Friday, October 21, 2016

The DCCC Is Tying Republican Incumbents To Trump Even After They've Disowned Him


The above ad from the DCCC just started running in TX-23, the immense South Texas congressional district (almost a quarter of the state in size!) that stretches from Socorro and the outskirts of southwest El Paso, along the Rio Grande border with Chihuahua and Coahuila through Guadalupe, Big Bend, Del Rio, the big smuggling center in Eagle Pass, and up into the western and southern suburbs of San Antonio. Those Bexar County suburbs are the Republican part of the swing district-- won narrowly by Obama in 2008 and narrowly by Romney in 2012. In 2012, Ted Cruz also won the district-- which is 71% Latino-- but so did corrupt conservative Blue Dog Pete Gallego. Gallego was one of the worst members of Congress for his 2-year stint-- voting with the GOP on core issues far more frequently than with the Democrats. So in 2014, Democrats just refused to even bother to come out to vote for him and he lost to ex-CIA agent Will Hurd 57,459 (50%) to 55,037 (48%). His 2012 vote total (96,477) utterly collapsing.

Gallego, operative, dog buscuits
By the summer of 2013, DWT had already rated Gallego among the 10 worst freshmen Democrats-- along with garbage members like Sean Patrick Maloney (NY), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Patrick Murphy (FL), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Cheri Bustos (IL), Dan Maffei (NY), Joe Garcia (FL)... all Blue Dogs and New Dems from the craven Republican wing of the Democratic Party). That first term, Gallego voted with the Republicans to weaken regulations on Wall Street, with the Republicans on domestic spying (CISPA), with the Republicans to freeze the pay of federal employees, for Ryan's austerity budgets, with the Republicans on several bills written by oil and gas lobbyists and with the GOP to oppose Obama's plans to shut down Guantánamo-- not once, but twice. What an inspiration!

Goal Thermometer The last time I checked-- this week-- the DCCC had already spent $2,651,421 on his race, the second-largest amount on any congressional candidate. He's been endorsed by both the Blue Dogs and the New Dems, so exactly the kind of corrupt, Wall Street-friendly conservative the DCCC favors. As of the June 30 filing deadline Gallego had raised $1,273,280. Last week alone, Pelosi's House Majority PAC spent (wasted) $906,196 on his race-- tragic, as she continues to refuse money to progressives like Mary Ellen Balchunis (PA), Tom Wakely (TX), DuWayne Gregory (NY), Carol Shea-Porter (NH), Paul Clements (MI), Mary Hoeft (WI), Alina Valdes (FL), while severely underfunding Zephyr Teachout, who is up against a virtual avalanche of dirty money from GOP hedge fund billionaires and Paul Ryan (over $4 million) with the DCCC kicking in just over $600,000, nothing like the massive $2,651,421 for the Republican-voting Gallego. (Please tap on the thermometer on the right to help the progressive candidates who won their primaries in winnable districts but who the DCCC refuses to assist at all.)

As you can see from the DCCC ad, they have nothing positive to say about Gallego-- what could they say... that he's a bankster amigo or an opponent of everything Democrats expect from a congressman?-- and instead just attack his opponent for not denouncing Trump clearly enough. The DCCC has a similar ad they rolled out yesterday on behalf of New Dem Terri Bonoff (MN), who they've already spent $1,808,005 on. This one attacks Erik Paulsen who didn't disavow Trump until after the "grab-her-by-the-pussy" tape came out.


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Sure, we say it every four years, but isn't THIS the craziest presidential election in memory?


He-e-e-ere's Speaker Louie! DailyKos caption: "Now, doesn't this inspire confidence?" Yeccch! My proposed new Louie Rule: From now on, the only living Louie to be acknowledged publicly will be Louis CK.

"Whoever comes next will have the task of restoring respect for the law and a common adherence to the Constitution -- the heaviest of burdens, even for a candidate prepared by training and disposition to carry it."
-- David Bromwich, in the new (Nov. 10) NYRB

by Ken

I mean, here we are watching the far-right-wing crazies defending -- as only far-right-wing crazies can, viciously and with a strong whiff of impending violence -- their boy the Billion-Dollar Loser, who isn't even a conservative. Unless you count where he sort-of-plays one for totally cynically selfish reasons on the, you know, campaign trail.

Here's Kerry Eleveld at DailyKos:
Step aside Paul Ryan, Hannity has announced your replacement as Speaker: Rep. Louie Gohmert

Fox News host Sean Hannity is all out auditioning to be chief correspondent of the loons once the new Trump-bart debuts. And first on the chopping block after Trump is roundly defeated by overwhelming majorities at the polls: Paul Ryan, whom Hannity called a "saboteur" of Trump's campaign. Allegra Kirkland writes:
Speaking to the Washington Post in the spin room after the final presidential debate, the devoted Donald Trump ally hinted that the intra-party war between far-right conservatives and their more moderate counterparts would continue regardless of who wins the presidential race on November 8.

Hannity told the Post that Ryan, who has offered only tepid support for the Republican nominee during the 2016 race, “needed to be called out and replaced.”
Nice! Ryan, who hasn't even had the guts to disavow Trump, is now responsible for the miserable failure of a campaign Trump has run. Sorry, Paul.

Hannity also had a lot of good ideas about members of the House Crazy Caucus who could unite the party (ahem) upon Ryan’s ouster: Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan (chair of the Crazy Caucus), North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows (who devised the wildly popular 2013 government shutdown), and Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert! LOL. Gohmert! The wackiest of the wack jobs, who has called Hillary Clinton "mentally impaired." Speaker Gohmert! ROFLOL.


I mean, Sean Hannity threatening to take Paul Ryan down for being insufficiently conservative? PAUL RYAN??? Wouldn't you think that if there's one thing Speaker Paul doesn't have to answer for, it's being insufficiently conservative? Has anyone in our public life done more to drag us back to the 16th century? And I include Sean Hannity, who's all mouth, whereas Speaker Paul is the, er, "brains" of the Far Right politicos, providing a steady stream of actual legislative proposals to do the deed.

In fairness to Shifty Sean, what he lacks in brains -- which sure seems to be quite a lot -- he more than makes up for in savagery, uninhibitedness, dishonesty, and naked self-promotingness. Still, to plug some of the evident gap in ideological awareness, here's some of what David Bromwich has to say in a compendium of ten frequent contributors' thoughts "On the Election" running through the new (Nov. 10) issue of the New York Review of Books:
From the first debates of 2015, Donald Trump stood out because he wasn’t one of the usual suspects. He was the to-hell-with-it candidate. If you dislike politics generally, don’t study or understand them but are sure the country has declined and that the future looks worse than the past, Trump is your man. He doesn’t know politics any better than you do, but he says (reassuringly) that it is a mug’s game, and he ought to know. He comes from money, lives for money, and before he entered the race he was in the business of buying favors from the mugs.

Who better to avow that the system is rigged? Everyone admits that the Clinton Foundation has done good works. But anyone with a nose can tell that it uneasily mixes philanthropy and aggrandizement. Trump took his cue and blew it up and—since Hillary Clinton is known to have met with donors while she was secretary of state—he called the foundation itself a pay-to-play scheme. Trump the insider has the best and biggest nose for such things; and in the mood of perpetual disquiet these last two years in America, the undeniable blots on his character have made people strangely trust him more.

Comparisons with Reagan are misleading. Reagan was intimate with politics and political interests as far back as his presidency of the Screen Actor’s Guild. He tricked his opponents into underrating him, right up to the election of 1980, but the reason wasn’t the lack of a consistent ideology or a coherent personality. Reagan was undeviating in his overall views: the people who supported him knew what they were getting. With Trump, they prefer not to know, and he panders to wishful ignorance by saying that whatever he does in his first days as president, he’ll do it good and do it fast. The vagueness, bloat, and feckless reiteration of the promises (the height of the wall with Mexico, the total ban on Muslim immigration, the vow to “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding”) go against the grain of a representative government based on checks and self-restraint.

