Sunday, December 17, 2017

Midnight Meme Of The Day!

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-by Noah

I've heard it said that everyone has, somewhere on this Earth, a doppelgänger. Doppelgängers are our doubles and they are usually seen as harbingers of bad luck or as an evil twin. How sad would it be if you had a good heart like the Munster family and your doppelgänger was a prominent Republican, or any Republican for that matter. But these three? Well, that's just going way too far! You could never do enough good work to make up for these.

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

If Aliens Decide To Visit, Would You Want Trump In Charge? Just Asking For A Friend

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For some reason, the government wants to keep its UFO programs secret. The Pentagon hides the UFO office and makes it almost impossible to find in its budget requests. Congress obliges with increasingly secretive appropriations for the military UFO hunters, even though the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program went the way of the dodo bird with the retirement of its greatest advocate, Harry Reid. Yesterday, the NY Times had a team on the case, which reported that "For years, the program investigated reports of unidentified flying objects, according to Defense Department officials, interviews with program participants and records obtained by the New York Times. It was run by a military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring, deep within the building’s maze. The Defense Department has never before acknowledged the existence of the program, which it says it shut down in 2012. But its backers say that, while the Pentagon ended funding for the effort at that time, the program remains in existence. For the past five years, they say, officials with the program have continued to investigate episodes brought to them by service members, while also carrying out their other Defense Department duties."
The shadowy program-- parts of it remain classified-- began in 2007, and initially it was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time and who has long had an interest in space phenomena. Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid’s, Robert Bigelow, who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space.



On CBS’s 60 Minutes in May, Mr. Bigelow said he was “absolutely convinced” that aliens exist and that U.F.O.s have visited Earth.

Working with Mr. Bigelow’s Las Vegas-based company, the program produced documents that describe sightings of aircraft that seemed to move at very high velocities with no visible signs of propulsion, or that hovered with no apparent means of lift.

Officials with the program have also studied videos of encounters between unknown objects and American military aircraft-- including one released in August of a whitish oval object, about the size of a commercial plane, chased by two Navy F/A-18F fighter jets from the aircraft carrier Nimitz off the coast of San Diego in 2004.

Mr. Reid, who retired from Congress this year, said he was proud of the program. “I’m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going,” Mr. Reid said in a recent interview in Nevada. “I think it’s one of the good things I did in my congressional service. I’ve done something that no one has done before.”

Two other former senators and top members of a defense spending subcommittee-- Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, and Daniel K. Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat-- also supported the program. Mr. Stevens died in 2010, and Mr. Inouye in 2012.

While not addressing the merits of the program, Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at M.I.T., cautioned that not knowing the origin of an object does not mean that it is from another planet or galaxy. “When people claim to observe truly unusual phenomena, sometimes it’s worth investigating seriously,” she said. But, she added, “what people sometimes don’t get about science is that we often have phenomena that remain unexplained.”

James E. Oberg, a former NASA space shuttle engineer and the author of 10 books on spaceflight who often debunks U.F.O. sightings, was also doubtful. “There are plenty of prosaic events and human perceptual traits that can account for these stories,” Mr. Oberg said. “Lots of people are active in the air and don’t want others to know about it. They are happy to lurk unrecognized in the noise, or even to stir it up as camouflage.”

Still, Mr. Oberg said he welcomed research. “There could well be a pearl there,” he said.

In response to questions from The Times, Pentagon officials this month acknowledged the existence of the program, which began as part of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Officials insisted that the effort had ended after five years, in 2012.

“It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding, and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change,” a Pentagon spokesman, Thomas Crosson, said in an emailed statement, referring to the Department of Defense.

But Mr. Elizondo said the only thing that had ended was the effort’s government funding, which dried up in 2012. From then on, Mr. Elizondo said in an interview, he worked with officials from the Navy and the C.I.A. He continued to work out of his Pentagon office until this past October, when he resigned to protest what he characterized as excessive secrecy and internal opposition.

“Why aren’t we spending more time and effort on this issue?” Mr. Elizondo wrote in a resignation letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Mr. Elizondo said that the effort continued and that he had a successor, whom he declined to name.

U.F.O.s have been repeatedly investigated over the decades in the United States, including by the American military. In 1947, the Air Force began a series of studies that investigated more than 12,000 claimed U.F.O. sightings before it was officially ended in 1969. The project, which included a study code-named Project Blue Book, started in 1952, concluded that most sightings involved stars, clouds, conventional aircraft or spy planes, although 701 remained unexplained.

Robert C. Seamans Jr., the secretary of the Air Force at the time, said in a memorandum announcing the end of Project Blue Book that it “no longer can be justified either on the ground of national security or in the interest of science.”

Mr. Reid said his interest in U.F.O.s came from Mr. Bigelow. In 2007, Mr. Reid said in the interview, Mr. Bigelow told him that an official with the Defense Intelligence Agency had approached him wanting to visit Mr. Bigelow’s ranch in Utah, where he conducted research.

Mr. Reid said he met with agency officials shortly after his meeting with Mr. Bigelow and learned that they wanted to start a research program on U.F.O.s. Mr. Reid then summoned Mr. Stevens and Mr. Inouye to a secure room in the Capitol.

“I had talked to John Glenn a number of years before,” Mr. Reid said, referring to the astronaut and former senator from Ohio, who died in 2016. Mr. Glenn, Mr. Reid said, had told him he thought that the federal government should be looking seriously into U.F.O.s, and should be talking to military service members, particularly pilots, who had reported seeing aircraft they could not identify or explain.

The sightings were not often reported up the military’s chain of command, Mr. Reid said, because service members were afraid they would be laughed at or stigmatized.

The meeting with Mr. Stevens and Mr. Inouye, Mr. Reid said, “was one of the easiest meetings I ever had.”

He added, “Ted Stevens said, ‘I’ve been waiting to do this since I was in the Air Force.’” (The Alaska senator had been a pilot in the Army’s air force, flying transport missions over China during World War II.)

During the meeting, Mr. Reid said, Mr. Stevens recounted being tailed by a strange aircraft with no known origin, which he said had followed his plane for miles.

None of the three senators wanted a public debate on the Senate floor about the funding for the program, Mr. Reid said. “This was so-called black money,” he said. “Stevens knows about it, Inouye knows about it. But that was it, and that’s how we wanted it.” Mr. Reid was referring to the Pentagon budget for classified programs.

...The program collected video and audio recordings of reported U.F.O. incidents, including footage from a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet showing an aircraft surrounded by some kind of glowing aura traveling at high speed and rotating as it moves. The Navy pilots can be heard trying to understand what they are seeing. “There’s a whole fleet of them,” one exclaims. Defense officials declined to release the location and date of the incident.

“Internationally, we are the most backward country in the world on this issue,” Mr. Bigelow said in an interview. “Our scientists are scared of being ostracized, and our media is scared of the stigma. China and Russia are much more open and work on this with huge organizations within their countries. Smaller countries like Belgium, France, England and South American countries like Chile are more open, too. They are proactive and willing to discuss this topic, rather than being held back by a juvenile taboo.”

By 2009, Mr. Reid decided that the program had made such extraordinary discoveries that he argued for heightened security to protect it. “Much progress has been made with the identification of several highly sensitive, unconventional aerospace-related findings,” Mr. Reid said in a letter to William Lynn III, a deputy defense secretary at the time, requesting that it be designated a “restricted special access program” limited to a few listed officials.

