Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Democratic Party Brand Needs Some Work-- But Not By The People Who Ruined It


In his Rolling Stone essay after Gianforte beat Quist in Montana Thursday night, The Democrats Need A New Message, Matt Taibbi included a litany of excuses the DC Dems always have on hand to explain why they've been losing all the time-- even to monstrosities like Gianforte, Staten Island Mafia thug Michael Grimm, patient-raping-doctor Scott Desjarlais, and, worst by far, Señor Trumpanze.

One of the excuses Taibbi mentioned was how the GOP uses corporate cash to overwhelm less well-financed Democrats. It reminded me of a conversation I had with an exceptionally bright congressmember last November. I predicted that the Republicans would use their all-branch dominance to overreach and turn the voters against them. My congressional friend disagreed--not about the overreach but about voters turning against them. He predicted that they would leverage their power to unleash a flood of corporate money into party coffers and drown the Democrats with it. And Taibbi acknowledged that "Republicans have often, but not always, had fundraising advantages in key races.

Taibbi was talking about how much more Hillary had to spend in 2016 than Trump did. I want to reinforce that on a congressional level. A few days ago we looked at how the Rahm Emanuel DCCC's toxic candidate recruitment resulted in dozens and dozens of Blue Dogs and New Dems been swept out of Congress in the 2010 midterms when Democratic voters boycotted the elections rather than vote again for the DCCC's Republican-lite candidates. And that wasn't because of the Republicans having more corporate cash. In fact, in many cases it was the exact opposite. Republicans beat shitty Blue Dogs and New Dems who had more special interest cash than their GOP opponent did. Here are just a few random examples:
Bobby Bright (Blue Dog-AL)- $1,435,526 vs Martha Roby- $1,240,276
Harry Mitchell (Blue Dog-AZ)- $2,308,400) vs Dave Schweikert- $1,721,364
Ann Kirkpatrick (New Dem-AZ)- $1,956,364 vs Paul Gosar- $1,168,287
Tim Mahoney (Blue Dog-FL)- $2,756,453 vs Tom Rooney- $1,597,768
Suzanne Kosmas (Blue Dog-FL)- $2,561,831 vs Sandy Adams- $1,266,664
Walt Minnick (Blue Dog-ID)- $2,473,287 vs Raul Labrador- $686,293
Debbie Halvorson (New Dem-IL)- $2,502,037 vs Adam Kinzinger- $1,827,192
Baron Hill (Blue Dog-IN)- $2,167,570 vs Todd Young- $1,950,159
Frank Kratovil (Blue Dog-MD)- $2,621,893 vs Andy Harris $2,383,184
John Adler (Blue Dog-NJ)- $3,285,638 vs Jon Runyan- $1,518,073
Michael McMahon (Blue Dog-NY)- $2,897,473 vs Michael Grimm- $1,249,139
Dan Maffei (New Dem-NY)- $3,114,128 vs Ann Marie Buerkle- $758,777
Scott Murphy (Blue Dog-NY)- $5,321,745 vs Chris Gibson- $1,734,219
Mike Acuri (Blue Dog-NY)- $1,886,555 vs Richard Hanna- $1,260,258
Zack Space (Blue Dog-OH)- $2,931,978 vs Bob Gibbs- $1,090,872
Kathy Dahlkemper (Blue Dog-PA)- $1,957,701 vs Mike Kelly- $1,235,460
Patrick Murphy (New Dem-PA)- $4,287,244 vs Mike Fitzpatrick- $2,062,733
Chris Carney (Blue Dog-PA)- $1,657,586 vs Tom Marino- $704,457
Taibbi continued that "The unspoken subtext of a lot of the Democrats' excuse-making is their growing belief that the situation is hopeless-- and not just because of fixable institutional factors like gerrymandering, but because we simply have a bad/irredeemable electorate that can never be reached. This is why the 'basket of deplorables' comment last summer was so devastating."
But the "deplorables" comment didn't just further alienate already lost Republican votes. It spoke to an internal sickness within the Democratic Party, which had surrendered to a negativistic vision of a hopelessly divided country.

Things are so polarized now that, as Georgia State professor Jennifer McCoy put it on NPR this spring, each side views the other not as fellow citizens with whom they happen to disagree, but as a "threatening enemy to be vanquished."

The "deplorables" comment formalized this idea that Democrats had given up on a huge chunk of the population, and now sought only to defeat and subdue their enemies.

Barack Obama, for all his faults, never gave in to that mindset. He continually insisted that the Democrats needed to find a way to reach lost voters. Even in the infamous "guns and religion" episode, this was so. Obama then was talking about the challenge the Democrats faced in finding ways to reconnect with people who felt ignored and had fled to "antipathy toward people who aren't like them" as a consequence.

Even as he himself was the subject of vicious and racist rhetoric, Obama stumped in the reddest of red districts. In his post-mortem on the Trump-Clinton race, he made a point of mentioning this-- that in Iowa he had gone to every small town and fish fry and VFW hall, and "there were some counties where I might have lost, but maybe I lost by 20 points instead of 50 points."

Most people took his comments to be a dig at Clinton's strategic shortcomings-- she didn't campaign much in many of the key states she lost-- but it was actually more profound than that. Obama was trying to point out that people respond when you demonstrate that you don't believe they're unredeemable.

You can't just dismiss people as lost, even bad or misguided people. Unless every great thinker from Christ to Tolstoy to Gandhi to Dr. King is wrong, it's especially those people you have to keep believing in, and trying to reach.

The Democrats have forgotten this. While it may not be the case with Quist, who seems to have run a decent campaign, the Democrats in general have lost the ability (and the inclination) to reach out to the entire population.

They're continuing, if not worsening, last year's mistake of running almost exclusively on Trump/Republican negatives... But "Republicans are bad" isn't a message or a plan, which is why the Democrats have managed the near impossible: losing ground overall during the singular catastrophe of the Trump presidency.

The party doesn't see that the largest group of potential swing voters out there doesn't need to be talked out of voting Republican. It needs to be talked out of not voting at all. The recent polls bear this out, showing that the people who have been turned off to the Democrats in recent months now say that in a do-over, they would vote for third parties or not at all.

People need a reason to be excited by politics, and not just disgusted with the other side. Until the Democrats figure that out, these improbable losses will keep piling up.
One Democratic congressman who gets it right is California's Ro Khanna. Watch this clip of a powerful messaging interview he did yesterday with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC. We talked to him about it after he was done with Andrea. He reiterated that "the Democrats need to be for fairer rules in the economy. But we also have to have a vision of job creation in middle America. We need to be a party that is both progressive and aspirational."

