York Mets) and Flushing, a sort of Land That Time Forgot. Jack describes it as "a sewerless, hardscrabble area of auto junkyards and related businesses that has twice beaten back attempts at redevelopment." Now, with developers lurking again, Jack aims to help us "understand the area’s important setting, confront ecological issues and learn why “Willets Point” is a misnomer." It's Sunday, May 25, 4pm-6pm, $15 for MAS members, $20 for nonmembers; for more information or to register, use the MAS link above.


The birthday of that late great urbanist Jane Jacobs provides a good clue to the timing of each year's celebraton of her visions of cities that work for their inhabitants, now celebrated widely around the world -- you can check online to see what festivities (free!) may be offered in your area.

In New York, since the Municipal Art Society took over the planning and operation of Jane's Walk NYC, it has become one of the great urban gadding weekends of the year. This year it's May 3-4, and I'm itching for the schedule of events myself. You can keep track at MAS's Jane's Walk page, where you can also sign up for updates.


There are still a fair number of tours that have space in the remainder of the March-May schedule (or just remember and click on "Tours"). The new schedule should be posted sometime around May 15, and while it's true that some tours will fill up well before they take place, if you start doing your registering when the schedule comes out, you'll be able to register for any tour you want.

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It's a tough moment for right-wing fake-news media -- time to change the subject?


"We think just a look at a few of this week’s health-care related headlines provides the best summary: the ACA is working." This is the "bottom line" in this evening's ThinkProgress report, "The Thing Is Working." (For working linnks, you'll have to visit the site.)

by Ken

In a "Progress Report" post this evening, "This Thing Is Working," the crew in the CAP War Room reports: "A Slew Of Good Health Care News Has Conservatives On Their Heels," with news like "19 Million Americans Covered," "Exchanges Working And Costs Down," and "Conservatives On Defense."

On the latter front, the post notes:
As millions of people experience real, and not just theoretical, benefits of the law, Americans are getting more and more tired of the political battles to repeal it. A recent Kaiser survey found that 59 percent of Americans want keep the law in place or improve it, while only 29 percent want get rid of it. Pew reports that even a “majority of ACA opponents – representing 30% of the public overall – want politicians to do what they can to make the law work as well as possible, compared with 19% of the public that wants elected officials to do what they can to make it fail.”

And constituents are showing their frustration with their conservative elected officials’ fixation on repeal. Without any alternative to point to, and an increasingly frustrated public, these politicians have nobody to blame but themselves.
The post even offers the sampling checklist of upbeat ACA-related headlines at the top of this post.


As we were discussing last night ("Instead of apologizing for their lies, the lying liars of Fox Noise simply tell . . . new lies!"), with regard to the incredibly silly Fox Noise "report" about the great "surprise": that people who didn't sign up for Obamacare by March 31 -- meaning, among others, people who listened to the constant stream of end-of-the-world pronouncements from Fox Noisemakers and got the obvious message that they shouldn't sign up -- now can't sign up until, well, some terribly distant time like, you know, fall or something.

Of course there was nothing in the least "surprising" about this, since everyone knew that after the March 31 deadline insurance wouldn't be obtainable via the exchanges until the next registration period -- everyone, that is except, apparently, for the Right-Wing Noisemakers, who don't seem even to have wondered what that "deadline" might be the deadline for. And of course the logic of fixed enrollment periods is thoroughly well established in the insurance world, so that people can't simply wait till the day they decide they actually need coverage to sign up.

This was all known to everyone who even dabbled in the ACA signup story -- except, again, the right-wing noisemakers who are either too stupid or too dishonest to do the simplest basic job of actual reporters. As in this head you may recall from last night:

I had actually thought about making some little joke, wishing poor Jim Angle good luck in his next career, whatever it may be, since he obviously isn't cut out for reporting. It got a little confusing, though, because I would have wanted to make clear that I don't think his job is actual reporting, but that this is even a lousy job of fake-news reporting. It has the necessary virtue of touching the kinds of buttons Right-Wing Noisemakers love to touch among news-challenged viewers, and usually do so successfully. But this story collapses so completely in even the dimmest light of reality, and that's not really good enough for good fake-news.