A 2009 Pentagon briefing summary of the program prepared by its director at the time asserted that “what was considered science fiction is now science fact,” and that the United States was incapable of defending itself against some of the technologies discovered. Mr. Reid’s request for the special designation was denied.

Mr. Elizondo, in his resignation letter of Oct. 4, said there was a need for more serious attention to “the many accounts from the Navy and other services of unusual aerial systems interfering with military weapon platforms and displaying beyond-next-generation capabilities.” He expressed his frustration with the limitations placed on the program, telling Mr. Mattis that “there remains a vital need to ascertain capability and intent of these phenomena for the benefit of the armed forces and the nation.”

Mr. Elizondo has now joined Mr. Puthoff and another former Defense Department official, Christopher K. Mellon, who was a deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence, in a new commercial venture called To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science. They are speaking publicly about their efforts as their venture aims to raise money for research into U.F.O.s.

In the interview, Mr. Elizondo said he and his government colleagues had determined that the phenomena they had studied did not seem to originate from any country. “That fact is not something any government or institution should classify in order to keep secret from the people,” he said.

For his part, Mr. Reid said he did not know where the objects had come from. “If anyone says they have the answers now, they’re fooling themselves,” he said. “We do not know.”
I certainly do not know-- and I had 3 scary but not aggressive UFO experiences in the 1970s (long after I had quit using drugs, one near Sitges south of Barcelona, one on the North Sea near Alkmaar northwest of Amsterdam and one in Noe Valley in San Francisco). The most physical one was on the beach in Holland when my girlfriend and I, late at night, watched a tiny speck of light rapidly descend and hover just above us, as big as a barn-- a big barn. We never saw who was driving but they communicated with us both telepathically. They wanted us to come with them-- seemed completely aware of what was going on with us (a breakup)-- but didn't insist. In fact they were very amicable and reassuring that they had no intention of forcing us to do anything. When we said we weren't going to go with them, they said bye-bye and took off and because a speck of light again. Years later in San Fran, they indicated it was my last chance to come with them and I got the feeling it was either the same beings or beings that the ones on the beach near Alkmaar had told about me. I said no and they said bye-bye again. I never heard from them again.

Blink-182's big breakthrough third album, Enema of the State had sold over 15 million copies when lead singer Tom DeLonge left the band. If the anti-Hillary Wikileaks leaks are to be believed, DeLonge has some kind of a relationship with Hillary campaign chairman John Podesta (a lobbyist and former Obama chief of staff). Podesta's in a documentary DeLonge produced about UFOs and the two of them emailed about UFOs as well. Hillary's campaign didn't want to talk about UFOs but certainly blamed the Podesta-Blink-182 leak on the Trump's pal Vlad in the Kremlin.



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Eminem May Not Be A Trumpanzee Supporter

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This afternoon, NPR had a special guest: Eminem. NPR isn't a rap station but Eminem's new album, Revival, is socially significant enough for NPR to just just interview him but to promote the interview all day Friday. They knew it would be a big deal, even beyond the (mostly) good music reviews. It should be no surprise that Em is no fan of Señor Trumpanzee-- but if it is... it won't be any longer, not after this album. There's even a fantasy, "Framed," about Ivanka in the trunk of his car, referring to her as "the dumb little blonde girl that motherfuckin’ baton twirler that got dumped in the pond."

Here's a verse from "Like Home," which Alicia Keys joins him on:
Someone get this Aryan a sheet
Time to bury him, so tell him to prepare to get impeached
Everybody on your feet

This is where terrorism and heroism meets, square off in the streets
This chump barely even sleeps
All he does is watch Fox News like a parrot and repeats

While he looks like a canary with a beak
Why you think he banned transgenders from the military with a tweet?
He's tryin' to divide us
The shit's like a cult, but like Johnny he'll only unite us
'Cause nothin' inside drives us like this fight does
Similar to when two cars collide 'cause
Our spirit's crushed, and this spot's a tight one
But here the jaws of life come

To pull us from the wreckage that's what we get pride from
When we can't wear stars and stripes 'cause
'Cause this type of pickle we're in is hard to deal
But there's always tomorrow still

If we start from the scratch like a scab, get the scars to heal

 And band together for Charolettesville

And for Heather, fallen heroes, fill this wall with murals

Nevada get up, hit the damn resetter

Let's start from zero, this is our renewal

Spray tan, get ride of, get a brand new, better

America, and here's to where we're from
OK, ok, one more verse... but that's it:
Didn't wanna piss your base off, did ya?
Can't denounce the Klan, 'cause they play golf with ya
You stay on Twitter, way to get your hate off

Nazi, I do not see a way y'all differ
And all you got are race cards

Better get the swastika with your name carved in it

Should be your trademark, 'cause hate's all you played off

And you just lick the plate off

So I guess it pays to feed off of chaos

So basically, you're Adolf Hitler!
But you ain't ruinin' our country, punk

Or takin' our pride from us, you won't define us

'Cause like a dictionary, things are lookin' up
So much, got a sprained neck, know we would rise up

Against this train wreck and take a stand
Even if it mean sittin' when they raise the flag
This ain't the Star Spangled Banner
This man just praised a statue of General Lee

'Cause he generally hates the black people, degrades hispanics
Take it back to the Shady national convention
Wish I woulda spit on it before I went

 To shake his hand at the event
Or maybe had the wherewithal
To know that he was gonna try to tear apart
Our sacred land we cherish and stand for
So, hands in the air, let's hear it for
The start of a brand new America
Without him, and be proud of where we're from
And here's to where we're from


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Will The GOP Tax Scam Hurt Them On Voting Day?

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Ryan is so excited about being so close to passing his Tax Scam that he was talking about retiring from Congress this week. And Trump is giddy-- first for being close to finally having something he accomplished legislatively-- and second, because of all the money he will save in a plan written specifically to benefit multimillionaires and billionaires like himself. But as the Alabama-based political research firm ALG noted in a memo this week, while Trump, Ryan and their GOP allies rejoice, "polling suggests they could be in for a rude awakening next November after voters have learned more about it. Voters want tax reform that provides relief to the middle class, makes the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share, and does not increase the deficit. They are unlikely to reward Republicans in Congress when they discover that the GOP plan delivers the opposite."

On Friday ALG analyzed recent national polling and concluded that Americans' top priorities for tax reform are "a tax cut for the middle-class and low-income working families, higher taxes for the wealthy and corporations, and no increase in the deficit. The Trump/Ryan Tax Scam bill "not only fails to meet all three of these priorities, but actually delivers the opposite. It provides massive tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, raises taxes on millions of middle class households next year alone (and nearly half of the middle class over the next ten years), and will increase the deficit by more than $1.4 trillion (triggering $25 billion in funding cuts to Medicare)."
A recent ABC / Washington Post poll highlights just how out of touch the Republican tax reform plan is with what Americans are looking for. It finds that 73% of Americans already believe our tax system favors the wealthy, and that while over three-quarters (78%) support reducing income taxes for middle and lower-income people, 62% oppose reducing taxes for higher income people. As for corporations, it finds that nearly two-thirds (65%) already believe that they pay too little in taxes.

These results are consistent with findings from a recent poll of likely 2018 voters in Senate battleground states that we conducted for Center Forward. In an open-ended question on their top priorities for tax reform, these voters were most likely to volunteer "reducing taxes for middle and lower income Americans," and "raising taxes on the wealthy" as what they most wanted to see from tax reform.

While most Americans are not yet familiar with the details of the Republican tax plan, they already oppose it by a 14-point margin, based on an average of recent polling on the plan compiled by FiveThirtyEight, with 32% supporting it, 46% opposing it, and 15% undecided.