We talked to two Illinois progressives who are running against entrenched conservative incumbents this cycle. Marie Newman's Chicagoland district around Bridgeport, Canaryville, West Lawn, Midway Airport, Oak Lawn, Hickory Hills and the way out into the suburbs as far as Lockport and Homer Glen. It's a solid blue bungalow belt district with a far right-wing Blue Dog incumbent, Dan Lipinski. Newman's campaign platform has been very focused on the struggles of small businesses. "To be clear," she told us, "Trump’s budget is anti-small and mid market business. Defunding programs enabling small and mid-size manufacturing companies to retrain, scale and in turn, drive jobs, is ridiculous. Rather than taking away those programs, we should be increasing them. Small business is the fastest growing sector and where most jobs are being created, it should be supported. We need to stop favoring large corporations and start supporting small business."

Greg Petzel is also a small businessman and a Chicagoland candidate, running in a district further west. And his opponent, knee-jerk Republican Pete Roskam, is even further right than Lipinski.
I have always believed that the majority of people who enter political life do so because they want to make their community, state or nation better and improve the lives of the people they represent. Based on that concept I also believe that almost everyone shares the same values and that our elected officials have a responsibility to transfer those values into legislation. I believe this is fundamentally true. Have you ever met anyone who prefers polluted air and toxic water over fresh air and clean water? Have you ever met someone who seeks less opportunity at improving their income, or someone who would prefer to go without essential medical treatment? I think Americans have a united set of values.

Unfortunately we often divide ourselves into class, race, or party and our values get trampled on by rhetoric, money, power or special interest agendas. In my district, we have a large number of folks considering running against our radical right-wing congressman, Peter Roskam. Most will tell you they are running because they oppose the Trump Agenda and want to get rid of our congressman because he votes with Trump every time. But simply not liking our congressman isn't enough-- if it were, we would have 143,591 (votes against him in 2016) candidates qualified to run against him. This idea that we oppose an agenda and have no clear agenda or values as a party is exactly why we keep losing elections.

Democrats controlled the House of Representatives from 1955-1995 and stood firmly for strong values-- civil rights, workers rights, women's rights and environmental protection. During that time we created almost all of the nations environmental laws, we created Medicare, and we solidified civil rights legislation. The Democratic Party stood for values that most Americans believed in. And we won elections. And we made our nation and peoples lives better.

Today that Democratic Party-- the one I was taught growing up would fight for me, only exists through a minority of progressive members of Congress. I am happy to bash Democrats or Republicans who try to crush the values I am fighting for. As a party, or at least as individual candidates, we should be fighting for the values that historically drove the Democratic Party. Those values are American values- they are fundamentally ingrained in our hearts and minds and souls as Americans. We don't need the DCCC or any political party to tell us what our common values are. I believe that our fight should be one based on fundamental values that are shared by all people-- Democrat, Republican and Independent. If we can overcome the rhetoric and money and special interests and win elections on real fundamental values, rather than opposition and dislike of our opponents, we can re-establish not only the America I believe in, but the Democratic Party that once fought for us. And in that America, we all win.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Lessons From Montana’s Special Election Of May 25


1.       Republicans cannot coast to re-election even in districts where they have had big majorities.

2.       Republicans have a lot of money to spend, and are being forced to spend it in those districts.

3.       The pressure of unexpected competition, and unwelcome questions about taking healthcare away from low income people, tend to provoke displays of Republicans' dark side.

4.       The Democratic establishment’s small and late funding of progressive nominees slows and reduces the pressure on Republicans.

5.       Montana Democratic nominee Rob Quist deserves our thanks for a valiant effort, and his progress in putting the "country" back in "country music."

Blue America’s latest music video (above) puts even more country back into country music, to help raise funds for many other progressives who are making the personal sacrifice of running for Congress without money from big business, PACs or, in general, the Democratic establishment.
Goal Thermometer
Check it out, and we think you’ll agree, that

freedom’s just another word when monied politicians leave us nothing left to lose
and feeling good is easy when supporting Progressive Democratic candidates.

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"This Is A Gangster Family"-- The FBI's Person Of Interest


The quote in the subject line was something reporter Michelle Goldberg said to Chris Hayes last night, about Prince Jared or, as we know him, Kushner-in-law. Her point was that the Kushners-- like the Trumps-- may be able to afford to clean up nicely but that they are nothing but vicious, merciless predators. And now the law is catching up with them (again). As more than one Twitter wag remarked this morning, "Gangsters don't hire family members because they're qualified. Gangsters hire family members because they're less likely to talk to the FBI." The FBI is looking into Kushner's Putin-Gate role. NBC first reported that Kushner is under scrutiny.
The FBI's scrutiny of Kushner places the bureau's sprawling counterintelligence and criminal investigation not only on the doorstep of the White House, but the Trump family circle. The Washington Post first reported last week that a senior White House official close to Trump was a "person of interest," but did not name the person. The term "person of interest" has no legal meaning.

The officials said Kushner is in a different category from former Trump aides Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, who are formally considered subjects of the investigation. According to the Justice Department's U.S. Attorneys' Manual, "A 'subject' of an investigation is a person whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury's investigation."

...Kushner met at least once in December with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, and he also met last year with a Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov... Congressional aides have said they would like to question Kushner about that meeting, and Kushner has said he would voluntarily appear before the Senate intelligence committee as part of its Russia investigation.

Gorkov is chairman of VneshEconomBank, a Russian government-owned institution that has been under U.S. sanctions since July 2014. Gorkov studied at the training school for the FSB, one of Russia's intelligence services.
Sources on the fringe right say Bannon is taking a victory lap over the widely reported FBI news. We've been writing about Jared's fabulous adventure for over a year now, from the jailbird father to the visa-selling in China. But a must-read on this slimy crook came out this week at Slate by Jamelle Bouie, Nothing But Slumlords. "In a feature for ProPublica and the New York Times Magazine," wrote Bouie, "journalist Alec MacGillis shined light on the role of Jared Kushner-- son-in-law and close adviser to President Trump-- as a real estate developer and landlord. In 2011 and 2012, seeking a stable source of revenue, Kushner and his partners purchased thousands of units of working-class housing in the inner-ring suburbs of cities like Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Their largest holdings are in Baltimore County, Maryland, where they control 15 complexes that house up to 20,000 people in total. And in managing these properties, reports MacGillis, Kushner is a harsh and unforgiving landlord." A friend of mine, who was Kushner's tutor when he was in high school tells me Kushner isn't very bright and her son told me he's "a violent, spoiled asshole." No one could believe he got into Harvard-- until it came out that his father bought him a slot in the freshman class.
Kushner’s company is relentless in its pursuit of “virtually any unpaid rent or broken lease-- even in the numerous cases where the facts appear to be on the tenants’ side.” Residents are slapped with thousands of dollars in fees and penalties, even if they had previously won permission to terminate a lease. All of this is compounded by poor upkeep of facilities. MacGillis describes one family that has had to deal with mold, broken appliances, and physical damage to their unit-- even after paying the management company for repairs. In one complex, a resident “had a mouse infestation that was severe enough that her 12-year-old daughter recently found one in her bed.” In another, raw sewage flowed into the apartment.