Really the only solution the Right-Wing Noise Machine has come up with for when reality turns against them this cruelly is the extreme one: ignore it. I think we may be seeing some big-time news-ignoring in the days and weeks to come, and some big-time efforts of subject-changing.

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Rick Weiland-- Channelling Johnny Cash, George McGovern And Elizabeth Warren


Tuesday, Blue America-endorsed Rick Weiland, the prairie populist and progressive candidate for the open U.S. Senate seat in South Dakota, visited tiny Hudson (pop. 296). That made him the first candidate to have ever visited every one of the state's 311 incorporated towns and cities. And this morning he released a song about doing it.

Joined by his daughters, Taylor and Alex, and brother Ted, Rick re-worked the Johnny Cash classic "I’ve Been Everywhere" (written by Geoff Mack in 1959). Weiland and his family like getting together and playing music-- his son Nick shot the video-- but, as good as it sounds and as inspiring as the film is-- his motivations for this one weren't purely musical.

He talks about he growing up on stories of another prairie populist, George McGovern, standing in the family living room telling his dad, Bud, how he would break the GOP's stranglehold on the state by taking his compassionate populism directly to the people. He believes the U.S. is due for another course adjustment, like it was when McGovern represented South Dakota in the Senate. "Big money has stolen our government and turned it against us," Rick says, "and I'm trying to set the caring of my friend George McGovern, and the wisdom of a woman I admire very much, Senator Elizabeth Warren, to a modern tune, and sing it in a voice ordinary folks will hear." Here are Rick's lyrics:

I was on my way to meet with voters at the local coffee shop

When my opponent called and said “when are you gonna stop?”
All this listening to what voters say
Don’t mean a thing, you know my money will rule the day
I said you can raise all your millions by the sack
The time has come for us to take our country back


I’m goin’ everywhere, man
I’m goin everywhere
Our country needs repair, man
Gotta make it all more fair, man
I’m runnin’ ‘cause I care, man
I’m going everywhere
I’m going to:
Millboro, Flandreau, Lodgepole, Bloomingdale
Provo, Roscoe, Dakota Dunes and Yale
Scenic, Frederick, Smithwick, Red Shirt
Black Hawk, Dimock, Hitchcock, Holabird
Dupree, Hurley, Emery, Westerville
Selby, Gregory, Goodwill, what a thrill


I’m going to:
Madison, Lebanon, Harrison, Corona
Jefferson, Arlington, Marion, Ramona
Creighton, Raymond, Avon, Belvidere
Cleveland, Hetland, Rutland, Fort Pierre
Parmalee, Wounded Knee, Waverly, Willow Lake
Long Lake, Clear Lake, Timber Lake, what a break


I’m going to:
Centerville, Northville, Grenville, Iroquios
Lesterville, Shadehill, Mission Hill, Tolstoy
Springfield, Mansfield, Clearfield, Fort Mead
Bonesteel, Firesteel, Ideal, Little Eagle
Buffalo, Toronto, Ludlow, Rowena
Aberdeen-a, Estelline-a, see what I mean-a.


I’m going to:
Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Strandburg, Westport
Deadwood, Castlewood, New Underwood, Frankfort
St. Charles, St. Francis, St. Lawrence, Olivet
Chamberlain, McLaughlin, Roslyn, Orient
Astoria, Aurora, Fedora, Rapid City,
Trail City, Hill City, Garden City, what a city

Stace Nelson is one of the prominent far right Tea Party candidates running against Republican Establishment hack Mike Rounds, who got into hot water in South Dakota recently for trying to pass off photos of Paris as pictures of South Dakota. After Nelson saw Rick's video he posted a comment in the Madville Times:
“I'm a sucker for Johnny Cash. The first musician I can remember liking was him. I will wager none of those pictures are from France.. :-D

By the looks of it, Rick has all the candidates beat on musical talent. If anything, I'm a sentimental old broken down Marine, I like the incorporation of all the SD towns. Best part of campaigning is getting to go to all the places in SD and see every inch of this state and meet the people I have loved serving these many years.