Even though most are still uninformed about the plan, the ABC / Washington Post poll found that a majority of Americans (51%) already believe it is designed to reduce taxes on the wealthy, not the middle class, while only 24% think it will treat the wealthy and the middle class equally, and even less (10%) believe it will mainly reduce taxes on the middle class.

Based on how out of step this plan is with the public's priorities for tax reform, we expect opposition to rise once the bill is finalized and the public learns more about what's in it. But compared to other recent tax bills, the current GOP bill is already historically unpopular. In fact, it is the only major tax cut in recent years found to have negative support, and is even less popular than the tax hikes passed in the 1990's.




Additionally, an analysis by George Washington University political scientist Chris Warshaw found that this tax plan is less popular than almost every major piece of legislation since 1990. The only less popular piece of legislation over that period was the GOP's recent failed plan to replace Obamacare.

While Congressional Republicans' commitment to reining in the deficit seems to have vanished, deficit neutral tax reform is a priority for the public. A recent Marist poll found that two-thirds of Americans oppose increasing the deficit even if it meant that they would receive a tax cut.

This tracks closely with our polling for Center Forward, which found that simply noting that the Republican tax plan would increase the deficit caused opposition to increase 23 points to 61%. And this surge in opposition came after respondents had heard about the more popular aspects of the bill. This revolt against the plan due to its impact on the deficit was especially pronounced among Independents (29-point increase in opposition), and particularly among non-college Independents (+36) and Independent women (+35).

In addition to the problems that a deficit hike could cause for the GOP among Independents, it could also significantly hamper Republicans' ability to use this legislation to rally their base next November. After hearing that the plan would increase the deficit, support among Republican voters fell 32 points to just 50%, with only 14% of Republicans supporting it strongly.

As a result, information on the impact on the deficit created a huge intensity gap among voters in 2018 Senate battleground states, with strong opponents of the plan outnumbering strong supporters by a more than 4 to 1 margin (35% strongly oppose vs. 8% strongly support).

Center Forward's qualitative research with swing voters revealed that a big reason voters are so bothered by tax reform increasing the deficit is because they find it so unnecessary. They feel that a tax reform plan could easily cut taxes for middle and lower income Americans without increasing the deficit by making the wealthy pay their fair share.
They also cite that CNN poll that recently showed 52% of voters disapproving of lowering the corporate tax rate to 20%, 56% disapproving of repealing the estate tax and 52% disapproving of eliminating deductions for state and local income and sales taxes (52%). So how is this going to play out in the midterms? To get a better idea we asked candidates in 3 of the most hotly contested swing districts in the country, CA-39 (a sububan and small town district primarily in northeast Orange County), TX-21 (a San Antonio-Austin corridor district) and MI-06 (southwest Michigan from Kalamazoo to Lake Michigan).

Goal ThermometerSam Jammal's Orange County district has really been targeted by Ryan's tax scam and I'm actually shocked Royce couldn't-- or wouldn't-- do something to protect his own constituents, who are going to bear a lot of the brunt of giving billionaires and corporations lower taxes. Sam seems to see it the same way that I do. "This tax plan is bad for families in the 39th district. 80% of our homeowners will lose their mortgage interest deduction. 37% of our families will lose the state and local tax deduction. Countless young professionals here take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction and, as a community that includes and neighbors a number of universities, its troubling what this bill does to grad students. The bill is already unpopular and the ink isn't dry. Ed would be a 'No' vote if he still represented us, but its been years since he even made an effort."

Derrick Crowe is the Blue America-back progressive in central Texas (TX-21) and he's running in an open Republican seat, where the incumbent, Lamar Smith, has decided to get out while the gettin' is good. "We are going to absolutely hammer Republicans if they pass this tax scam bill," Derrick told me today. "Their constituents don’t support the budget impact of the plan, and the rest of America knows it’s a giveaway to the billionaire class. It does not solve the basic problem of the rigged economy, which is that people working full-time cannot afford a roof over their head and food on the table. Instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires for private jet ownership, We should be focusing on raising the minimum wage and providing healthcare as a right to all Americans."

Paul Clements (MI-06) was a candidate Blue America endorsed in 2016 and who were urged to run again in 2018. He was also endorsed by Bernie and is running on a forward-think Bernie-type agenda. This morning he told us that "People in southwest Michigan already resented being left behind by an economy built for the corporate elite. Now they are angry, and not only because this tax plan skews the economy even worse. They also don’t like being lied to. Congressman Upton, who currently represents this district and who sits on the reconciliation committee, has been saying this is a tax plan is for the middle class and for small businesses, and that it will double economic growth. The facts say otherwise. This week I spoke at demonstrations at Upton’s Kalamazoo and St. Joseph offices, and the response was palpable... from the people assembled, and from drivers passing by. We don’t want a 500-page bill rushed through Congress in record time, completed in the dark of night, aiming explicitly to satisfy big Republican donors and to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block, and with no chance for Democrats or the American people to get a word in. Since Upton arrived in Congress in 1986 Michigan’s average household income has risen 2%, with people working longer hours, while the stock market has risen, in real terms, over 700%. This tax plan makes economic inequality even worse. It also pushes up health insurance costs, particularly for people 50-64 years old, by undermining the Affordable Care Act. And it makes it harder to address real priorities, such as a living wage, food security, better education, and a fairer criminal justice system. It’s a give-away to big corporations and the wealthiest Americans, putting the cost on our children by raising the deficit, and we will be reminding the voters of Upton’s role in it all the way through next November."

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Illegal Ballot Destruction In The Midst Of A Law Suit Means Wasserman Schultz Stole The FL-23 Primary Election Afterall

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Donna Edwards became a member of Congress-- one of the best members of Congress-- in 2008. But, truth be told, her constituents elected her in 2006... only to see the victory snatched out of her hands on election night with last minute stuffed ballot boxes from corrupt conservative Al Wynn and his Machine. Donna got to work on the 2008 campaign the next day and after Donna eviscerated him in the primary-- 59% to 37%-- he resigned to become a corporate lobbyist.

Last year Tim Canova ran a similar grassroots progressive race against the female counterpart to Wynn-- Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the same crook who, as DNC chair, was fired for fixing the primaries for Hillary Clinton. She fixed the election for Hillary; did she fix her own election against Canova? He always thought so but the media and DC establishment went bonkers when he mentioned it and nearly drove this good man out of politics with all their vitriol and venom. Polling was showing him ahead but on primary day Wasserman Schultz beat him 28,809 to 21,907 in a very low turnout election.

Friday, Marc Caputo broke the a story at Politico about how Brenda Snipes a crooked Wasserman Schultz crony and ally and the Broward County elections chief broke the law by destroying ballots cast in the tight primary election between Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova after Canova sued to get access to the ballots. Canova, according to Caputo "wanted to inspect the optical-scan ballots cast in his Aug. 30 primary race against Wasserman Schultz because he had concerns about the integrity of the elections office."
Under longstanding federal law, ballots cast in a congressional race aren’t supposed to be destroyed until 22 months after the election. And under state law, a public record sought in a court case is not supposed to be destroyed without a judge’s order.

Snipes’ office, however, destroyed the paper ballots in question in October-- in the middle of Canova’s lawsuit-- but says it’s lawful because the office made high-quality electronic copies. Canova’s legal team found out after the fact last month.

“The documents were not destroyed because they were maintained in an electronic format,” Snipes’ attorney, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, told Politico. “They have the documents... They did a two-day inspection of the ballots.”

But Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor, and his attorney say they wanted originals to make sure they weren’t tampered with. Digital copies can be altered, they said.

Seven election-law lawyers interviewed by Politico do not share Snipes' attorney's interpretation of the statute. Nor does the Department of Justice’s voting division, which is in charge of enforcing the federal law.

“If it’s a federal election, i.e., there is at least one federal candidate on the ballot, the custodian must keep the ballots for 22 months,” Brett Kappel, a Washington lawyer with Akerman LLP, said in an email to Politico. “State law may require a shorter time for retention, but federal law would pre-empt any such state law with regard to ballots cast for federal candidates.”

Kappel said evidence in an active court case should never be unilaterally destroyed. He said actual paper ballots are superior to imaged copies, and he pointed to the legal wrangling over Florida’s now-discarded punch-card ballots that were banned after the disputed 2000 presidential elections in Florida.

...Hans von Spakovsky, an elections expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the ballots must be preserved in paper form for 22 months. He said there’s a simple reason that original ballots are superior to an electronic image: “These electronic systems can be hacked.”

According to Snipes’ office, however, the ballot copies are of high quality for a review. Her attorney also dismissed Canova as a sore loser who’s trying to create a name for himself as he challenges Wasserman Schultz a second time.

“Mr. Canova lost this election,” she said. “He’s been all over Washington and has been trying to do a documentary because he’s upset he lost the election.”

In one hearing, Norris-Weeks insisted that she “certainly could get [a sworn statement] from Debbie Wasserman Schultz” to say that “she knows that they're preparing a documentary, and they're running all around talking to different people trying to do that.”

But Canova said the accusation was false.

“I’m not working on a documentary,” he said. “It is unfortunate that counsel for the Supervisor of Elections has to make things up to somehow justify the office’s illegal actions.”

Wasserman Schultz’s office declined to comment, but she has said she looks forward to again facing Canova, whom she beat by 13.6 percentage points last year.

Canova didn’t want to comment about his specific motivations for the suit, but acknowledged he has concerns about the race against Wasserman Schultz. Canova’s interest in the ballots was piqued by Lulu Friesdat, a documentary filmmaker and activist with a group called the Election Integrity network, which filed the first records request to inspect or copy the ballots in March.

A month later, Snipes’ office responded to the records request by saying it would cost $71,868.87 to sort and produce the ballots for inspection. Canova soon got involved with his attorney, Leonard Collins, and eventually they negotiated a price reduction that brought the cost down to about $3,000. But relations soured, and Canova sued in June.

Snipes’ office, meanwhile, is involved in two other lawsuits and has been plagued by errors and controversies over public records and paperwork.
Goal ThermometerOne of the reasons Donald Trump is in the White House is because the Democratic Party was saddled with a corrupt party head, Wasserman Schultz, whose entire career, going back to her days in the Florida state legislature, have been marked with blatant and persistent corruption. She has long been the poster child of everything plaguing the Democratic Party. She has smeared and slimed Canova non-stop from the moment he dared to challenge here reelection. And now its getting closer and closer to the day when she will be, not just fired as the worst DNC chair in history but fired from Congress itself. Please consider helping Canova's campaign by clicking on the Blue America thermometer on the right. Meanwhile, this was the statement he issued after Caputo's explosive report yesterday:
In ordering the destruction of ballots, the Supervisor not only violated federal law requiring ballots be maintained for 22 months. Snipes also certified that the ballots were not subject to a pending lawsuit, which she knew was a complete falsehood given that Snipes had been personally served as the defendant in our lawsuit nearly three months earlier and even though we had already made public records requests and pre-trial discovery demands to inspect the ballots.

The ballot destruction raises serious questions:  Why engage in this blatant lawbreaking? To cover up something worse? What has the Supervisor of Elections been hiding? We demand state and federal investigations into the ballot destruction and prosecution of illegal wrongdoing.

Destruction of ballots prevents any reliable audit of the election results. We are left dependent on scanned ballot images created and sorted by scanning software that requires inspection by software experts. But the scanning software is considered proprietary software, owned and controlled by the private vendors, and often protected from independent inspection and analysis.

This destruction of ballots undermines people's faith and confidence in the integrity of our elections and this election in particular. To restore confidence, Congress must investigate and hold public hearings on the circumstances of my primary, including inspection and analysis of the scanned ballot images and the scanning software. Congress should also investigate the relationships between the vendors that control the electronic voting machines and software, their officers and directors, the Broward Supervisor of Elections office, Democratic party officials, and candidates for public office.
The Democratic Party will never be a real alternative to the Republican Party nor a welcoming home for good government reformers, with people like Wasserman Schultz exercising leadership roles in it. This person isn't even the lesser of two evils, which is all the Democrats can claim half the time anyway. She is what makes contemporary politics disgusting and she is the embodiment of what keeps decent people from wanting to get involved with politics.


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Trump Deserves No Loyalty-- Quite The Opposite

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Michael Gerson, Bush's chief speech-write and a self-described "pro-life conservative," got it right at the Washington Post yesterday, when he described his elation at the defeat of Roy Moore and the election of Doug Jones in Alabama. "Trump and his admirers," he wrote, "are not just putting forth an agenda; they are littering the civic arena with deception and cruelty. They are discrediting even the good causes they claim to care about. They are condemning the country to durable social division. In Trump’s GOP, loyalty requires corruption. So loyalty itself must be reconceived."
What would weaken the grip of Trump on the GOP? Obviously not moral considerations. The president has crossed line after line of decency and ethics with only scattered Republican bleats of protest. Most of the party remains in complicit silence. The few elected officials who have broken with Trump have become targets of the conservative media complex-- savaged as an example to the others.

This is the sad logic of Republican politics today: The only way that elected Republicans will abandon Trump is if they see it as in their self-interest. And the only way they will believe it is in their self-interest is to watch a considerable number of their fellow Republicans lose.

It is necessary to look these facts full in the face. In the end, the restoration of the Republican Party will require Republicans to lose elections. It will require Republican voters-- as in Alabama and (to some extent) Virginia-- to sit out, write in or even vote Democratic in races involving pro-Trump Republicans. It may require Republicans to lose control of the House (now very plausible) and to lose control of the Senate (still unlikely). It will certainly require Trump to lose control of the presidency. In the near term, this is what victory for Republicans will look like: strategic defeat. Recovery will be found only on the other side of loss.

Even if moral arguments do not suffice, the political ones are compelling. Trump and his allies are solidifying the support of rural, blue-collar and evangelical Christian whites at the expense of alienating minorities, women, suburbanites and the young. This is a foolish bargain, destroying the moral and political standing of the Republican Party, which seems complicit in its own decline. It falls to Republican voters to end this complicity.

...In GOP losses such as the Alabama Senate race, it is not rogue Republican voters (or non-voters) who are at fault. It is the blind ideologues who gave them an impossible choice. Similarly, if Republicans lose the House, the Senate, the presidency and (for a time) the country-- and incur some policy losses in the process-- Trump’s Republican opponents will not be to blame. It would be Trump and his supporters, who turned the Republican Party into a sleazy, derelict fun house, unsafe for children, women and minorities.

A healthy, responsible, appealing GOP can be built only on the ruins of this one.