Jared Kushner stepped down as chief executive of Kushner Companies upon taking his position in the White House, although he retains a $600 million stake in the business, which still holds and manages these properties. “They’re nothing but slumlords,” said one tenant to MacGillis. For someone whose company all but exploits the precariousness and desperation of people who have few other choices for decent housing, it is a fair charge.

...Kushner... is working in an administration whose policies would make life more precarious for even more people. The priorities include a health care plan that would take insurance from tens of millions of people, a budget plan that would slash vital aid for up to one-fifth of all Americans, and a tax plan that would use those funds to lower rates for the wealthiest Americans. In turn, that precariousness opens new opportunities for those, like Kushner and Trump, who will not hesitate to exploit vulnerable people for profit.

The past eight years of Democratic government were far from perfect, but liberal policymakers were at least attuned to the reality of exploitation and the need for policies and protections to stop and punish the businesses that work to make life more difficult, and more expensive, for ordinary Americans. Like President Trump’s “university,” Jared Kushner’s history in the low-income housing market is a reminder: With this White House, we don’t just have an indifference to exploitation-- we have an administration of actual predatory capitalists eager to reshape the government in their image, for their interests.
Last night Politico ran a story by David Freedlander, Meet the Real Jared Kushner in which he reiterates that Kushner "in a White House sullied by ties to Russia and all sorts of unsavory characters from the fringe, Kushner was set to float above, surrounding himself with fellow figures from the elite worlds of Manhattan finance and real estate and deep-sixing the harder-edged ideas of the White House’s 'nationalist' wing... Because he is soft-spoken, slim and handsome, with degrees from Harvard and NYU and a family that donates to Democrats, he couldn’t possibly be the same guy knifing his West Wing rivals and urging the president to go to war with the Justice Department and the FBI."
Except that this isn’t quite how it has gone in the White House over the last several months. It was Kushner who reportedly pushed for the firing of FBI Director James Comey over the objections of Bannon. And it was Kushner who was the lone voice urging for a counterattack after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the appointment of a special prosecutor, according to the New York Times. And it is now Kushner whose family’s business activities leave him open to the same level of charges of conflict of interest that have dogged his wife and father-in-law, and Kushner who appears to be as closely tied to the Russian government as anyone serving in the White House: NBC News and the Washington Post reported Thursday that the FBI is taking a close look at his contacts with the Russians.

UPDATE: It's Friday So The News Is Coming Hot And Furious

The NY Times has their own new Putin-Gate blockbuster tonight-- just hours after the story about how Kushner proposed to the Russians that they set up a secret channel of communication using secure Russian facilities, something he carefiully hid from American intelligence. This one is about a Putin crony, Oleg Deripaska, who Manafort used to work for. He wants immunity to testify in front of Congress. Congress turned him down. Deripaska lives in Moscow and has been banned from traveling to the U.S. because of his connections to organized crime.
But he was able to enter the country in another way during that period, according to previously undisclosed court documents. Mr. Deripaska came to the United States eight times between 2011 and 2014 with government permission as a Russian diplomat, according to affidavits he gave in a little-noticed lawsuit in a Manhattan court. Mr. Deripaska said in the court papers that his visits were brief and made in connection with meetings of the G-20 and the United Nations, not to conduct business.

The court documents and public records show that Mr. Deripaska, whose companies have long had offices in New York, has expanded his American holdings over the past 10 years, buying high-priced Manhattan townhouses and a major stake in a Russian-language newspaper in New York.

The lawsuit was brought by Alexander Gliklad, a Russian-born businessman, who charged that Mr. Deripaska had used his diplomatic status as a cover to do business, which the oligarch denied. Mr. Gliklad claims he is entitled to collect funds that Mr. Deripaska had agreed to pay to settle a lawsuit with a man who owed Mr. Gliklad money from a court judgment. Last month, a New York State Supreme Court justice rejected Mr. Gliklad’s argument that the Manhattan court had jurisdiction over Mr. Deripaska.

As Mr. Manafort’s dealings with Russia-friendly Ukrainian politicians, business activities and loans have come under examination in recent months, his former client has gotten caught up in the media scrutiny. The two men were partners in an offshore fund set up in 2007 to buy telecommunications and cable television assets in Ukraine, where Mr. Manafort had advised then-President Viktor F. Yanukovych. That deal fell apart, winding up in litigation in the Cayman Islands.

In March, Mr. Deripaska took out newspaper ads stating that he was willing to participate in hearings before Congress after The Associated Press published a report alleging that Mr. Manafort had provided him with a plan in 2005 outlining steps to “greatly benefit the Putin government,” by influencing politics and news coverage in the United States. Mr. Deripaska has denied ever entering into such an arrangement and sued The A.P. for libel last month. The news organization has said it stands by its article. Mr. Manafort has denied that his work for the oligarch was aimed at aiding the Russian government.

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Patrick Murphy-- Not Finished Destroying The Democratic Party Brand Yet?


Is there a contest at the DCCC recruiting committee-- headed by multimillionaire New Dem Denny Heck (WA) and Rahm Emanuel disciple Blue Dog Cheri Bustos-- to see who could come up with the worst possible candidate of the cycle, one that would guarantee the loss of a deep blue seat that almost can't be lost? Bustos generally comes up with more losers than anyone else and has the worst recruitment record of anyone in history. But no one is taking credit for the still secret loser-of-the-cycle, Patrick Murphy.

Murphy, a brainless, spoiled drunken party boy whose daddy bought him a seat in the West Palm area, was one of the worst members of Congress ever. A lifelong Republican who pretended to be a Democrat-- or at least a New Dem-- had an abysmal voting record that was basically all that Wall Street could ever ask for. He was their #1 pick for the U.S. Senate last cycle and the banksters pumped $2,380,989 into his pathetic dead-on-arrival campaign. His haul from the Financial Sector while he was in Congress was $4,014,637,which he repaid them many times over by voting for their reactionary agenda in the House Financial Services Committee. The banksters-- and Chuck Schumer-- just wanted to make sure Alan Grayson wasn't the Democratic nominee. As soon as Murphy-- with an assist from Obama-in-need-of-library-contributions-- defeated Grayson, the DSCC and their allies abandoned Murphy to his dismal fate. Rubio defeated him. Although Trump beat Hillary in Florida 4,617,886 (49.%) to 4,504,975 (48%), Rubio pulverized Murphy 4,835,191 (52%) to 4,122,088 (43%).

When Ileana Ros Lehtinen announced she wouldn't run for reelection next year, her seat instantly became a major Democratic target. After all, although-- at the insistence of Debbie Wasserman Schultz-- they had NEVER contested it before, Obama won the seat 53-47% against Romney and Hillary beat Trump there massively-- 58.6% to 38.9%. This is the bluest seat in the country held by a Republican but the DCCC pretended they never heard of it. Until now. Now it's a top priority.