Trump the post-political billionaire can seem refreshingly heterodox only if one performs a drastic curtailment of common judgment. The right-wing anti-imperialist Pat Buchanan thinks that Trump has the mind-set and stamina to extricate the US from our half-dozen wars in the Greater Middle East (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia). On the evidence, one would guess that Trump indeed has a less hearty appetite for wars than Hillary Clinton, but his solutions often sound like “Bomb them back to the Stone Age” rather than the reasoned noninterventionism this branch of apologists are looking for.
For the record, the other NYRB "On the Election" contributors are: Russell Baker, G.W. Bowersock, Mark Danner, Andrew Delbanco, Elizabeth Drew, Benjamin M. Friedman, Diane Johnson, Nicholas Lemann, Jessica T. Mathews, Darryl Pinckney, Marilynne Robinson, Garry Wills. (Yes, they're presented alphabetcially!) And to be clear, David Bromwich continues with a powerful takedown of Hillary Clinton, including this:
[H]er stated positions and political history leave her unequipped to repel [Trump's] charges against immigration, the American jobs lost through trade deals, and the scenes of disorder in American cities that followed the killing of black men by police and the killing of police by black men. Hillary Clinton is the reverse of a popular politician—she is more like an ideally dutiful chair of a committee—and it has been an odd feature of the campaign to advertise her as “the most qualified person ever to run for president.”


Which is decidedly mournful:
The domestic state of the nation is so unpropitious in October 2016 that one may pity the winner of this election as much as the loser. We are living in a country under recurrent siege by the actions of crowds. There is the Tea Party crowd with their belief that global climate disruption is a scientific hoax; there is the Black Lives Matter crowd with their ambiguous slogan “No Justice, No Peace”; and there are more ominous developments, such as the acts of serial defiance of the federal government by the Bundy family in Nevada and Oregon. Whoever comes next will have the task of restoring respect for the law and a common adherence to the Constitution—the heaviest of burdens, even for a candidate prepared by training and disposition to carry it.

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America Meets Its Darkness: A Look at HBO's Westworld


Maryann Price singing "I'm an Old Cowhand" with Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks. She knows all the songs that the cowboys know, 'bout the big corral where the dogies go, 'cause she learned them all on the radio, yippee-i-o-ki-ay. There are fake cowboy visitors in HBO's new series Westworld too, but they're not so nice.

by Gaius Publius

I'm a fan of science fiction, especially when it reflects and comments on the state of our national affairs — and our national affairs are definitely in a state. Which brings me to the new HBO series Westworld.

Westworld is derivative in some ways. It takes off from a pleasant mid-1970s film entertainment by Michael Crichton and starring Yul Brynner, also called Westworld, in which an android-populated theme park goes chaotic and androids starts killing the visitors. But this new version adds in much of the violence and dark tone from HBO's excellent, realistic Western drama Deadwood, plus a lot more brutal sexuality than the earlier film, similar to that in Game of Thrones and other recent productions.

Yes, the visitors to the original Westworld theme park could "encounter" the saloon girls at will, all of whom would be willing, and shoot up the android locals, but that part was downplayed in the film. As Rick Perlstein amply documents in Nixonland, America of the 1970s was starting to come to grips with its darker self, with the world of the My Lai massacre and police brutality, of brutal sexism and incentivized social conformity, and it dealt with that encounter by trying to turn away, by trying to re-enter the world of American myth that Ronald Reagan ultimately shepherded us to.

Just one example: The 1968 My Lai massacre was prosecuted, sort of, but what was done, there and elsewhere, was never absorbed, understood or metabolized as a wider problem within the American psyche — particularly the male American psyche, since the soldiers involved in all these massacres were indeed male. So the pushback, the effort to start the forgetting, began. As early as 1970 mainstream propagandists were working to blunt Vietnam era awarenesses and counter-cultural challenges with, for example, "folk" groups like entirely anodyne New Christy Minstrels, who were introduced at Super Bowl IV as "young Americans who demonstrate — with guitars."

Bottom line, in the 1970s the country was in the process of trying to sanitize itself, and there was an ongoing public "discussion," both explicit in public conversation and implicit in the media and public entertainment. The original Westwood was part of that effort, if unconsciously. As I said, a pleasant entertainment, and in fact a watchable film.

America Meets Its Darkness

America today is a much different place. The Reagan Revolution is over — Reagan, the agent who engineered our re-entry into American counter-factual myth — and the brutal facts of our darker nature are now coming home to stay, in the form of murderous counter-strikes from abroad and at home, and an economically induced opioid-and-suicide crisis that won't cease until our rulers cease the economic pressure that drives it.

Which they will never do. And which everyone knows they will never do, everyone at least who watched the determined effort to destroy the Sanders campaign by anyone with a stake in the status quo. Trump voters, those not driven mad by demons of race, have parallel fears.

In short, America is having dark dreams about itself, and those dreams are beginning to be represented even in mainstream entertainment, like the new Westworld.

Here's what Rolling Stone critic Rob Scheffield says about this series:
What 'Westworld' Says About America Right Now

HBO's big-budget reboot of the Seventies sci-fi movie is really about masculinity – and Rob Sheffield thinks it could not be more timely

In a better time for this country, Westworld would feel a lot more like science fiction. Instead, this HBO show is a bloody, pulpy, breast-intensive satire of the American male psychosis at its most demented. It's set in a futuristic theme park where guests pay thousands of dollars a day to live out their Wild West fantasies, which mostly involve shooting or torturing the robot "hosts" who populate the park. Saloons, whorehouses, six-shooters and Stetsons: all an excuse for the clientele to act on their most depraved urges. One of the human masterminds behind the park sums up the guests as "rich assholes who want to play cowboy." The robots bleed real-looking blood – buckets of it, in fact – but it's all fun and games as long as they don't really feel or remember anything, right? Like the replicant hunters in Blade Runner would say, they're just skin jobs.

Except what happens if these hosts develop their own consciousness – androids who dream of electric tumbleweeds?
In this Westworld, the androids who permanently inhabit the park are not the villains, but the victims of "rich assholes who want to play cowboy" — victims of wealthy visitors who see others in the world as toys for their entertainment (sound familiar?). And now those toys, previously unaware of their own low status in a world they thought was theirs, are starting to wake up.

How's that for a concept that perfectly captures the times?

More from Scheffield:
Evan Rachel Wood, by the way, is easily the best thing about Westworld – she's the spark of raw humanity who makes it all compelling. Her Dolores is a doe-eyed rancher's daughter who exists to be either rescued or abused, depending on the whims of the paying costumer. And since it's usually abused, she lives out the same loop over and over again, a loop that ends as her blood gets wiped away and her memory gets reset. But before the technicians send her back to work on the bunny ranch, they test her with one query: "Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?" As long as she keeps saying no, she qualifies as a good little robot sexpot. Except she's unmistakably showing signs of logging memories and figuring out what's going on, which means she's showing signs of becoming disturbingly human.
And something else, something that Scheffield isn't saying, is that Wood's character is learning to lie to the technicians about what she knows — a detail that gives the series an added dramatic punch.

You'll need to be clear about the premise before you begin to watch, though; the pilot is confusing. I think the film-makers were counting on the grit and gore to keep you tuning in until the tragedy of that world becomes clear. It's not immediately obvious, for example, who's not an android and who is, and I almost stopped watching. But if you're forearmed with enough information, you won't make that mistake.

"Minds destroyed by madness"

This isn't so much a movie review as a nation review. Like Allen Ginsberg, we are watching, not just the best minds of this generation, but also the worst, "destroyed by madness," trapped in a world they can neither tolerate nor change. The Sanders-side electoral rebellion has failed, for whatever reason, and the Trump-side uprising, fueled by the radical mix of forces that drove that rage, will likely be snuffed at the ballot box as well.

Where do they go from here? Do they endure till they die in the hole they live in, dreaming of "freedom" via thirty-second offroad truck commercials? Or do they do something else? What will Evan Rachel Wood do after the third or fourth brutal rape, somewhere in midseason, when she realizes she doesn't have to execute her programming and can execute ... something else? Will her reaction be sanctioned by law, or by the keepers of the world she can't escape? The dramatic possibilities, in the series at least, are endless and exciting.

I don't expect to say the same for the larger Westworld that created the smaller one, certainly not with the word "exciting" attached.