Such political disloyalty to the president is now the substance of true loyalty to the Republican Party-- and reason enough to welcome Sen. Jones with cheerful relief.
Sounds like he's no fan of Steve Bannon, but before we get to Bannon, let's take a little detour over to Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight and the mathematics that show an anti-Trump/anti-GOP wave forming. The Alabama debacle for the GOP wasn't just because of what a terrible candidate Moore was, but "part of a larger pattern we’ve seen in special elections so far this year, one in which Democrats have greatly outperformed expectations." He wrote that the Democratic margin in the 70 special elections for state and federal legislative seats in 2017 has been 12 percentage points better, on average, than the partisan lean in each race. "Democrats are doing better in all types of districts with all types of candidates. You don’t see this type of consistent outperformance unless there’s an overriding pro-Democratic national factor.
And to be clear, although there have been more special elections on the state level, the pro-Democratic environment is quite clear if you look only at federal special elections. There have been seven special U.S. House and U.S. Senate elections so far this year. The Democrats have outperformed the partisan lean in all of them... [T]he average Democrat has outperformed the baseline by 16 percentage points. The shift in the margin is all that matters here-- in predicting a wave election-- not who wins or loses.




The average swing in special federal elections has forecast midterm results fairly well since the 1994 cycle. We can see this below by looking at the average swing in special federal elections preceding each midterm cycle versus the national House vote in that midterm.




The cycle that looks most like this one is 2006, when Democrats gained 30 seats and control of the House from the Republicans thanks to a hefty win in the popular vote across all House races. In 2018, they need 24 seats to win back control of the lower chamber. The difference between the average swing in special federal elections and the margin of the national vote for the House has averaged just 3 percentage points since 1994. It has never differed by more than 7 points. So even if Democrats do 7 points worse in the national House vote than the average swing so far suggests, they’d still win the national House vote by 9 points, which would likely mean that they reclaim a House majority next year.

Enten is overly cautious-- drastically so, to the point of silliness. That's why these DC prognosticators are always-- always-- months behind the curveball. The discussion is way beyond if the Democrats will win back the House and now way into by how many dozens of seats and whether or not that can win back the Senate as well. Of course things could change between now and election day, but the overwhelming likelihood is that they will change for the better-- for Democrats and worse for Republicans. Trump, McConnell and Ryan will continue their roles of albatrosses around the necks of Republican incumbents and candidates and... then there's Steve Bannon, the GOP's very own Mr. Destructo. The AP's Jonathan Lemire reputed that Bannon is "catching blame from fellow Republicans for coughing up a safe Senate seat in deep-red Alabama and foisting damaging political advice" on Señor Trumpanzee. Better yet-- for Democrats-- "Bannon is showing no signs of abandoning his guerrilla war against the GOP establishment."
when Moore lost on Tuesday, handing the Democrats control of their first Senate seat in Alabama in a generation, Republicans turned on Bannon. The Breitbart News head already had made scores of enemies for declaring a siege on his own party.

"This is a brutal reminder that candidate quality matters regardless of where you are running," said Steven Law, head of the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC for Republicans aligned with GOP leadership. "Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the president of the United States into his fiasco."

Bannon's team vowed that its revolution would continue, insisting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should be the one to take the blame.

Bannon's allies dismissed the Alabama loss as little more than a temporary setback that would soon be forgotten. They expect that the Republicans cheering Moore's loss will simply enrage Trump's most loyal supporters nationwide, who already suspected some Republican leaders were trying to undermine the president's agenda.

"They're stomping on the very base they need to turn out for their candidates in the general election in 2018," said Andy Surabian, a senior adviser to the Bannon-backed Great America PAC. He contended that "the average Republican voter across the country is pointing their finger at Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment."

Bannon's team blamed McConnell for abandoning Moore, though it was a somewhat incongruous argument after Bannon warned McConnell to stay out of Alabama when Moore won the GOP primary. On his Sirius XM radio show Wednesday, Bannon credited Democrats with "out-hustling" the GOP on the ground in Alabama-- praise that doubled as a swipe at the lack of Senate Republican campaign committee field staff on the ground in the state.

...Bannon's group indicated they would forge forward with plans to challenge the GOP establishment in Senate races in as many as 10 states, including Arizona, Nevada and Tennessee, though one adviser suggested that a greater effort may be made on recruiting and screening candidates.

But in the hours after the stunning defeat, many Republicans reveled in Bannon's failure.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina argued that Bannon should have called off his guns and simply backed Trump's first choice.

"When it comes to Alabama politics Steve Bannon should have followed President @realDonaldTrump lead in supporting Luther Strange," Graham tweeted. "Trump's instincts on the Alabama race proved to be correct."

And Rep. Peter King, R-NY, declared that Bannon looked "like some disheveled drunk who wandered onto the political stage."

"This is not the type of person we need in politics," said King said. "(Bannon) sort of parades himself out there with his weird alt-right views that he has, and to me it's demeaning the whole government and political process. And last night's election was a manifestation of the revulsion by the American people."

Active Shooter and all the art of this post is by Nancy Ohanian

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!

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-by Noah

When FDR's funeral train was making its way to his final resting place in Hyde Park, NY, a man who politicians like to refer to as an "ordinary American," famously said "I didn't know him, but FDR knew me." Judging the FDR quote in today's meme, FDR knew scum like Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, too, even though he never met them.

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Friday, December 15, 2017

#MeToo Caught Up With Itself Today... In Kansas

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Pelosi's closeted DCCC chair demands purity, but not due process

Yesterday, repulsive Texas sex predator, Blake Farenthold, finally felt enough pressure-- both from his district and from his congressional colleagues-- to raise the white flag and announce his retirement from Congress. Obviously, he should resign at once, the way Trent Franks was forced to do last week. Ryan and NRCC chair Steve Stivers repeatedly told Farenthold to resign. Pig man still insists he's not guilty; his excuse: "I'd never served in office before. I had no idea how to run a congressional office. And as a result, I allowed a workplace culture to take root in my office that was too permissive and decidedly unprofessional. I understand fully that this issue has become a political distraction and I would be forced to engage in a monthlong campaign for personal vindication. Quite simply, my constituents deserve better... Therefore I'm announcing my decision not to run for re-election... It accommodated destructive gossip, offhand comments, off-color jokes and behavior that in general was less than professional. And I allowed the personal stress of the job to manifest itself in angry outbursts and too often a failure to treat people with the respect they deserved. That was wrong." Too bad he didn't wear his ducky pjs when he made this pathetic video, a classic case of denial and typical patriarchal, conservative misleading:



Next up: Wyoming's Secretary of State-- and, until today, a probably candidate for governor-- Republican Ed Murray, sexually assaulted a young female intern, Tatiana Maxwell, in his law office.
Maxwell said in a Facebook post Monday that she was working at Dray, Madison and Thomson during the summer after she graduated from high school in Cheyenne. She said Murray was five years older than her and had taken a job at the firm after recently graduating from law school.

“He was older, handsome and from an old Cheyenne family but I didn’t really know him,” she wrote.

According to Maxwell, Murray invited her to meet him at the office after working hours and said she sat with him in the reception area of the law office. She recalled there being Domino’s pizza and beer.

She said that Murray put his hands on her and attempted to kiss her but that she resisted, told him she was a virgin and stopped him from taking off her pants.

“Ed wrestled me down to the carpet in front of the receptionist desk, opened his pants, lifted up my blouse and ejaculated on my stomach,” Maxwell wrote. “I was disgusted and horrified.”
Murray (R-Denial): "This baseless claim about an encounter from thirty-five years ago is unequivocally false. There is no basis to this falsehood whatsoever and it is deeply hurtful to me and to my family, as well as to everyone I serve." (Maybe we'll find his body on a bridge tomorrow after he blows out his brains.)