One of the best possible recruits they could hope for, a Latina in a 73% Hispanic district, who had already won races for other offices in the district, went to the DCCC and said she wanted to run. Instead of kissing her feet and thanking her, they told her to fuck off because they had already given the nomination to... wait for it-- Patrick Murphy. His old district-- which he's too scared to run in again-- is an hour and 45 minutes from Miami up the I-95. You would drive through Frederica Wilson's, Wasserman Schultz's, Lois Frankel's, Alcee Hasting's and Ted Deutch's before hitting Port St. Lucie in the heart of Murphy's old district. And He's about the least Hispanic person you'll ever meet. His connection to the district is that his father docked his yacht there and young Patrick used to go clubbing and drinking (and fighting with police) in the district.

Yesterday Alex Leary from the Tampa Bay Times ran that screen shot of "Congressman" Patrick Murphy's letter asking for contributions-- part of an article entitled Who is Congressman Patrick Murphy?
The former lawmaker, who left the House to run for Senate, has been sending out similar emails that give the impression he's in office.

So what is he up to?

“I want to stay involved to do what I can to stay involved and help like-minded Democrats,” he recently told Politico. “I miss public service, but I don’t miss the House much, especially with Trump and all.”

Murphy said he's interested in running for office again but isn't sure what.
I asked a DCCC staffer. He said it was probably Bustos up to her old tricks but that they hadn't told the staff yet. "He'd be a really bad fit for the district. Bustos is an idiot and no one pays any attention to her anymore... This would be exactly how to lose FL-27. No one around here is that stupid." Uh huh... we'll see. The DCCC can't resist self-funders, conservatives, Wall Street whores and "ex"-Republicans. As far as Murphy goes that's check, check, check, check.

Is there a good candidate running? We hear great stuff about Michael Hepburn but we haven't talked to him yet.

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Political Purity Test? I Don't Think So


If you've been reading DWT even in the most cursory of ways any time since 2005, you know we spend a lot of time on the DCCC and on the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. It's been a theme as much as the DC culture of corruption and the bankruptcy of conservatism and the banal evil of the Republican Party. But a day never goes by when some Twitter brain surgeon doesn't pop up in my feed to whine and snivel about how "purity" enables [fill in the enemy of the moment; today's imbécile du jour was barking about Putin]. I gave up years ago responding to people that low on the political evolution scale. But there was a vote in the House yesterday-- on H.R. 953, Bob Gibbs' Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017-- pretty standard-- albeit devastating-- Republican fare to undermine environmental protections. The effect of the bill will be to allow for the dumping of tons of pesticides into the nation's streams and lakes-- without any public acknowledgement; no permits required.

Speaking on the House floor before yesterday's vote, Jim McGovern (D-MA), the ranking member of the House Agriculture Nutrition Subcommittee said "The Republicans are again bending over backward to help corporations and the wealthiest among us, while ignoring science and leaving hard-working families to suffer the consequences." True enough-- mostly.

It passed 256-165 and only one Republican opposed it. But-- and here's what McGovern's statement belies-- 25 Democrats crossed the aisle to vote with the Republicans, mostly Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- Blue Dogs and New Dems-- who always cross the aisle to vote for most of the corporate-backed GOP agenda we love to castigate Ryan and McConnell for. On legislation like this, these Blue Dogs and New Dems are as dangerous to our families as any Republicans are. Is pointing that out being a purist and a Putin-enabler?

These are the Blue Dogs and New Dems, all repeat offenders in their participation in the Republican war against America. Each one has an overall score of "F" from ProgressivePunch. Most of them are in public service for a career larded with corporate bribes.
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)
Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL)
Andre Carson (New Dem-IN)
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Suzan DelBene (New Dem-WA)
Vicente Gonzales (Blue Dog-TX)
Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)
Anne Kuster (New Dem-NH)
Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY)
Tom O'Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)
David Scott (Blue Dog-GA)
Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)
Filemon Vela (Blue Dog-TX)
These people have earned primaries-- though none of them get primaries. Instead, the DCCC works exceedingly hard to recruit other shitheads just like them, while undermining and sabotaging progressives who try to run for Congress. Who to thank? Rahm is gone but his DNA is the DCCC's DNA. Today the operation is controlled by Pelosi, Hoyer, Joe Crowley, Ben Ray Lujan and recruiting chair and vice-chair Denny Heck (New Dem-WA) and Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL).

Goal Thermometer This isn't about "purity." It's about making sure the Democratic Party stands for something worthwhile and offers an alternative to the horrific Republican agenda. What good is a me-too Democratic Party owned lock, stock and barrel by the corporate special interests (who also happens be the big campaign donors for both parties)? AND, somewhat ironically, recruiting these kinds of creatures is a proven failure, since after they get into Congress and start voting with the GOP, grassroots Democratic voters eventually refuse to vote for them any more-- as we showed earlier in the week here. That Blue America primary thermometer on the right is for progressives with the courage to stand up and primary bad Democrats. It's the hardest job in politics and these men and women deserve our support for taking on a pretty thankless task.

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Republican Candidates Are In A State Of Delusion Headed Towards The Midterms


The GOP mess has crossed over into popular culture; it ain't going' away

One week ago, Politico interviewed Mike Madrid, a well-known Republican political consultant in California. "The Democrats," he reminded them, "were absolutely convinced that running against Trump down-ticket was going to create the biggest Democratic blue wave of all time, and it did not work at all… What we’re really seeing in America right now is incredibly intense, wired up Democratic base that’s lighting its hair on fire and driving the media narrative, but it’s not driving polling data, and you’re not seeing it in increased turnout in elections."

Is that so? While Trump's approval rating is languishing in the mid-30s, I've never seen as big a gap open in the generic congressional polling. A Quinnipiac poll released a few days before Madrid spoke with Politico reported their results this way:
By a 54 – 38 percent margin, American voters want the Democratic Party to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives. This is the widest margin ever measured for this question in a Quinnipiac University poll, exceeding a 5 percentage point margin for Republicans in 2013.
As for the chief Republican in Congress, PPP polled Paul Ryan's own southeast Wisconsin district and found this:

As for not translating into votes, that's just really insane. Tuesday two deep red legislative districts in New Hampshire and Long Island, the former having never elected a Democrat before ever, and that latter in which Trump's margin of victory had been 20 points, both dumped GOP candidates. The Long Island Assembly district is the only deep red part of Peter King's congressional district. If Republicans can't hold that area, 2018 will be the last anyone ever hears of Peter King, unless he's arrested for robbing a Dunkin' Donuts. Last night Republican Greg Gianforte managed to keep Montana's at-large congressional seat in Republican hands-- but at an immense cost ($29.55 per vote, compared to Quist's $3.94 per vote)-- and by a very reduced margin. Gianfote scored 189,473 votes (50.3%) to 166,483 (44.0%) for Quist and 21,509 (5.7%) for Libertarian Mark Wicks. Last November Ryan Zinke was reelected with 56.19% over Democrat Denise Juneau's 40.55% (and 3.26% for the Libertarian). Trump scored 56.5% over Clinton's 35.9%. Quist's performance was up 8 points over Clinton and 3.5% over Juneau's. The 6.5% swing away from Trump, on a nationwide basis, would be enough for Democrats to take back the House in 2018.