Congrats Rick, nice video.”
Monday at noon, Blue America is ending a little "contest" we're running to help raise money for Rick's TV ads. You can read all about it-- and contribute-- and perhaps wins a genuine RIAA-certified, double platinum Frank Sinatra award right here.

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Ratings Changes-- From A "Leans Dem" Down To A "Tilts Dem"


Rich, conservative New Dem in trouble with the Democratic base back home…I wonder why!

The Rothenberg Political Report (Roll Call) changed some of it's November ratings today. Stuart Rothenberg's and Nathan Gonzales' Beltway-oriented ratings changes are worthless. The silliest one day was moving Julia Brownley's reelection contest (CA-26) from "safe" down a tick to "Democrat favored." Either one is accurate in the real world but in their own world it is a demotion. And what was it based on? It seems to be based entirely on what the NRCC told them. Their analysis didn't include a word about the preferred GOP candidate, Tony Strickland, backing out of the race to run in another district. Instead:
When the Republican wave hit in 2010, it lost virtually all of its strength before it got to the West Coast. Most Democrats in competitive races west of the Rocky Mountains held on.

So Democrats are in a precarious electoral position this cycle, and it’s unclear whether some districts that look Democratic on paper could be a struggle to hold in November.

Barack Obama carried California’s 26th District by 10 points in 2012 and by a whopping 16 points in 2008. But Republicans believe that state Assemblyman Jeff Gorell is a unique candidate who can run a competitive race against Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley.
"Republicans believe that state Assemblyman Jeff Gorell is a unique candidate who can run a competitive race against Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley." Well, by all means, change that rating! Not going into Rothenberg predictions-- not ever-- are findings like this from reputable, nonpartisan pollsters: Reason-Rupe/ Princeton Survey Research Associates International: 62% of Americans oppose the subsidies that the federal government gives to oil, gas and coal companies or from the Pew Research Center: "65% of Americans favor setting stricter emission limits on power plants in order to address climate change." And this contrast:

But Rothenberg's silliest "analysis" today came in IL-10. I don't even disagree with the finding, just how they reached it. Short version: Dold has a chance to beat Schneider in a rematch. They downgraded the rating from "leans Democrat" to "Tilts Democrat." Here's the Rothenberg version:
Illinois’ 10th District was drawn by Democrats to elect a Democrat, and it did just that in 2012 when Brad Schneider defeated GOP Rep. Robert Dold.

But Schneider won very narrowly, 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent, a margin of a slightly more than 3,000 votes out of 264,000 cast. And he did it with President Barack Obama running at the top of the ballot. This year, Obama is not on the ballot, he’s more unpopular and Dold is running again.

This race likely won’t be decided by money. Both men should be able to raise and spend enough money to compete.

But it will likely be decided by Democrats’ ability to define Dold as being too conservative for the district, and Republicans banking on Schneider not yet being entrenched in the suburban Chicago territory.

This race could go down to the wire once again. We’re changing our Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating of the race from Leans Democrat to Tossup/Tilts Democrat.
The reason the "Democrats’ ability to define Dold as being too conservative for the district" comes into play is because the wretched New Dem incumbent, Brad Schneider, is also too conservative for the district. His consistent pattern of voting against progressive legislation and crossing the aisle in a way Democrats in red districts are told to do by the DCCC, will only do one thing in IL-10 (with its D+8 PVI)-- keep progressives home sitting on their hands. No mention of any of that by Rothenberg or Gonzales and no peak into Schneider's ugly conservative voting record which seems custom-made to win over Republican voters in Republican-leaning districts. If Schneider's record comes into play it will be a classic case of voter discouragement, a Steve Israel specialty when it come sot advising his lamest and most credulous freshmen.

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Why Is Pelosi Allowing Steve Israel To Gratuitously Screw Over Working Families In Southwest Michigan?