"But I saw you and you saw me, mostly"

Let's end, however, on a cheerier note, with the scat singing of the above-mentioned Maryann Price, performing a song I call "But I Saw You and You Saw Me, Mostly," but which Dan Hicks called "Shorty Falls in Love" or here, "Another Night."

Ignore the odd laughter and applause — it's a rehearsal for the Flip Wilson comedy show on what may be a crowded practice set.

We sped around the world
To see what we could see,
But I saw you and you saw me mostly

Eyes for each other and not for the world. Maybe there's a lesson there.


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How Toxic Will Trump Prove For Republican Candidates Nov. 8?


If I'm right about people being fed up with the negativity and sheer dysfunction of the Republican Party, there really will be a wave in three weeks, nothing affirming about the almost-as-bad Democrats, but one that should send the GOP reeling. The party bosses will blame Trump-- and the media and Democrats who "forced him" on their party-- but the rejection I see coming is not just about Trump; it's about the Republican Party itself. A really shitty Trump-like candidate, a crooked billionaire who captured the West Virginia gubernatorial nomination, Jim Justice, is going to beat Bill Cole, the garden variety Republican president of the West Virginia state Senate. Indiana is almost as terminally red as West Virginia. Indiana is likely to replace Mike Pence with a Democratic governor, John Gregg, and replace Republican Senator Dan Coats (retiring) with crooked hack Democratic lobbyist Evan Bayh (over a mainstream conservative Republican congressman, Todd Young). The winner of the Colorado Republican Senate primary, Darryl Glenn, may well lose to an unpopular and unaccomplished Democratic hack, Michael Bennet, in a jaw-dropping landslide. The most recent poll, by Quinnipiac, shows Glenn unable to even break 40%. Bennet leads among independents, among women, among men, among white and among non-whites. Even the least talented, least accomplished and least appetizing Democratic Senate candidate anywhere in the country, Florida doofus Patrick Murphy (who the DSCC has already written off), may wind up beating Rubio, simply because Rubio is a Republican in a year when people have had enough of that party of crackpots.

Mike Shields, president Ryan's Congressional Leadership Fund, said this week that "Trump has his own brand. He’s not running as a Republican." That's certainly what they're all hoping the voters believe. Blue America, having looked closely at races all over the country, decided pointing out Republican incumbents' closeness to Trump, was the best way to defeat them. We have mobile billboard trucks deployed against Trump allies Peter King (Long Island), Lamar Smith (central Texas), Cresent Hardy (North Las Vegas) and Frank Guinta (New Hampshire) each featuring a picture of the Republican with a little Trump sitting on his shoulder. This is the one that was on the Long Island Expressway at 9:18 this morning, and in Amityville, Babylon, Lindenhurst, Islip all day.

Our truck for Carol Shea-Porter in southeast New Hampshire started today off in Manchester and will be spending all day tomorrow in and around Hookset. People aren't throwing flowers, but waving and smiling and honking in approval. They seem happy to see anything they associate with "not Trump" efforts.

Glenn Thrush and Andrew Sullivan both explained the debate in ways that help explain how sick voters are of Trump and Trumpism. Thrush (in Politico): "There were two candidates on the debate stage Wednesday night-- and both were intent on demolishing Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency. Truly historic moments are rare in politics. But this was a thunderbolt that might have spelled the end for Trump’s dynamic, disorganized and self-destructive campaign and the elevation of the first female major party nominee, whose precision and preparedness has often been overshadowed by her flashier opponent... Trump made the biggest mistake of his life. Like most gaffes, this one wasn’t actually a mistake but an honest statement of suicidal sentiment. Trump has been telling overflow crowds he believes the election is “rigged,” even though he’s the most unpopular candidate in modern memory and recent studies show that the actual rate of voter fraud is about as common as a lightning strike. Trump was undone by a simple question, one that wouldn’t have been a speed-bump for a nominally prepped candidate. Instead, he crashed and burned-- a fatal one-car crash by a driver parking in his own garage. Asked moderator Chris Wallace: Would he support the results of the election, as every other presidential candidate has done since time immemorial? 'I will look at it at the time,' Trump said, to audible gasps in the debate hall at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. 'I will keep you in suspense.' ... Every single sentient being in the press watching the debate, and not currently on the payroll of the Trump Organization, knew instantly that his refusal to accept the results of the election (foreshadowed by a similar feint during the primaries) was the moment of the debate, and quite possibly the most important moment of the campaign."

Sullivan (for New York) noted that even Trump seems to have "internalized that he has lost this election... [and that] this was easily the most decisive debate. She devastated him. He melted down. His refusal to accept the results of this election disqualifies him automatically from any office in the United States. There were several areas where he was utterly incoherent, grasping at 'facts', without any understanding of policy. His personal foulness emerged."

Even Maureen Dowd noticed it is all over for The Donald. "Continuing to deploy lethal darts from her team of shrinks, Hillary Clinton baited Trump into a series of damaging nails-in-the-coffin statements. And it was so easy. The one-time litigator prosecuted the case against Trump, sparking another temperamental spiral, as effectively as Chris Christie once broke down Marco Rubio."

There are no serious GOP leaders who think Trump can win November 8.The debate made it worse. How much worse? That we'll know when we see how many House and Senate seats fall to the Democrats in 3 weeks. They hoped he would perform well enough ti at least not make the party's down-ballot results worse. Their hopes were for naught. She crushed him-- and with him, Republican hopes for several seats they had hoped to hang onto. As Alex Isenstadt put it in Politico right after the debate, "Trump’s rocky performance on the final debate stage did little to allay his party’s concerns that the GOP is headed for an electoral catastrophe up and down the ticket.
“The biggest loser tonight was not Trump, the presidential race is over,” said Robert Blizzard, a GOP pollster who is working on a number of congressional races. “Instead, down-ticket Republicans lost tonight-- they needed some help and got absolutely none.”

...“Trump was already behind,” said Bill Kristol, a Trump critic and the editor-in-chief of the conservative publication the Weekly Standard. “He didn't help himself tonight, indeed he hurt himself. He's very likely to lose, and to lose badly. He'll drag the Senate and House down with him unless Senate and House candidates can make the case they're needed to check and balance Hillary.”
Take a look at some of the brand new ads that just went up on TV, like the one above. Notice what they all have in common?

This would be a pretty good time to help with progressive candidates' get out the vote efforts by contributing. The thermometer below includes the House and Senate candidates Blue America has endorsed and who have won their primaries and are facing conservatives in November.

Goal Thermometer

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

What Political Debates Would Look Like If I Was In Charge


-by Noah

Intro: Ok. The last presidential debate is over. Done. Like anyone else with at least half a mind (Yeah, I know that leaves out Rudy Giuliani and others). I am disgusted with the whole enterprise. With that in mind, I thought I would benefit mankind by drawing up a plan for how political debates would run if I were in charge. Here you go: 14 steps to a more sensible approach to our political debate process. Says who? Says me!

1. All debates would be held in a court of law. There would be background music as the show began. This music could be faded up and down throughout the proceedings at the discretion of the moderator. The music will be by Ennio Morricone. The intro to the show would feature the theme to “The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.”

2. All participants would be under oath.

3. Audiences would be small in number. I envision a Grand Jury size panel of 30 citizens chosen at random.

4. All audience members would wear uniform generic clothing so as not to give any indication or their economic status or fashion sense. Jeans are suggested. T-shirts are also suggested but they would be plain. No symbols. No pictures. No words. Also, no jewelry is allowed. No watches to be worn. No visible tattoos.

5. In addition, all audience members would wear black, execution style hoods.

6. The debate participants can dress as they please. This, in itself, can be revealing.

7. All participants should be identified with their full names, including what their mob nickname would be, even if, by some chance, they are not known to be associates of any crime syndicate, corporate, mafia, or otherwise. Some suggested examples follow:
Rand “Paulie White Hoods” Paul
John “Johnny Drinks” Boehner
Scott “The Pension Graber” Walker
Hillary “Hill The Shill” Clinton
Rick “Ricky No Brains” Perry
Rick “Mr. Rogers” Santorum
Elizabeth “Fuck You Wall Street” Warren
Donald “The Bankruptcy King” Trump
Mitch “Nancy Boy” McConnell
Newt “The Flab Curtain” Gingrich”
8. I strongly feel that the first question is all-important in setting the tone. The first question would be: Have you ever paid for, or had, an abortion? Forget the old, outmoded questions about military service. More and more of our politicians seem to be of a class that does not go to the battlefield anyway. The reasons for that are worth discussion but the issue of military service is no longer number one. Neither is the old “Did you ever smoke pot?”