Many Republican incumbents and their campaign consultants are in states of denial, which isn't uncommon when people see a tsunami headed their way. That same Politico article that quoted Madrid, also quoted another GOP political consultant, Dave Gillaird, who is a strategist for 4 of the 7 Republicans the DCCC is targeting in 2018, Jeff Denham, Mimi Walters, Darrell Issa and Ed Royce, said "all four of them had campaigns for re-election saying they were going to repeal Obamacare in favor of something better… They all came to the conclusion that this was better than Obamacare, and that was what they campaigned for re-election on." He called concerns about voter anger at Republicans over healthcare "overblown." That's what I meant by a state of denial.

I turned to the progressive Democrats running against the fools Gillaird has lulled into a state of clueless complacency. Katie Porter and Kia Hamadanchy are both awesome candidates running for the Orange County seat Mimi Walters refuses to move into and claims to represent in Congress. Katie, a consumer advocate and UC Irvine professor told us, simply that "After the House passed Trumpcare, Congresswoman Walters was one of the first people President Trump thanked at the White House. And thanks to the CBO report released yesterday, her constituents now know that the bill Walters helped write would end coverage for 23 million Americans-- including tens of thousands of people in her district. Walters' unconditional support of Trump's plan is completely at odds with the needs and lived experience of families here in Orange County."

We haven't mentioned Sam Jammal before.He's a former Obama Administration official and local Democrat from Royce's district, who progressives are hoping to draft to run against Royce. Last night he told us, "We have to stop Donald Trump's reckless agenda to benefit millionaires at the expense of the rest of us. It starts with holding local Republicans accountable. Our families can't afford elected officials who vote to cut health care for 23 million Americans, while also voting to raise prices for seniors and destabilize the employer-based health care system. All of this was done to give a tax break to millionaires. That's too extreme for Orange County. It is alarming that these Republicans are celebrating this as an accomplishment."

Doug Applegate, the progressive battling it out with Darrell Issa in the San Diego/Orange County district where he nearly beat Issa in 2017, told us that "It’s no longer a right or left battle; it’s right or wrong fight. Americans appreciate the moral imperative of single-payer-universal health care, pre-school to public college, livable $15/hr. wages now and fighting the carbon fuel oligarchy for renewable energy. Within 20 years robotics, automation and artificial intelligence will eliminate half of today’s jobs and in the process deliver the greatest disruption of the world’s economy in history. Everyone, all of our children and grandchildren will face these challenges. That is the reason why I’m going to finish the job I started in 2016 and replace Darrell Issa in Congress.

If Republicans manage to damage the healthcare system in the ways outlined in Trumpcare, California, which dramatically expanded its Medicaid rolls under Obamacare, will be especially hard hit, particularly some of the inland areas represented by Republicans like David Valadao, Steve Knight, Jeff Denham, Devin Nunes, Kevin McCarthy, Ed Royce, Paul Cook, Ken Calvert and Duncan Hunter, some of which are districts that the DCCC looks at as "untouchable." According to California's Legislative Analyst’s Office, 4.6 million Californians had obtained Affordable Care Act-funded coverage as of fall 2016, part of the reason the Cook Report downgraded so many Republican districts after TrumpCare passed the House, including several in California. Confronted with a little dose of reality, Gilliard admitted that Democrats "are doing a very good job of recruiting candidates based on all this energy on their side" and raising lots of money because of the vote.

A week on and Politico was highlighting a split between Democrats who want to focus on Russia-- like conservative New Dem Adam Schiff (eager to run for Feinstein's Senate seat)-- and Democrats who want to focus on health care and other kitchen table issues. Spoiler: focusing on both is the way forward but Politico lives to begin articles with "The Democratic Party is embroiled in a debate over where they should focus their efforts to win back political power."
The party’s campaign committees and many of Democrats’ leading super PACs have spent virtually all their energy this year on shaming Republicans for their push to repeal Obamacare, an issue that clearly touches voters’ daily lives.

But on the other side of the split, American Bridge-- the party’s outside-group research arm run by David Brock, the well-known Hillary Clinton ally-- is among those convinced the investigation into possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian officials is one Democrats would be foolish to downplay or wait to take advantage of.

A raft of data has already tabbed the House Republican health care bill as highly unpopular. But after last week’s explosive developments related to the Russia investigation, Democratic groups have commissioned polling to gauge just how damaging the probe could be to Republicans in the 2018 midterms. They’ve also begun testing theories on how to make Trump’s Russia problem into House and Senate Republicans’ Russia problem.

The debate in some ways reflects the post-mortem from the presidential election, in which some Democrats felt Clinton did not focus enough on the economy and other pocketbook issues, while Clinton’s own team invested more resources in painting Trump as personally unfit for the presidency.

Strategists on both sides of the Democratic divide downplay the extent of the split. They argue the party has an embarrassment of riches to use against Republicans, and they note that different groups fill different niches in the party’s ecosystem-- Bridge deals with day-to-day rapid response, while the party committees are already focused on individual races in November 2018.

But they also whisper about motivations, with some strategists speculating the Brock-led American Bridge may have more of an eye on wooing donors intensely interested in the Russia investigation than picking winning issues for 2018.

“We should focus on the issues that affect people’s lives, not just on what the media in the D.C. bubble is talking about,” said Symone Sanders, the press secretary at Priorities USA.
And there aren't any Democrats I know of who aren't talking about Trump's budget as well. Even the DNC was savvy enough to write to activists yesterday, framing the issue clearly-- and with news clips:
While campaigning for President, Donald Trump ran on a promise of making this country a better place to live for working Americans. Instead of doing this, Trump’s budget would make life easier for millionaires and billionaires at the expense of everyone else. Communities around the country are preparing for the devastating impact of this budget, which will ultimately cause immense hardship to the very Americans who Trump promised to help.

Cuts to social services in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget has one Columbus food pantry concerned. "Our customers, our shoppers are concerned. They're worried about what that means to their ability to get the food that they want and need,” said Kathy Kelly-Long, director of Broad Street Food Pantry.

“I don't think anybody shops at a food pantry or anybody relies on SNAP by choice.”

President Donald Trump's $4.1 trillion budget for 2018 calls for sharp cuts in several programs, including food stamps, known as SNAP. And that means the nearly two million people who live in the Mid-South states could have a hard time putting food on the table.

More than 16% of households in Tennessee are below the poverty line. 17% of Tennesseans rely on food stamps, or SNAP, to feed their families. Under President Donald Trump's new budget, people who are able to work will no longer get assistance.

Lucy Melcher of the anti-hunger group Share Our Strength says some people aren't able to find work in their areas and have no access to job training. She says the cuts could be "devastating."