The ruin of Franklin Roosevelt's great political party

In a recent report from the Kalamzoo Gazette, Upton challenger Paul Clements sets new record for Democratic fundraising in 6th district, the photograph caption was "WMU Professor Paul Clements, who is looking to unseat U.S. Rep. Fred Upton in 2014, speaks to a packed crowd at the Kalamazoo County Democratic headquarters." Packed crowd? Maybe someone should tell DCCC chairman Steve Israel. Or perhaps mention the title to Israel, the part about setting new fundraising records, supposedly the only thing Israel really cares about anyway.

But no one will, because everyone knows it won't do any good. Israel doesn't challenge Republican committee chairs and policy-makers-- no matter how heinous their policies (and few are as heinous as Upton's). And he especially doesn't challenge his old fraternity brothers, like Upton, from his beloved Center Aisle Caucus. So here's the DCCC prioritizing and wasting money on dreadful deep red districts with even more dreadful conservative candidates, while a true blue progressive in a district ripe to be plucked (MI-6 with a PVI of R+1) is absolutely off the table. How can Nancy Pelosi abandon the working families of southwest Michigan to the tender mercies of Steve Israel this way… again?
Heading into the 2014 election season, Congressman Fred Upton's Democratic challenger announced that he has raised more money than any prior Democratic congressional candidate in Michigan's 6th district.

Paul Clements, 52, a political science professor at Western Michigan University, had raised $365,469 as of March 31, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Clements appears to be the first Democratic candidate in the 6th district to surpass the $300,000 threshold. In 2012, Democrat Mike O'Brien, who at the time had raised more money than any Democratic congressional candidate in the 6th district in 20 years, raised a total of $293,986, according to the FEC. (The current 6th district was formed in 1992, combining parts of the third and fourth districts.)

"Our report shows a broad movement that wants bipartisan solutions on job creation, education and investments in our future," Clements said in a statement. "The people of Southwest Michigan deserve an independent voice focused on their needs, and that's not what they have been getting with Congressman Upton."

During the first quarter of 2014, Clements raised $122,178. Of the more than 2,500 individual contributions, 86 percent were for less than $200, Clements' campaign reported, citing strong grassroots support. According to the FEC, Clements took in $3,950 from political action committees (PACs).

John Taylor, chairman of the Kalamazoo County Democratic Party and a county commissioner, confirmed that Clements had broken the Democratic congressional fundraising record set by O'Brien in 2012 for the 6th district.

"The really impressive thing about Paul's number is there's very little PAC checks in there," he said in a phone interview. "Individuals are stepping up for his race and that's a positive sign."
Israel, instead, is staying focused on Jennifer Garrison an anti-Choice, gay-hating, pro-NRA, pro-fracking conservative who is said to look an awful lot like his former mistress (his latest former mistress, the one his most recent wife divorced him over). Her district doesn't have a PVI of R+1, like Upton's. It has a PVI of R+8. And even with all the help Israel and Steny Hoyer are giving her, she isn't raising the kind of money grassroots progressives like Clements are. This quarter she brought in a meager $89,000, about a third of what the DCCC had assigned her. And she isn't the only Steve Israel recruit who fell flat on their face, rejected by the Democratic grassroots. Among other big Israel Q-1 recruiting failures were Red to Blue designees Jackie McPherson (AR-01)- $112K, Jerry Cannon (MI-01)- $143K, Bobby McKenzie (MI-11)- $133K, and Kevin Strouse (PA-08)- $115K, who is losing the money race to a more grassroots primary candidate Shaunghnessy Naughton, who, unlike him, is campaigning against fracking, which he foolishly supports in the very environmentally-conscious Bucks County (which he is unfamiliar with).

I asked a Member of Congress today if it is too late for the Democrats to win back the House in November. He wasn't optimistic but offered his opinion that damages could be minimized if Pelosi replaced Israel as DCCC chairman. "We'll never win it back with Steve calling the shots there, but I could name half a dozen Members who could walk in there tomorrow, shake the place up, get rid of some of the dead weight, and stop the bleeding… Steve will be lucky to break even. And I don't think Lady Luck has been kind to him in recent years… Nancy should kick him upstairs and give Keith [Ellison] the job. Even [he called me back and asked me to omit this name] would do a better job than Steve."