In America today, subjects such as immigration, and gun rights elicit strong passions on all sides but nothing tops the abortion issue. Time and time again, for Trump supporters (and Clinton’s), their vote comes down to the Supreme Court nd the implications regarding Roe v. Wade.

Abortion is now the biggest motivator of today’s single-issue voters. Since, for example, there are many Trump supporters that are willing to forgive any insanity on the part of their guy, as long as he states an anti-abortion stance, it would be useful to know what any candidate’s past is in relation to this issue.

The answer a candidate provides would best be the truth since a lie could be, whether likely or not, contradicted by a person who received that abortion coming forward with the medical records to prove it. The documentation could even show up in the hacking of a hospital’s or clinic’s records. Considering how volatile this subject is, lying about it would be a very big gamble. So, if a candidate is going to make abortion a central issue of their campaign, let’s hear it. Answer the question. Yes or no. How many times might also be relevant.

As it is now, we have a situation in our society, where a political party could nominate The Zodiac Killer for President and The Zodiac Killer would get millions of votes as long as he pledged to nominate justices who were in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade. Donald Trump himself has said that he could murder people on New York’s Fifth Avenue in broad daylight and his followers would still vote for him. Trump supporters are rationalizing their vote for him based on his abortion stance, even though they don’t like other things about him, saying things like “God sometimes uses bad people for good reasons.”

9. All candidates must submit to a full physical and mental examination before being allowed to participate in any debate. The results will be publicly revealed in the debate pre-show.

10. Likewise, complete tax and financial records going 40 years back shall be a qualification for being in any debate. This stipulation will be known as “The Lord Tiny Hands Rule.”

11. A genealogy going back to the candidate’s great-grandparents must be submitted and authenticated. This is not to question whether or not the candidate is a legal citizen. But, if the candidate is making questions of immigrant documentation a cornerstone of their campaign, we should know, just as we should know the answer to my proposed abortion question, what level of hypocrisy we are being fed. The same rule should apply to a candidate’s spouse, significant other, household help, car mechanic, restaurant staff at the candidate’s favorite eatery, dry cleaner, etc.

12. Stagecraft: The stage settings and designs for our current debates are absurdly boring and pointless. They have nothing to do with what is going on. Therefore, the back wall of the stage should be one large screen on which scenes from spaghetti westerns, Gunfight At The O.K. Corral, Being There, Rodan vs. Godzilla, Network, Leave It To Beaver, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Wizard Of Oz, and others will be shown at the appropriate time, to match up with what is said by the individual candidates as they speak. Clips of politicians meeting with K Street lobbyists, along with FBI sting clips of politicians taking bribes should also be considered for use at the right moments.

13. All participants will be hooked up to lie detector machines and results will be shown, at the TV screen bottom, in real time. Let us watch those needles fly! Participants will also be hooked up to a taser-like device that can be activated by the debate moderator if the question asked of the participant is not being answered directly. Deflection, or subject changing will not be tolerated.

14. I will be the moderator.

Post debate: Instead of the circus of spin rooms; under my plan a period of vigorous cross-examination will ensue. Each candidate can choose one prosecuting attorney to question their political rivals. No more post debate cloying, pandering Chris Matthews or Wolfie what’s-his-name. No more completely insane nihilism from Sean Hannity.

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Congress And Food Policy-- The Good, The Bad, The Ugly


The stated mission of Tom Colicchio's group, Food Policy Action, is to highlight the importance of food policy and to promote policies that support healthy diets, reduce hunger at home and abroad, improve food access and affordability, uphold the rights and dignity of food and farm workers, increase transparency, improve public health, reduce the risk of food-borne illness, support local and regional food systems, protect and maintain sustainable fisheries, treat farm animals humanely and reduce the environmental impact of farming and food production. This week they put out their 3rd annual scorecard to highlight how members of Congress have been voting on food-related issues.

Among the many bills they focused on were these dozen with very specific aims:
H.R. 1284- Directs EPA to suspend registration of certain pesticides until they can be proven safe for bees, and to conduct research on the health of bees and bee mortality.
S. 1332- Gives USDA the authority to issue mandatory recall of contaminated meat and poultry products.
H.R. 913 and  S. 511- Amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to prohibit the sale of food that has been genetically engineered or contains genetically engineered ingredients, unless that information is clearly disclosed.
H.R. 1061 and  S. 569- Increases annual mandatory Farm to School funding from $5 million to $15 million and increases the maximum grant award to $200,000. Expands the program scope to include pre-schools, summer food service programs, and after-school programs. Creates incentives for beginning, veteran and socially-disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to participate in the program.
H.R. 1728 and S. 613- Expands eligibility for summer food service, increases the number of reimbursable meals, and establishes a competitive grant program for solutions to limited transportation to congregate summer food sites.
H.R. 2627- Requires USDA to establish and implement a plan to increase the use of salad bars in schools, including through a competitive grant program.
H.R. 3164 and S. 1832- Raises the minimum wage to $15 per hour for most workers by 2020, and provides a formula for an annual increase after that.
H.R. 3316 and S. 540 - Authorizes USDA loan guarantee program for school kitchen infrastructure improvements, and authorizes targeted grants for infrastructure and training and technical assistance.
H.R. 704- Eliminates the Renewable Fuel Standard’s corn-based ethanol requirement, caps the ethanol blend amount into gas at 10%, and requires EPA to cap cellulosic biofuels levels at current production levels.
S. 190- Authorizes FDA program for inspection of imported seafood, and amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to prohibit the importation of any seafood from a foreign country unless the country complies with U.S. standards for seafood manufacturing, processing, and holding.
They singled out six congressmen as "Food Policy Failures," Tom Graves (R-GA), Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Buddy Carter (R-GA), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Gregg Harper (R-MS) and Kenny Marchant (R-TX). Most Democrats did well and most Republicans did poorly. But... there were some exceptions. Democrats with failing grades included this batch of shit-heads:
Collin Peterson (Blue Dpg-MN)- 41%
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)- 43%
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)- 50%
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog)- 53%
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog)- 56%
Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE)- 60%
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)- 60%
Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)- 63%
Bennie Thompson (D-MS)- 64%
David Scott (Blue Dog-GA)- 65%
Cedrick Richmond (New Dem-LA)- 67%
Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)- 67%
Tim Walz (D-MN)- 67%
Jim Clyburn (D-SC)- 69%
Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL)- 69%
George Butterfield (D-NC)- 69%
Filemon Vela (Blue Dog-TX)- 71%
Gwen Graham (Blue Dog-FL)- 71%
Ironically, the last name on the list, Gwen Graham, was elected as Food Policy Action's first big success. They helped oust reactionary Republican Steve Southerland in a close, hard-fought race in 2014. Graham has turned out to be
a- better than Southerland
b- worse than almost any Democrat in Congress
c- pretty bad on Food Policy Action's issues
They probably need to get a little more sophisticated about understanding that not all Democrats are any good and that the worst thing anyone with a progressive agenda can ever do, is take advice from the creeps at the DCCC, DSCC and DNC, likely where lots of the board members, Colicchio included, have friendly contacts. Stick with them and you wind up wasting your money and efforts promoting garbage candidates like Gwen Graham. There 6 House endorsements this year come straight from the DCCC and include 2 California candidates who might turn out to be good-- Michael Eggman and Emilio Huerta-- and three who will turn out to be as bad or worse than Graham: "ex"-Republican Monica Vernon (IA), and two grotesque Wall Street-oriented Blue Dogs, Brad Schneider (IL) and Josh Gottheimer (NJ), who will eventually have all the Food Policy Action folks sitting around in a circle weeping and cursing. (The 6th endorsee, Anna Throne-Holst, Steve Israel's Suffolk County girlfriend, is going to lose badly, so it isn't worth speculating about how bad she would wind up being on food issues in Congress.)