And that brings us to one of the worst stories of Thermidorian Reaction yet-- the DCCC's conservative corporate recruit to run against Republican Kevin Yoder, Andrea Ramsey. KS-03 (all of the Kansas part of Kansas City plus all of suburban Johnson and Wyandotte counties and part of rural Miami County) is a swingy district that Trump lost to Hillary 47.2% to 46.0%. The DCCC ran one of their terrible GOP-lite candidates, Jay Sidie, and he lost in a rout. He's running again, but the DCCC found another Republican-lite corporate shill instead, Andrea Ramsey. Maybe-- just maybe-- the DCCC should have been paying attention when Bernie won every district in Kansas, including KS-03, where he beat Hillary 62.1% to 37.9%. Maybe that indicates what Kansans what in their candidates. Maybe? And EMILY's List candidate Andrea Ramsey isn't that. No worries, though. She withdrew from the race today after a Kansas City Star reporter asked her about accusations in a 2005 lawsuit that she sexually harassed and retaliated against a male subordinate who said he had rejected her advances. Her statement sounds uncomfortably like Farenthold's: "In its rush to claim the high ground in our roiling national conversation about harassment, the Democratic Party has implemented a zero tolerance standard. For me, that means a vindictive, terminated employee’s false allegations are enough for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to decide not to support our promising campaign. We are in a national moment where rough justice stands in place of careful analysis, nuance and due process."
Multiple sources with knowledge of the case told The Star that the man reached a settlement with LabOne, the company where Ramsey was executive vice president of human resources. Court documents show that the man, Gary Funkhouser, and LabOne agreed to dismiss the case permanently after mediation in 2006. 
...The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has not endorsed anyone in the race, said in a statement that members and candidates must all be held to the highest standard.

“If anyone is guilty of sexual harassment or sexual assault, that person should not hold public office,” said committee spokeswoman Meredith Kelly.

Emily’s List said in a statement on Friday that the group supported Ramsey’s decision to drop out of the race and wished her well.
Happy to see her out of the race-- but not over these probably bullshit accusations. I don't care that the DCCC is driving Ruben Kihuen out of Congress-- because he disappointed me politically... but this lynch mob mentality is the completely wrong way to go about this. And now there are widespread rumors inside the Beltway that the Washington Post is about to drop a story about accusations against between 30 and 40 members of Congress-- of both parties-- and that there was a prostitution ring being run out of the Capitol Grille. Sounds more plausible than a child prostitution ring run out of the basement of a pizzeria. No one gains from any of this but the Koch brothers and Bannon, who want to destroy everyone's faith in government and democracy. Great job, Kirsten Gillibrand; you will never be president.


UPDATE: State Senator Tony Mendoza

Tony's an old friend who has been a stalwart progressive in Sacramento, one of the best. Now he stands accused of inappropriate behavior towards 3 women and the Senate president, Kevin De León, once Mendoza's roommate, has asked him to take a leave of absence while the allegations are being investigated. Mendoza has demurred. My instinct is to believe the accusers, especially because there are 3 of them and because I know the culture in Sacramento has been fast and loose. But I detest the lynch mob mentality that is sweeping the country and I agree with Mendoza that he is entitled to due process. Eventually every straight male politician-- as well as gays and even some women!-- will be accused. People should start standing up for due process. Below is a letter I got from Tony Mendoza yesterday; I haven't discussed the accusations with him but his letter sounds reasonable:
I am very disappointed that certain Senate Rules Committee members are apparently asking me to take a leave of absence or resign before any investigation has even begun and without giving me an opportunity to defend myself. This is contrary to the very concept of due process which is a pillar of our American system of fairness and judicial prudence. These actions bypass any process in a rush to judgment.

The Senate Rules Committee made a public commitment to a new, open, transparent and fair process which would be independent of the Senate. I have welcomed the Committee's decision. However, I am disappointed with the statements and it leaves me concerned about the independence, transparency and fairness of the new process.

I have been diligent in adhering to the rules of the Senate and in following direction from the Senate Rules Committee in refraining from making any comments on the allegations against me.

I have noted that my adherence to Senate rules and the Senate Rules Committee's directive has put me in an untenable situation where I am unable to respond to various media reports without any opportunity to defend myself. This has been very unfair and unjust to me and my constituents.

I was not appointed to the position I hold but was elected by the voters in my District. I am grateful to the voters in my District and thank them for their trust and their continued support. The Senate owes them an opportunity to hear the truth. I assure them that I will vigorously defend myself to clear my name.

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The Terror Strikes Again-- Suicide In Kentuckiana

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The other night, I was at a political fundraiser and some vanity candidate in another race in another state crashed the event. One of her supporters who came with her told me that another candidate in the primary race is a womanizer and strongly insinuated he harasses women. They apparently have every intention of destroying this guy's career, although he has already accomplished significant things and she... as far as I can tell, hasn't accomplished anything at all in the public sphere, nothing bad, nothing good... nothing at all. Vanity candidates are the strangest bunch. I Need to do a post about them. But that isn't what we're talking about tonight.

Instead we're here to note the passing of Dan "Danny Ray" Johnson, an evangelical minister and a crooked Republican racist state Rep. from the Knobs (Bullitt County, just south of Louisville). He narrowly won the seat against a Democratic incumbent, Linda Belcher, last year in the Trump landslide in Kentucky. He won by 156 votes, less than 1%. He shot himself Wednesday evening after being accused on Monday of of having molested a member of his church in 2012 when she was 17 years old. He refused to resign, insisting the allegations were false. Suicide followed.

In this lynch mob climate it doesn't matter if the allegations are false. Just that someone is accused is enough. A Republican pastor in Kentucky? If I had to bet, I'd bet he was guilty. And isn't a little due process in order? Even for a Republican pastor in Kentucky?
Bullitt County Sheriff Donnie Tinnell says Johnson drove to the bridge over the Salt River on Greenwell Ford Road in Mt. Washington, parked on the north side of it and shot himself in front of his car.

His body was found on the bank of the river, just past the bridge.

Just before 5 p.m. Wednesday, Johnson posted the following message on his Facebook page:
The accusations from NPR are false GOD and only GOD knows the truth, nothing is the way they make it out to be. AMERICA will not survive this type of judge and jury fake news . Conservatives take a stand. I LOVE GOD and I LOVE MY WIFE, who is the best WIFE in the world,My Love Forever ! My Mom and Dad my FAMILY and all five of my kids and Nine grandchildren two in tummies and many more to come each of you or a total gift from GOD stay strong, REBECCA needs YOU . 9-11-2001 NYC/WTC, PTSD 24/7 16 years is a sickness that will take my life, I cannot handle it any longer. IT Has Won This Life . BUT HEAVEN IS MY HOME. “PLEASE LISTEN CLOSELY, Only Three things I ask of you to do,if you love me is (1)blame no person,Satan is the accuser, so blame the Devil himself. (2) Forgive and Love everyone especially yourself .(3)most importantly LOVE GOD. P.S. I LOVE MY FRIENDS YOU ARE FAMILY ! GOD LOVES ALL PEOPLE NO MATTER WHAT !
The coroner said police were alerted after someone saw the Facebook post. Officers then pinged Johnson's phone and found his body.

On Tuesday, Johnson held a press conference at his church on Bardstown Road, where he denied the molestation allegations. According to court documents obtained by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, the alleged molestation took place on New Year's Eve in 2012. The alleged victim, who was 17 at the time, told authorities that she was staying in a living area of the Heart of Fire City Church where Johnson was pastor, when Johnson, who had been drinking a lot, approached her, kissed her and fondled her under her clothes.