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Forget The Beltway Pundits-- Could Kathleen Sebelius Win Back Voters In Kansas' Senate Race?


In 2002, Democrat Kathleen Sebelius, then the state's Insurance Commissioner, was elected Governor of Kansas over fringe Republican extremist Tim Schallenberger, 441,858 (53%)- 376,830 (45%). She ran on a platform that was pro-Choice, anti-capital punishment and against people carrying concealed weapons, called for a $1,000 per student increase in public education spending and refused to take the conservative "no new taxes" pledge.

Her 4 years in office made an excellent impression on Kansas voters and in 2006 she was reelected with a whopping 491,993 votes (58%) against Republican state Senator Jim Barnett's 343,586 votes (40%). She led in every single poll taken in 2006, almost all of them by GOP polling firm Rasmussen.

Not everybody remembers all that. But everyone remembers that Obama appointed her Secretary of Health and Human Services in 2009 and that she was charged with implementing the Affordable Care Act. Some Catholics are also aware that the fascist Cardinal Raymond Burke, recently fired from his key job and sidelined by Pope Francis, had denied her the right of communion.

Yesterday, the NY Times reported that Sebelius is considering running for the Kansas Senate seat currently being contested by out-of-touch, doddering incumbent Pat Roberts and extremist kook Milton Wolf.
Several Democrats said this week that Ms. Sebelius had been mentioned with growing frequency as someone who could wage a serious challenge to Mr. Roberts, 77, who is running for a fourth term and is considered vulnerable. One person who spoke directly to Ms. Sebelius said that she was thinking about it, but added that it was too soon to say how seriously she was taking the idea.
Beltway pundits, of course, say she has no chance at all. That's what they do. "Sebelius is not (popular) in Kansas anymore" and "[s]he is the person most closely associated with Obamacare's implementation" is how its viewed Inside-the-Beltway. That's true, but she has 'til June 3 to decide and then 'til November to remind Kansans how much they liked her-- and what a good job she did-- when she was governor. And who will she be running against? One of two Republicans who are absolutely destroying each other now. Beltway knows best? Rarely.

And a lot could happen between now and then… including the continued success of the Affordable Care Act that will eventually (but how soon?) make her into an American heroine. And don't you think Kansas voters would love the idea of electing their first Democratic senator since… the 1930s!

UPDATE: Sebelius Won't Run… Maybe

The NY Times is reporting that Sebelius isn't running, kind of. "Secretary Sebelius is continuing her important work at H.H.S. and is not considering a run for the Senate," the spokeswoman said. OK, but what about after her replacement is confirmed and she isn't continuing her important work at H.H.S.? Will be consider a run then?

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Instead of apologizing for their lies, the lying liars of Fox Noise simply tell . . . new lies!


What? Ya mean we wuz supposeta sign up for evil, liberty-destroying Obamacare? Who knew? And now this terrible surprise creeps up on us. (Even though people who were in even occasional contact with reality knew about it . . . well, from the start. Apparently nobody told poor Jim Angle, or his editors.)

by Ken

Thanks to HuffPost's Joan McCarter ("Fox News outraged that all the people it told not to buy insurance can't get insurance until fall") for calling attention to Brian Beutler's post "The Right's New Scam: Feigning Anger on Behalf of People They Encouraged to Skip Obamacare."


Or at least it would be if we weren't talkling about Fox Noisemakers. I keep imagining (dreaming?) that at some point the Lying Liars of the Right will be held accountable in some fashion for their lifetimes of spreading lies and delusions. This in spite of the overwhelming evidence that no, it's not going to happen.