Two much better endorsements-- but not ones the DCCC or Pelosi would have ever told them about would be Tom Wakely, the progressive Democrat running against House Science Committee chairman, Lamar Smith, and DuWayne Gregory, the progressive Democrat running against GOP hack Peter King-- in other words, against two reactionary Trumpists who failed the Food Policy Action scorecard with miserable scores. "With Lamar Smith and this insane brand of conservatism," Wakely told us, "it's all about the bottom dollar. He doesn't care if pesticides make you ill. He doesn't care if you want to know where your meat is sourced. Smith and his cronies only care about promoting enterprise at any cost, and unfortunately the cost is usually the well-being of our citizens. This is becoming taxation without representation. We're paying the salaries of congressmen like Lamar Smith so they can be stewards of everything but the people they were elected to represent. When I'm elected I'll always vote in a manner so that the people will have a right to know how their food was prepared. It's simply common decency."

And DuWayne went through the Food Policy Action scorecard report on King and told us that the Long Island congressman "has an abysmal 31% record when it comes to food safety. Voting against common sense measures to ensure our food supply is healthy to consume shouldn't be complicated. I understand the importance of dangerous chemicals being restricted from our food supply and hold those accountable with strict regulations. We need members of Congress that will fight for the people and not loosen laws for violators."


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Trump And Ryan-- The Marriage Forged On Satan's Anvil


In their post Wednesday morning about what to look for in the debate Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns of the NY Times suggested watching to see if Trump torches his own party. Sounded like fun to me.
Snubbed by Mr. Ryan in the final month of the campaign, Mr. Trump has seemed as eager to attack turncoat leaders in his own party as to make the case against Mrs. Clinton. He has reserved special venom for Mr. Ryan, blasting him as a weak leader with bad ideas about trade and immigration, and suggesting that Mr. Ryan might be sabotaging Mr. Trump’s campaign to pave the way for a presidential run of his own in four years.

These attacks have the potential to rip apart the Republican Party in ways that will last long beyond Election Day. Should Mr. Trump use a prime-time debate to sic the Republican base on its leaders-- and to cast himself, essentially, as an independent candidate challenging elites on the left and right-- he could inflict damage on the party far deeper than what Mrs. Clinton might deliver on her own.

And should Mr. Trump strafe the party that nominated him, it could have immediate consequences for Republicans seeking election to the House and Senate, who cannot afford an abrupt drop in turnout from demoralized and angry voters in their own camp.
But during the debate, the Adderall-impaired Trump had other things on his mind. He didn't attack Ryan. Last night, in the spin room after the debate, Hannity, a full-fledged Trump surrogate, told Robert Costa that Ryan is a "saboteur" and called on Republicans to force him from office and replace him with... Louie Gohmert. (No, I did not make that up.) If Ryan watched Trump giving the election to Hillary, he must have wanted to kill himself. Trump is clearly unhinged and deranged. And Ryan's cowardice and bad judgment in regard to the threat Trump poses to America, have caused his own favorability among Republicans to crater. And does he ever deserve it-- and worse... although being replaced by Louie Gohmert is kind of weird, even in terms of the 2016 election cycle.
Ryan’s cratering popularity follows his public denunciation of Trump’s 2005 hot-mic statements to Access Hollywood in which the GOP nominee bragged about sexual assault. Ryan said he continues to endorse Trump’s campaign, but will no longer defend  him. In response, Trump accused Ryan of conspiring against him and of being part of a “sinister deal” to help defeat him.

Only 40 percent of Republicans now hold a positive view of Ryan (R-Wis.), according to the poll, down from 54 percent 10 days ago.

Among Trump supporters, just 28 percent still like Ryan, down from 48 percent. About 6 in 10 Trump supporters disliked the speaker in the latest poll. Four in 10 Republicans disliked him in last week’s poll.

Among all voters, Ryan favorability rating has sunk to negative 20, the lowest rating recorded in a YouGov/Economist poll for the GOP leader since he became speaker of the House one year ago.

Similarly, a new Morning Consult/Politico poll shows Ryan’s popularity taking a nosedive among Trump supporters and Republicans overall, though by a smaller margin. The poll shows Ryan’s net favorable among Trump supporters fell by 32 points since an Oct. 8 survey. Among Republicans, Ryan’s favorability fell 23 points.

If things weren’t already looking sad enough for Ryan, the Morning Consult poll also found that more Trump supporters would rather see Ryan replaced as speaker of the House than continue to hold his job in the next Congress.
Meanwhile Trump's doofus ally from New Jersey, wallowing in his own misery, didn't show up. Maybe he's getting ready for his impending court case-- or maybe just enjoying his record-breaking 21% approval rating among New Jersey voters. Overall, rightist Jonah Goldberg summed last night up for conservatives in his National Review column: "[W]here I dissent somewhat from the conventional wisdom is the notion that Trump was doing great until that one response. He lied repeatedly and shamelessly, most importantly about all of the stories of his sexual advances being debunked. They haven’t been. (I loved him saying-- over and over-- that “nobody” has more respect for women than he does. Nobody?) He was doing better than he has in previous debates and he was even scoring real points, but he simply wasn’t doing anything to get voters to see him in a fresh light. And when you’re this far behind, you need to add voters to your column. He didn’t do that. He didn’t even try. And that should be unforgivable."

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Are the Parties Losing the People?


Bernie Sanders speaks to the Democratic Party's natural constituency at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. Will the Party serve these people, or ask them to serve the Party?

by Gaius Publius

Note: This is not about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It's about change and the status quo.

I want to take a preliminary look at a larger topic than just this election, a topic I'll return to at length after the election. This first look will lean on Matt Taibbi's recent take on the apparently crashing Trump campaign. In a longer piece, I'll add more of my own analysis.

"People represented by literally no one"

Taibbi hits the nail on the head, I think, or rather, both nails, one for each of our major political parties. His overarching metaphor is this — a ruling class that's inbred, played out, self-satisfied, out-of-touch and therefore ripe for a fall. Think for example, as Taibbi reminds us, of the Romanovs, floating in an effete world of fortune-telling and mysticism as Russian soldiers starved and died on the World War I eastern front. Out of touch aristocrats, ripe for a fall.

Here's Taibbi, from the middle of the piece, making that metaphorical point (my emphases):
Trump's early rampage through the Republican field made literary sense. It was classic farce. He was the lewd, unwelcome guest who horrified priggish, decent society, a theme that has mesmerized audiences for centuries, from Vanity Fair to The Government Inspector to (closer to home) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. When you let a hands-y, drunken slob loose at an aristocrats' ball, the satirical power of the story comes from the aristocrats deserving what comes next. And nothing has ever deserved a comeuppance quite like the American presidential electoral process, which had become as exclusive and cut off from the people as a tsarist shooting party.

The first symptom of a degraded aristocracy is a lack of capable candidates for the throne. After years of indulgence, ruling families become frail, inbred and isolated, with no one but mystics, impotents and children to put forward as kings. Think of Nikolai Romanov reading fortunes as his troops starved at the front. Weak princes lead to popular uprisings....
Which lets him pivot perfectly to this:
... Which brings us to this year's Republican field. ...

There wasn't one capable or inspiring person in the infamous "Clown Car" lineup. All 16 of the non-Trump entrants were dunces, religious zealots, wimps or tyrants, all equally out of touch with voters. Scott Walker was a lipless sadist who in centuries past would have worn a leather jerkin and thrown dogs off the castle walls for recreation. Marco Rubio was the young rake with debts. Jeb Bush was the last offering in a fast-diminishing hereditary line. Ted Cruz was the Zodiac Killer. And so on.

The party spent 50 years preaching rich people bromides like "trickle-down economics" and "picking yourself up by your bootstraps" as solutions to the growing alienation and financial privation of the ordinary voter. In place of jobs, exported overseas by the millions by their financial backers, Republicans glibly offered the flag, Jesus and Willie Horton.

In recent years it all went stale. They started to run out of lines to sell the public. Things got so desperate that during the Tea Party phase, some GOP candidates began dabbling in the truth. They told voters that all Washington politicians, including their own leaders, had abandoned them and become whores for special interests. It was a slapstick routine: Throw us bums out!