...Jeff Hoover, the former Kentucky Speaker of the House who resigned after sexual assault allegations, also tweeted a statement Wednesday night:


And now his wife wants to run for his seat. She's mad as hell: "These high-tech lynchings and half truths can’t be allowed to win the day. I’ve been fighting behind my husband for thirty years and his fight will go on." I wonder what she means by "half truth." No telling if she's as racist and crazy as he was; but I'd bet on it.

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Derek Cressman For State Senate-- Guest Post

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Derek Cressman, a veteran of the voting rights movement best known for his work to overturn Citizens United with Common Cause, is challenging incumbent Democratic state senator Richard Pan. Only three senate Democrats have a higher ranking by the California Chamber of Commerce than Pan, one of the most conservative Dems in the California legislature. Those three, Cathleen Galgiani, Steve Glazer, and Richard Roth, come from districts more conservative than Pan’s deep blue Senate District 6, which has more Bernie voters than Republicans. This arguably makes Pan the Democrat most out of sync with his district in the entire California legislature. Pan, a physician who was elected with massive financial support from the California Medical Association and the pharmaceutical industry, is one of just three faux-Democrats in the Senate who have not supported single-payer healthcare.

Goal ThermometerThis greater-Sacramento region district sent two Democrats to the November general election in 2014 and the prospects are good for that again in 2018, setting up a showdown between a progressive Dem and one who relies upon corporate money in a real test for the new leadership of the California Democratic Party. State Democrats will decide early next year whether to endorse a candidate who will champion the party’s platform of single-payer healthcare, or stick with an old boys’ network that circles the wagons around incumbents who undermine the party’s principles. Read Derek’s guest post below and check out his website at www.DerekCressman.com. You can donate to his campaign by tapping on the legislative elections thermometer on the right.


California Democrats Must Stand for Single-Payer Healthcare
-by Derek Cressman


Democrats in California have the power to enact a “Medicare for All” style of healthcare reform that would eliminate wasteful profiteering by private health insurance firms and provide basic healthcare to every Californian. Unlike at the federal level, where Senator Kamala Harris has joined Bernie Sanders and others to stake out a righteous policy position by co-sponsoring federal legislation only to be blocked by Republicans, our state legislature, which has a two-thirds democratic majority, could actually make it happen.

First off, it’s the right thing to do. If your house is threatened by wildfires, firefighters arrive within minutes with an implicit message that they are from the government and they are here to help. Even stingy conservatives are happy to pay for this important public service with our tax dollars because it’s the most efficient way to protect everyone. Yet if you are struck with a heart attack or cancer, you get help only if you can produce an insurance card and shell out big money for co-pays and deductibles. As the most prosperous society in history, California can and should meet our moral obligation to care for one another in the most cost-efficient way possible—government provided health insurance for everyone. Private health insurance companies add little value to our economy but exact huge costs with wasteful profiteering and outrageous CEO salaries. We know government provided insurance works from Medicare and Medi-Cal. In fact, the government is already providing funds for 71% of healthcare costs in California. It would be better, and ultimately cheaper, to bring that up to 100%.

Secondly, it’s imperative that Democrats strengthen trust with voters by standing firm on our beliefs. The California Democratic Party platform calls for “legislation to create and implement a publicly funded (single-payer), privately delivered, fiscally tractable, affordable, comprehensive, secure, high-quality, efficient, and sustainable healthcare system for all Californians.” But our overwhelmingly Democratic legislature has refused to enact this principle. When parties say one thing and do another, people stop believing in them. The rise in independent voters, the perils of the #DemExit movement and attraction among some voters to the Green Party can all be traced to the Democrats unwillingness to fight for what we say we believe in. At the federal level, a lack of trust in all institutions, including government, has paved the way for the politics of demagoguery and scapegoating. We need to combat that by showing voters that political parties stand for something and aren’t just posturing to keep their cronies in power.

Finally, California needs to come to grips with the new reality that we cannot count on the federal government to look out for our best interests for the foreseeable future. Even if we manage to rid ourselves of the Trump regime, we face a federal system that is rigged against the majority of people through a US Senate that overrepresents conservative voters in low population red states, a US House that is gerrymandered to such an extent that it cannot offer fair elections, an electoral college that denies sovereignty to a majority of US voters, and a Supreme Court that has been captured by a right wing cabal intent on cementing power for the one percent. While we must fight like hell to resist this federal onslaught even with the deck stacked against us, Californians need to forge our own future on healthcare as we are doing with global warming, marijuana, and justice for immigrants. We can no longer make excuses that we cannot provide single-payer coverage for our fellow Californians because the federal government won’t let us do it. We must find a way to do it ourselves by passing it at the state level and calling the congressional Republicans’ bluff on federalisms, state flexibility and block grants.

I became a candidate for the California Senate to give Sacramento-area voters and the new leaders of the California Democratic Party a choice between an entrenched incumbent who has undermined the Democratic Party’s principles around heath care and a Democrat who will fight for the party’s platform. How the California Democratic Party responds to this choice will tell us a lot about the party’s ability to hold on to progressive and independent voters in the years ahead.



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The Iowa Pendulum Is Ready For Another Swing Back Into Blue Territory

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The Des Moines Register released a new Iowa Poll that bears out what many are taking away from the incredible surge in support for Democrats in beet red Alabama this week. Iowa is a purple swing state that had swung very blue in recent years-- and then swung back. Obama beat McCain in 2008, 828,940 (54%) to 682,379 (44%) and beat Romney in 2012, 822,544 (525) to 730,617 (46%). Last year however, Hillary gave up on Iowa early and didn't give Trump a real contest in the state, which backed him 800,983 (51.15%) to 653,669 (41.74%). The state PVI is now R+3 and each of the state's 4 congressional districts look-- at least out the rear view mirror-- redder than ever. Here are the PVI changes from 2015 to 2017:
IA-02- Rod Blum (R)- D+5 to D+1
IA-02- Dave Lobsack (D)- D+4 to D+1
IA-03- David Young (R)- Even to R+1
IA-04- Steve King (R)- R+5 to R+11
It looks scary, right? Looks can be deceptive and in Iowa's case, they definitely are. First of all, Iowans are over Trump. Other than with brainwashed evangelicals, he's pretty much toast there. Bottom line: Iowans believe the country’s headed in the wrong direction and that Trump isn’t doing a good job.
Sixty percent of respondents to this month’s Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll say the United States has gotten off on the wrong track, and 60 percent likewise disapprove of the job Trump, a Republican, is doing as president.

“It just seems like it’s one big mess,” said poll respondent Nick Ford, a Navy veteran and businessman from Cedar Rapids.

Ford, a 49-year-old political independent, lamented the “general craziness” of the country’s political arena and the “unprofessionalism” he sees in the White House.

The president, he said, “seems overwhelmed by the task. I didn’t vote for him, but I was hoping some things would change. I don’t think anything’s really changed-- for the better, anyway.”

Trump’s 35-percent job approval rating marks a sharp decline from earlier this year in Iowa. In the July Iowa Poll, 43 percent of respondents approved of Trump’s effort, while 52 percent disapproved, a differential of 9 percentage points. Now, he’s 25 points under water.

...Sixty-nine percent of women, 68 percent of Iowans making less than $50,000 a year, 67 percent of city-dwellers and 62 percent of independents disapprove of his performance.