True, a major part of the Right-Wing Noise Machine infrastructure is made up of mental primitives -- affectionately known as "hannities" -- who show no evidence of any mental capacity for learning or reasoning (possibly the necessary circuitry is present in their brains but is merely permanently set ion the "off" position) and may therefore be sincerely unaware that the incessant screeching that comes out of their mouths is all lies and delusions, and it might be argued that they shouldn't be subject to the appropriate penalties for their actions, by reason of mental defect. Which leaves plenty of right-wing blowhards who know, or have no excuse for not knowing, that they're full of it.

These are the very people, as you can't possibly have forgotten, who from the time the Affordable Care Act was signed into law have been screeching nonstop at the top of their lungs that it is:

* the greatest evil perpetrated in the history of the human race

* the death of liberty, and probably of Truth, Justice, and the American Way

* on the verge of repeal, if there's any decency left in the world

There was an idea behind the Right-Wing Noisemakers' "variety of efforts (both subtle and explicit) to discourage people, particularly young people, from enrolling in ACA-compliant health plans." That idea, says, Brian,
was to deny state-based insurance markets critical mass, and sound risk pools, and send them into actuarial death spirals. In almost every instance, conservatives were appealing to strangers to undertake considerable personal risk in service of dubious ideological principles.
Now the Noisemakers may not have achieved "the larger goal," Brian says, "but they almost certainly succeeded at convincing some people to skip Obamacare."
And when confronted about the recklessness of their strategy, the most unscrupulous conservatives would say, No biggie! Obamacare allows people to enroll after they get sick or injured. So there's no risk at all.
"This was a lie," Brian says.
And if it weren't such a dangerous lie, I'd be amused to find that conservatives now want you to be outraged about the fact that the Affordable Care Act creates limited open-enrollment periods each year to prohibit precisely that kind of free riding.
And Jim quotes from Jim Angle's Fox Noise blitherama:
There is yet another ObamaCare surprise waiting for consumers: from now until the next open enrollment at the end of this year, most people will simply not be able to buy any health insurance at all, even outside the exchanges.

"It's all closed down. You cannot buy a policy that is a qualified policy for the purpose of the ACA (the Affordable Care Act) until next year on January 1," says John DiVito, president of Flexbenefit which has 2,500 brokers.

John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas adds, "People are not going to be able to buy individual and family policies, and that's part of ObamaCare. And what makes it so surprising is the whole point of ObamaCare was to encourage people to get insurance, and now the market has been completely closed down for the next seven months."

That means that with few exceptions, tens of millions of people will be locked out of the health insurance market for the rest of this year.
Joan McCarter points out in her HuffPost post that the shocking Fox Noise surprise is "not really news."
The practice of enrollment periods, embraced by the law, was designed specifically to address those "free-riders" Fox News would in any other circumstance hate -- the people who would wait until they needed health insurance to get it. The difference now, though, is that if those people get sick while they're uninsured, they don't have to worry about that preventing them from getting insurance once open enrollment kicks in again. (There are some exceptions: people who qualify can enroll in Medicaid or enroll their kids in SCHIP programs at any time, and people who have "qualifying life events" or other special circumstances as detailed here can sign up.)
"But of course," Joan adds,
Fox News doesn't really care about all the people it told not to sign up who didn't sign up and now don't have care. Nor do they care that they're showing their rank hypocrisy in pushing this story. Just as long as they have some Obamacare outrage story.
You know, come to think of it, this could just be yet another example of the Rupert Murdoch school of TV salesmanship. As my friend Peter loved to point out, on the Fox Network first they hyped their coverage of the great alien autopsy. Then without skipping a beat they hyped they coverage of the great alien-autopsy hoax story.

This might not be the ideal business model if you were running, say, a TV news network. But if you're really wrangling a herd of Noisemakers, well, send in the clowns.

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Just Why Exactly Did Bernie Sanders Endorse Paul Clements In Michigan-- When Steve Israel's DCCC Refuses To?