Republican voters ate it up and spent the whole of last primary season howling for blood as Trump shredded one party-approved hack after another. By the time the other 16 candidates finished their mass-suicide-squad routine, a tail-chasing, sewer-mouthed septuagenarian New Yorker was accepting the nomination of the Family Values Party.
Taibbi's opening paragraph make this Republican-themed point as well:
The Fury and Failure of Donald Trump

Win, lose or drop out, the Republican nominee has laid waste to the American political system. On the trail for the last gasp of the ugliest campaign in our nation's history

Saturday, early October, at a fairground 40 minutes southwest of Milwaukee. The very name of this place, Elkhorn, conjures images of past massacres on now-silent fields across our blood-soaked history. Nobody will die here; this is not Wounded Knee, but it is the end of an era. The modern Republican Party will perish on this stretch of grass.
And near the end of the Republican part of the piece, he concludes:
Duped for a generation by a party that kowtowed to the wealthy while offering scraps to voters, then egged on to a doomed rebellion by a third-rate con man who wilted under pressure and was finally incinerated in a fireball of his own stupidity, people like this found themselves, in the end, represented by literally no one.
The Republican Party, in other words, has lost its voters. They find themselves, in Taibbi's words, "represented by literally no one."

Taibbi on the Democrats

And now on the Democratic side:
Although a lot of Clinton backers believe she's being unfairly weighed down by negative reports about the Clinton Foundation and her e-mails, her most serious obstacles this year were less her faults than her virtues. The best argument for a Clinton presidency is that she's virtually guaranteed to be a capable steward of the status quo, at a time of relative stability and safety. There are criticisms to make of Hillary Clinton, but the grid isn't going to collapse while she's in office, something no one can say with even mild confidence about Donald Trump.

But nearly two-thirds of the population was unhappy with the direction of the country entering the general-election season, and nothing has been more associated with the political inside than the Clinton name.
For Taibbi, Clinton is not a bad choice for president, but she offers what many people simply don't want, the status quo. Remember those crowds at all those Sanders rallies? Those people are the Democratic Party's natural constituency in this time of change. Who will serve them?

The Status Quo in an Era of Change

Two points on the Democratic Party's choices, with fuller explanations later:

1. This "time of change" is now almost a decade old. Barack Obama rode into office on a wave of hope and change, following the economic collapse of 2007-2008. People wanting real structural change is not a one-cycle phenomenon. It's not going away.

2. If the Democratic Party does not in future serve the people in its natural constituency — I don't mean "appear to serve" them, but actually serve them — if the Party doesn't bend to them, and requires instead that its constituency bend to the Party — then both parties will have lost the people.

To put it more plainly: If Hillary Clinton enters office, as it looks like she will do, determined to ignore the masses who don't want more of the status quo, the Democrats' natural constituency will also find itself, in Taibbi's words, "represented by literally no one."

And that's where things stand in the country. Are both parties losing the people? It's the third quarter of the political game of the century, and the opponents are not the parties, but the bipartisan system and those they represent. You don't want to live in a system that frustrates and battles those they represent.

I'll leave it there for now. As I wrote at the top, this is not about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It's about change and the status quo. (It's also about the "consent of the governed," if you think about it. But be careful. The ramifications of that line of thought will keep you up at night.)


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State Of The Race: Rubio vs Murphy-- Lazy Pundit Jonathan Chait Gets It All Wrong


The Brits want us to see this film before we vote. He's a really repressible, profoundly ignorant man. And so are his supporters. Monday I watched the Florida Senate debate between Republican incumbent Marco Rubio, a slick career politician with big ambitions, and Patrick Murphy, surely one of the stupidest and worthless men to have ever served in Congress and recently voted among the least effective members of Congress. Rubio was a far better debater and a somewhat more appealing candidate. Murphy looked like he would start crying when Rubio hit him with accusations he had no answers to-- like how he voted to deport DREAMers, despite the bullshit take he paints now about being a champion of immigrants. Murphy has just spent 4 years being a champion of one group and one group only: Wall Street banksters. Policy-wise, Murphy, a "former" Republican is as vile and contemptible as... Rubio. But in this election Rubio has been unable to unglue himself from Trump and from the Republican agenda. So despite running against the least competent and least attractive Democratic candidate in any state, Murphy could still beat Rubio.

In another showing of his worst partisan hackishness and utter disregard-- if not contempt-- for the well-being of the country, President Obama (who, according to a top Biden staffer, has been promised massive financial help with his presidential library in return for getting Murphy elected) just cut another dishonest ad touting the worthless Murphy to unsuspecting low-info voters-- which is exactly how Murphy won the primary. Obama... also once the lesser of evils candidate, has been a mediocre president whose only really significant accomplishment has been to be the first African-American elected president. Other than that he's as much a crap-president as any I've watched since LBJ-- Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II... an unbroken string of ineffective mediocrities, some worse than others, but none worth a dime. Sorry for the tangent. Yesterday, Jonathan Chait asked the wrong question in New York Magazine: Why Are Senate Democrats Letting Marco Rubio Win? A better question-- not that I'd expect it of Chait-- would have been, "Why Are Senate Democrats About To Elect Chuck Schumer Their Leader After He Stuck Them With Patrick Murphy And A Stable Of Other Less Than Worthless Candidates?"

Murphy, Kathy McGinty (PA), Ted Strickland (OH), Ann Kirkpatrick, (AZ) Patty Judge (IA) are 5 detestable candidates who have two things working in their favor: Trump and the horribleness of the Republican agenda. But none of them is a good candidate or good political leader. Each is the political equivalent of a steaming pile of manure. And at this point the only one of them that looks like they still have a reasonable shot is McGinty-- and strictly because the former fracking lobbyist is being dishonestly touted by Elizabeth Warren as worthwhile and because Clinton's Pennsylvania coattails look extremely strong. (And because Pat Toomey is as horrible a candidate as McGinty.) The rest will all be flushed down the toilet, unfortunately not with Schumer's ambitions.

OK, back to Chait. Apparently not knowing a thing about Murphy, he's shocked the DSCC has pulled all their money out of the race-- transferring it to campaigns they think they can win (Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Indiana, maybe even Missouri) and vengeful after Murphy's father (and Saudi connections) have renegged on funds promised to Schumer and Tester. "[P]olls can turn out wrong," whines Chait, apparently not cognizant that Rubio is leading Murphy by an average of 4.2 points, according to RealClearPolitics, and that the lackluster endorsement by the Miami Herald-- Murphy possibly just embellished his résumé, didn't actually lie-- isn't going to save him. Basically the endorsement is about how disappointing Rubio is-- amen (he's wretched in every way)-- and not anything positive about Murphy, since there is nothing positive about Murphy that one could possibly say with a straight face other than maybe the Democrats will be able to prevail upon him to vote with them some times... maybe. Murphy is using the Democratic Party platform he's never been enthusiastic about, as a crutch and cudgel. Too bad Rubio is stuck with Trump and the GOP, but he has no one to blame but himself. Anyone who votes for either of them, is fouling himself or herself.

Chait whined, accusingly that "Rubio is the best hope for the future of the Republican Party’s donor class. Rubio is almost surely going to run for president in 2020, and he gives his party the cheapest possible concessions to the center-- an appeal to moderates with affective moderation and well-honed performative qualities, rather than concessions on policy. Rubio memorably expressed his disgust with Trump in a way that made the news media and anti-Trump Republicans alike swoon, but without committing himself to any course of action that might alienate Trump’s base:

"Yes" he continued, "Rubio was steamrolled in the primaries. But not every candidate who loses is a bad politician. If Rubio holds his Senate seat by a few points or less, and then wins his party’s nomination in four years, Democrats will be kicking themselves they didn’t pull out every stop to end his political career, in the short term, when they had the chance."

Chait, like the Miami Herald endorser, was unable to muster a single positive attribute that would make Patrick Murphy worth a vote-- just that Rubio is a potential threat and that Trump is unspeakably horrible. Murphy is also unspeakably horrible and it would be nice if Jonathan Chait bothered to do the research about his record, his Trump-related business dealings and his unspeakable corruption, so that he'd be better informed when he tries to write about politics.