“He’s not really a leader,” said Diana Fern, 56, a homebirth midwife from Fairfield. “Because he doesn’t have experience, he’s not really leading. I feel like he’s reacting to situations, and he hasn’t really stated a clear vision. And I think his integrity is in question.”

Fern described herself as a political independent, but said she favors female candidates and more often votes Democratic than Republican.



Across all the demographics recorded in the poll, just two show a majority approving of Trump: Republicans, at 78 percent, and evangelical Christians, at 51 percent.

...Iowans’ concerns about the direction of the country are even less optimistic than their views on Trump: Just 29 percent say the country is headed in the right direction.

That view is consistent across Iowans of different ages, incomes and locations. The only outlier is political affiliation: 62 percent of Republicans see the U.S. headed in the right direction, against 25 percent who say it’s on the wrong track.

Among independents, views are almost exactly the opposite: 26 percent say the U.S. is on the right track against 63 percent who say it’s on the wrong track.

After a wild 2017 that saw Trump take office, bruising congressional fights over health care and taxes, an ongoing investigation into Russian election meddling and, in recent weeks, rising attention on sexual harassment, a strong majority of Iowans say they’re increasingly repelled by politics.

Fully 61 percent of Iowans say they’re more turned off by politics now than they were at the time of the 2016 election, while just 33 percent say they’re more politically energized.

Poll respondent Jessica Thomas, a stay-at-home mom from Maquoketa, is among those feeling more turned off. When she engages with politics these days, it’s mostly with resignation.

“It’s gotten to the point now that you just ask, 'What has he done now?,'" Thomas, 38, a Democrat, asked. "What is he trying to do to us now?”

That distaste for politics is consistent across demographic groups: Majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents alike say they’re more turned off than they are energized by the events of the past year.

The results run counter to a national narrative suggesting Democrats have been fired up and spurred to action by the early Trump administration. Indeed, 60 percent of Democratic respondents say they’re more turned off by politics than they were a year ago. Just 34 percent say they’re more energized.

A larger share of Republicans, in fact, reports heightened engagement in the Trump era. Forty percent say they’re more energized while 52 percent say they’re more tuned out. Among independents, two-thirds say they’re more alienated against 28 percent who are more energized.
So how does all this play out in the midterms? In Iowa, badly for the GOP. The same poll shows the Republicans are likely to lose at least 2 of their 3 congressional seats. It's very unlikely either Rob Blum or David Young will be members of the House when the new Congress is sworninin January, 2019. Jason Noble reported that the latest polling in the state shows 40% of Iowans would vote for a Democrat for Congress today and only 34% would back a Republican.
The finding is notable because Republicans hold three of Iowa’s four congressional seats, including two seen as among the most competitive in the country in 2018.

The results of a so-called “generic ballot” question provide insight into how Iowans’ views have shifted after voting heavily in favor of Republican Donald Trump in 2016, said Nathan Gonzales, an elections forecaster and publisher of the nonpartisan Inside Elections newsletter.

“It sounds like voters are more skeptical about Republicans going into the 2018 elections,” he said.

Democrats are favored among women, all age groups, those earning under $70,000 and people living in cities and towns. A narrow plurality of 31 percent of independents say they would back a Democrat, compared with 28 percent who say they’d vote Republican.

...The results are starkest in Iowa’s 1st congressional district, which encompasses 20 northeast Iowa counties and is currently held by two-term Republican U.S. Rep. Rod Blum.

Despite the GOP incumbent, 47 percent of poll respondents in the district say they would vote for a Democrat, while just 29 percent say they’ll vote Republican. Those represent the highest Democratic numbers in the state, eclipsing even the 2nd District, where Democratic U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack is a six-term incumbent.

...The generic ballot question isn’t the only indicator that the 1st District is tilting Democratic.

Sixty-three percent of respondents in the district disapprove of Trump’s job performance, and 62 percent say the country is headed in the wrong direction-- the highest readings of any district in the state.

The divide between supporters of Democratic and Republican congressional candidates is much narrower in Iowa’s three other districts. In the 3rd, which includes the Des Moines metro, 36 percent of respondents say they’d vote for a Democrat for Congress, compared to 35 percent who would vote Republican. The seat is held by Republican U.S. Rep. David Young.

In the strongly Republican 4th District, 39 percent say they’d vote for a Republican, while 36 percent would back a Democrat and 14 percent aren't sure. The seat is held by U.S. Rep. Steve King, an eight-term incumbent.

In the 2nd, where Democratic U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack has held office since 2007, 44 percent of respondents say they'd vote for a Democrat, compared to 34 percent who would back a Republican.
And Trump isn't the only factor weighing down the Republican incumbents in Iowa. Another poll shows that Paul Ryan's disapproval is absolutely stunning in Iowa. Take IA-03 for example-- the district that stretches from Des Moines through southwest Iowa right to the Missouri River Nebraska border and the suburbs east of Omaha. Trump's approval/disapproval is 43/53%. That's pretty bad, but the same folks have an even worse opinion of Ryan. His approval is just 24%-- and 65% of IA-03 respondents give Ryan a thumbs down. This is particularly important because David Young, the weak Republican incumbent, is widely seen as a lockstep Ryan rubber-stamp, which helps explain why Ryan is likely to retire. Yesterday I had a conversation with the most exciting candidate Iowa has had running for anything in years, Austin Frerick, the former Treasury Department economist running for seat David Young is temporarily occupying. Some excerpts:
David Axelrod likes to say that DC is the last place to get the news. The 2016 election made it clear that most Americans aren’t happy with the status quo, yet those at the highest levels in our corporate and government worlds don’t seem to notice this divide because they’re thriving in this 2nd Gilded Age. I saw this delusion up close at Treasury but unlike them, I also saw how folks are barely getting by here in Iowa, including my own family.

...Speaking of Gilded Age, remember the book The Jungle by Upton Sinclair from that era? Well, here’s another Gilded Age parallel, the meat industry is now more concentrated than when he wrote that book. I also want to share with you one of my favorite Sinclair quotes because it describes David Young perfectly. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” David Young may seem nice, but he’s hollow and corrupt and he’s not looking out for Iowans. His average donation is $1,638. Mine is $63. Do you think he’s going to address climate change when he took a $1,500 from Exxon Mobil last April? Do you think he’s going to be for raising the minimum wage when he took over $7,500 from Wal-Mart this year? Do you think he’s going to stand up for family farms when he took $5,000 from Monsanto last September? We all know the answer. No.

...The past doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes. Don’t forget that the 1st Gilded Age produced that Progressive Movement. Now, let’s seize this moment to usher in the 2nd Progressive Movement and finally enact Medicare-for-All, take the money out of politics, and enact family friendly policies like paid leave and universal childcare. This economic concentration message is how we defeat David Young, and more importantly, how we defeat Donald Trump.

...The results of this election will reverberate far beyond Iowa’s 3rd District. The 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner for Editorial Writing, Art Cullen of Storm Lake, Iowa, articulated this point in a recent op-ed. “It is undeniable that Iowa is trending redder. Voter registration totals show that in 2017 the gap between Democrats and Republicans grew to 50,000 - twice what the gap was 10 years before.” He concludes, “As Iowa goes, so goes Ohio. And as Ohio goes, so goes the nation.” We can resist consolidation by promoting diversity. That's what our campaign is about. We want to diversify our perspectives, diversify the voices that contribute to our conversations, and diversify the avenues about which we can campaign for change. We need your support. Add it to this conversation. Together, we’ll create a more balanced future.

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