West Virginia Blue Dog Nick Rahall is never going to be endorsed by Blue America and we often note that he acts in concert with the GOP more than almost any other House Democrat-- there are a few who are worse. Example: only 9 Democrats refused to sign the discharge petition to force Boehner and Cantor to bring immigration reform to a vote. Every Republican and those 9 shameless Democrats refused to sign and, predictably, Rahall was one of them. But that hasn't stopped him from being targeted and attacked by Republicans and their predatory allies. In Rahall's new TV spot above, he attempts to defend himself against a withering barrage of Koch-financed advertising against him, despite the fact that he has been more supportive of the anti-family/anti-environment/anti-democracy Koch agenda than just about any other Democrat in Congress.

This morning, writing at Huff Po, Senator Bernie Sanders asked Who are the Koch Brothers and What do They Want? He doesn't go into their virulently anti-American, fascist-oriented family tree but he does point out that trying to undermine American democracy by buying the Republican Party isn't their first foray into electoral politics and not the first time they've tried imposing fascism on the United States.
In 1980, Libertarian vice-presidential candidate David Koch ran on a platform that called for abolishing the minimum wage. Thirty-four years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of 1 percent of the American people. Today, not only does virtually every Republican in Congress oppose raising the $7.25 an hour minimum wage, many of them, including Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell and John McCain, are on record for abolishing the concept of the federal minimum wage.

In 1980, the platform of David Koch's Libertarian Party favored "the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs." Thirty-four years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of one percent of the American people. Today, the mainstream view of the Republican Party, as seen in the recently passed Ryan budget, is to end Medicare as we know it, cut Medicaid by more than $1.5 trillion over the next decade, and repeal the Affordable Care Act. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "Under the Ryan plan, at least 40 million people-- 1 in 8 Americans-- would lose health insurance or fail to obtain insurance by 2024. Most of them would be people with low or moderate incomes."

In 1980, the platform of David Koch's Libertarian Party called for "the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system." Thirty-four years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of 1 percent of the American people. Today, the mainstream view of the Republican Party is that "entitlement reform" is absolutely necessary. For some, this means major cuts in Social Security. For others who believe Social Security is unconstitutional or a Ponzi scheme this means the privatization of Social Security or abolishing this program completely for those who are under 60 years of age.

In 1980, David Koch's Libertarian Party platform stated "We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes ... We support the eventual repeal of all taxation... As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately." Thirty-four years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of 1 percent of the American people. Today, 75 Republicans in the House have co-sponsored a bill that Paul Ryan has said "would eliminate taxes on wages, corporations, self-employment, capital gains, and gift and death taxes in favor of a personal-consumption tax."

Here is what every American should be deeply concerned about. The Koch brothers, through the expenditure of billions of dollars and the creation and support of dozens of extreme right organizations, have taken fringe extremist ideas and made them mainstream within the Republican Party. And now with Citizens United (which is allowing them to pour unlimited sums of money into the political process) their power is greater than ever.

And let's be very clear. Their goal is not only to defund Obamacare, cut Social Security, oppose an increase in the minimum wage or cut federal funding for education. Their world view and eventual goal is much greater than all of that. They want to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick and the most vulnerable in this country. Every piece of legislation!

The truth is that the agenda of the Koch brothers is to move this country from a democratic society with a strong middle class to an oligarchic form of society in which the economic and political life of the nation are controlled by a handful of billionaire families.

Our great nation must not be hijacked by right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers.

For the sake of our children and our grandchildren, we must fight back.

One incumbent carefully cultivated and supported by the Koch brothers and their affiliated groups is House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, Fred Upton. In return, he has allowed the Koch agenda too become the Energy and Commerce Committee agenda-- with no variation… none… ever. His opponent this cycle, in a very winnable southwest Michigan district (R+1) is Paul Clements. As we've mentioned before, DCCC chair is as dedicated to protecting Upton as DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is to protecting Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. In March the Sierra Club endorsed Clements and yesterday, so did independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Blue America endorsed Paul last year, in part because of his determination to stick up for working families, for equality and for sustainable, healthy environmental policies-- i.e., the polar opposite of the Koch agenda. And, unlike Nick Rahall, when Paul gets bombarded with negative ads paid for by the billionaire Kochs, he will have earned them!