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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Conservatives Rejoice At The Criminally Low Social Security Cost Of Living Increase But Want Even Bigger Cuts


AKA-- A Bitter Way

One of Chris Wallace's debate topics tonight was "Debt and Entitlements," which is how conservatives frame their arguments for cutting Social Security and Medicare. The moron who ran the VP debate last month also read a card someone gave her that implied that Social Security would "run out of mone," a falsify conservatives never tire of pushing on low-info/low-intelligence media folks like Elaine Quijano. As Social Security Works pointed out after Quijano stumbled into it, "This bogus framing sets up Social Security as a problem to be solved, not a solution to the retirement income crisis. The Republicans have used this framing to undermine confidence in the program and open the door for cuts to our earned benefits. Now we've learned that Freshman Senator David Perdue (R-GA) is working behind the scenes with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other Republican leaders to put cuts to Social Security at the top of the Republican agenda in 2017."

What Perdue and McConnell have come up with is a plan to remove Social Security's guarantee by allowing Congress the power to vote each year on Social Security's spending, something that would allow conservatives to tie Social Security to the federal budget-- even though Social Security is independently funded by the payroll tax and has never contributed one penny to our country's debt."

At the same time, congressional conservatives are refusing to use a sensible index to decide on the annual cost-of-living-adjustments, resulting this coming year in a 0.3% increase-- last year it was zero-- even though costs for medical care and other actual expenses seniors are confronted with have gone up many times that amount. Elizabeth Warren is fighting to pass the Seniors and Veterans Emergency (SAVE) Benefits Act, which would boost Social Security and other critical benefits for seniors, veterans, and Americans with disabilities. but Republicans and other conservatives are standing in the way. Yesterday she said that "For many seniors and other Americans struggling to make ends meet on tight budgets with rising expenses, today's COLA announcement offers little relief. There is still time to help make up for the fact that there was no cost-of-living adjustment in 2016. Congress should pass the SAVE Benefits Act when we are back in session in November to give a much-needed boost to millions of Americans who have earned it."
The SAVE Benefits Act would give about 70 million seniors, veterans, Americans with disabilities, and others an emergency payment equal to 3.9 percent of the average annual Social Security benefit, about $581-- the same percentage raise that top CEOs received last year.

A $581 increase could cover almost three months of groceries for seniors or a year's worth of out-of-pocket costs on critical prescription drugs for the average Medicare beneficiary. The bill would lift more than 1 million Americans out of poverty. The cost of this emergency payment would be covered by closing a tax loophole allowing corporations to write off executive bonuses as a business expense for "performance pay." The substantial additional revenue saved by closing the CEO compensation loophole would be used to bolster and extend the life of the Social Security and Disability trust funds.
Bernie pointed out that the 0.3% increase announced yesterday amounts to an average of $4/month for the typical Social Security recipient. "Seniors and disabled veterans need more help than a few extra dollars in their monthly checks," he said. "These are the people who built this country-- our parents, our grandparents and our soldiers. At a time when senior poverty is going up and more than two-thirds of the elderly population rely on Social Security for more than half of their income, we must do everything we can to expand Social Security. Seniors and disabled veterans deserve a fair cost-of-living adjustment to keep up with the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs and health care. Unfortunately, the increase announced today doesn’t come close to doing that."

Ryan, of course, is behind the push to to make Social Security part of the annual budget so that they have the opportunity to cut it every year. For him and his party's backers, even the meager 0.3% increase is too much.

An issue worth running on-- anywhere in America

Jeff Merkley, a co-sponsor of Warren's SAVE Benefits Act also spoke out immediately. "With today’s announcement, the Social Security Administration is saying that seniors only need about five extra dollars a month to cover rising costs for next year. To anyone who truly believes that is adequate, I invite you to come to Oregon and tell that to seniors who are dealing with skyrocketing prescription drug prices, or who face eviction due to double-digit rent increases. This so-called ‘cost-of-living adjustment’ should serve as a wakeup call that the current consumer price index is not working for Social Security benefits. Social Security is the bedrock of retirement security in our nation, and if we want to make sure that the value of Social Security benefits doesn’t become dangerously eroded over time, we need to act now to put in place a consumer price index that reflects the true costs seniors face."

Mary Hoeft and Tom Wakely, respectively running for Congress against Trump's top surrogates in Wisconsin, Sean Duffy, and Texas, Lamar Smith, spoke for all the Blue America candidates when they voiced their outrage. Mary told us, ironically, "Seniors just got the great news. With a whopping $4 a month increase in benefits, they can enjoy a monthly Value Meal at their neighborhood fast food restaurant. Thanks Seniors for your lifetime of hard work! God Forbid we get rid of the $118,500 cap on social security contributions. I would hate to think people with money would have to pay their fair share."And Tom asked, "So this is how we honor our seniors? A 0.3% increase? The extra pennies are so insulting they'd be better off not increasing it all. I say pennies because we shouldn't even be talking about this in monthly terms. Seniors aren't living month to month. They're living day to day. Think about it as an extra 13 cents a day. That's what we're so "graciously" giving to our elderly in their time of need. Republicans will hammer even this insignificant raise, but likely use it as part of a national stump speech when it's time for the midterm elections to "prove" that Social Security doesn't work. I wholeheartedly support Senator Warren's SAVE Act. This isn't a welfare program. These citizens earned their benefits. 13 cents a day is beyond a slap in the face. It's an actual disgrace." Please consider contributing to Mary, Tom and the other Blue America progressives who the DCCC is studiously ignoring.

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All The Rage On The Fringes Of Republicanville: Anyone but McCain & Ryan!


Not likely

Today I received an e-mail from a far right group I hadn't heard much about lately Alipac, with the subject line "'Vote Anyone but McCain & Ryan' Movement Picks Up Steam. Alipac-- Americans for Legal Immigration PAC-- is widely considered one of the most hateful of the anti-immigrant groups. I first heard about them in 2011 when they backed fringe GOP candidates Ken Buck (CO) and Sharon Angle (NV) in failed Senate runs and when they went on a pretty hilarious weeks-long tirade about Lindsey Graham's homosexuality. This was the ad they ran in the Republican primary this summer. Their candidate, far right crackpot and hate-monger Kelli Ward, was defeated by McCain on August 30, 51.7% to 39.2%.

Like virtually every hate group in the country, Alipac, is fanatically behind Trump's ugly, bigoted campaign. And their email today claims they are expanding their "efforts to encourage Arizona and Wisconsin GOP voters to abandon John McCain and Paul Ryan due to their opposition to Donald Trump and their support for Amnesty for illegals by increasing the organization's endorsements in each race and changing the title of the strategy to 'Anyone but McCain & Ryan'!"

They have actually endorsed Democrats Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), a conservative New Dem and Ryan Solen (WI), a normal Democrat running against Ryan. They consider the endorsements brilliant and revolutionary strategy. "After carefully analyzing the strong level of support the plan received in comments beneath articles written by Breitbart News (view) and World Net Daily (view), ALIPAC is now calling the effort 'Vote Anyone But McCain & Ryan' and creating the hashtag #NeverMcCainRyan for use in social media."
"The strongest protest vote GOP voters can cast is for the Democrats challenging McCain and Ryan," said William Gheen, President of ALPAC. "But for those that just can't bring themselves to vote for a Democrat, we are asking them to write in the GOP Primary challengers we endorsed earlier like Kelli Ward and Paul Nehlen. Or they can vote for an independent or third party candidate. The key is for GOP voters, in just these two targeted races, to rid Washington DC of two corrupt, untrustworthy, illegal immigration fostering, Trump opposing incumbents McCain & Ryan. Remember on Election Day to Vote Anyone But McCain & Ryan!"

ALIPAC is asking supporters of this plan to work on polls election day Nov 8 with signs that say "Vote Anyone But McCain & Ryan." ALIPAC is also starting online ads that begin running today that will broadcast this request to GOP voters in Wisconsin and Arizona.
What a shame! Don't you just hate it when Republicans decide to go to war against each other just weeks before an election! Yesterday, Rachael Bade and Jake Sherman, headlined a report for Politico, Republicans rush to build firewall to save the House.