The proposed cuts would "just exacerbate poverty for people who are already trying to work their way out of it," Melcher said. "I don't think there's a person living in poverty today who wouldn't be affected by this budget."

Nationally, more than 44 million people benefit from food assistance programs. Locally, about 50,000 people in San Luis Obispo County and 140,000 in Santa Barbara County rely on that assistance.  "I feel weird asking for help," said Kaitlyn, who wished to remain anonymous. She's 20-years-old and pregnant and is applying for food stamps for the first time because doctors told her she can't work during her pregnancy.

"Because they are worried he's going to come out early, and he has some health issues, so I'm considered a high-risk pregnancy," Kaitlyn said.

She now joins thousands of others in the area who rely on food assistance for their next meal.
Goal Thermometer Ryan and Trump are so toxic among voters now that dozens pf Republicans are trembling about the idea of being photographed with them. A Democratic consultant in South California told me that pictures of Trump and individual candidates with Make America Great Again caps are going to be on billboards everywhere. We asked Katie Hill, the progressive Democrat running against Ryan stooge Steve Knight in CA-25, how she felt Trump and Ryan would impact the congressional race in Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and the Antelope Valley.

"Hillary Clinton won the district by 7 points, meaning Trump was wildly unpopular here before," Hill told us, "and that sentiment has only gotten worse. Right now, the issue that people are most concerned about is healthcare. Seniors keep telling me they aren't able to afford their $20 per month cable bill increases... let alone the projected hundreds of dollars a month extra they will have to pay for insurance under the AHCA. The Trump/Ryan health care bill is absolutely loathed by people who are terrified for the health and wellbeing of themselves and their families. People just could not believe that Knight voted for it. Now it's clearer than ever that he is a puppet for those two-- not a voice for our community."

If Knight and the other Republicans want to persuade themselves voters are going to forget this... that's just fine... for Democratic candidates. No one knew about Republican denialism better than right-wing icon Roy Cohn:

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

People For the American Way Launches The Next Up Victory Fund


Progressives like Keith Ellison, Pramila Jayapal and Jamie Raskin-- as well as other Democrats-- joined the folks at PFAW this week at an event introducing the launch of their newest in a series of progressive bench-building initiatives the Next Up Victory Fun. the purpose of the new program is to elect young progressives to state and local offices.
Next Up will support young progressive candidates running for state and local office across the country by providing endorsements and direct contributions, as well as a platform and greater access to the broader progressive community. PFAW has focused on young people as a major part of its work for more than a decade through its c3 affiliate, PFAW Foundation, which runs Young People For (YP4), a training program for college-age activists and the Young Elected Officials Network. PFAW also has an extensive track record in electoral politics, and this program will be an extension of its state and local work.

In particular, Next Up will target critical races in states where Democrats are poised to regain control of state legislatures—including states where legislatures can impact 2020 redistricting—and in helping candidates win races that will allow them to make credible runs for higher office in years to come.
Crisanta Duran is the Speaker of Colorado's House and a member of the Next Up advisory board. She said that "in order to transform our political system, we need to be working on the local and state levels to elect progressive leaders nationwide. If we want strong, progressive candidates to run for Congress and the presidency in five, ten or fifteen years, we need to make sure they’re getting elected to city councils and the statehouse right now. We’re going to fight for change from the bottom up. This work is critical to building power in the progressive movement and I am proud to be a part of its launch."

Michael Keegan, the PFAW president, made the point that "Republicans have methodically taken complete control of 32 legislatures and control every branch of government in 25 states-- half of the entire country, allowing them to ram through gerrymandering, voter suppression, and attacks on the rights of women, workers, LGBTQ people, and others unchecked... The goal of Next Up is to significantly shift the map within the next few election cycles to retake power in the states, win vital Democratic control over the redistricting process, and nurture a crop of progressive officeholders well positioned to win in their districts, statewide, and in future pursuits of federal office."

Despite all the anti-Trump energy, if we take off our blinders we can see that the landscape in the states is still dismal for progressives. I bet you agree with PFAW that that has to change, not the kind of phony DCCC one-cycle-- elect our sheathed instead of the other shithead-change, but a long-term infrastructure building change that PFAW has been doing for 3 decades. Keegan went on to say that "The Next Up Victory Fund is the next step in our deep, long-term investment in youth leadership development. It’s the continuation and expansion of our former Young Elected Progressives program. Our nonpartisan affiliate People For the American Way Foundation has supported young leaders for over a decade, through Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network and Young People For (YP4). PFAW has more than 30 years of expertise and a proven track record of success in helping strong progressive candidates win tight races. This is going to be one of our most important endeavors of the next several election cycles-- including elections taking place this year, in advance of the all-important 2018 midterms."

If you'd like to contribute to their efforts, you can do that here.

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Is The CBO Score A Death Sentence For The Republican Congressional Majorities?


The CBO sums up their report on the new version of TrumpCare with one sentence: "CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the American Health Care Act would reduce federal deficits by $119 billion over the coming decade and increase the number of people who are uninsured by 23 million in 2026 relative to current law." The original version would have kicked 24 million off their health insurance but it would have reduced the deficit by $150 billion. The NY Times reported that the Senate Majority Turtle (R-KY) looked at it and sniffed "I don’t know how we get to 50 at the moment... but that’s the goal."

Congressional Republicans spent the day running around quacking out their focus group-tested talking points: "The status quo under Obamacare is completely unacceptable and totally unsustainable... Prices are skyrocketing, choice is plummeting, the marketplace is collapsing and countless more Americans will get hurt if we don’t act." Snd doing all in their power to undercut, sabotage and destabilize the Affordable Care Act, regardless of how much it hurts people in need of healthcare.
Democrats say much of that instability stems from Republican efforts to repeal and undermine the Affordable Care Act. The Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, harshly criticized House Republicans for voting on their revised repeal measure without an updated analysis from the budget office.

“Republicans were haunted by the ghost of C.B.O. scores past, so they went ahead without one,” Mr. Schumer said. That action, he said, was reckless-- “like test-driving a brand-new car three weeks after you’ve already signed on the dotted line and paid the dealer in full.”

The House repeal bill was approved on May 4 by a vote of 217 to 213, without support from any Democrats. It would eliminate tax penalties for people who go without health insurance and would roll back state-by-state expansions of Medicaid, which have provided coverage to millions of low-income people. And in place of government-subsidized insurance policies offered exclusively on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, the bill would offer tax credits of $2,000 to $4,000 a year, depending on age.

A family could receive up to $14,000 a year in credits. The credits would be reduced for individuals making more than $75,000 a year and families making more than $150,000.

Senior Republican senators say they want to reconfigure the tax credits to provide more financial assistance to lower-income people and to older Americans, who could face much higher premiums under the House bill.

The House bill would roll back a number of insurance requirements in the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans say have driven up the cost of coverage.

In the weeks leading up to passage of the House bill, Republican leaders revised it to win support from some of the most conservative members of their party.