This afternoon, he told us that "The Koch brothers illustrate clearly how unregulated big money has corrupted our politics and undermined our democracy. Billionaires spending fractions of their net worth to tip the scale in our democratic process goes directly against the inclusive democracy that generations have worked to create. We already have billionaires paying lower tax rates than their secretaries. If we want government of the people, by the people and for the people we need to keep standing up to the big money that is corrupting our politics and push bold solutions for working families-- as I promise to do if elected to Congress."

If you'd like to help Paul Clements replace Fred Upton in Michigan, and thwart the toxic Koch agenda, please consider a contribution to his grassroots campaign here at the Blue America ActBlue page. There are no contributions that are too small when we're fighting for our country.

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Oklahoma City Voters Don't Need Another Democrat Too Scared Of Republicans To Stand Up For Working Families


As you already know, Blue America has endorsed Tom Guild for the Oklahoma City congressional seat James Lankford has abandoned to run for the U.S. Senate. His an unabashedly progressive leader who isn't compromising principles and values to win his a House seat. He's running for a House seat to promote those values and principles.

His main opponent, state Senator Al McAffrey, who jumped in when Lankford said he wouldn't run for reelection, wants to be the Democratic nominee as the next setp in his career trajectory. But what's his position on the issues important to Oklahoma Democrats? No one knows on most issues, because he appears to be trying to slip by on his charm and good looks and by repeating broad platitudes such as he is the “best candidate”…

We know that McAffrey doesn’t support raising the minimum wage to $10.10, despite the overwhelming support for raising the wage from Oklahomans and Americans nationwide. When the Republican-inspired legislation to "outlaw" any Oklahoma municipality from voting to have a higher minimum wage than the national wage, McAffrey went AWOL and refused to cast a vote one way or the other.

To make matters worse, a well know local activist gave McAffrey an opportunity to sign the petition to raise the wage to $10.10 in Oklahoma City by a vote of the people, and he refused to sign and said, "I can’t do that."

Like we've been saying since last year, Tom Guild is the progressive alternative-- who stands for something. Although Guild can’t sign the petition, because he lives in Edmond, he is circulating the petition, along with his campaign staff and volunteers. "Millions of American families," he told us on the phone today, "would move out of poverty and be able to pay their bills with a hike in the minimum wage. It is hard to estimate what this newfound independence would mean for those families and particularly the minor children in those families. No one should work full-time in America just to remain at or below the poverty line. Raising the wage is simply rational public policy and the right thing to do."

Guild also took part in the national petition drive spearheaded by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee to raise the wage nationally. Guild’s campaign, along with the PCCC gathered more than 60,000 signatures nationwide. Guild notified the press, and presented the hundreds of signatures gathered locally to Congressman James Lankford’s office, urging Lankford to vote to raise the wage in Congress.

People shouldn’t be handed a congressional nomination on a wing and a prayer. We’ve seen that movie before. Democratic nominees should represent working Americans, not the self-appointed elitist political class. Democrats should stand for something and make their views known. Despite his best efforts, McAffrey wasn’t able to hide his sketchy views on the minimum wage. He should be soundly rejected in favor of progressive Democrat Tom Guild in the June 24 Democratic Party primary in Oklahoma.

The difference between McAffrey and Guild is that Guild says stuff like this and McAffrey is as likely to say it-- or act on it-- as any of the Republicans looking to replace Lankford:
Expanding Social Security by implementing the plan put forward by Oklahoma native Senator Elizabeth Warren would give peace of mind and a semblance of economic security to tens of millions of American seniors. Her plan to provide an additional supplement to the income of Americans when they reached the age of 75 and again at the age of 85 would help account for the additional cost of living seniors have in providing for added medical needs. Her plan would also make the program completely self-sustaining for additional decades. Expanding benefits will make a great program even better.
You want to help a Democrat coming from there get into Congress… from Oklahoma? You can contribute to Tom Guild's campaign here.

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