A superPAC controlled by Ryan is spending "millions in districts once thought invincible for the GOP. The top House Republican super PAC had always planned to spend big to protect GOP lawmakers in Democratic-friendly districts. But Donald Trump’s free fall is forcing American Action Network and its sister PAC, Congressional Leadership Fund, to also shell out millions in red-leaning districts that weren’t even in play until this month. Their suddenly urgent mission: Build a firewall to prevent a Democratic takeover of the House. With Trump fending off allegations of sexual harassment and his tanking numbers threatening to pull down once-safe GOP lawmakers, this is what 2016 now looks like for the pair of related conservative outside groups: They're dropping $500,000 on TV ads in deep-red Utah to protect Rep. Mia Love, whose Mormon-heavy district has recoiled from Trump’s vulgar comments about women. They’re spending another $700,000 in Tucson, Arizona, to protect freshman Rep. Martha McSally, a retired Air Force colonel who has comfortably led her Democratic challenger all year. And they're working to shore up conservative-leaning districts in the Central Valley of California, western Colorado, upstate New York and Michigan."

So far the DCCC and Pelosi's House Majority PAC haven't spent any appreciable money against Mia Love in Utah ($47,652), and Matt Heinz in Arizona (zero), although they have spent $2,646,452 against John Mica in Florida. Politico quoted Mike Shields, who runs both groups-- no coordination there, I'm certain-- and who calls their spending an "insurance policy... There’s certainly a challenge at the top of the ticket… so it’s prudent to look at what’s going on and make sure we have a firewall laid down to protect [lawmakers] in the event that things got to a place that were more challenging. It’s a lot of preventative maintenance… [laying] down a protective blanket over some races so that you can force the fight back into the top races where we’ve always known there’d be a real election." Luckily for Shields and Ryan, the DCCC is incredibly incompetent and have gone back to their old losing ways of recruiting unappetizing conservatives from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party (New Dems and Blue Dogs), while sabotaging progressives. Under Pelosi's abysmal leadership-- even an anti-Trump tsunami is likely to leave the Republicans in charge of the House. Instead of spending money on exciting progressives with great platforms-- like Zephyr Teachout (NY), Carol Shea-Porter (NH), Paul Clements (MI), DuWayne Gregory (NY), Mary Ellen Balchunis (PA), Mary Hoeft (WI), Tom Wakely (TX), Alina Valdes (FL) and Peter Jacob (NJ), they're wasting immense sums to elect vile and contemptible Blue Dogs who, if they win in an anti-Trump tsunami will spend 2017 and '18 voting with the Republicans against progressive legislation and then will be defeated in the 2018 midterms-- a pattern the sclerotic brain surgeons who run the DCCC haven't quite figured out yet. As we saw Monday, the DCCC is putting most of their big money into campaigns for worthless Blue Dogs and New Dems like Tom O'Halleran (AZ), Pete Gallego (TX), Lon Johnson (MI), Brad Schneider (IL), Josh Gottheimer (NJ) and Kim Myers (NY), Joe Garcia (FL), Emily Cain (ME) and Terri Bonoff (MN).

On the other hand, these are the Berniecrats who won their primaries. Not one of them is getting significant enough money-- if any at all-- or help from the DCCC or Pelosi's PAC. Some don't need the help, but most of them do-- and will probably lose without it. But the NRCC is still worried, not having counted on a total top-of-the-ticket meltdown.
Inside the GOP leadership there's also been a shift in thinking. Lawmakers and aides at the NRCC and atop the party's leadership structure predicted single-digit losses before they left for their election-season recess. Now, these aides and lawmakers say losses could be 10 to 20 seats, leaving the GOP with a slimmed-down majority. However, many of them concede that a 20-seat loss could easily become 30, and thus the majority.

That’s why CLF and AAN are working to build a protective shell around a group of second-tier candidates few were watching before now. They’ll spend $2 million to protect Jeff Denham of California, a three-term congressman who thumped his Democratic opponent the first time they faced off in 2014. That money will be used to counter millions being poured into the district by Democrats trying to capitalize on Denham’s district's large Hispanic population: Their ads seek to tie Denham to Trump’s controversial comments about undocumented workers.

CLF and AAN are also investing $1.3 million in Rep. Scott Tipton’s Colorado district. Tipton handily beat his Democratic challenger last cycle, 58 percent to 36 percent. But his opponent, former state Sen. Gail Schwartz, outraised him $623,000 to $423,000 in her first quarter, turning the sleepy reelection into a real race. And since then, House Majority PAC, the outside group associated with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, has poured hundreds of thousands into the district.

The conservative groups are also spending a half-million dollars for Rep. Elise Stefanik in New York, though Stefanick’s campaign just released a poll showing her leading her Democratic challenger 54 percent to 29 percent. And they’re pumping about $1.7 million into a trio of Michigan districts: to help incumbents Tim Walberg and Mike Bishop, and win an open seat being vacated by Dan Benishek.

Officials at the super PAC and related nonprofit say the uptick in spending is a protective measure and does not signal that the seats are truly up for grabs. Plus, in this climate, there aren't many competitive seats where the GOP can go on offense.

...Republicans say they hope they have seen the end of Trump's slide and the race begins to stabilize. But a Politico/Morning Consult poll from the weekend showed Democrats up in the generic ballot test, 45 percent to 38 percent. If Trump continues to drop, AAN and CLF say they have the cash and bandwidth to fight back. CLF announced it has raised $31 million, nine times more than it raised in the third quarter of the previous election cycle.

"We have the money to do it, so we’re going to take up an insurance policy and it’s going to push everything back up to where it’s supposed to be," Shields said. "If it’s close, we’ll be glad we did it.”

GOP officials say they believe they'll have a better idea of the electoral landscape after Wednesday's presidential debate in Las Vegas.

The strategy certainly helps the NRCC, freeing up the House Republicans’ campaign arm to focus on its most vulnerable members, like Rep. Will Hurd on the Texas border or Carlos Curbelo on the southern tip of Florida.
Both those races have repulsively corrupt conservative Democrats-- respectively Pete Gallego and Joe Garcia-- who were in Congress and defeated by the current incumbents. Scott Bland also reported for Politico that the Democrats are using a legal loophole to pump millions into some of the House races.
Typically, Federal Election Commission regulations limit parties to just $48,100 of spending in direct coordination with most House candidates. But under a decade-old FEC precedent, candidates that word their TV ads a certain way-- including references to generic “Democrats” and “Republicans” as well as specific candidates-- can split the cost of those ads with their party, even if that means blowing past the normal coordinated spending caps.

To date, more than a dozen Democratic challengers are benefiting from such “hybrid” advertising, getting extra hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The technique has been a small but consistent part of Democratic strategy in recent years, but new legal guidance has also allowed Democrats to share costs on ads linking their opponents to Trump on policy.

“You have a historically unpopular Republican presidential nominee, which increases the appeal of doing this sort of thing,” said a Democratic operative. “If you can find a way now that you only have to pay 50 percent of an ad, and link your opponent to Trump, and that makes strategic sense in the district, that’s a no-brainer.”

The cost-sharing has turned into a critical tool for the DCCC, as it suddenly tries to compete in more districts and support little-known challengers made unexpectedly viable by Trump’s late slide.

The ads that qualify for cost-splitting do exactly what Democrats already want to: nationalize House races and try to saddle local candidates-- from Iowa to Nevada-- with the Republican Party’s general unpopularity. And the influx of funds from the DCCC directly into candidate advertising has helped the party grow the battleground map, even including districts where the candidates themselves are perilously low on cash.
The biggest recipients, so far, have been Brad Schneider (IL), LuAnn Bennett (VA), Stephanie Murphy (FL), Colleen Deacon (NY), and Doug Applegate (CA). And meanwhile, Paul Ryan is scared enough to be running TV ads in the expensive Milwaukee media market. By this morning Politico was reporting that Ryan is now just making believe Trump doesn't exist. "Ever since Ryan distanced himself from the top of his party’s ticket one week ago," wrote Rachael Bade, "a frustrated and reeling Trump has lashed out at the Wisconsin Republican on a near-daily basis. Ryan has become one of Trump’s favorite targets. Yet instead of parrying the attacks and defending himself, the speaker has deployed a strategy of complete disregard: pretend he can’t hear the loudest guy in politics and focus solely on protecting his suddenly fragile House majority." Maybe these crazy Republican Trump fanatics in Green Bay scared him Monday:

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