Under the House bill, states could opt out of certain provisions of the health care law, including one that requires insurers to provide a minimum set of health benefits and another that prohibits them from charging higher premiums based on a person’s health status.

Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) emphasized in a statement to his constituents that the new version is even worse than the old version. "Twenty days ago, House Republicans turned their backs on millions of Americans by passing the American Health Care Act. The Congressional Budget Office’s score released today confirms what we had known all along; dismantling our healthcare system will leave millions uninsured, roll back basic coverage, and increase premiums for the most vulnerable populations. It will send costs skyrocketing for seniors and those with pre-existing conditions in order to provide financial windfall to millionaires and billionaires... Instead of dismantling the progress that has been made to improve health care in this country, we should work together on behalf of our constituents to make common sense improvements to the ACA. We should pass a public insurance option to ensure plan prices are competitive, allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices to reduce the costs of prescriptions, reduce deductibles and make premium tax credits more generous. Unfortunately, the majority is interested in nothing more than political gamesmanship, but a game that risks American lives is one that must never be played."

Progressives in Congress agreed with Grijalva and his no Progressive Caucus co-chair, Mark Pocan (D-WI), said in his own statement that "this latest CBO score confirms that Trumpcare is a terrible proposal and people will pay more for less coverage, if they can even afford it. What’s really alarming is that less healthy people, like those with a preexisting condition, could face extremely prohibitive costs for coverage and essentially be priced out of buying insurance. This means people with diabetes or a heart condition could wind up uninsured, which would be devastating for many families. On top of that out-of-pocket expenses for essential health benefits such as maternity care and prescription drugs would skyrocket. This is just a bad bill that was never intended to help people, only to give $600 billion in tax cuts to the wealthiest in this country, insurance companies, and Big Pharma."

Ruben Kihuen (D-NV), who seems likely to run for the Nevada Senate seat held by Republican Dean Heller next year, pointed out that the CBO score reaffirms that Trumps and Ryan’s "vision for healthcare reform is completely off the mark... hell-bent on repealing the Affordable Care Act no matter the cost, even if it means 23 million more people would be uninsured by 2026. The CBO estimates that health insurance premiums for those nearing retirement could increase 800%, and that a 64-year-old making $26,500 would go from paying 6.4% of their income towards their insurance premiums to a whopping 60.8%. That’s indefensible and immoral! This new CBO score is further evidence of what we already knew to be true-- the American Health Care Act is a bad deal for all Americans, but especially Nevadans who have benefitted immensely from the Affordable Care Act.

Unfortunately, Republicans in the House decided to pass this bill without seeing its true cost. I hope they read this report and think long and hard about who they really serve: their leadership in Congress or their constituents back home." In fact, one last stat: In the old version of TrumpCare (pre-Meadows/MacArthur), a 64 year old worker making $26,5000 a year would have had an unbelievable premium of $14,600 per year to be covered. After Mark Meadows and Tom MacArthur worked their magic, that same worker's premium would go up to $16,100 annually. Was that what they were trying to do? Was that what Paul Ryan was trying to cover up when he rushed the House vote through without a CBO score? These people are disgusting-- and an existential threat to our families and our nation.

Goal Thermometer Matt Coffay is the candidate running in western North Carolina against the Republican who managed to make TrumpCare even worse-- by eviserating the provisions protecting people with preexisting conditions (that candidate Trump solemnly pledged to keep)-- Mark Meadows, the Freedom Caucus chair. There are few races anywhere in the country that would send an "enough is enough" signal to the GOP than seeing Coffay defeat Meadows in 2018-- and you can help him do that by tapping on the thermometer on the right. This is what Matt told NC-11 residents after the CBO score was published:
Today, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its report on the AHCA: the disastrous bill that Mark Meadows crafted in secret with other Republican leaders, and pushed through the House several weeks ago.

CBO’s report confirms all of our worst fears. Meadows’ health care bill will kick 23 million Americans off of their health insurance. Over $800 billion will be cut from Medicaid, involving caps on Medicaid payments and termination of federal matching funds-- which we desperately need in North Carolina, a state that failed to expand Medicaid. Further, CBO determined that nationally, one in six people live in an area where private policies will be “destabilized” as states-- like North Carolina-- opt out of Essential Health Benefits, and allow insurance companies to charge more to people with pre-existing conditions. People in these areas will suffer under this law.

Western North Carolina is one of these areas.

CBO concluded that “less healthy people” will face “extremely high premiums.” And because of the rush to get this report out-- because Meadows chose to ram this bill through the House-- CBO hasn’t even had time to assess the wider reaching macroeconomic effects on the U.S. economy.

This report is clear: Mark Meadows has crafted and passed a bill that will hurt the people of this district. This bill will take away health insurance for thousands of folks in Western North Carolina. It’ll make health care unaffordable for people with pre-existing conditions.

And it cuts over $800 billion from Medicaid, funding that is critical here in Western North Carolina. We’ve already seen Angel Medical Center in Franklin shut down its labor/delivery services, and Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva do away with its hospice and palliative services, because of Medicaid cuts.

How many more people have to lose access to health care before Meadows is satisfied?

Let’s put an end to this insurance company, profit-driven madness. When I’m in Congress, I will support H.R. 676: Medicare for All. It’s time for universal health care. Let’s send Meadows home, and put a progressive in his place.

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Is Tom MacArthur's Self-Financed Political Career Crumbling Before Our Eyes?


The biggest group of mainstream conservatives in the House, the Tuesday Group felt betrayed by one of its leaders, New Jersey Rep. Tom MacArthur, who worked with radical right extremist Mark Meadows of the Freedom Caucus to help pass TrumpCare. Officially, on Tuesday he resigned from the Tuesday Group. But 2 Republican staffers have told me, he was pushed out of the group by angry members who feel that his TrumpCare betrayal will cost dozens of Republicans their seats in the 2018 midterms. "That bill is going to cost [Leonard] Lance and [Mike] Coffman their seats... that's what [MacArthur] accomplished. He's a pariah around here now."

Officially, the DCCC has included NJ-03 on their list of targeted districts but they haven't recruited a candidate yet and I was told that the district isn't a priority because Trump beat Hillary there 51.4% to 45.2%-- more typical backward-looking DCCC "strategy." (Obama beat Romney there 51.8% to 47.2% and beat McCain by about the same margin.) NJ-03 is a South Jersey swing district. Most of the voters live in Burlington County, primarily in the suburbs northeast of Philly, like Mount Laurel, Cinnaminson and Willingboro, although the district's biggest city is Tom's River in Ocean County on the other side of the Pine Barrens.

The DCCC has insisted on running Republican-lite candidates and the last Democratic congressman to represent the area was Blue Dog John Adler who won the seat in 2008, running as a normal Democrat-- and with a bigger archest than any other Democratic non-incumbent in the country. But he voted with the Republicans so frequently that when the 2010 midterms rolled around his 52-48% win turned into a 53-47% loss as Democratic voters refused to even bother turning out for the DCCC's idea of a candidate (not their own). And this despite Adler spending $3,285,638 to Republican Jon Runyan's $1,518,073.

In 2012 the DCCC ran Adler's widow, who lost by 10 points and 2 years later they ran another conservative-leaning Dem, Aimee Belgard, who did even worse (for what was then an open seat) against rich carpetbagger MacArthur. At that point the DCCC gave up on the district. The "Democrat" who took MacArthur on in 2016, Frederick Lavergne, billed himself as a Democrat-Republican, wasn't supported by the DCCC and reported raising only $600 and spending nothing. MacArthur spent $1,910,489.

But there's some good news on the horizon. Progressive Andy Kim, a Rhodes Scolar who worked in the Obama White House, is strongly considering running in 2018. The founder and Executive Director of RISE Stronger, a grassroots group whose mission is "to build a dynamic, strategic movement of politically engaged communities that demand a responsible and accountable government which serves the interests of the people." Their story:
In the days following the 2016 presidential election, Andy Kim, a former White House Director for Iraq at the National Security Council, gathered several hundred people to a meeting in Washington, D.C. to lay out a vision for a new wave of citizen engagement in this uncertain and tumultuous political landscape in America. That meeting launched RISE Stronger, which has since grown to become a citizen watchdog organization of nearly 30,000 members across the country who are ready to ensure elected officials and government are both responsible and accountable to the people.

In that first meeting, people said they felt paralyzed-- unable to think about how to move beyond the uncertainty, disappointment, and fear. Participants struggled to think of actions that regular citizens could take beyond voting, calling their representative, and donating money to a cause. Dissatisfied with these limited options, RISE Stronger emerged to reinvigorate what it means to be a citizen and to empower Americans across the country to find new ways to engage in the American democracy.

The goal of RISE Stronger is simple: capture the political energy of Americans, sustain it, and focus it towards action that will ensure that the government and its leaders are accountable to its citizens, transparent in their actions and policies, and guided solely by the interests and values of the American people.

Keeping grassroots activism at the heart of its work, RISE Stronger draws from a vast network of former White House and government officials and other policy experts to inform and augment the work of its members throughout the country. A network of local and state chapters, and an active online hub will serve as an incubator to new ideas and initiatives that propel forward the work of members and increase the engagement of Americans.

RISE Stronger is made up of passionate people from all walks of life who are committed to protecting and advancing freedom, equality, and justice, and ensuring a transparent, responsible and accountable government for all.
"MacArthur has become Trump's biggest supporter in New Jersey," wrote Kim, "and is the main author and lead negotiator for TrumpCare 2.0 that jeopardizes care for people with pre-existing conditions while blatantly protecting the health care plans of Congress from these changes."

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All-Electric Air Travel Is Not an Impossible Dream


A brief 2015 video report from the WSJ about the Airbus all-electric airplane, the E-Fan. Airbus is not the only company doing this. Go here for an interesting video about Pipistrel's electric plane.

by Gaius Publius

A brief follow-up to our recent piece on the coming death of Big Oil as a business (see "The Dying Fossil Fuel Industry"). One argument against the demise of Big Oil is that "there will always be a need for oil, somewhere." The most often-used examples for "somewhere" are in the global transportation industries — air travel and international shipping.

We've looked at these industries before and agreed that they do represent a problem. For example, from a 2015 piece: "Independent of the [Paris Agreement] pledges of the various nations — which are proving to be entirely inadequate to meeting even the modest goals of the U.N. — pledges by nations aren't the entire solution. In fact, the pledges by a number of nations would be entirely wiped out by the emissions of two international industries. These are international shipping and international air travel."

Take the Canadian climate pledge, for example. Canada has promised to cut its pollution by 30% below 2005 levels (a peak year) by 2030, and by 16% below the benchmark year of 1990, from 690 MtCO2e to 579 MtCO2e (megatons of CO2-equivalent emissions). Over the same period, 1990 to 2030, international aviation and international maritime emissions are expected to more than triple in a business-as-usual scenario, for a combined increase in emissions that's more than ten times the promised emissions decrease from Canada (pdf, page 42).

When most people think about how to cut global emissions to zero, that's were they get stuck, with an unsolvable problem when it comes to international travel and shipping. Those who don't get stuck there posit a world of less capitalism, less "buying for the sake of buying" — which is needed to feed the capitalists' constant need to "sell for the sake of selling." As admirable as that sounds as a goal, it also sounds impossible to achieve, at least voluntarily. Besides, less capitalism, defined as production of consumer goods, would certainly require less global shipping, but wouldn't solve the problem of global air travel.

Can these two industries, international maritime and international aviation, every be freed from the grip of fossil fuels?

All-Electric Planes Are Here Today

It turns out that all-electric airplanes are not that far from the horizon, and what works for air travel could well be adapted to shipping, given the right advances in energy storage. Consider this, from Scientific American in 2014:
"Impossible" Electric Airplane Takes Flight

The Berlin Air Show witnessed a silent, clean test flight by Airbus's E-Fan two-seater aircraft, which is entirely propelled by electricity

...The fully electric E-Fan aircraft, engineered by Airbus Group, made one of its first public demonstrations here last week following it's first-ever flight in France on March 11.

The novel two-seater aircraft was designed from the outset for electrical propulsion, from its energy management system to safety features. In developing this technology, Airbus aims to one day reduce the aerospace industry's carbon dioxide emissions by an order of magnitude.

"It's a very different way of flying," said Jean Botti, chief technical and innovation officer at Airbus Group, "absolutely no noise, no emissions."

A series of lithium-ion batteries fitted into the wings of the plane are the sole power source for the E-Fan's two 30-kilowatt electric motors. A 6 kW electric motor in the main wheel provides extra power during acceleration and taxiing to reduce electrical power consumption on the ground.
The obvious problem is range. The 2014 version described above had a one-hour range, which means it didn't stray far from the airport. The 2015 version of the same plane (see video above) performed a Channel crossing.

The plan, though, is ambitious: "Airbus will make a next-generation two-seater electric plane, set for launch in 2017, and a four-seater electric plane with a gas-powered range extender, set for launch in 2019."
These advances are steppingstones toward realizing Flight Path 2050, the European Union's aggressive goal to reduce the aviation sector's nitrous oxide emissions by 90 percent, noise pollution by 65 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by 75 percent by 2050.
What's holding these projects back is the current pace of advancement in battery technology. But changes are coming faster and faster, spurred by both economic and environmental motivation. (Imagine the payoff to the inventor who develops a reliable, light-weight, quick-charge, slow-drain battery cell. Imagine how many inventors, investors, and companies are looking for it — the battery and the payoff.)

In the meantime, it's not hard to imagine the day when air travel will be freed from the need to pollute in order to operate. When that day comes, one more barrier to fossil-free living will fall.


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